CBS needed to do something for its Final Four announcing team following Greg Anthony’s arrest and subsequent indefinite suspension last month. The network, which broadcasts the tournament along with Turner, made a decision that should please many college basketball fans, selecting Bill Raftery and Grant Hill to work the games alongside Jim Nantz. Tracy Wolfson remains the sideline reporter.
Call this CBS making the best of a bad situation. College basketball fans love Raftery and at 71 he finally gets to call a Final Four on television. Raftery is a rarity in today’s day and age, since he’s one of a select few broadcasters who isn’t openly loathed on social media. As our Jason McIntyre wrote back in 2012, Raftery couldn’t walk down the street during the Big East tournament without fans running up to him and yelling, “Onions.”
The only downside is today’s news means the longtime NCAA tournament broadcasting team of Raftery and Verne Lundquist is no longer, which is too bad since the duo has been as much the soundtrack of March Madness as anyone. (And on that note, we still miss the ESPN Big Monday three-man booth of Raftery, Jay Bilas and Sean McDonough .)
In many ways Hill, too, has been synonymous with March Madness for the last 22 years since he was the guy who in-bounded the ball to Christian Laettner on “The Shot” — a highlight that has, roughly, been shown 84,291 times during March Madness telecasts since 1992. That said, the former NBA All Star has only been working with Turner since 2013, so this is a rapid promotion and he gets it ahead of the more-experienced Reggie Miller. The decision to promote Hill to the top Final Four team shows that the network probably has big plans for him moving forward.
If there’s a question here, it’s how quickly the three-man booth gels and develops a rapport. Three-man booths are always tricky and the trio won’t work together until the Big Ten tournament in mid-March, which could be significant.
Even so, if you’re a college basketball fan this is good news.