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ACC tournament, Maryland basketball, March Madness with Eric Prisbell

Eric Prisbell
Monday, March 15, 2010; 1:00 PM

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Upset picks: Any trendy picks as upsets among the 12 13 14 15 16 seeded teams?

Eric Prisbell: Hello, everyone. It's the best time of year. And now the discussion changes from bracketology to matchups and story lines (and great places to visit in Spokane). A few business items first:I will take a 10 minute break at 12:30 to do a radio interview on an Omaha station (my fourth of the day), but I will be back. I'll get to every question sent to me. Promise.Second, I will be on Wash Post Live today at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.Third, if anyone out there has any good suggestions for restaurants, bars, night spots, sites, scenes in Spokane, please, please chime in with that. Also, feel free to email me at prisbelle@washpost.com anytime.Also, the official March Madness Challenge has been set and trash talking is well underway. The international hoops scout Steve Yanda will team with "Catfish" Berman to play me two against one in hoops on a neutral court. If they win, I give them $100. If I win, they give me one dollar. Who you got?As for upset picks, Cornell and Temple will be a great game, but I think Temple was underseeded. UTEP will beat Butler. Character is one half of the Miners' strong front court that presents too much size for a Butler team that coasted through a down Horizon League this season. ODU will hang with the Irish because of its defense. Siena, which has strong NCAA experience, will push Purdue to the limit. Purdue did not show up against Minnesota and is lucky the committee did not have more time to see Purdue without Robbie Hummel or Painter's team may have fallen a lot more.Murray State is a team at least worth keeping an eye on. So is Sam Houston State. I just don't like the specific matchups for both. And I have Baylor in the Final Four.

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Duke: A couple weeks ago Boz eloquently explained why all right-thinking people hate the arrogant (etc.) Blue Devils -- and his wife went to Duke! The tournament seedings must be driving him crazy. First, Duke gets seeded ahead of Syracuse (huh?) and then they get the easiest past to the Final Four since the Washington Generals. I don't get it.

Eric Prisbell: I totally agree with you. First, Duke got the easiest path. A&M is strong, no question. But Purdue is a vulnerable 4 seed. On the bottom, Nova is not playing defense like it did last season and deserved a 3 (Hoyas should have gotten the 2). Richmond is a sleeper. That's why I have Baylor coming out of that region. A team that has progressed a lot since they played in the DC sub-regional a couple years ago and looked like an AAU team that played optional defense.Duke did not deserve to leapfrog the Orange, in my view, and I strongly feel that West Virginia had an overall stronger body of work. The committee said it valued Duke winning the ACC tourney title. Okay, how about WVU winning a strong conference's tourney? And what, Duke went through Virginia, Miami and Georgia Tech? And WVU ranks among the top 5 in RPI and SOS, has a ton of top 25 wins and has a better worst loss. Mountaineers got hosed. But they'll make up for it by slaying Calipari's Fab freshmen bunch in the Elite Eight.

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96 Team Bracket: The 96 team bracket was never posted online for those of us who didn't get to see a hard copy of the paper that day. Any chance of having it posted to your blog or somewhere else on the WaPo site?

M. Bonesteel: I just posted Eric's 96-team bracket on The 65. Keep in mind, he created it in the first week of March, so some of the seeds/participants do not reflect current reality.

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Terps: How will the Terps fare, do you think? Will they beat Michigan State? Thanks

Eric Prisbell: I give MSU a slight edge because rebounding is their calling card and the onus will be on Maryland's big men to hang with them on the boards. But MSU has been inconsistent and there appears to be chemistry issues that Izzo has been trying to solve. The core remains from the squad that got rolled by Carolina in Detroit. I'm thinking Izzo solves it, and gets the Spartans to face Kansas in St. Louis. But would not be surprised to see Vasquez carry the team to its first Sweet 16 since 2003.As for the first game, I have not see Tom Penders since a private post-national title game party in Detroit, high above the city in a suite. Always liked dealing with him. Very honest and laidback, no doubt. Houston will chuck up a ton of threes and make some. Coleman will score a bunch. But Houston really struggles in the rebounding department and has some really questionable losses on a resume that was not close to being good enough to warrant an at-large selection.

