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

Analyst
Semifinal Picks
Championship
Winner

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

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

Reactions:

Bilas:
“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.”

Davis:
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.”

Gottlieb:

“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.”

Phelps:

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

Vitale:

“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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