The Chat House with Michael Wilbon: NCAA Tournament Picks, Tiger's Return and More

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Tuesday, March 17, 2009 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Tuesday, March 17 at 1:15 p.m. ET to take your questions about the latest sports news and his recent columns.

The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive * Column Archive * Talking Points Videos

____________________ Michael has logged in and his first answer should be out shortly.


Arlington, Va.: My mind is bending just looking at this bracket over and over! Wake over Louisville? Wash over UConn? Villanova over Pitt? Gonzaga or UNC? Is Syracuse too tired, or can they make it through? Clemson over Oklahoma? HELP! How do you make the decision to pull the trigger on an upset in the later rounds?

Michael Wilbon: Hi everybody...So sorry we had to move this week's Chat to Tuesday, but I was just too sick yesterday to do it...The damndest thing happened to me Sunday...I felt perfect at 1 p.m. PEFECT. And then by 2:30, I felt like I was going to die...Either foot poisoning or stomach flu...Had to check into a hotel and sleep...Couldn't even do the halftime with Jon Barry and Stuart Scott, who I thank for getting me out of the studio and into a nearby bed. Slept until 9 without waking up. And I'm still recovering...Just couldn't get back from NYC early enough Monday to chat, so here we are...And I'm still limited because I've studied the bracket a little in my dazed state but I haven't filled one out...So here we go...

Last year four No. 1 seeds made it for the only time since the tournament began seeding in 1979. It won't happen again this year. So, I'm picking upsets. Not in every game. You pick your spots. But don't look for tips here! I'm in office pools and I think we're doing one on .com (which you should look for) and I'm in it to win it, so I'm keeping all my secrets close...


Washington, D.C.: Can you use your influence at ESPN to have someone film TK and Feinstein watching the Duke-Binghamton game together? I think it would make for hilarious TV. Unless it's a 9 p.m. tip-off and Tony falls asleep by halftime.

Michael Wilbon: Feinstein will be with me, in Philly and I promise you I will NOT watch the game with him because we'll be watching VCU vs. UCLA live from courtside...Now, TK is talking about busing down and back, but I don't know how that's going. I won't see Duke-Binghamton, unless there's a TV in the press room that's carrying that game, which I doubt...If so, I'll sneak back and try to catch some of it. Big Congrats to Binghamton for getting into the NCAA field for the first time. I think I told USA Today in 2004 that I'd leave the country if Binghamton made it before Northwestern (we're the only school from a BCS conference that has never reached the men's basketball tournament)...but I never said for how long, so I think I'll just reward myself with a trip in July to see a Michael Jackson concert in London. That qualifies, right?

_______________________ Video: Kornheiser-Feinstein Grudge Match


Detroit: What do you think so far of the Hank Haney project with Charles Barkley? And can we expect you to make an appearance on the show at some time?

Michael Wilbon: I love it...Then again, I was there for some of it, and the hanging out afterward. I don't think you'll see me at all...I need to be on the other end of some insruction, though. You see how smoothly Charles swings when he's had some reps under the best tutoring in the world? People don't know this...hell, they don't believe it, but Charles used to shoot in the low to mid-80s all the time. Yes, ALL THE TIME...Then he started taking lessons everywhere he went and his swing just went to hell...But he's such a great athlete, I always thought he could get it back with the right teacher, and I hope he does because he lives in the mecca of golf and I'd like to play with him more when I'm in Scottsdale and get him out of this "retirement" he's been in for awhile...


Washington, D.C.: Who will win more majors this year: Tiger or Phil? It looks like Mickelson is poised to have one last great year, but then again he does have that history snatching a defeat from the jaws of victory.

Michael Wilbon: The bet is always Tiger, right? For me it is. Phil is great. He's going to retire with, what, four or five major championships? Maybe six? Tiger's going to have three times that many, at least. Tiger's the best, so my money this year would be on Tiger...on no worse than a draw...perhaps 1 each this year??? A push!


New Orleans: What do you think about Oboma naming Steelers owner, Dan Rooney, to be the ambassador to Ireland?

Could we see a football game in Ireland some day? Or Rooney could try to bring Gaelic football over here.

