It’s official–the Madness has begun.
In the Big 10 Tournament opener, the Illinois Fighting Illini defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 51-49. The game itself was outstanding, but Gus Johnson’s call is what will make it an instant classic.
After a horrible Minnesota turnover, Illinois received the ball with less than 20 seconds remaining, and than the magic of Gus Johnson took over.
Fading away from the basket, Brandon Paul, who finished with 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting, drilled a 15-footer as time expired, giving the Illini an incredible first-round victory. With Illinois on the NCAA Tournament bubble, this win may have punched their ticket to the dance. The excitement from Illinois’ bench and fans was very evident as Paul’s buzzer-beater went in. However, Johnson seemed to enjoy the shot more than anyone–and he wasn’t even wearing orange and blue.
When you add the atmosphere of a Big 10 Tournament game plus two teams battling to make the field of 68 in addition to Gus Johnson’s call–pure greatness is bound to happen.
Johnson, who’s known for his sometimes over the top but always entertaining sports announcing, took his “Johnson Scream” to the next level this afternoon. Although many may find broadcasters like Johnson to be annoying or too dramatic, I wish there more Gus Johnson’s in sports broadcasting. The passion Johnson brings to the booth only adds to the greatness of sports. His voice, along with Paul’s buzzer-beater was the perfect start to what should be an unbelievable weekend in Chicago.
Matt Malecha is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattMalecha.