In the week leading up the NCAA Tournament, there are two things every fan needs to do: fill out their brackets and find out which games Gus Johnson is calling. Johnson puts the madness in March Madness and, as such, we’ve compiled Johnson’s ten best NCAA Tournament game calls.
10. Louisville-West Virginia (2005 Elite Eight)
The Cardinals came back form a 20-point deficit to make this a game at the end of regulation. Just reading that sentence is exciting, so you can only imagine how pumped Gus Johnson was that this Cinderella was nearing midnight right before him.
It’s not one of the times he’s lost control but the final two-and-a-half minutes of regulation are a microcosm of what makes Johnson so appealing as a broadcaster. His excitement level steadily rises with the back-and-forth buckets and hits a crescendo on the final shot of regulation.
9. Michigan State-Kansas (2009 Sweet 16)
Was Johnson auditioning to be an extra in a pirate flick? How else would you explain the growling, extended-vowel type calls he was making? Sounding more Black Beard than broadcaster, Johnson still nailed it as Michigan State held on to its lead after erasing a 13-point deficit against Kansas.
Our two favorite moments late in the game: “Lucas stop and start, INSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE. And that’s a jam.” And then this gem: “Here comes the Big Ten Player of the Year, spinning in traffic, leaning … up … COUNT IT ON THE FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUL.” We know one guy who would appreciate these calls.
8. Princeton-UCLA (1996 First Round)
You’ve probably seen this clip a million times and we bet you didn’t even remember a young Johnson was on this call. We should’ve known from the beginning that when Gus Johnson is in the building, magic happens. Johnson’s call was tame by his own standards but when a No. 13 seed upsets the defending national champion you don’t need much more than what Johnson provided: “Under ten, back door, Lewullis … HE GOT IT, HE GOT IT.”
7. NC State-Vanderbilt (2004 Second Round)
If the last clip taught us anything, it’s that Gus Johnson loves a well executed back-door play. We mean he really loves it, especially late in the game. When Vanderbilt’s Corey Smith capped off a 10-point comeback in the final 2:44 of the game, Johnson just about lost it: “They rise to their feet here in Orlando, a Sweet 16 berth on the line … back door, Smith from Moore! … COUNT IT AND THE FOUL. What a play!”
Not to be outdone by himself, Johnson’s call of the last play of the game was vintage Johnson, making any last shot – no matter how off it ends up being – sound like the most important in the world: “Atsur out of tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime … and that’s it! … Vanderbilt … 75 … NC State … 73. What an improbable finish!”
6. Vermont-Syracuse (2005 First Round)
Vermont’s T. J. Sorrentine was the only man in the building who knew what he was going to do in overtime vs. the ‘Cuse. As Sorrentine told us last year, “I looked out at coach who was calling a play and I just kind of waved him off and I said, ‘I got this, I got this.’ ” Thankfully for all of us, his 30-foot shot came as a surprise to Gus Johnson.
The beauty of this call is that because it was such an unexpected shot, Johnson’s reaction was that of a fan watching the game. Think about the reaction amongst your friends when you watched this game. Could you say anything other than, “Oooooooooooh!”? Johnson got back into broadcaster mode quickly with this gem: “Sorrentine hit that one from the parking lot!”