(CBS Local/CBS New York) Conference Championship week is second to only the tournament itself in terms of excitement and entertainment. The week leading up to Selection Sunday is filled with schools that you likely don’t pay too much attention to during the course of the year battling it out for the chance to dance.
For many of those schools, their only chance of making it to the tournament lies in their ability to win their conference tournament and earn that automatic bid. The drama of underdogs making a run and the heartbreak of top seeds failing to lock up the title, that atmosphere and energy makes this week a favorite of CBS Sports Network studio host Adam Zucker.
“Seeing these one bid leagues, especially where it is like the NCAA tournament already for them because the season is over if you lose,” said Zucker at CBS Sports and Turner Sports NCAA Tournament Media Day on Tuesday. “Hofstra’s Justin Wright-Foreman going for 42 in an overtime win over Delaware was great. Northeastern beating Charleston in that second game was awesome.”
Zucker will be live in the studio throughout the month of March and over the coming days he’ll be part of the broadcasts that hand out several automatic bids. Tonight, the aforementioned Hofstra Pride and Northeastern Huskies meet in the Colonial Athletic Association final on CBS Sports Network with tip off set for 7 p.m. Eastern. Then, tomorrow night, it’s the Patriot League final with top-seeded Colgate playing host to two-seed Bucknell at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Zucker’s personal connection, his wife went to Colgate, has him even more interested in that game.
But, while it is a lot of fun and, of course, games, there is plenty of work to be done. Zucker and the rest of the studio crew are in the studio well past when most people have gone to bed. In his opinion, all of the scenarios that the team has to prepare for make it the most difficult week of broadcasts of the year.
“I always tell our researchers and producers who don’t know prior that this week is the hardest week,” continued Zucker. “You have so many brackets to get through so many scenarios. Bid stealers where teams win their conference and there is already an at-large team in the conference. There is so much more to process and the nights get super late when you talk about the Pac-12, West Coast Conference and Mountain West. This is a crazy week. Then once the tournament starts, you take a deep breath and all of a sudden there are 16 teams left.”