The final edition of JBD’s worst bad beats of 2021 is here.
Editor’s Note: When you’re losing money gambling on professional athletes, it’s always a smart move to turn to our brilliant college students playing in the NCAA.
Honorable Mention: Gonzaga-St. Mary’s 1/16:
My worst college basketball beat came early in 2021. I worried that Gonzaga would put in their scrubs. They were up by 17. I might have used another term to describe the lesser players. A late three pulled St. Mary’s within 14. The Bulldogs had one final chance to cover. A missed dunk (not contested) ended up costing me.
My top 5 college beats were all from football.
5. Western Kentucky-Army 9/11:
How could you not take Army when they have a September 11 game at West Point? The line was just under a touchdown. Army went ahead 35-14 with 10:31 remaining. This quickly became 35-28. A late field goal made it 38-28, but left the back door open. Army’s prevent defense allowed Western Kentucky to drive down and score a touchdown with just 22 seconds to go.
4. Oregon-Stanford 10/2:
The Ducks were favored by more than a touchdown. I went with the substantial but seemingly safe ML. Unranked Stanford’s injured quarterback returned to throw a touchdown with no time on the clock. Stanford was given an untimed down after a holding penalty with zeroes on the clock, and the undefeated Ducks would end up losing in overtime. Three Oregon penalties aided Stanford’s late drive in the final 1:59 of regulation to tie the score.
3. Penn State-Iowa 10/9:
Both teams were ranked in the top 5. Iowa was a small favorite. It went up to 2.5. I probably would have bought Penn State to 3.5, but it was lower at the time of my bet. With the score 14-3 Penn State, it looked like the Nittany Lions were driving for a 21-3. They ended up getting just a field goal, and lost their quarterback to an injury. Sean Clifford’s replacement missed numerous open teammates, but threw passes to some open Iowa defenders. Penn State fell 23-20.
2. Colorado-Oregon 10/30:
Another Ducks game involved snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. At least where the point spread was concerned. I bought the line down one point to 23.5. It was a 45-14 lead for Oregon. Colorado converted twice on fourth down to keep a drive alive, including on their touchdown to pull within 24. Oregon’s quarterback threw an interception on the next drive.
Another touchdown followed. Once again, Colorado was able to keep the drive alive with a conversion on fourth down. The math says to go for two, and Colorado pulled within 16. Oregon answered with a touchdown, but only won by 23. Guess I should have bought two points instead of one.
1. Wyoming-Boise State 11/12:
I had been haunted by the Broncos all year. Their blown lead against Oklahoma State narrowly missed this list. It seemed like I was not on them when they played well. This debacle made SVP’s weekly Bad Beats segment. Wyoming seemed to have no sense of urgency. Boise had a 23-7 lead as the final seconds were ticking away.
A long pass was not only caught, but inexplicably taken in for a touchdown of 74 yards with just 4 seconds left. Wyoming had no timeouts remaining. If the tackle had been made inside Boise’s 5, the clock would have restarted after stopping temporarily. There would not have been time for any more plays. It was without a doubt my worst bad beat of 2021.
It is almost time for the remaining 16 teams to get back at it in my favorite sporting event. First, here is a look at each crew that called tournament games last week:
1. Spero Dedes/Steve Smith/Len Elmore or Jim Jackson/Ros Gold-Onwude:
I start with this crew because they were the worst. We were subjected to Spero calling First Four games. Jim Jackson joined the crew. I guess they wanted him to get extra work since this was his first time doing these games, but it was strange because he worked with two different crews. Smith and Jackson sound alike. I could not tell the difference. Elmore replaced Jackson on Friday. Those guys either did not listen to each other or were competing. All three announcers made the same point in a span of about five seconds.
Awful Announcing‘s Ken Fang tweeted that he would take AT&T announcer Phil over Spero. Dedes remarked that a player would be shooting two free throws. I had no idea why he said that when it clearly was not a shooting foul and there was no double bonus situation. He eventually figured it out and corrected himself after about a minute. The biggest mistake for this crew was made by their reporter. Actually, two of them. Ros mistakenly said that UC Irvine was 0-9 in close games. Five points or less. She obviously meant 9-0. Although UC Irvine’s coach let the incorrect record slide, he did call out her math skills. They won 70-64. He mentioned that the margin was six points.
