Our guest for this week is the resident college basketball guru at The Sports Bank, David Kay.  David covers Marquette, Wisconsin and the other Big Ten teams at The Sports Bank as well as the NCAA Tournament.  We’ll get David’s opinions on both the Badgers & Golden Eagles as they get ready for the games tonight and tomorrow as well as other thoughts on the NCAA Tournament.

For our readers that may not know about TheSportsBank.net, fill them in on the site itself and where your focus is in regards to your content contributions.

The Sports Bank (or TSB if acronyms are more your thing) was an idea that site founder and childhood friend Paul M. Banks and I had back when I attending Marquette University.  We talked about starting a sports web site for several years and finally did so back in February of 2008. 

Our site primarily focuses on Midwest sports as the site headquarters are based out of Chicago, but we touch on all sports and all topics.  I write mostly college basketball, NBA Draft, and NBA off-season material.  I am obsessed with college basketball (I have watched 267 games this season and almost 900 in the past three seasons combined… yes, I keep track for a weekly feature I do called College Hoops 101) and am fascinated by the NBA Draft and off-season.

Being the resident ‘Bracketologist’ at TSB, let’s take a look at what the selection committee did this year.  There’s been, and always is, a lot of talk of teams which should have got in and teams that shouldn’t have.  Which team was your biggest snub and who should’ve been left out to let them in?

I correctly had 65 of the 68 teams in the dance (as did ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.)  I had Alabama, Virginia Tech, and St. Mary’s in instead of USC, UAB, and VCU.  Obviously as we saw Tuesday night in the First Four, the Blazers were over-matched and deservedly received a lot of criticism for getting in.  I was really surprised that a 23-11 mid-major in VCU whose only quality non-conference win was against UCLA got in. 

As for the snub, I know Alabama had a fairly soft non-conference schedule but they beat Georgia twice in the previous week before Selection Sunday and did not get in but the Bulldogs.  If I was their head coach Anthony Grant, I would have a major gripe with that.

The selection committee chair has already said that he won’t push for expansion next year. What are your thoughts on expansion?

I think the committee needs to have one of those “Men In Black” mind-eraser flashy things put in front of them so the thought of expansion is permanently erased from their mind.  We saw how weak the bubble teams were this year.  Could you imagine how watered down the tournament would be if they added 28 more teams?

Do you agree with ESPN’s Jay Bilas that there truly no “great” teams this year? How come he seems to devalue parity across college basketball while fans in other sports love to see parity?

First off, let me just say I think Jay Bilas is the best college basketball analyst out there and have a man-crush on him.  Anyway, I think Ohio State, Kansas, and Duke are the cream of the crop this year and would consider them great college basketball teams.  What hurts the college game is so many players leaving early for the NBA.  You do not see teams grow and develop together like they used to.  Nowadays, coaches only have one season to try and mesh a group of 18 and 19-year olds into a solid team which is a difficult task. 

Looking at the two Wisconsin-based teams to make the tournament, what do you think of the Badgers #4 seed and Marquette’s #11?  Do you think those seeds are accurate or would you change them?

I had Wisconsin a four and Marquette a ten in my final bracketology so I think both teams were seeded properly.  Some other bracket projections had the Golden Eagles as high as an eight seed but their lack of quality non-conference wins held them back.  It shows just how important their win against West Virginia in the Big East Tournament ended up being.

Wisconsin’s first opponent Belmont almost pulled a rare 15-over-2 win against Duke in 2008. They missed the next two tournaments before making it this year. Are they perennially-talented or a team that gets hot every few years.

It is so tough for smaller schools since they have to win their conference tournament to get into the dance.  They won 19 games in each of the past two seasons so it is not like they sucked it up the past two years that they missed the tourney.  They have been one of the better teams in the Atlantic Sun the past few years and obviously winning 30 games in a season is going to earn you some respect.

A lot of national writers list Belmont over Wisconsin as a upset-watch this year. Will the Badgers advance or are these national pundits right?

I think the Wisconsin laying an egg in their last two games has played a major part in the Badger bashing.  If their victory against Ohio State came in the final week of the season, we would probably be hearing about UW being a Final Four contender.  The injury to Mike Bruesewitz is fairly costly since he brings so much energy off the bench and because the Badgers have struggled finding consistency from their role players.  If they can control the tempo and knock down shots (which they have really struggled doing away from the Kohl Center) they should avoid the upset.

Marquette beat their first opponent Xavier last year in a neutral site game. Does that game mean anything going into this year’s matchup, or have the teams changed too much since then?

Both teams are obviously different from when they met in the Old Spice Classic almost a year and a half ago so I don’t think you put much stock in that game.  Marquette lost three starters off that team and have so many new faces and guys that are drastically improved as players since that time.  The same could be said of Xavier since they do not have their terrific scorer from a year ago, Jordan Crawford while guys like Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, and Kenny Frease are much better players than they were a year ago.

Who do you think goes further, Marquette or Wisconsin?

If Wisconsin gets out of the first round, I would not be shocked if they made a deep run since I think the Southeast Region they are in is the weakest of the four and fairly up for grabs.  Xavier is a tough opening round match-up for Marquette especially since the game is being played in the Musketeers’ home state.  It all comes to who gets hot at the right time and both teams have shown the ability to string together wins against quality opponents and neither gets blown out very often which means there is always a chance.

Who’s your Cinderella pick this year?

I am not sure I have a true Cinderella but I think seventh-seeded Washington is a talented team who has under-achieved a bit but could make a run to the Elite 8.  I like USC’s draw as an 11-seed and think their ability to get after it on the defensive end makes them a tough out.  Gonzaga is another team who can cause problems for opposing teams and could make some noise in the aforementioned weak Southeast region. 

…and now for the lighting round.

Your all-time favorite basketball player, college or pro, is:

Dwyane Wade.  I was a senior at Marquette when they made their run to the Final Four and it was an unforgettable experience.

Your favorite sports blog to read that is not named The Sports Bank is:

Midwestsportsfans.com or WalterFootball.com

If there was no basketball, you would have a blog about:

Life without basketball

If you were a pro basketball player, your position would be:

Point guard… but an old school point guard who is more worried about creating for his teammates than scoring points.

Should I ever run into you at a bar, I should buy you a _____________ for taking the time to answer these questions.

Spotted Cow… gotta keep it Wisconsin.

And with that another Thursday Q & A is in the books.  Thank you to David for coming on board this week.  You can find David’s work at TheSportsBank.net and make sure to follow him on Twitter as well as http://twitter.com/DavidKay_TSB to get his instant takes on all the Tourney action.

Would you like to be the guest for a PocketDoppler.com Thursday Q & A? Let us know!


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