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Reynolds Rap

Immersive Madness

3/27/2008 6:39 AM

Okay, it’s been more than three days since the Madness engulfed the nation (one, if you got caught up in ESPN2’s whip-around coverage of the women’s tourney). Don’t know about you, but either way that’s far too long in March.

Now, I won’t say it totally sated my thirst for bracket-breaking b-ball (darn you Davidson, thank you West Virginia), but the "NCAA March Madness Highlights" video on demand package has been a solid bridge to the tip off of tonight’s Sweet 16 action.

Brought to you by CBS Sports, CBS College Sports Network and college sports’ governing body, the on-demand package is available on a host of distributors: Comcast, Bresnan, Charter, Dish, Insight, Mediacom, Midcontinent, Wave Broadband, Sunflower Broadband, Horry Telephone Cooperative and Verizon FiOS.,

In my case, it’s Cablevision, which, like FiOS, has yet to sign a linear carriage deal with CBS College Sports Network, formerly known as CSTV. This iO subscriber hopes this serves as a bridge to adding the service full time.

Hitting the on-demand section at channel 500, I scrolled to the free on demand section, before moving to its second menu page. Clicking NCAA March Madness gave me a pair of options: "Game Highlights" and "Memories."

With the former, there were expansive recaps from all of the first- and second-round games. The individual games, listing at five minutes, contain contest set-ups, extended highlights (SportsCenter can’t touch this depth) and a final score box, plus, in some cases, post-game interviews.

For instance, I was able to relive the heroics of Stanford’s Lopez twins finally taking the measure of Marquette’s Jerell McNeal in the Cardinal’s one-point win over the Golden Eagles in OT—a game I had followed on March Madness on Demand..

Kevin Love’s defensive (eight blocks) and offensive arsenal (threes and turnarounds) also was on good display during No. 1 UCLA’s controversial come-from-behind win against ninth-seeded Texas A&M in the West region. Yes after rewinding the play several times, I still believe that Donald Sloan was fouled with timing winding down and a chance to knot matters for the Aggies.

Among the Memories: Grant Hill’s three-quarter length pass to Christian Laettner for his immortalized turnaround jumper in Duke’s heart-stopping 104-103 OT triumph against Kentucky in the 1992 East regional final; and Bill Walton’s making 21 of 22 field goal attempts in a record 44-point final performance against Memphis St. (the predecessor to John Callipari’s current Memphis crew) in the 1973.

It was cool to show my son what the Big Redhead could do — other than pontificate about the NBA. But c’mon CBS College Sports: You gotta mention, or show, that Walton’s “miss” came on a tip-in that was ruled offensive interference. If memory serves, the put-back might have been on a dunk to boot:  Back then, slamming was illegal, thanks to the UCLA center’s forebear, Mr. Lew Alcindor.

All in all, you could do far worse than immersing yourself in Madness current and past for a few hours via the on-demand offering, which continues through the tourney’s end. What’s more, CBS College Sports Network execs expect it to become a March perennial.

September