Mon Apr 04 10:43pm EDT
The first half of the NCAA championship game between Butler and Connecticut was the lowest scoring since 1946, a fact that didn't escape notice from CBS analysts. At halftime of the 22-19 brick-fest, Greg Anthony, Seth Davis and Charles Barkley ripped the team's play with a vigor rarely seen by commentators on a network airing a big game.
"First of all, I'm gonna be honest: This is the worst half of basketball I've ever seen in a national championship game." -- Greg Anthony
"It's almost like these two teams are competing to see which can play worse ... This is a very bad showcase for a national championship game for college basketball." -- Seth Davis
"A team made six field goals and has the lead. That's sad. That was an awful half of college basketball." -- Charles Barkley (who later added that Butler was playing as ugly as the girls he dated in high school, before he was rich and successful.)
You never hear analysts rip a game on their own network that badly, let alone one that's at halftime. One of the cardinal rules in sports broadcasting is that you always make the viewer think there's no better option on their remote control. Everybody may know if it's a blowout, but you don't say that until the outcome is all but assured.
Three years ago, Billy Packer learned that lesson the hard way when he infamously declared that the Kansas-North Carolina national semifinal was "over" early in the first half. It was the last Final Four he'd call for the network.
This year's bashing won't draw as much outrage, mainly because it was mostly accurate and people like Anthony, Davis and Barkley better than they did Packer. They still went overboard, though. The play was sloppy, yes, but a lot of the missed shots were due to superb defense. When the Ravens and Steelers play in the NFL, people focus on the D rather than the inept rushing attack.
Regardless of whether the criticism of the game was warranted, it couldn't have pleased CBS executives who need the casual fans to stick with the game in order to boost the ratings. Instead of ripping the game with such enthusiasm, it would have better if, say, the guys on set discussed how close the game was or how the second half had potential to be better than the first.
Either that, or they could have just had Barkley talk about his high school girlfriends the whole time.
Related: Buy national championship gear