Tourney Challenge w/Christopher Harris
Send your questions now and join Harris in The Show on Monday at 11 a.m. ET!
Christopher Harris (10:59 AM)
Hi, everyone. This morning, we thought we'd try something a little different, in honor of the NCAA Tournament. So hit me up with your bracket questions, in advance of playing ESPN.com's Bracket Challenge.
What team is most likely to beat North Carolina?
Christopher Harris (11:00 AM)
Hi, Justin. Carolina never has to leave their home state to make it to the Final Four, so it's hard to say they got "jobbed" or anything like that. But Tennessee is a *very* tough No. 2; frankly, I think they should've been a No. 1 over Kansas. Therefore Carolina could lose in the regional final. Do I think it'll happen? No. I have them going to the national championship game.
Carlo (New Hampshire)
2 questions: Currently go to law school at Creighton in Omaha and was wondering your take on the potential Saturday matchups in Omaha? Also what are your thoughts on Creighton's NIT game (against Rhode Island) tomorrow night? Worth attending?
Christopher Harris (11:02 AM)
Hi, Carlo. The Omaha games should be really cool, especially my favorite first-round contest, between Kansas St. and USC. Michael Beasley against O.J. Mayo? Come on! If you can get a ticket to that one on Thursday, do it. On Saturday, you'll get to see Kansas play against a tough opponent (I think it'll be Kent St.) and Wisconsin probably gets the USC/KSU winner..... Good eatin'.
How far do you see Memphis going in the tourney?
Christopher Harris (11:05 AM)
Hi, Chad. I have the Tigers going to the regional final, and playing Texas in Houston. Funny, those two schools played in back-to-back years, in '05 and '06, and Texas won both times. Not that that's particularly relevant to this year's players, but I do think it's interesting, because stylistically, the coaches haven't changed that much. That won't be the reason I'll pick Texas in that game; I'll pick the Horns because they'll be playing in front of a rabid "home" crowd, and because I really, really like D.J. Augustin.
matt (the chi)
first UCLA gets all the calls and now they get a cakewalk to the final four. How lucky are they?
Christopher Harris (11:06 AM)
Pretty lucky, Matt. You're right, they've been the beneficiary of a couple questionable calls in key spots, and now they do have what appears to be the easiest road to the Final Four, if any such road can ever be said to be truly "easy." I don't think Duke should've been a No. 2, and Xavier as a No. 3 is weak, with Drew Lavender's ankle hurting and the team not playing as well over the final few weeks of the season.
Christopher, the South has a lot of "sleepers" - tell me why a Pitt, Michigan State or Stanford couldn't get to the Final Four.
Christopher Harris (11:09 AM)
Hi, Jeff. Well, I guess my reasons are going to be: Memphis and Texas. But you're right, those three teams have fine chances. I've lost a heck of a lot of brackets over the years picking Pittsburgh to advance, so I'll not be joining that bandwagon this year. They're a terrible free-throw-shooting team (the final five minutes against Georgetown notwithstanding), and they always seem to get in foul trouble in the Tournament. I love Stanford's big twins, but I worry about their guards, and I think Marquette could actually beat them. And MSU? They're just so inconsistent. I have them in the Sweet 16, but no further.
why not have four play in games for the big dance instead of one what do you think
Christopher Harris (11:11 AM)
Hi, Maurice. I don't know, I'm actually in favor of *no* play-in games. I know the graybeards on ESPN last night moaned about how unfair the selection process is to leave out Arizona St. and Virginia Tech and other teams, and that the tournament isn't really a test of the 64 best teams. Bob Knight wants to get rid of automatic bids altogether, and expand the field to 128. Listen, whatever, I think this tournament is the best postseason in sports, bar none, and arguing over teams who had every chance to help themselves over the course of the year, and couldn't do it, is (in my opinion) wasted breath. I like the automatic bids, and I contend that no one ever promised us the 64 best teams. I wouldn't mess with the format; I think it's great.
Does first to 15 win in a possible UW/GTown matchup?
Christopher Harris (11:13 AM)
Hi, John. You're not far off. Honestly, I think that'll wind up being UW's undoing...just not enough consistent offense. I think they'll have enough to get by the USC/KSU winner, but I think they lose to a Georgetown/Davidson winner.
