Ranking the Voices of the NCAA Tourney

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CBS and Turner Sports will continue to cover The Big Dance this year, and they have rounded up the usual suspects to call the games.

In honor of the legendary Gus Johnson, who tragically parted ways with CBS, here are my top five play-by-play and color guys for the upcoming tourney.  

Play-By-Play

1) Marv Albert – the standard by which any current basketball lead announcer should be measured. Rarely overstates the moment or omits the particulars. If CBS had a sack, Jim Nantz would be curbed in favor of Marv for the Final Four.

2) Tim Brando – the consummate pro. Generally mistake free, and is not likely to talk through significant game action.

3) Kevin Harlan – creative and enthusiastic, Harlan is known for his various phrases. Can get a little too excited at times, but that’s nitpicking.

4) Verne Lundquist – 10 years ago this cagey vet would have been a solid #2 to Marv. His occasional blindness and lack of awareness knocks him down a bit. Still solid and has a place with the all-timers.

5) Ian Eagle – very thorough lead man, but lacking slightly in the charisma department. A Brando-in-training.

Color Commentators

1) Bill Raftery – unquestionably the most engaging and informative color guy in the biz. Does his homework and never misses seizing the moment with an enthusiastic few words. His vintage lines deserve their own blog post. The antithesis of Billy Packer: likeable, humble, and not a know-it-all. I couldn’t imagine watching Big East hoops without him.

2) Clark Kellogg – when Rafterman steps down, Kellog will be king. The former college and pro standout is articulate and informative. Most importantly, he doesn’t belabor points or push angles. Knows the game inside and out.

3) Len Elmore – another former pro, Elmore is decidedly old school. Has a knack for educating even the keenest viewers. If I’m honest, he can get a bit preachy from time to time.

4) Dan Bonner – always prepared, you get the feeling Bonner hopes every game goes to OT – he loads you up with info during the dead moments. He’s the guy that probably got a 4.0 in college.

5) Jim Spanarkel – solid if unspectacular. He is probably better suited for the studio, where he is really good.

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