What makes playing in March Madness so different and so special?

“I would say what makes it kind of unique is every single sports fan is watching.”

“I think at this time of the year, there's just a level of excitement. I remember being in high school and we had just got our iPads and kids in school would try to watch the March Madness games during school.”

“There's just a level of excitement that when you're playing, you just know everybody in the country is watching you.”

Do you have any special memories or favorite moments that stand out from your time in March Madness that maybe you and the guys reminisce on?

“I honestly would say, just the whole that 2018 season was really, really special for us.”

“We had a bunch of guys that later went on to be NBA players and I'm playing alongside them now. But just that whole run was very special.”

“It was weekend after weekend. The way we did it at Villanova and the travel. You lock in for a four-day period and then after that game on Sunday or Saturday depending on what you draw, you celebrate that and then it's like right back to Tuesday, you're out again that same day.”

“Just the whole process of going through the tournament and seeing teams get eliminated and you're just slowly checking boxes of going through each team. I think just the whole process was the most enjoyable part.”

The UConn Huskies are the number one seed and just came off a Big East tournament championship. Are they the best team in the field this year? Is it really them vs everybody else?

“I think obviously Houston's up there, Purdue's up there, but just looking at what UConn did in the conference, obviously I’m a little bit biased of playing in the Big East but every game is a battle.”

“You see what Marquette did this year and where they were ranked and you know the ups and downs of all different teams, but even if you look at the lower half of the Big East teams, it was a battle every single night in conference games.”

“For UConn to go out there every single game and handle business, it's really impressive and coming off of the championship, Coach Dan Hurley has them locked in and dialed in. In my opinion, I think they're the favorite.”

Is there any conference that you think they've got a lot of teams, they've been beating the heck out of each other and have sort of an iron sharpens iron mentality, where they're going to come into the tournament and make some noise when they face the mid-majors or the other big conferences?

“Honestly, I think the Big 12 but I think the underrated conference, because I have UConn as the favorite, is the Big East.”

“Creighton drew the three seed, they're a really, really good team. They're big and they have shooters.”

“When you look at mid-majors and Cinderella teams, there's always one or two that are going to get far. It's just that's how the tournament is. It's what makes it special.”

“I would say just because of how many teams have made it from the Big 12, then that would be my pick but, there's a couple teams from different conferences who are definitely sleepers.

Is there any conference in particular that maybe the committee showed a little too much love to?

“You can do this every single year. Even when I was there, you look at how many teams made it, the SEC is up there. But you have to give these teams credit for doing what they did in their conference.”

“Someone's going to be unhappy at all times whether it’s the conference that you're in or you were formerly in, it doesn't matter. Every single year, you're going to have a conference that's upset and they think their conference is the best conference in basketball and that's what makes the tournament unique.”

“If you handle business as your team and you have no reason to say we deserve more teams in our conference. But at the same time when you're beating each other up in the conference and, everybody's around that .500 mark, that's where the games earlier in the season, the non-conference games, those big games, those holiday tournaments. That's where everything kind of really matters.”

“I think that's what gets overlooked at times. It's like, oh, it's cool, it's TV, it's big game on holiday. But when we were in school, we played Oklahoma and we got our butts whooped in 2016. We knew that it might come back and bite us in the butt when it comes down to opponents and conferences.

“I think if you're locked in on your team, you handle business early on in the year. The conference play kind of weighs itself out.”

Who do you think is going to really show up this year and make themselves a household name in the tournament?

“The kid from Kentucky, Reed Sheppard, he can hoop. He kind of started unknown, then skyrocketed and now he's one of the household names in college basketball. He can take it off the dribble. He can shoot. He has a level of dog in him that I think is fun to watch.”

“Those type of players during this time really excel. You have to have a level of confidence to you that is almost a little bit of crazy confidence.”

“Like for myself, make or miss a shot, the next one's going up and I believe I'm making it. So, I think he has that and it's going to be fun to watch because I've been watching him on and off throughout the year and I think he's going to be really good in the tournament.”

