(CBS Minnesota/CBS Local) Playing in the NCAA Tournament is a dream that most anyone who has picked up a basketball has had. Young players around the world have had that moment of playing in the backyard and pretending that you have the ball with time running out and a chance to win the game with the final shot. Or, on an even more basic level, have thought about what it would look like to wear the uniform of their favorite school as they carry the program to an NCAA Tournament appearance.
For hundreds of players each March, that dream of stepping onto the court as one of the 68 teams in the field comes true. For some, that moment is just a stepping stone on the way to a longer professional career. For others, that moment is one that they will tell future generations of their family about. While fans root for the upset or who they picked in their bracket pool, the games have a whole different level of meaning to each player, coach, and family involved.
That emotion and significance of the moment is something that CBS Sports play by play man Ian Eagle is always mindful to be a caretaker of when calling the games.
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"What always struck me is the participants involved, for many of them this is their career highlight," said Eagle at CBS and Turner Sports NCAA Tournament Media Day last week. "This is the highest level of basketball that they are going to play. This is the game they are going to play for their grandkids many years down the road. For me, from a play by play perspective, you just want to make sure you do right by them. You want to make sure that you are prepared and you tell the stories in the right manner that is the pressure I feel. To make sure you cover it correctly."
Eagle, who has been covering the tournament for 22 years, has seen all of the narratives that fans enjoy. The crazy upset, the Cinderella run, and the buzzer beating shot. But, for him, all of that is just an aside when compared with the meaning of the games for the athletes.
"The pageantry of the tournament, the idea that a Cinderella could emerge and a team that you had no familiarity with all of a sudden becomes a media darling and the center of attention, that is a nice little sidebar," said Eagle. "But, ultimately, you just have to do your job. Convey the emotion of the event to the viewer at home."
Eagle will do just that beginning tomorrow when he and his broadcast partners, Jim Spanarkel and Jamie Erdahl, open up East region play in Jacksonville when 14-seeded Yale takes on 3rd-seeded LSU at 12:40 p.m. Eastern Time on truTV.
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