College Basketball: Greatest Gus Johnson Moments in NCAA History

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2012

College Basketball: Greatest Gus Johnson Moments in NCAA History

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    Unfortunately for college basketball fans, Gus Johnson is no longer calling NCAA tournament games for CBS. (Or fortunately, depending on your point of view—I know there are those who aren’t fans of his dramatics.)

    Yes, he still brings his enthusiasm to games for the Big Ten Network, but it’s not quite the same.

    However, that doesn’t mean that Johnson didn’t treat fans to plenty of memorable moments. For some reason, games always seemed to be a bit more exciting when he was behind the microphone.

    Here are some of his classics.

Honorable Mention: Broncos at Bengals

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    Yeah, yeah, I know this isn’t college basketball.

    But it’s included in this list to illustrate one thing: the magic of Gus Johnson. The Broncos (starting at 23 seconds into the video) are in an almost impossible situation with fewer than 30 seconds left at their own 13 yard line.

    But for some reason, whenever Johnson announces a game there’s always a possibility of something crazy happening. I think this would qualify.

Illinois at Ohio State

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    Speaking of the magic of Gus Johnson, there wasn’t a chance in the world that the unranked and probation straddled Ohio State Buckeyes would knock off the undefeated and No. 1 ranked Illinois Fighting Illini in the last game of the season.

    The Illini featured stars Luther Head, Dee Brown and Deron Williams and were one step away from an undefeated regular season. Little did they know that the chance of an upset increases ten-fold with Johnson commentating.

    Matt Sylvester hit the game winning three, and the only person more euphoric than Thad Matta and the Buckeye student section that stormed the floor was Johnson himself.

Ohio State Versus Xavier

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    Clearly, the Buckeyes don’t mind Gus calling their games.

    This Ohio State team was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and loaded with stars such as Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. But nobody told the upstart Xavier Musketeers that they were supposed to lie down against the in-state juggernaut.

    Ohio State was rescued by a Ron Lewis three-point shot, and the rest is history. The Buckeyes would advance to the NCAA title game, where they would eventually lose to Florida.  

    This video has all the ingredients of a classic Gus Johnson call. A dramatic shot, Johnson’s vintage “ha ha” and a punctuation mark statement of “this is March Madness.”

    Yes it is Gus. Yes it is.

UCLA Versus Gonzaga

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    No lead is safe when Gus Johnson is calling the game.

    Adam Morrison and the Gonzaga Bulldogs held a 17 point lead against UCLA and appeared primed to advance to the next round. But the Bruins had other plans.

    After losing its lead, Gonzaga comes up just short in this final play. However, Johnson’s call did not come up short. Voice catching and all, Gus screamed his way through another classic and lived to tell the tale.

    Gus even turned Greg Gumbel into a comedian, which can’t be easy.

Gonzaga Versus Florida

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    Don’t worry Gonzaga, Gus was there for one of your most iconic and better moments as well.

    The Bulldogs were the original Cinderella team, and they were matched up with a talented Florida team in the Sweet 16. With an amazing tip-in that could seemingly only happen with Gus announcing, the Zags advanced to the Elite Eight.

    Johnson’s memorable “the slipper still fits” call was the cherry on top of a great game.

“My Name’s Al Harrington, I Get Buckets”

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    Alright, so this isn’t college basketball either. Sue me.

    It was just a regular season game in Portland when Al Harrington hit this fairly important three-pointer. Still, it wasn’t exactly something that would be remembered even a week later.

    Unless Gus Johnson decided to describe the play the way he did.

Washington Versus Arizona Pac-10 Championship

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    Want to make a major conference championship game more exciting?

    Simply add a tablespoon of Gus Johnson.

    There was no possible way that this game wasn’t going to end in exciting fashion with Gus on the job. And it did just that.

    Isaiah Thomas hit the buzzer-beating shot to win the game and the championship for Washington. Sure, you can’t exactly make out every word that Gus said in the next 30 seconds, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was awesome.

Vermont Versus Syracuse

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    Sorry Syracuse, but if Gus Johnson is behind the microphone, the chances of a 13 seed upsetting a four seed are going to be higher.

    T.J. Sorrentine may not have actually shot the ball from the parking lot, but if that’s what Gus claimed, who are we to argue?

Indiana Versus Kentucky

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    This isn’t Gus, but I included it as a way of highlighting how much a great finish needs him making the call.

    Indiana’s Christian Watford beating Kentucky with a buzzer-beating three was one of the best moments (if not the best) in last year’s entire college basketball season. It would have been even better with Gus calling the game.

    Instead, we are treated to Dick Vitale uttering the word unbelievable over and over.

Best of Gus

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    Some of these are already included in this article, but here’s a compilation of some of Gus’ best calls, dramatic music and all.

    Let me know if I missed any of your favorites.