Through more than 1450 games on the ESPN networks this season, ESPN’s roster of analysts have seen it all from the best game-winning baskets to the best venues, warm-up music and local eats. Heading into the finale of Championship Week Presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, ESPN’s Jay Bilas, Doris Burke, Dan Dakich, Sean Farnham, Fran Fraschilla, Seth Greenberg and Andy Katz reflect on the season that was and share some of what stood out to them most.
Most memorable game
Bilas: The Louisville at Notre Dame five overtime game. I was fortunate to be at the UConn-Syracuse six overtime game, and this was almost as fun. It wasn’t much of a game until the final 47 seconds but from then on it was epic.
Burke: The tight 79-76 Duke win at home over Miami, with unranked Maryland’s upset over No. 2 Duke a very close second.
Dakich: Minnesota winning at home against top-ranked Indiana on Feb. 26.
Farnham: It was struggling Illinois at home rallying from nine down with four minutes remaining to knock off No. 1 Indiana and ignite their run back into NCAA contention.
Fraschilla: Watching Butler top No. 1 Indiana in Indianapolis.
Greenberg: The Zags-Butler game – hard to imagine a game ending that way. Both teams won and lost the game in the final 30 seconds.
Katz: Opening weekend of College GameDay when Gonzaga and Butler battled down to the wire.
Biggest surprise team
Bilas: Miami – I thought the Hurricanes would be good but I was surprised to see how good. This team is older, versatile and plays with great pace and maturity.
Farnham: Georgetown – a team that struggled to score at times that lost their second-leading scorer in Greg Whittington, yet have won nine straight with Otto Porter playing at an All-American level.
Fraschilla: Kansas State.
Bilas, Dakich and Katz: Victor Oladipo.
Bilas, “I don’t know who saw this coming, but I didn’t believe that he’d have this type of offensive impact. I knew he could guard anyone, but he plays both ends of the court with dynamic impact.”
Fraschilla and Farnham: Kelly Olynyk.
Farnham, “Without question, Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk – no one was sure what to expect from him but he has led the Zags to their best season ever.”
Greenberg: Miami’s Shane Larkin went from just another guy to ACC Player of the Year.
Most memorable play or moment (dunk, half-court shot, court storming, etc.)
Bilas: The final play of the Gonzaga-Butler game. For Roosevelt Jones to steal the inbound pass was one thing, but the floater was tremendous. As Brad Stevens said, ugliest jump shot in the game, and the prettiest floater.
Dakich: Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe blocking IU’s Cody Zeller above the rim, igniting the Barn and his team.
Farnham: My 83-foot shot from section 221 of Minnesota’s Williams Arena.
Fraschilla: Kansas’ Elijah Johnson scoring 30 points in the second half and overtime at Iowa State.
Greenberg: Being as I am the commissioner of court storming – during the NC State-North Carolina storming of the court when CJ Leslie recued the young man in the wheelchair.
Katz: Butler’s Rotnei Clarke’s 3-pointer to Marquette in Maui.
Bilas: Indiana when hosting Michigan. The crowd was tremendous from start to finish, an awesome environment.
Burke: Maryland’s crowd was electric as they beat Duke.
Dakich: The excitement and energy of the Minnesota crowd during the IU game.
Farnham: A lot of great environments in the country, but the Breslin Center at Michigan State is a spectacular venue to call a game at.
Fraschilla: Kansas State at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse.
Greenberg: Kansas has the best pregame in college basketball and the venue sends chills up your spine.
Katz: Michigan State vs. Connecticut at Ramstein Air Base.
Bilas: Allen Fieldhouse at Kansas is an amazing place. Words cannot describe it.
Burke: Cameron Indoor.
Dakich: IU’s Assembly Hall with Carrier Dome a close second.
Farnham: Love the elevated floor at Minnesota’s Williams Arena.
Fraschilla: It is not even close – Allen Fieldhouse, the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral of college basketball.
Katz: Hangar 5 in Germany for the Air Forces Classic.
Favorite place you visited this year
Bilas: UCLA because of the 75 degrees and the sun being out every day, plus you can’t forget the trips to In-N-Out Burger – ridiculously good!
Burke: Always been a favorite of mine – Jaleo restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Dakich: Nick’s English Hut in Bloomington, Ind.
Farnham: Tough to argue that there is a more passionate fan base and best community than Spokane, Wash., quietly with great food with Churchill’s Steaks, Wild Sage and Thai Bamboo.
Fraschilla: Eating at Varsity Donuts in Manhattan, Kan., with Brent Musburger and our crew. It’s a couple thousand-calorie morning.
Greenberg: Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, N.Y.
Best warm-up music
Bilas: Kansas – the Rock Chalk to the Alma Mater and the swaying back-and-forth, that is one great atmosphere.
Burke: ‘Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – on so many teams’ warm-up music.
Dakich: Wisconsin’s Kohl Center.
Farnham: Whoever does not have the Harlem Shake on their lineup.
Fraschilla: The National Anthem played by the Baylor Bears band will make you cry.
When in-studio, favorite thing to do when the cameras are off
Bilas: I hate to be simple, but I just watch the game. I may take some notes, but why would I do anything else when I love watching the games.
Dakich: Tweet as many pictures as possible.
Farnham: Get some downtime and eat at the ESPN Café.
Greenberg: Trying to keep Jay Williams in one place for more than 15 seconds, and also watching Karl organize his son’s Bar Mitzvah and still knowing everything that was going on in the games.
Katz: Talking basketball and life with my studio partners.
College basketball ratings on ESPN
ESPN’s three largest audiences for a college basketball game this 2012-13 season: Then-No. 3 Indiana defeating No. 1 Michigan on February 2 is the most-viewed and highest rated with an average of 4,035,000 viewers, a 2.9 coverage rating and 2,867,000 households; then-No. 1 Indiana beating No. 4 Michigan State on February 19 is the second largest audience of the season with an average of 3,733,000 viewers, a 2.7 coverage rating and 2,677,000 households; then-No. 3 Duke defeating No. 5 Miami 79-76 on Saturday, March 2, averaged 3,416,000 viewers, a 2.5 coverage rating and 2,459,000 households was the third most-viewed and third highest-rated regular-season men’s college basketball game this season.