A Fan Of Gus Johnson

The NCAA Tournament is great not only because you get to see some great basketball, buzzer beaters, and heartbreak, but also because you get to see some great TV announcers ply their trade.

Some people like Dick Vitale, some people like Bill Raftery, some people like Jay Bilas — but for my money no announcer is so perfectly matched to a sport as Gus Johnson is to college basketball.  He is knowledgeable, and professional, but what really makes him great is that he gets as pumped about the great games, the great plays, and the great finishes as everyday fans do.  Listening to Gus Johnson call a game, his voice rising as the adrenalin surges, always makes that game more exciting and memorable.

Ohio State fans have been privileged to have Gus Johnson call a number of Buckeye games, and this year he has worked games for the Big Ten Network, so I’ve had the great pleasure of hearing him even more than normal.  As a Buckeye fan, one of my favorite Gus Johnson calls is of Ron Lewis’ legendary last-second shot to propel the Buckeyes and Xavier into overtime in a 2007 NCAA Tournament game.  To this day, members of Buckeye Nation debate exactly what Gus Johnson said as Lewis’ shot found the bottom of the net.  Was it “bangs it home”?  Was it “pizza dough”?  We only know that we like it.

A Buck Back Update

We’re heading into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, and I’ve reached a crucial point in the Buck Back.  I’ve netted 7 bucks so far and have two teams left — third-round selection Xavier and sixth-round selection Washington.  They both play tonight, so by the time the sun rises tomorrow I could be out of the Buck Back altogether, before we even reach the weekend.  That would be embarrassing.

Washington has a tough test, against West Virginia.  The Mountaineers are a balanced, athletic team that beat the Buckeyes earlier this season.  Xavier takes on Kansas State, a team that has flown under the radar in the tournament.  Both West Virginia and Kansas State are number 2 seeds.

Let’s go, Huskies and Musketeers!  Keep me in the hunt!

Edited to add:  Well, it happened as I feared, and the Xavier double-overtime loss to K State was particularly brutal.  And so this year’s Buck Back comes to a close with me finishing ignominiously $1 underwater.

Five Bucks (And Counting — I Hope)

First round play in the NCAA Tournament ended last night, and I’ve got five bucks to show for it.  My first, second, and third round picks (Kansas, Texas A&M, and Xavier, respectively) all won, my fourth and fifth round picks (Texas and Florida) lost in heartbreak fashion in overtime, and I got pleasant surprise wins from the sixth and seventh round picks (Washington and Murray State).  Four of my teams were involved in “buzzer beater”-type games, and two won and two lost — which seems like a fair result.

Isaiah Thomas of the Washington Huskies

One interesting thing about the Buck Back is that it can turn on a dime.  You can be sitting pretty with lots of teams still in play and, a day later, be out of the competition totally.  This year, after the first round, the leader has seven bucks with six teams still playing (the lowest-selected team to win a game, in this case the Ohio University Bobcats, nets you two bucks), two players have five bucks, two have four bucks, two have three bucks, and the Purple Raider is bringing up the rear with two bucks.

Of my remaining teams, the one that was the biggest surprise to me was Washington, which seems to have a lot of quick, rangy, capable players and a good point guard.  I’m hoping that they can add another buck to my total when they face off against New Mexico today.