Men’s College Basketball: ESPN Analysts Offer Selection Sunday Thoughts; Make Bracket Picks

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Men’s College Basketball: ESPN Analysts Offer Selection Sunday Thoughts; Make Bracket Picks

ESPN’s extensive multiplatform coverage of Selection Sunday included instant and in-depth analysis across studio shows on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network and ESPN Radio. Rece Davis hosted coverage of the tournament selections on ESPN’s 7 p.m. ET Bracketology presented by Staples with analysts Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg, Jay Williams and Dick Vitale (via satellite). The coverage included analysis, discussion of the field, upset predictions, final four picks and more.

Adnan Virk hosted Dan Dakich, Scott Van Pelt and Kara Lawson were also part of Bracketology from the ESPN Green Room providing additional analysis each of each region. Van Pelt hosted a special edition of SportsCenter with live up to the minute updates of the bracket reveal with Bilas, Lawson and Dakich helping with the breakdown.

On what stands out most in bracket
Bilas: What really stood out to me was the absence of Monmouth. With 13 true road wins, 17 road/neutral games and they won 10 games against the top 100. They are not in the field – and I have hardly been the champion of the little guy over the years – but I am tired of the committee saying go out and play – a year SMU and Louisville are not in the field – and they don’t put Monmouth in. It is very disappointing.
Greenberg: The Big 10 got no respect. Michigan State – by winning their conference tournament, maybe earned a No. 1 seed. Indiana and the season they had, and how they finished the season, yes they lost in the Big 10 championship [quarterfinal], a five seed, I don’t see it.
Greenberg: St. Bonaventure had an argument. They had a very good season, they have quality wins and won on the road, plus in league against top-50 teams. St. Bonaventure – I expected them to be in the field.
Vitale: You except it, it happens every year. The little guy get buried, no doubt about it. Mediocrity always prevails over a superior year.

On Selection Committee’s message
Bilas: The committee has been sending messages forever, messages about strength of schedule, who you play in the non-conference… A team like Monmouth goes out and plays everybody… They don’t get in because they got clipped by Iona in their championship game.

Matchups that stand out
Bilas: Oregon’s got a really difficult matchup in the second round, that’s the most difficult matchup in the second round.
Greenberg: Miami as a three against Arizona, I really like this Arizona team. I think AZ is athletic… The only No. 1 seed I think can lose?  I’ve got Kentucky over North Carolina.
Williams: I’m going to go with Iona, first of all the pace of this game will be so up tempo… The way they play, they get after it defensively.
Greenberg: Hawaii is a dangerous basketball team… They have three guards that can flat score and– those guys are a tough out.
Bilas: I agree with Seth that Hawaii can turn you over, question is can they speed up Cal, because Cal is very good defensively.
Bilas: Stony Brook just doesn’t have enough players to deal with Kentucky.

Special ESPN Contributor Greg Shaheen
Shaheen: Tulsa selection is going to be interesting for a number of different reasons including they had losses to teams that are in the field and that would have led to some curious conversations… The notion that the Big Ten could not have gotten into the one line, certainly is debatable, and I think will be one of the things that fuels Michigan State significantly.
Shaheen: To see Villanova basically fall next to Xavier after losing in that game last night, it’s a pretty precipitous fall given they were in the championship game and how they’ve performed all year long.

Committee Chair Joe Castiglione
On Syracuse: They had five top 50 wins.  We were very well aware of the extenuating circumstances but it wasn’t a factor.
On how close was Michigan State to being a one seed: Castiglione: Very close, they’re the fifth seed. It was a vigorous debate.

Green Room Comments
Lawson: (on Baylor/Yale) I would actually have Baylor with their size across that front line.
SVP: I was looking at Northern Iowa, I think that’s a scary team… but Iona, they’d scare me to play because they’re not scared… they’re the kind of team – if they get hot – they can bury a bunch of threes.. Iona would just be a scary team to play.
Lawson: I like Gonzaga, the 11 seed, over Seton Hall … I actually like Gonzaga going to the second weekend in the Sweet 16.
Dakich: I like Gonzaga, but I also like Hawaii. There’s something about them that I really, really like.

Coaches Interviews
On the Selection Committee’s criteria
Calipari: It is a moving target instead of a [set criteria]… They are not stealing my joy, we just won a championship.
Calipari: We never have had it easy; I don’t want it easy… At the end of the day, you have to play the games.

Boeheim: We are happy to be in tournament. We had a tough season – a hard stretch in middle of season. We dug ourselves out of a hole.
Boeheim: In the past the committee has taken teams that have had big wins… I don’t think anyone else in the bubble had as good two wins as we did – at Duke and vs. Texas A&M on neutral court.

Wright: There is pressure to get past the second round but our players’ own personal drive supersedes that pressure.

Bracketology Picks
Bilas: Kansas (Champion)
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Greenberg: Michigan State (Champion)
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Williams: Kansas (Champion)
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Vitale: Michigan State (Champion)
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Rachel Margolis Siegal

As part of the College Sports PR team at ESPN, it has been an exciting adventure for me since I joined the worldwide leader in July 2010, working on college football, college basketball, college lacrosse and WNBA properties. I began my love of sports as the manager of several high school sports teams and continued that hobby into college. While at Quinnipiac, I worked in the Sports Information Department, which led me to a summer internship at the New Haven Ravens, a AA baseball team, and an eventual job with the Athletic Communications Department at the University of Connecticut. After my five-year stint at Connecticut, I spent six years as Director of Communications at the BIG EAST Conference in Providence, R.I. before joining ESPN.
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