The Madness is upon us. Powerade, the official drink of the NCAA Tournament (and of all 88 NCAA Championships), sponsored the CBS fan fest zone at the Time Warner Center. The fan fest zone, which includes the Bracket Lounge, is open all week.
The interactive experience includes shooting mini-basketballs into hoops, getting interviewed as if you were a player, taking photos with Madness-related backgrounds, and filling out brackets in leather couches with individual screens.
For March Madness, Powerade has put together the “POWERADE ION4 Point Performance Rating System,” which ranks all 68 tournament teams in four categories that are key to tournament success: scoring margin, points scored, assist-to-turnover ratio, and turnover margin.
You can compare each matchup individually or stack the teams against the rest of field; it’s pretty neat and comes in handy when you need quick stats. Be sure to check it out before filling out your brackets.
Powerade also compiled a team of bracketologists to assist fans with their brackets for Monday’s National Bracket Day. CBS Sports basketball analyst Greg Anthony headlined the team, joined by The Hoop Doctors’ Kevin Burke, With Leather and Kissing Suzy Kolber’s Josh Zerkle, Hugging Harold Reynolds’s Kevin Owens, and me.
Anthony was the main attraction, of course; he was extremely personable and gave some great insight into the bracketing process and the individual teams. Here’s what he had to say:
On Kentucky getting a No. 4 seed and Florida getting a No. 2 seed:
Kentucky also lost the conference by three games. They did win individually, two out of three, but the thing is, it’s your body of work. When you lose a conference by three games, that’s a lot. If they had lost by one game, you can say something. Kentucky was 2-6 in conference play on the road; that tells you a lot about their team. They’re young and they’re getting better. I don’t have a problem with a four. Florida won more games, outside of the Big East, against the top 50 than anybody in the country. They were 12-3 coming into the championship game. If you look at their division, they had Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia in the same division all make the Tournament, and you won that division by three games. That’s a lot of separation, so you can’t just then win the conference tournament and erase the whole regular season. The regular season means something. That fact that Florida could win all those games on the road against teams that Kentucky couldn’t beat, you have to look at the overall body of work.
On the Southwest Region versus the East Region:
Vandy is a potential Final Four team. Louisville, Georgetown, Purdue, Notre Dame. I think that’s a tougher region than the East. North Carolina struggles to score at times; Syracuse, I don’t think they’re as good as they should be. You’re looking at the name on the jersey; don’t always just look at the name on the front of the shirt. Everybody is doing that with their region. Villanova is the weakest nine seed in the tournament, by far. If I’m OSU, I’m saying I could be playing Villanova; I like that, I’m not upset with that. Now, again, Kentucky is a solid team. They’ve played well here late, but there was a reason they were 2-6 on the road. If this Princeton team was last year’s Cornell team, they would beat Kentucky.
Texas is going to play teams that play like they play but aren’t as good. Oakland is going to be a tough game for them, but I think Texas can overwhelm them physically. I think they’re going to beat Oakland and they’re going to probably play Memphis. Memphis plays five freshmen. Texas is better because they also have a couple of guys – Gary Johnson is a senior who was on that team last year, Jordan Hamilton is a sophomore, J’Covan Brown – guys who were on last year’s team who understand that we’ve struggled in certain areas. That’s why they’ve had a better year this year. Memphis is a good matchup for them because Memphis is not a great shooting team and they’re not a great rebounding team. Texas would welcome that matchup.
On Michigan State:
Michigan State is an enigma. Izzo is my guy, I love Izzo. The problem with Michigan State is that they’re a jump-shooting team that can’t shoot; they’ve evolved into that. They don’t attack the paint the way they used to, and that’s hurt them this year. They’ve had a guy kicked off the team, another guy left the team, and these are rotation guys with Lucious and Allen. That’s a lot to lose. And they’re also relying on freshmen who aren’t dominant freshmen. They need time to develop; they’re like average freshmen. They got a really good region though; they got matchups that I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win.
On BYU’s No. 3 seed:
You understand that there was an injury, but you don’t look at the individual, you look at the team. So am I supposed to speculate and punish them for winning their conference, losing the title game to a team that won 31 games? They only lost three games on the year. They probably have the National Player of the Year, and honestly, they should be upset with a three seed. They probably should’ve got a two.
On how far BYU will advance:
BYU, even though I’m not picking them to get to the Final Four, they have a very favorable region. They got Florida, they got UCLA; those are not physical teams that want to control tempo. They’ll get out and run with you, and when you’re a running team, you want that because the bigger the court, the more opportunity you have. It’s easier to play three-on-two, four-on-three than it is five-on-five, so when you’re playing five-on-five in the half-court, that’s harder. If you’re playing fast, that means you’re playing four-on-three, three-on-two a lot. That’s when a team like BYU takes advantage because they shoot a lot of 3s in transition.
On why Colorado didn’t get in:
Colorado had six wins against the top 50, which was a lot; that’s impressive. Three of them were against the same team, and that actually hurts you. All that means is basically, okay, that’s a team you match up well with and you’re able to beat them. Their non-conference schedule, you see who they played? They played Cal State Bakersfield, they played Longwood, 325th non-conference schedule. They got hot a little bit at the end, but they were so bad in the beginning. You can’t discount what they did in the beginning; you have to at least factor it in. That’s why they look at the whole body. They used to, a couple years ago, they focused more on the last 12. But then, a lot of the coaches said, you know, that’s not really fair because otherwise, why play the other 20 games? You can emphasize it but you have to take the whole body, and that’s what they ended up doing.
On Virginia Tech’s snub:
Virginia Tech doesn’t get in because they didn’t beat anybody. They played a little better schedule but they didn’t win any of those games. They win the one game against Duke; one win isn’t going to get it. That’s what my point is about the body of work. Seth Greenberg called me, he texted me yesterday morning at 7am. He said, “You think we’re in?” We interviewed Eddie DeChellis and Thad Matta before the Big Ten Championship game. I asked Eddie, “You think you’re in?” He said, “Yeah, we feel good about what we’ve done this year. We think we’re in the Tournament.” That’s my point. If you’re doubting yourself as the head coach, you probably don’t feel comfortable about what you’ve done. There is no perfect formula to it; it’s subjective. It’s also 10 guys who all have their own opinion; it’s done by committee. I’m sure there were guys in there who thought that Virginia Tech should’ve gotten in, but it wasn’t a majority; the majority thought Clemson.
On whether conference tournaments affect seeding:
UConn did it, but UConn did something that had never been done before. Look who they beat: they beat the No. 1 seed in Pitt, they also beat Louisville, they knock off Syracuse. Five straight games in five days. That had never been done in the history of college basketball. So you just beat five top-50 teams. There are teams in here that didn’t play five top-50 teams. They went from probably being a six/five to being a three. You don’t get penalized if you lose in your conference tournament to a good team. Pitt lost in the first round, their first game to UConn; that’s not a bad loss. UConn’s a really good team so they’re not going to punish them. But when you lose to a team like Villanova lost to South Florida, you’re going to be penalized; Villanova almost didn’t get in.
On criticizing the selection committee:
The problem with critiquing the committee is that you’re giving them your opinion as one person when it’s 10 of them doing it. That’s why I think it’s totally unfair to criticize them, because there are people who will agree with you but not everybody. That’s why they have 10, and that’s what makes it work. If there were one guy doing this, I would say criticize the hell out of him. But when you have a committee in there, they’re not all going to see the same 68.