What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
EDITOR’S NOTE: Boyd Bergquist was the sports director at KETS-TV in East Tree Stump, Nebraska for almost 40 years. Known across the Husker state as the voice of the Boy’s High School Basketball Tournament, Bergquist was a four-time winner of the Marv J. Butz “Golden Cob” Award For Excellence In Nebraska Broadcast Journalism. That background, along with his quick if not cliché-riddled wit and love of single-malt scotch makes Bergquist a perfect fit to be our “Question” guy.
Who got the best seed they didn’t deserve and who got the biggest screw job?
~Kim Jong Kardashian
I know this will be what gets talked about for the better part of this week until the games actually start, and to be honest, it might be some of the least-interesting stuff in the sports media world. I know there is a lot of noise being made about Michigan State being the top #2 seed in the tournament and yet getting Duke in their region. Tennessee fans don’t like their draw. Somebody somewhere is bitching about their team didn’t get in.
It’s all a bunch of crap. Look, it’s a tournament. With one of this magnitude, there’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t like where they ended up. It’s really this simple. If you’re in, worry about winning your games. If you’re not, worry about why you didn’t get invited to the “Big Dance.”
I will say that the biggest bunch of crap is floating around the Kansas Jayhawks. Their loyalists can moan all day long about them being as “low” as a 4 seed. Their detractors can say the exact opposite. None of that means diddly because Kansas has shown all season they can’t win on the road, so why would anybody expect a deep run from them in this tournament? There’s a reason J-Dub left them out of his Pre-tournament Sweet Sixteen, beyond the fact he has a long-standing disdain for the Jayhawks.
Which team that got left out has the most legitimate beef?
~LeBron Gets More Steps than the Shriner’s Parade
In a word…None. Screw ’em. Look, there are 68 goddamn teams in this tournament, and if somebody out there is crying about being #69, they can stick it up their butt. Nobody remembers 35 years ago when this was a 32-team tournament that didn’t have nearly as many at-large bids as it does now. That meant in a lot of years, the “Big Dance” had Duke OR north Carolina, not Duke AND North Carolina.
But even then, a 32-team tournament should have been more than enough to get you a “true” champion. The reality here is that the 68-team format is all about two separate tournaments. The first weekend is all about the “little guys” and giving them a “David v. Goliath” moment with a national television appearance. The ‘real” tournament starts with the Sweet Sixteen, which is why J-Dub looks at the potential winners as the Pre-Tournament Sweet Sixteen.
If there’s a team out there pleading their case now that the field has been set, nobody cares…at least until you are at least #16.
Who do you see as a break-out star in this tournament?
~I’m Afraid To Tell You I’m A Colts Fan
I have two sets of answers for this. Usually to hit real “star” status in this tournament, you have to make it to the second weekend. That’s too bad, because there’s always some interesting characters early on.
This year is no exception as there are two guys of note who may note get past Day One. The first is a 6’9″ forward from North Dakota State named Rocky Kreuser. At first glance, that name may not seem like much. But when you realize it is pronounced “cruiser,” it becomes on of the great names ever. Just say it to yourself a few times…Rocky Cruiser…Rocky Cruiser… That’s either a “jobber” pro wrestler or a 70’s porn star.
Either way is awesome.
Let’s be honest. If you’re 6’9,” you’re an enormous man. But when you’re 7’6,” and your name is “Tacko,” you’re a phenomenon waiting to happen. That brings us to the tallest man currently in college basketball. At seven and a half feet, University of Central Florida’s Tacko Fall will easily be the most recognizable guy in the tournament. When a dude is big enough to dunk the ball with his feet still touching the floor, how do the “Tacko Grande” jokes not write themselves?
If nothing else, I hope somebody nominates these guys for the Dubsy Award for Naming.
As for guys who will likely be around come Sweet Sixteen time, I’ll give you three who might just catch some eyes.
Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky
Let’s get this out of the way right up front. Resist the urge to make all the schlockey “Quickley” jokes. Here’s a guy who found himself going from stater to sixth-man early in the season. But that wasn’t really a demotion given the Wildcats’ short rotation meant Quickley still got plenty of floor time (almost 17 minutes per game). Come tournament time, the five-star recruit could easily find himself in a major role in support of Ashton Hagans or Tyler Herro, or if the Wildcats find themselves in foul trouble.
Jay Huff, Virginia
There’s two types of players who tend to get their Warholian “Fifteen Minutes” during March Madness; the first being a “hard-working” big man. Recent examples of this include Jordan Eglseder from that Northern Iowa team which knocked off Kansas in 2010, Xavier’s Matt Stainbrook from a few years back, and Cameron Krutwig, the center of last year’s “Cinderella” Loyola-Chicago.
Huff easily fits that mold. As a 7’1″, 230-pound sophomore, he doesn’t get huge minutes, but he makes the most of what he gets. To date, Huff has notched 10+ minutes 11 times, of which he’s knocked down at least 8 points 7 times, including a recent 12 point showing in 17 minutes against Louisville. Huff could spell the Cavalier cavalry should the Virginia offense struggle as he is a legitimate scoring threat off the bench from either inside or out.
Grady Eifert, Purdue
Eifert represents the other kind of player suited to become a star of this tournament. “March Madness” was made for 6’6″-plus wings who can fill it up from anywhere. Just look at how much money Wally Szczerbiak and Adam Morrison stole from NBA teams by being precisely that guy. Eifert accounts for 24.6 minutes per game for the Boilermakers, and has an offensive rating of 141.4. I have no idea what that exactly means, but my basketball analytics people swear that is “pretty freaking awesome.” What I know is the “eyeball test,” which in this case means I know Eifert can hit 3-pointers at about a 40% clip, and we all know that shooting will get you a long way in this tournament.
Which team has the best shot to win that nobody is talking about?
~That Guy Who Just Picks #1 Seeds
We all know the Final four is always four “Big Conference” schools with the occasional mid-major “Cinderella.” We’ve already previewed the pre-tounament Sweet Sixteen, so that means the question should actually be who is that “Cinderella”
Call me crazy, but I’ve got a feeling about the Wofford Terriers. I know, that’s becoming the “trendy” sleeper pick, but there’s a reason for that. They got a guy in Fletcher Magee who can shoot the ball from anywhere in the gym. This guy hits 3-pointers at a .438 clip, and he shoots .918 from the stripe. He’s not the only kid they have who can shoot, and as we all know, shooting is a big part of what makes “Cinderellas” in the big dance.
Say the shooters come up cold one night. Wofford’s mascot may be the Terriers, but they’ve got a “Sam the Sheepdog” in All-Conference center Cameron Jackson. At 6’8″ and 250 pounds, this guy will be more than a handful for anybody who has to defend him. And if you double him, he just kicks kicks it out to their endless supply of shooters.
By the way, they don’t turn the ball over either.
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