Right now, I’d take AT&T announcer Phil over Spero Dedes. And Phil is played by Tim Baltz.
Although he is not the only person to struggle with this, Webber finds himself thinking or at least saying that day games are being played at night by using the word tonight. I did hear Webber catch himself once. When Washington played Utah State, Webber combined the two names and mentioned Washington State. They did not qualify. He also said that they had a good one going as the broadcast headed to break during a game that was not especially close at that particular time.
Virginia and North Carolina each trailed at halftime Friday. Two top seeds were down at halftime against 16s in one day for the first time. Anderson either misspoke or simply got the information wrong when he said that it was the first time a 16 held the lead over a top seed at halftime. It had just happened hours earlier. A March Madness TV twitter account then tweeted the same mistake. Probably because Anderson said it.
Around the same time that Spero botched the call about a shooting foul, Nessler did it twice. One time for each team in Ohio State’s game against Iowa State. Brad called Buffalo Bulls games, too. Somebody tweeted that he called them the Braves more than once. I saw a shot that did not hit the backboard, but Nessler thought it hit glass. Maybe he borrowed Marv Albert’s glasses. Chemistry seemed to be an issue with this crew, and Nessler seemed to lose focus. I remember him complaining about the long days of calling games when he replaced Uncle Verne.
Kevin Harlan is straight 🔥…and Brad Nessler gets an F+ for calling Buffalo the Bills and the Braves…🤦🏻♂️
4. Carter Blackburn/Debbie Antonelli/John Schriffen:
I’m still salty (that’s what the kids call it these days) that Antonelli replaced Mike Gminski. Although a friend complained to me about her last week, I did not think she was terrible from what I heard. They had some horrible games. Especially Saturday. I did not hear them a whole lot. She should do at least one regular season game with Blackburn. Antonelli broadcasts the women until March Madness. Then, she comes to the men. I don’t get it. They should leave her with the women if she knows them well and is praised for her work on those broadcasts.
5. Andrew Catalon/Steve Lappas/Lisa Byington:
A Seinfeld reference by Andrew about sending soup back went over well. There was an awkward moment when the person in charge of graphics erroneously advanced Syracuse instead of Baylor in the bracket. Catalon called them Butler at one point, but corrected himself. Probably because Baylor had a player named Butler. It also could have been because Butler knocked out Syracuse in Salt Lake City nine years ago. The Baylor-Syracuse game was in Salt Lake City. Catalon knows the history. He attended Syracuse.
6. Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner/Dana Jacobson:
This crew got off to a rocky start with the First Four. There was a strange transition from Harlan to Jacobson before the tournament even started, but that was more of a camera thing. Prairie View A&M’s head coach is Byron Smith. Bonner referred to him as Byron Scott. Kevin confused the substitution signal for a travel call in one game. He has made that mistake before.
I am a big fan of all three. They were excellent. Four of their six games were close, and the Seton Hall game against Wofford was tight before a late run by the Terriers. They had two weekend games with no others at the same time. I listened to them a lot. They were fantastic calling the exciting Maryland-LSU contest.
8. Jim Nantz/Bill Raftery/Grant Hill/Tracy Wolfson:
CBS has to be thrilled with their top crew. I still think Hill is coming along slowly, but Raftery is amazing and Nantz does a very solid job. The energy and knowledge from Raftery is unreal. However, his humor takes the cake. I like when he compares basketball contact to a New York subway ride.
It’s the best time of the year, and I don’t mean Christmas. March is the month of madness. Selection Sunday and the tournament’s first Thursday are like Christmas morning if you ask me. Jim Nantz is calling games this weekend. You know it’s crunch time. I think it would be nice if he could be bothered with at least one regular season game when CBS does not have golf, but so be it.
