CBS's free on-demand streaming video of NCAA tournament games."> 

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Thursday, March 16, 2006
Basketball, Basketball, and More (NCAA) Basketball

The best part of the experience so far this year is new: CBS's free on-demand streaming video of NCAA tournament games.

Today and tomorrow are the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. For me, this is even bigger than Groundhog Day. These are my favorite two days of the year in sports, above New Year's Day and far above the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the NBA Finals (put together). They're almost my favorite two days of the year, period. My annual inclination is to take both days off work and do nothing but watch basketball from 10:00 a.m. to midnight. I've done that before. Alas, an upcoming business trip requires that I actually work today and tomorrow in order to be properly prepared.

My own favorite team, the BYU Cougars, is not in the tournament. Some thought they were a bubble team, but last night in the NIT's first round they got creamed by Houston, proving that the selection committee had the right idea in excluding them from the "big dance" this year. But no matter. I almost don't care who's playing. 64 teams are playing, and they're all good.

I have filled out my bracket, based mostly on a mix of wild guessing and wishful thinking, but also informed by about three minutes' research and a vague sense that the Big East, besides being big and east, is also very good this year. I have Connecticut defeating Duke for the title. If past experience is an indicator, this means neither team is likely to get anywhere near the title game. That's one of the reasons I don't bet money on all this.

Here's the best part of the experience so far this year, and it's new. I signed up for CBS's free on-demand streaming video of the tournament games. It's pretty cool. It essentially gives me a four-inch (measured diagonally) television screen on my spacious laptop screen, the rest of which is devoted to actual work. The video quality is pretty good -- plenty good enough -- and I get to choose from any of the games CBS is not airing on the the local affiliate. The T1 at work is more than adequate bandwidth, as AFCNet will be at home. It's not quite like being there, but it's almost as good as broadcast TV.

There's a bit of virtual standing in line, initially, but it goes quickly. Once in, I can switch from game to game quite freely. And did I mention that it's free?

For three weeks, at least, CBS is my favorite broadcast television network, due to programming and also technology. Then I'll likely go back to not having a favorite for 49 weeks, give or take.

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