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Regional Structure: I know this is somewhat subjective, but really. TK calls the Midwest Regional "the toughest ever devised by man," while Duke should make it to the Final Four even if they're required to play blindfolded. Shouldn't the committee make some effort to more evenly balance the four regions?

Eric Prisbell: Duke will fold. A&M or Baylor will beat them.The Midwest is the toughest, no question. Unfair to the top overall seed. The bottom half of that bracket is just crazy. Ok State and Georgia Tech are both capable teams with headlining stars. Ohio State only has the best player in the country and the Buckeys were thisclose to being a No. 1 seed, would have been a popular Final Four pick by many people, including me. Georgetown can beat anyone in a given game, and Tennessee is also a giant killer that got a bit of a raw deal with a 6 seed. And don't sleep on Steve Fisher's squad, which has a strong front court and won a Mountain West tourney that was particularly strong. A crazy region. But one that Kansas will survive.

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Obvioustown, Md.: Let's hear your Terps prediction, please.

Eric Prisbell: Tucker misses a buzzer-beater against the Spartans, who advance to play Kansas.

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West Virginia all the way: I have West Virginia beating Morgan State, Mizzou, New Mexico, Kentucky, Villanova and Kansas. Am I nuts?

Eric Prisbell: Okay, here was my PRESEASON Final Four:KansasKentuckyPurdueWest VirginiaI felt great about that until Hummel hurt his knee. I have watched the Fighting Billy Hahn's all season and love 'em. Sure, limited offensively, but this is a tough bunch. They have surrendered some leads in games, which concerns me. But Butler is a stud in the clutch. They can guard the heck out of you and rebound like mad. I want to see whether they can prevent mr. Cousins from dominating the offensive boards. I want to see whether they can rough up Wall a bit in a physical game. Kentucky has perhaps the best freshman tandem since the Fab Five, but I like West Virginia, which should have been a No. 1 seed.Kansas over West Virginia in the national title game.

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West Virginia: I heard you on The Junkies this morning and just wanted to let you know that it was refreshing to hear someone say something positive about West Virginia, especially the fact that we should have gotten a No. 1 seed. Being a big West Virginia fan in this area isn't always easy and after winning the Big East championship on Saturday night I was really hoping we'd get the much-needed respect, but of course we didn't. Thanks again and have a good trip to Spokane!

Eric Prisbell: Hey, thanks a lot. I have always enjoyed my trips to Morgantown for football or hoops. I have always enjoyed dealing with Huggins back to his Cincy days. And I really like this team's overall toughness. I hope I get the chance to catch up with the Mountaineers on the way to Indy.Also, WVU passes the eye test for a No. 1 seed more than Duke does. Can someone make a case for Duke over WVU as a No. 1 please?

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Vols: Did Tennessee get hosed with a No. 6 seed? Hard for me to be unbiased since I'm an alum.

Eric Prisbell: I think so. They don't have a ton of quality wins, but beating Kansas and Kentucky -- only the two most talented teams in the country -- is enough evidence to me that the Vols are legit. No reason to separate Maryland and Tenn. by two spots. I thought they both deserved a 5.

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No. 4 seeds: Is Maryland the best or worst of the No. 4 seeds?

Eric Prisbell: Great question. You could flip-flop some of the fours and fives and I would not have an issue.I'd go:VandyWisconsinMarylandPurdueI like this Vandy team a lot. Probably the most athletic bunch Kevin Stallings has had. And they have made more free throws than most SEC teams have even attempted in conference play. A pretty balanced team without a significant weakness that I see.

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M. Bonesteel: Here's a schedule for the first round of the NCAA tournament, broken down by location and time.

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"But I think Temple was underseeded": There's an understatement! They got hosed. 29-5, eighth in the RPI, conference season and tourney champs = No. 5 seed? Terrible. Worst committee decision since letting Air Force in a couple seasons back. I'm glad that overall strength of schedule was a big factor this season, but they stretched it a bit by downgrading the Owls, don't you think?

Eric Prisbell: It doesn't make much sense. Temple may -- may -- have a better profile than all the 4 seeds. I had Temple solidly on the 4 line, but would not have been surprised at all if it was a 3. I just don't know who you would drop on the 3 line, all really strong. That's why I thought a 4 was perfect. And they get a tough matchup against Cornell on top of the seeding issue.

