Last night, Clement went where no man has gone before (except himself) and asked a series of questions pertinent to the NCAA Tournament. Today, I answer them. Is this deja vu? I think so.
Q: "On the Outside Looking In...Sorta"
Who has the best shot at a #1 seed: Memphis or Michigan State? And please, don't tell me neither (even if that's the case).
A: Neither has a realistic chance, but if you put a revolver to my head, I’d go with Michigan State. Memphis has zero chance of a #1 seed, because they have zero signature wins and zero additional opportunities for them. Michigan State has none either, but they have a number of very strong wins and could catapult to a #1 with a lot of help coupled with regular season and conference tournament championships in the Big Ten.
Q: "East Coast Bias"
Which team west of the Mississippi isn't getting enough respect: Washington, Arizona State, or Utah?
A: Actually, I think all of these teams are getting enough respect. Perhaps, many of Utah’s non-conference wins (Wisconsin-Green Bay, Ole Miss, Morgan State, Weber State, LSU, Gonzaga) have gone under the radar but they are respected, since they hold a 2-game lead in the hotly-contested Mountain West with only three to play. I would not be shocked if two of these play into the second weekend of the tournament.
Q: "Bengals from the Bayou"
How has LSU remained under the radar so much? Is SEC basketball that unexciting and uninspiring this season (outside of Mr. Meeks)? Are they a legitimate threat in the tournament?
A: LSU has remained under the radar as a result of their OOC schedule, which ranks 22nd from the bottom of Division I. Additionally, they play 10 of their conference games in the frail SEC West (enough said). That said, they are starting to gain respect with every victory (4-0) against the sturdier SEC East. While LSU has performed admirably as we reach March, I do not see the Tigers outplaying their seed.
Q: "Hurricane Season???"
Which team is more likely to have a costly hiccup in their remaining games: Miami (Fl) or South Carolina?
A: Sadly, Miami is more likely to have that hiccup, despite being the more potent team in my opinion. South Carolina (9-4 in conference) has a realistic chance at 11 wins in conference with a visit from Rocky Top sandwiched between trips to Nashville and Athens. It’s no secret that the Hurricanes are battered and bruised, but they have started to play well in the clutch, and if they win at Georgia Tech and defeat NC State at home, then they are 8-8 in the nation’s top-ranked conference. That may keep them in the Last Four In, but we have seen that bids may be stolen in even the power conferences (e.g. Georgia).
Q: "(Mid) Major Dilemma!"
What's the (updated) prognoses on teams like Utah State, Creighton, and Siena, assuming neither of the three wins their conference tournament?
A: If Utah State does not win their conference tournament, then they should be prepared for a high NIT seed. If Creighton and Siena win the rest of their regular season games and lose in the final to the next best team, then they both should be in. Of course, a lot of this depends on other variables (i.e. teams other than Butler and Gonzaga winning their conference tournaments).
Question #6: "50/50"
Pick an ACC and a Big Ten team - out of each pairing - who you favor as being more likely to secure an at-large birth: Big Ten (Penn State or Michigan) & ACC (Virginia Tech or Maryland).
In the Big Ten, I’d give the nod to Penn State, as they have defeated the 1st and 3rd best team in their conference on the road. In the ACC, I would select Virginia Tech by a very slim margin based on the same rationale. That said, much can change at the conference tournament.
What did you answer for the poll (Chalmber is Chalmers, btw...thanks Clement) and why? Just a sentence or two will do.
A: This is a great question, because I was only able to eliminate three players (Chalmers, Brewer, Noah) from this list due to the composite strength of their respective teams. I went with Juan Dixon, because fans forget exactly how dominant he was in the final two minutes of a game. Any time that Maryland needed a play to either lead a spurt or to kill a crowd, Juan Dixon did it.