Championship Week Begins Thursday, March 5
152 Games Across ESPN Networks – Most Ever; 124 Games on ESPN360.com; New Elements: Big 12 Championship Moves to Saturday; SEC Semifinals on ESPN2; Most High-Definition Games Ever; and Most Women’s Conference Tournament Games Ever
This year’s Championship Week Presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods coverage will include 152 men’s and women’s college basketball conference tournament games from March 5 to March 15 across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360.com, ESPN FULL COURT, ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN Radio and ESPN International. It will mark the most extensive Championship Week coverage ever by the networks. New elements:
- The Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship game will be aired Saturday, March 14, at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN, a day earlier than in the previous 10 years on ESPN. In addition, for the first time, ESPN Radio will broadcast Championship Week games, providing coverage of the Big 12 semifinals and championship matchups.
- ESPN2 will televise the Southeastern Conference Championship semifinal matchups Saturday, March 14, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (outermarket only).
- A network record 20 women’s conference tournament games across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will be highlighted by 13 Division I title games, two more than last year with the addition of the Western Athletic Conference and West Coast Conference championships on ESPNU. The action will serve as a lead-in to complete 63-game coverage of the NCAA Women’s Tournament on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360.com and ESPN FULL COURT March 21 through April 7.
- With the addition of ESPNU HD – launched on August 28, 2008 – ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD and ESPNU HD will combine to offer 41 games in high definition, the most ever during Championship Week. Men’s high-definition coverage will include every men’s BIG EAST, West Coast Conference, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 Conference telecast plus the Horizon League semifinals. Women’s high-definition coverage will include every BIG EAST and West Coast Conference telecast.
Championship Week action will tip off on ESPNU with the men’s Big South Conference semifinals Thursday, March 5 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Coverage will conclude Sunday, March 15 with five championships (three on ESPNU and one each on ESPN2 and ESPN). A breakdown of coverage:
- This season will mark ESPN’s 24th, ESPN2’s 15th and ESPNU’s fourth year of comprehensive coverage. ESPN will televise 21, ESPN2 34 and ESPNU 28 games. ESPN360.com will simulcast every ESPN and ESPN2 telecast.
- ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will feature 63 men’s games, including action from 27 Division I conferences highlighted by 24 Division I championship games and a Division II title matchup.
- ESPNU, marking its fourth anniversary March 4, will feature 28 men’s and women’s games from 12 Division I conferences and one Division II conference, highlighted by 12 championships – the most-ever title games for the network and two more than the previous high.
- ESPN360.com, ESPN’s signature, live, sports broadband network, will offer coverage of 124 conference tournament games, including simulcasts of every ESPN and ESPN2 game as well as 69 additional conference tournament games. ESPN360.com is available at no additional charge to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection from an affiliated service provider. It is also available at no cost to approximately 18 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via on-campus educational networks (with a “.edu” domain) and military networks (with a “.mil” domain).
- ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN’s first 24/7 mobile video channel (available on MediaFLO USA’s mobile entertainment service and MobiTV) will offer live simulcasts of 26 men’s and women’s games plus bonus coverage – featuring live extended look-ins – of six others.
- · The final four days of Championship Week will feature 43 games across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU (March 12 – March 15), highlighted by 14 telecasts on Saturday, March 14.
- ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to televise 11 games from the men’s BIG EAST Championship, the most national coverage of any conference on ESPN, eight from the ACC (outermarket only), four from the Big Ten and three from the Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Tournament.
- ESPNU will present the Give ‘n’ Go show, featuring whip-around coverage and studio analysis of the night’s best tournament games March 12 (7:30 to 11:30 p.m.).
- ESPN International will offer extensive coverage of Championship Week games reaching 89.6 million households in 164 countries and territories on ESPN America – Europe (nine games), ESPN America -Middle East (nine games), ESPN 2 Caribbean (23 games), ESPN Pac Rim (six games), ESPN Australia HD (17 games), ESPN Atlantic (five games), ESPN Middle East (eight games), and two games each on ESPN Dos, ESPN China, ESPN Hong Kong, ESPN India, ESPN Malaysia, ESPN Philippines, ESPN Asia, ESPN Taiwan and Star Sports Hong Kong.
The final day of Championship Week – Selection Sunday, March 15 — will begin with a one-hour College GameDay Driven by State Farm at noon on ESPN followed by the ACC Tournament Championship. Extensive coverage of the men’s NCAA Tournament selection will include three hours of ESPNU Bracketology Presented by Staples: a one-hour edition on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. and a two-hour show at 7 p.m. on ESPN (also simulcast on ESPNU). ESPNU will televise the third annual NIT Selection Show at 9 p.m. followed by a 90-minute ESPNU Bracketology Presented by Staples at 9:30 p.m. The following day, ESPN’s Selection Monday coverage will feature the NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Special at 7 p.m. on ESPN (simulcast on ESPNU). ESPNU will televise an additional hour of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Special beginning at 8 p.m.