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NCAA Tourney: Why does the committee place Duke so favorably year in and year out? Kentucky has the absolute toughest region followed by Kansas. If they're 1-2 overall how can the committee explain this?

Eric Prisbell: I don't think there is any question Kansas has the toughest region.Not sure about the Dukies, but they have not advanced beyond the Sweet 16 since 2004's Final Four run, so they need all the help they can get, and they have been given considerable help this season. I thought WVU and Duke would have been 1-2 in the West and that Syracuse-Ohio State would have been 1-2 in the South. Would have made more sense to me.And how about the committee having a couple Big East teams in position to play each other before the Elite Eight. I guess we can just throw some rules out the window from time to time. Next season, I'll stick all the Big East teams -- all 13 -- in the same region of my 96-team bracket!

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M. Bonesteel: Don't forget to enter The 65 Bracket Challenge! Invite your friends! Win prizes!

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Case for Dukezzi: No one is tuning in to see West Virginia. Since when is the NCAA tournament simply about basketball? Fairweather fans will turn on their TV's to watch Duke whenever they play. The longer Duke lasts, the more people tune in, the more revenue CBS makes, the more the NCAA can charge CBS next time they re-up. Sports aren't sports anymore. Fairness is trumped by money

Eric Prisbell: Fair point.But again, look at what Duke has done the past five years in the tournament. This has not been a national title contender on a yearly basis. I do think this Duke team is different and the emergence of Zoubek, etc., has made Duke tougher. I like Duke more than most, but this team is not great and is limited. The past couple weeks exposed the ACC. GT, Clemson and Wake Forest all marginal NCAA tournament teams. FSU is solid and Maryland is very good. Virginia Tech is good even though it began its season with a preseason schedule that ultimately led to its exclusion.

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M. Bonesteel: And here's our NCAA tournament page, with lots of cool doodads. Check it out.

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Homer, Va.: I Maryland and Georgetown end up making it to the Elite 8, and someone put a gun to your head and said pick the winner, who would it be?

Eric Prisbell: Please don't put a gun to my head.It would be a great matchup played in the middle of the country and the stakes could not be higher. I'd take Georgetown by a hair because of Greg Monroe.

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Fushezzitown, MD: I want to know why Prisbell thinks that a team (MSU) that lost to the worst team in the ACC can beat the co-ACC champs

Eric Prisbell: Fair point. But that's a bit misleading. That was ages ago, when Carolina was still a shell of its former self and all. Why do you think a Maryland team that lost to William & Mary at home can beat the defending national runner-ups?I said the game would be close. Would not be surprised if Maryland won. Just picking MSU.

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The University of Texas may surprise us. They can do it.: Comment? Also, was there any team that was left out when they should have been in the tournament? Anyone?

Eric Prisbell: Texas and Wake Forest, huh?Let's see, I like neither team and want to run from both. Texas can't make free throws and has been stumbling since that No. 1 ranking. Wake Forest? I would not pick Wake Forest if they had a bye.Something is wrong at Wake. Dino is a great guy but some are pointing the finger at him and it is hard to disagree.No team that was left out has any argument this season. They should zip it. No gripes. The way to make the field this season was to have no fatal flaw. illinois, virginia tech and miss. State all did.For some reason I fell in love with Rick Stansbury and was heartbroken when Cousins made the shot, so I switched out Florida for the Bulldogs and that proved to be the only one I got wrong.

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Duke: I'm not a Duke fan, but they are the No. 1 team based on Ken Pomeroy's efficiency ratings this year.

Eric Prisbell: Congrats.Again, I think Duke is very good and like them more than most. I have seen enough of them this season, have liked Nolan since high school, Singler is a tough cover, they have more inside than before.on radio ... be back in a few...)

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Tha-a-a-a-at's Duke: Would you say this year's bracket is yet another example of Krzyzewski getting all the calls?

Eric Prisbell: Well, I do think the committee generally does a good job. You can play yourself out of a seeding issue, and WVU will.I had a much bigger issue with a team like Air Force -- with no top 50 wins -- making the field in 2006.

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M. Bonesteel: I realize that Northern Iowa is listed twice in Eric's 96-team bracket. Replace the one where they're playing Missouri with UAB.

