Dick Vitale and the Top 20 Announcers in College Basketball
The best play-by-play and color commentary announcers enhance the overall experience of watching college basketball games.
Some are exuberant and effusive like Dick Vitale, while others are more even-keeled an analytical like Jay Bilas and Bob Knight. They set the stage and prepare us to absorb everything that NCAA hoops has to offer.
Let's have a look at college basketball's masters of the mic. This slideshow focuses primarily on current play-by-play announcers and color commentators.
Here are the Top 20 announcers in college basketball.
Dan Bonner's sportscasting career spans back to the 1980's, and he currently calls games for Fox Sports Network and CBS.
He's not the most popular or well-known announcer out there, but he offers spirited commentary and user-friendly analysis.
Here is a clip from Bonner's post-game recap of the 2008 Pac-10 Tournament title game.
One of the most amusing and jovial play-by-play commentators in the business, Verne Lundquist has called college basketball contests on CBS for more than 25 years.
His appreciation and awe for the highest level of competition comes through in every broadcast.
This video is one of his signature calls, as he captures the emotion and magnitude of George Mason's miracle run to the Final Four.
Bob Knight didn't bring his fiery temper to the microphone, but he brought his famed sweaters.
The Hall of Fame coach's style isn't animated or exuberant, but that's okay. He's fantastic when it comes to addressing the fundamentals and helping fans understand game trends in a straightforward manner.
He often teams with Brent Musburger to cover Big 10 and Big 12 games for ESPN, as well as offering his "Knight Watch" analysis for major contenders.
NFL and New Jersey Nets games might be his primary duties, but Ian Eagle does quite a bit of college hoops play-by-play as well.
His overall polish, liveliness and cadence are excellent, and he knows how to lead a broadcast and discuss key themes with the color commentator.
There's a reason he covers the NFL, NBA and March Madness; he's an extremely versatile sportscaster.
Brad Nessler's play-by-play calls have a strong tone, a fast pace and a sense of importance to them.
That's not to say he doesn't keep things light every once in a while; he knows how to have fun, too.
The ESPN announcer has been calling SEC games with Jimmy Dykes for six years.
Former Duke Blue Devil Jim Spanarkel has done color commentary for CBS since 1994, and he's great at breaking down games in an understandable manner.
He's not flashy and he doesn't try to be, but he's still very personable, knowledgeable and turns in a great broadcast every time. Lately he's been paired with Ian Eagle, and the two complement each other quite well.
Kevin Calabro has one of the best voices for television and radio.
Besides his radio and television calls for the NBA, he does college hoops work for the Fox Sports Network, calling Pac-12 games and other west-coast action.
Enjoy this ecstatic call of Jared Cunningham's acrobatic slam.
Few commentators exude the kind of passion for analysis that Jimmy Dykes exhibits during his games.
Dykes is an SEC specialist for ESPN, and he loves going over X's and O's with intensity. When he's covering a game, you feel like you need to heed every word for an important basketball IQ test the next morning.
Clark Kellogg is the lead college basketball color commentator for CBS because he combines several key aspects of color commentary: he's insightful, emphatic and knows when to bring levity to the broadcast.
His Ohio State background inclines him to cover and lean toward the Big Ten, but he's resourceful enough to analyze any team and any situation.
Former Providence hoops star Doris Burke is a versatile basketball announcer, covering men's and women's college games as well as NBA action.
She provides valuable insight to every showdown, analyzing individual player tendencies and overall team strategies.
Burke might not be the most adrenalized commentator, but she brings a strong command of the nuances of the game and is a great evaluator.
He's not one of my personal favorites, but Gus Johnson is an American favorite for his energetic coverage of basketball.
Whether it's a regular-season matchup or a big dance tilt, Johnson always makes sure to generate as much excitement about the game as possible.
This spring will mark his 17th season calling NCAA Tournament games.
Jim Nantz is pretty much the narrator of the NCAA Tournament. His warm, friendly voice helps set the stage for one of the most enjoyable sporting events in all of sports.
He works well with Clark Kellogg and the other CBS color commentators, and is one of the best play-by-play announcers when it comes to putting moments into context.
If you want an old-school broadcaster with a deliberate tempo and regal announcing, Brent Musburger is your man.
He was CBS' lead college basketball play-by-play man in the 1980's, and he's been doing games for ABC and ESPN since 1991.
Musburger has a pleasant and agreeable personality on air, and he's always trying to bring viewers the entire experience of the sporting event.
One of the most unique personalities in broadcasting, Bill Raftery provides a hilarious blend of entertainment and analysis.
I don't think anyone in the world can imitate some of his catch-phrases such as "Onions!", "send it in!" or "a little nylon!"
Also, I doubt anyone else would try to compare a basketball play to a Belgian waffle, but Raftery does in this video.
He doesn't get the kind of attention that Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale or Jay Bilas attract, but Sean McDonough does some outstanding work for ESPN.
His delivery and rhythm are exceptional, and he knows how to engage his partner commentators.
Here's a clip of McDonough explaining his journalistic roots and the work he puts into each broadcast.
The voice of Monday Night Football is also one of the best voices in collegiate athletics.
Mike Tirico is one of the most well-prepared play-by-play announcers I've ever encountered. He knows every storyline and aspect of the teams he's covering, and he delivers his calls to the audience emphatically.
Lately, he's been paired with Dan Dakich to call Tuesday night Big Ten basketball contests.
Former Manhattan, St. Johns and New Mexico head coach Fran Fraschilla is a master at communicating game plans, player evaluations, recruiting tendencies and scouting reports.
He's not ESPN's go-to-guy, but his expertise and broadcasting skills are on par with the absolute best color commentators in the game.
I get infinitely smarter every time I watch a game that Fraschilla covers.
He is an ambassador of college basketball and the most gregarious color commentator on the planet. Dick Vitale makes every college hoops game a party.
His style might rub some people the wrong way, and he rarely breaks down the details of each contest, but you can't deny Dickie V's positive influence on the sport.
Vitale's love for the game and love of life are on full display in this video clip from Hall of Fame Weekend 2008.
Jay Bilas is one of the best at discussing pre-game strategy and in-game strategy. He points out the nuances of the game and makes them understandable for even the most casual fans.
Bilas also isn't afraid to criticize coaches, players and referees. As critical as he may be, he always provides solid reasons for his judgements.
He's better known for his studio and College Gameday work, but he does plenty of prime-time color commentary throughout the season for ESPN and CBS.
Dan Shulman didn't become ESPN's top college basketball play-by-play announcer by accident.
He's professional, articulate and knows how to adjust the conversation according to his color commentator's tendencies.
Shulman knows how to put things in perspective for his audience, and it helps them understand what's at stake for each team.