Championship Week Commentator Tidbits:
- ESPN analyst and Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Knight will serve as a men’s college basketball studio analyst during ESPN’s coverage of Championship Week and throughout the NCAA Tournament. He will also appear on select ESPN shows and platforms, including SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and ESPNEWS.
- Len Elmore will call eight games from three tournaments, including the Colonial Athletic Association Championship March 9 in Richmond, Va. (with Dave Pasch), four BIG EAST games March 11-12 in New York City (with Dan Shulman) and three ACC games March 13-14 in Atlanta (with Mike Patrick).
- Three announcers will work seven games:
- Shulman and analyst Jay Bilas will work seven of the 11 men’s BIG EAST games within a four-day span, including the title game March 14 at 9 p.m. on ESPN. Bilas will call the two second round and two quarterfinal primetime telecasts with Sean McDonough and analyst Bill Raftery. Reporter Doris Burke will work the semifinals and championship.
- Steve Lavin will work three West Coast Conference telecasts with Terry Gannon and analyst Stephen Bardo March 8-9 and the four Big Ten Conference games with Brent Musburger and Erin Andrews March 12-13.
- Dick Vitale, in his 30th season with ESPN, will pair up with Patrick and reporter Heather Cox to work two men’s ACC tournament games on ESPN, including a semifinal March 14 and the championship March 15 at 1 p.m. Patrick and Cox will work five ACC games total. Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes will call the remaining three games, two of them with reporter Jeannine Edwards.
- Following the ACC quarterfinal matchups in Atlanta March 13, Nessler, Dykes and Edwards will travel to Tampa to work the SEC semifinals the following day on ESPN2. Nessler and Dykes will also call the Southern Conference Championship March 9 on ESPN giving them six games total.
- In addition to the three West Coast Conference games, Gannon and Bardo will work the Big Sky Championship March 11 and two Western Athletic Conference telecasts March 13-14.
- Analyst Tim Welsh will work four championship games, more than any other analyst, and six overall. He will call three games with Lou Canellis (Ohio Valley Conference March 6-7 on ESPNU and ESPN2), two with Dave Barnett (Summit League March 10 on ESPN2 and Patriot League March 13 on ESPN2) and one with Scott Graham (America East Conference March 14 at 11 a.m.).
- Constant Championship Week studio updates on the men’s action on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Rece Davis, Karl Ravech, John Saunders, Dari Nowkah and Ryan Burr will split hosting duties with analysis from Bob Knight; Digger Phelps; Jay Bilas; Hubert Davis; Steve Lavin; Jay Williams, Adrian Branch, Doug Gottlieb and Tom Brennan. For ESPNU, Lowell Galindo will host studio coverage with analysis from Adrian Branch and Drew Berry and reports from Andy Katz.
- Dari Nowkhah and Ryan Burr will rotate as studio hosts with Kara Lawson providing studio analysis during ESPN2’s women’s Championship Week.
ESPN Regional Television
For this year’s Championship Week coverage, ESPN Regional Television will syndicate 31 games, including action from the Big 12 (8 games), BIG EAST (4 women’s games), Metro Atlantic Athletic (6 men’s and 3 women’s games), Sun Belt (2 men’s and 3 women’s games) and America East (2 men’s and 3 women’s games).
ESPN.com’s Championship Week index page will feature news, analysis, information and results for every conference tournament. ESPN.com’s Bubble Watch will give fans an in-depth look at teams “on the bubble” and the latest developments on NCAA Tournament selection status. The site will also preview major conference tournaments, examine storylines and offer in-depth expert examinations. ESPN.com writers — including senior writers Pat Forde and Andy Katz, writer Dana O’Neil and college hoops writer Mark Schlabach — will file stories from several tournament sites. Additionally, ESPN.com’s “Bracketologist” Joe Lunardi will update and adjust his Bracketology projections and outlook daily.
ESPN Radio will present comprehensive Championship Week coverage with updates and reports from the sites of key matchups. ESPN Radio’s SportsCenter Saturday and SportsCenter Sunday will dive deep into predicting the field of 65. Also, for the first time, ESPN Radio will be presenting play-by-play coverage of the Big 12 Semifinals and Championship on March 13 and 14 with Marc Kestecher and Will Perdue describing the action. Additionally, regularly scheduled ESPN Radio programming will include previews and reviews of key contests, analysis by ESPN experts, and interviews with coaches and players preparing for the NCAA Tournament.
A full ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360.com, ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD, ESPNU HD and ESPN Mobile TV Championship Week schedule with commentator assignments follows.