ESPN picks the NCAA Tournament

From ESPN –

ESPN Analysts React to Selection Sunday, Make Picks

ESPN capped 13 hours of extensive, multiplatform coverage of Selection Sunday with Bracketology Presented by STAPLES tonight. During the two-hour show (7-9 p.m. ET) hosted by Rece Davis, analysts Jay Bilas, Hubert Davis, Doug Gottlieb, Digger Phelps and Dick Vitale made their upset picks and championship predictions, and noted a variety of key matchups for the 68 teams selected to this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. In addition, for the first time, Gottlieb gave his second-round pairings picks.

On overall selections:

Bilas: “It seems like a victory for ‘the eye test’.”

Davis: “I said before, I thought all the bubble teams were average. The only two teams that it’s unfortunate they won’t play in the NCAA tournament are Drexel and Washington.”

Gottlieb: “My beefs are… One – I don’t understand why they selected their teams before Sunday. I don’t understand why Xavier is automatically in the field. Who exactly did they beat – they beat Dayton twice, really, after the brawl. That is really all that they did. I liked Xavier and what they did earlier in the season, but they are a completely different team.”

“I think we hold the mid-majors to a ridiculously high standard. You are talking about leaving out Oral Roberts, 27 wins, Middle Tennessee State, 25 wins and Drexel, who wins 25-of-27 down the stretch. I think those teams belonged in.”

Vitale: “I think the committee did really a very fair job..and has put together a field that the Goliaths will really prevail.”

Semifinal and Championship Predictions

Semifinal Picks

Jay Bilas
Kentucky/Michigan State, Syracuse/UNC
Kentucky v Syracuse

Hubert Davis
Kentucky/Michigan State, Syracuse/UNC
Michigan State v. UNC

Digger Phelps
Kentucky/Michigan State, Florida State/Kansas
Michigan State v Florida State
Michigan State

Dick Vitale
Kentucky/Missouri, Florida State/UNC
Kentucky v UNC


“The South appears to me to be the toughest region among the top four seeds. The East is second and then maybe the toughest overall.”

On Vanderbilt:  “They’re going in [to the tournament] with a free mind as an older team.”

On Missouri:  “If I were [Missouri], I wouldn’t want to play Marquette. Marquette’s the team that would scare me the most.”

On Syracuse: “They’re going to have to do a couple things…finish defensive possessions with a rebound…and it cannot just be Dion Waiters on the offensive end.”


“Don’t sleep on Norfolk State. Remember, we talked about how good Drexel is? Norfolk State beat Drexel, at Drexel.”

“Kansas State is massively under seeded at the eight seed. This is a great story for Larry Eustachy personally to come back from his demons, going back to the Iowa State days, and taking Southern Miss to the tournament.”


“Missouri is the best team out there. They can attack every way, every angle, every part of that basketball court.”


“I see a big stumbling block [for Kentucky]:  I see Connecticut.”

“If you’re a ‘Cuse fan, I think you’re in trouble.”

Gottlieb’s Picks for Second-Round Matchups

·         Kentucky vs. Iowa State

·         Wichita State vs. New Mexico State

·         UNLV vs. Baylor

·         Xavier vs. Duke

·         Michigan State vs. St. Louis

·         New Mexico vs. Davidson

·         Murray State vs. Marquette

·         Florida vs. Missouri

·         Syracuse vs. Kansas State

·         Vanderbilt vs. Montana

·         Cincinnati vs. Florida State

·         Gonzaga vs. Ohio State

·         North Carolina vs. Creighton

·         Cal/USF vs. Ohio

·         NC State vs. Belmont

·         Saint Mary’s vs. Kansas

First-round upsets:

Bilas: “West and East I don’t see a ton of upsets. I like New Mexico State over Long Beach State, Louisville over Davidson, Gonzaga over West Virginia and Vandy gets by Harvard.”

Davis: “Virginia over Florida.”

Phelps: “Long Beach State over New Mexico, West Virginia over Gonzaga.”

Under-seeded teams according to ESPN’s BPI:

Memphis, Saint Louis, Belmont, Texas and California

Over-seeded teams according to ESPN’s BPI:

Notre Dame, Xavier, Colorado State, Florida State, Michigan and San Diego State


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