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RCT Roundtable: 2015 NCAA Tournament

A few of our writers were able to get together and talk NCAA Tournament.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

First things first, who ya got, Kentucky or the field?

mikeville: I'm taking Kentucky, as much as I hate to say it, partially because of the way they played last year.  They went through the tournament in another gear last year, and with a perfect season within their grasp, I kinda expect the same thing this year.

mnorris817: Obviously, if I had to pick one team it would be Kentucky. But in a single-elimination tournament, I'll take a talented field that includes Arizona, Wisconsin, Duke, Virginia, and even Kansas. That's too many good teams to leave on the table. The fact it is even being discussed though, shows just how good the Wildcats are.

Fizzle406: I have Kentucky going all the way. They are good and I don't see anything stopping them from 40-0.

mikeville: Dang fizz, that's some hard-hitting analysis there.  Kentucky is "good."

dnoll5: I just got back from Kentucky and I happened to see the second half of one of the useless SEC tournament games that Kentucky played in while at a bar in Louisville and there were plenty of UK fans there, but there was no cheering, no noises, no clapping, nothing.  Those fans down there are either so scared that they're going to lose and blow the undefeated season or so arrogant that they know they're going to win.  I'm choosing the latter and I want them to lose. And I want them to lose to Kansas.  How freaking sweet.  That said, I'll take Kentucky, even though I think they're beatable.  You just have to have a perfect day to beat them and I don't think anyone will, KU included.

penhawk: I'll take the field. I wouldn't pick against Kentucky in any individual game, but winning six games in a row against good teams is harder than people make it sound.

misterbrain: It pains me to say it, but Kentucky is taking it home this year....  I really want them to lose badly though.

fetch: The field.  It would have to be an NBA team for me to pick a single team.

How far do you have KU advancing?

mikeville: I have the Jayhawks bowing out in the Second Round to WSU.  Yeah.  I said it.

mnorris817: While New Mexico State is a scary 15 seed and WSU can beat the Jayhawks, I think Self will have his team ready to go. Notre Dame is one bad shooting day away from getting crushed, and will lose to KU in the Sweet 16 (or maybe even Texas in the RD of 32). I just can't pick the Jayhawks to beat Kentucky, not after the way they looked against them in November.

Fizzle406: Mike, we all knew you were picking KU to lose that one. I have KU losing to Notre Dame. Why Notre Dame? Because that is a prime team to upset KU. Big rematch on the horizon and the game everyone is talking about behind them.

mikeville: What can I say, I'm excited to win the year's first signature bet at RCT.  I'm coming for you, commercialeer.

dnoll5: I'm with Fizzle.  Notre Dame over KU.  They looked good in the ACC tourney.  That said, Notre Dame seems to always suck in the NCAA tournament, so I hope they keep that trend up and suck in the Sweet 16 against KU.

Penhawk: I think it's a coin flip whether they get past WSU (assuming that matchup comes to pass). If they do, I actually like their chances against Notre Dame/team that upsets Notre Dame. Then would be Kentucky and I just can't see us beating them.

misterbrain: Yeah, I actually have Notre Dame going out to Texas.  Yes, I know I'm certifiable right now, but when you have been up for 65 of the last 72 hours, you tend to go a little nutso.  And I'll remind you that I picked BYU to be my darkhorse Final Four contender...

fetch: I can still see them doing literally anything in the Tournament, from losing to NMSU to winning the whole thing.  I'll split the differene and say they make it to the Elite 8.

Let's talk a little more about that potential KU-WSU game.  Explain your decision making process there.

mikeville: I think WSU's backcourt is just as good as ours - possibly better.  (I said possibly.)  KU obviously has the edge in the post.  But mostly, I just think Wichita State will want it more.  Players come to KU to play Texas and Oklahoma and Michigan State and North Carolina - not to play Wichita State and Bucknell and Bradley.  And I think that's been shown to be the case over the years.  The intangibles go to WSU in this one bigtime, and I just don't think all the five-star talent KU has will be able to overcome it.

mnorris817: I'm only offering this insight on a potential KU/WSU match-up: Bill Self won't allow a loss to the Shockers.

fizzle406: Oh come on. That's not a team they are going to overlook. Everyone in the media is picking WSU in that one and the players know its a big deal. Teams like those nerds from Stanford and UNI/VCU are the easy ones to overlook. KU comes out with guns ablazing and shows those Wichitans what its like.

mikeville: Uh huh.  Just like they came out with guns blazing and let K-State know what it's like?

misterbrain: Oh come on, that's just ridiculous.  K-State has the advantage of playing KU consistently every year, and we all know that Bill Self plays pretty much the same system.  I don't care how much tape you watch, unless you've actually played against a Bill Self team, it's tough to get it going against a good KU defense.  That is, unless you are freakish Kentucky, or you get lucky like Temple did.

mikeville: K-State sucked this year. End of analysis.

dnoll5: KU wins.  Perry scores 40.  They pan to Conner Frankamp 548 times during the telecast.  The words "little brother" will be used in excess.  The announcers will praise the Wichita State fans even though they've only liked the team for five years and probably went to K-State or Fort Hays State or live in one of the 900 cities in western Kansas that get Wichita TV stations.

Penhawk: stuff like "wanting it more" and "being ready" are waaaay overrated. Wichita State scares me because they slow the game down, play tight man defense, and make their shots. I think that will be a low scoring affair and whoever can get a little offensive run put together will win. It will have nothing to do with which team wanted it more or played angrier or whatever.

misterbrain: Yeah, I just don't see how Wichita State has the horses to play with KU for the whole game.  I have them keeping it close until about the 10 minute mark, and then KU starts to get hot from the outside and puts the game away.

fetch: I went into it a bit in the preview, and will obviously go into more if that matchup comes to pass, but WSU doesn't have the biggest track record against athletic teams, and Kansas, even without Cliff Alexander and possibly a banged up Perry Ellis, is more athletic than the Shockers.  I also think Mason and Graham can neutralize Fred Van Vleet, and FVV being able to obliterate his counterpart is a big factor in their success recently.

