On to the Elite Eight: What to Watch this Weekend
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Buzzer beaters, impossible comebacks, shocking losses, and there are four more Sweet Sixteen games today. This year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament seems to be one of the most thrilling in recent history. Here to break down the action are the sports brothers, Randy and Jason Sklar. Gents, welcome back from a week ago.
Mr. SKLAR 1 (ESPN Classic Commentator): Thank you.
Mr. SKLAR 2 (ESPN Classic Commentator): Good to be here.
Mr. SKLAR 1: We're exasperated after those games last night.
CHADWICK 2: Exasperated? I stayed up and watched this amazing comeback, UCLA against Gonzaga. Amazing.
Mr. SKLAR 1: Yeah. UCLA down by 17 points in the first half, come back, they score the final 11 points of the game.
Mr. SKLAR 2: The question is was it a UCLA win or a Gonzaga fold?
Mr. SKLAR 1: Yeah.
Mr. SKLAR 2: A little bit of both.
Mr. SKLAR 1: I actually think that UCLA has a tremendous defense, which is going to carry over into their next game against Memphis.
Mr. SKLAR 2: That's the other half of scoring the last 11 points of a game, is holding the other team to...
CHADWICK: The other guys didn't score.
Mr. SKLAR 1: Exactly.
Mr. SKLAR 2: Exactly. You stopped them.
CHADWICK: So, well now, what's coming next for UCLA?
Mr. SKLAR 1: So UCLA plays Memphis next. A tremendous offensive team. So you're going to see offense against defense again. And I think two of the hottest teams in the tournament in the same bracket there.
Mr. SKLAR 2: Well, the interesting thing about the Gonzaga game is a lot of people didn't realize that UCLA was actually a two seed, Gonzaga a three seed.
Mr. SKLAR 1: Not that much of an upset.
Mr. SKLAR 2: It wasn't really an upset at all.
CHADWICK: Oh, not by those numbers. How about Texas?
Mr. SKLAR 1: That shot, the final shot. Texas basically Pittsnoggled the Pittsnoggle. Bloody nose.
CHADWICK: Beat West Virginia.
Mr. SKLAR 2: Three point shot at the end of the game. Buzzer beaters. Usually buzzer beaters happen in the first couple of rounds. So when you see one in the Sweet Sixteen it's just that much sweeter and that much more historic. So unbelievable last second shot. Pittsnoggle with the bloody nose. It was like it had Hollywood written all -- who plays Pittsnoggle in the Pittsnoggle movie?
Mr. SKLAR 1: Michael Rappaport.
Mr. SKLAR 2: That's right.
CHADWICK: Kevin Pittsnoggle of West Virginia and Adam Morrison of Gonzaga. These are the two players you guys talked about last week. They're now both out. Who are you watching now?
Mr. SKLAR 1: Well, there are a lot of great players still left in the tournament. UConn's got a player named Rudy Gay who is fantastic. Villanovo, who's still in the tournament, they have a player named Alan Ray. He's fantastic.
CHADWICK: And Rodney Carney on Memphis is amazing.
Mr. SKLAR 2: All guys that can just take over a game at any point, put up points in a hurry, and they can actually change the course of a game.
CHADWICK: And the games to watch today?
Mr. SKLAR 1: We have some good ones today on tap. You've got B.C. Villanova, three teams from the Big East. They did not face each other in the regular season, but they're facing each other in the Sweet Sixteen now, and it's great because Villanova plays four guards, and B.C. plays a tough inside game, so it's outside versus inside; you're going to see, which...
CHADWICK: Who prevails.
Mr. SKLAR 2: Who prevails there.
Mr. SKLAR 1: And then I like the George Mason/Wichita State match-up because those are two teams that shouldn't even be here. Wichita State is 7-seed; George Mason, an 11-seed, so you've got either way, no one higher than a 7-seed is going to make it to the Elite Eight.
CHADWICK: Yeah, you got to figure Cinderella is going to get to the Eight, but beyond that...
Mr. SKLAR 2: Yeah, it's tough. It's tough to have a Cinderella team make it into the Final Four, because anyone who's left at this point, they're deep teams, they have teams that have many players that can make a difference, and these are the real deal at this point.
CHADWICK: Okay, Saturday and Sunday, the fourth round. The game's known as the Elite Eight. What do you look for there?
Mr. SKLAR 1: Well, first of all, the Elite Eight, not our favorite round; I mean, everyone knows the Sweet Sixteen, everyone knows the Final Four, but the Elite Eight? It's kind of like a weird extraneous step; I mean, it needs to be there, but people forget about it. If you go out in the Elite Eight, no one really remembers you. You kind of tease your students and boosters and fans because they've made the reservations to go to the Final Four. If you lose, they've paid for the plane ticket; they've bought the hotel; they're now going to have to go to Indianapolis and watch other teams play.
I don't even think you get a banner if you lose in the Elite Eight.
Mr. SKLAR 2: I think you get 40 percent off your next purchase at Nike Town. That's it.
CHADWICK: You know, when you do have these sort of unknowns or lesser-known teams appearing at this stage of the NCAA, you're missing some, they're taking the place of these famous, big -- so who's not here who should be here?
Mr. SKLAR 1: Well, basically, the Big Ten, the entire Big Ten Conference, which was supposed to be like the second-best conference in all of basketball, has no teams in the Sweet Sixteen; that's the first time, may ever, that it's happened. And it's a disappointment for the Big Ten because a lot of the teams in the Big Ten had high RPI ratings, meaning they had high strength of schedule, high, you know, playing other teams and rated very highly, and they didn't make it past the...
Mr. SKLAR 2: RPI, ratings percentage index. Basically they take the teams you played against, how many games you played on the road against those high-ranked teams.
Mr. SKLAR 1: And they give you a ranking.
CHADWICK: And you should win if you get a high rank.
Mr. SKLAR 2: If you have a high ranking, you should move on, but, basically, in this tournament, you got to throw the RPI out the window.
Mr. SKLAR 1: Which is great because it means that anything can happen.
CHADWICK: Sports brothers, Randy and Jason Sklar, hosts of the show, Cheap Seats, which can be seen on ESPN Classic. Gents, thank you again.
Mr. SKLAR 2: Thank you.
Mr. SKLAR 1: Thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.