Last night was my first chance this season to watch a lot of college basketball, which was especially convenient because both Michigan State and Vanderbilt were playing in back-to-back nationally televised games. Both games were in-conference and on the road. In both cases, the visiting team was considered the better team, and in both cases, the visiting team lost in disappointing fashion. In Champaign, the Illini were barely able to take advantage of brutal shooting by the Spartans and extended absences by Draymond Green, stumbling into a 42-41 W. In Fayetteville, the Razorbacks out-rebounded the ‘Dores and largely played mistake-free basketball, which is a pretty solid formula for winning at home, which they did, 82-74. I also caught part of UT-UK and Clemson-Virginia. The message of the former was “youth,” and the message of the latter was “I did not watch enough to form any meaningful impression of either team.”
If you think this post has been slim on analysis so far, consider the above graphic. (HT: Deadspin)
While watching the two main games described above, I thought that ESPN was using this Super Tuesday to debut two new courtside reporters, Shannon Spake and Samantha Steele. Both looked vaguely familiar though, and Google Images revealed that they’d merely been pulled from other ESPN components, Spake from their NASCAR team and Steele from the Longhorn Network. (Indeed, I unwittingly included a picture of Steele in one of my LHN posts last fall.)
Given the relatively putrid state of the on-court affairs in both games, I wasn’t tracking the coverage with an eagle eye, but I thought both handled themselves confidently and avoided asking bozo questions of the coaches, which goes pretty far in the world of courtside and sideline reporters. Considering the fact that the Longhorn Network still remains “largely unavailable in Texas,” it probably is a good thing for Steele that she’s getting exposure on the mothership.