Jim Nantz/ Bill Raftery/ Grant Hill/ Tracy Wolfson
If you don't know who Jim Nantz is, I'm assuming it's because you watch everything muted. Nantz is efficient, intelligent, and can be trusted to call a game without making any attempt to overshadow the vent itself. Nantz has won Emmy's for his work, written a book, owns a wine label, and probably routinely thanks God that he no longer has to work with Billy Packer.
Bill Raftery, is like listening to being punched in the face. He's been ever present on Fox Sports 1 this year, unfortunately making Big East games a mute-worthy event. He relies almost completely on cliche, and, most inexcusable for a color man, he fails to provide any insight into the game beyond what his limited amount of grating catchphrases allows.
Grant Hill is either best remembered for being hurt a lot or for playing at Duke. I've not heard him call a game, but his studio work is generally reasonable enough. A crew of Nantz, Hill, and Wolfson would be mellow and decent to listen to. Unfortunately...
Tracy Wolfson has handled the sideline work for SEC games for CBS for nine years now. Prior to that she worked as a runner for Verne Lundquist and as a chauffeur for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. Wolfson has worked every Final Four since 2004 and recently began working NFL games as well.
Spero Dedes/ Mike Gminski/ Jaime Maggio
Spero Dedes is probably not a name you know unless you follow the NBA or the SEC closely. Spero is probably most famous for being disciplined for making ill-advised comments about Jeremy Lin while calling a New York Knicks game. Dedes also calls NFL games in the fall, but is not on one of CBS' top groupings. This year was again in the news for complaining about having to call a game in Buffalo when the residents of the city couldn't even leave their homes.
Mike Gminski, like me, is a three-time Academic All-American. Unlike me, he did it in D1 NCAA basketball while playing at Duke. After a 14-year career in the NBA, he retired and spent eight years commentating for the Charlotte Hornets. He works as an analyst for FOX for their ACC coverage and has called NCAA tournament games for CBS since 2004. Otis Livingston will be working the sidelines; his full-time gig is with NBC, where he has covered the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Finals, the World Series, the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, the U.S. Open Golf Championship, the Triple Crown, the Olympics, and the New York City Marathon. Pretty impressive CV and possibly paired with Dedes to prevent him saying more embarrassing things.
Jamie Maggio will be the sideline reporter for this pairing. Maggio began covering college ball in 2011 and has worked the sidelines at both the baseball and NBA playoffs. Currently, she covers the Los Angeles Lakers for TWC Sportsnet. According to her Twitter, she also enjoys pizza.
Marv Albert/Len Elmore/Chris Webber//Craig Sager
Marv Albert has been calling NBA games since they had to fish the ball out of the peach basket every time someone scored. He's currently the lead NBA announcer for TNT and generally behave as such. Chris Webber should have been the greatest power forward in history, but injuries caught up to him. Instead he is currently a steady presence at the desk for NBA TV and does some guest analysis on TNT.
Len Elmore is the tallest person to current hold a JD from an Ivy League school (probably). He has experience broadcasting both college and NBA games, but he works mostly as a college analyst for ESPN.
Craig Sager shows up on camera looking like he spent the day being bullied by a pimp and an upholsterer. The sheer garish flamboyance of his wardrobe would make Liberace hesitant. If someone has to rely on a hardcore gimmick, it's usually to distract you from the fact that they're not great at what they're doing. Just FYI.
Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner// Rachel Nichols
Harlan is a veteran announcer who currently calls NFL and college basketball games on CBS. He has been calling basketball games for over 30 years, starting out behind the mic for the Kansas City Kings before working for Missouri, the Timberwolves, and then Westwood One's Final Four radio coverage. He's called some good NCAA games, including VCU's upset over Duke and the massive win for FGCU over Georgetown last year. Harlan can get a little catch-phrase happy, but he's not a bad play-by-play guy on the whole.
Joining him will be Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner. Miller, aside from being the greatest clutch three-point shooter the world has ever known, generally works as an NBA analyst. He has been working the NCAA tournament since 2011. Bonner has been covering college hoops since 1983 and the NCAA tournament since sometime in the 90s. Prior to that, he played and coached college basketball and managed a Social Security office. Rachel Nichols will be the sideline reporter; while she works for CNN now, she cut her teeth on TV working the NFL for ESPN.
Harlan and Miller are easy to listen to, but Miller's analysis will be limited by the fact that he's primarily an NBA guy. Adding Bonner should help the analysis side of things and was probably a smart move by the powers that be. This will be a good crew to listen to.
Verne Lundquist/Jim Spanarkel//Allie LaForce
If you've ever watched sports in the US, congratulations, you've heard Verne Lundquist's voice. Not only is he ubiquitous, he's also good at describing the action without making the broadcast his own variety show. He references and adheres to three rules of sports broadcast: don't ever mention your name on television, don't talk over a golf shot, and don't state the obvious.