A number of things have grabbed my attention in the past week. Last weekend there was a video review in the Northern Iowa-Bradley contest. This should shock nobody, because these reviews are out of control. I thought there was clearly some unnecessary late contact, and guessed that it would be a common foul that was followed by a technical. Gene Steratore, who chimed in during NFL broadcasts on CBS, thought there should be nothing other than the original call. My guess turned out to be correct. After the ruling, we suddenly heard that Gene agreed with the call. They got it right. Not what he said a few minutes earlier. There was also some talk by Gene on another play that a player had the ball hit his head and go out of bounds. Analyst Dan Bonner said that Gene must have great eyesight because he didn’t see it. That’s because this didn’t happen.
Later, Clark Kellogg mistakenly said that a flagrant foul was called when highlights were shown. This happened more than once. I believe he said that a flagrant was ruled in three different segments. This could be because of the lengthy delay like we saw during Friday night’s Seton Hall-Marquette contest. The officials take too long reviewing plays. There are other games going on. People stop paying attention and concentrate on live action elsewhere. Speaking of losing concentration, CBS is going back to the old format for revealing which teams are making the NCAA Tournament.
Last year’s debacle was on TBS. CBS will carry the show this weekend. It will again reveal teams in bracket format. Last year’s show revealed schools in alphabetical order, and drew plenty of criticism. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. CBS’s 2019 show will again last 60 minutes, and ironically airs just before 60 Minutes.
There are no major changes in the tournament crews this season. Some sideline reporters have switched teams, and Jim Jackson was added to one crew. He had a mistake on Friday at MSG. A common question is whether or not to foul when up three late. He said there would be a decision if both foul shots were made. Gus Johnson tried to point out his error in subtle fashion by saying that the lead would be four if both free throws were good.
ESPN’s Jay Williams has been in the news. He was critical of Frank Howard for attempting to trip Duke’s Zion Williamson, and claimed to have also been critical when Duke’s Grayson Allen tripped players years ago. However, footage has surfaced of Williams saying that he liked Allen tripping people. Fox broadcaster Charissa Thompson used to date Williams. I was reminded of her mocking him one time. Jay’s twitter handle calls him the real Jay Williams. I remember her saying that somebody was real one time in a post. She stressed that word, and wasn’t talking about Williams. It seemed to be calling out her former man as a liar, or fake.
I have also been less than impressed with his pregame and halftime work in recent days. He could not wait to mention that a spread was covered after one game. It felt forced, although that is probably more of an issue I should take up with his bosses. ESPN is suddenly all over point spreads. In the past it felt special when somebody referred to gambling. Often the references were in passing, and the subject seemed taboo. Things have changed, and ESPN now has a daily gambling show. I’m sure they are focusing on promoting that. Getting back to Williams, he mistakenly called Duke’s superstar Zion Washington instead of Williamson. There were several times when something he said has gotten my attention in the past week, and never in a good way.
Jordan Cornette just casually saying Iona has the look of a second weekend team. They're a 16 seed, dude.
One more analyst has annoyed me lately. I thought Jordan Cornette’s performance was poor during the Monmouth game against Canisius. After Iona won the following night, he said they looked like a second weekend tournament team. Iona had been projected as a 16, and possibly playing on Tuesday or Wednesday. This guy has them taking out a 1, and then advancing after that! They might not even make it to Thursday. UMBC was the first team seeded 16 to beat a 1 last year, but even they didn’t win the next game. Actually, second weekend means a win in the sweet 16 as well. Apparently he has Iona making an incredible run.
Coaches putting winning above all else is part of their job. We are not living in a Blue Chips world where winning the “right way” is the most important thing. They have to win at all costs or they’ll be without a job, plain and simple. Coaches doing whatever it takes has often tiptoed an ambiguous moral line that is crossed more often than not. This is nothing new, and has long been a blemish throughout not just college, but all sports. However, we’re in an age where everything comes into the light sooner or later, and it often comes at a huge personal toll for the people on the receiving end of this line. The Baylor victims, Larry Nassar victims, and countless others have suffered long and hard at the hands of people in power in the college sports world. Urban Meyer is not the first to have crossed the line, and he will not be the last, but this is becoming an epidemic that leaves a black eye on all involved.
