Ian Eagle talks calling the Final Four, March Madness dark horse, Sheba partnership and more

Ian Eagle discusses the 2024 NCAA Tournament, his partnership with Sheba, the 2024 NFL Draft and more in an exclusive interview.

Broadcaster Ian Eagle.
Broadcaster Ian Eagle. / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This March, legendary broadcaster Ian Eagle is taking over as the voice of March Madness with Jim Nance no longer calling the Final Four. 

Eagle, who has covered the NCAA Tournament, NBA, and NFL for years, shared some of his thoughts on this year’s tournament in an exclusive interview with FanSided. 

While he will get to call the Final Four this year, not much can surprise the veteran broadcaster who has called plenty of big games in his career. 

“There’s not much that can shock me at this stage, the difference this year is the finality of it,” Eagle said. “The fact that I’ll be there for the Final Four, so the two games on Saturday, the National Championship Game on Monday, but you can’t get ahead of yourself when it comes to this event. You now have to lock in on your next set of games.”

Eagle will be in Dallas for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchups, calling the Marquette-NC State matchup and the Duke-Houston showdown in the South Region. The winners will have a chance to compete for a spot in the Final Four over the weekend. 

Duke is one of the teams to watch over the final stretch of the NCAA Tournament, and the Blue Devils certainly impressed Eagle with their play in the first two rounds to reach the Sweet 16. 

“Meanwhile, Duke comes in, they do enough against Vermont, and then, in the second round game against James Madison, everything falls into place,” Eagle said. “Everything. That’s the best game they’ve played this season, in my mind, given the circumstances.”

Eagle mentioned that people he had talked to within the Duke program had felt that the team was “stressed out” this season, but the win over JMU showed the squad playing with a ton of joy. 

Duke dominated James Madison, winning by 38 points behind a massive showing from Jared McCain, who scored 30 points in the win. 

McCain has been one of the most exciting players to watch in the tournament due to his shot-making ability, but Eagle has been impressed with an SEC player all season, and thinks he could make his mark in history in this NCAA Tournament. 

“I had Dalton Knecht at the end of the regular season, and he does bring a unique skill set,” Eagle said. “I think, as we know when it comes to this tournament, individual standouts can carry you for three weeks.” 

“With Tennessee, they’re going to have their hands full with Creighton, don’t get me wrong, but they have the kind of mix that if they get to the biggest stage that’s one of those names that could be etched in history when it comes to March Madness.”

Eagle also spoke about his favorite game to cover this March, and the answer may surprise you, as it wasn’t one of the highest-profile games, but certainly one of the best matchups we’ve seen in the tournament. 

“Florida Atlantic-Northwestern was a legitimate battle,” Eagle said. “It’s 20-19 at the half, we’re looking at one another, me, Bill Rafferty, Grant Hill, Tracy Wolfson saying, ‘We’ve got a rock fight here. This is not what we anticipated.’ And then in the second half both teams found a flow offensively – looked like Northwestern was going to take the game, they had a sizable lead-up eight late. And there was a technical foul called on Nick Martinelli, and it changed the entire game.” 

Florida Atlantic ended up forcing overtime, but the Wildcats actually had to score in the waning seconds to get the game there. In overtime, Northwestern simply couldn’t miss to pull out the win. 

“It’s one of those matchups where you just don’t see it very often,” Eagle said. “Northwestern and Florida Atlanta had never played [against each other]. And that’s what makes this tournament so much fun is you get these matchups that you will never see during the regular season. There’s no geographic connection. There’s no competitive connection. But in the tournament, you don’t have a choice. You gotta play who’s in your subregion.”

In addition to being the voice of March Madness, Eagle also calls the NFL and the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA. He really does it all, something he prides himself on in his career. 

“Gotta be versatile, man, gotta be versatile in life,” Eagle said. “I realized that early in my career if someone calls with something new, exciting and different, my instinct is to say, ‘Yes, I want to be a part of it.’”

One thing that Eagle recently said ‘Yes’ to was a campaign with Sheba and the Gravy Race – a single-elimination tournament where some of the internet’s top cats go head-to-head to see who loves new SHEBA® GRAVY INDULGENCE™ the most.

“This was a blast,” Eagle said of partnering with Sheba. “A blast to be a part of. The Sheba brand, Gravy Indulgence, it’s a new flavor for cats – they’re loving it – and you can tell in these races how much they’re loving it. The Gravy Race is everything you could imagine it to be, and then some.”

Here's a look at the trailer for the Gravy Race, featuring some amazing announcing by Eagle:

You can find out more about Eagle’s partnership with Sheba at SHEBA.com/gravy-race.

Make sure to tune into the full interview above to hear more about Eagle’s thoughts on this year’s tournament, the Brooklyn Nets’ future and what the Chicago Bears should do with the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.