Note: Seth Davis will periodically answer questions posed to him over Twitter, Facebook and emails sent through SI.com. Be sure to check out his Hoop Thoughts column every Monday and to send questions during his Twenty for Tuesday Q&A on Twitter at @SethDavisHoops. Tweets have been edited for clarity. Trolls have not been included.
What unheralded mid-major do you think can bust a bracket in March? — Joe Wright (@Sctvman)
1. Murray State. I ranked the Racers 22nd on my AP ballot this week, so there’s no sense in easing up on the accelerator now. Besides not having lost a game since Nov. 29, Murray State could very well enter an NCAA tournament game against a high-major school with the best player on the floor in 6’2” sophomore point guard Cameron Payne. That is usually not the case.
2. Valparaiso. The last team to beat Murray State. Bryce Drew’s Crusaders are in first place in the Horizon with an 11-2 record (24-4 overall). Their leading scorer is Alec Peters, a versatile 6’9” sophomore forward who could start for a lot of power conference teams.
4. UC Davis. Besides having a really cool name, the Aggies have been the class of the Big West this season. They have the nation’s fifth-leading scorer and leading three-point shooter in Corey Hawkins, a 6’3” senior guard who is the son of former NBA (and Bradley) great Hersey Hawkins.
5. Harvard. I just can’t quit these guys. If the Crimson can get the Ivy League bid, they will pose a test to their opponents thanks to their backcourt of Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders.
Should I be concerned that the Big Ten isn't testing the Badgers hard enough? — Chris Capade (@Oceanofcapade)
There’s not much to be concerned about these days when it comes to Wisconsin. Even losing senior point guard Traevon Jackson has proven not to be overly disruptive because Bronson Koenig has stepped in so seamlessly. As I wrote earlier this week in Hoop Thoughts, I don’t believe Jackson will usurp Koenig in the starting spot even after he returns, which should be before the NCAA tournament.
To answer Chris’ question, no, I don’t believe the Big Ten hasn’t tested the Badgers enough. Sure, the league is down from where it has been the last few years, but it is still very difficult to go on the road and beat teams, even the teams in the bottom tier. It has certainly posed a bigger test than the one the SEC has been giving Kentucky. When and if the Badgers lose in the NCAA tournament, no one will say that this was the reason.
However, I would also like to point out that back in early January, I got a lot of flak when I started floating the prospect that Wisconsin could go undefeated in league play. They’ve lost just one game at Rutgers, when they were playing without Frank Kaminsky and lost Jackson early in the second half. We’ll never know, of course, what would have happened had those two stayed healthy, and the Badgers could very well stub their toe the next three weeks. But it’s not hard to imagine that if the Badgers had been at full strength all season, they would have been perfect in league play.
Thoughts on only two games for Sterling Gibbs suspension? — Kevin Pytleski (@kevinpyt)
Kevin is referring to the play that occurred on Monday night, when Gibbs, a 6’2” junior guard at Seton Hall, struck Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono in the face during a scramble for a loose ball. This may sound weird, but my first reaction when seeing the play was to feel empathy for Gibbs. It was an awful mistake, and in today’s age of social media and viral video, it is one that he will never completely live down.
As I saw replays of the incident, I wondered if somehow Gibbs wasn’t at least trying to make a play on the ball. But a second angle showed that that was not true. Arcidiacono was gripping the ball at his waist. Gibbs plainly brought his fist squarely onto Arcidiacono’s forehead. Gibbs’ later tweets confirmed that this was an act of emotion, not competition.
You can quibble with the length of the suspension—personally, I would have gone with three games—but the consequences for Gibbs will go well beyond those two games. This is something he will never live down. That aside, it was really inspiring to see not only the contrition Gibbs evinced on Twitter, but also the forgiveness Arcidiacono offered in response, saying they were “all good.” This was one of many examples where the "kids" comported themselves better than a lot of grown-ups. I’m sorry the play happened, but in an age of hating, trolling and petty feuds between millionaires, I’m grateful that two young college students behaved like mature adults and defused an unfortunate situation.
Duke-North Carolina: Classic Photos
Rosenbluth shoots over Duke during the Dixie Classic in Raleigh, N.C.
Rosenbluth shoots a sky over hook over a Duke defender. The Tar Heel legend holds the school record for most points (895) and highest scoring average in a single season (28.0).
Bobby Jones drives to the hoop. The Charlotte player was recruited by Dean Smith and averaged 16 ppg his senior season before being drafted by the Houston Rockets with the fifth overall pick.
Before he became one of the best coaches in basketball, George Karl played guard for the Tar Heels. He led the team to the 1971 NIT title and a 1972 Final Four appearance and was drafted by the Knicks in the fourth round of the 1973 Draft.
Mike Gminski had one of the most successful careers in Duke basketball history, making three first team All-ACC teams (1978, 79, 80) and winning the ACC Player of the Year in 1979. His No. 43 is currently hanging in the rafters of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Michael Jordan and Tommy Amaker
Michael Jordan smothers Duke guard Tommy Amaker. During his three seasons with the Tar Heels, Jordan averaged 18 points and five rebounds per game.
Jordan takes a shot in the lane amid a sea of Tar Heel defenders. Jordan won the Naismith and the Wooden College Player of the Year awards in 1984 before being drafted by the Bulls with the third overall pick.
J.R. Reid was arguably UNC's best player in the post-Jordan era. After being drafted by Charlotte with the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NBA draft, Reid played for six teams (including two stints with the Hornets) but never became the star many felt he had the talent to be.
