"The announcers were openly rooting for Northern Iowa!"
"Brando was totally pulling for Maryland to win that game."
"What, do those announcers hate MSU?"
I hate to break it to you Spartan fans out there, but yes, the announcers are pulling for the other guy and most certainly will be pro-Butler on Saturday. And that's the way you want it.
To be honest, announcers (at least 99%) are not rooting for or against any team. They just know a good story when they see it. It's exciting and it's going to come through in their voices. Kent State, George Mason, Gonzaga, Murray State, Northern Iowa, Butler-- they're all great stories. It's nothing against MSU, it's the human nature. It's David vs. Goliath.
When MSU played Duke in the Final Four 11 years ago, were the announcers rooting for Duke? No, because MSU was David. But in the time since, Tom Izzo has built the program into a skyscraper. So, when they play Northern Iowa and Tennessee and Butler they are Goliath. And again, that's the way you want it.
Wouldn't you rather be the powerhouse who's playing in your 6th Final Four in 12 years instead of the upstart getting to your first? Exactly. So, when Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg are openly more excited about a Bulldog basket than a Spartan basket, deal with it. It's a great story! The little guy taking on the perennial powerhouse in their hometown. From a TV guy's perspective, that's a great storyline.
Speaking of announcers though, have you noticed a disparity at CBS? Are Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg really the best announcer team in the fold? If we're being honest, not a chance.
Here are the announcer teams that worked the NCAA tournament this year for CBS:
Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg
Dick Enberg//Jay Bilas
Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery
Gus Johnson/Len Elmore
Kevin Harlan/Dan Bonner
Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel
Tim Brando/Mike Gminski
Spero Dedes/Bob Wenzel
Let's start with color guys. I was never a Billy Packer fan, but the guy knew the game, period. He caught the nuances that changed every game and was able to verbalize that to the audience. To put it politely, Kellogg cannot. To put it rudely, Kellogg is a bore with a knack for stating the obvious and agreeing with what Nantz has just said. You watch this weekend and count the number of "You're absolutely right, Jim" comments. And I'll bet Bilas, Raftery, Elmore, Bonner, Spanarkel, Gminski and Wenzel don't care for the fact that he jumped from the studio to the #1 analyst job either. If anybody was going to replace Packer, it's Raftery. Awesome energy, schtick and knowledge, Raftery is many fans favorite in ALL of hoops. If you're not into the showmanship, Jay Bilas is your man. Not a lot of experience, but a lot of know-how and smooth presentation. Seriously, I can't think of any of the above analysts who aren't better than Kellogg.
Sorry, Jim Nantz, but you're not the best either. Nantz is a great talent just not the ideal play-by-play man. At the Masters, he's perfect. Calling NCAA and NFL games, not so much. Let's face it, he's in the championship chair because of his name. For my money, a Gus Johnson/Bill Raftery partnership would be dynamite. First of all, love him or hate him because of his enthusiasm, Gus Johnson is the best in the business hands down right now. At least when it comes to college hoops. So for CBS to trot out two guys who aren't the best when bringing us the best teams on the court, is unfair to the viewer. At least in the analyst position, it's been two years of Kellogg and CBS should recognize he's not getting it done. Furthermore, when Raftery and Bilas are waiting in the wings, it's a no-brainer.