Conference championship week is one of the best weeks of the year for college basketball fans. It’s basically non-stop basketball until Selection Sunday.
Ian Eagle enjoys conference championship week, too. But for him, it’s a little different.
“This is the calm before the storm from a play-by-play man’s perspective,” the CBS Sports play-by-play voice said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “You have no idea where you’re going. You cannot prepare for it. So it puts me in a rather uncomfortable position because I’m a big prep guy. I cannot do anything. I don’t know what teams I’m going to have. I do know it’s going to be an avalanche of information. It’s just a matter of when I get the assignment and compartmentalizing and getting ready to do this thing.”
Eagle said the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is “by far the most chaotic three- or four-day period that I experience all year.” This isn’t providing play-by-play for an NFL postseason game in which he knows all of the key figures inside and out; this is providing commentary for teams that he may not have seen previously, teams full of unknowns.
That’s why Eagle takes his NCAA Tournament prep so seriously – once he knows who to prepare for, that is.
“I know how much it means to them, how much it means to their families,” he said. “For most of them, they’re not playing in the NBA. This is the highest level they’re ever going to achieve, so that’s always in the back of my mind when I’m doing this event – that when they play this back years later that the play-by-play guy and the analyst have done the best job possible to chronicle how dramatic and how meaningful this was.”
Indeed, the next few weeks will not be forgotten. Not by the players or the fans.
“People remember names that they had not heard before,” Eagle said. “Ali Farokhmanesh. Brett Bizzard was a player on North Carolina-Wilmington that I had in the tournament back in 2002. They knocked off USC and it’ll stick with me forever. It’s a great name, too. Kevin Pittsnogle, West Virginia. They beat Wake Forest in 2005, second round, double overtime. Those names live forever. Maybe they don’t have great pro careers or we don’t hear about them. The names live on.”