Brian (Newmarket, NH)
How many brackets do you fill out? 1 or do you do the same thing ESPN users can do and do 5.
Christopher Harris (11:13 AM)
One and one only, Brian. I promise.
I am sold on KU winning the tournament, they have great inside depth, great guard play, good FT shooting team, and are extremely flexible on both ends of the court. What are your thoughts?
Christopher Harris (11:16 AM)
Hi, Johnstone. Could Kansas win? Of course. Man, they're talented. But I have to say that in a Final Four match-up against Carolina (or, as it'll be known, the Roy Williams Bowl), I would favor Carolina. Everything you say about the Jayhawks is also true of the Heels, and they Heels have Psycho T.
Any 5-12 upsets that you project? None happened last year.
Christopher Harris (11:18 AM)
Hi, Jacob. As it stands right now, I have no 12s beating a 5s. In a way, it's liberating that no such upsets happened last year, because it frees us up to just pick the games as we see them, rather than feel obligated to pick one 12 as a flyer against a 5. (I don't know about you, but I've made a habit of picking the *wrong* friggin' 12 every year.) The one I think has the best chance to pull the upset is George Mason. They can bang with Harangody, and they guard the three very well. I may change my mind on that one before Thursday. Otherwise, I like Michigan St., Clemson and Drake to win.
how far do you think villinova will go in the tournament?
Christopher Harris (11:20 AM)
Hi, Chauncey. Well, I just said I liked Clemson, so I guess I think the Cats are going out in the first round. It's funny to see a Big East team on the 12-seed side of a 5/12 match-up...that wouldn't exactly make it a shocker if Villanova won, eh? Listen, the Wildcats are banged up, and Clemson's press will, I think, give them problems. Clemson's a bad free-throw-shooting team, which is scary, but I think they win that game.
doug (woodbridge, ct)
think uconn can handle drake in round 2? huskies are way too inconsistent this year as it seems that can beat the best teams and lose to some of the worst (see: two losses to providence)
Christopher Harris (11:21 AM)
Hi, Doug. You're right...UConn is maddening. In my bracket right now, I have Drake beating them. I know Thabeet is an elite defensive weapon in the paint for the Huskies, but that won't come much into play against Drake, which is such a jump-shooting team. Against a team that's not, shall we say, particularly heady, the match-up zone that Drake will play will be very effective. I have Drake in my Sweet 16.
chris,tell me how pitt big east tournament champs get a lower seed than georgetown?
Christopher Harris (11:23 AM)
Well, Dave, I guess it comes down to not valuing one game over the entire regular season. The Hoyas were the champs in the regular season, went 15-3 in the conference (compared to 10-8 for Pitt), and played a somewhat harder (though still not crazily hard) non-conference schedule.
Pete C (Newark DE)
Any thoughts on botrh finalist of last year not making the Tournment? Was it the right decision to exclude them?
Christopher Harris (11:24 AM)
Hi, Pete. Yeah, I honestly think it was. I don't think Florida had much of a case after bowing out so early in the SEC Tourney, and Ohio St. needed one more win against Michigan St. I think Arizona St. had a better case than OSU did. But honestly? (Don't hate me, Hokie fans.) I'd have taken OSU before VTU. Still, the way it worked out, with both teams being so ravaged by graduation and early departures, it's probably for the best.
What are your thoughts about Butler? Could they be a darkhorse to make the elite 8?
Christopher Harris (11:25 AM)
Hi, Jon. Boy, I think Butler got hosed a little bit by getting a seven-seed. If I'm not mistaken (I don't have it right in front of me), I think they were a five last year, and this year's edition is, I think, a little better. Getting South Alabama in the first round is brutal; if they win that one, getting Tennessee in the second is downright mean. I want to say Butler could win that game. I love Green at the point. But I have to say, I think I'd have to go with the Vols in that one, at least at this point.
Ryan (San Diego)
Will the UCLA injuries end up being their downfall come the elite 8 and final 4?
Christopher Harris (11:28 AM)
Hi, Ryan. I think that's about the *only* way they'll get beaten. I'll come right out and say it now: UCLA is my pick to win the whole thing. Their experience, their point guard play with a healthy Darren Collison, and their defense all make me think they're just a hair better than the other contenders. But you're right: if a guy like Kevin Love can't go, it might change all of our thinking. Even if Mbah a Moute can't go, it'll be interesting.
