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CBS, Turner juggle lineups for March Madness

Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough (23) catches a pass

Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough (23) catches a pass during practice for an NCAA Southwest Regional tournament basketball game in Chicago. (March 18, 2011) (Credit: AP)

The new-look NCAA Tournament meant an end to the intricately constructed coverage maps that long were a part of the event – color-coded mazes that divided the nation into eight subsections.

But as CBS and Turner built the schedule, they still had to juggle factors, such as ensuring every network got its share of marquee games and minimizing overlap of teams from the same geographical areas.

For example, Friday’s Texas-Oakland game could not have been scheduled for the same time as Texas A&M vs. Florida State.

On the other hand, the fact every game is available in its entirety allows for a degree of flexibility. In the old days, having Michigan and Notre Dame in the same window would have been a no-no.

Now, Michigan will face Tennessee at 12:40 p.m. on truTV, and Notre Dame plays Akron at 1:40 on TBS. Ideally, the schools would not overlap at all, but doing it this way avoided additional complications.

“With an hour stagger and separate network you can do it,’’ said Mike Aresco, CBS’ executive vice president for programming. “It’s not like a guy watching Michigan can’t find Notre Dame.’’

Aresco said a process that used to take hours on Selection Sunday night became far less thorny.

CBS widely had been expected to grab many top matchups for itself, but executives from CBS and Turner managed to hammer out a plan that appears equitable.

Aresco said the sides had done mock selections before the real thing to work out logistics and protocol. “Nobody got shortchanged, and that was the goal,’’ he said. “It was a discussion.’’

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