Watchdog

Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Kentucky, UConn are bracket busters

(Credit: AP)

There have been many springs when Connecticut and Kentucky would have been popular picks for the Final Four. This is not one of them.

Of the 11.01 million brackets submitted to ESPN.com’s Men’s Tournament Challenge, a mere 612 named all four national semifinalists correctly.

UConn appeared in 1.3 percent of brackets and Kentucky 3.3. Even Wisconsin, a No. 2 seed, only was chosen by 32.6...

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Bill Raftery has been a Garden regular since 1955

Fox analyst Bill Raftery.

(Credit: Handout)

Bill Raftery is old enough to have played for LaSalle at the old Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue in the early 1960s, but his experience with college basketball in the building predates even that.

“The first time was Bill Russell [of San Francisco] playing against Tommy Heinsohn [of Holy Cross] in the [1955] Holiday Festival,’’ Raftery said Thursday as he prepared to work the NCAA East...

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Allie LaForce gets added respect because she played the game

Donald J. Trump, owner of the Miss Universe

(Credit: Miss Universe)

Allie LaForce was Miss Teen USA in 2005, but any notion players and coaches might have that she is just another pretty face as a sideline reporter quickly are dispelled when she starts talking basketball.

She played the game at the Division I level as a reserve at Ohio University during her freshman and sophomore years before transitioning into a media role as a junior.

“There are a...

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CBS NCAA director Suzanne Smith takes pride in being a rare woman in role

Inside Madison Square Garden for media availability prior

(Credit: Neil Best)

CBS’ Suzanne Smith has been working the NCAA Tournament for more than 30 years, including the past 20 as a director, and also is the only woman currently directing NFL games.

Does being one of the few women in her line of work mean something extra to her?

“Absolutely, I take pride in it,’’ she said Thursday as she prepared to direct the NCAA East Regional games at Madison Square Garden...

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Verne Lundquist says calling NCAAs at Garden is 'very meaningful'

Head coach Phil Martelli of the Saint Joseph's

(Credit: Getty)

Verne Lundquist, 73, was very much alive the last time the NCAA Tournament visited Madison Square Garden in 1961, but CBS’ play-by-play man for the East Regional never did get to visit the old Garden on Eighth Avenue while growing up primarily in Illinois, Washington and Texas.

Still, Lundquist has fond memories of that long-ago era in college hoops.

 “As a 10-year-old boy in Everett,...

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NCAA East Regional ticket market still en fuego

Villanova's Darrun Hilliard II defends Connecticut's Shabazz Napier

(Credit: AP)

Fueled by the presence of Connecticut and its avid fan base just up the road, tickets on the secondary market for the NCAA East Regional continue to be extraordinarily costly.

According to SeatGeek, which monitors a number of resale sites, selling prices for Friday night's regional semifinals at the Garden now are more expensive than for either session of the Final Four.

Friday night...

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Kenny Smith happy NCAAs are back at MSG

Former basketball player Kenny Smith and his wife

(Credit: Richard Harbus)

Kenny Smith sits in the CBS/Turner studio between a Midwesterner in Clark Kellogg and a Southerner in Charles Barkley, so it’s up to him to be the official New York representative on the NCAA crew.

No problems there for a guy who even though he now lives in California still has no shortage of Queens-bred pride, more so than ever with the tournament returning to Madison Square Garden on Friday...

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Lundquist, Raftery to call East Regional on TBS

Greg Anthony attends the premiere of 'Winning Time:

(Credit: AP)

Before the NCAA brackets were announced, CBS analyst (and former Knick) Greg Anthony told me he had his “fingers crossed’’ that he and Jim Nantz would land the East Regional at the Garden.

“That would be pretty cool,’’ he said. “That would be awesome if that happens.’’

Twelve days later he learned he was bound for Indianapolis and Friday night’s latest episode in the Rick Pitino vs....

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CBS/TBS avoid Michigan gridlock

Normally the television executives who keep us up into the wee hours during the NCAA Tournament’s regional semifinal round at least stagger the most attractive matchups in the early and late slots.

So how is that on Friday Kentucky-Louisville and Michigan State-Virginia – the sexier games in the Midwest and East – both ended up in the late prime time period?

Simple: There was no avoiding...

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11 million divided by 16 equals 3 in NCAAs

Only three brackets among the 11.01 million submitted to ESPN.com’s Men’s Tournament Challenge picked every Sweet 16 team correctly and only 99 went 15-for-16. Alas, neither group includes me, and probably not you.

Among double-digit seeds, Dayton was in the Sweet 16 in 3.9 percent of brackets and Tennessee in 4.9 percent.

A mere 0.1 percent of brackets correctly predicted the South...

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