Men’s College Basketball: ESPN Analysts Thoughts from Selection Sunday; Make Final Four Picks

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Men’s College Basketball: ESPN Analysts Thoughts from Selection Sunday; Make Final Four Picks

ESPN’s extensive multiplatform coverage of Selection Sunday, March 16, included instant and in-depth analysis across studio shows on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Rece Davis hosted live coverage of up-to-the-minute tournament selection updates on ESPN’s 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter with analysts Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps, Greg Shaheen, Dick Vitale and Jay Williams. Following SportsCenter, ESPN aired a two-hour Bracketology Presented by Staples at 7 p.m. with Davis, Bilas, Seth Greenberg, Phelps, Vitale and Williams. The coverage included analysis, discussion on the field, upset predictions, final four picks and more.

On overall selections:
Shaheen: “The committee did a good job and seemed to focus on geography in the west region, and given a bit on the quality side.”
Vitale on Louisville seeding: “I thought they should have been a one seed, I could have understood a two seed. Bottom line is the eye test, and there is no way they should be the four seed.”
Shaheen on Louisville seeding: “It is reflective of their conference play. There is undoubtedly the influence of that. The availability of quality games within conference and the failure to take on non-conference competition gave the committee reason to move them further up. This region has two interesting scenarios that play out from earlier in the season, Duke beat Michigan early in the season and is seeded lower than them, and Kentucky beat Louisville. Kentucky is an eight seed and Louisville is a four.”
Bilas on SMU not getting in: “It is a fair call. Because of their number of top 50 wins. If you don’t have those numbers available in your league then you need to go out and get them.”

 Thoughts on Wichita State
Bilas: “They will out tough Kentucky, but Louisville will beat them in the round of 32.”
Vitale: “I respect what they have done. The Missouri Valley Conference, on the road, is a tough place to win. Last year, I said [No. 1] Gonzaga would lose to Wichita State in the [third round]. This year, I think Kentucky can really change the perception of the year they have had by beating Wichita State. I look for Kentucky to beat Wichita State. They will have to be sensational to beat Wichita State, but I think they will rise to the occasion.”
Williams on returning to the Final Four: “I don’t see it. I think they are a very tough minded team and I think Fred VanVleet is one of the top point guards in the country, probably top two, him and [Florida’s] Scottie Wilbekin. Look at the path they have to take. Kentucky is hitting their stride right now; they’re playing really good basketball. And unfortunately for a team like Wichita State, Louisville gets the four seed in their bracket and we were just having a conversation about Louisville potentially being a one seed.”

 Thoughts on Michigan State
Bilas: “I have felt from the beginning that healthy and together, Michigan State is the best team in the country. I think they are capable of getting to the Final Four.”
Greenberg: “Michigan State, to me, is a team that will make a deep, deep run to a national championship.”

 Bilas on Arizona:  “A nightmare scenario for Arizona is playing Oklahoma State in the [third round] game. That is not a no-brainer. Oklahoma State could win.”

 Bilas on UCLA: “UCLA is not a great defensive team or rebounding team. They are more vulnerable in their first game [vs. Tulsa] than second [vs. either VCU or Stephen F. Austin].”

 Vitale on Kansas:  “Without [Joel] Embiid, I don’t think [Kansas] can beat New Mexico [in the third round]. I thought [New Mexico received] a raw deal with a seven seed. Without Embiid, Kansas would have a hard time handling [New Mexico’s] size in the middle.”

 Phelps on Wisconsin: “[Bo Ryan] always teaches consistency and always teaches team defense and offense where you get in a rhythm. [Frank] Kaminsky, inside, has become the x-factor for them. He can go inside, outside, and he has been the go to guy.”

 Bilas on Creighton’s Doug McDermott: “He was the best player this year, hands down. He deserves everything he has gotten, including the Wooden Award.”

 12 seed most likely to beat a five seed
Vitale: “NC State or Xavier, the winner of that game, I think they advance and beat Saint Louis.”
Phelps: “It would not surprise me to see North Dakota State knock off Oklahoma”

 13 seed most likely to beat a four seed
Jay Bilas: “Tulsa is the one I would pick, I don’t think it’s going to happen, but they are the one I would pick.”

Semifinal and Championship Predictions

Analyst Semifinal Picks Championship Winner
Jay Bilas Kansas vs. Michigan State & Wisconsin vs. Louisville Michigan State vs. Louisville Michigan State
Seth Greenberg Florida vs. Michigan State & Arizona vs. Duke Michigan State vs. Duke Michigan State
Digger Phelps Florida vs. Michigan State & Oklahoma State vs. Duke Michigan State vs. Oklahoma State Michigan State
Jay Williams Florida vs. Michigan State & Wisconsin vs. Louisville Michigan State vs. Louisville Michigan State
Dick Vitale Florida vs. Michigan State & Arizona vs. Louisville Michigan State vs. Louisville Michigan State


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