First off, thanks to WKU alum Kevin Hulsman for the quick angle that Bruce Weber served as an assistant under Gene Keady while Keady was at Western.
I’ve never watched the selection show with a large group of people before, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Folks were quiet, listening to Greg Gumbel unveil the brackets, and the anticipation continued to build until the last bracket was finally unveiled.
My first glance at the assistant coaches and coach Ken McDonald saw that there was quite a bit of confidence in their reaction. Assistant David Boyden gave a nice fist pump, and there were plenty of smiles around. Illinois does come out of the Big Ten, but has flown under the national radar most of the season, finishing 10-6 in the Big Ten and 24-9 overall.
From the sounds of it, Chester Frazier has a hand injury right now, and it will be interesting to follow his status throughout the week. Illinois does have some height, but not much weight in their front court. They come after you with 7’1″, 235-pound center Mike Tisdale and 6’9″, 210-pound Mike Davis. Seems like an even match-up for the likes of Steffphon Pettigrew and Jeremy Evans for Western.
Throughout the week we’ll take a closer look at personnel. Remember, this is first impressions.
Many on the national scene are already picking Western in this game. I can’t imagine Illinois is happy with the matchup. Unfortunately, I missed a conference call with Illinois coach Bruce Weber tonight. I was inquiring with Western SID Brad Fields about one happening tomorrow, and he said that Weber had one on short notice tonight.
I won’t hold it against Weber and the Illinois media relations folks, though.
We’re still awaiting word on a game time for Thursday. However, when we do find out, we’ll let you know here. I can’t think it will be any earlier than 1:30 CST, since the game is on the West Coast.
Now, we all now CBS is a finicky thing. However, because I enjoy this kind of stuff, I’m going to predict where the CBS broadcast teams will be placed. When we find out who is really calling the game, we’ll also have that here.
DAYTON: Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg (Dayton has two #1 seeds, so that’s easy)
PHILLY: Dick Enberg/Jay Bilas (This crew could be swapped with Johnson/Elmore, but I’ll keep em here)
MIAMI: Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery (Two older gentlemen need warm weather this time of year)
GREENSBORO: Gus Johnson/Len Elmore (Get ready for some RISE AND FIRE from North Carolina)
KANSAS CITY: Kevin Harlan/Dan Bonner (KC is home for Harlan, so c’mon, CBS. Save a penny or two)
MINNEAPOLIS: Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel (These last three are anyone’s guess, but I’ll go with this anyway)
BOISE: Craig Bolerjack/Bob Wenzel (Who are these two?)
PORTLAND: Tim Brando/Mike Giminski (Again!)