Jim Spanarkel was the first 2000 point scorer for Duke and was the East Regional most outstanding player in 1978. Spanarkel has been covering college basketball since his NBA career ended in 1984 and also won the 2014 New York Emmy for Best Sports Analyst for the YES Network broadcasts of the Brooklyn Nets. He's good on the mic.
Allie LaForce is from Cleveland (Vermillion, actually), which automatically wins you points on Banners. LaForce played ball for Ohio University in college and can add a good bit of actual analysis to her sideline gig. She currently also works the sideline for CBS and TNT.
Ian Eagle/Doug Gotleib/Evan Washburn
Ian Eagle is a name that will familiar to NFL fans, stemming from his longtime association with calling their games on CBS. Eagle also calls Brooklyn Nets games on YES. Ian went to Syracuse, but as far as we know his diploma has not been vacated by the NCAA. Eagle pronounces his name EYE-an rather than the traditional EE-an, which has apparently made him the butt of a lot of "Iron Eagle" jokes.
He will be joined by Doug Gotleib, who you may remember for the fact that listening to him talk is akin to a waking nightmare. Gotleib's playing career was marked by an incident where he was dismissed from Notre Dame's team for stealing credit cards. Now he makes his living talking down to people who dare have a different opinion than he does, and has been on an anti-Big East crusade for the better part of this season on twitter. As pleasant as Eagle is to listen to, Gotleib is several times more condescending and grating.
Evan Washburn will be a newcomer to covering March Madness, given that he has worked for CBS less than a year. Washburn has primarily covered lacrosse for CBS, but has also seen time as a studio host. He as covered basketball this season, so it will not be totally foreign to him, but it will be his first time covering it on this stage, which is probably going to be an adjustment.
Brian Anderson/Steve Smith/Lewis Johnson
Anderson calls just about every sport there is to commentate. He calls baseball for the Milwaukee Brewers on FOX, NFL football for CBS, NBA baskteball for TNT, and even the occasional PGA event. He gets these opportunities because he is professional, and does not try to make himself a part of the event. On the call of the breathtaking BYU-Ole Miss game, Anderson and this team provided a running flow of info on the game, while not making an attempt to insinuate themselves in proceedings.
Steve Smith will be a name familiar to older college hoops fans for his starring role as a member of the Michigan State Spartans, for whom he was a two time All-American and still holds the career scoring record. Since ending his 14 year NBA career, Smith has provided analysis for both NBA and Big Ten games as well as doing a large amount of charity work. Smith and Anderson usually are a pretty good combo, since Smith is an accomplished player and Anderson a veteran announcer.
They are joined by Lewis Johnson, who is most famous for his participation in one of the most cringeworthy beatbox associated moments in sports history. He is also a UC grad, which I will try not to hold against him, and has worked sidelines and interview positions at sporting events since 2000. Johnson will not blow anyone away, but he is also good-natured enough to keep things flowing in one of the often pointless halftime or immediate postgame interviews.
Steve Lappas/Andrew Catalon/Jamie Erdahl
Lappas will be the name that stands out among this crew for college basketball fans. He was an assistant at Villanova for their improbable 1985 National Championship run, and launched into his own head coaching career from there. After a 17 year career at Manhattan, Villanova, and UMASS, Lappas became an analyst and announcer for various college basketball outlets, including CBS and Westwood One. I don't really remember hearing Lappas call a game, but he has been around for a while, so maybe I just didn't notice.
Andrew Catalon is famous for two things. The first is that he is a noted curling announcer, which springboards him into semi-relevancy with the world at large once every four years. And the second is that he landed himself in hot water last March by using a Polish slur during his broadcast of the Oklahoma State-Gonzaga game in last year's tournament. His words were both poorly chosen, and did not rhyme as well I think he thought they did. Either way, he made the requisite apologies and is back this year to hopefully not offend anyone.
Jamie Erdahl got her start as a iceside reporter for Boston Bruins games on NESN before parlaying that into a gig with CBS. There is not a lot of relevant info available on Erdahl, although I am sure the apparent scores of men lining up to ask her out find it relevant. Erdahl has apparently had a somewhat meteoric rise from covering high school basketball for a local channel to covering the biggest basketball event in the world just three years later. It seems like she has not trouble adjusting to new stages, but this will be her first March Madness.
