Jared Fialko

March Madness makes for must-see TV

Posted March 18, 2013

So, what's your excuse? I hope it's a good one. Kids home sick and grandma's not around to care for them? Water heater explode in your basement? Got your mogwai wet, fed him after midnight and now you've got a slew of gremlins terrorizing your neighborhood?

Whatever it is, make it believable when you call in sick to work on Thursday and Friday. Chances are, your employer has already heard them all. Battle of the Blues NCAA Tournament on TV, radio, web and mobile

Welcome to "Work Productivity Slowdown Week,"  the time of year the consultant group Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc. just love. If you haven't heard of them, they're the ones ratting you out to your boss via their studies that project just how much money March Madness costs them come tourney time. This year, they predict three million Americans will "waste" one to three hours at work watching games. Couple that with scoping out scores online and filling out brackets (including those in workplaces where the head honchos shake their fists and scream bloody murder against doing so) and the firm estimates that more than a billion bucks is lost in worker productivity.

So, at the risk of angering upper management, let's examine some of the matchups worth streaming online at your workplace computer. Just make sure to keep your mouse/keyboard trigger finger froggy and your speaker volume low so you can minimize that broadcast and pop up that TPS report you're supposed to be working on at the drop of a hat. Maybe that way, you won't get chastised for messing up cover letter protocol again.

Or, if the shoe is on the other foot, maybe you can ditch the iron-fisted taskmaster label for two days and just let your staff watch the action live on WRAL-TV. Do it. I guarantee fewer people will pretend to not to notice you to avoid conversation at next December's company Christmas party.

By the way, I'm omitting all Triangle teams from the conversation, because I assume everyone will be watching them regardless, whether pulling for them to advance or tank.

#3 Michigan State vs. #14 Valparaiso, Thursday at 12:15 p.m. on WRAL

Here's that second round 14/3 upset you're begging to pick in your bracket. Valpo may have not been to the dance in nine years, but in terms of court time they are the most experienced team in the entire tournament. The team's top nine players are juniors and seniors. There are six seniors on the roster, and all of them play major roles. I'm not normally one to bet against Tom Izzo this early in the field of 68, but if there's one opposing coach who knows all too well about magical moments in March, it's the Crusaders' chief.

Bryce Drew took over for his pops, Homer, less than two years ago, and I'm willing to bet he's itching to top that iconic moment. Let's just hope he doesn't get upstaged by an astronaut.

#5 Oklahoma State vs #12 Oregon, Thursday at 4:40 p.m. on TNT

One of those instances where one team's slight advantage becomes another team's nightmare. Granted, while the Ducks were incredibly mediocre after January (only 5-and-5 entering their conference tournament), a 12 seed for the Pac 12 champion who only sat one game out of the regular season title too? A very balanced, and now angry badelynge (or brace, flock, raft, paddling, geez, why are there so many names for a group of Ducks?!) could spell trouble for the Cowboys.

#5 Wisconsin vs #12 Mississippi, Friday at 12:40 p.m. on truTV

Matchups involving two entirely different styles are always intriguing to see how they play out. One of the best defensive teams in the country versus a squad who's 7th in the nation in scoring. Oh, and for entertainment purposes solely, there's Marshall Henderson. Who, I'm pretty sure ignited a Mandy Mitchell outburst when this happened in Sunday's SEC Tournament Championship:

#4 Syracuse vs #13 Montana, Thursday at 9:57 p.m. on truTV

Because this is where I get to be a homer and tell you how this was probably the best moment of my college days in Central New York.

#6 Butler vs #11 Bucknell, Thursday at 12:40 p.m. on truTV

Mid-Majors explode!!! The postseason mastermind against maybe the best unknown player in college hoops: Brad Stevens v. Mike Muscala. America's favorite underdogs of the last half decade pitted against a team that's only lost one game by more than a single possession. Here's your showdown that goes down to the final seconds and could possibly provide the first fabulous finish of the tournament.

Happy viewing, maybe your brackets not bust, and may all your moments be "shining."

Currently listening to: Muse "Madness," 'tis the season!


