With the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament done, Big East Coast Bias sets its sights on this weekend’s action. So too is Jon Rothstein, CBS Sports’ college basketball insider. BECB was able to talk to Rothstein back on Monday about a variety of topics including his current, hectic life during March Madness as well as the Big East, their standing amongst the pack and the two teams who are representing them in the Sweet 16.
Q: What’s life like for you right now during this exciting time of year for college basketball?
Rothstein: You feel like everything’s connected. 15 of the last 16 days, I was in the studio of CBS Sports Network, and today’s the first day after the first weekend of the tournament and obviously there’s still a lot of other things to do all day long.
You’re just working on your phone for news and stuff like that and trying to first on things like that, but you also have a lot of on-air responsibilities. Just today, I was on CBS Sports Radio for an hour, WFAN in New York for an hour. Then i taped a podcast. Now I’m going to do some videos at Bleacher Report, I still have to write a column and also do a spot on CBS Sports Network later today. And so it’s a never-ending cycle, but it’s a cycle that if you live for this time of year, you relish and enjoy.
Q: Do you feel, around this time, that there’s a sense of pressure with all that’s going on right now? Or do you take solace in it with it being arguably the best month of sports?
Pressure is a privilege, and that’s something you always remember. The most important thing there is to always note that pressure is self-induced. And I think that’s good pressure. It shows you want to keep yourself sharp. I’m someone who’s an avid reader and someone who’s an avid keeper of history. And what people say. And ‘pressure’s a privilege’ is definitely something I’ve always remembered to live by.
Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job this month and what’s the most rewarding?
I think the most challenging thing is to constantly be on top of everything, all hours of the day. This is the time of year where you’re apprehensive to take a shower cause you’re afraid you’re going to miss a phone call about a story. It’s just kind of the way March is.
I think the more years you get through it, I think the more ready you are to deal with the tasks you have to deal with. And you’re more prepared and more efficient each and every March.
It’s not just watching the games and doing your on-air shows and doing your television work and doing radio spots and your writing. In my position, keeping tabs on the news is a big part of the job. So that adds to everything else.
Q: The Big East sent multiple teams to the Sweet 16 for the first time since the conference reformatted four years ago. Despite the fact that Villanova isn’t one of them, how much does this help the perception of the league?
It helps the perception. I think if the Big East was healthy this year, the Big East would’ve been the second best conference in college basketball. I think injuries obviously hurt the Big East in terms of maybe having even more schools that could’ve went deep in the field. But for all intents and purposes right now, i think the Big East has done really well. And they’ve got two teams that should be very competitive in Xavier and Butler in their next game.
Q: How would you gauge both Butler and Xavier’s chances of making more noise in the second weekend?
Butler’s interesting. Butler’s a real contrast to North Carolina. You’re never going to out-North Carolina North Carolina. You’re never gonna beat them at their own game and outscore them. I think when you really look at things, Butler is disciplined enough to make the game slower paced and that’s something that can give North Carolina some issues.
Xavier proved a few years ago that they can play Arizona close. Now, I think that Xavier’s obviously a different team this year, but Chris Mack is doing the best coaching job of his career right now. And i think that when you look at, obviously, the fact that he worked for Sean Miller and he succeeded him at Xavier there’s going to be no shortage of motivation in that game.
You can catch Jon Rothstein on CBS Sports Network’s coverage of the NCAA Tournament all March long.