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Scott D. Pierce: Jim Nantz says don't count the Cougars out

Published March 9, 2011 11:02 am

NCAA Tournament • We won't know which channel BYU will be on until Sunday.
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A lot of national (and local) analysts are counting BYU out as a factor in the upcoming NCAA men's basketball tournament. CBS' Jim Nantz, however, isn't one of them.

Despite the season-ending suspension of Brandon Davies, despite the blowout loss to New Mexico last week, Nantz said, "A lot of people still think this is a team that can make a really long run deep into the tournament.

"I don't think [Davies' suspension] changes our approach at all to how we're going to cover BYU in the tournament."

The loss of Davies (who was suspended by BYU for an honor code violation), the loss to New Mexico and, potentially, how well the Cougars do in the Mountain West Conference tournament will, however, affect which channel BYU is featured on come Thursday, March 17. There are no regional games this year — every game will be telecast nationally on CBS, TBS, TNT or TruTV.

CBS Sports and Turner Sports are partnering on the NCAAs, and there will be some negotiation between the two about which channel gets which games. But most of that will be decided by a team's seeding and bracket placement.

"You really don't know how you're going to network the games until the brackets come out," said Nantz, who was a sports anchor at KSL before he joined CBS in 1985.

In other words, watch CBS' tournament selection show (Sunday, 4 p.m., Ch. 2) to find out not just who and where the Cougars will be playing, but what channel they'll be on.

"It's a new world out there because of this partnership [with Turner]," Nantz said. "Every game's going to be national. So it's a different equation than it was in years past.

"The beauty of this new alliance is that every game is going to get broadcast to all parts of the country."

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course. Fans may have a bit more difficulty locating TruTV, although it's available in about 90 million homes nationally. And this year's NCAA coverage will require a bit more effort on fans' part.

If you consider using your remote to flip from channel to channel a bit more effort.

We've become accustomed to CBS assigning games to our local CBS affiliate — including games involving our local teams. The network would jump from game to game, particularly if one we were assigned turns into a blowout.

This season, every game will be on CBS, TBS, TNT or TruTV in its entirety. If it's a blowout, you'll have to change channels yourself.

(Executives at CBS and Turner both promised that they will alert fans watching a game on one channel that they might want to change to something more exciting on one of the other three channels.)

And Nantz said that, regardless of which channel BYU ends up on, he expects Jimmer-mania to be part of the story of this year's tournament.

"I'll just say this from someone that's sitting courtside — Jimmer Fredette is a huge part of the story of college basketball this season, even without his teammate," he said. "I think what [BYU coach] David Rose has built there is something pretty spectacular. I happened to know David Rose way back when — we went to college together. And I expect that BYU is going to figure out a way to make up for the loss of its leading rebounder. I expect that they'll do just fine in the tournament.

"And we'll look forward to broadcasting them."

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. His column on sports on TV appears Wednesday. Contact him at spierce@sltrib.com.






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