Hey everyone! I hope you enjoyed the past four days as much as I did. There's nothing quite like going from 64 teams to 16 so quickly, and it's left us with a lot to talk about. So, let's get started.
What was the biggest story of the first weekend?
My take on the first weekend is always a bit skewed by the work I do on Giant Killers. For me, the story was the number of upsets. We just didn't expect there to be so many. Our model forecasted the most likely one in each region, but was totally surprised by how many occurred.
Tennessee, Dayton, or Stanford your surprise to see in Sweet 16?
I'd say Stanford by a hair over Dayton. Our model had Tennessee pegged as horribly underseeded -- they were a top-20 team entering the tourney. And UMass was terribly overseeded. So we had that one pegged. I could at least somewhat envision Dayton taking down Ohio State and Syracuse -- especially with the way both teams struggle on offense at times. But I just didn't see Stanford being able to hang with Kansas. Just getting by New Mexico seemed like an accomplishment. Kudos to Johnny Dawkins.
Out of the 16 Teams Remaining, Who do you think will be the National Champions in Men's College Basketball?
I picked Florida before the tourney, and don't see any reason to change my mind now.
Is UCONN a giant killer? They took care of VIllanova, and I think they match up pretty well with Iowa State.
A Giant Killer is any team that beats a squad seeded at least 5 spots better. So, since UConn was a 7-seed and Villanova was a 2-seed, yes, the Huskies count as Giant Killers.The loss of Niang will be really tough for Iowa State against UConn. The Cyclones would have had a major edge inside, but Niang's absence changes that. UConn has a very good chance to advance.
If Kentucky played all season like they did on Sunday, what seed are they? At least a 2, right? If not No. 1?
That's sort of a loaded question, because if you take any team's best performance and extrapolate over the course of a season, you'd have 50 or 60 teams that look like top seeds.Kentucky played very well, no question. But I'm far from sold that they can go to Indy and win a pair of games.
I doubt many people were high on Baylor this tournament. did you have them in the Sweet 16?
I toyed with putting Baylor in the Sweet 16, mostly because I didn't love Creighton. But I've been burned by Baylor so often in the past that I just can't trust 'em, and I talked myself into the idea of McBuckets burning that zone. Oops.
Everyone is talking about how great the Wichita State-Kentucky game was (and for good reason, it was amazing), but why is no one talking about the Oregon-Wisconsin game? I feel like the level of play in that game was just as good (maybe a little better on the offensive side) and Oregon probably should have won that game.
Oregon-Wisconsin was a ton of fun, no question. Great pace, great atmosphere. Another game that was similar was Arizona State-Texas. Both teams were going up and down, making shots and it came down to the buzzer.
How much farther can Iowa State go without Niang? Can they get past their next game? Thanks...
Sure Iowa State CAN get by UConn without Niang. It turns into a battle of guards, and Kane and Co. can hang with UConn's backcourt, for sure. With Niang, I would have loved Iowa State. Now it's much closer to a tossup, and I can't see the Cyclones beating Michigan State or Virginia if they do advance.
Based on your criteria, you believe Kentucky is a Giant Killer for beating Wichita State, which 7 spots ahead of them in the seeding?
Yup. As strange as it may sound Kentucky was a Giant Killer, and Wichita State was a Giant. When did you think you'd ever see that?
Which team is playing the best overall right now?
Well, I Florida was my pick to win the tourney and, as I said, I'm sticking with it. But Arizona is really rolling right now. I'd pick Florida if they end up meeting, but the Wildcats are playing the best ball in the country right now, with Virginia not far off. Most surprisingly good performances? Baylor and UCLA.
How will the history books treat Wichita State's season?
Undefeated, obviously, once all of Kentucky's wins are vacated. Just kidding. I think the Shockers rightfully will be respected for a phenomenal season that ended with a tough loss in a great game against a team that played absolutely fantastic basketball.
Do any of the double digit seeds -- standford, dayton, tennessee -- have long staying power for the rest of the tournament?
Well, either Stanford or Dayton will be in the South Region final, so they automatically have staying power. And Tennessee can beat Michigan. So, yeah, they all have staying power.
Did the crowd in Milwaukee win that game for the Badgers?
I don't think the crowd "won" the game for Wisconsin, but it sure helped. That said, I don't think the fans prevented Oregon from getting a stop or two down the stretch.
Only one potential Giant Killer matchup left, so how much do you like Tennessee?