Are there any teams in particular that might be floating under people's radar that are playing their best basketball in Conference Championship week and coming into the tournament in a really hot way?

“When you look at the top teams like UConn and Purdue, they've always been at the top, but they've had their ups and downs. Their downs aren't necessarily really low so I would say UConn, Houston and Purdue. Obviously, I think they're playing the best basketball for themselves.”

“But I think flying under radar is a team like Iowa State who are really just getting after it and clicking at the right time.

“When I was looking at it and we were looking at it as a team in the tournament. The games were very important in the beginning of the season, but when you're playing a team that's going into the tournament and having convincing wins towards the end and they're playing with a confidence that's all time high going into it, it's really hard to beat teams like that.”

Which number one seed between, UConn, Houston, UNC and Purdue, do you think is most likely to lose first in the tournament this year?

“Kansas has been dealing with injuries, but when you look at Kansas and Gonzaga, yes. Purdue is big. Yes, they're good, but Gonzaga is always there. I don't care what type of knock you have on their conference. I don't care what you say. They're always there. They're always good. They're always well coached.”

“And Kansas is always there too, so I personally think it might be Purdue that goes down first.”

“If you take away team and you look at overall school, history, the coaches there. They're going to have them ready to go. They're going to be locked in. The scouting reports are going to be in depth as well. So, I think that it will be a real battle for Purdue.”

There's always Cinderella runs going deep into the second week. Which teams do you think have a real shot at making a deep run in?

“Oregon, even though they're the eleven seed, I always look at teams that have a pedigree to them.

“I actually really like TCU. They're a team that is scary. I think that's the best way I can describe it. They’re scary.”

“I'm not the biggest Duke fan so Vermont is my ‘let's go, first round and knock Duke out’. So, we'll see what happens there. When I played, I loved watching Vermont play. They just played so hard and I love hard playing teams. I love the grittiness to them, so teams like that obviously.

Who have you got coming out of the East region?

“For the East region, I would have to go with UConn. I can't go against UConn.”

“Iowa State. I hate being that guy that goes 1-2, but just in that region, looking at them, maybe a team like BYU can beat Iowa State, but I would just say I think it's going to be Iowa State and UConn. I think UConn comes out.”

We can move on to the South region where Houston is the one seed and Marquette is the two seed. Who do you have there?

“They were a rival for us, but I got to go with the Big East. I got to ride with Marquette. We don't have many teams in it this year, so I like Marquette in that.”

How about the West region?

“I'm stuck in between Alabama, Michigan State and Baylor. “

“Michigan State can upset North Carolina. It's a gut feeling from watching them a couple of times this year. Their record doesn't scream it, but there's a pedigree to them.”

“Let's stay with Alabama. They always play hard. They always play the right way and they have a lot of guys that are kind of showtime if you will and those type of guys really shine in the tournament.”

Lastly, who have you got in the Midwest region?

“I think Purdue goes down with either Kansas or Gonzaga. I'm actually going to go and stick with Kansas.

“Kansas is going to be tested early.  They’re going to play Gonzaga and they come out of that and then they beat Purdue. Then they'll play Creighton or Tennessee and they'll beat them and come out. I know they're dealing with injuries, but anything can happen. I just think they squeak out of there.”

March Madness Final Four Future Betting Picks and Predictions

You would have UConn playing Alabama on one side of the bracket. Who would you like in that matchup?


Then the last matchup on the other side would be Marquette versus Kansas. Who would you pick here?

“Is this the Big East tournament or what? I feel like I'm so biased. I promise you I'm not. I would say Marquette”

“I just think UConn runs it this year and I hate to be that guy but being a team that is so prepared, they have seen it, their coach has seen it, that a different level.”

“But as teams get further, the lights get brighter but not just that. There's a level of being locked in at a level of focus where you have to block everything else out and focus on the next game.”

“Coach Hurley has done that with these guys last year. They've done it all this year. The biggest games, if you watch the biggest games all this season, they've put it on teams. It's just hard to go against them.”

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