Chris (Franklin Park, NJ)
Hi Chris: Carolina gets to the title game, do they win it all? UCLA will most likely be thier opponent.
Christopher Harris (11:29 AM)
Hi, Chris. That's my Finals match-up, right there. I guess I'm wimping out a little, because it was my preseason Finals pick, too, so I'm sticking to my guns. I like UCLA in that game. Love isn't as good as Hansbrough, but he does make Psycho-T work in ways he doesn't have to against a lot of other big men, and I like Collison a little more than a still-banged-up Ty Lawson.
Indiana being ranked an 8 seed is a joke. Teams like Oklahoma, WV, Purdue, Miami all have worse credentials yet have higher rankings. Plus Arkansas is not an 9seed, they too should be higher. That being said, can the Hoosiers (assuming they beat Arkansas.) hang with the Tar Heels.
Christopher Harris (11:32 AM)
Hi, Josiah. I have to believe that the committee weighed the whole Kelvin Sampson debacle a little bit when they did this seeding. The Hoosiers get torched by Michigan St., then they lost two out of three to Penn St. and Minnesota (the Minny game, granted, was on a miracle shot). I honestly wouldn't look past Arkansas...if they're right in the head, the Hoosiers should handle that game, but I have a question about whether they're really right in the head. You're right...before Sampson left, this was a possible Final Four team, and now they're an eight? Whoo. Right now, because of those question marks, I'm taking Arkansas in that first-round game. Honestly, I don't think either team matches up well against Carolina.
Who are in your final 4 and your eventually winner. As of right now I have all 4 #1 seeds in it and I feel dirty about it. PS. Hokie here and don't worry about the VT comment, most of us know we are a year away from getting there.
Christopher Harris (11:33 AM)
Hi, Sam. Yeah, the Hokies are going to be really good next year. Led the ACC in freshman minutes, if I'm not mistaken. My Final Four is Kansas, Carolina, Texas and UCLA as of right now, with UCLA over Carolina in the Final. So I only have one 2-seed and the rest 1. I'm no bolder than you, really.
Vance (Oklahoma City)
What is the chance of Oklahoma making it to the sweet 16?
Christopher Harris (11:34 AM)
Hi, Vance. Tough road for the Sooners. St. Joe's is a good team, though the fact that no double-digit at-large seed won a game in last year's Tourney is something I'm keeping in mind this year, and I'm picking OU in that one. Against Louisville, though? I'm not sure they have an answer for Padgett in the middle, and the Cards have quietly been one of the most all-around efficient teams in the nation this year. I'm going to pick Louisville in that one.
Jamaal (Marlton, NJ)
What does Wisconsin have to do to get a #2 seed over Texas? Besides having a better record, winning their league, and beating Texas on the road? Thanks Chris!
Christopher Harris (11:37 AM)
Hi, Jamaal. I guess there's always an argument one way or the other. In favor of UT, I'll play the devil's advocate and say that no other school beat three teams in the top five other than Texas this year, including two No. 1 seeds, Kansas and UCLA, and a No. 2, Wisconsin. The head-to-head argument *has* to carry some weight, you're right...then again, Arizona St. beat Arizona twice this year, and got bounced in favor of the Wildcats. I think H2H is part of the equation, but not the whole thing.
The NCAA Selection Committee HATES the Big Ten. IU dropped to an #8 seed with a possible second round game against UNC. OSU dropped from the field altogether. And Big Ten Champs, Big Ten Tourney Champs, and overall #6 seed Wisconsin only given a #3 seed (however DUKE gets a #2 seed!!?? despite losing to Clemson in the tourney).
Christopher Harris (11:38 AM)
Hi, Zac. Well, it was a down year for the Big 10, you have to admit. I think you've got more of an argument for Wiscy over Duke than over Texas. I agree...Duke probably should be a three, and Wiscy's road would look a little easier with Xavier in the way instead of Georgetown. (That said, I think Xavier gets to the Elite Eight if Drew Lavender's ankle is OK.)
If Wisconsin and USC meet in the 2nd round, how many points will Michael Flowers hold OJ Mayo to? Who would win?
