How ESPN analysts are viewing the men’s March Madness tournament

ESPN tipped off March Madness with its annual Bracketology Presented by Lowe’s show, as host Rece Davis, analysts Jay BilasLaPhonso Ellis and Seth Greenberg, and Bracketologist Joe Lunardi provided insight and analysis into the 68 teams marching into the postseason. 

Joe Lunardi, ESPN Bracketology Expert 

On the last four in/out… 

“Overall, we have to say the committee hit the mark from top to bottom. There’s certainly nitpicking … but for me, it came down to Texas A&M and Wyoming, and maybe it was the recency of Texas A&M’s run, I looked for a differentiator and A&M’s best wins were better than Wyoming’s, but I’ve seen Wyoming a number of times and they’re very worthy. I just kind of rebel when people say, ‘this team deserved,’ and it’s not about deserving, it’s about having enough spots. Once Richmond took one of them, they deserved it and somebody had to stay home.” 

On Tennessee being a 3 seed… 

“The first thing that I get the frustration, but I knew it was going to shake out this way. These Sunday games, year after year, don’t matter with seeding. We’re looking at a Tennessee team that is tied for second in the SEC, and I believe the committee was not going to put them ahead of a Big East champion in Villanova, not going to put them ahead of Duke, certainly, but everything on my board had them as a 3.” 

Jay Bilas, ESPN Men’s College Basketball Analyst 

On the number one seeds… 

“A number one seed matters. You can play your way out of any seed, but number ones advance more often to the second weekend more than any other seed. It’s a better seed to get and it does matter.” 

On Tennessee’s 3 seed… 

“It’s not a bad seed, but it’s not as good as it should be. I don’t see them as a three, I think the decision should have been between a two and a one, and they’re in the mix for a one. I get it if you think Baylor is better as a one; that’s fine, but I don’t see a three. The committee can move a team up or down a line based on some bracketing principles, but not Tennessee… I see Tennessee as better than that.” 

On number one seeds’ path to the Elite Eight… 

“I think the number one seeds that have the two best paths, not the easiest but the best path that you would prefer, are Gonzaga one and Arizona, two. Both Baylor and Kansas have difficult regions for them based on style of play and opponents that they have. If I could pick two paths, I’d pick Gonzaga’s and Arizona’s.” 

LaPhonso Ellis, ESPN Men’s College Basketball Analyst 

On Arizona and the South Region…  

If they move on and get to another team like Illinois with Kofi Cockburn in the middle and the way they can shoot the basketball, that could give them problems. But Illinois has been struggling as of late shooting the basketball. I think Arizona has the easier path.  

On Tennessee as a No. 3 seed 

“I’m shocked from the standpoint that the SEC and the Big12 were two of the best conferences in college basketball this season. Tennessee with quad one wins and playing in one of the best conferences to not be rewarded with at a minimum a two seed – that’s problematic for me.” 

Seth Greenberg, ESPN Men’s College Basketball Analyst 

On the West Region… 

“Vermont won by an average of 30-something points a game. They dominated. The other game that’s interesting to me is Michigan State/Davidson. Again, another conspiracy where Foster Loyer transfers to Davidson and is playing at a high level. Michigan State is going to have to take care of the basketball. That’s a really efficient Davidson team…great screening team, great cutting team, shot-making team. Michigan State is prone to turn it over. That’s another game I think will be really interesting to watch.” 

On the South Region… 

“I love Kansas’ path until they get to Iowa, because Iowa can get up and down. … Look at this bracket: you’ve got the tall and the short of it with USC and Miami; USC is one of the tallest teams in college basketball, Miami is one of the shortest. Then you’ve got a black and blue game [with] San Diego State and Creighton. That’s going to be the first to 60, as Bilas would say, to win that game. You look at Iowa/Richmond, that’s another tentpole game. There are some really interesting matchups in this bracket.” 


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