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Old Blue in exile: Cal, underseeded or overseeded? Of course, after a half-century drought, I'm just thrilled that they finally won the Pac-10 regular season title! (Still harbor fond memories of the Golden Bears' 1959 NCAA championship).

Eric Prisbell: I have started to come around on Cal. I had Cal as an 8. They had some injury issues early on and it's not their fault the rest of the league stunk. A good, experienced, well-coached team that can win a game.

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What, Cleveland had no availability???: Could the NCAA pick some less pleasant sites for these games? Buffalo, Providence, Milwaukee, Spokane and Jacksonville? What SDSU alum is going to get on a plane to fly to Buffalo?

Eric Prisbell: Funny stuff! I tend to agree. But I kind of like places that are in the middle of nowhere, I like interacting and hanging out with the locals. Had a blast in Buffalo in 07. I have had a great New Year's Eve that went well into the night in Jax. Milwaukee's a great town for some endeavors. Looking forward to my first trip to Spokane. Will certainly hit up Jack and Dan's. Looking for other places to go.

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Omaha Listener: Listening to you now here in the big 'O'. I'm hopeful that we can get a Georgetown-Ohio State matchup for the third time in recent years, but have to get through a few steps first. Which of the higher seeds in the Midwest is most likely to fall early?

Eric Prisbell: I would have to say the Vols only because I like San Diego State's team and front court this season. But I am picking no upsets early in the Midwest. I think I picked Ok State over GT in a good game because of guard and turnover issues for Hewitt's team.

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Injuries and seeding: Lost in most of the discussion of No. 1 seeding is that a key player for Syracuse is now going to likely miss the first weekend and maybe more. Does (and should) the selection committee take that into account?

Eric Prisbell: They do and did take that into account. But I have not seen a report suggesting this will be a significant issue for the Orange and that he will be out. This is not a Hummel-type situation.

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Angry Bulldog: After beating Florida and Vanderbilt and coming thisclose again against Kentucky, how can Florida be a No. 10 seed and Mississippi State be out??? You fell in love with Stansbury because he coached his gluteus off all weekend, made all the right moves at the right times. The Kentucky game almost got away from them a couple of times, but his timeouts were spot-on and the plays coming out of them regained the tempo for the Bullies. And when have you ever seen a player with more heart than Jarvis Varnado? You can't tell me that after their performance in all three SEC tournament games that Mississippi State doesn't belong in the tournament. The selection committee should be ashamed.

Eric Prisbell: Yes! I love it, and agree! No one wants to play Miss. State. In a year like this, when most of the bubble teams are dog teams anyway that went belly up, this team came within a whisker of beating Cal's Dream Team. Throw them in the field! They needed my man Renardo Sidney to toss that Cousins shot into the crowd at the buzzer. The Bulldogs had some bad losses, I just think it's a shame. Stansbury has to have a bleeding ulcer today.

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Can any lower seeds go deep?: Eric, do you see any team seeded sixth or below making it into the Elite 8? Seems like most of the viable upset picks hit a brick wall in the second or third rounds (San Diego State gets Georgetown; UTEP runs into 'Cuse; Marquette gets West Virginia; Old Dominion gets Baylor or 'Nova). Could Xavier get past Kansas State? Maybe the winner of Cal/Louisville advances two more times?

Eric Prisbell: Good question. Would not be overly shocked to see ND, GT or Richmond do it. The bottom of the bracket in the South is wide open because I don't have a great deal of faith in Nova this season, at least not right now. Hewitt's team? If it ever can get the backcourt good, the front court can carry this team, two NBA plays down low.

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Taking the micro-level view: Which do you see as the toughest half-bracket? My pick would be either the bottom half of the Midwest (No idea who comes out with Tennessee, Georgetown, Georgia Tech and Ohio State all vying) or the top half of the East (with Kentucky, Texas, Wake, Temple and Wisconsin, there's a ton of NBA-level talent and a mish-mash of contrasting styles).

Eric Prisbell: Bottom of the Midwest, for sure. Just loaded. I'd like to see some of those teams spread out more.I pick my Final Four before the bracket comes out, and then I hope all those teams are in separate brackets. My fourth would have been Ohio State, but now I'm going with Baylor instead.

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Return to making geographical sections truly geographical: Why not have all the teams in each quadrant play one another leading up to the Final Four, the way it used to be? That would make it a lot easier for more students and alumni to be able to get to the games, if they didn't have to travel as far.

