Duke Basketball

Is Dick Vitale Really That Biased Toward Duke?

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 06:  ESPN analyst Dick Vitale celebrates with the Cameron Crazies before the start of the game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 6, 2010 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Ro ShiellAnalyst IAugust 15, 2011

Dick Vitale is arguably the most exciting announcer in college basketball. If it is a good game, Vitale is able to take it to another level with his commentary.

Unless your team is losing, and you despise screaming.

Is he biased toward Duke? Absolutely not.  Is he biased toward winning teams? Probably. In 2009, he explained his perceived bias to Sports Illustrated.

I have been accused of singing the praises of Duke and singing the praises of North Carolina, and I will never apologize for that. If I am singing the praises of a program that has 14 wins a year, then you have a right to complain.

But when I am talking about a team and program that year after year is winning games, graduating players, in the challenge for a national championship, I have no problem with that whatsoever.

I try to be balanced, very simply. We try to be as honest as we can. We are doing a game. We are not in the business of a show like The Sports Reporters. ... But I will tell you this, there is no doubt that we try to be honest and try to be fair, and I am always dealing with the best of the best.

These days it is hard to find good colour commentators. They normally go off on tangents that have nothing to do with the current game and the ordinary listener has no interest in.

Dick Vitale has been consistent over the years. He is entertaining and provides some familiarity with his catch phrases. At 72, he is still working and doing what he loves.

Even though he used to be a coach and Vitale doesn’t overwhelm his audience with silly coach talk, nor does he get a chalk board and start drawing diagrams no one understands, right in the middle of the game! More importantly, Vitale takes the time to learn player’s names.

Someone uploaded a video on YouTube where Vitale went off on a rant about how Coach K had a relaxing day because he had beaten some team by 44 points the previous day.  A freshman in the game made a good block, and Vitale thought Coach K would be proud of it.

This was during a Maryland versus Kansas game in 1997.

An extreme case but going back to Vitale’s statement to Sports Illustrated, it is good to use the best of the best as a measuring stick. If you did not know Duke had beaten a team by 44 points, now you know. That's not an every game occurrence, so it was probably worth mentioning. 

Duke wins games, and so does North Carolina. Maybe in a few years, Vitale will be singing the praises of Kentucky just as much.

Since John Calipari arrived in Lexington just over two years ago, Kentucky can easily make a case for the No. 1 team in the land, both seasons.

They are officially back to prominence. Not that they went anywhere, but for the last two years, if you projected UK in a Final Four, no one would call the men in white for you.

The only thing is Vital may have an issue with is the one-and-done situation that Kentucky seems to embrace wholeheartedly. He once told The Big Lead that the one and done was killing college basketball because it embarrasses the term “student-athlete.”

He does hold Calipari blameless for the two vacated Final Fours on his resume though.

Vitale has done a lot for college basketball, and he is an ambassador for the V Foundation and their fight against Cancer.

We should enjoy guys like Vitale, Bill Raftery and Jim Nantz while we can.

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