03 February 2015

Bill Raftery & Grant Hill will call the Final Four with Jim Nantz

In the wake of Steve Kerr leaving broadcasting to coach the Golden State Warriors and Greg Anthony getting suspended after his arrest for solicitation, the CBS/Turner March Madness consortium was going to have to put together a new crew for the Final Four with Jim Nantz. This morning, they announced that the analysts that will work with Nantz to form the new lead broadcast team for the NCAA Tournament will be Bill Raftery and Grant Hill.

This is a relatively surprising development because it seemed that Reggie Miller had the inside track to getting a spot on the Final Four broadcast crew and that there was not much reported that either Raftery nor Hill would be in the mix. And while I had thought that it would be more likely to see Hill than Miller on the Final Four, I was not expecting to see Raftery get the other spot and instead was thinking it would be Clark Kellogg returning to work with Nantz.

But just because this is a surprise does not make this an awesome development, which it is and largely because of Raftery as he will call his first Final Four on television (he has done it on radio since 1993) at the age of 72 after working every NCAA Tournament for CBS since 1983. Raftery is one of the more beloved broadcasters on TV for his unique catchphrases and boundless enthusiasm for the game. His inclusion on the Final Four broadcast team was without question a decision was one that has been received very well to this point.

Now we know how high Turner is on Hill. He only joined Turner a year ago but he was featured on the NCAA Tournament coverage last year and this past fall was put in the group that replaced Kerr on TNT. Now he had his highest-profile assignment yet. I like what I have seen and heard from Hill to this point in his relatively nascent broadcasting career and I think pairing him with a couple of pros like Raftery and Nantz will help to form a strong broadcast team. Plus, he's not Miller and that certainly does not hurt.

This is only the start of some shifting of the March Madness teams. In order to promote Raftery, one of the most popular broadcast teams had to be broken up in Verne Lundquist and Raftery. As to who will replace Raftery in working with Lundquist (who has not been confirmed to return to calling tournament games as there have been occasional retirement rumors), one could see CBS/Turner potentially moving Kellogg from the studio onto games as he has worked countless games with Lundquist over the years (going back to the 1993 NCAA Tournament), or potentially reunite Lundquist with Len Elmore.

Also, Marv Albert needs a new partner with the aforementioned departure of Kerr. One scenario I could easily see is Miller moving from the Kevin Harlan/Elmore team to work solely with Albert, or perhaps they could pair Elmore with him. Perhaps they could promote Dan Bonner to reunite him with Harlan. Who knows, maybe somebody will get demoted and the excellent team of Ian Eagle-Jim Spanarkel will get a promotion to work a regional. All in all, we are certain to see a much different slate of announcer teams from what we saw for last year's tournament.

We will see the new Nantz/Raftery/Hill team debut with the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago and you can bet that we will be counting down the days for that as March inches closer and closer.

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