March Madness is nearly here, with coverage tipping off on truTV Tuesday with the NCAA First Four. According to this year’s analysts one thing’s for certain: The race to Atlanta is wide open. At a Turner/CBS media event in NY last week broadcasters made predictions on who will make it to the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Final Four. Here are 5 insights from the analysts about this year’s tourney.
1. Mind the Gap. The gap between the non-power conference teams and the power conference teams is narrowing, according to CBS analyst Clark Kellogg. Whether that actually plays out in the competition is another story, but “the landscape certainly looks that way,” he said. “Pittsburg or North Carolina State could get on a run,” he said. Prior to Sunday night’s selection process, Kellogg predicted Duke and Indiana would be competing for the #1 seed (Indiana landed a #1 seed and Duke a #2), followed by Kansas (#1), Gonzaga (#1) and Georgetown (#2). (Go here for the full bracket.)
2. Big Ten Will Be Big. TNT analyst Steve Kerr spoke favorably of The Big 10, which in his view is arguably the best conference. “The top 5-6 teams could all make a deep run,” he said.
3. Hoosiers Hype. TNT analyst Reggie Miller’s overall #1 pick for the championship is Indiana.
4. Analyst Exam Cram. Given that Miller and Kerr are switching to calling college ball after having announced NBA games, how do they manage the transition? According to Miller, if you’re a basketball fan you’re going to follow all of it—high school, college and NBA. But there’s a difference in how you prepare for calling college games. In the end, it’s exciting to see them coming up through the college ranks, he said. Kerr concurred: “You better do your homework,” he said. “It feels like you’re in college cramming for finals all over again.”
5. Don’t Believe the Hype. Kellogg reminded reporters that high school rankings are mere “hyperbole” and have nothing to do with how actual performances play out on the court. “It’s another level when you get to college,” he said.