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DIANE PUCIN / ON SPORTS MEDIA

It's a long day for broadcasters too

Tim Brando does a double-doubleheader on CBS, beginning with Northridge's near-upset. And as far as most are concerned, it's March Badness for the Pac-10.

March 20, 2009|DIANE PUCIN | ON SPORTS MEDIA

Tim Brando said this day of his, calling play-by-play for four basketball games over about 12 hours in Kansas City, Mo., is his most challenging workday.

"I don't know if it's the hardest thing in sports broadcasting," Brando said in a phone interview. "Maybe that's doing an Olympics. But in terms of being live on the air for 12 hours or so, it's the most challenging."

Brando, who is broadcasting his 14th NCAA tournament and his sixth with partner Mike Gminski, got an early gem Thursday because 15th-seeded Cal State Northridge led second-seeded Memphis deep into the second half before falling.

"For us broadcasters, this tournament is the same as it is for the teams and coaches," Brando said. "You never know what you're going to get."

Let's interrupt here for an ESPN bulletin.

"The Pac-10 is down," analyst Digger Phelps says. "I don't see the conference being that strong."

Dick Vitale, always good for a rebuttal, offers this: "I agree with you." Wait, that isn't rebuttal. That's an echo. "The Pac-10 hasn't been as good."

California's loss to Maryland of the Atlantic Coast Conference seems to be the cause of celebration in Bristol, Conn.

Anyway, back to Brando and Northridge.

"You know, in this kind of game you try to be aware that Northridge may only get 40 minutes of dance time at this party once a decade. You want to tell their story as much as the Memphis story. We're putting a face on the Northridge story for most of the country."

OK, another interruption.

"Pardon the Interruption" guys say the Pac-10 isn't very good. Does this even count any more as analysis? Our dog is now lifting his head toward the television and sighing whenever he hears the words "Pac" and "10."

Hah, the ESPN guys seem unaware that Washington is leading Mississippi State, 50-32.

Anyway, Brando and Gminski did a fine job of making Northridge noticeable. Then they did California's 84-71 upset loss to the Terrapins, then they took showers, changed clothes and came back to do the Clemson-Michigan and Oklahoma-Morgan State games. Even the upbeat Brando said it might be hard to muster the proper enthusiasm for that final game unless Morgan State pulled a Northridge.

WBC being watched

According to the Nielsen Company, television ratings for the World Baseball Classic are up from 2006 on ESPN. (Nielsen is not yet offering ratings on the new MLB Network, which is also televising some games.)

In 2006 the games averaged a 1.0 rating. So far this year the games have a 1.1 average rating.

According to ESPN's numbers, through two rounds their telecasts are averaging 1,676,000 viewers (up 53% from 2006 when an average of 1,098,000 watched the games.

Good to watch today

Channel 2's four-game NCAA lineup: Stephen F. Austin against Syracuse at 9:15 a.m.; Temple versus Arizona State at 11:30 a.m.; USC against Boston College, 4:15 p.m.; Wisconsin against Florida State, 6:45 p.m. There are two high school state championship games on Prime Ticket. First girls, Brea Olinda against Carondelet at 6 p.m. followed by boys, Eisenhower against Rocklin at 8 p.m.

Good to watch Saturday

Won't know which games Channel 2 will choose until all the Thursday and Friday games are over, but NCAA games will begin at 10 a.m. and continue at 12:30, 2:30 and 5.

In the women's tournament, at 7:30 on ESPN2, UC Santa Barbara will try to take down second-seeded Stanford. And there's a World Baseball Classic semifinal at 6 p.m. from Dodger Stadium.

Plus it's down to the very best parts of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at Indian Wells. With any luck, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will still be playing in opposite men's semifinals at 1 p.m. on FS West.

Good to watch Sunday

Men's NCAA tournament games begin at 9 a.m. on Channel 2 and continue at 11:30 and 2 p.m.

Women's games are scattered around ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU beginning at 9 a.m.

And there's a WBC semifinal with Japan playing the U.S. at 5 p.m. on ESPN, plus both the men's and women's tennis finals from Indian Wells beginning at noon on FS West.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

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BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX

Picked over

President Obama was 11-5 with his NCAA picks Thursday, but his home-state team lost and he was wrong about UCLA.

Best win: No. 10 Maryland over No. 7 California.

Worst loss: The former Illinois senator had to go with the Illini, but No. 5 Illinois was the highest-seeded team to lose, falling to No. 12 Western Kentucky.

Notable pick for today: No. 11 Temple beating No. 6 Arizona State. (He lost on a similar choice, taking Virginia Commonwealth over UCLA.)

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