Now that you know who you're going to listen to and who you're going to mute, here is the broadcast schedule with the announcing teams listed:
Tuesday, March 17
|6:40 p.m.||truTV||Dayton I||Manhattan Jaspers vs. Hampton Pirates||Brian Anderson/Steve Smith//Lewis Johnson|
|After conc. I||truTV||Dayton II||BYU Cougars vs. Ole Miss Rebels||Anderson/Smith//Johnson|
Wednesday, March 18
|6:40 p.m.||truTV||Dayton I||North Florida Ospreys vs. Robert Morris Colonials||Ian Eagle/Doug Gottlieb//Evan Washburn|
|After conc. I||truTV||Dayton II||Boise State Broncos vs. Dayton Flyers||Eagle/Gottlieb//Washburn|
Thursday, March 19 (Noon- 6 p.m. ET)
|12:15 p.m.||CBS||Pittsburgh I||Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Northeastern Huskies||Brian Anderson/Steve Smith//Lewis Johnson|
|12:40 p.m.||truTV||Louisville I||Iowa State Cyclones vs. UAB Blazers||Verne Lundquist/Jim Spanarkel//Allie LaForce|
|1:40 p.m.||TBS||Jacksonville I||Baylor Bears vs. Georgia State Panthers||Andrew Catalon/Steve Lappas//Jamie Erdahl|
|2:10 p.m.||TNT||Portland I||Arizona Wildcats vs. Texas Southern Tigers||Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner//Rachel Nichols|
|After conc. I||CBS||Pittsburgh II||Butler Bulldogs vs. Texas Longhorns||Anderson/Smith//Johnson|
|After conc. I||truTV||Louisville II||SMU Mustangs vs. UCLA Bruins||Lundquist/Spanarkel//LaForce|
|After conc. I||TBS||Jacksonville II||Xavier Musketeers vs. BYU/Ole Miss||Catalon/Lappas//Erdahl|
|After conc. I||TNT||Portland II||Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. Ohio State Buckeyes||Harlan/Miller/Bonner//Nichols|
Thursday Evening, March 19 (6:30 p.m. ET-Midnight)
(Announce Teams Same as Day Games)
|6:50 p.m.||TBS||Pittsburgh III||Villanova Wildcats vs. Lafayette Leopards||Anderson/Smith//Johnson|
|7:10 p.m.||CBS||Louisville III||Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Purdue Boilermakers||Lundquist/Spanarkel//LaForce|
|7:20 p.m.||TNT||Jacksonville III||North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Harvard Crimson||Catalon/Lappas//Erdahl|
|7:27 p.m.||truTV||Portland III||Utah Utes vs. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks||Harlan/Miller/Bonner//Nichols|
|After conc. III||TBS||Pittsburgh IV||North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. LSU Tigers||Anderson/Smith//Johnson|
|After conc. III||CBS||Louisville IV||Kentucky Wildcats vs. Hampton/Manhattan||Lundquist/Spanarkel//LaForce|
|After conc. III||TNT||Jacksonville IV||Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Wofford Terriers||Catalon/Lappas//Erdahl|
|After conc. III||truTV||Portland IV||Georgetown Hoyas vs. Eastern Washington Eagles||Harlan/Miller/Bonner//Nichols|
Friday Afternoon, March 20 (Noon-6 p.m. ET)
|12:15 p.m.||CBS||Omaha I||Kansas Jayhawks vs. New Mexico State Aggies||Marv Albert/Chris Webber/Len Elmore//Craig Sager|
|12:40 p.m.||truTV||Charlotte I||Michigan State Spartans vs. Georgia Bulldogs||Jim Nantz/Bill Raftery/Grant Hill//Tracy Wolfson|
|1:40 p.m.||TBS||Seattle I||Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Wyoming Cowboys||Spero Dedes/Mike Gminski//Jaime Maggio|
|2:10 p.m.||TNT||Columbus I||West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Buffalo Bulls||Ian Eagle/Doug Gottlieb//Evan Washburn|
|After conc. I||CBS||Omaha II||Wichita State Shockers vs. Indiana Hoosiers||Albert/Webber/Elmore//Sager|
|After conc. I||truTV||Charlotte II||Virginia Cavaliers vs. Belmont Bruins||Nantz/Raftery/Hill//Wolfson|
|After conc. I||TBS||Seattle II||Louisville Cardinals vs. UC Irvine Anteaters||Dedes/Gminski//Maggio|
|After conc. I||TNT||Columbus II||Maryland Terrapins vs. Valparaiso Crusaders||Eagle/Gottlieb//Washburn|
Friday Evening, March 20 (6:30 p.m.-Midnight ET)
(Announce Teams Same as Day Games)
|6:50 p.m.||TBS||Omaha III||Oregon Ducks vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys||Albert/Webber/Elmore//Sager|
|7:10 p.m.||CBS||Charlotte III||Duke Blue Devils vs. North Florida/Robert Morris||Nantz/Raftery/Hill//Wolfson|
|7:20 p.m.||TNT||Seattle III||Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Davidson Wildcats||Dedes/Gminski//Maggio|
|7:27 p.m.||truTV||Columbus III||Oklahoma Sooners vs. Albany Great Danes||Eagle/Gottlieb//Washburn|
|After conc. III||TBS||Omaha IV||Wisconsin Badgers vs. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers||Albert/Webber/Elmore//Sager|
|After conc. III||CBS||Charlotte IV||San Diego State Aztecs vs. St. John's Red Storm||Nantz/Raftery/Hill//Wolfson|
|After conc. III||TNT||Seattle IV||Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. North Dakota State Bison||Dedes/Gminski//Maggio|
|After conc. III||truTV||Columbus IV||Providence Friars vs. Boise State/Dayton||Eagle/Gottlieb//Washburn|