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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

College basketball's final four rivalries

Louisville plays Kentucky on Saturday in the Final Four in the latest chapter of one of college basketball's most heated rivalries. Where, exactly, does the UL-UK rivalry rank in college hoops? Here’s our "final four:''

duke.1. Duke-North Carolina
Sorry, Bluegrass State, but Duke-North Carolina (actually, we can drop "North'' and call it Duke-Carolina) is the best rivalry in college basketball. Don't feel bad. You could make a case that Duke-Carolina basketball is the best rivalry in all of sports. It's as competitive as heads vs. tails and as nasty as the Hatfields and McCoys.

The last time these teams met and neither was ranked in the writers or coaches poll was Feb. 25, 1955. They have met 70 times when both were ranked, each winning 35 times. Rarely do these teams meet without having a major impact on the ACC regular-season crown.
These programs, separated by a mere 8 miles, have a sort of love-hate relationship. In other words, they love to hate each other. By the way, they've never met in the NCAA Tournament. They did meet once in the NIT, back in 1971. Carolina beat Duke 73-67. …

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Shooting from the lip/March 26th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

barkley.Worst additions
I don't know when it happened, but there was a point in the past few years when one of the networks decided that the more people you had on a studio show, the better that show would be. Then all the networks jumped on that bandwagon.

Now look at it. Most network studio shows have at least four or five people clogging up the set. Just think of the shows -- the Fox and CBS NFL shows, ESPN's College GameDay, ABC’s NBA pregame show. Heck, the Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN often has as many as a dozen hosts, analysts and reporters. Now it has carried over to the CBS NCAA basketball tournament. Not only are there too many talking heads, half of them shouldn't even be there. …

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Wednesday: Chat live with Tom Jones

Want to talk about the Rays, Bucs, Lightning, Final Four, Frozen Four, sports on TV/radio? Whatever's on your mind, join Times sports personality Tom Jones for a live chat Wednesday, March 28, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Can't make it? Leave a question in the "Comments'' area below, then check back afterward to replay the chat.

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Shooting from the lip/March 19th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

usf.Worst schedule
There are 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament. The second round features 32 games over two days. The third round has 16 games over two days. That's 48 games in four days. And often, several teams from the same general area of the country are in the tournament.

For example, North Carolina, N.C. State, Duke and UNC-Ashville made the tournament. There was Cincinnati, Xavier, Ohio State and Ohio. Then there was USF, Florida and Florida State. The point is, there are bound to be TV broadcasting conflicts.

But still, you would think CBS and its broadcast partners would do its best to avoid conflicts like we saw in the second and third rounds. Florida and Florida State played at almost the same time Friday. USF and Florida overlapped Sunday.

Maybe it's more complicated than I'm making it, but I looked at the schedule and in about 10 seconds noticed how a couple of starting times could have been altered to make sure the Florida teams were not playing at the same time. And unlike CBS and the NCAA, I have no incentive to make sure the ratings for the games are as high as possible. …

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Hanging out with Dottie Pepper

NBC and sister station Golf Channel are broadcasting the Transitions Championship from Innis­brook. As a part of the coverage, Dottie Pepper, the LPGA star turned star broadcaster, will report from the course as, she says, "a liaison between the players and the viewers.'' She is among the best golf analysts in the business. Last week, Tampa Bay Times staff writer Tom Jones tagged alongside Pepper, 46, as she followed the group of Luke Donald, K.J. Choi and Justin Rose to find out what she does and what makes her so good. Here are snapshots of her afternoon.
• • •
Pepper’s work day starts several hours before the Golf Channel’s afternoon coverage begins. She sits in a trailer at Innisbrook next to broadcaster Gary Koch, constantly refreshing her laptop to get the latest scores from those golfers out on the course. A few minutes before 3 p.m., Pepper puts on her gear -- a headset, fanny pack and a radio transmitter the size and shape of a walkie-talkie -- and heads to the sixth hole to pick up the group of Donald, Choi and Rose. In her hands, a microphone and her trusty yardage book, telling her everything she needs to know about the Copperhead course. Riding in a golf cart, she passes fans who quickly recognize her. …

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Dan Sileo no longer at WDAE

dan.Dan Sileo, whose controversial remarks made him a lightning rod as morning host on WDAE 620-AM, finally said something that cost him his job. One day after referring to three African-American football players on the air as "monkeys,'' Sileo is no longer employed by WDAE.