Between 2015 and today, Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith has been accused of domestic violence, and Urban Meyer allegedly knew about it and covered it up. This is disgusting, abhorrent behavior and must be punished severely. Meyer covered these incidents up because he believed that holding on to Smith would give his team the best chance to win. Yes, it is his job to win, but coaches have other responsibilities that are often shunned to bring winning to the forefront. They are supposed to be leaders, role models, and disciplinarians. Urban Meyer has shown that he is none of these. His punishment, as of now, is PAID administrative leave, which means that he will still receive paychecks despite all that he has done in covering up these allegations against Smith. In what world is this actual punishment? And what is the worst case scenario? He gets fired and lands a cushy job somewhere else in a few years? Will it even take years for another program to hire somebody like him, should these allegations be proven?
The NCAA has often made their most severe punishments of teams, coaches, and players the revoking of wins, trophies, championships, etc. This is not good enough. Everyone remembers Louisville winning the National Championship, everyone remembers Ohio State winning the Big Ten. These things happened and you cannot simply try to erase them and call it good enough. This is not some breaking of a code or NCAA bylaw. This is breaking the law. If these allegations against Meyer are true, he should never be allowed to coach again, and that’s just from an NCAA standpoint. To deter coaches, players, and administration alike, there needs to be something more severe. Because this is no longer a bumpy road to travel. This is more than a metaphorical black eye. This is a disgrace and unacceptable, and the NCAA itself needs to be held accountable. At what cost must winning come to that people are willing to hide domestic abuse or rape allegations?
I don’t know enough about the law or NCAA bylaws or anything to determine appropriate punishment, all I know is that whatever the current system is, it is not good enough. The NCAA needs to change and make sure that the winning of championships or games is not worth hurting real people. That winning cannot simply brush off very serious accusations. Because if this continues to happen, which it will, then there is no moral line to cross. That line will have already been long destroyed. I hope the wins were worth it.
After an exciting tournament full of upsets and Cinderella runs, when the dust settled, the Villanova Wildcats were the only team left standing. From start to finish, Villanova was by far the best in the nation. A high powered offense (lead the NCAA in PPG) and a potent defense, Villanova had it all. Nova’s top 6 guys could play for any team in the country. Hats off to Michigan on a great season. They just ran into the wrong team at the wrong time.
After Nova was down 21-14, it was time for the new Italian Stallion, Donte DiVincenzo, to do his best Jimmy Chitwood impression. However, give Jimmy Chitwood the ability to play above the rim and you get Donte DiVincenzo.
This past weekend, I watched three incredible women’s basketball games. All three games came down to the wire with two of them going to overtime and two of them ending with buzzer beaters from the same player. You could not have asked for a better trio of games.
What could’ve been the best shot of the weekend ended up becoming an afterthought. Game 1 on Friday saw Mississippi State hit a 3 with under 10 seconds left to send the game to overtime, where they would go on to beat Louisville. After watching this clip in realtime and now on replay, Louisville was fouled on the layup and should’ve went to the line.
Game 2 – David beat Goliath…again. For the second year in a row, Uconn lost on a heartbreaking buzzer beater, this time at the hands of Notre Dame. UConn battled all game and when they sent it into overtime, I thought luck would run out for the Irish.
I’m sure Arike Ogunbowale would have been happy with one memorable buzzer beater at the Final Four. Apparently, that epic moment was not enough for her. She decided to outdo herself and win the title with another buzzer beater. Challenge, accepted.
It was the perfect end to a stellar weekend for women’s basketball. Everyone is jacked up for the men’s championship game tonight, but in terms of exciting games, the women’s tournament has the upper hand.
Saturday’s first game saw Loyola-Chicago complete the remarkable trek to San Antonio. After winning three games by a total of four points, Loyola handled Kansas State 78-62. The Ramblers made 9 of their first 10 shots after halftime, stretching a lead of 12 to 23. Loyola made 13 straight after the break against Nevada Thursday. A late shot by Kansas State spun out as they started to claw back. It looked like more divine intervention.