Michael Wilbon: I hope you mean Obama, as in The President of the United States...Let's hope that's just a typo; I certainly have enough of them in this space. Anyway, Dan Rooney, a lifelong Republican, campaigned publicly for Obama in Pennsylvania and nationally, so this comes as no gtreat surprise. American football in Ireland? The NFL tried that and nobody cared...Nobody in Europe cares about American football outside of Germany where there are, what, 150,000 American service men and women?


Madison, Wisc.: The only reason Northwestern didn't get in --besides being lousy--is that Feinstein was screaming about the Big 10 shouldn't get 8 teams in the tourney. Otherwise the Wildcats were a lock !

Michael Wilbon: The Big Ten didn't deserve 7 teams or 6 teams or 5 teams. I love my alma mater...I love my conference. I rooted all year, and watched many of the games, for Bill Carmody, who did a wonderful job with the Wildcats...But the basketball played there this winter was ordinary AT BEST. Feinstein is right.


Union Station, DC: Geez, Wilbon! I know you said that you're not giving bracket help but can you at least tell us who you like. I'm the only female (and avid fan of yours) in a pool with my husband and his crew. I turn to you every year for help. I can't let these guys win! Please just give up one Final Four Team, and I'll do the rest myself.

Michael Wilbon: Anybody can tell you they like the No. 1 seeds. That's easy. I like Butler and Western Kentucky to score first-round upsets. I like Florida State to go even further. And I really like Memphis...Really, really.


Washington, D.C.: Mike - Yet another blow to us suffering Wizards fans that our wonderful beat reporter is moving on to TV. On a side note, what is it about the Wiz beat that sends people upwards (a few of your colleagues at ESPN started here, I believe)? Must be that it takes true skill to coax a story out of this kind of team...

Michael Wilbon: Nobody ever stays on local beats forever, though it is where we get our training as reporters and learn to (hopefully) be really good beat writers. Do you know the people who covered the Redskins? Christine Brennan, Gary Pomerantz, Richard Justice, Tom Friend...Important beats produce terrific writers/reporters at a lot of good newspapers. We can play that game with the Celtics and Patriots at The Boston Globe, with the Dodgers and Lakers at The Los Angeles Times...But yes, a lot of Wizards writers have gone onto even bigger things, like Pulitzer Prize winner David Remnick...And cheers to Ivan! He's had it great, actually, covering the Wizards through three or four playoff seasons. How great is that? I don't think David Aldridge, when he covered the Wizards, ever saw them in a playoff game. I'll have to ask him, but I believe that to be the case.


Newark, Del.: Looking forward to see you and TK on Friday, even though I know Tony would rather be in NC with his beloved Bearcats.

I don't know how often you got to read her stuff, but was there a better voice on the internet than ESPN's Ombudswoman Le Anne Schreiber? I'll be sad to see her go.

Michael Wilbon: I am sad to see her go and I ALWAYS read her stuff...She was here visiting us in the PTI studios recently and we send Le Anne all our best. She had the misfortune of having to edit Tony early in both their careers, but she somehow, as they say in march, survived and advanced!


DC: I can't help but laugh at the arrogance of Kentucky. Seeing Tubby Smith lead the Golden Gophers into the NCAA tournament while the Wildcats are sitting at home, is just too much.

Michael Wilbon: It's wonderful to see. I love it when these schools get their comeuppance for being so arrogant. Nebraska football is still trying to get it right after firing Frank Solich because he dared go 9-3. I love seeing Tubby in the tournament, Pitino seeded No. 1 and the Blue Bloods in the NIT. The arrogance of some college programs and their boosters deserves a knockdown and Kentucky is getting one now.


Baltmore, MD: Do you think you and Tony have changed at all in the way you think about/discuss/respond to sports because of PTI? I know your newsroom discussions were the basis of the show, but has it changed between PTI going on the air and now?

Michael Wilbon: Great question. No, I don't think we've changed. It's the same back and forth to my ear...I'd have to ask people who listened to us 15 years ago and last week if they hear a difference. I don't. The debates on air are PG-rated, which the ones in the newsroom and studio certainly are not. Those would have to air on HBO. Other than that, I think we're better informed about a wider range of subjects, but not as expert on areas we concentrated on more narrowly in the past...