Brendan Haywood, Elton Brand, Kris Lang and Corey Maggette
Kris Lang passes to Brendan Haywood as Elton Brand looks on.
Shane Battier and Julius Peppers
Shane Battier drives past Julius Peppers. Battier won Player of the Year honors in 2001 and led the Blue Devils to the national championship.
Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. dunks over Jason Capel. The Duke forward averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds per game in the Blue Devils' 2001 championship season.
Joseph Forte shoots over Nate James and Carlos Boozer. The UNC guard played two seasons in Chapel Hill, winning 2000 ACC Rookie of the Year and 2001 ACC Player of the Year, before being drafted by the Celtics in 2001. His NBA career lasted only two seasons.
Julius Peppers and Casey Sanders
Julius Peppers powers a layup over Casey Sanders. The Bears defensive end was a walk-on for coach Bill Guthridge and a key reserve in the team's run to the 2000 Final Four.
Shelden Williams and David Noel
UNC's David Noel fights for a rebound as Duke's Shelden Williams (No. 23) looks on. Noel currently played for the French team Paris-Levallois while Williams is a backup forward for the Denver Nuggets.
Raymond Felton ignores the distractions of the Cameron Crazies as he makes an inbounds pass.
Rashad McCants and Shelden Williams
Rashad McCants tries to convert a reverse layup over the outstretched arms of Shelden Williams. McCants is currently out of the NBA after playing four seasons for the Timberwolves and Kings.
Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansbrough
Duke's Josh McRoberts and North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough fight for possession during the opening tip of a Duke-UNC game in Chapel Hill.
Gerald Henderson, Tyler Hansbrough and Lance Thomas
Gerald Henderson, Tyler Hansbrough and Lance Thomas fight for position off a missed shot. Henderson (Charlotte) and Hansbrough (Indiana) are both in the NBA while Thomas is playing for the Austin Toros of the NBDL.
Tyler Zeller, Austin Rivers
Austin Rivers fires the game-winning three-pointer over Tyler Zeller to clinch Duke's come-from-behind 85-84 win over North Carolina at the Dean Smith Center.
Where does Purdue-Indiana rank on the rivalry list in college basketball? 2 or 3? — AllMySportsTeamsSuck (@AMSTS)
Rank? You want me to rank? You know I love lists.
Three things make a great rivalry: History, proximity, and competitiveness. The programs have to be good, and the games have to matter. Here are my top five:
1. Duke-North Carolina. The Blue Devils’ overtime win on Wednesday night was yet another classic installment, but the moment that will be most remembered is the pregame huddle at midcourt that honored Dean Smith. There’s a lot of hatred in this rivalry, but there’s a lot of love, too. It’s a brotherhood.
3. Purdue-Indiana. It has been a long time since both these teams were ranked highly when they faced off, but it’s hard not to shake off memories of Gene Keady vs. Bob Knight when they do. (Or Ward Lambert vs. Branch McCracken, for that matter.) It’s the most important game in the greatest basketball state the world has ever produced.
4. Cincinnati-Xavier. Similar to Kentucky-Louisville, the Crosstown Shootout, which Xavier won Wednesday night, is great theater between schools that play in different conferences. I’m glad the schools ignored calls to end the series or put it on hiatus after a nasty brawl married the finishing moments of the 2011 game.
5. Kansas-Missouri. I realize the Border War, which evokes Civil War-era hostilities, no longer takes place because Missouri moved to the SEC and Kansas doesn’t want to continue it. I don’t blame KU for its stance, but I figure it’s just a matter of time before the series is resumed. I just hope I live long enough to see it.
Best team from a pool of any UConn, Kentucky, UNC, Kansas, or Duke teams from the past 15 yrs. Which would it be? — Jaspreet Mankoo (@HalfCourt_Jitu)
Look, Mom, I get to make another list! I’m going to push this back to cover the last 30 years to make it more fun (and challenging). Here you go:
1. Kentucky ’96. Still the best team I’ve ever covered. Pitino’s roster of racehorses went so deep that Nazr Mohammed was the 12th man. Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer and Antoine Walker and company dominated the season from wire to wire.
3. Kentucky ’12. Even while the Wildcats were winning a lot of games en route to a 38-2 record, they grew to championship caliber in February, when Anthony Davis because Anthony Davis.
4. North Carolina ’09. The Tar Heels went 34-4, won the title, and featured one of my favorite alltime college players in Tyler Hansbrough.
5. UConn ’04. The Emeka Okafor-Ben Gordon-Charlie Villanueva squad was the best of Jim Calhoun’s three titleists.
6. Duke ’01. Jay Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy and Shane Battier on the same team? Sounds like an NCAA champion to me.
7. North Carolina ’05. Sean May was an unstoppable force in the NCAA tournament, especially with the likes of Ty Lawson feeding him and Rashad McCants drawing away the defense. It will be interesting to see if the NCAA vacates this title after it completes its investigation into the basketball program’s relationship with paper classes.
8. Kansas ’97. This was Roy Williams’ best team in Lawrence, even though it lost in the Sweet 16 to Arizona. Jacque Vaughn ran point for a frontline that featured Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz and Scot Pollard.
9. UConn ’99. This team didn’t have a lot of future NBA star power (aside from Richard Hamilton), but it went 34-2 and won the title.
10. Kansas ’08. Mario’s Miracle helped put the Jayhawks over the top in the thrilling title game against Memphis.