I'm writing about that tomorrow on Insider. Short answer is that our model still likes Tennessee a lot and still sees some vulnerability in Michigan. What kind of upset odds does that generate? Check back tomorrow and I'll have the answer in the GK blog.
A 10 or 11 seed is GUARENTEED an Elite 8 spot. How does that make you feel?
Like a proud papa.
Has the talk about Louisville being underseeded made them a bit overrated? That offense hasnt been very impressive thus far
Yes, Matt. Totally. If you follow me on Twitter (and if you don't, what are you waiting for?), I've been harping on that theme a lot since Selection Sunday. I don't think making Lousiville a 4-seed was nearly the crime many observers made it out to be. They played in a weak conference and beat no one outside of league play. This isn't last year's Cardinals. So yeah, expectations were too high for Louisville going into the tourney. Obviously, they can reach the Final Four and even contend for a title. But so can most everyone else still left.
Will Archie Miller follow in his brother's foot steps and leave for a bigger school?
At some point? Sure. But after signing that extension, it seems he'll be sticking around a bit longer. And that's smart -- there's no sure-thing job out there for him to chase.
Aside from Stauskas' shooting, whats the biggest x factor for a Michigan title run?
Can Jordan Morgan keep giving a representative performance in the middle? And will the two-headed monster of Walton and Albrecht stay poised and productive against top competition?
Do you think will re-evaluate the strength of the SEC with 3 teams in the Sweet 16? Or chalk it up as simply the luck of the draw?
I try not to make sweeping judgments based on anything that happens in March. That particularly applies to reaching the Sweet 16 -- that means teams just won two games. So, no, I don't really see the SEC as any better than expected. I saw Florida as the best team all year. The GK model -- and most other advanced metrics -- adored Tennessee. And Kentucky? Well, we always knew the Wildcats had ability.
who do you think will win the Virginia-MSU game
I'm leaning toward Michigan State, but I continue to be more impressed every time I see Virginia. I just think MSU has better inside-outside balance and more potential offensive weapons.
Will any double digit seed facing Duke be your annual Giant Killer moving forward provided the Blue Devils are not a #1 seed?
Ha. No, the model will not be making any Duke-based adjustments. A lot of weird things happen in March, and if you're consistently a top seed, you're going to get up more than some other guys.
You mentioned you don't like ISU's chances against MSU or Virginia. Do you feel any more confident about Uconn? Always nice to have the best player on the court in Napier
Good question. I guess maybe I'm a tiny bit more confident that UConn could upset Michigan State or Virginia, but I see the Huskies' lack of inside presence catching up to them before long. I'm much more confident that the winner of UVA-MSU will be in the Final Four.
Why does it take forever to answer a question, stupid?! Are you typing with your tongue?! Moron! Someone should give you 50 lashes with a cat and nine tails!
Typing is harrrrrrrddddd.
Who is the bigger X factor for Louisville, Harrell or Russ Smith or someone else?
Another x-factor question -- you guys love your x-factors! Actually, I think the biggest x-factor for Louisville -- more than for any other team -- is the way the games are called. Louisville, particularly Luke Hancock, does a LOT of clutching and grabbing on the perimeter on D. The question is how tightly the refs will enforce the freedom of movement directives. My feeling going into the tourney was that there would be a game where several key Cardinals would end up in foul trouble. We'll see if that materializes.
Do any of the double digit seeds remaining have a legit shot at a national championship?
At a national title? No, I just can't see it. I guess Tennessee has the best chance of those 3 teams, though.
Those "Mighty Gators" are not a flashy team by any means but they are balanced, disciplined and can grind it out on D. Agree with your earlier comment they look strong, while Pitt was supposed to trip them up, who do you believe is a team that is a mismatch and can upset the Gators?
Like I said, I love the way Florida plays. But sure, they could lose against the right team on the right day. I seriously doubt that will be UCLA -- I don't have enough faith in the Bruins' D and worry about their lack of quickness -- but UCLA does have firepower. I can't see Dayton or Stanford being that team. Once you're in the Final Four, though, all bets are off. How's that for a non-answer answer? ;)
Maybe it takes longer, because you think before you type, unlike others.
Aaron will be handling my public relations going forward ...
Which player from Kentucky can impact their draft stock the most if they can continue their run in the tourney?
