Gus Johnson’s Top 10 March Madness Moments
This is the sixth straight year that fan favorite Gus Johnson will tragically not be calling the NCAA tournament for CBS Sports after leaving the network for FOX Sports in 2011.
Per the tournament’s agreement with CBS and Turner running through the year 2032, it’s fair to wonder if we will ever hear “The Voice of March Madness” and his infectious enthusiasm for the tourney again.
With that sobering possibility in mind, we count down Gus Johnson’s 10 best March Madness moments that were pure, unadulterated Gus.
10. The “Law of Gus” is Born (1996)
Princeton’s defeat of defending national champion UCLA in the 1996 first round is one of the greatest upsets in NCAA tournament history, but few remember it was one Augustus Cornelius Johnson on the call at the tender age of 28-years old. The “Law of Gus” was established when Gabe Lewullis scored on a backdoor cut to upend the Bruins, 43-41, as Johnson screamed, “He got it! He got it!”
9. Bynum to the Bucket (2004)
The 2004 Sweet Sixteen matchup between Nevada and Georgia Tech came down to the wire, as the Yellow Jackets’ Will Bynum drove to the basket and hit a game-winning reverse layup with just over a minute to go. Gus was thoroughly impressed, screaming, “Byum to the buc-KET! Hoooooooooo-ly mackerel! What a reverse layup!”
8. And 1 (2004)
If you want to find your way into Gus’ heart — and his lungs — execute the perfect pick and roll. Trailing NC State by one with under 30 seconds left in the 2004 second round, Vanderbilt’s Mario Moore hit Corey Smith for an old-fashioned 3-point play that nearly made Gus’ head explode: “Back door! Smith… from Moore! COUNT IT! AND THE FOUL! What a play!”
7. Louisville Thrill (2007)
Gus was really worked up as Louisville rolled over Stanford in the 2007 first round. While Earl Clark slammed home two points to put the Cardinals up 32-12, Gus screamed, “Here comes the pain!” Moments later with UL up, 38-13, Jerry Smith hit a 3-pointer as Johnson gave his trademark, “Rise and fire! Count it…” As the laugher came to a close, Johnson had one last trick up his sleeve for a nice assist by Édgar Sosa: “Sosa, playing under control today — spinning down the lane, deals it! HA-HAAAA!”
6. Cooking with Curry (2008)
Davidson’s Stephen Curry was the darling of the 2008 dance, and no one was more impressed with the Baby-Faced Assassin than Gus Johnson. Curry was on his way to scoring 33 points and leading the Wildcats past Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen when he hit a ridiculous reverse layup and was fouled. Scream Gus: “Ohhhhh, my goodness! HA-HA! Young fella!!!”
5. From the Parking Lot (2005)
A shot for the ages deserves a call for the ages and the two were paired up perfectly when Vermont guard T.J. Sorrentine hit a 3-pointer from well beyond NBA range to help knock off No. 4 seed Syracuse in overtime of the 2005 first round: “Ohhhhhh! My goodness!!! Sorrentine! Hit that one from the parking lot!”
4. The Gusgasm (2010)
The 2010 Xavier-Kansas State matchup in the Sweet Sixteen was an epic, back-and-forth matchup in which it felt like neither team could miss. Xavier trailed, 87-84, with just seconds remaining when Jordan Crawford put up a prayer that was accompanied by an earth-shattering Gusgasm on press row as it went in.
3. OT in Lexington (2007)
It appeared No. 8 seed Xavier was going to knock off top-seeded Ohio State in the 2007 second round until Ron Lewis and Gus Johnson had something to say about it.
Described Gus: “Lewis has been awesome, let’s it go… hits it! Oh! He ties it at 62! Lavender, three-quarter court! And we’re going to overtime, innnnnn Lexington! HA HA! College basketball! CBS Sports! THIS is March MADness!”
2. The Slipper Still Fits (1999)
Johnson told us last fall that this is his personal favorite and it’s easy to see why. Gonzaga beating Florida in the 1999 Sweet Sixteen and Johnson belting out, “Gonzaga: The slipper stilllllll fits!” is one of the tournament’s most iconic moments and many fans’ first memory of Gus being Gus.
1. Heartbreak City (2006)
As much as we love “The slipper still fits,” nothing can match the sheer pandemonium and peak Gusgasm from UCLA’s shocking come-from-behind victory over Gonzaga in the 2006 Sweet Sixteen. It’s as if Gus Johnson was put on earth to call this ending: “And a steal! Farmar! Inside! The freshman! Up, oh, and they go in front! Raivio! Last chance to dance!… Oh, what a game! What! A! Game! U-C-L-A! UN-BELIEVABLE!… After being down by 17! Heart! Break! City!!!”