Event Previews

College Basketball’s final regular season weekend: CBS, ESPN, Fox and network verticals have tons of games

Jim Nantz and company work first college game of the season in advance of March Madness on CBS

Notes covering college basketball, network broadcast weekend:

Jim Nantz, U of Houston, (circa 1980)
  • Jim Nantz and crew work their first college game of the season, Memphis at Houston. Jim will have his team with him, Bill Raftery and Grant Hill. Tracy Wolfson is coming along too so you know that March Madness can’t be too far off. For Nantz, it’s a return home of sorts. He’ll be calling his first game for CBS at his alma mater.
  • Matt Doherty, former NC coach works Syracuse-Miami game this weekend on ACCNX. You may recall that shortly after Matt  replaced Bill Guthridge (1997-2000) as North Carolina’s head coach he distanced himself from Dean Smith by not retaining Bill’s assistants. Smith took it as an affront. Guthridge was Smith’s longtime assistant (1967-97) and successor. 
  • Brian Custer is not network quality and is unfamiliar with the intricacies of the game. He erupts unexpectedly and unnecessarily into a strident, ear-piercing pitch. Brian needs more experience before making the cut for the networks. Surprised he’s on Fox’ roster. Basketball and football are not his strength. I’m told he’s a decent boxing announcer
  • Guy Haberman gets a Pac 12 telecast. He did some radio fill-in work at one point on Warriors radio.
  • Paul Sunderland, 67, has been getting regular assignments from ESPN this season. He’s one of the best volleyball broadcasters. He played and excelled at the sport. Through the years, his basketball work for the most part has been on the sidelines. He was the sideline announcer on Lakers’ broadcasts when Chick Hearn fell ill and he took over as play-by-play voice. He’s gotten better as a play caller but wasn’t very good at first.
  • Scott Graham does a Fox game this weekend, DePaul at Providence. Scott does good work. He’s the de facto voice of NFL Films.
  • Peter Gillen does UCLA at USC on CBS, the over-the-air network. As an ex coach, his remarks are intuitive but he needs to prepare more thoroughly. When I hear him, I get the feeling that he just shows up picks up a roster and a stat sheet and talks into the microphone.
  • Richard Cross teams with Mark Wise on South Carolina-Vanderbilt game. Thankfully his partner is not Brooke Weisbrod. She and Cross worked together Wednesday night on Auburn vs. Texas A&M. Cross set her up when Texas A&M led by three with seven seconds to go. He asked her how to play it defensively and she was ill-prepared to answer the question. Should A&M foul? Her comments were not at all clear. Then when a long three was missed at the buzzer by Auburn, she called it a good shot. Where do the networks find these people?
  • CBS and Turner announced that it will again run TeamCasts for the national semi-finals and finals, doing so on two additional, distinct channels. (Turner has the Final Four this year, not CBS.) Talent will be assigned once the participants are determined. The voices hired bring a tendentious call but if the past is any indication, the announcers will not have necessarily called either of the two teams games during the season. For instance, when Villanova made it, Scott Graham who once was a Phillies announcer got the gig. He may not have called any of the Cats’ games that season. I like ESPN’s format better. Play the team’s radio call over the video. Simple!

More games streamed this weekend on ESPN+, ESPN3 and elsewhere.

If you’re a college hoops fan, this is your time of year.

Friday, March 6

Buffalo at Bowling Green | 6 p.m. | ESPNU, Matt Martucci, Rob Kennedy

Kent State at Akron | 6:30 p.m. | CBSSN, Dave Ryan and Steve Wolf

Georgia Tech at Clemson | 7 p.m. | ESPN2, Anish Shroff, Malcolm Huckaby

Wake Forest at NC State | 7 p.m. | ACC Network, Wes Durham, Paul Biancardi

VCU at Davidson | 9 p.m. | ESPN2, Mike Corey, Mark Plansky

Mountain West Men’s Semifinal #1 | 9 p.m. | CBSSN, Rich Waltz, Dan Dickau

Mountain West Men’s Semifinal #2 | 11:30 p.m. | CBSSN, Rich Waltz, Dan Dickau

Saturday, March 7

Villanova at Georgetown | 12 p.m. | FOX, Gus Johnson, Jim Jackson

Auburn at Tennessee | 12 p.m. | ESPN2, Mike Morgan, Jimmy Dykes

Wisconsin at Indiana | 12 p.m. | ESPN, Jason Benetti, Mark Adams

Marquette at St. John’s | 12 p.m. | FSN, Brian Custer, Len Elmore

South Carolina at Vanderbilt | 12:30 p.m. | SEC Network, Richard Cross, Mark Wise

