You are going to see some unfamiliar faces calling the Illinois men’s basketball game tonight on TV.
Phoenix’s Fox 10 XTRA is carrying the Illinois-Grand Canyon game, with tipoff at 8 p.m. Central. The game will be seen locally on WCIX thanks to a deal made between the two stations.
“We’re just taking their feed,” WCIA sports director Bret Beherns said. “Usually, we can’t get rights to these things because the Big Ten Network has all the rights.”
Illinois officials were interested in having the game televised locally. Their first idea was WCIA, but the station has commitments to network programming. “Magnum P.I.” and “Blue Bloods” air during the 8-10 p.m. block. But sister station WCIX was available.
“For us, this is great,” Beherns said. “In the old days, Channel 3 used to do all the games. It’s pretty cool to have Illinois basketball back on the air.”
For the broadcast, Grand Canyon’s Barry Buetel is handling play-by-play. He is in his seventh year calling Antelopes games.
Former Chicago big man Scott Williams serves as the Grand Canyon TV analyst. He played 15 years in the NBA, winning three titles with the Bulls.
Kate Longsworth will be the sideline reporter.
If Illinois fans want more local flavor, they can always turn the sound down on their TV and listen to the WDWS (1400-AM) radio broadcast. Scott Beatty will handle play-by-play with Deon Thomas as analyst.
At 7 p.m. today, WCIA will air a 30-minute pregame show with Beherns in the studio and sports reporter Craig Choate at the site.
On to my weekend recommendations:
“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” 10:30 p.m., CBS
Tonight’s guests include talk show host/author Dr. Phil McGraw and actor Chris Parnell.
“Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration,” 6 p.m., HBO
Elmo, Big Bird and friends welcome special guests Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Patti LaBelle and Sterling K. Brown for the special event.
“Shameless,” 7 p.m., Showtime
William H. Macy returns as Frank Gallagher for the 10th season of the hit series.