Full-Court Press: The Talking Head Edition

ESPN tandem Dick Vitale and Dan Shulman are each two of the best in the business

College basketball is ripe with a bevy of talking heads. Who is your favorite analyst/play-by-play man right now?

Josh Riddell (@TheMikanDrill): Doug Gottleib is probably my favorite analyst. He is knowledgeable about the game, comes prepared and doesn’t force excitement or catchphrases but focuses on breaking down the game in front of him. Also, he is great on Twitter, even though his responses can sometimes be hard to decipher. My one criticism of him is that he interrupts his partner too often when he wants to make a point. If he controls that, he would be nearly perfect.

Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh): Dick Vitale, which I know puts me in an exclusive club. He can be painful to listen to at times, but no one is as enthusiastic about college basketball as Dickie V. A guy excited enough to be shouting about the 10th man for St. Bonaventure is a character that should be cherished.

Zach Zimmerman (@Zach_Zimmerman): I’ve always been a huge Rece Davis fan. It’s one thing to have a tremendous knowledge of the game. It’s another to have said knowledge and be able to moderate the discussion between those that don’t. He is just an undeniably likable dude that exudes passion for college ball.

Joey Whelan (@JoeyWhelan): For college hoops play-by-play Dan Shulman is as good as it gets. His professionalism, knowledge, pace and sense of the moment is spectacular. He also happens to be the perfect partner for Dick Vitale – not an easy task.

Dave Ryan (@dryanbball): I thoroughly enjoy listening to games with Jay Bilas on the call. The guy is so tapped-in to the sport, and I often find myself agreeing with Bilas’ take on both in-game and sport-wide issues more often than not. He’s also about as professional as they come.

What one announcer or analyst continuously forces you to reach for the mute button?

IL: I don’t discriminate. If they’re talking about college basketball, I’m happy to listen.

ZZ: I’m all about enthusiasm, but voice modification and random shouting of vegetable names is on another (unnecessary) level. Bill Raftery is a legend, sure, but to me he’s just a poor man’s Chick Hearn with fewer witty catchphrases in his arsenal and far more love for Jerome Lane.

JW: Sorry Hoosier nation, but Bobby Knight, for as knowledgeable as he is about the game, doesn’t translate well on TV. It’s obvious he doesn’t prep much for games and often doesn’t know what players he is talking about.

DR: Hubert Davis. Many of the things he says in studio are straight from cue cards, and yet he still makes more mistakes than most live guys. Not a college hoops media member out there that makes it sound MORE like he’s reading a bunch of canned sentences than Hubert.

JR: Jimmy Dykes is every quality of a bad analyst rolled into one person. He brings one or two talking points which he repeats like a broken record throughout the game, he forces catchphrases (‘that’s not the extra pass, that’s the right pass’) and he fills the game with bad gimmicks (Jimmy’s Jet). If I was as bad at my job as he was at his, I would be kicked to the curb in a heartbeat.

Some knucklehead in Michael Rothstein’s player of the year poll gave a first place vote to Vandy’s John Jenkins. Where is Jenkins on your POY ballot?

ZZ: I’ll stick him at No. 10, but never in my wildest dreams would I consider giving him a first-place vote. It really is a three-man race between Robinson, Sullinger and McDermott, and Jenkins isn’t anywhere close to that group. He’d have a  compelling case had Vandy not stunk it up in the early going.

JW: Given his insane shooting (65.7% TS) and efficiency (1.164 PPP) numbers, I feel comfortable saying Jenkins is between the 10th and 15th best player in the nation. He might not have the kind of upside as other names, but his productivity is tremendous.

DR: Cheap plug time – I have Jenkins at No. 10 in my weekly POY rankings, but anywhere in the 10-20 range seems fair. A lot of guys around the country putting up comparable, yet slightly less impressive numbers in similar roles. But not one can tough his NCAA-leading 3.9 three-pointers per game. That’s elite stuff right there.

JR: 51, but only for the sake of giving a rank as he might be lower than that if I chose to go that far. I know that I could find 50 players more deserving of this honor. In fact, I bet I could find 10 players in the SEC alone more worthy of the POY. He brings points to the table for Vanderbilt (19.8 per game) but what else does he give the team? Not enough in my mind to give him a sniff of the POY ballot.

IL: Robinson, Davis, Sullinger, McDermott, Barnes, Jones, Jones III, Green, Kidd-Gilchrist, Lamb, Denmon, Scott. Jenkins has had an incredible shooting year, but there’s too many other talented players having huge impacts for top teams for him to be in the top ten.

True or False. Virginia’s Mike Scott is the best player in the ACC

JW: False. Among the top five, no question, but there are still a couple of names I would take over Scott at this point in the season.

DR: False. Right now Scott is nearly a 30% possession guy. His numbers have been ridiculous in that UV offense, but the unquestioned best player in the league? Let’s put Harrison Barnes in the same type of role and see how he looks.

JR: False, although he is worthy of the ACC Player of the Year award and national consideration. This doesn’t make him the best player in the ACC, however. He is putting up great stats on a slow Virginia team, but if you put Zeller, McKie, Leslie or Barnes in his position, I think those four players could be just as effective.

IL: True. He’s tops in ORtg, second in eFG%, third in DRB%, 6th in free throw rate, fifteenth in TO% and has led Virginia to a 14-2 start. He may not be the best prospect in the ACC, but he’s definitely been the best player this season.

ZZ: Best? False. Remember, this is a conference littered with lottery picks. Scott is beasting for the second season in a row, but even this master of efficiency and team MVP doesn’t hold a candle to the elite talent in the ACC.

Looking ahead, what is the weekend’s most important conference game involving soon-to-be bubble teams?

DR: Oklahoma at Texas A&M perks my interest. We expected much more out of the Aggies than a 1-4 start, while the Sooners are inexplicably in search of their third straight Big 12 win. A victory for either team here could prove significant.

JR: I am going to cheat and go with Maryland-Temple. Maryland didn’t get any good non-conference wins without Pe’Shon Howard or Alex Len. Now that they have the services of both those players, they look like a different team and one that could challenge for a tournament spot in the ACC. They need this non-conference road win to bolster their resume and a win in this game could put them over the edge for a NCAA tournament berth.

IL: Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. This one is much more important for Mississippi State. They already have quality wins against Alabama and West Virginia, but their resume needs polishing. It’s tough to imagine them beating Florida, Kentucky, or Alabama on the road which means they need this game stay in the at-large hunt.

ZZ: Remember the Pac-12? After Stanford’s loss to Wazzu last night, Cal looks like the only team left in the league with any chance at an at-large bid. If Mike Montgomery’s crew is unable to escape from Pullman with a win, this could be a one-bid conference. Woof.

JW: Certainly Arizona visiting Colorado could one day be viewed as a key game for both teams. Each school already has six losses and both stand at 4-2 in the Pac-12. The winner of this one can get as close as within a half game of first place.