Let’s do the Friday megalinks. Lots of stuff to get to so let’s not delay.

Of course, you can check out your weekend sports and entertainment programming by heading to the Weekend Viewing Picks.

National

We begin with John Ourand and Michael Smith from the Sports Business Journal who report that ESPN is dropping out of the bidding for the NCAA Tournament leaving CBS and Turner Sports the apparent winner of an expanded men’s basketball tourney.

John and Michael give more details of the bid in SBD’s Closing Bell. 

Liz Mullen of SBD writes that NBC Sports saw increased ratings for three Kentucky Derby prep race broadcasts.

Chris Littman in The Sporting News’ Sporting Blog gives us a look at how CBS/Turner would present an expanded NCAA Tournament. 

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch gives us his March Media Power Rankings and a big thanks to Richard for giving Fang’s Bites a link in this month’s edition.

From USA Today, Michael Hiestand talks with Showtime’s boxing host Nick Charles who’s fighting an advanced stage of cancer.

Jim Corbett of USA Today writes that the New York Jets will be reality TV darlings this summer.

The Nielsen Wire blog notes that MLB Opening Week TV ratings are up in several local markets and notes the Red Sox still have the highest local ratings for all MLB teams.

Stuart Levine of Variety looks into why the NFL decided to push its Draft into primetime. 

Georg Szalai of the Hollywood Reporter says ESPN plans a huge promotional push for the World Cup.

Carolina Giardina of Hollywood Reporter notes that network sports TV executives want to take 3-D to the next level.

Alex Weprin of Broadcasting & Cable says TNT saw its highest ratings for the NBA since 1995-96.

B&C’s David Tanklefsky speaks with the NHL’s Chief Operating Officer regarding the league’s flat TV ratings and Versus’ deal with DirecTV increasing viewership.

Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press writes that Fox Sports will offer extensive NASCAR postrace coverage online starting this weekend. 

CNBC’s Darren Rovell writes that the NCAA ban on eye black messages is going to hurt a couple of businesses. 

Joe Favorito says beach volleyball is finding a way to bring its sport closer to the fans.

The Sports Media Watch says it appears that the NHL Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals will go head-to-head once again this year.

SMW says the NBA on ESPN saw decreased ratings this past season.

And SMW notes the NBA on ABC was a mixed bag.

Steve Lepore at Puck The Media says Versus opened the NHL Playoffs on an up note.

Steve notices that NBC used the wrong name to identify Ryan Miller in an NHL promo.

Owen Gibson in the London (UK) Guardian says ESPN UK is requesting greater access to players and the field when it takes over broadcasting England’s soccer tournament, the FA Cup next year. 

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe writes that John Smoltz has made a smooth transition to the broadcast booth.

Eric Gershon of the Hartford Courant says ESPN will end its use of outside security firms at its Bristol, CT headquarters.

Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News campaigns for Tim McCarver for the broadcasting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

From the New York Post, Phil Mushnick feels CBS should have been tougher on Tiger Woods.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union has ESPN’s and NFL Network’s schedules for the NFL Draft.

Dave Hughes in Press Box writes that Baltimore’s top radio station is hiring a new sports talk show host.

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner says the Capitals brought tremendous ratings to Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic for its NHL playoff opener.

Jim also goes over TNT’s ratings for the NBA regular season.

South

Rita Frankenberry of the Virginian-Pilot writes that the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Allen Iverson is being used to help area youth.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald talks with several NFL TV analysts about former Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall joining the Dolphins.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News speculates on how many primetime games the Cowboys will play in the 2010 NFL season.

Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman is critical of a Dallas TV station for airing the now infamous video showing an inebriated Jerry Jones spouting off on a few subjects.

Midwest

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press writes about a new radio announcer for the local minor league baseball franchise.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a primer on how to watch the Bucks in the NBA Playoffs.

Ed Sherman in Crain’s Chicago Business has his winners and losers for the week.

Jim O’Donnell of the Chicago Sun-Times is not a fan of TNT’s Craig Sager.

The Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin’s Paul Christian says it might be spring, but the winter sports will dominate the TV this weekend.

Bob Mayhall of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says former Cardinals and Red Sox slugger Jack Clark joins the local ESPN Radio affiliate as an analyst.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the NFL Draft gave ESPN early credibility.

West

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News says the Real Salt Lake MLS Champion DVD is a bit deceptive.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune doesn’t like the NFL making the Draft a primetime affair.

On the other hand, John Maffei at the North County Times understands why the Draft has gone from a one day event to a three day primetime extravaganza.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star asks various analysts if the Los Angeles Lakers can make it to the NBA Finals this year.

Jim previews an ESPN special on the Lakers that airs tonight.

Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times previews the NBA Playoffs with various TV analysts.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News asks if Lakers coach Phil Jackson speaks, does he actually make a sound?

Tom has his usual media news and notes in his blog.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail goes over the silly superstition of not mentioning a no-hitter during a broadcast.

Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star is amazed that the Maple Leafs despite a losing record can still draw TV ratings.

William Houston in Truth & Rumours is happy that CBC’s Bob Cole got an important assignment during the NHL playoffs.

The Canadian Press says CBC will have extensive coverage of the Commonwealth Games later this year.

And that’s going to do it for the megalinks.

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