Christopher Harris (11:40 AM)
Hi, Karl. I can't *believe* how many people are picking USC as their Final Four sleeper team. I think that's all wrong. I know USC has a lot of athletes, and can jump out of the gym, but I think a team like Wisconsin will always find a way to slow down a team like the Trojans, and experience of guys like Butch and Flowers counts for a lot over the callow 19-year-olds in the NCAA. I have Wisconsin winning a battle of contrasting styles in that game.
Hi, Christoper. What do you think of Clemson as a team to possibly upset KU? If they could just shoot free throws they would have beaten Carolina at least once this year and possibly twice. Thoughts?
Christopher Harris (11:41 AM)
Hi, Brian. Hey, Clemson is a really interesting team. In my initial bracket, I have them in the Sweet 16. Their press and their muscle will be an interesting challenge for KU. But you're right...the free throws. It's really a shame. I think when it comes down to it, a team like Kansas that can go as fast as you want to and who doesn't get into terrible trouble in terms of turnovers will be able to withstand the Tigers' withering pressure.
Hey Chris, I think Baylor can be a big time sleeper due to the bottom half of that bracket being weak. Your thoughts on Baylor pulling off a few upsets?
Christopher Harris (11:44 AM)
Hi, Mike. I think Xavier would be a tough game for either Purdue or Baylor. I don't think the Bears would be able to get the Muskies running like they want, and Xavier is just such a good-shooting team. Obviously, if Lavender's right, I'm pretty high on Xavier.
Why does the committee give Texas home court advantage (Houston)? Other than UNC, they have the best set up. Shouldn't you be a #1 seed to get that?
Christopher Harris (11:46 AM)
Hi, Haden. Well, you're a Memphis fan, so you should be used to this. After all, the Tigers had to play Texas A&M in San Antonio in a regional final last year, didn't they? I guess you have to look at it this way: Memphis has the bad fortune to be geographically close to North Carolina, home of two schools that are always going to be fighting it out for a No. 1 seed. If Memphis had put together an undefeated season, they'd have been the No. 1 overall seed, and Carolina would've traveled. But as it was, the regioal sites were determined well in advance, and one of those two teams was going to have to leave the cozy southeast. The fact that Texas is the 2 isn't great, but as I say, the Tigers overcame it last year.
Can you rank, the #2 and #3 seeds, based on their tournment draws?
Christopher Harris (11:48 AM)
Hi, Jim. Among the twos, I like Texas, then Tennessee, then Georgetown, then Duke. I think Duke gets to the Sweet 16, but then gets bumped off. Among the threes, I like Xavier best, then Wisconsin and Louisville about the same, and Stanford least.
Do you think it's unfair that teams like UNC don't have to leave their home state until things get really tough?
Christopher Harris (11:49 AM)
Hi, Kevin. It's an age-old debate. Back in the day, before the NCAA mixed up what teams could play in what regionals, UCLA was the perennial No. 1 seed in the West and didn't have to play anyone good until the Final Four, so I think either way you can say we've made strides. I think Carolina earned the No. 1 overall seed. If that has some fringe benefits, well, I'm all right with that.
The Man (Computer)
Hey i got every single game right last year. What are the chances i do it again?
Christopher Harris (11:51 AM)
I believe that if you were randomly picking winners without any basketball knowledge, the exact odds of picking the tournament entirely correctly would be 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1. Really.
Hi,Chris which team do you think is going to have the best performance UNC or Kansas?
Christopher Harris (11:52 AM)
Hi, George. I have 'em both in the Final Four. I have UNC winning a semifinal game against KU.
Ryan (San Diego)
UCLA needs to get out and run more. With Collison on the fast break, getting transition hoops, UCLA is nearly impossible to beat. However, when they get stuck in the halfcourt O, thats when they struggle
Christopher Harris (11:54 AM)
Hi, Ryan. Statistically, actually, according to KenPom.com, the Bruins' winning strategy is actually somewhat inversely linked to pace, which means they've actually been a little better in games where there've been fewer possessions. But KenPom'll tell you that that number isn't statistically significant enough to completely invalidate what you're saying, and anyone who's seen Collison on the move on a fast break knows he's got a gear that no one else in college basketball has. I wouldn't want to see the Bruins get in a total track meet against a team like Memphis or Tennessee, but in selected spots, I think you're right.
Jamaal (Marlton, NJ)
You don't see the Badgers causing some issues for Georgetown in a possible sweet 16 meeting? Wouldn't Brian Butch's ability to shoot from the perimeter cause problems for Hibbert?
