Selection Sunday is just 53 days away. That means you have 53 days to sort out all your work, significant other and family obligations, and stock up on proper sustenance before shutting it down for the first weekend of the tournament. My bunker is already properly equipped and my girlfriend is planning a trip with her friends. Yes, I've been through this before.
You also have 53 days to head over to the Coke Zero Department of Fannovation's main page and submit your best idea on how to improve the college basketball fan experience. The best 64 ideas will be published and fans will determine who advances. Prizes include $10,000, a trip to the 2011 Final Four, and an opportunity to make your brainchild actually become a reality. Seth Davis, CBS Sports lead college basketball analyst and columnist for SI.com is helping to promote this initiative, so I was fortunate enough to get his take on the season to date and what he expects from the field of 65.
After yesterday's announcement, do you expect Jim Calhoun to be out for a long period of time? How will UCONN play w/o him? Not a lot of info has materialized. It's not good whatever it is. Its bad enough he has to take a leave of absence for the fourth time in last two years. As I said in my column today, it's time for Calhoun to retire.
Biggest surprises this season? Syracuse. Not being ranked coming into the season, it's extraordinary what they're doing. I label them as a legit Final Four team. Pittsburgh too. They won't play that deep into the tournament but I like what they're doing. Also, Kansas state. They have exceeded the expectations of many, but I've always been raking them higher than others. The win over Texas was great, but not much of a surprise to me.
Biggest disappointments? Oklahoma and Michigan. They were both ranked coming in, but both are out of the polls. Willie Warren was a first-team pre-season All-American by many, some even had him as POY, but that isn't holding up too well. The Sooners are young and some of their veterans are finally starting to play like they should. But that needs to continue to keep them in the hunt.
Is it possible the Pac 10 only gets one bid? That's what their pegged for right now. Part of the problem is that one of the teams that could qualify is USC, but they obviously aren't playing in any post-season tournament. California, from an RPI standpoint, is in the best shape so if they win the conference tournament it is plausible this becomes a one-bid league.
What conference gets more teams in Big Ten or ACC? [Pondering] Well, I think the ACC has more teams that are in solid shape at this time in Duke, Clemson and Georgia Tech. And I gotta think North Carolina will be fine. Plus, I think they have better middle-of-the-pack teams than the Big 10.
I think Illinois and Northwestern are setting themselves up to be the two most talked about and debated bubble teams when that talk picks up soon.
What mid-major, or maybe even a bubble team from a BCS conference, surprises us and plays in the second weekend of the tournament? No question, it's the Baylor Bears. They're 14-2 overall. Beat Xavier; won at Arizona State; and also beat both Oklahoma schools. Really, a talented team. Tall team that cause huge match-up problems.
What top teams appear vulnerable to an upset? Why? Well, the point guard is most important position in college basketball. So with that, I think West Virginia is susceptible to an early-round exit. Frankly, they don't have a true point They don't have one. Joe Mazzoula best resembles on their shoulder, but his shoulder is in rough shape. He's been shooting free-throws with his opposite hand!
Can you explain the recent play of Tennessee? Was it addition by subtraction? Or has Bruce Pearl just done an impeccable job of uniting his players? Both. Tennessee is still tough gauge. From a chemistry standpoint, I think now people understand roles better and are more focused on their roles because they had sort of reached a desperate situation. I hate to attack his character, but maybe Tyler Smith's decision to do what he did indicates how he can be a negative to a basketball team. Regardless, this team has really bonded.
What is the most memorable game that you have covered in your career? Live, it's easily the 1998 championship game between Arizona and Kentucky. An electric atmosphere and great game. I was not at the 2006 Elite Eight game between George Mason-Uconn, but watching it unfold in the studio you knew that something special was about to happen. I could sense it. It proves that superior talent doesn't guarantee a victory.