Brian Anderson says Loyola has that winning gene, but I can only assume that is a play on words with Sister Jean. I’ve been critical of that crew, but thought they did a good job Saturday. Chris Webber was solid. I even heard Lisa Byington address Brian Anderson by his first name at times. Head coach Porter Moser has gone under the radar. How many people even know his name? This guy is living in Sister Jean’s shadow. The team is confident. Their quick passing makes me think this is what ball movement used to be like.
I can see why Sister Jean says they remind her of Loyola’s 1963 championship team. As Kentucky struggled Thursday, I started to think that Loyola could beat them. Once Kansas State advanced, I was all in on the Ramblers taking out K-State. Even after Loyola made the Sweet 16, ESPN said they had about a 1% chance of winning it all. Considering the Nevada game being basically a toss-up, that seemed low. Early this morning I saw their latest odds at 12-1. Michigan then took out Florida State in an ugly game. Leonard Hamilton’s postgame interview was also ugly, and his coaching wasn’t pretty either. FSU inexplicably decided not to foul down 58-54 with about 10 seconds remaining. The best explanation anybody can come up with is the spread was 4, or 4.5 in some places.
Villanova fell behind 9-1 against Texas Tech but quickly bounced back and went to halftime up 13. The Wildcats won by 12. Villanova has been consistent throughout the tournament. They covered all four games.
The Duke-Kansas game concluded this weekend’s action. It lived up to expectations. Kansas hit a late three to force overtime, delaying 60 Minutes and their Stormy Daniels interview. Grayson Allen nearly ended it in regulation for Duke, but his bank shot did not drop. Malik Newman had 32 points for Kansas, including all of the team’s 13 points in overtime. Kansas won 85-81. The Jayhawks are headed back to San Antonio. Kansas won it all in 2008. The Alamodome also hosted that Final Four.
It will be Loyola-Chicago against Michigan on Saturday night. Villanova will meet Kansas in game two. The winners will play for a championship on Monday. I will be forced to find something else that can give my life meaning after that.
Jim Nantz / Grant Hill / Bill Raftery // Tracy Wolfson:
I didn’t really think Grant Hill was needed when they put this team together. Raftery is more than capable. I think CBS was reluctant to hire Bill for the A team based on his age, but he is definitely a fan favorite. Raftery, approaching 75, has not lost a step. Hill seemed shaky at first, but I think he is finding his way. Raftery will not last forever, sadly. CBS wanted someone they did not have to worry about after Greg Anthony was charged with soliciting a prostitute.
Hill provided them with a name, good reputation, and youth compared with other analysts. Raftery often praises Hill and sets him up well. It works. Nantz has been calling the title game for about 30 years. I kind of like him as a studio host (he did this years ago for football and basketball) because he’s good with knowledge but doesn’t really have a golden voice in my opinion.
Greg Gumbel holds things down in the studio these days. Nantz does a solid job. Gus Johnson isn’t walking through that door. There is nothing we can do. Nantz finally got to call a Houston game during their conference tournament. In fact, two of them. He waited more than 30 years. Jim attended Houston, and Tracy’s Wolverines knocked them out on a buzzer beater this past weekend.
Brian Anderson / Chris Webber // Lisa Byington:
Brian Anderson is an up and coming announcer. I was annoyed when they elevated him above Ian Eagle, but so be it. During his first March Madness tournament, he aggravated me by continuously pointing out that these games are win or go home. We know. We’re not new to this. You are. I think he is great at baseball, and I’m glad that he now does the LCS on TBS over Ernie Johnson.
Chris Webber doesn’t impress me. I don’t think he is good doing NBA games. I’d like to see him do a Michigan game and have to talk about getting in trouble. Not that he would. Lisa Byington does not say the announcers’ names when doing a report. Somebody else will thank Ian or whoever is throwing it over to them. I feel like she is afraid of saying the wrong name because she isn’t used to these guys.
