ESPNU has announced the commentator lineup for the four-hour ESPNU Midnight Madness special set for Friday, Oct. 15, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU HD. The special will feature extensive whip-around coverage from top college basketball programs around the nation. ESPNEWS anchor Bram Weinstein will host this year’s telecast. He will be joined in studio by ESPN analysts Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis and ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz. The studio team will provide analysis between look-ins at each Midnight Madness event. ESPN’s Dick Vitale will also join in the season-opening hoopla via satellite.
As previously announced, coverage will focus on several men’s programs including defending national champion Duke, and NCAA Championship participants Kentucky, Memphis, Gonzaga and Kansas State. The Connecticut women’s program – the two-time defending national champion, which is riding a 78-game winning streak, 10 short of the UCLA men’s record for consecutive victories in NCAA Division I basketball – will also be featured. The Huskies will be the first women’s team to be showcased during Midnight Madness coverage on ESPN’s networks. Also, the St. John’s men’s basketball program, behind new head coach and former ESPN analyst Steve Lavin, is a recent addition to the ESPNU Midnight Madness lineup.
ESPN.com’s Katz has five of the men’s programs featured during ESPNU Midnight Madness ranked in his early men’s preseason top 25 poll – No. 1 Duke, No. 5 Kansas State, No. 9 Gonzaga, No. 13 Kentucky and No. 19 Memphis. The Connecticut women are expected to be ranked in the top five nationally heading into the 2010-11 season.
Each site will feature some of ESPN’s top college basketball analysts – Fran Fraschilla (Kansas State), Jay Williams (Duke), Doug Gottlieb (St. John’s), Jimmy Dykes (Kentucky), Stephen Bardo (Memphis) and Kara Lawson (Connecticut), as well as Sean Farnham (Gonzaga), who will join the ESPN family this season.
The on-site commentators will provide coverage of various elements including scrimmages, interactive games with fans, player introductions, skill and dunk contests, team skits and season previews. Interviews will be conducted with both reigning national championship head coaches Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) and Geno Auriemma (UConn), along with John Calipari (Kentucky), Lavin (St. John’s) and others.
The four-hour special will visit Midnight Madness events throughout the country with ESPNU Campus Connection, allowing students to contribute their personal perspective. Coverage on SportsCenter will begin at 3 p.m. and will run through the evening, adding exposure to the Midnight Madness events.
ESPNU will open the season with a two-hour college basketball Schedule Release Show on Tuesday, Oct. 19 beginning at 10 p.m. In addition, three Media Day Specials will air on Wednesday, Oct. 20, Thursday, Oct. 21 and Thursday, Oct. 28, from 1-4 p.m., tapping into the top men’s and women’s basketball conferences in the nation including interviews with more than 60 head coaches. Live action begins Monday, Nov. 8, with two matchups from the 2K Sports Classic benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer. Tipping off the season is NIT semifinalist Rhode Island at Pittsburgh at 7 p.m., followed by Navy at Texas at 9 p.m. ESPNU will air more than 300 men’s and women’s basketball games combined, including action from more than 25 NCAA Division I conferences.
ESPNU Midnight Madness (Schedule subject to change)
|Connecticut||Gampel Pavilion||Bob Picozzi & Kara Lawson|
|Duke||Cameron Indoor Stadium||Lou Canellis & Jay Williams|
|Gonzaga||McCarthey Athletic Center||TBD & Sean Farnham|
|Kansas State||Bramlage Coliseum||Mitch Holthus & Fran Fraschilla|
|Kentucky||Rupp Arena||Doug Bell & Jimmy Dykes|
|Memphis||FedEx Forum||Jim Barbar & Stephen Bardo|
|St. John’s||Carnesecca Arena||Doug Gottlieb|
The 24-hour college sports television network airs more than 650 live events annually and offers over 400 original studio shows. ESPNU has seen a steady increase since its inception on March 4, 2005 and is now in over 73 million households. The brand is also available in high definition on ESPNUHD, now in over 17 million homes.