Eric Prisbell: I think they do a pretty decent job keeping the top teams close to home. The sub-regional sites are a bit odd this season in terms of location for some, and almost no good teams in the west means that several east coast teams were shipped out.

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Atlantic 10: Did the Atlantic 10 get underseeded? Seems like a lot of pre-selection mock brackets had all the teams a slot or two higher in the seeds.

Eric Prisbell: Good question. I had Xavier dead on. I moved Richmond up to a 5 and got burned by that. I had Temple as a solid 4. All three quality teams that could win a game or more. Would be surprised if at least one did not make the Sweet 16.

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Mississippi State: They played great in both games against Kentucky. I think they got dogged. How about you?

Eric Prisbell: Yes, I had them in. Blame Cousins for keeping them out. Would have been fun to watch that team play Thursday or Friday. I saw them here and there during the season and kept up with them because of the Sidney drama, but I really liked how they played Sunday. Got to be very tough on the fans in Starkville.

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Terps: What time is Maryland game sunday if they can beat Houston? Does it tip off after 2 p.m. EST?

Eric Prisbell: Don't think that is set yet. I think they determine that in part on the matchup and TV. I would be surprised if it's not later in the day on the East Coast because everyone has to be, you know, awake enough, to play and watch it in Spokane. Three hours different.

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Born ready - at home: The Terp fandom has to be pleased that the much anticipated overkill of Lance Stephensen is enjoying the holidays at home in Cincy. Its gotta make a Terp feel good, for a change.

Eric Prisbell: a pretty good job, I must say. But Gary will take his guys, make them better and beat the blue-chippers on the court.

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Pitt?: How far do you think Pitt can go? (I'm a huge fan, totally biased, but I want to back up my cautious optimism with some professional data.)

Eric Prisbell: I am struggling with the Pitt pick, to be honest. In the second round, I mean. I think Pitt has overachieved this season and am wondering if they are really as good as their record. I think Xavier can give them some issues. And the Pitt-Kansas State game is also giving me headaches because every time I watch Frank Martin's team they look like rubbish. In the end, I think I'll take Pitt in the Elite Eight but don't feel confident about that one all that much.

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Deadskin: What hotel in Spokane is the team staying in? I'm in seattle and will be going to Spokane for the weekend and want to stay in the same hotel as the team and the rest of the boosters. I want to be around Marylanders!!!!!

Eric Prisbell: Not sure about the team. The media hotel is the Davenport. Heard good reports. No Marriotts, which puts me on the edge of depression, to be honest. Should be a fun town. Can't wait.Me, Yanda and Wise are going.

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M. Bonesteel: Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog writes that the feds have banned their employees from participating in tournament pools. They've blocked The 65 Bracket Challenge! Booooooo.

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Florida?: Admittedly, I haven't watched a ton of their games (I did see Xavier rout them at Florida), but how is Florida (3-8 vs the top 50) a better selecetion for the tourney than William & Mary (3-3 vs. the top 50)? When did 3-8 become better than 3-3? The case against the Tribe is that it couldn't beat Old Dominion. What's the case for Florida?

Eric Prisbell: Well, the Richmond and Maryland wins look great for W&M. The Wake win not quite as strong now but still very good on the road. W&M has three sub-200 losses. Florida lost to South Alabama. I don't think W&M was too far off the board in the very end, but I'd give the Gators a slight edge.

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Cal: Why did they make the tournament? Their best two wins are home wins vs. Washington and Murray State. They didn't dominate their weak conference and they lost every difficult nonconference game. If the Golden Bears were in the Missouri Valley, Atlantic 10 or MAC, there's no chance they make the tourney with their record. Shouldn't you have to defeat at least one difficult out of conference opponent to get great instead of merely getting credit for showing up?

Eric Prisbell: I disagree. Cal played just one team ranked 200 or worse in the RPI. Some teams have played a ton of those games and lost one or two. Cal has the No. 1 nonconference schedule in the nation, VT has the 339th. Cal had some injury issues early. No question in my mind that Cal belonged in the field and in the 8-9 game.

