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In praise of alternate channels

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Good thing WRAL has an alternate channel, or Triangle college hoops fans would have no way of watching the best matchup in the country on Saturday — No. 1 UConn at No. 3 Pittsburgh. Both teams may wind up with No. 1 seedings in the NCAA Tournament. That CBS game tips off at noon, the same time as Raycom's telecast of the N.C. State-Miami game.

The ACC game, also to be televised in high definition, will be shown on WRAL and WRAL-DT1, over-the-air 5.1 and Time Warner Cable digital channel 255. The UConn-Pitt game can be seen on WRAL Newschannel, WRAL-DT2, over-the-air 5.2 and TWC digital channel 256, though not in HD.

Back in the bad old days before digital TV, WRAL programming director John Harris said, the station had no other choice but to pre-empt big national games like UConn-Pitt. WRAL's ACC contract with Raycom requires it to a minimum number of games each season, and any time a local ACC team is involved, it's an easy choice, Harris said.

"We do get a handful of complaints when big out-of-conference games on CBS are affected by ACC games, but most of these viewers are satisfied when they find out the game is available on the digital channel," he said Thursday in an e-mail response.

WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, didn't immediately respond to a request for information on whether it would carry UConn-Pitt on an alternate channel.

Here's the lineup for this weekend and beyond on WRAL, WRAL-DT1, over-the-air 5.1 and TWC channel 255:

12-2 p.m. N.C. State at Miami (HD)
2-4 p.m. Kentucky at Florida (HD)
4-6 p.m. Texas at Kansas (HD)

12-2 p.m. Purdue at Michigan State (HD)
2-4 p.m. Missouri Valley Championship (HD)
4-6 p.m. Duke at North Carolina (HD)

12-2:30 p.m. ACC Tournament opening game 1 (HD)
2:30-5 p.m. ACC Tournament opening game 2 (HD)
9:30-11:30 p.m. ACC Tournament opening game 4 (HD)

Friday, March 13
12-2:30 p.m. ACC quarterfinal game 1 (HD)
2:30-5 p.m. ACC quarterfinal game 2 (HD)
7-9:30 p.m. ACC quarterfinal game 3 (HD)
9:30 p.m. - 12 a.m. ACC quarterfinal game 4 (HD)

Saturday, March 14
1:30-3:50 p.m. ACC semifinal game 1 (HD)
3:50-6:30 p.m. ACC semifinal game 2 (HD)
5:30-8 p.m. Pac-10 Championship (HD)

Sunday, March 15
12:30-3:30 p.m. ACC championship (HD)
3:30-6 p.m. Big Ten championship (HD)
6 p.m. NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Selection Show (HD)

Here's the lineup for WRAL Newschannel, WRAL-DT2, over-the-air 5.2 and TWC channel 256:

12-2 p.m. UConn at Pittsburgh

2-4 p.m. Virginia Tech at Florida State

Saturday, March 14
11:30 a.m. - 1:40 p.m. Conference USA championship
1:40- 6 p.m. Big Ten semifinals

Sunday, March 15
12-1 p.m. Road to the Final Four
1-3:30 p.m. SEC championship


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