Did you miss Dick Vitale not doing the call for Duke’s thrilling 92-90 overtime victory Wednesday? He did.
During the game he sent out this tweet through @DickieV:
Wednesday marked the first time Vitale hadn’t worked the big rivalry game in years for ESPN. In recent seasons, he had teamed with Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas on the call.
This year, ESPN decided to only use Shulman and Bilas, forcing Vitale to watch at home. Prior to the game, Vitale admitted his disappointment to the Raleigh News & Observer:
“I told them that I cannot lie when a writer asks me what’s my feeling not doing the game,” he said. “I said I have to be honest. And my honest reply to you is, obviously, I’m a loyal, team player. I will go where my bosses tell me to go.
“But in my heart I will absolutely miss being a part of North Carolina-Duke.”
“It’s been a special part of my basketball and my announcing career,” Vitale said. “And I will never forget the magical moments that I’ve had, being able to be part of such an incredible rivalry.”
It definitely was different without Vitale. While Bilas calls a solid game, he can’t match Vitale for the histrionics that seemed to be required for the latest clash of rivals.
The wild finish to regulation and the frenetic pace of the overtime demanded the requisite shouts of “UNNN-BELLLIEVV-ABBLLLE” and “AWWOEESSOUMMEE!” from Vitale.
Bilas tried to match the excitement by repeatedly saying, “What a game.” But he doesn’t come close to hitting the notes that Vitale can.
Vitale definitely was missed judging by some of the tweets:
Sure, Vitale has his share of critics and there were some who thought the telecast was better without him. Probably a few of them are in Bristol. Clearly, ESPN wants to establish Bilas as its No. 1 analyst on college basketball.
But there are certain games that still demand Vitale’s presence. Duke-North Carolina tops the list.
The rematch is set for March 7 at Chapel Hill. Here’s hoping Dickie V is there, sitting next to Shulman and Bilas.