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Mississippi State: Why your love for the Bulldogs? Their best win before the SEC tourney was Old Dominion. They beat no one of note during SEC conference play, either. Stansbury may be a good guy but he typically has this team underachieve. I'm not advocating Florida getting in the tournament, but just because Mississippi State had close wins doesn't mean it overcomes a loss to Rider.

Eric Prisbell: I know. I know. Miss. State is like an old house on the market. It has mold issues and electrical issues and the roof has a small leak. But you look at it from afar and all you see are the granite tops and new hard-wood floors.In other words, they pass the eye test for sure but you look closer and inspect and there are some major issues that ultimately caused the selection committee to pass.

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Bracket setup: Shouldn't the two best teams from the high-end conferences, such as the Big 12, be on opposite sides of the bracket? If Kansas and Kansas State play in the national semifinal I feel that is a bit unfair, just like when Maryland and Duke played in the national semifinal in 2001.

Eric Prisbell: I don't have a big problem with that, to be honest. I would have wanted to see Syracuse and Kansas not having to meet until the final game. I wanted to see a rematch of the 2003 title game, which was a pretty good one. I was prepared to pick that for weeks.

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Gonzaga: How in the world did the 'Zags get screwed with a No. 8 seed? Why does the committee always underseed this team? Even Butler got some respect this year with a No. 5, but the Gonzaga can't buy a seed worthy of their season. Also, why did Georgia Tech get no bump from the ACC title appearance with a mere No. 10 seed? One would probably conclude that perhaps even a loss in the semis would have left them out of the field, yet Duke gets a pretty big jump for winning the ACC.

Eric Prisbell: As for GT, the Maryland win was good, but the NC State win is not going to do much for you. I had GT a 10, I think.Gonzaga is interesting. Never liked their profile this season Thought most of the others who project the field had overseeded them much of the season. Still, I had them as a 7. Big difference between a 7 and 8. Those two in-conference losses really hurt them, I would say.

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Speaking of Pitt...: Is Pitt alum Sean Miller still coach of Xavier? If so, won't a Pitt-Xavier meet be rather poignant? Or was that intentional?

Eric Prisbell: He is at Arizona right now, ready to start a new NCAA tournament streak next season now that the 25-year run is over. Very good coach.

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NCAA Tourney vs BCS: It seems to me that the NCAA tournament committee is no better than the BCS. They finally come around to let a few more at-large bids go to non-BCS conference teams, yet they make those at larges play each other, just like the BCS stuck Boise State against TCU. How lame!

Eric Prisbell: I know, I hate it!! We have TCU-Boise all over this bracket. Makes me physically ill!Butler-UTEP? Give me a break. I like both teams. St. Mary's-Richmond?? Please.

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One-on-two strategy: So do you hang near the basket on defense and get all the rebounds, or do you go for the steal?

Eric Prisbell: Honestly, I give both the jumper because neither can make one, lay off of Catfish Berman more than Yanda. If they miss, they won't get the ball back. Play to 21, 11 shots behind the three-point line later, game is over. Should be a fun game.

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RE: Mississippi State: But couldn't the same argument be made about Maryland? They didn't really beat anyone out of conference and the SEC and the ACC are about equal this year.

Eric Prisbell: The ACC did have more tournament worthy teams. The one thing Maryland did not do, though, was hurt itself in nonconference play. The resume was just bland by New Year's, not damaged. The William & Mary loss did not hurt them much.QUick note: I will be on a Portland, Oregon, radio station later tonight for those hanging out in one of the best states of 'em all.

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Arlington, Va.: Terps got the No. 4 seed at the price of being in the toughest bracket. Hoyas seemed to get a rough draw from the committee. I cannot understand how Duke as the overall 3 seed got the easiest bracket. Kansas should be furious (West Virginia, too, probably)

Eric Prisbell: Agree on each and every point. Hoyas got hosed, too.

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Angry Bulldog, redux: A loss to Rider in the first game of the year should not carry the weight that conference tournament games carry. To get within an eyelash of winning the tournament, and then be out when the team that you soundly defeated in the quarterfinals gets in (No. 10 seed seeded in their region, no less) just isn't right.

Eric Prisbell: I agree. That's why I had Miss. State in the field. I have always been biased toward Stansbury, but everyone knows that and I don't think that affected my outlook on this situation.

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Catfish Berman?: Please explain this nickname for the The Post's intrepid Cavs beat writer.

