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The Bounce: CBS has rise in ratings for NCAAs

<h4>Trophy haul </h4></p>
<p>Seven-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet runs down a hallway with the West Regional Champion trophy after Connecticut's win over Missouri at the men's NCAA men's regional final in Glendale on Saturday.

<h4>Trophy haul </h4>

Seven-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet runs down a hallway with the West Regional Champion trophy after Connecticut's win over Missouri at the men's NCAA men's regional final in Glendale on Saturday.

CBS’ March Madness coverage didn’t get lots of buzzer-beaters and big upsets.

But it got lucky with getting lots of name-brand teams. And the network seems poised to do something that it’s only done twice in the past decade: end up with TV ratings for the NCAA Tournament that are higher than the previous year’s numbers.

Through Saturday, CBS’ ratings are up 9 percent over last year, when the NCAA games averaged 5.6 percent of U.S. TV households. That was the lowest NCAA average ever, except for 2003 coverage, which was interrupted by Iraq war reporting.

Villanova’s last-second win against Pittsburgh helped boost the overnight rating for its late-game Saturday night time slot by 6 percent.

But TV stars North Carolina and Duke, in less compelling games, brought the real pop. Duke (losing to Villanova) got a 25 percent increase in its Thursday night time slot and UNC (beating Gonzaga) Friday night brought a 42 percent uptick.

That’s why it was a no-brainer for CBS to schedule UNC vs. Villanova in its marquee Final Four late game, which will begin about 40 minutes after the finish of Michigan State-Connecticut, which will tip off at 3:07 p.m. Tucson time Saturday.

Says CBS programmer Mike Aresco: “Duke and Carolina bring big built-in audiences to TV sets.”

UK job not for everyone

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Rick Pitino spent eight years masterfully stalking the sidelines at Kentucky, reviving a reeling program with a mix of charm, charisma and – most of all – success.

Surviving in that fishbowl isn’t easy. And it’s not for every coach.

“It’s such a unique job that you need to win over the fans,” Pitino said. “You need to win the press conference right away.”

Beloved by some diehards even after his defection to hated Louisville, Pitino is still the yardstick by which any Kentucky coach in the near future will be measured.

It’s a standard ousted coach Billy Gillispie failed to live up to, whether on the court, in the press or with the fans.

Athletic director Mitch Barnhart says the search to replace Gillispie, who was fired Friday, will focus on finding someone who can match the passion of the school’s rabid fan base.

Allow Pitino a couple of suggestions: John Pelphrey and Travis Ford, guys with talent and deep Kentucky roots, if not lofty credentials.

“For anybody, it’s a big adjustment,” Pitino said. “For those guys, it’s not.”

Ford is from Madisonville, played point guard for Pitino in the early 1990s and just led Oklahoma State to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Pelphrey, from eastern Kentucky, was a small forward for Pitino’s first Wildcat teams and is the head coach at Arkansas. Pitino doesn’t doubt they love their current gigs.

He also doesn’t doubt they’d jump at a chance to come back home.

“I don’t care where they’re at,” Pitino said. “They love Oklahoma State, love Arkansas, but those two guys, you cut them open, and it spells UK. That’s what I would do.”

Their lack of extended NCAA success, though, could be a hindrance.

On paper, neither appear to be a better candidate than Gillispie was two years ago when the Wildcats hired him away from Texas A&M after a whirlwind 24-hour courtship.

Then again, having a unique feel for the rhythms of Kentucky basketball is the kind of thing you can’t put on a résumé.

The Associated Press

Obama’s bracket update

It’s North Carolina or nothing for President Obama.

The president went 1-for-4 on Final Four teams in his NCAA Tournament bracket, hitting with the Tar Heels but losing with Louisville on Sunday.

The split left Obama in the bottom 47 percent of the 5-plus million fans who entered ESPN.com‘s pool. After correctly choosing 14 teams to reach the round of 16, his bracket ranked in the top 40 percent.

Obama picked North Carolina to win the championship. The top-seeded Tar Heels reached the national semifinals by beating Oklahoma 72-60.

The president’s bracket also had Louisville, Pittsburgh and Memphis making the Final Four.

The Associated Press

LeBron wants a title

NEW YORK – LeBron James can add “60 Minutes” to his ever-growing list of accomplishments.

James was the subject of a flattering profile by show contributor Steve Kroft that aired Sunday night on CBS and highlighted the quick ascent to stardom and versatility of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 24-year-old leader.

James has graced the covers of sports and fashion magazines, shown a knack for comedy hosting “Saturday Night Live,” danced at the ESPY Awards and controls a multimillion dollar endorsement portfolio.

What he doesn’t have is an NBA championship.

“It’s one of the ultimate goals for me as a basketball player,” James told Kroft in a one-on-one interview that was recorded several month ago.

When Kroft asked, “How close do you think the team is?” James said, “We’re very close.”

The Cavaliers have the best record in the NBA this season and James is second in the league in scoring.

The magazine show spent time at one of James’ practices and filmed him at his Akron high school – where he sank a 60-foot, underhanded shot – as well as at a concert for President Obama he hosted at Quicken Loans Arena with rapper and close friend Jay-Z.

James told Kroft he still watches Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference finals, where he scored the Cavaliers’ final 25 points in a double overtime victory at Detroit.

“The game was so magical,” James said.

Kroft marveled at James’ performance, calling it in his narration, “one of the greatest clutch performances in history,” and asked James, “You didn’t feel nervous taking those shots?”

“No. You can’t be afraid to fail,” James said. “It’s the only way you succeed – you’re not going to succeed all the time, and I know that. You have to be able to accept failure to get better.”

The Associated Press



Winning percentage by the Big East (17-5) this year in the NCAA Tournament, the best of any conference so far. Other leaders:

2. Conference USA .667

2. West Coast .667

4. Big 12 .647

5. Big Ten .571

6. Atlantic Coast .538

7. Pac-10 .500

7. Four other conferences .500

<br />
<h4>QUOTABLE </h4>
<p>‘I’m buying a house out here (in the Phoenix area).’</p>
<p>UConn basketball coach, after the Huskies advanced to their third Final Four. Connecticut has won the West Regional in the Phoenix area all three times.” width=”640″ height=”425″ /><p class=


'I'm buying a house out here (in the Phoenix area).'


UConn basketball coach, after the Huskies advanced to their third Final Four. Connecticut has won the West Regional in the Phoenix area all three times.



1940: Indiana routs Kansas 60-42 for the NCAA basketball championship.

1981: Sophomore guard Isiah Thomas scores 23 points to lead Indiana to a 63-50 victory over North Carolina for the NCAA basketball title.

2003: Martin Brodeur becomes the first NHL goalie with four 40-win seasons as New Jersey beat the New York Islanders 6-0.

2007: Kobe Bryant scores 53 points for his eighth 50-point performance of the season as the Los Angeles Lakers lost to Houston 107-104 in overtime.

The Associated Press



Wright may be right choice for Arizona

Re: UA men’s basketball coaching search

• I like the idea of Jay Wright from Villanova. Arizona has always been know as a school for guards, and he has molded some real good ones. I also like the way his teams play defense.


• Keeping tradition and having a good team would be the great dream for next year. Tradition is strong at UA but recruiting could hurt for a while. A top-notch coach is the key for a right-now fix. Keep the school’s pride and fan base and it will return to a power sooner than one might think.


• Louisville just lost. Let’s make sure we get either (Louisville coach Rick) Pitino or (Pittsburgh) Jamie Dixon.


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