March Madness is upon us, which means a healthy dose of quick channel surfing ... or switching among live streams, if that’s your thing.
Either way, you’re counting on a broadcast team to deliver the goods on the moment — the exact situation, what it means and what each team might be likely to do.
The third in our series of questions for our college basketball expert survey deals with the sport’s top television broadcasters.
We asked more than two dozen college basketball experts in the media to name their top three play-by-play announcers and their top three color analysts. Like our poll of the top three coaches Monday, we did not ask our panelists to rank the announcers, simply to name a top three. Nor did we ask for broadcast duos.
Nevertheless, one broadcast duo was an overwhelming No. 1 in our voting.
Athlon Sports College Basketball Expert Poll
Question 3: Who are the top college basketball announcers?
Dan Shulman, ESPN
Jay Bilas, ESPN
Sean McDonough, ESPN
Bill Raftery, CBS
Ian Eagle, CBS
Dan Dakich, ESPN
Gus Johnson, FOX/BTN
Fran Fraschilla, ESPN
Mike Tirico, ESPN
Doris Burke, ESPN
Dave Pasch, ESPN
Clark Kellogg, CBS
Dave Flemming, ESPN
Dick Vitale, ESPN
Kevin Harlan, CBS
Stephen Bardo, FOX/BTN
Verne Lundquist, CBS
Bill Walton, ESPN
Jim Nantz, CBS
Shane Battier, ESPN
Brent Musburger, ESPN
Dan Bonner, ACC Network
Brad Nessler, ESPN
Sean Farnham, ESPN
Marv Albert, CBS
Seth Greenberg, ESPN
Adam Amin, ESPN
Andy Katz, ESPN
Rece Davis, ESPN
Jon Sundvold, ESPN
Mark Jones, ESPN
Dave O'Brien, ESPN
Jon Sciambi, ESPN
Joe Tessitore, ESPN
• ESPN’s No. 1 team of Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas ran away with the voting. Bilas appeared on 22 of 25 ballots, and Shulman appeared on 19 of 25. Hard to imagine a single announcing team in any sport being as universally respected.
• Ian Eagle was the top-voted play-by-play analyst from CBS/Turner, the broadcast partner of the NCAA Tournament, yet Jim Nantz is on the call for the Final Four. Perhaps our panel thinks of Nantz more as an NFL or golf announcer whereas Eagle is a full-time voice on college basketball.
• Speaking of the Final Four, Bill Raftery was a strong No. 2 among color analysts. Raftery will be on the Final Four call this year with Nantz and Grant Hill. Raftery, who has trademark calls of “Onions!” and “with a kiss,” will replace Greg Anthony while he serves a suspension.
• One response: “Jay Bilas, Clark Kellogg and, in a sick, twisted sort of way, Dan Dakich.”
• This was a tough year for ESPN’s Dick Vitale, as he was taken off a Duke-North Carolina game for the first time in his career. Some of our panelists still have a soft spot for the iconic Dickie V: “Dick Vitale, like the Beatles, in a category all his own.”
• One respondent had a tough time narrowing the field for play-by-play announcer: “This is difficult. I think Dan Shulman is terrific. I like everything Gus Johnson. Jim Nantz adds real gravitas, and Kevin Harlan is a favorite.”
• We knew anecdotally that ESPN’s Doris Burke had the respect of her peers. She finished with more votes than Clark Kellogg, Dick Vitale and Doug Gottlieb.
• Marv Albert is best known for his NBA work, but he is a play-by-play broadcaster for CBS/Turner in the NCAA Tournament. “at 100 Marv will still be great.”
• We didn’t ask about the top sideline reporters. Should we have?
• One of our panelists who answered other questions in the survey declined these two, citing a “conflict of interest.”
More than two dozen college basketball experts from throughout college basketball media participated in the Athlon Sports survey conducted in late February and early March this year.
All were notified their individual responses to our six questions would not be revealed on AthlonSports.com, but they were free to post their responses to their own sites, on their broadcasts or to their social media outlets.
The panel was comprised of:
Rick Bozich, WDRB Louisville
Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
Chris Dortch, Blue Ribbon
Wes Durham, ACC Network/Fox Sports Network
Ryan Fagan, Sporting News
John Feinstein, Washington Post/NBC Sports
Pat Forde, Yahoo! Sports
John Gasaway, ESPN
Scott Gleeson, USA Today
Jeff Goodman, ESPN
Seth Greenberg, ESPN
Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times
Raphielle Johnson, College Basketball Talk
Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star
Will Leitch, Sports on Earth
Mike Lopresti, NCAA.com
Troy Machir, Sporting News
Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com
Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com
Brendan Prunty, SI.com
Joe Rexrode, Detroit Free Press
Lindsay Schnell, SI.com
David Teel, Virginia Daily Press
Jerry Tipton, Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader
Dick “Hoops” Weiss, Blue Star Media
Luke Winn, SI.com