Eric Prisbell: Zach Berman just kept eating and talking about catfish during the quarterfinals of the worst ACC tournament staged in modern American history. He loves catfish almost as much as he loved Paul Hewitt. In Zach's eyes, Hewitt is Ghandi.

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Vermont: Why are they a No. 16 seed? Are they the best No. 16 seed ever? Should the 'Cuse be worried if Arinze Onuaku is out? Marqus Blakely is a big-time player.

Eric Prisbell: Maybe because the committee wanted to stage an intriguing rematch of that upset a few years ago. I thought Vermont was a solid 15 seed. The injury could make for an interesting opener for the Orange, but I don't see a stumble.

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Duke: The committee has absolutely no idea how to judge basketball teams. Seeding Duke ahead of Syracuse is an absolute joke. Why does Duke continue to get this preferential treatment? I don't think it will matter much though because Louisville will knock them off this weekend and they'll be the first top seed to depart. Agree?

Eric Prisbell: I do think they will be the first to go. Louisville could do it. I have Texas A&M beating Duke.

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Virginia Tech: Eric, I am disappointed that the Hokies didn't make the field, and I know they likely controlled their own destiny had they beaten Miami on Friday. But what I can't seem to reconcile is how Clemson, Georgia Tech and Wake (whom Virginia Tech went 3-0 against) all make it in and the Hokies don't. Please tell me something to cheer me up. All I've got so far is "wait til next year" but that was last year's comfort food. Maybe, "Hey at least we're a football school so not the end of the world?"

Eric Prisbell: Thanks for the emails coming in about Spokane, everyone. This should be fun. Keep 'em coming, folks.The only thing I can say is that you should be upset with Utah State and UTEP for falling flat in their conference tourney finals. If they had won, maybe Tech would have gotten in. The committee may have had to cover its eyes, cringe and pick Illinois or Virginia Tech. I don't think Wake deserved to make it. I know, six top 50 victories and all. But in some years, they would have been out.

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Overall SOS: Seemed to be the clincher this season. Florida (36th) in, Marquette (40th) in, Missouri (47th) in, Wake (30th) in Miss St (74th) out, Wichita St (105th) out, Rhode Island (72nd) out, VT (133rd) out UTEP is the only big surprise (111th) and they were the last team in. Ramp up those noncon schedules if you don't want to be whining on Selection Sunday.

Eric Prisbell: Great point. There was clearly an emphasis on that this season, and Virginia Tech received the message loud and clear. Just don't fill the nonconference sked with sub-250 RPI teams. Try to play teams in the top 150, at least. You don't have to go all Tom Izzo and schedule an NBA-type schedule.

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Dave (New York): What are the chances of the dream D.C. area matchup in the Midwest Region final, Georgetown vs. Maryland?

Eric Prisbell: Not good.Two reasons: Evan Turner and the 2010 national champions, the Jayhawks.

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Kansas as top seed: If Kansas is supposed to be the top seed, I think they got screwed. That Midwest is loaded: Gerogetown, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State. I mean, compare that to the South and Duke got the best draw of the four No. 1 seeds, no? Why should I not be surprised. Yes, I am a Terps fan. :-)

Eric Prisbell: I agree, but in the end, whatever, the best teams will emerge and I still don't feel Duke will be among the final four standing in Indy.

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Expand to 68: Then have four play-in games instead of one but schedule the play-in games between a power-conference at-large team against a small-conference tourney winner. Then it really would be the opening round (like CBS likes to call it). It would make it worth watching too!

Eric Prisbell: Florida should be playing UTEP in Dayton on Tuesday and the winner would advance to play Butler. That would make more sense, too much sense. Won't happen.

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Wake-up call for the Terps: Its sad the way the Terps played Georgia Tech on Friday. But the shots that Greivis Vasquez took toward the end were just plain horrible. Air balls, off-balance fadeaways and that last shot attempt which he attempted to shoot strolling along (as if the defender would just stay back and let him hit a nice soft open jumper.) Did the ACC player of the year and "SportsCenter" get into his head too much? We didn't hear anything about Gary's thoughts or if Vasquez or team got some whipping after the game courtesy of the coaches.

Eric Prisbell: Everyone saw it, no one quite understood it, everyone took note. Maybe he can't handle success. I expect Greivis to be Greivis in Spokane. If not, career done.

