Welcome to the Gus Johnson Region

Posted: 17th March 2009 by Blake Murphy in Blake Murphy, NCAA Hoops
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What is the best part of March Madness?

Some would say the potential for upsets. Some would say filling out brackets. Some would say the game of basketball itself.

But really, the reason we’re all so drawn to March Madness is the drama. You probably know this. What’s unclear sometimes is how exactly we experience said drama. Our bias towards teams or players, our surroundings, or our personal comparison points can alter the level of enjoyment we take from a game. Personally, I feel the two most important non-game factors are your viewing situation (with friends, big TV, good snacks, etc), and the announcing crew.

Alex, Stu, Josh…you see where this is going already. Thanks to Awful Announcing, I’ve gotten a sneak peek at the announcing teams for the first weekend of March Madness. I’ve opted to forego a tourney-wide preview. Sad, I know. Instead, I’ll give you an in-depth preview of the portion of the bracket with the highest potential for drama, based on announcing alone, the Minneapolis Region, henceforth known as The Gus Johnson Region.

Yes, Gus Johnson will team with Len Elmore to announce the Minneapolis Region, which is part of the Midwest Region of the main bracket. The games Gus Johnson will be making 40% more enjoyable are as follows:

Friday, 12:30 PM - (3) Kansas v. (14) North Dakota St.
A lot of people appear to be on the ND-State train early, both because they’re the first team to ever enter the tournament from the state of North Dakota (surprising for such a known basketball haven…), and because Kansas isn’t viewed as an especially strong 3-seed. Sorry to burst your bubble, but there will be no upset here. We can, however, root for a close game (a Spread Buster Special) to let Gus warm those pipes up for this next game…

Friday, 3:00 PM - (6) West Virginia v. (11) Dayton
Boom, upset number one in your Gus Johnson Madness Side-Pool (I have this as an upset, I took the over on 6.5 “Oh My Gods Per Game,” and I chose ‘no’ for Gus calls out Matt Devlin for trying to steal “Rise and Fireeeee!” because who the hell is Matt Devlin to Gus Jeezy). West Virginia is perennially a tough call in Round One, because they’re never very good or very bad. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, they’ll be the ones getting Pittsnoggled by Wale’s Dayton Flyer than the Rest of Thems.

Friday, 7:20 PM - (7) Boston College v. (10) USC
Not that you can really call a 10-7 an upset, but here it is. USC is one of the hottest teams entering the tournament, coming out of nowhere (a disappointing 9-9 conference record) to win the Pac-10 Tournament. Demar DeRozan turned on the jets, averaging 19.6 points over the team’s 5-game season-ending winning streak, well up from his 13.6 for the entire year. Might as well point out right now that USC also has four players committed for next year that ESPN has rated as 90 or better. Watch the Trojans go deeper than expected in the tournament, led by DeRozan’s ascension back into the upper part of the lottery.

Friday, 9:50 PM - (2) Michigan St. v. (15) Robert Morris
Michigan State is a weak #2 seed in my eyes, but there’s very little upset potential here. Good thing, too, because Gus will be pretty worn out after those last two games.

Sunday, 2:30 PM - (3) Kansas or (14) North Dakota St. vs. (6) West Virginia or (11) Dayton
Tough to foresee what could be going on in this one, but I think Kansas is powerful enough to get through either WVU or Dayton Quit Hatin’. I hear Len Elmore likes to party, so Gus might be a bit hungover for this game anyways.

Sunday, 5:00 PM - (2) Michigan St. or (15) Robert Morris vs. (7) Boston College v. (10) USC
Here’s the call: “Gibson with the defensive board, 6.4 seconds to go, ahead to Hackett…he drives, DeRozan cutting…the pass, the lay-uuuuuUUUUUpppp…IT’S GOOOOD! USC IS HEADING TO THE SWEET SIXTEEN!!!”

Yes, fans of these teams and this region have won the de facto “Gus Johnson Lottery” as AA coined it. Personally, I think the upset potential in this part of the tournament makes us all winners, while the overall lower level of talent limits what could be a very good Uncle Gus Weekend.

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