Baylor Basketball: They’re Awesome Baby!
A top six matchup between two national title contenders, a Sweet 16 rematch, and most importantly Dickie V in the house to call the game.
No. 2 Baylor hosts No. 6 Villanova at the Ferrell Center this Sunday on ABC in another heavyweight battle that has littered the College Basketball landscape so far this season.
It is a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 matchup in Indianapolis, where the Bears squeaked by the Wildcats by 11 points. Future Hall of Fame coaches Scott Drew and Jay Wright have now won three of the last five national championships.
The game’s importance has only skyrocketed this week as the winner—particularly Baylor— could be ranked No. 1 in the nation since No. 1 Purdue lost at Rutgers on a half court buzzer beater this week.
Furthermore, the legendary announcer Dick Vitale has been medically cleared to call this game—his first trip ever to Waco!
Coach Drew is excited!
Dick Vitale @DickieVOh baby my🙏🙏🙏were answered as Dr Rick Brown just cleared me to do the # 2 @BaylorMBB vs # 6 @NovaMBB Sunday 3Pm EST ABC It will be my 1st trip ever for a home Bears game .Can’t wait to join @BoogSciambi & @KrisBudden for a top 10 battle https://t.co/3ATsWfT5N9
Dick Vital has been a HS State champion, college and NBA coach; called hundreds of basketball games and has written many books and given countless inspirational speeches.
The everlasting legacy of Vitale is his relentless and tireless work ethic in raging the battle against cancer. He has both raised millions of dollars and touched millions of souls with his contagious passion.
That is why it was devastating when Vitale announced that he was diagnosed with melanoma (skin cancer) in August 2021 and lymphoma (cancer in lymph nodes) three months later in October. His first game back was an emotional scene.
In true Dickie V fashion, he shifted his focus and energy into battling this disease with an ultimate goal to beat cancer. He is living out Jim Valvano’s request to ‘Never give up; don’t ever give up’ and he has done that so far in order to travel and call college basketball games.
It is a true blessing to hear him on the calls, which he already gave two iconic ones this season: a Chet Holmgren block, dribbling coast to coast with a behind the back dribble to finish with a two-handed slam and a buzzer beater of unranked Dayton beating No. 4 Kansas.
Having basketball icon Dickie V in the house is what now has me the most excited for this game. Growing up, college basketball was defined for me and my friends by Vital’s voice and his famous catchphrases: ‘it’s awesome baby’; ‘are you serious?’; ‘we get paid to do this!’; and ‘diaper dandy’.
I recall one Vitale story early in his career where he was a little lackluster going into a game because it was not a ‘big matchup.’ But somebody told him that he better bring his ‘A’ game anyway because it was a big game for the kids and they would give it their all so they would expect the same from all involved (coaches, refs, fans, and announcers).
Well that certainly sunk in, and Vitale has been on of the best commentators in the sport just by simply vocally oozing passion. Even before I became a member of the media, Vitale was someone that I looked up to in life in general.
I grew up enamored with UNC basketball and the UNC-Duke rivalry; Vitle on the call was synonymous with that rivalry—he did every rivalry game on Tobacco Road from 1979-2015. As a Baylor student, I always hoped that he would be courtside to call a game at some point. Though, the first Baylor game that I can remember him calling was at Florida (January 2020) and the next at Texas Tech (January 2021).
Vital was born in New Jersey and went to Seton Hall for college. His coaching career began in his home state and he ultimately won two New Jersey state titles before moving onto be an assistant at Rutgers and then the head man at Detroit. He led Detroit to an NCAA tournament appearance and then coached the NBA’s Pistons before beginning his broadcasting career.
By different reports, Vitale was not a natural on the mic, but ESPN loved him because he had qualities that could not be taught. And over his 42-year career, audiences and fans have loved Vitale for his energy, enthusiasm and love for the game.
The amount of fun Vitale has behind the mic and the joy he communicates is palpable. He also called the ‘02 St. Vincent St. Marys-Oak Hill high school game with LeBron James.
There is a high likelihood that he will add yet another classic when Baylor and Villanova battle it out on the hardwood.
No matter what, with Vitale battling cancer to be on the call live, everybody wins.