WTLC had the opportunity to attend the Turner-CBS NCAA Media Day, where the most prominent broadcasters and analysts congregated to discuss this year's NCAA Tournament selection.
If you were looking to defy the odds and create the world's first perfect March Madness bracket...this is not the right year for that. This college basketball season has seen one of its most upset-tastic years of all time.
And it is no coincidence either.
In recent years, the NCAA has been flooded with one-and-done players, and those players have been the guys who make or break their respective teams. Last year it was Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow. The year before it was Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. But this year the top freshman (Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram) have not been able to carry their schools like we thought they would. In fact, it is the upperclassmen who have been securing spots in the big dance. Buddy Hield, Brice Johnson, Denzel Valentine, Malcolm Brogdon. They are the reason this season has been as crazy as it has. And they are the reason this March will be almost impossible to predict.
At the Turner-CBS NCAA Media Day, college basketball pundits like Wally Szczerbiak, Kenny Smith, and Reggie Miller shared their thoughts on the season that we have seen and the March we are about to witness.
"I think it is great that these seniors are playing their college years. They have so much on the line. That is what college basketball is all about," Szczerbiak said. "The rise of the seniors is where college basketball should be. I think those guy are going to dominate (Buddy Hield, Perry Ellis, Denzel Valentine) when March comes."
Kenny Smith agreed with Wally. "If a team has experience, they will obviously dominate. Kentucky was the exception last year. You go to LSU and think they will get it done...doesn't happen. You go to Florida State and think that's going to happen...it's not going to happen." While he recognized that freshman have been controlling the tournament, he said that young teams typically don't go all the way.
The Jet thinks senior point guard play will be a major headline in March, and when it came time to discuss Buddy Hield and his tournament potential, he compared the Big 12 leading scorer to Dwyane Wade when he played at Marquette.
The sleeper pick for Kenny is Indiana. "Typically guards like Yogi Ferrell have the ability to create the pace of the game. Last year Tyus Jones was able to create the pace and they won the whole thing."
Reggie Miller had a lot to say about the juniors and seniors running the show this year. "I think the teams that have junior and senior leadership certainly have an advantage: Villanova, Xavier, Michigan State, Texas A&M. It is good to have a core group of players that have been together three or four years. They understand the coach, how to play, and again let's remember, all of these games are on neutral sites so your game has to translate onto a floor where neither team has an advantage."
Miller went on to recognize the different types of officiating in conferences. "While the Big East referees allow for more physical play, officials in the Big 12 are more uptight about fouls. Players need to know how to adapt and juniors and seniors know how to do that. Freshmen and sophomores play off talent."
This March is projected to be one of the more exciting tournaments in recent history. There is no clear-cut number one team, and while that may be bad news for fans looking to win their brackets and roll in some dough, it will be a thrilling set of games for the everyday viewer just looking to enjoy college basketball the way it is meant to be played.