Fox Sports 1 aired their first college basketball game on Friday night, and the outcome was what was expected – a solid, entertaining production.
Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery were on the call, and you know what you're getting out of those two. Their chemistry was pretty good out of the gate. There were no onions on Friday night, but Johnson and Raftery were blessed with a wild game that went into overtime. When Olivier Hanlon of the Eagles hit a three in OT to give Boston College the lead, the duo lost their minds. Even a simple three in the second half set both men off. That type of excitement is what Fox had in mind when they brought the pair together.
My gripes are minor. Fox clearly knows what they're doing with college basketball thanks to their work with BTN in the past. That experience showed with excellent production values all night. The Fox Sports logo in the top right corner of the screen was slightly distracting, but that bug is present on all Fox Sports programming and is something you forget is there every so often.
The halftime show put together by Fox is still a work in progress. Studio host Rob Stone is solid (as you'd expect from Stone, given his experience), but the main analyst on Friday night was former NBA Executive VP Stu Jackson. Like a lot of Fox's new analysts, Jackson seemed a little uncomfortable in front of the camera, but he clearly knew what he was talking about. Austin Croshere, FS1's main studio analyst, wasn't present tonight, but I liked what I saw from him earlier this week during Raftery's Big East preview show.
Getting Johnson a familiar broadcast partner in Raftery was a huge move for them after Johnson initially struggled with unfamiliar partners while calling college football and the Champions League. The Johnson/Raftery pairing is the main reason why I think the Big East on FS1 is going to work so well this season, and their presence could actually be the deciding factor when fans are debating which middling games to watch during the week.