Ranking the 10 Best College Basketball Announcers
College basketball is a great sport, filled with amazing stories, quality coaches and premier players.
The announcers, however, are the ones who describe the action and bring it all together.
They take what is happening on the court and break down the strategies and tactics that lead to the final outcomes of the games.
Here is a list ranking the 10 best announcers in college basketball today. While some have been at it for decades, others are newcomers to the collegiate hoops scene.
Here we go!
10. Dan Dakich
Back in the day, defensive specialist Dan Dakich was a rough and unrefined player at Indiana. Today, Dakich brings that same blue-collar approach to the announcers’ table.
One of the great things about Dakich’s style is that he never seems interested in impressing anyone with clever phrases or cutesy descriptions.
When he describes the action on the court, he does so in a plain and simple manner that subtly reminds you who he played for in college—Bob Knight.
9. Doug Gottlieb
Doug Gottlieb is the best of the 30-something-year-old college basketball announcers.
He brings the same type of aggressiveness that helped him set playmaking records at Oklahoma State.
Gottlieb provides an exceptional mixture of insightful analysis and hard-hitting opinions, which don’t always help him to win friends or fans.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob Wolfley expressed the feelings many have about Gottlieb:
Doug Gottlieb is a polarizing figure, which is not a bad commodity if you are a sports broadcaster or sports analyst or sports talker. Gottlieb is cocksure about his opinions, unafraid to criticize and not aiming to win any Mr. Congeniality contests.
What sells it for me is that Gottlieb’s edgy banter seems genuine, not artificial.
8. Fran Fraschilla
When you listen to Fran Fraschilla comment on a college basketball game, you get a perfect blend of hoops expertise, a love for the game and a professional manner.
His ESPN bio states that Fraschilla brings 23 years of coaching experience to the announcers' table, As a head coach, he compiled a 175-100 record in nine years at Manhattan, St. John’s and New Mexico. His teams made postseason play in all but one of those seasons.
Because he was a teacher of the game as a coach, Fraschilla has that same knack for breaking down the collegiate action with clear descriptions.
7. Steve Kerr
Steve Kerr’s hoops cred is undeniable.
After a fantastic collegiate career at Arizona, Kerr played a key role on five NBA championship teams, including three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the San Antonio Spurs.
His playing career spanned 15 seasons before he left as the NBA's all-time three-point shooting percentage leader with a career 45.4 percent mark.
He moved from the court to the TNT announcers’ table to the Phoenix Suns front office and then back to the announcers table again.
It does not matter that Kerr is a relative newcomer to the college basketball announcing world after debuting in 2011. He handles his duties like a clued-in veteran.
Kerr has picked up March Madness action for Turner Sports alongside Marv Albert, as his effortless style and perceptive observations have launched him into a place of distinction with accolade already.
6. Verne Lundquist
Verne Lundquist is in his fifth decade of sports broadcasting.
He has covered everything with NFL, NBA and PGA just a short list of his announcing credits.
Even at age 73, The Golden Throat continues to set the absolute standard for college hoops’ play-by-play excellence.
Lundquist’s commentary of game action is comprehensive and poised.
He gets it and is the consummate pro, consistently making the game—and the players—the focus.
5. Bill Raftery
Bill Raftery is a seasoned college hoops broadcasting pro.
After spending 16 years on the sidelines as head coach at Fairleigh Dickinson and Seton Hall, Raftery has been a basketball analyst for over three decades.
He was one of ESPN’s original college basketball voices, starting with the network in its first year of broadcasting.
Raftery mixes in-depth knowledge of the game with enthusiastic observations that energize even the most mind-numbing contests.
Starting this coming season, Raftery will be starting a new announcing venture. The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre broke the news earlier this summer:
Bill Raftery, the legendary college basketball announcer who has been calling games on ESPN – primarily, Big Monday – for years, is leaving for Fox Sports 1. Raftery will still call NCAA tournament games for CBS – something he’s done for over 20 years now – but he will now be calling Big East games on Fox Sports 1 with Gus Johnson.
4. Bob Knight
Bob Knight was one of the top men's basketball coaches in NCAA history.
In his 42 seasons as head coach at Army, Indiana and Texas Tech, he rang up a 902-371 record. When he retired in 2008, Knight was the all-time wins leader. He remains ranked at No. 3 behind only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.
Knight led the Hoosiers to three NCAA championships, but it wasn't his success that made him such a lightning rod in college hoops. His intense sideline manner and fiery temperament were distasteful to many.
To no one’s surprise then, Knight is not an announcer who everyone likes.
His style is still extreme and his demeanor is terse, but can anyone break down the intricacies of the game like Knight? I submit to you that he is still unrivaled.
3. Dick Vitale
His website details his Hall of Fame broadcasting career that began at ESPN in 1979 in The World-Wide Leader’s launch year:
Vitale called ESPN’s first-ever NCAA basketball game – Wisconsin at DePaul on Dec. 5, 1979 (a 90-77 DePaul win). Since then, he’s called close to a thousand games.
Since then, Vitale has provided colorful commentary for hundreds of college basketball contests.
Though he is known primarily as a passionate lover of the game, Vitale is no dummy on the details. His comprehension of strategy and schemes is outstanding.
Before settling in behind the microphone, Vitale, a Seton Hall grad, coached at the high school, college and NBA levels.
While some don’t enjoy his style or zeal for the game, no one can accuse Vitale of mailing it in.
2. Dan Shulman
Nobody is better at doing college basketball play-by-play than Dan Shulman.
Before he began to call the hoops action on ESPN, Shulman was already an established multisport broadcaster in his native Canada for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Blue Jays and Raptors.
His balanced expression of what’s happening without overdescribing the action ensures that he tracks every play and possession.
Working primarily with Dick Vitale, Shulman does not have to carry much of the commentary load. Yet, Shulman’s standard announcing is rich with facts and stats that add to the game coverage.
1. Jay Bilas
How do you spell “go-getter?”
His website details that he was a four-year starter at Duke (1982-86), and then played professionally overseas for three more years. Afterwards, he coached on Mike Krzyzewski’s staff for three seasons (1990-92) while he attended Duke to earn a law degree.
During his time on Coach K’s bench, the Blue Devils made it to the Final Four three times, winning two national championships.
Bilas has been a litigation attorney with the Charlotte, N.C., firm of Moore & Van Allen PLLC since 1992.
Oh, yeah…and he’s the best announcer in college basketball.
His exceptional understanding of the game and adept ability to articulate what’s happening on the floor are unmatched.
Bilas uses simple language in his explanations of basketball strategy to unlock the deeper aspects of the games that he is calling.
While he is not the most humorous or exuberant analyst on air, Bilas provides superb commentary on issues, both on and off the court, relating to the great game of college basketball.