As has been a tradition for a few years now, Turner and CBS have tabbed a few current college coaches to serve as studio analysts during the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
This year, they’ve added Illinois head coach Brad Underwood and South Carolina’s Frank Martin to the mix for the first four days of games.
Via the official release:
CBS Sports and Turner Sports have added head coaches Brad Underwood (Illinois) and Frank Martin (South Carolina) as guest studio analysts for the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship airing across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV. Underwood will join the Atlanta studio team – host Casey Stern and analysts Brendan Haywood, Candace Parker and Seth Davis – all day on Thursday and Friday, March 15 and 16, with Martin in Atlanta all day on Saturday and Sunday, March 17 and 18.
Underwood just completed his first season at Illinois and has gone 123-45 (.732) in five seasons as a Division I head coach, securing four NCAA Tournament berths with Stephen F. Austin (2014-16 seasons) and Oklahoma St. (2017).
Martin has served as head men’s basketball coach at the University of South Carolina since the 2012-13 season, where he was named the 2017 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year after guiding the Gamecocks to a school-record 26 wins and the first Final Four berth in school history.
This is great news for viewers. Typically, the best analysts are those who are either still active in the sport or those who just finished as a coach or player. Martin and Underwood know the teams involved, and through recruiting, likely know many of the players involved as well. That lends their opinions weight when breaking down potential matchups, especially on a quick turnaround over the weekend.
Though it’s a more traditional role, it’s in a similar vein to how ESPN uses current coaches in their Coach’s Film Room simulcast for the college football playoff. Obviously both coaches would rather be, well, coaching in the tournament, but this platform also gives them a chance to talk basketball on a national broadcast, which can’t hurt recruiting, among other benefits.
The tournament begins in earnest tomorrow at 12:15 PM ET with Oklahoma taking on Rhode Island on CBS.