While he would not use the word "fired,'' WDAE program director Steve Versnick did confirm Tuesday that, "Dan Sileo is no longer with WDAE. We wish him the best.''

Versnick had no other comment. Sileo did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Sileo's controversial remark came Monday when Sileo was talking about the possibility of three free agents -- Cortland Finnegan, Vincent Jackson and Jonathan Vilma, all of whom are African-American -- joining the Bucs. Sileo, who is white, said, "If they got those three monkeys, I'm good. I'm ready, man. I'm ready. I want those guys. Those guys are great players.'' …

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Dan Sileo calls three NFL free agents "monkeys''

dan.Dan Sileo, the morning host on WDAE 620-AM, made national news Monday when he referred to three NFL free agents as "monkeys.'' The three players are African-Americans.

The comment came as Sileo and his producer were talking on the air about the possibility of free agents Cortland Finnegan, Vincent Jackson and Jonathan Vilma coming to Tampa Bay. Sileo, who is white, seemed excited about those players possibly joining the Bucs and said, "If they get those three monkeys, I'm good. I'm ready, man. I'm ready. I want those guys. Those guys are great players.''

Sileo did not return messages left for him Monday night, but WDAE program director Steve Versnick released a statement that said: "WDAE would like to apologize for Dan Sileo's ill-chosen on-air remarks earlier this week. He absolutely meant no disrespect to the players and he is sincerely embarrassed and upset that his off-the-cuff remarks might be taken as hateful, disrespectful, or in any way racist. Dan and the station regret any offense to the players; to the Bucs organization; and to the people of the Tampa Bay community.''

Sileo hosted his radio show as usual Tuesday morning.

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Shooting from the lip/March 12th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

cbs.Most mediocre
The NCAA Selection Show on CBS is good for one thing: revealing the bracket. Expecting anything more has become unrealistic. CBS drags out the announcements so long that there is very little time left in the hour show to really dive into the brackets, the seedings and why certain bubble teams snuck in and others were left out.

Viewers want to hear from the committee, but instead end up hearing more from the CBS analysts. Analysts Seth Davis and Greg Anthony are interesting, but we hear about their predictions and bracket-busters when we would rather hear why, for instance, Iona got in while Drexel and Seton Hall were left out, or why USF is forced to play an extra game.

The NCAA Hardcourt Brackets show on truTV after the CBS show was much better at delving into questions. And give credit to tournament chair Jeff Hathaway and vice chair Mike Bobinski for not ducking any of those questions. …

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Shooting from the lip/March 5th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

fran.Best criticism
Far too many basketball commentators, especially in the college game, are too quick to blindly defend officials. You see it all the time: A referee calls a foul and before any of us, including the analyst, have seen a replay, the analyst says, "That's a good call.''

That's why it was so refreshing to hear ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla rip the officials at the end of Murray State's two-point victory over Tennessee State in Saturday's final of Ohio Valley tournament. Most viewers probably didn't even notice that the winning bucket came on what should have been a charging call, but Fraschilla went out of his way to point out the missed call. …

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Justin Pawlowski gets 1010-AM gig

Justin Pawlowski, formerly of 620-AM, will take over as host of the noon to 3 show on 1010-AM starting Monday. Pawlowski replaces the King David Show, which stopped airing last week after co-hosts Shaun King, the former Bucs QB, and Toby David ended their working relationship. The station would not reveal details, but it's believed several candidates, possibly including King and David, were considered for the noon to 3 show. Pawlowski filled in occasionally as a host on 620-AM, so hosting his own show should not be foreign to him.

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