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A-10 St. Louis University versus St Bonaventure Basketball

St. Louis University coach Travis Ford waves a net after the Billikens defeated St. Bonaventure in the final of the Atlantic 10 men's tournament Sunday, March 17, 2019, in New York. SLU won 55-53. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

St. Louis University has surged into the NCAA Tournament by rolling to the title in the Atlantic 10 Conference tourney after being at 15-1 odds to do so when the event began.

Interest locally in the team is soaring, and the Billikens’ nail-biting 55-53 victory Sunday over St. Bonaventure for the crown was seen in 3.8 percent of homes in the market with a TV. That’s according to Nielsen, which tracks viewership. It reported the rating shot up to 5.9 for the scintillating last 15 minutes of CBS’ telecast, on KMOV (Channel 4) locally.

It performed better than the Cardinals’ spring training game (2.1), which was being played at the same time. In fact, the only sporting event on local TV Sunday that beat it was the Blues-Sabres contest, which drew a 4.1 rating on Fox Sports Midwest. Among events SLU drew better than was the final round of the Players Championship golf tourney and a NASCAR race.

SLU’s rating Sunday doesn’t rival what the Cardinals do in the regular season, but it’s similar to what the Blues are drawing this year. It bodes well for their contest Friday on the big stage, when they play Virginia Tech in San Jose, Calif., in a game tentatively set to tip off at 8:57 p.m. (St. Louis time).

A TRU TEST

The Bills’ game will be televised on truTV, which is in fewer homes than any of the other three outlets showing the tournament — CBS, TBS and TNT.

Still, it is carried on most programming providers in the St. Louis area — Spectrum (Charter) on channels 63, 772; DirectTV 246; Dish Network 149 or 242; AT&T U-verse 164, 165, 1164 or 1165; Cable America-Maryland Heights 57.

The network has been part of the tournament television mix since CBS went into partnership with Turner Sports nine seasons ago to share coverage of the event and show every contest live nationally. Previously, there was regional coverage of the early rounds. While TBS and TNT have a sports presence at other times of the year, truTV otherwise concentrates on entertainment programming.

Spero Dedes is set to have the call of the Bills-Hokies game, with Len Elmore and Steve Smith providing commentary and Ros Gold-Onwude serving as the reporter.

It will be the finale of a grueling marathon for them. They broadcast four games Friday afternoon in San Jose, the first two on TBS, before working the Liberty-Mississippi State matchup at 6:27 p.m. (on truTV), and finally wrapping up with SLU-Virginia Tech a half hour after the preceding contest ends. Dedes and Smith also called two “First Four “ games Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio — about 2.400 miles from San Jose.

On radio the entertaining longtime SLU broadcast team of Bob Ramsey (play-by-play) and Earl Austin Jr. have the call, on WXOS (101.1 FM).

SELECTION SUCCESS

The telecast Sunday of the NCAA Tournament “Selection Show” went back to the basics, and the simple approach was a hit big with viewers.

Instead of taking a seemingly interminable hour and 17 minutes to unveil the entire field as happened in 2016, or whizzing through it in a suspense-zapping span of less than 15 minutes last year in which at-large teams that made the field were listed mostly in alphabetical order, CBS reverted to its traditional format of reveling the matchups region by region and rolled through the brackets in 38 minutes.

Gone were gimmicks such as a studio audience and former big-name NBA players who don’t report on college basketball regularly, leading to a fast-paced, orderly program that restored the intrigue for fans of teams “on the bubble.”

The result was the best rating for the program in five years, as Nielsen reports that 4 percent of homes in the nation with a TV turned in. The figure was even better in St. Louis, where the rating was 5.2

BY THE NUMBERS

How the “Selection Show” has fared in the ratings nationally and in St. Louis since CBS and WarnerMedia (formerly Turner Broadcasting) began their partnership to show the NCAA Tournament. Also include is where St. Louis ranked nationally:

YEAR NATION STL STL RANK

2011 4.0 5.0 24

2012 3.6 6.7 12

2013 4.2 5.7 T21

2014 4.1 5.4 20

2015 3.5 2.8 36

2016 3.3 4.4 T23

2017 3.0 3.2 26

2018 1.5 1.6 T26

2019 4.0 5.2 17

Notes • The 2018 show was on TBS, all other on CBS (KMOV, Channel 4 locally). The rating is the percent of homes with a TV tuned in.

Source • Nielsen

WOMEN’S FOCUS

Missouri opens play in the women’s NCAA Tournament on Friday, when the Tigers face Drake in Iowa City, Iowa. ESPN and ESPN2 are televising the tourney and switch from game-to-game in most markets throughout the first four days of play.

However, if a team of local interest is playing, the full game will be shown in the pertinent areas. That is the case in the St. Louis area for the Mizzou contest, which is set to tip off at 3 p.m. on ESPN2. John Brickley (play-by-play) and Christy Winters-Scott (analysis) have the call.

The same set-up will be used for the Missouri State-DePaul contest, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2, with Brenda VanLengen (play-by-play) and Andraya Carter (analysis) the broadcasters. The game is in Ames, Iowa.

FACEBOOK FRACAS

Major League Baseball riled some of its fans last season by pulling one weekday afternoon game a week from local television and putting that package on Facebook. The move affected two Cardinals contests and a significantly smaller number of people saw those productions compared to a typical Cards weekday afternoon telecast.

According to a meter on the Facebook screen, the audience for its first Cards game peaked at 78,000 viewers, the second at 78,000. At the time, FSM was averaging about 150,000 viewers in the immediate St. Louis area alone for its telecasts of Cards midweek afternoon games, according to interpretation of Nielsen ratings figures. That figure did not include its audience in outlying areas or those watching in public places, such as restaurants and bars.

A spokesman for MLB said this week that a decision has not yet been made about sending any games this year to Facebook or any other streaming service.