DC: Speaking of typos Mike, I assume you were not eating some bad feet and got "foot" poisoning, it was food poisoning, right?

Michael Wilbon: I was so sick maybe it was foot instead of food!


Gainesville FL: Does Jay Cutler not understand the NFL is a business and he's not a super star?

Michael Wilbon: No, he doesn't. This kid has some sense of himself, doesn't he? Thinks he's John Elway with a record of 20-17, no trips to the playoffs...On the other hand, NFL coaches and executives think they can do anything to players at any time, often lie about it, and bear no consequences, so I like Cutler sticking it to this new coaching staff. I love this story. Can't get enough. I hope he forces a trade and I hope Denver goes out and gets a QB who can do just as well as Cutler, which wouldn't be as difficult as he seems to think.


Rockville, MD: Michael, why is it that every year the mid majors are disrespected with very low seeds despite having superb records. I understand that many of them haven't played tough teams like UNC, Pitt, etc but isn't the fact that year after year those mid majors seem to do well in the tourney some justification for them getting higher seeds than say MD which lost to teams like VA and other lousy teams.

Michael Wilbon: It's very simply and very disturbing: the people who run college sports, football and basketball, don't want to share the stage with smaller schools. It's just that simple. It's also, given we're talking about institutions of higher education, intellectually dishonest. The BCS schools use their influence, though the powers that be will lie about it to your face, to keep smaller schools out. It's a blatant stiff-arm and they continue to get away with it. You're right, the number of at-large mid-majors had diminished from something like 12 to 8 to 6 to 4. They'd like to have none at if the beauty of the NCAA Tournament is seeing Arizona get in despite losing five of its last six games...or Wisconsin. It's a shame. The tournament is diminished because of it.


Uniontown, Pa.: Better chance of making it in the NBA...Blair or Hansbrough?

Michael Wilbon: Blair, easily. He's got the strength and more importantly, the explosion...Much better chance, though he's no lock either.


Greensboro, N.C.: Yesterday on Talking Points with TK, you two were debating about schools that are both football and basketball schools.

What you do think about University of F? They have recently both National Championships in Football and back to back in basketball.

Michael Wilbon: Good point. But Florida would cancel the basketball program if they thought it meant missing one spring football game. Football school...a hundred times over.


Clinton, Md.: Michael, I'd like to see Mark Jackson being named the next Wizard coach. I think he would be a perfect fit for this Team. Would the Wizards go after someone like him and if so, do you think Mark would be a good fit?

Michael Wilbon: I think Mark will be a good NBA coach, absolutely...I also think Avery Johnson would be one of my first phone calls, maybe my very first call...NBA Finals three years ago, don't forget.


Charlottesville, Va.: Any thoughts on Dave Laeteo's resignation and the chances of UVA landing a big-named coach (e.g. Tubby, Capel, etc)?

Michael Wilbon: I know Dave a little bit and he's a tremendous person and a good coach who I was hoping found success at UVA. My wife is a Wahoo so there's more than a little attention paid to all things Virginia in our household. I also hoped he would stay, to tell you the truth, at DePaul. I thought it was a better fit...but maybe that's just me. Virginia is a very, very difficult job...not totally unlike Northwestern in the Big Ten. I don't know what the national search is going to turn up...What about the guy at Virginia Commonwealth? Isn't his name Anthony Grant? SEC schools are wooing him, I know that. He was going to Florida to replace Billy Donovan before Donovan turned down the Orlando Magic gig. Grant is a proven recruiter from his time at Florida, has done well in that area at VCU, and has proven to be a good bench coach at VCU...I know Jeff Capel's name has come up, but why would he leave Oklahoma? Seriously. Firing Pete Gillen didn't turn out to be so good, now, did it?


McLean, Va.: Every year I'm more and more tempted to just submit a completely chalk bracket to my office pool. This might finally be the year, as I'm just not feeling the parity or upsets. Could chalk be king in '09?

Michael Wilbon: Don't do it...Don't pick chalk. We'll talk about it next week and you'll see...Okay, gotta run to prepare for PTI...See you guys next week. Bring your brackets.


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