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Duke's Strength of Schedule: How is it higher (harder) than Syracuse's? That doesn't make any sense. SU obviously played better teams this year (and beat most of them).

Eric Prisbell: I agree with you. Duke should be the team most pleased with how things unfolded Sunday night. A good night for Coach K.

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Duke/Syracuse: Hard to put Syracuse ahead of Duke when they bomb out in the first round of their conference tournament. No team has ever won the national championship after losing the first game of their conference tournament.

Eric Prisbell: That's one game. Just one game. Just like Miss. State's great showing vs. Kentucky was just one game. The committee talks about putting weight in a team's overall body of work.

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I think Ghandi had better stats: ...in his 10 ACC regular seasons, Paul Hewitt has had one winning record (9-7). Absolutely blew my mind when I saw that one. He's like 30 games under .500

Eric Prisbell: "But he played on Monday night in 2004!," Catfish Berman says in response.

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Saint Mary's-Richmond?? Please.: In hoping for Old Dominion to get a No. 10 seed, I was about to get upset at a Richmond-ODU pairing. Instead we are given an No. 11 (rant coming some other time) and play Notre Dame. I like folks thinking they can pull an upset, but I'm seeing one and done. Don't know which matchup would have hurt more.

Eric Prisbell: I think ODU has a chance. I think ODU has been a little under the radar a bit. For what it's worth, Tony Shaver told me the best team he played all season was ODU. Maybe he just wanted to sing the praises of his league, but still.

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Maryland shooters: Dino Gregory, Sean Mosely, Cliff Tucker and other Maryland players have significantly improved their outside shooting over the year. Is there some background you have about this?

Eric Prisbell: I know they worked extremely hard on it over the summer, I can tell you that. I'll ask Gary or an assistant if I get a chance in Spokane.

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Play-in Game: I always thought the overall No. 1 seed played the winner of the play-in game, but that isn't happening this year. What gives?

Eric Prisbell: Sorry don't have a specific answer on this, and I should. I know there was a reason but can't think of it, my mind is overloaded with Utah State neutral court records, Berman's catfish diet and Sam Houston State scouting reports.

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Barno, MD: Does Maryland's No. 4 seed validate what many Terps fans and analysts alike have been saying for weeks, that the Terps have been severely overlooked in the polls. A No. 4 seed is for the 13-16 best teams, and Maryland was awarded this after losing in the first round of the ACC tournament against a mediocre Georgia Tech team.

Eric Prisbell: Probably. But again, the polls don't matter at all, so toss em out and burn em, just like I'll burn my bracket in two weeks.

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Play-in games and automatic bids: My brother & I have had several conversations over the years (he works for the Big South, which has Winthrop in the play in this year) about the committee putting automatic bids into the play-in games. I don't think a play-in = an automatic bid, and I've never really thought it was fair. But, of course, they are small conferences with little clout. Will this ever be changed?

Eric Prisbell: It will be changed only in the sense that there will be many more play-in games and that some major conference teams will play in them as well. That is what will happen when the field expands significantly.

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RPI: It's very flawed. What difference does it make playing the 120th team in the RPI at home and the 220th team? The added risk of losing at home is extremely minimal. So Cal played the No. 1 nonconference schedule. That's great and all, but whom did they beat? Do you really consider wins over Pacific, Jacksonville, Princeton and UCSB better than wins over Campbell, Delaware, Brown and UNC Greensboro? B/c apparently that's what puts Cal in over Virginia Tech.

Eric Prisbell: Fair point, but I'd still take Cal over a VT team that loaded up on cupcakes. And I like the Hokies more than most.

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Duke Again: What if Maryland had Duke's record, i.e. a better nonconference record, and won the ACC tournament. I bet the sentiment around here would be a lot different in defending that No. 1 seed. I am not and will never be a fan of Duke, which has underperformed in the tournament for years, but people might be overreacting to public sentiment against them and against the ACC this year -- which we may find out to not be valid in the end. If anything Ohio State could have gotten a No. 1 as a regular season and conference tournament co-champion with a possible player of the year on the team.

Eric Prisbell: I am not a fan of Maryland or Duke and I feel Duke got a very fortunate seed and region.Thanks for coming, everyone. On to Spokane. Keep the emails coming. Take care.

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