Kentucky at Florida | 1 p.m. | CBS, Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel

Baylor at West Virginia | 1 p. m. | Big 12 Now, Clay Matvick, Fran Fraschilla

Kansas at Texas Tech | 2 p.m. | ESPN, Bob Wischusen, Dick Vitale

Virginia Tech at Notre Dame | 2 p.m. | ACC Network, Dave O’Brien, Jordan Cornette,

Georgia at LSU | 2 p.m. | ESPN2, Kevin Fitzgerald, Jon Sundvold

Rutgers at Purdue | 2 p.m. | Big Ten Network, Brandon Gaudin, Shon Morris

Seton Hall at Creighton | 2:30 p.m. | FOX, Kevin Kugler, Donny Marshall

Colorado at Utah | 2:30 p.m. | Pac-12 Network, Ted Robinson, Matt Muehlebach

Alabama at Missouri | 2:30 p.m. | SEC Network, Dave Neal, Joe Kleine

UCLA at USC | 3:15 p.m. | CBS, Carter Blackburn, Pete Gillen

Missouri Valley Men’s Semifinal #1 | 3:30 p.m. | CBSSN, Tom McCarthy/Bob Wenzel

Missouri Valley Men’s Semifinal #2 | 6p.m. | CBSSN, Tom McCarthy/Bob Wenzel

Louisville at Virginia | 4 p.m. | ESPN, Doug Sherman, Cory Alexander

Penn State at Northwestern | 4 p.m. | Big Ten Network, Chris Vosters, Stephen Brando

Syracuse at Miami | 4 p.m. | ACCNX, Jay Alter, Matt Doherty

Iowa State at Kansas State | 4 p.m. | Big 12 Now, Mark Neely, Lance Blanks

Oklahoma State at Texas | 4 p.m. | ESPN2, Rich Hollenberg, Chris Spatola

Boston College at Florida State | 4:30 p.m. | ACCNX, Evan Lepler, Mike Gminski

Arkansas at Texas A&M | 4:30 p.m. | SEC Network, Sam Gore, Dane Bradshaw

California at Oregon State | 4:30 p.m. | Pac-12 Network, JB Long, Don MacLean

Mountain West Championship Game | 5:30 p.m. | CBS, Andrew Catalon/Steve Lappas

North Carolina at Duke | 6 p.m. | ESPN, Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, Holly Rowe

Oklahoma at TCU | 6 p.m. | ESPN2, Chuckie Kempf, Tim Welsh

DePaul at Providence | 6:30 p.m. | FS1, Scott Graham, Vin Parise

Ole Miss at Mississippi State | 6:30 p.m. | SEC Network, Paul Sunderland, Pat Bradley

Washington State at Arizona State | 6:30 p.m. | Pac-12 Network, Roxy Bernstein, Ed House

Temple at Cincinnati | 8 p.m. | CBSSNAlex Del Barrio and Tim Doyle

Butler at Xavier | 8:30 p.m. | FS1, Thom Brennaman, Nick Bahe

Washington at Arizona | 10 p.m. | ESPN, Dave Pasch, Bill Walton

Stanford at Oregon | 11 p.m. | FS1, Guy Haberman, Doug Gottlieb

Sunday, March 8

Patriot League Men’s Semifinal #1 | 12 p.m. | CBSSN, John Sadak, Chris Walker

Michigan at Maryland | 12 p.m. | FOX, Tim Brando, Jim Jackson

Memphis at Houston | 12 p.m. | CBS, Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill 

Nebraska at Minnesota | 1 p.m. | Big Ten Network, Brandon Gaudin, Brian Butch

Patriot League Men’s Semifinal #2 | 12 p.m. | CBSSN, Jason Knapp, Mo Cassara

East Carolina at UCF | 2 p.m. | ESPNU, Drew Fellios, Sean Harrington

Missouri Valley Championship | 2 p.m. | CBS, Kevin Harlan, Dan Bonner

UConn at Tulane | 4 p.m. | ESPNU, Kevin Brown, Reid Gettys

Tulsa at Wichita State | 4 p.m. | CBSSN, Rich Waltz, Avery Johnson

Ohio State at Michigan State | 4:30 p.m. | CBS, Brad Nessler and Clark Kellogg

Iowa at Illinois | 7 p.m. | Big Ten Network, Kevin Kugler, Shawn Morris

David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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