Barkley on the Big Dance? That’s must-see TV

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The Round Mound of Rebound is returning to college hoops. Sorta.

Charles Barkley, an All-American during his career at Auburn, will be part of TNT’s NCAA tournament coverage when the network begins its joint coverage of this season’s event with CBS. He and Kenny Smith — no slouch himself when he played at North Carolina – are expected to provide studio analysis of the games, while Marv Albert will be doing play-by-play.

It’s not a surprise given Barkley, Smith and Eddie Johnson’s “Inside the NBA” show on TNT is one of the best and most popular studio shows out there. There’s genuine humor, analysis and insight – not a bunch of ex-players guffawing over random jokes.

Don’t expect Barkley or Smith to hold back, which should make for an entertaining and enlightening show. Sure, they won’t be overly familiar with all the players, but they can still judge talent and how a team’s playing.

The interesting part will be how often Barkley’s playing days are referenced, and if he’s ever grilled about his recent admission that he accepted money while in school.

If TNT wants to really make a splash for its initial NCAA tournament coverage, have John Feinstein or Seth Davis grill Barkley about his playing days and what he thinks should be done differently today.

That happens, the games would be the second-most interesting thing of the day…

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.