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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports


From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Tournament week for Pirates means recruiting

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Monday was supposed to be a travel day.

Our plan at WNCT-TV 9 was to hit the road to Louisville on Monday. Our coverage was supposed to begin on Tuesday, with the shoot-arounds at the Conference USA tournament. East Carolina was to play its opening game on Wednesday.

The Pirates didn’t finish in the top twelve of the league, though, so the ECU coaches will spend at least part of this week on the recruiting trail.

We will now watch the C-USA tournament's first couple of rounds on television before heading to Greensboro for the ACC Tournament.

East Carolina’s move from the CAA to its new, higher-profile conference changed the way we cover tournaments on the television side. In years past, the CAA event, usually held in Richmond, was played the week before the ACC Tournament.

C-USA runs its tournament during the same week as the ACC, but starts earlier with the large number of teams involved.

Our coverage plans are now to always follow East Carolina for as long as they are in the Conference USA tournament, and then to head back to the ACC event.

Had East Carolina earned an invitation to Freedom Hall for the league tourney, just think about what kind of week would have unfolded for the region's fans.

In Conference USA, Louisville, Marquette and Memphis are among the nation’s top teams. In the ACC, it’s a chance to watch Duke, Wake Forest and defending national champion Maryland.

One week, with a chance to watch six of the nation’s top teams in a tournament-type atmosphere, makes for a great tip off of March Madness.

Packer out to lunch..?

Where has Billy Packer been this season? He's obviously been unable to keep track of some of the nation's best teams.

The veteran CBS analyst should have gotten some heat when he referred to Conference USA as a “mid-major” during a Sunday broadcast. Sometimes you have to wonder what game Packer’s really watching.

Conference USA could legitimately boast that three of its schools have a shot at the “Sweet Sixteen,” and with a little luck, that trio of Marquette, Memphis and Louisville could comprise almost half of the “Great 8.”

Not bad for a “mid-major.”

2003 Kelly Tires Conference USA Tournament
Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky

Wednesday, March 12 (First Round)

(10) South Florida vs. (7) DePaul (ESPN 2) 1:00 pm
(11) Houston vs. (6) Tulane (ESPN 2) 3:30 pm
(9) UAB vs. (8) Charlotte (ESPN Plus) 7:00 pm
(12) USM vs. (5) Cincinnati (ESPN Plus) 9:30 pm

Thursday, March 13 (Quarterfinals)

USF/DPU vs. (2) Memphis (ESPN Plus) 1:00 pm
HOU/TUL vs. (3) Louisville (ESPN Plus) 3:30 pm
UAB/CHA vs. (1) Marquette (ESPN Plus) 7:00 pm
USM/CIN vs. (4) Saint Louis (ESPN Plus) 9:30 pm

Friday, March 14 (Semifinals)

Semifinal No. 1 (ESPN Plus) 5:00 pm
Semifinal No. 2 (ESPN Plus) 7:30 pm

Saturday, March 15

Championship Game (CBS) 11:40 am

Bailey's Crystal ball

The tournament opens on Wednesday, and you can never discount surprises. Among the lower seeds that have a chance to advance, I like South Florida to knock off DePaul. Charlotte has hobbled home a bit, so UAB as the 9th seed looks to advance past the 49ers.

As far as the quarterfinals go, take a hard look at Tulane’s game with Louisville. The Cards are either going to turn things around, or continue to flounder going into the tournament. I’ll bet that Rick Pitino gets his squad back in order going into the NCAA’s.

So, slot Memphis and Louisville into on semifinals, and put Marquette and St. Louis in the other. As I write this I realize that these brackets never stay true to form.

With that said, give me Louisville and Marquette in the finals, and I’ll take the Cards to win the tournament title. Every team goes through its share of peaks and valleys in a season. The time is now for the Cards to get their ship in order.

I sure wish that I could pick a Pirate upset in the first round, but those days in the Conference USA tournament are still at least a year away.

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02/23/2007 01:26:21 AM

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