2015 Final Four: Bill Raftery talks Kentucky-Wisconsin


Wildcat Blue Nation was privileged to participate in a media conference call this afternoon with broadcasters Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery who will call the 2015 Final Four for both CBS and Turner Sports.

More from March Madness

This year’s Final Four National Semifinals on Saturday, April 4 will be televised on TBS along with Team Stream Presented by Bleacher Report airing on TNT and truTV. The National Championship Game on Monday, April 6 will air on CBS.

Daniel Solzman: How does this Kentucky team match up against Wisconsin compared to last year?

Jim Nantz: Raf, I think this has got your name on it now.

Bill Raftery: I was waiting for Grant to pop up (laughs). National Championship (laughs). I just think that the size of the team this year and a couple years experience—for example, the last play of the Notre Dame game, to watch Willie Cauley-Stein shadow the dribbler (Jerian) Grant the length of the floor and then to be joined by Lyles, I believe, and assert to make sure it was an impossible delivery at the end of the game.

I think they’ve gotten older in terms of what they have to do on the floor. I don’t see them looking over at Cal as much so I think they’ve grown in confidence.

I just think the way they close out and challenge shots makes them such a different team than any I’ve ever seen to be honest with you. The number of large bodies and length—even Grant had trouble getting that jump shot off on occasion, I think, with these guys.

I think they’re a better team and I think they’ve improved defensively where they can nearly contain the dribbler and also they can gamble because they have the trust that the big guys inside can take care of business. For me, I think that they’re a better basketball team.

Daniel Solzman: How big would a Kentucky-Duke game be for college basketball?

Bill Raftery: We’re not in a position to root. I remember a couple years ago when George Mason beat Connecticut for the right to go to the finals—that to me was one of the most exciting times because it was a prelude to other sort of mid-major although they’ve all blended in now when you look at Wichita State and Butler. If it did happen, I’m sure everybody would be all excited about it because we’d have to watch all those clips of the baseball player taking the ball on the base line out and throwing a pass the length of the floor. (laughs) I know Grant would enjoy it, too.

I think the two games to me—without looking forward—I think everybody in Kentucky would love to get another shot at Duke. Everytime the clips of Christian Laettner’s picture goes up on the big board, they’re greeted the same way I am when I come home late at night. It’s exciting, obviously. Just getting through the first two and seeing where the chips fall will be exciting enough for me.

Daniel Solzman: Alright, thank you.