Full schedule: Sports on TV/radio


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  • PanthersFan45 Mar 20, 2013

    Seems like the best matchups are scheduled for the 7-10:00PM tip-offs. Only in the East do the games really start at lunch time. I will be at work and will admit that I will be using the CBS Gametracker online. I played a bracket in our "annual" office pool and love this time of year. Picking upsets is the biggest challenge because there are always a few. The only problem w/work for me is when the tournament gets going, I tend to stay up late for the games that end around midnight or later. That's when I need some strong coffee in the morning !!

  • sburks1906 Mar 19, 2013

    I'll be calling in sick with my "practice cough" on Thursday lol. Enjoy the tourney fellas (and ladies)!

  • VT1994Hokie Mar 19, 2013

    I'll watch the top teams bang heads. More people will watch after the 1st rounds.

  • Hammerhead Mar 19, 2013

    View quoted thread

    ^The interest for most events is way overblown. The sports media lives in a vacuum for the most part, see how excited they and how much they argue about the most mundane things. Must see for real college basketball fans, but the overwhelming majority of the people in the US don't really care that much. Look at the ratings and tell me what % of TVs are on during the Final Four. About 10% IIRC. I myself only watch my teams, a select few other games and the Final Four. It's too nice out this time of year and I have far to much other work to do to watch basketball for the most part.

  • Myword Mar 18, 2013

    I realize WRAL and CBS have to say it is must see TV, but I also note the very few comments here. Given the brackets, I am not sure how long millions of people are really going to be glued to their TVs.

  • randdjacobs Mar 18, 2013

    I have Duke(couldn't help myself) and Miami in the championship game on my bracket. Wouldn't that be something? I see NCSU giving Indiana trouble in the round of 32 and UNC defeating Kansas to advance to the Sweet 16. I think the ACC will have a better showing than expected and will, hopefully, silence the critics. Go Duke!!!

  • Dookbballskidmarked Mar 18, 2013

    Albany and Dook.

  • StunGunn Mar 18, 2013

    Oh yeah - the next few weekends are definitely MUST SEE TV. Thanks for the Butler upset alert - it's hard to pick against a Brad Stevens' coached team, though.

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MLB Scoreboard
Chi Cubs05:10 PT6:10 MT7:10 CT8:10 ET20:10 ET0:10 GMT8:10 5:10 MST7:10 EST7:40 VEN4:10 UAE (+1)7:10 CT
Chi White Sox0
American League
LA Angels1Top
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St. Louis 
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San Diego 
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International League
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Louisville 3:35 PT4:35 MT5:35 CT6:35 ET11:35 GMT
Pawtucket 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
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Lehigh Valley 
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ATP Scoreboard
Thursday, Jul. 27
Suisse Open Gstaad (ATP)
Second Round
(5) P. Lorenzi610 6 4   
E. Gulbis712 3 6   
(4) F. Fognini1 6 6   
N. Gombos6 4 3   
(3) F. Lopez65 6 1   
Y. Hanfmann77 3 6   
(8) J. Sousa1     
H. Laaksonen1     
Atlanta Open (ATP)
German Open (ATP)
Second Round
(8) D. Ferrer5 3    
F. Delbonis7 6    
(5) B. Paire4 67    
N. Kicker6 79    
(3) K. Khachanov77 5 6   
A. Bedene64 7 4   
H. Zeballos4 4    
J. Vesely6 6    
(4) G. Simon3 6 2   
P. Kohlschrei6 3 3   
L. Mayer 
J. Struff 
WTA Scoreboard
Thursday, Jul. 27
Ericsson Open (WTA)
Second Round
(5) C. Suarez Nav3 77 5   
E. Mertens6 62 7   
(1) C. Wozniacki6 2 6   
V. Golubic2 6 4   
(6) K. Bertens     
B. Krejcikova     
K. Kozlova4     
M. Barthel3     
Jiangxi Open (WTA)
Second Round
(6) J. Jankovic6 1 2   
J. Lu2 6 6   
K. Chang0 2    
Y. Wang6 6    
L. Zhu6 6    
F. Xun3 4    
(3) K. Pliskova3     
N. Hibino0     
(2) S. Peng6 3    
T. Martincova2 2