What made it into this week’s media column: What are the odds that the broadcast team — in this case, Tim Brando and Mike Gminski, with reporter Otis Livingston — mentions that UCLA is a three-point underdog against Minnesota in tonight’s NCAA tournament game (truTV, approx. 7 p.m.)? In a version of the previous blog post we had up Thursday, we’ve asked some gambling “experts” why there still seems to be an elephant in the room when it comes to Vegas-related information. We also have more on the Auto Club 400 coverage on Sunday and an NFL Network special about player safety coming up Monday.
What didn’t make it into the column:
== The video above best illustrates how “Cousin Sal” Iacono duped participants in Sunday’s L.A. Marathon with the old glued-down water bottle trick, the results of which airs on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” earlier this week. Shouldn’t the runners know by now when they see him on the course that something’s up? Especially when he’s at Mile 11 — right in front of the “JKL” studios on Hollywood Blvd.
“I’ve been lucky enough not to get punched,” said Iacono. “But we’re not total villains here — they were giving out real water about 40 yards down the street. I don’t have any body guards to help me — just a couple of 19-year-old PAs if anyone wants to take a run at me.”
In past years, Iacono’s stunts have included asking runners to participate in a limbo contest, fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket, or take money from him if they promise to quit at that point because “they aren’t going to win anyway.”
== More from Iacono, who has gone out on a limb to pick Louisville over Georgetown to win it all — it may be too late to start a March Madness knockout pool, but … hey, make up your own rules and do it anyway.
== Another tip from RJ Bell at Pregame.com about how he watches the NCAA Tournament: “I’ve been in Vegas since 1998, but unless I’m with my buddies, I’m at home watching (not in the sports books). I want to hear the broadcasters. Some don’t, but I like to hear what those ‘experts’ are saying because a lot of them are former coaches or players. Sports bettors don’t understand the Xs and Os as well as those announcers.”
Even thought Bell has UCLA as a 3-point underdog to Minnesota in the first round, he has the Bruins as a 105/1 odds to win it all; the Gophers are 110/1. Go figure.
== ESPN2′s coverage of UCLA’s opener against Stetson from Columbus, Ohio in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament comes Saturday at about 10:45 a.m. with Clay Matvick and Swin Cash on the call. A second-round game for UCLA would come Monday starting at 4 p.m. ESPN2.
== ESPN3 has USC’s pro day on Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. with Matt Barkley, Khaled Holmes and Robert Woods participating.
== Alejandro Moreno, a rookie striker on the Galaxy’s 2002 MLS Cup winning team who just announced his retirement from soccer after two seasons playing for Chivas USA, officially joins ESPN as a soccer analyst. He’ll be on the U.S. men’s national team 2014 World Cup qualifier at Mexico on Tuesday (6:30 p.m., ESPN) in a three-person booth with Ian Darke and Taylor Twellman. Moreno, a member of the Venezuela national team, will do events mostly related to the Mexican National Team and Liga MX matches.
“Alejandro has a remarkable knowledge of the game and the rare ability to communicate it with insight,” said ESPN executive producer Jed Drake. ” His work for us so far has shown he will be a great addition to our talented and diverse analyst team.” Moreno did work on ESPN in 2011 when he played for Chivas USA and was a guest studio analyst during the MLS Cup playoffs.