Here's the situation - you're in Vegas.  Your son/daughter/wife/best friend just got kidnapped.  You have to bet $1,000 on either a 13, 14, 15, or 16 seed to win.  The winnings go to the kidnappers and the hostages are freed.  If you lose - well, let's just say everyone loses.  Who do you pick?

mikeville:  Well I ain't picking a 15 or a 16, so that simplifies things a bit.  I think in this case I'm taking Eastern Washington over Georgetown.  G'Town has to go all the way across the country (the game is in Portland, OR) and has a recent history of not performing well in the NCAAs.  EWU might actually have a few fans show up, plus if they get a lead, most of the arena will begin pulling for the underdogs. I think this is the best bet.

mnorris817: I'm tempted to pick Texas Southern due to its wins at K-State and Michigan St., but they also lost to Prairie View and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. So, Eastern Washington has to be the pick. They have the country's leading scorer in sophomore Tyler Harvey (22.9 PPG) and one hot game from him can take care of Georgetown. The Hoyas past five losses in the tournament were to teams with seeds of 15, 11, 11, 14, and 10 -- and people try to say Kansas chokes in the tournament.

Fizzle406: I like Harvard over UNC. I don't know anything about Harvard but I feel like it could be an upset. More importantly, thats a pick that will catch the kidnappers off-guard. While they are watching the game I am John McClain-ing my family out of their holds. Yippee Kay Yay.

dnoll5: Eastern Washington.  They just have to make sure that Josh Smith doesn't step on their point guard's toes.  That would be

penhawk: I'll say UC-Irvine over Louisville, because Anteaters.

fetch: I don't really love any of the lower seeds this yer.  Maybe Northeastern can outgun Notre Dame.

misterbrain: Wow, this discussion sure got dark really fast.  Couldn't you have come up with a bit better of a scenario to use for your "have to pick an underdog" question?  That being said, I'm going to steer clear of Eastern Washington, as they seem to be way too popular of an upset pick.  Instead, I'm going to go with Northeastern over Notre Dame.  I'm not really thinking any of these are likely, but at least I can rationalize it since Notre Dame has a poor defense and they have notable game-long cold stretches before.

Sleeper Final Four pick?  Use any definition of sleeper you want.

fetch: At this point I think they qualify; I'll say Kansas.

mnorris817: It pains me to type this, but I'm going with Northern Iowa. You don't go 30-3 without some talent. The Panthers are 15th in the RPI because they have only one bad loss -- at Evansville on New Years Day. Who knows what they did the night before? Their other two losses were at Wichita State, and in double OT on the road against a full-strength VCU squad. The 1 seed in their region, Villanova, is good but questions remain because the Big East isn't what it once was. UVA (2) is banged up, (3) Oklahoma can lose to anyone (see: K-State X2), and Louisville (4) can't shoot. It won't be easy, but it's possible.

Fizzle406: I'm going with the Hawkeyes in this one. I went fairly chalk with my bracket but they are a team that could really do something if the stars line up.

mikeville: I'm not sure if you mean Iowa State or Iowa... or Northern Iowa...

Fizzle406: You mean to tell me Iowa has more than one team named the Hawkeyes?

mnorris817: Apparently Kentucky and Iowa are on the same level: good.

dnoll5: Lots of love for the state of Iowa here for some reason.  Anyway, I'm going to say San Diego State.  They beat KU at Allen last season, so Duke and a potential matchup with Gonzaga or Iowa State will not frighten them at that point.  I'd love to see it.

mikeville: A lot of people I know are picking Texas to win two or three games.  I would think that would qualify, but I just don't see it in Texas.  And I don't think UNI counts after the year they had, or even WSU or Michigan State.  I think I'll have to go with Stephen F. Austin to make a Sweet 16 run and give Duke all they can handle.  Yeah I know I'm dreaming, but it's called "Sleeper" for a reason.

mnorris817: UNI had such a great year the committee gave them a 5. The same one that apparently thinks John Wooden is still coaching.

misterbrain: I'm not sure an Izzo-coached team can ever qualify as a sleeper, but I'm going to call them one anyway.  He has a really nice draw for a 7 seed, as Virginia I think is pretty beatable.  And something about a deep run in the tourney by Izzo just seems right...

The Jayhawks have a horrible tip off time. How are you planning on watching the game at 10 am on a workday?

Fizzle406: I plan on taking an early and extended lunch for the game. I don't expect to be very productive on Friday. With that time and KU's region I am starting to think the committee has it out for Kansas.

mikeville: First of all, the game isn't at 10 AM, it's at 11 AM.  Or 11:15, to be exact.  And since I can't risk my bosses finding out, I'm not telling.

dnoll5: I am a teacher and am on spring break, so I plan on vegging on the couch for four days straight, with hoops on the TV and laptops.  It's the only way to live.  It's on at 11AM CT, so lunch in the bars in my neighborhood will be packed. Just for the record, I like this tip time far more than the latest Friday game possible.  After all the Thursday games have happened, there is sure to have been a few upsets, so KU should be alert.  I'm not worried about the start time at all.

penhawk: easy, I take the first two days of the tournament off every year

mnorris817: Very carefully.

misterbrain: This year is going to be difficult. They removed our high cubicle walls, so now it's harder to hide out in watching games.  Although my boss is extremely lenient, so as long as I'm getting some work done too, I doubt she will mind.