“Hey, everybody can be had. … There’s not that much difference at all.”
Bill Self, on the parity within the tournament, 810 AM
GH: And with those words of wisdom, we launch what looks to many to be the most unpredictable NCAA basketball tourney in maybe forever. Is undefeated Wichita State a poser from the one-bid Mo Valley? Is the Big 12 and Big Ten really the land’s best basketball conferences or do those teams on both coasts have legit gripes about their many slights? The next three weeks will play out with more drama and surprises than Season 8 of Breaking Bad. I can’t wait to see what teams play the role of giant-killer Heisenberg and what teams masquerade as Gustavo Fring – the overrated chicken mogul. Here are some thoughts on casting NCAA tourney teams as Breaking Bad characters;
Walter White as Wichita State: The not-very-attractive team from the wrong side of the tracks – even within their own state! Shockers pretty much overlooked by all the experts, including the FBI.
Skyler White played by Duke: Is there a more hated character/team that still retains its sex appeal than these two whiny and in-much-need-of-a-head slap millionaires?
Jesse Pinkman played by Nebraska: The Cornhuskers look about as comfortable in the NCAA Tourney as Jesse did back in Mr. White’s chemistry class. Who doesn’t expect NU to be holed up in their San Antonio hotel rooms gorging on stale pizza, sharing a smoke with Badger (UW-Milwaukee) and Skinny Pete (Albany) while staring at the walls wondering what the hell they are doing there?
Hank Schrader played by Syracuse: What head coach looks like he’s been sitting on the toilet for six months more than Jim Boeheim? The Orange strutted about like they were king shit early this season before we came to discover that they were clueless about this very ruthless but respected Virginia (Mike Ehrmantraut) squad who took their first ACC title since Ralph Sampson.
Saul Goodman played by Baylor: Saul would love to don one of those Baylor neon-green outfits to wear to the office. Scott Drew’s fading hairline even resembles the Better Call Saul barrister. The Bears are also similar to Saul in that they’re flashy, loud and often times distracted by shiny objects
“We’re not supposed to beat Kentucky. It’s already been on all the TVs and everything.”
Bruce Weber, 610 AM
GH: I was stunned at how little respect K-State received during the selection show on CBS. It was just assumed by most that Kentucky would move on to play Wichita State. Maybe. But I like the Wildcats a lot in this one. KSU is not going to be intimidated by a storied team dressed in blue with a great fan following. They kind of know that nightmare well.
“I think Kansas State beats Kentucky. Yep.”
Jake Gutierrez, 810 AM
“I think Kentucky (beats K-State). Kentucky has the most talent of any team in the country. They were the number-one team in the preseason.”
Nate Bukaty, 810 AM
“In 1951 Kentucky beat Ernie Barrett and K-State in the national title game. Barrett has already reminded Bruce Weber it’s time for revenge.”
Kellis Robinett, @KellisRobinett, Twitter
“UK has a lot of talent, but they’re young. If we guard as a team, do the little things, we can compete with anyone.”
Bruce Weber, 610 AM
GH: Weber is not one of the talking heads giving his Wildcats no chance against the flashier and more gifted Kentucky Wildcats. This is one matchup that every K-State fan should be relishing. KSU is in an absolute no-lose situation. And the upside of a win over a mere eight seed would be wildly memorable for KSU and Weber’s resume.
“I think Kansas State has a tremendous chance to win. I don’t think (K-State) is getting out of this weekend. I think they’ve got a 50-50 chance of beating Kentucky.”
Kevin Kietzman, 810 AM
GH: Kietzman made all of these comments within a few seconds of each other. I am still not sure what he thinks of K-State’s chances against Kentucky. I think that’s how he planned it. When you don’t pick a team, it’s difficult to be wrong.
“Personally, I don’t think (Kansa) can beat New Mexico with Embiid. I thought (NM) got a bad deal being a seven seed. I would give the edge to New Mexico.”
Dick Vitale, ESPN
GH: Did I hear Vitale correctly? KU has already beaten New Mexico with Embiid by 19. Granted, it was at Sprint Center in December but I think the Jayhawks will be fine in their second game, with or without their freshman center.
“They’re good enough to get to the second weekend without (Joel Embiid).”
