ESPN has coverage of what is maybe the biggest game in Big 12 basketball this year, as No. 2 Baylor defends its undefeated record against league power Kansas. For some reason, the network decided to spend a large chunk of the first half talking about the NBA Draft.
During the first half of tonight’s huge game, ESPN went split screen, giving NBA Draft analyst Mike Schmitz room to talk about the top prospects, including those not playing in that game. If this game was a blowout, or it was a small spot coming out of a timeout, it might be fair. It lasted far longer than that.
College basketball regular season games don’t get the same attention of the NCAA Tournament, but Kansas is one of the biggest schools in the country, and Baylor is a dominant, undefeated program. This game didn’t need to be gussied up with lengthy draft analysis in place of the action on the court. This happened on other broadcasts today as well, including UNC vs. Florida State, but was especially prominent during tonight’s main event. College hoops fans that are tuned in don’t seem thrilled with the production choice here.
so they did this earlier during FSU-UNC during a stretch where UNC was busy erasing a 16-point deficit and had *TAKEN THE LEAD* and here was the split screen still going strong and no game talk and I was like, guys, what are we doing
— Lauren Brownlow (@lebrownlow) February 28, 2021
I guess split-screen draft analysis was only a natural extension of treating college basketball mainly as pre-NBA Draft #content … bleh.
— Nicole Auerbach 😷 (@NicoleAuerbach) February 28, 2021
Who cares about the Draft right now? Dumb segment.
— Joe (@ByJoeDavis) February 28, 2021
So safe to say that @espn is using the budget they saved on travel to have draft analysts on EVERY SINGLE GAME…and to talk about people not playing in game being broadcast…
— Ben Coggins (@Ben_Coggins) February 28, 2021
Can't express how much I hate when ESPN has a good game going on and they bring on someone to talk about an NBA draft that is months away. Fans don't want this crap. Talk about the game you're showing.
— Daniel Shirley (@DM_Shirley) February 28, 2021
Hey @espn, can we maybe have this draft prospects conversation at halftime?
— Brad B. (@AFBaylorBear) February 28, 2021
It is especially troubling because this is a good, close game. Kansas currently leads 50-42 midway through the second half, as it looks to hand the Bears their first loss of the year.
KU led just 33-30 after a hotly contested first half in Lawrence.
The No. 17 Jayhawks (17-8, 11-6) are just 2.5 games behind Baylor in the Big 12, so this is still a very important one for both teams.