Doug Gottlieb: NCAA tournament rookie on the call

Watching a March Madness upset from your living room is one thing, but actually being in the building and on the floor is, well -- madness. That’s exactly what Doug Gottlieb, CBS Sports college basketball analyst, co-host of Lead Off and host of the Doug Gottlieb Show, got during his first time calling the NCAA tournament. Gottlieb was holding down the microphone in Salt Lake City for the second and third rounds of the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

He got to experience the second-round pressure of a No. 16 playing a No. 1 and also special extras like Southern University’s band, which he says brought the house down.

Also, don’t get it twisted. This is not Gottlieb’s first time actually at a tournament. In 2000, he balled his way the regional finals as a guard with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. This time around he took his talents behind the table and on the call.

In one day at the tournament he called four games, with the biggest nail-biter being No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Southern. Being that a No. 16 has never beaten a No. 1, the Jaguars were on the brink of history after a double-digit run in the second half to tie the game at 56 with 3:44 on the clock.

Initially, Gonzaga held the crowd’s attention as the more poised, well-respected No. 1 seed. But that changed in an instant.

“All of a sudden there’s about 12 minutes to go in the game and every time Southern hits a shot people are jumping up, cheering and going crazy,” Gottlieb said. “It’s like being in the middle of the Roman Colosseum and all of a sudden they’ve turned on the gladiators.”

When it comes to calling a potential historic upset game, Gottlieb takes a different approach than from his playing days.

Gottlieb says he’s a proponent of letting viewers feel the moment and not talking over the play-by-play person. However, there are moments during game-action breaks when it hits him that his voice could become part of history.

Gonzaga ended up pulling out 64-58 win, but for a while it seemed like the outcome would be different.

“Southern was never intimidated, never afraid, never wavered,” Gottlieb said. “They just played liked they belonged.”

Southern coach Ramon Banks went on to say, “We were basically an unknown ballclub that showed they can play the game of basketball.

"But we came here to win a ballgame, not play a ballgame."

While viewers at home were grabbing their couch cushions in anticipation of witnessing history and everyone suddenly becoming Southern fans, the Gonzaga Bulldogs weren’t shaken by the severity of the moment.

“Gonzaga was very focused and workman like,” Gottlieb said.

“I didn’t sense any type of panic from them.”

A real upset did happen on Gottlieb’s first NCAA tournament tour of duty -- No. 14 Harvard defeated No. 3 New Mexico.

“I like Harvard, I just thought no way, no way,” Gottlieb said. “But they started hitting shot after shot and New Mexico was kind of struggling. That was amazing, too.

"That’s going to go down as one of the great upsets in the history of the tournament.”

Harvard’s upset special style of play was nowhere to be found after its squad was mauled by Arizona in a 74-51 third-round loss. The Bulldogs still have a chance for their poise under pressure to help them advance in the tournament. If they get past Wichita State, a game that Gottlieb will also call, they’re bound to meet yet another hungry team that feels overlooked in No. 12 Ole Miss or No. 13 La Salle.

With Southern almost dropping the Bulldogs, an unsuspecting Harvard moving on to the third round and four other games under his belt, if there’s one thing that Gottlieb got enough practice doing in his first time calling the tournament, it’s calling big upsets under the bright lights.

Follow Adena Andrews on Twitter @Adena_Andrews.

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