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the guide

Saturday 3/2 ESPN 2 PM

Atlantic Sun Conference Final
Let the Madness begin. Unlike Atlantic City or the Mohegan Sun,
the Atlantic Sun has nothing to do with casinos. It's a
conference of 11 schools, most of them in the Deep South. Coach
Lefty Driesell's Georgia State Panthers (including Darryl Cooper,
left)--who beat Wisconsin 50-49 in the first round of the NCAAs
last year--finished tied for first in the conference with Troy
State. This is the first of 29 nationally televised conference
tournament finals to decide berths in the men's NCAAs over the
next nine days.

Sunday 3/3 WE 8 PM

Leave it to a creative broadcaster to link the primary growth
areas in televised sports--NASCAR, extreme sports and women's
sports--in one tidy package. WE: Women's Entertainment airs
back-to-back documentaries on female auto racers (Fast Women)
and extreme athletes (Winning Women).

sizzling & fizzling
Who Was Hot and Who Was Not

--The women's Olympic figure skating final provided
scintillating drama--particularly Sarah Hughes's leap from
fourth to first--and NBC helped the competition build by canning
commercials for 31 minutes.

--Analyst Joe Micheletti should be praised for his
unsparing--and on the money--critique of referee Stacey
Livingston, who called a slew of questionable penalties
(including eight straight against Team Canada) during the
women's gold medal hockey match.

--In an era of ever-declining ratings for most televised
sporting events, NBC's 17-day average ratings of 19.2 for the
Salt Lake City Games was 18% higher than CBS's average of 16.3
for the Nagano Olympics four years ago.

--Though figure skating judging is arcane, NBC did its viewers a
disservice by failing to explain how Sarah Hughes could go from
second place behind Michelle Kwan before Irina Slutskaya skated
to the gold medal after Slutskaya finished.

--For the third time in the event's four years, ABC was burned
by a glamourless final pairing (Scott McCarron versus Kevin
Sutherland) in the Accenture World Match Play Championship,
contributing to a low 1.8 overnight rating.

--Like Charles Barkley, the rest of the country must be sick of
watching the Knicks, who are not only bad but also boring. Yet
the rematch of Sunday's 107-91 Lakers victory over New York on
NBC will be carried by the Peacock, on March 10.