ESPN Analysts Make Final Four Picks

Harrison Twins Kentucky Basketball 2015

ESPN’s extensive multiplatform coverage of Selection Sunday, March 15, included instant and in-depth analysis across studio shows on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Rece Davis hosted live coverage of up-to-the-minute tournament selection updates on ESPN’s 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter with analysts Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams. Dan Dakich and Jim Calhoun was also in-studio to provide analysis. Following SportsCenter, ESPN aired a two-hour Bracketology Presented by Staples at 7 p.m. with Davis, Bilas, Greenberg, Vitale and Williams. The coverage included analysis, discussion on the field, upset predictions, final four picks and more.

 

Jay Bilas on the job by the selection committee:

  • The end of the line, I didn’t think there was a whole lot to complain about. The ones left out – Temple, Miami can complain about UCLA and Boise State. Outside of that I think the committee got everything right.”

 

On two-seed Gonzaga:

  • Bilas: “I think Gonzaga will end up playing [three-seed] Iowa State and we very well could see Gonzaga in the Final Four.”
  • Dick Vitale: “Gonzaga has all the parts. I really love that basketball team. I think this is the year that Mark Few’s club – they’re going to be my pick – to go to the Final Four.”

 

Seth Greenberg on Michigan State:

  • “Michigan State finds a way to advance in March, and I have them as an Elite Eight team.”

 

Jay Williams on Virginia being a two-seed:

  • “I would’ve had UVA on the first line. Even though they weren’t playing that great without Justin Anderson, I felt their wins were better than the wins Villanova had.”

 

Williams on NC State and LSU against Villanova:

  • “I think both of those teams have the personnel that they could beat Villanova. I would pick Villanova, right now, as my first one-seed to go out.”

 

Bilas on Virginia’s prospects of advancing:

  • “I still favor Virginia to get to the Regional Final and play Villanova. If Justin Anderson can get toward healthy, to where he gets that brace off his hand and he can actually handle the ball with his left hand, I think Virginia goes to the Final Four.”

 

Dan Dakich observation of the Midwest Region:

  • “Doesn’t matter, Kentucky’s going to win the Regional. They could’ve put anybody in there.”

 

Vitale on Kentucky:

  • “They have all the components, they can block shots, they can defend, they have depth, they have fresh legs at the end of the game… they got into foul trouble, and they just bring in another guy. They have all the parts.”

 

On UCLA in the field, but not Miami and Temple:

  • Bilas: “I think Miami might be looking at UCLA in the field and saying, ‘what, excuse me?’”
  • Greenberg: “I’m shocked about UCLA. I know they have a Utah win and an Oregon win, but I’m shocked about UCLA. If I’m Temple, and I understand I lost in my conference tournament, but you have a quality win against Kansas. More importantly, your record with Jesse Morgan who got eligible mid-year, is a NCAA tournament type of record.”

 

If Bilas is surprised Texas and Indiana is in the field:

  • “I’m not because of the quality of wins that they had. They suffered some losses – and significant amount of losses – but both of them played good schedules. The one thing with Indiana, they had a couple of what you would call bad losses, but they had more quality wins than some of the other teams at the end of the line.”

 

Dakich on Notre Dame:

  • “To me, Notre Dame is a real possibility to beat Kentucky. I don’t think there are many teams.”

 

 

On No. 5 Utah vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin:

  • Greenberg: “I like Utah, but Stephen F. Austin – they flat, get after you. Last year, they beat VCU.”
  • Bilas: “I don’t think Utah scores as efficiently against really good defensive teams. I don’t think Stephen F. Austin is a great defensive team, but I think they got an edge to them. [Stephen F. Austin coach] Brad Underwood coached with Frank Martin at Kansas State. They are a tough group. Thomas Walkup is a good player. They are undersized but they fight. They’re going to fight Utah and I think they can beat them.”

 

Rece Davis on Georgia making the field:

  • “Have you ever heard of politics, sometimes the candidate who gets elected is the least objectionable. That’s what Georgia’s resume is.”

 

Bilas on Ohio State:

  • “Marc Loving would have to play at highest level and Amir Williams has to be completely engaged. I think Ohio State is a good bet to get into the second round past VCU because they have guards that can handle pressure.”

 

Bracketology included interviews with Kentucky coach John Calipari and NCAA Championship Chairman Scott Barnes:

 

Calipari on the opponents in the field: 

  • “They have to play the way they play and then play really well and then see if that is enough to beat us.”

 

Barnes on UCLA:

  • “We saw earlier in the year, and then later in the year, it really became the eye test. Their strength of schedule certainly helped us make final decision.”

 

Barnes on eye test:

  • “The eye test really comes into play when looking at small margins. We have always used the eye test in some regards, more times than others, depending on circumstances.”

 

Barnes on Indiana: 

  • “They had four top 50 wins and played in strong conference. I keep going back to the eye test, but they were good enough, again not top of list, good enough given body of work throughout the year and top 50 wins.”

 

Bracketology Picks

 

  • Jay Bilas: Kentucky Wildcats (Champion)

Jay Bilas NCAA Picks 2015

  • Rece Davis: Kentucky Wildcats (Champion)

 Rece Davis NCAA Picks 2015

  • Seth Greenberg: Kentucky Wildcats (Champion)

 

 Seth Greenburg NCAA Picks 2015

  • Dick Vitale: Kentucky Wildcats (Champions)

 
Dick Vitale NCAA Picks 2015
 

  • Jay Williams: Arizona Wildcats (Champion)

 Jay Williams NCAA Picks 2015

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