John Stevens is a featured writer for Rush The Court.
It looks like CBS has made its selections and placements for the Sweet 16 announcing crews. I think this is important for a couple of reasons; first, because we got us some heavyweights going at it this weekend and these matchups deserve top-drawer announcers; and second, because when you consider some of the tournament’s great moments, the announcing calls are just as much a part of the history as the actual visual images. It’s good to have the big boys behind the mics in case a legendary event happens. That said, let’s take a look at, and rate, the pairings.
- The New #1 Crew (image credit: daylife.com)
SOUTH — Jim Nantz (pbp) and Clark Kellogg (color)
Games: North Carolina v. Gonzaga and Syracuse v. Oklahoma (Friday)
This is the premiere crew, as CBS would have you believe. I give this pairing a C+ because I think these two gentlemen are still working on their rhythm with Kellogg having taken over the seat previously occupied by Billy Packer. Jim Nantz, despite being one of the consensus nice guys in television and a man who has more than put in his time as far as being a basketball announcer, has just never done it for me as a play-by-play man. He’s always struck me as a big-picture, in-the-studio guy, the captain of the whole ship. I have nothing against Kellogg or Nantz as individuals, but because they’re still feeling each other out this late in the year, I don’t think it’s the “premiere,” automatic, Final Four crew any more. Plus, Syracuse v. Oklahoma is going to be an absolute war, and I think it’s a game that’s just tailor-made for Gus Johnson at the play-by-play mic, or Raftery doing color, or — God help us all — both.
- Lundquist and Raf. (image credit: ning.com)
EAST — Verne Lundquist (pbp) and Bill Raftery (color)
Games: Pittsburgh v. Xavier and Villanova v. Duke (Thursday)
I’ll admit, there’s really no reason to give this pairing anything other than an ‘A’ except for my own sour grapes. I always loved the pairing of Lundquist with Len Elmore. Plus, if CBS reunited them, it could slide Raftery over to the seat next to Gus Johnson and blow the speakers out of your television. Both Lundquist and Raftery still give me the impression that they’re still amazed to be getting paid for doing this for a living, and when that comes through, it always enhances my enjoyment of a game they’re calling. Especially Raf. Those tag-lines that we all know — “The Kiss!” or “A little lingerie, Mr. Lundquist!” or “Onions!!” — just never get old to me. Also, if a legendary moment presents itself, you know neither of these guys is going to drop the ball.
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