Christopher Harris (11:56 AM)
Hi, Jamaal. Problems? Yes. As I've said, I think Wiscy is really good. I just worry against a team that's got as strong an inside-out offense as Georgetown does, the Badgers might struggle too much offensively. The Hoyas aren't going to push the pace like crazy, but they're more explosive (in my opinion) than Wisconsin. I'd peg the Hoyas as slight favorites in that game. But I'm not 100 percent certain it won't be Davidson playing Wisconsin. I really like 'em.
Brian (Tulsa, OK)
Does Kentucky have a shot against Marquette?
Christopher Harris (11:58 AM)
Hi, Brian. Do they have a shot? Of course. Big conference, got on a roll in conference play. They have a shot. I happen to think that Dominic James and Jerel McNeal are stronger than Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford, and that'll be the difference. Then again, just as earlier I mentioned that I seem to get burned every year picking Pitt to go deep, the same holds true for Marquette. I have to say, I'm probably going to pick the Golden Eagles (gulp) to get to the Sweet 16. Pitt? Maybe my biggest first-round upset. (I know...start flinging the abuse, Panther fans.)
While I agree UW may have deserved the #2 over Duke, that 24 point blowout probably put Duke over the top...
Christopher Harris (11:59 AM)
Hi, Gray. Yup. It was at Cameron, and it was late November, but I can't help agreeing with you.
Do you think the committee should be composed of just people with basketball experience like some of your colleagues of ESPN suggest?
Christopher Harris (12:01 PM)
Hi, Nick. I want to be respectful of the guys on TV last night, because obviously they know more about the X's and O's of strategy than I'll ever know, by an order of magnitude. But to say that people on the committee "don't know basketball" (as they seemed to be implying) is really insulting. It's not like the committee is comprised of people off the street. The committee members criss-cross the country watching games. Just because they haven't coached, doesn't mean they don't know the game. And you always have to keep in mind that clubby old-timers have agendas, too. I'm not sure I'd trust every graybeard coaching legend to be completely objective when it came to evaluating his buddies' teams on Selection Sunday.
Who are your upset picks in round 1?
Christopher Harris (12:03 PM)
Hi, Mike. Well, I just gave one. Upsets happen every year in ridiculous and unexpected quarters, so I'm going with Old Dominion to shock a tired Pittsburgh squad who played four games in four days in the Big East tourney, and who has a tendency to be too emotional. That's the real biggie on my board right now. I also give Siena a real shot to beat Vanderbilt, and on my bracket, the Saints are the first-round winner. I'll also take Davidson over Gonzaga, but heck, I think more people are going to pick the 10 than the 7 in that one, when all's said and done.
Is ESPN afraid of varying opinions on TV? Last night was Davis (UNC), Bilas (Duke), Digger (ND), Bob Knight (Ind, Tex Tech) and Dickie V (all of the above) all moaning about marginal BCS schools getting screwed by the RPI and soft schedules. How cool would it have been to have someone from that point of view on to defend it?
Christopher Harris (12:05 PM)
Hi, Ryan. This is obviously a somewhat sensitive area, so I don't want to go off half-cocked and blast the network. I thought by and large the show was eminently entertaining and watchable last night, and in that regard, the producers and personalities deserve a lot of credit for that. The moment where Dicky V was campaigning for Bob Knight to get the Indiana job, and Knight just sat there bemused smiling was classic...something I'll remember for years. I agree that some dissenting opinion is nice sometimes, but it also doesn't do anyone any good to have the thing devolve into a shouting match. Let me say that I don't think the fact that those guys have all been associated with major programs means they're not objective. Bilas is an utter pro, and Hubert Davis has been a huge booster of some of the smaller conferences this year.
Christopher Harris (12:09 PM)
All right, gang, I think that's going to do it for today's Bracketology chat. Be on the lookout for some picks articles from myself, A.J. Mass and Keith Lipscomb in the fantasy section, and make sure you get out there and play the ESPN.com Bracket Challenge. You'll be able to compare yourself to all of the Fantasy group's experts, and mock me like crazy when the Pitt Panthers cut down the nets in San Antonio. (Meanwhile I'll be back next week with the usual fantasy baseball and football chat you know and love.)
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