Monday March 16th, 2009

SI.com caught up with Seth Davis, who's serving as a CBS studio analyst during the tournament, to get his impressions of the bracket.

SI.com: What's your biggest disappointment with the bracket?

Seth Davis: My biggest disappointment is that there are so few mid-majors and it's not that I fault the committee because the committee can only put the bracket together on the results from the season. Really there weren't enough mid-majors who did a good enough job just scheduling up or winning the games they did schedule up. In some cases, they just won their conference tournaments -- like Siena, for example. Since they were a nine seed, that tells me Siena still would have gotten in even if they didn't win the conference tournament. It's a bummer not to have Davidson, but I can't say that they deserve it. It's a tough call -- teams are not going to play road games at Saint Mary's, so Randy Bennett has to suck it up and take his team on the road and get beat or hope they can do enough to impress the committee. The only difference I did have with the bracket was I had Saint Mary's in and Arizona out.

SI.com: A lot of people have been talking about how reputation can get you in -- is that what happened with Arizona?

SD: I don't think so -- that's bogus. Reputations don't mean anything -- if reputation meant something, then Davidson would be in ... and how about Florida and Kentucky. Arizona isn't that much of a reach, they only had six wins against top-50 teams, but they beat Kansas and Gonzaga for two good non-conference wins. My beef with Arizona is they didn't beat anyone on the road ... their best road win was against Oregon State. Despite my hesitations, I think they're going to beat Utah in their first-round game.

Which first-round upsets should we be watching for?

The first first-round upset I had was VCU over UCLA, probably because the game is in Philadelphia and VCU is really good. It's going to be a rare example of UCLA playing a team with a better point guard because Darren Collison is so good, but I think Eric Maynor is better. The first 5/12 I have is Western Kentucky over Illinois. The Illini's point guard is injured and remember Western Kentucky beat Louisville and they have a couple of good guards in AJ Slaughter and Orlando Mendez-Valdez. I'd pick Wake Forest to make the Final Four but they have a really tough first round with Cleveland State ... remember they won at Syracuse off that Cedric Jackson three-quarter court shot. Wake Forest has to work on three-quarter defense. I also have Northern Iowa over Purdue.

The real question: who's going to win it all?

I was debating all week between Pitt and UNC. I had Pitt for awhile and then I got a little spooked by them losing to West Virginia. But I did a little digging and I came to the conclusion that they could potentially benefit by losing in the Big East tournament. First, they weren't healthy -- Levance Fields was kind of banged up. So they lose, go home and rest and have a couple of practices and get their rhythm back. Pitt's three-man nucleus of Fields, Sam Young and DeJuan Blair is one of the best in the country and I love their toughness. North Carolina -- it's interesting to see the different perspective a writer has compared to a former player. Greg Anthony said if Ty Lawson has turf toe then that's a very serious injury, and for a point guard that needs to explode and change directions, it takes a very long time to heal. The Lawson injury will have make his the most speculated toe in the tournament.

Who else do you have in your Final Four?

I have Wake and Memphis. Even though I argued for UConn to get a No. 1 seed, I think Memphis is just really good defensively and I don't see a lot of good teams in that region. I think the Midwest is by far the strongest region and there's no weak link when you look down that bracket.

I think Memphis is probably better defensively than they were last year, their length on the perimeter is also better than last year ... but the jury's still out on them. Last year, they also beat up on a weak league but they returned almost a whole team back from a team that made the Elite Eight the year before and then added a Derrick Rose. This year, there's still a part of me that wonders if they really are that good? But you have to remember, they went to Gonzaga after Gonzaga took UConn into overtime and just embarrassed the Bulldogs.

Who's your top sleeper?

I like Clemson to beat Oklahoma in the second round. The one thing that bothers Oklahoma is strong defensive pressure and Clemson can pressure you out at the end ... they did not finish the season strong, but I think they're a better team than that.

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