NCAA 2015 Men's Basketball Tournament: Media thoughts and predictions

March 18, 2015

March Madness has finally arrived and undoubtedly legions of fans around the country are feverishly filling out their office pool brackets before Thursday's games.

Over the years, if there has been one constant to the NCAA Tournament, it is that the tourney defies conventional wisdom and that it is very difficult to predict.

But that does not stop everyone from trying, the media included.

Below are a few selected thoughts from some of the nation's leading college basketball analysts, including our own DSH staff. Ultimately, these observations and predictions will prove only one thing: the media is capable of being just as incorrect about the tourney as the fans.

Final Four Predictions
  • Jay Bilas (ESPN): Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin, Virginia
  • Rece Davis (ESPN): Kentucky, Arizona, Gonzaga, Michigan State
  • Manish Pandya (DSH): Kentucky, Wisconsin, Louisville, Gonzaga
  • Seth Greenberg (ESPN): Kentucky, Arizona, Duke, Villanova
  • Dick Vitale (ESPN): Kentucky, Arizona, Virginia, Gonzaga
  • Jay Williams (ESPN): Kentucky, Arizona, Virginia, Gonzaga

Thoughts on two-seed Gonzaga
  • Bilas: “I think Gonzaga will end up playing [three-seed] Iowa State and we very well could see Gonzaga in the Final Four.”
  • Dick Vitale: “Gonzaga has all the parts. I really love that basketball team. I think this is the year that Mark Few’s club – they’re going to be my pick – to go to the Final Four.”

Thoughts on 2 seed Virginia
  • Jay Williams: “I would’ve had UVA on the first line. Even though they weren’t playing that great without Justin Anderson, I felt their wins were better than the wins Villanova had.”
  • Bilas: “I still favor Virginia to get to the Regional Final and play Villanova. If Justin Anderson can get toward healthy, to where he gets that brace off his hand and he can actually handle the ball with his left hand, I think Virginia goes to the Final Four.”

Thoughts on UCLA
  • Bilas: “I think Miami might be looking at UCLA in the field and saying, ‘what, excuse me?’”
  • Mike Elliott (DSH): "UCLA received some criticism for getting an at-large bid, but I think they matchup well with SMU.  Swingman Norman Powell is an athletic slasher who has really picked up his game in the last month.  If he continues to play well, look for the Bruins to win their opening game."
  • Greenberg: “I’m shocked about UCLA. I know they have a Utah win and an Oregon win, but I’m shocked about UCLA. If I’m Temple, and I understand I lost in my conference tournament, but you have a quality win against Kansas. More importantly, your record with Jesse Morgan who got eligible mid-year, is a NCAA tournament type of record.”
  • Kevin O’Neill (Pac-12 Network): “It is great for the league. To get four in, in what everybody says is a ‘down year,’ and still get two NIT teams . . .  The bottom line is that UCLA has a lot of things going for them. The league is solid, the top of the league is very good. And those four letters, they have to help.”
  • Scott Barnes (NCAA Championship Chairman): “We saw earlier in the year, and then later in the year, it really became the eye test. Their strength of schedule certainly helped us make final decision.”

Thoughts on Michigan State
  • Seth Greenberg: “Michigan State finds a way to advance in March, and I have them as an Elite Eight team.”
  • Mike Elliott: "When it comes to coach Tom Izzo, you can count on his teams to defend and crash the glass.  That formula always seems to put Michigan State in the hunt come Tourney time.  The Spartans have been playing well, and had Wisconsin on the ropes in the Big Ten Tournament.  With Virginia's injury issues, look for the Spartans to advance deep."

Thoughts on the Oregon Ducks
  • Don MacLean (Pac-12 Network): “Based on what we’ve been saying, Joe Young may be, one of two or three guys in this entire NCAA Tournament who has the ability to get 30 (points) on any night. There are not a lot of guys that can do that, and in this setting, this format, you need a guy like that, especially if you have some deficiencies, like a lack of size against a big team like Wisconsin.”

Thoughts on NC State and LSU against Villanova
  • Williams: “I think both of those teams have the personnel that they could beat Villanova. I would pick Villanova, right now, as my first one-seed to go out.”

Thoughts on Kentucky
  • Dan Dakich: “Doesn’t matter, Kentucky’s going to win the Regional. They could’ve put anybody in there.”
  • Vitale: “They have all the components, they can block shots, they can defend, they have depth, they have fresh legs at the end of the game… they got into foul trouble, and they just bring in another guy. They have all the parts."
  • John Calipari (Kentucky coach) on the opponents in the field: “They have to play the way they play and then play really well and then see if that is enough to beat us.”
  • Dakich: “To me, Notre Dame is a real possibility to beat Kentucky. I don’t think there are many teams.”

Thoughts on No. 5 Utah vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin
  • Greenberg: “I like Utah, but Stephen F. Austin – they flat, get after you. Last year, they beat VCU.”
  • Bilas: “I don’t think Utah scores as efficiently against really good defensive teams. I don’t think Stephen F. Austin is a great defensive team, but I think they got an edge to them . . . They are a tough group. Thomas Walkup is a good player. They are undersized but they fight. They’re going to fight Utah and I think they can beat them.”

Thoughts on Ohio State
  • Bilas: “Marc Loving would have to play at highest level and Amir Williams has to be completely engaged. I think Ohio State is a good bet to get into the second round past VCU because they have guards that can handle pressure.”
  • Mike Elliott (DSH): "VCU likes to press 94 feet, but Ohio State's freshman star D'Angelo Russell can break it.  He has the height to see over the top, and the ballhandling and passing abilities to make the defense pay.  Look for Ohio State to win a close one." 

Thoughts on the Arizona Wildcats
  • Don MacLean: “I think Arizona, based on their draw, is getting to the Final Four.”
  • Kevin O’Neill: “They’re bionic on the defensive end.”
  • Don MacLean: “I like where they’re at right now, and I think everybody including the selection committee, everyone wanted to see a rematch with Wisconsin. The narrative at the end of last year was, ‘well if Brandon Ashley hadn’t gotten hurt for Arizona, maybe he guards Frank Kaminsky and maybe Arizona beats them.’ Guess what? He’s going to get a chance now.”
  • Don MacLean“Ashley’s measurables and what he brings to the table physically makes him the perfect guy to guard a guy like Frank Kaminsky because he’s strong enough and long enough to deal with him inside, but quick enough to go outside and guard him on the perimeter. When Kaminsky gets into the pick and pop game and he’s behind the line, Ashley’s the one guy that is versatile enough to guard Frank Kaminsky."

By Staff of and news services

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...