Sunday, April 26, 2015

CBS and Turner unveil NCAA Tournament TV schedule

This year's NCAA Tournament was already going to be quite different from past years' editions because of the new first-round games. Now we know just how different it will really be.

CBS and Turner unveil NCAA Tournament TV schedule

This year's NCAA Tournament was already going to be quite different from past years' editions because of the new first-round games.

Now we know just how different it will really be.

CBS and Turner unveilved their television schedule for the Big Dance today, and it is a dramatic departure from what we've been used to in recent times.

As you've likely seen by now, all 68 games of this year's tournament will be broadcast nationally on either CBS, TBS, TNT or truTV, which used to be known as Court TV.

The really big twist, though, is that the early-round tipoff times will be staggered to a much greater degree than they have ever been. So there will be very few simultaneous tip-offs, and no more of CBS' pioneering 'whip-around coverage that tries to get viewers to as many games as possible.

As a result, you'll never be jumping back and forth trying to catch three buzzer-beaters at once. I'm sure that will take the fun out of it for some people - and I count myself in that group, to be honest - but what we're going to have this year is going to be pretty interesting nonetheless.

One thing is expected to remain the same. According to SI.com's Richard Deitsch, all four networks will use the same graphics, announcing crews and "musical beds." That means CBS' famous college basketball theme music will be heard on all four channels.

CBS and Turner unveiled the announcer pairings for this year's NCAA Tournament a few weeks ago. The details of that are on Philly Hoops Insider.

Here is a breakdown of tipoff times on each network through the first few rounds. All times are Eastern:

First Round (a.k.a. the First Four)

TruTV: 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Second Round (a.k.a. the Round of 64)

CBS: 12:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 9:30 p.m.
TBS: 1:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 9:15 p.m.
TNT: 2:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 9:45 p.m.
truTV: 12:30 pm., 3:00 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 9:55 p.m.

Third Round (a.k.a. the Round of 32)

CBS: 12:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m., Saturday 7:30 p.m.
TBS: 7:00 p.m., 9:30 p.m.
TNT: 6:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m.
truTV: Sunday 7:30 p.m.

As you can see, almost every time slot is two and a half hours. There will be one set of simultaneous tipoffs on Thursday and Friday, and the truTV game on Sunday night allows for CBS to air 60 Minutes (you know the network would never give that up).

There is a disclaimer in the CBS/Turner press release that the three cable networks can swap their start times. The exact order of games and times for the first and second rounds will be announced on March 13, and the order for each day of the third round will be announced after each day of the second round.

So for example, the Saturday schedule will be announced at the end of Thursday. That's nothing new.

One thing I find interesting is that the four networks get somewhat boxed into which games they can carry because of geography. For example, the 12:00 p.m. CBS tipoff on Thursday wouldn't be at a western venue. It would almost certainly be at an eastern venue. Similarly, the 9:55 p.m. tipoff on truTV almost certainly would not be at an eastern venue.

The eight second- and third-round venues are Washington, Cleveland, Tampa, Charlote, Chicago, Tulsa, Denver and Tuscon. Rather unusually, the two westernmost venues are both Thursday sites, but none of the venues is in the Pacific Time Zone.

The four regional final sites are New Orleans, Anaheim, San Antonio and Newark.

A note about the First Four: Each day's doubleheader will have one game between automatic qualifiers and one game between at-large teams. From what I have seen, the automatic qualifiers will play for a 16-seed and the at-large teams will play for a 12-seed.

Here is a full breakdown of games by tip time and venue, using the assumption that the cable networks will stick to the time slots stated in the press release.

There is also some guessing on my part as to where those games would be played, given the geography factor I mentioned above. Keep in mind that start times on each network are tied to each other, so a 12:00 game and a 2:30 game would be in the same place, for example. You get the idea.


Tuesday, March 15

6:30 p.m.: First Round game at Dayton, truTV
9:00 p.m.: First Round game at Dayton, truTV

Wednesday, March 16

6:30 p.m.: First Round game at Dayton, truTV
9:00 p.m.: First Round game at Dayton, truTV 

Thursday, March 17

12:00 p.m.: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, CBS
12:30 p.m.: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, truTV
1:30 p.m.: Second round game at Denver or Tuscon, TBS
2:00 p.m.: Second round game at Denver or Tuscon, TNT

2:30 p.m.: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, CBS
3:00 p.m.: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, truTV
4:00 p.m.: Second round agme at Denver or Tuscon, TBS
4:30 p.m.: Second round game at Denver or Tuscon, TNT

6:45 p.m.: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, TBS
7:00 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, CBS
7:15 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, TNT
7:15 p.m.: Second round game at Denver or Tuscon, truTV

9:15 p.m.: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, TBS
9:30 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, CBS
9:45 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, TNT
9:55 p.m.: Second round game at Denver or Tuscon, truTV

Friday, March 18

12:00 p.m.: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, CBS
12:30 p.m.: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, truTV
1:30 p.m.: Second round game at Chicago or Tulsa, TBS
2:00 p.m.: Second round game at Chicago or Tulsa, TNT

2:30 p.m.: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, CBS
3:00 p.m.: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, truTV
4:00 p.m.: Second round agme at Chicago or Tulsa, TBS
4:30 p.m.: Second round game at Chicago or Tulsa, TNT

6:45 p.m.: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, TBS
7:00 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, CBS
7:15 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, TNT
7:15 p.m.: Second round game at Chicago or Tulsa, truTV

9:15 p.m.: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, TBS
9:30 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, CBS
9:45 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, TNT
9:55 p.m.: Second round game at Chicago or Tulsa, truTV

Saturday, March 19

12:00 p.m.: Third round game at Washington or Tampa, CBS
2:30 p.m.: Third round game at Washington or Tampa, CBS
5:00 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, CBS
6:00 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, TNT

7:00 p.m.: Third round game at Denver or Tuscon, TBS
7:30 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, CBS
8:30 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, TNT
9:30 p.m.: Third round game at Denver or Tuscon, TBS

Sunday, March 20

12:00 p.m.: Third round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, CBS
2:30 p.m.: Third round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, CBS
5:00 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, CBS
6:00 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, TNT

7:00 p.m.: Third round game at Chicago or Tulsa, TBS
7:30 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, truTV
8:30 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, TNT
9:30 p.m.: Third round game at Chicago or Tulsa, TBS

Thursday, March 24

7:00 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at New Orleans, CBS
7:15 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at Anaheim, TBS
9:30 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at New Orleans, CBS
9:55 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at Anaheim, TBS

Friday, March 25

7:00 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at Newark, CBS
7:15 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at San Antonio, TBS
9:30 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at Newark, CBS
9:55 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at San Antonio, TBS

Saturday, March 26

4:20 p.m.: Regional final game at New Orleans or Anaheim, CBS
6:55 p.m.: Regional final game at New Orleans or Anaheim, CBS

Sunday, March 27

2:10 p.m.: Regional final game at Newark or San Antonio, CBS
4:55 p.m.: Regional final game at Newark or San Antonio, CBS

Saturday, April 2

6:00 p.m.: National semifinal at Houston, CBS
8:30 p.m.: National semifinal at Houston, CBS

Monday, April 4

9:00 p.m.: National championship game at Houston, CBS

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Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

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