Those broadcasting NCAA Tournament games have an opportunity to go down in history with every game that goes down to the wire. Those transcendent moments – from Bryce Drew’s 30-footer to Tyus Edney’s coast-to-coast sprint – are replayed over and over again. The sound transports us to that moment and resonates on an emotional level.
In short, it’s a great assignment.
Gus Johnson, who is perhaps the most well-known announcer for the under-30 set, is no longer on the microphone for March Madness. As much I as find his regular-season performance lacking, there’s no question that he will be missed.
All is not lost, however, as there are several battle-tested teams to guide us through the frenzy. Yes, some are better than others. But thankfully, incredible action can always overcome lackluster broadcasting.
Let’s see how the broadcasting partners stack up.
1. Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg: The marquee duo will call the Final Four and National Championship Game. And rightly so. Nantz has an innate ability to let the game breathe and rarely goes overboard. He is not a me-first guy often and is able to convincingly get caught up in the emotion. His call of Gordon Hayward’s near-miss was a terrific human reaction in the moment. Kellogg is far from the best analyst in the game, but he has a nice rapport with Nantz. More than that, though, there’s something to be said about the old guard. Since replacing the overly negative Billy Packer, he’s called the biggest games. In this time of critiquing resumes, Kellogg’s is strong.
2. Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel: Since Eagle is not the most recognizable play-by-play guy, this might seem a bit surprising. But Eagle is a tournament pro whose very voice lets you know it’s tournament time. He’s not flashy and doesn’t stand out, which believe it or not, is one of the highest compliments an announcer can receive. Spanarkel isn’t the greatest ex-Duke personality, but asking anyone to be as cool as Jay Bilas is totally unfair.
3. Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery: Oh, Uncle Verne. There is nobody more fun that Lundquist. His Southern colloquialisms are like stepping into nice bourbon after a long day in the sun. The only problem is his penchant for getting critical facts, like names, wrong. Those things are pretty important when you’re not as familiar with the rosters. Mantoman, I love Raftery for many of the same reasons as Verne. He’s fun, an old-timer with a goofy sense of humor. It doesn’t get much better than hearing him yell, “Onions!”