I wish the answer were "no one," because I like to think most talent-evaluators base their decisions on large sample sizes. That said, NBA execs are always looking for reasons to justify drafting big guys, and the better Cauley-Stein plays, and the longer UK lasts, the more they'll be able to justify using a high pick on him.
Do you the Flyers chances against Stanford? Also everyone is on Sparty but I think Virginia will frustrate them and win. Do you agree?
Man, you're asking tough questions, as those are a couple of toss-ups. I think Dayton has a really good shot at beating Stanford, sure. I'm interested, though, in how they handle Stanford's size. The Cardinal have a much better interior than Ohio State and Syracuse offered. I got to see Stanford play in Brooklyn earlier this year and Power and Huestis impressed me a lot.
Would Kansas be looking at a final 4 run if Embiid was healthy?
Look, Kansas lost plenty of games with Embiid, too. That said, I think they would have got by Stanford with him and would have been a heavy favorite to beat Dayton. But I still think Florida would have kept KU from getting to Dallas.
Is the Louisville-Kentucky hate fest the most anticipated matchup of the Sweet 16? Do you think the young Cats will take down Rickie P?
Oh, there is no game that's going to come close to that amount of hype. Just give it another day and we'll all be sick of hearing about that matchup. UVA-MSU should be really good, too, although not necessarily aesthetically pleasing.
Still, Cauley-Stein has to overcome the stigma of being a sophomore at UK.
Charles, coming strong with the humor! Well done, sir.
What's your take on zach lavine and ucla's chances of beating Florida?
Well, UCLA is playing great basketball. There's no question. I saw a link to a UCLA blog that, a couple of weeks ago, was already pushing for a new coach. I mean, that's a special kind of crazy, right? The Bruins have really carried things over from that Pac-12 tourney run into the Big Dance. I just think Florida is too tough and a particularly bad matchup, given the Gators' overall athleticism and versatility. And LaVine? I haven't understood the draft hype. The kid is talented, but needs a lot more work.
What Arena are the Midwest Finals played at this Year?
Google is your friend: http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/9258206/2014-ncaa-tournament-schedule-key-dates
I hear everyone talk about how Michigan will guard Stokes (Glenn Robinson) but isn't Glenn Robinson III a matchup problem for Stokes?
Absolutely. This is a classic-inside outside matchup, and it's the kind of tradeoff John Beilein is always happy to make. Know this: Michigan's four-out system will force Stokes to defend on the perimeter, and Beilein will come up with a couple new wrinkles to force Tennessee's bigs out of their comfort zone.
My clutch jumper is the X factor, not my clutching on defense?
Touche, Luke. But keep your hands off. Seriously.
What upset would you most like to see in the sweet 16?
I can't say I'm rooting for any upset. I think I'm most intrigued by which version of Baylor will show up against Wisconsin, though.
I resent the suggestion that Duke replaces us as the go-to team for gagging to double-digit seeds. We plan on resuming our role next season.
Well, John, there is a reason why we named your Hoyas as the worst Giant of the GK era: http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/giant-killers/post/_/id/10/2013-ncaa-tournament-why-georgetown-worst-giant-ever-college-basketball
Wisconsin v Baylor who you got? I would think Wisconsin can handle that zone, but then again I would've said the same thing about Creighton
As I've said earlier, I've learned my lesson trying to predict anything Baylor does. That said, I'm going to lean to Wisconsin, ever so slightly. I do worry about how the Badgers will keep Baylor off the offensive glass. Wisconsin ranks 11th nationally in defensive rebounding, but Baylor is a whole different challenge.
OK guys, time for a few more questions and then I've gotta bounce. Feel free to find me on Twitter at @jordanbrenner, though, to keep the conversation going this week.
Who do you see being the X Factor for each team in Michigan-Tennessee? We all know about Stauskus & Stokes. Is it McCrae and Levert?
How could I leave without answering another X-Factor question? Like I said before, I see Morgan and the Michigan point guard play being critical for Michigan. For Tennessee, it's hard not to mention Josh Richardson. His fantastic play has obviously coincided with this hot streak. But can he keep it up?
Will Dayton's victory over the Buckeyes light a fire under the people in Columbus to finally place the Flyers on their regular season schedule?
Nope. If anything, it'll make OSU less likely to schedule a game. Same with the Kansas-Wichita State dynamic. Sad as it is, the big schools just don't have any incentive to play those games.
That's it for me! Thanks for all the awesome questions, guys. Let's do this again soon.