Kevin Harlan / Reggie Miller / Dan Bonner // Dana Jacobson:
Kevin Harlan has been doing the tournament for many years. I miss him on radio. He still does football on the radio, but used to call some basketball games there as well. Recently I was disappointed when he thought a travel had been called. The official was just signaling that there were substitutions but no timeout. That’s a college thing. He should know that. I’m a hard marker.
Reggie Miller is okay. Not my favorite analyst, but I guess I’m just used to him. Dan Bonner is good. When these guys swoop in for the tournament, CBS wisely likes to mix in someone who knows the college game. Jacobson hasn’t really bothered me too much. Sometimes that is the best thing you can say about a sideline reporter.
Ian Eagle / Jim Spanarkel // Allie LaForce:
This is an excellent team. Ian is one of the best. He finally gets to do the second weekend on television. We’ll see what happens next year. Verne Lundquist could be returning after back surgery. I miss Verne. So many legendary calls. Spanarkel is terrific. He has chemistry with Ian because they worked together on Nets games. They were paired together longer than any other team until Greg Anthony was suspended. Raftery moved up, and Spanarkel joined Verne to replace Raftery.
This wasn’t the first year Ian talked about how more tournament games have been played in Dayton than any other location. That is one of my few pet peeves with him. Many were played there years ago, but of course, there are four every year now. I don’t even consider them tournament games. Allie played basketball. She knows what is going on, and isn’t bad to look at either.
Spero Dedes / Steve Smith / Len Elmore // Ros-Gold-Onwude:
I have been bashing Spero for years. I’ll leave it at that. I’m not a big Steve Smith fan, but at least we’re not stuck with him saying BA all the time because he’s not with Brian Anderson anymore. Len Elmore is the typical college guy who is there to educate the announcers who don’t know much about these teams, although Spero has done some college games.
Back in 1992, Len called Duke-Kentucky with Verne Lundquist. Len tried to reference it, but said Louisville instead of Kentucky. That’s not good. It was a classic game. You have to get that right. Ros is the best part of this team. She did a good job interviewing Sister Jean from Loyola-Chicago.
Brad Nessler / Steve Lavin // Evan Washburn:
Brad Nessler didn’t seem to be overly enthusiastic. I’m still mad that he does SEC games now instead of Verne. The Dick Neer twitter account knocked his enthusiasm, so I felt vindicated. He had complained about doing four games in one day before the tournament started. Occasionally I would flip on Gary Cohen. He did it on radio. His call was the local Seton Hall broadcast, so it’s a little different. Still, that was quite a contrast.
I liked Nessler years ago. They replaced Verne with another fairly old guy who has less energy. Lavin isn’t terrible. He does studio work. I think he is probably better there. I’m not big on male sideline reporters. Evan took over for Jenny Dell on NFL broadcasts. I’m still holding a grudge.
Andrew Catalon / Steve Lappas / Jamie Erdahl:
I like Catalon. He just tries too hard sometimes. Occasionally he’ll yell a little too loud. Or late. It’s like he realizes he’s not quite excited enough or should put more into his call so it goes viral. I also noticed this when he was calling an NFL game. He’s lucky. This is what I say about someone who does a good job. Others are not as fortunate. Catalon and Lappas are both local guys. I have heard them on WFAN. Lappas definitely knows his stuff, and I enjoy listening to him.
Jamie Erdahl works the sideline for this crew. She is one of the top NFL reporters. Erdahl works with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green on football broadcasts. However, she is only my second favorite Jamie from Minnesota. NHL and MLB host Jamie Hersch takes the cake.
Carter Blackburn / Debbie Antonelli // John Schriffen:
I have been listening to Blackburn for years. He does a good job calling basketball and football, but for some reason, it has not translated well into the tournament. His games are usually not great. I used to like Mike Gminski. Last year it seemed awkward when Antonelli was inserted into the crew.
Now it looks like CBS was just phasing out Gminski, who did not return this year. I have not seen enough of Schriffen to really make a judgment, but there are reasons this crew is ranked below all others.
The top four teams will work again the next couple days and this weekend. You know what they say during infomercials. But wait…there’s more! I have other media thoughts. Expect an article very soon.