Jay Bilas, ESPN
“I like New Mexico over Kansas.”
Seth Davis, in the two team’s second game, CBS
“Kansas will likely be without (Embiid) for at least this first weekend. Eastern Kentucky is not going to be a shoe-in or easy win. Eastern Kentucky is a team that shoots even more threes than Iowa State.”
Dave Armstrong, 810 AM
GH: If Eastern Kentucky beats KU – even if Embiid is in Cameroon – Bill Self is going to have some explaining to do. I don’t think he or Jayhawk Nation has anything to worry about. Shoot a lot of threes against Kansas is one thing. Making a lot of threes is another.
“It’s a stacked bracket but we didn’t anticipate any easy task. It’s never easy to make that happen and get to the Final Four and win the whole thing.”
Greg Marshall, 810 AM
“So the committee has rewarded Wichita with UK in the second round and Louisville in the Sweet 16? Who’s the No. 2 seed? The Miami Heat? Pretty sure Wichita State would gladly take a No. 2 seed in any region over its No. 1.”
Jeff Eisenberg, @JeffEisenberg, of YahooSports.com, Twitter
“Kentucky gets Kansas State, a brutally physical team with an outstanding backcourt. (Wichita State) is either going to get a Sunflower State showdown that never happens in the regular season or Kentucky, the preseason number one in many people’s polls.”
Doug Gottlieb, CBS
“That will be one of the hottest tickets ever for the first two rounds. K-State, Kentucky, Wichita State and us. Hopefully, our state will pull for each other and our league will pull for each other.”
Bill Self, on the number of teams heading to St. Louis with large fan bases close enough to drive to the Regional, 810 AM
GH: Congrats to the NCAA committee for putting this St. Louis Regional together. Magnificent. For those lucky enough to be a part of this madness in STL this weekend, enjoy it. That drive across I-70 for KU, KSU and WSU fans should be fun. I wonder how many will honk as they fly past Columbia?
“I will say that AMAZINGLY…St.Louis and NCAA might have wished they were using Dome rather than Scottrade for this weekend.”
Danny Clinkscale, @dcwhb, Twitter
“There is nothing likable about this (Missouri) basketball team.”
Carrington Harrison, after MU received a two-seed in the NIT and then it was announced that two MU basketball players and two MU football players arrested Saturday for possession of marijuana, 610 AM
“Missouri basketball players Wes Clark and Shane Rector and football players Aarion Penton and Shaun Rupert were arrested Saturday night on suspicion of possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana during a traffic stop in Columbia. … Officers detected an odor of marijuana in the car and found a package of Swisher Sweets cigarillos containing what a field test determined to be marijuana.”
Dave Matter, STLtoday.com
GH: Foiled – despite the Swisher Sweets cigarillos shot fake.
“Odd dynamic: Many of the #Mizzou fans who spent weeks telling me Tigers didn’t deserve a bid now mad about teams that got in before them. And as far as #SEC disrespect, maybe so, but that’s exactly what the league earned this year IMO.”
Gabe DeArmond, @GabeDeArmond, Twitter
“Gotta be honest, NIT will be all about motivation for #Mizzou. Because there’s not a team with near as much talent in their bracket IMO.”
Gabe DeArmond, @GabeDeArmond, Twitter
GH: Frank Haith’s team the last couple of weeks has looked about as motivated as the humanity of stoned souls heaped atop one another the day after a Jesse Pinkman party. How many fans show up at Mizzou Arena Tuesday night for their NIT opener? More than these Tigers deserve.
“That’s a pretty unfair advantage (for the Denver Broncos). I think a lot of NFL players like to smoke weed.”
Nate Bukaty, on the sale of pot being legal in Colorado, 810 AM
GH: Interesting that smoking weed in Missouri will get your players arrested but in Colorado it could be used to lure players to town. I think we need to figure out this weed thing once and for all and move on. I have never been attacked by somebody high on weed. I have seen a lot of damage done by those who have purchased and imbibed legal liquor. Just a guess, but if every player in the NCAA tourney who smoke weed this season was not allowed to play, there wouldn’t be enough players left over to play a pick-up game in each Regional.
[email protected] and Twitter @greghall24