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First Day Conversation

Finally, the games are back and there is something fun to talk about.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-UCLA at Michigan State IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

Brad: So today would normally be the first day of the tournament. It’s a little weird to not have games, but that is massively outweighed (in my opinion) by the tournament actually happening.

With X out, who are you guys cheering for this year or what are you hoping to see?

Joel: First of all, I’m just hoping to see games. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for the play-in games, in that I’m excited for them at all. I’m not particularly delighted with the opening weekend leaking into Monday, but that’s a relatively minor price to pay to get the games in.

I’d like to see Villanova win because I don’t think I can handle the amount of chatter from the Pat Kelsey to Xavier crowd if Winthrop wins that one. I’d like to see Cleveland State win for reasons that I trust are obvious. Beyond that, I’d like to see Texas Tech make a deep run because I like the way Mac McClung plays ball.

Brad: I would like to see Texas do some things because I like Shaka Smart and I like that they stuck with him. I also am quite invested in Michigan State winning at least one. I developed an affinity for North Texas by listening to the Conference USA championship, but I am afraid they are going to get hammered.

It’s strange to not feel tense. I miss the complete lack of enjoyment that comes with watching a Xavier tournament game. On the other had, it’s possible I can actually digest the first day food this year.

Bryan: I am really in on Alabama as they play a fun style, Nate Oates seems very likable, and they are set up really well to make a deep run.

I would love to see an Oregon-Iowa matchup as I think that Oregon would give them a game and I would love for Iowa to get bounced early.

I am interested to see how the push from guys like Geo Baker goes in the next couple of weeks and I hope people come to appreciate just how much these guys gave to make this season happen with no chance of the millions of dollars surrounding it profiting them. Jon Rothstein and Doug Gottlieb and the rest of the no talent hot take goobers can try to cast these guys in a bad light all they want, but I am hoping this can be a turning point in the conversation about NLI in the players’ favor.

Braydan: I’m hoping to see Ohio knock off Virginia personally. Nothing I have against Virginia but mostly because I really like Jason Preston from OU because he started there as a walk on and now he’s a legit baller. I think a UConn vs Alabama second round matchup would be a good one to watch. Bama has a fun play style and Bouknight is the kinda guy who can carry a team so that would be a great game.

Much like everyone else I’m just excited to watch the tournament again. The first two rounds usually serve up some chaos and I am very much looking forward to it.

Joel: This is the event that literally bankrolls the NCAA. They’ve known for a year it had to happen this year no matter what, and they’ve known for some time that it was going to be under difficult conditions. There’s no excuse for the accommodations to be subpar from the off. Like Bryan pointed out, this doesn’t happen without these guys, it makes about a billion dollars, and they can’t have any of the money. At least make them comfortable.

Brad: The reaction to that story has made me really angry. Anyone who has traveled for a college sport knows how challenging it is. Acting like these kids are divas because they want warm food or, god forbid, utensils, is asinine. The NCAA had a great chance here to say “our bad” and cater in some Chipotle. This isn’t that freaking difficult. Blaming Geo Baker because he was hoping that he wouldn’t have to spend the four days sitting in a hotel with just a puzzle for entertainment like he’s an octogenarian in a nursing home praying death comes that night is stupid.

I mean a puzzle? You have got to be kidding me. The NCAA could have bought two million PS5s with the money the tournament brings in. I’m thinking buying three per team was probably in the budget. Heck, you could even let the kids have a microwave to reheat eggs, too!

Joel: Aside from that, which Big East team do you think has the best chance of going deep? Nova and Creighton staggered to the line, Georgetown will be the underdog in every game they play, and UConn has a really tough potential matchup with Alabama looming. Could be a rough year for the finest basketball conference in the land.

Bryan: I think Creighton has the best shot at the second weekend. UCSB isn’t exactly a great matchup, but if they can beat them they get either a Virginia team coming off a COVID pause and perhaps missing personnel or Ohip U, who they should beat.

Brad: I think UConn if only because of Bouknight. You’re right, though, none of the Big East teams has a good draw.