Thursday, January 20, 2011

CBS releases their announcers for the Tournament ... no Bilas?

Today, CBS finally released the announcers and studio analysts for this year's NCAA Tournament. Before I get into my thoughts, let's talk specifics.

There will be two studios running during the first week of the tournament -- one in Atlanta and one in New York. The lineup looks like this:

Tuesday's First Four games:

  • New York Studio (host, analysts): Greg Gumbel/Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Greg Anthony.
  • Announcers (play-by-play, color): Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg/Steve Kerr
Wednesday's First Four games:
  • New York Studio: Gumbel/E. Johnson, Barkley, K. Smith, Anthony
  • Announcers: Gus Johnson, Len Elmore
First Week:
  • New York Studio: Gumbel/E. Johnson, Barkley, K. Smith, Anthony
  • Atlanta Studio: Matt Winer, Seth Davis, Steve Smith
  • Announcers:
    • Spero Dedes, Bob Wenzel
    • Tim Brando, Mike Gminski
    • Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel
    • Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner
    • Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
    • G. Johnson, Elmore
    • Marv Albert, Kerr
    • Nantz, Kellogg
Second Week:
  • New York Studio: Gumbel, E. Johnson, Barkley, K. Smith, Anthony, Davis, Miller
  • Announcers:
    • Lundquist, Raftery
    • G. Johnson, Elmore
    • Albert, Kerr
    • Nantz, Kellogg
Final Four:
  • New York Studio: Gumbel/E. Johnson, Barkley, K. Smith, Anthony, Davis, Miller
  • Announcers: Nantz, Kellogg/Kerr
Sideline Reporters: David Aldridge, Sam Ryan, Craig Sager, Marty Snider, Lesley Visser and Tracy Wolfson (Wolfson will do the Final Four)

First things first -- where the hell is Jay Bilas?

Bilas isn't only the best analyst in all of college basketball, he is arguably the single best in-game analyst in all of sports. He's smart, he's well-spoken, he understands the game as well as anyone in the country, and he isn't afraid to call out a ref, a coach, or a player that makes a mistake. I don't know any specifics as to why Bilas wasn't brought back this season -- he may very well have decided not to participate -- but the fact that Bilas will not be involved in this year's NCAA Tournament is incredibly disappointing.

The addition of the NBA's studio guys is a risky move.

I love Charles Barkley. I don't watch the NBA, but I have turned on TNT before just to listen to this man. He's hilarious. Anything could come out of this man's mouth. That said, he has been quite vocal about athletes being paid by the NCAA and even admitted to taking money from agents when he was in college. I don't think that is the message that the NCAA wants CBS broadcasting on college basketball's biggest stage.

Part of what makes Barkley as great as he is on television is that he plays so well off of Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson. I am worried about how well these guys are going to know the college teams and players, but in all actuality, they are doing studio work. With college veterans like Greg Anthony and Seth Davis there, the NBA guys won't need to do much more than crack a few jokes during a highlight.

I do like the addition of Steve Kerr. I've caught a couple of his broadcasts -- he doesn't just do the NBA, he's done three Pac-10 games for FOX and spent a lot of time scouting college games during his time in NBA front offices -- and he's proven to be a good analyst in NBA games. He knows the game and he has a self-deprecating style. It works, and he should be a nice complement to Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg.

Reggie Miller, on the other hand, I am not all that excited about. He hasn't struck me as anything more than annoying. I would almost rather have Cheryl Miller.

The best news?

Gus Johnson will be doing the Wednesday night First Four games. More Gus Jeezy is always a good thing. If he had any brains, he would set up a website and stream himself calling the Final Four. I'd listen.

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