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Grading the March Madness Announcers Heading Into Weekend Two

It is almost time for the remaining 16 teams to get back at it in my favorite sporting event. First, here is a look at each crew that called tournament games last week:

1. Spero Dedes/Steve Smith/Len Elmore or Jim Jackson/Ros Gold-Onwude:

I start with this crew because they were the worst. We were subjected to Spero calling First Four games. Jim Jackson joined the crew. I guess they wanted him to get extra work since this was his first time doing these games, but it was strange because he worked with two different crews. Smith and Jackson sound alike. I could not tell the difference. Elmore replaced Jackson on Friday. Those guys either did not listen to each other or were competing. All three announcers made the same point in a span of about five seconds.

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Awful Announcing‘s Ken Fang tweeted that he would take AT&T announcer Phil over Spero. Dedes remarked that a player would be shooting two free throws. I had no idea why he said that when it clearly was not a shooting foul and there was no double bonus situation. He eventually figured it out and corrected himself after about a minute. The biggest mistake for this crew was made by their reporter. Actually, two of them. Ros mistakenly said that UC Irvine was 0-9 in close games. Five points or less. She obviously meant 9-0. Although UC Irvine’s coach let the incorrect record slide, he did call out her math skills. They won 70-64. He mentioned that the margin was six points.

2. Brian Anderson/Chris Webber/Allie LaForce:

Although he is not the only person to struggle with this, Webber finds himself thinking or at least saying that day games are being played at night by using the word tonight. I did hear Webber catch himself once. When Washington played Utah State, Webber combined the two names and mentioned Washington State. They did not qualify. He also said that they had a good one going as the broadcast headed to break during a game that was not especially close at that particular time.

Virginia and North Carolina each trailed at halftime Friday. Two top seeds were down at halftime against 16s in one day for the first time. Anderson either misspoke or simply got the information wrong when he said that it was the first time a 16 held the lead over a top seed at halftime. It had just happened hours earlier. A March Madness TV twitter account then tweeted the same mistake. Probably because Anderson said it.

3. Brad Nessler/Steve Lavin/Jim Jackson/Evan Washburn:

Around the same time that Spero botched the call about a shooting foul, Nessler did it twice. One time for each team in Ohio State’s game against Iowa State. Brad called Buffalo Bulls games, too. Somebody tweeted that he called them the Braves more than once. I saw a shot that did not hit the backboard, but Nessler thought it hit glass. Maybe he borrowed Marv Albert’s glasses. Chemistry seemed to be an issue with this crew, and Nessler seemed to lose focus. I remember him complaining about the long days of calling games when he replaced Uncle Verne.

4. Carter Blackburn/Debbie Antonelli/John Schriffen:

I’m still salty (that’s what the kids call it these days) that Antonelli replaced Mike Gminski. Although a friend complained to me about her last week, I did not think she was terrible from what I heard. They had some horrible games. Especially Saturday. I did not hear them a whole lot. She should do at least one regular season game with Blackburn. Antonelli broadcasts the women until March Madness. Then, she comes to the men. I don’t get it. They should leave her with the women if she knows them well and is praised for her work on those broadcasts.

5. Andrew Catalon/Steve Lappas/Lisa Byington:

A Seinfeld reference by Andrew about sending soup back went over well. There was an awkward moment when the person in charge of graphics erroneously advanced Syracuse instead of Baylor in the bracket. Catalon called them Butler at one point, but corrected himself. Probably because Baylor had a player named Butler. It also could have been because Butler knocked out Syracuse in Salt Lake City nine years ago. The Baylor-Syracuse game was in Salt Lake City. Catalon knows the history. He attended Syracuse.

6. Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner/Dana Jacobson:

This crew got off to a rocky start with the First Four. There was a strange transition from Harlan to Jacobson before the tournament even started, but that was more of a camera thing. Prairie View A&M’s head coach is Byron Smith. Bonner referred to him as Byron Scott. Kevin confused the substitution signal for a travel call in one game. He has made that mistake before.

7. Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel/Jamie Erdahl:

I am a big fan of all three. They were excellent. Four of their six games were close, and the Seton Hall game against Wofford was tight before a late run by the Terriers. They had two weekend games with no others at the same time. I listened to them a lot. They were fantastic calling the exciting Maryland-LSU contest.

8. Jim Nantz/Bill Raftery/Grant Hill/Tracy Wolfson:

CBS has to be thrilled with their top crew. I still think Hill is coming along slowly, but Raftery is amazing and Nantz does a very solid job. The energy and knowledge from Raftery is unreal. However, his humor takes the cake. I like when he compares basketball contact to a New York subway ride.

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