UCLA has a cakewalk to the Final Four, more notes
Posted: Sunday March 16, 2008 10:47PM; Updated: Monday March 17, 2008 11:04AM
SI.com caught up with Seth Davis to get his reaction to the announcement of the NCAA tournament field.
SI.com: What was the biggest surprise to you?
Seth Davis: I have to say that there really weren't any ... the biggest would have to be Arizona State not being in, but that's more of a quibble, not really a concern. Georgia obviously ate a space when it won the SEC tournament, but obviously we don't know for sure if the Bulldogs ate up Arizona State's spot.
I was a little surprised to see Tennessee as a two-seed with North Carolina -- I think you could have made the case for Tennessee over Kansas. At the very least, the Vols were the highest two-seed ... so I guess that was a bit of a surprise.
Also Duke as a two, I thought it should have been a three. And Pitt as a four, should have been a three.
But those are very very small differences, there's no indignation. I thought the committee did a good job, especially with South Alabama -- leaving them out would have been a travesty. For them to deal with all the contingencies and deliver the bracket to us at 5:45 was extremely impressive, and I thought they did a great job.
SI.com: Who has the easiest road to the Final Four?
SD: UCLA, without a doubt. Partly because the Bruins are getting Duke as a two, but mostly because they're UCLA and I think they're going to win the whole thing. They start off in Anaheim, so that's a free pass to the Sweet 16. Then in Phoenix, I think Xavier, as a three, didn't play so well down the stretch -- its point guard is battling a sprained ankle, and I think that's a bigger problem than it's letting on. Also UConn didn't play so well down the stretch, either. To the extent that you can skate to the Final Four, I think UCLA can do it.
SI.com: Who has the hardest road?
SD: Memphis, no doubt about it. Pittsburgh won four games in four days at the Big East tournament ... clearly, with Levance Fields back, that's a different team. Memphis will have to get past Pitt, then past Texas in Houston, where Texas has a home-court advantage -- it will be burnt orange wall-to-wall
If Memphis makes it to San Antonio, it will have earned it.
SI.com: Who's your Cinderella pick?
SD: Davidson ... I think they have a chance to get by Georgetown in the second round -- No. 1 because the Wildcats are good, and No. 2 because they're playing in Raleigh. Davidson, besides going undefeated in the Southern Conference this year, played Duke, UNC and UCLA well in nonconference action -- at one point they had UCLA down 18. Also, Davidson played deep in the tourney last year, and you don't expect that kind of tourney experience to come from a mid-major.
For a deeper sleeper, I'd pick USC.
SI.com: What's the best first-round matchup?
SD: Temple vs. Michigan State. Temple played very well at the end, winning the A-10 tourney, when they had to defeat a pretty good St. Joe's team. Michigan State was playing well against Wisconsin and then lost a game it shouldn't have lost -- I don't know if it's a vintage-tough Tom Izzo team. In the best of seven series, I'd take Michigan State, but in the tournament, even if the Spartans would have won six, all Temple has to do is win one.