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NCAA Tournament 2019 announcer pairings revealed

The same faces are around, but some are in different places.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Purdue Boilermakers vs Butler Bulldogs Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier Monday, CBS and Turner Sports helped to reveal the announcer pairings for the upcoming 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Let’s take a look at those aforementioned pairings right now:

Jim Nantz/Bill Raftery/Grant Hill//Tracy Wolfson
Brian Anderson/Chris Webber//Allie LaForce
Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel//Jamie Erdahl
Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner//Dana Jacobson
Brad Nessler/Steve Lavin/Jim Jackson//Evan Washburn
Spero Dedes/Len Elmore/Steve Smith//Ros Gold-Onwude
Andrew Catalon/Steve Lappas//Lisa Byington
Carter Blackburn/Debbie Antonelli//John Schriffen

For posterity sake, let’s take a look at what they were a year ago:

Jim Nantz/Bill Raftery/Grant Hill//Tracy Wolfson
Brian Anderson/Chris Webber//Lisa Byington
Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel//Allie LaForce
Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner//Dana Jacobson
Brad Nessler/Steve Lavin//Evan Washburn
Spero Dedes/Len Elmore/Steve Smith//Ros Gold-Onwude
Andrew Catalon/Steve Lappas//Jamie Erdahl
Carter Blackburn/Debbie Antonelli//John Schriffen

Unlike the past few years, there aren’t too many major changes, at least as it pertains to the announce crews themselves. Four crews in total were left unchanged after last year’s tournament. And there was only one crew that received an additional voice this time around.

We know by now that Jim Nantz is going to call the Final Four and the NCAA Championship Game until he decides he doesn’t want to. He, Raft, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson will be patrolling the floor in Minneapolis this year. That’s none too surprising. It’s also not much of a shock that Brian Anderson and Chris Webber will be the #2 crew. Turner is essentially grooming Anderson to be their lead voice, and that’s much deserved on BA’s end, as he’s a terrific commentator. There are plenty of critics of Chris Webber, but as far as Turner analysts go, it wasn’t shocking that he was put up in that spot again.

The significant shift here, and one that’s not surprising to those who’ve followed the timeline, is who will be on the sidelines. Last year, Lisa Byington worked the #2 crew’s sideline reporting gig. This time around, it’s Allie LaForce who will be doing the job.

This past summer, LaForce joined Turner Sports exclusively, leaving CBS entirely after several years with the network. She had quickly ascended up to getting a regional after just one year on the outside looking in back in 2013, having worked through the second weekend for the last five years. Now, with her new gig at Turner, it’s allowed her to jump up from the #3 crew a year ago to the #2 crew, and thus, the top crew for Turner, making it the sixth year in a row that she’s worked a regional round.

The reporter who replaced LaForce on CBS’ SEC football coverage is the one who’ll be landing a regional for the first time in her career. That’s Jamie Erdahl. Since the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Erdahl had been working with Andrew Catalon and Steve Lappas as either the #8 crew (2015) or the #7 crew (2016-2018). Now, she will be working into the second weekend for the first time, joining Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel as the #3 crew and the #2 crew for CBS.

Much like LaForce getting top billing for Turner, it’s not surprising to see them make this move with Erdahl, as she’s their prominent face on one of their network’s preeminent showcases (SEC on CBS). It’s also much deserved, and this crew is among one of my favorites, personally. If not my favorite entirely.

The #4 crew remains unchanged from last year. Kevin Harlan will, as always, be joined by Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner. Dana Jacobson, for the fifth year in a row, will patrol the sidelines, and will be doing so at a regional site for the fourth year in a row. Harlan is obviously a pro’s pro and a top shelf play-by-play man. His sidekick Miller might get his criticism from time to time, but the two have worked alongside each other for years, so there’s no real point in separating them. The same goes for Bonner, as well, as he’s very solid on color. Jacobson is very astute herself, and should no doubt do well in her role.

The #5 crew features the only addition to the commentary teams this year. It’s a voice Big East fans know quite well, as well. Joining Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin and Evan Washburn is Fox Sports’ Jim Jackson. Jackson, of course, has been working on Big East coverage for the last several years and has done a very good job on color commentary.

He will be doing NCAA Tournament work for the first time in his career, I believe. Which is a great thing and a big deal for him. It’s doubly cool that he’ll be working with Lavin, someone I’m sure he’s run into through Fox the last few years. This crew might suffer from the usual fates that four-man crews suffer from, but there are some quality voices here to say the least.

The #6 and #8 crews remain unchanged from last year. Spero Dedes will work on the NCA Tournament once again, as he’s joined by Len Elmore and Steve Smith, with Turner’s Ros Gold-Onwude doing sideline coverage for the fourth year in a row. Meanwhile, for the second straight year, the team of Carter Blackburn, Debbie Antonelli and reporter John Schriffen will work as the #8 crew for the tournament.

The pairing of Andrew Catalon and Steve Lappas still remains the #7 crew. But no longer will Jamie Erdahl be around them, as mentioned earlier. Instead, it will be the aforementioned Lisa Byington, who’ll act as their sideline reporter. This should be a fun listen as Catalon is underrated, Lappas can be entertaining and Byington absolutely knows her stuff.

The two crews who’ll be calling the First Four this year are the Harlan/Miller/Bonner/Jacobson crew on Tuesday, and a crew of Spero/Jackson/Smith/Gold-Onwude on Wednesday.

All these crews should work very well together for this upcoming tournament. And hey folks, the fact that we know all this now means we’re one step closer to the Madness beginning. Fun and exciting times await us.