It’s finally March, that blissful time of year when the majority of our free time is dedicated to watching basketball. From surveying Kentucky’s position on the bubble to watching the cluster-eff at the top, there are endless excuses to have your TV tuned to basketball from the time you get home to the time you finally fall asleep (or for those of you without an IT department watching, anytime you please). March Madness is always exciting, and with this year’s lack of a clear leader in the pack, it could be more thrilling than ever. Especially if there’s a good announcer calling the action.
Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch has put together “The Ultimate College Basketball Broadcaster Draft” to commemorate the season. A panel of four “GMs” (Deitsch; Randy McClure, Rush the Court; John Ourand, Sports Business Daily; and Matt Yoder, Awful Announcing) drafted a team of ten media members, including two play by play announcers, two game analysts, one studio/onsite host, three studio/onsite analysts, one sideline reporter, and a wildcard spot. There were ten rounds in total, and they were allowed to pick anyone currently working in college basketball broadcasting with this year’s NCAA Tournament in mind. Where did your favorite announcer end up? Here’s round one:
1. Deitsch: Gus Johnson (Fox, play by play): Had this been for an entire college hoops season, ESPN announcer Dan Shulman, who carries Dick Vitale the way Michael Jordan carried the Bulls, would have been my selection, but Johnson is the perfect announcer for the compressed nature of the tournament, an audio funhouse in the closing moments of a tight game.
2. McClure: Charles Barkley (Turner Sports, studio analyst): Sure, Chuck may not be all that familiar with the names of college players (or even some teams), but the very definition of star talent is when people will tune in to see what you have to say. In the rapid-fire format of the opening weekend of March Madness, he’s often more entertaining than the games themselves.
3. Yoder: Jay Bilas (ESPN, studio analyst): Bilas is the total package as an analyst – smart and entertaining with a deep knowledge of the college game. Most importantly, he connects with viewers. Not only is he the preeminent analyst for college basketball, he’s one of the leading voices in all of college sports in the crusade against the crumbling NCAA and its fiddling emperor.
4. Ourand: Ernie Johnson (Turner Sports, studio host): For the NCAA tournament, I value the traffic cop that cuts in and out of games much higher than any announcer. In basketball, there’s nobody better than EJ, who will keep his cool and provide relevant information to viewers during the craziest moments of March Madness.
Other notable selections:
R2 6. Yoder: Bill Raftery
R2 7. McClure: Dan Dakich (really?!)
R6 24. Deitsch: Ian Eagle
R7 26. McClure: Dick Vitale
R8 30. Yoder: Samantha Ponder
R10 37. Ourand: Bill Simmons
Check out the whole list by clinking the link below. Who would you draft?
SI: The Ultimate College Basketball Broadcaster Draft