The NCAA Tournament averaged 8.5 million viewers across four major TV networks from Thursday’s First Four to the opening day of the Second Round on Sunday according to Sports Business Journal analyst Austin Karp, down slightly from 2019’s ratings but up from the 2018 tournament.
The extended weekend of tournament action was short on historical, all-time great buzzer beater type moments, but packed with competitive games and shocking upsets.
Recapping this weekend’s action are Nick Meyer and Wade Peery of Forgotten Sports Heroes, during which they discussed the betting odds for dark horse title contenders, memorable moments from the first weekend, revised Elite Eight picks and more:
WP: Okay Nick, let’s get down to it. What was your personal favorite game of the weekend?
NM: Well, I’m biased, but for me it was definitely Michigan vs. LSU. I was thoroughly impressed with the talent on that LSU team from the point guard to the forwards and everyone in between.
If they had passed the ball a little more in the second half the Big Ten would have a goose egg right now as far as Sweet 16 teams go. But Michigan pulled through by playing better team basketball.
In my personal opinion, Cameron Thomas of LSU has to be looked at as a high first round pick. I don’t know where he’s currently projected but he can fill it up from all over the court.
Thomas led all freshman nationwide in scoring at 22.3 ppg, first in the SEC.
He’s a dynamic, athletic playmaker who is said to be skyrocketing up NBA draft boards, and he just plays with such incredible confidence and determination.
His game is the perfect blend of old school and new school, I mean just watch these step-backs and jab-steps.
And don’t look now, but he’s got Kobe as his Twitter profile pic. This is one focused and determined young man I would not bet against.
Cam Thomas is so efficient with his movements. He knows how to jab step his way open and create lots of space w/out putting the ball on the floor. When he does put the ball down, he gets to his spots with ease and his ability to get into rhythm on his jumpers is special. #lsu pic.twitter.com/MvNKohzflT
— Savant Hoops (@SavantHoops) March 23, 2021
WP: What about Sister Jean!?
NM: If we’re going to be deprived of Ayo Dosunmu on the biggest stage, I’m glad we get to see Sister Jean instead.
WP: Nick I’ll be honest. I’m holding Sister Jean personally accountable for ruining my bracket. That game was absolutely excruciating to watch as my brackets went down in flames.
NM: Texas chokes again. Is anybody surprised…
WP: USC looked impressive whipping Kansas.
NM: As a Michigan fan I feel the sting of disappoint often but I can’t imagine what Texas basketball fans may be thinking. How does Kevin Durant not reach a Final Four, and how do the third-seeded Longhorns bow out early yet again?
WP: Loyola-Chicago impressed me a lot, that was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in the tournament. Why was Illinois dribbling into double teams constantly?
NM: Maturity in basketball…The most underrated skill.
Cameron Krutwig is the ultimate YMCA player who just happens to be a Final Four caliber starting center. That guy gave Mo Wagner problems back in 2018 as a freshman.
NM: On a scale of 1-10, how surprised are you by Syracuse making it to the round of 16?
WP: Syracuse is so frustrating for other teams to deal with come tournament time. In other words, I’m not that surprised.
NM: One team that impressed me a lot was Oregon…I know Iowa has some deficiencies on defense but they ran the two-seed Hawkeyes out of the gym.
WP: I was really impressed with Arkansas’ speed.
NM: SEC SPEED!!
Or shall I say Pacific Coast speed.
WP: Yeah Oregon has some athletes.
Loved watching the alley-oop dunks from the Baylor Bears, they really impressed me (editor’s note: watch one at the 15-second mark of the video below, and another at the 54-second mark).
WP: If you could resubmit your bracket and pick a new Elite Eight, who are you taking?
WP: Baylor is the dark horse to win it all. They have a lot of the best attributes of all the winning teams. I also think Loyola has a legitimate chance to win it all as crazy as that sounds.
My revised Elite Eight: Gonzaga, Oregon, Michigan, Alabama, Loyola, Arkansas, Baylor, and….wait for it…The Syracuse Orangemen. I mean Orange.
WP: I agree with you on all of those picks, Nick.
NM: Last question, Wade. There are eight teams with odds to win it all that are lower than +2500: USC, Villanova, UCLA, Oregon, Syracuse, Creighton, Oregon State, and the Fighting Oral Roberts Golden Eagles.
If you had to place a 100-dollar bet on any of these teams, who are you taking?
WP: I think I’m going to go USC with the way they absolutely torched Kansas.
NM: I’m going with Oregon. They have had a lot of low-key talented teams for many years now and I think they have the confidence needed to go all the way right now.
WP: Bet the mortgage on Sister Jean.
NM: Either of your picks could beat Gonzaga, although I still have the Zags winning it all. Drew Timme, you are officially on notice.
Any final thoughts on this weekend’s action, Wade?
WP: It was disappointing to see Cade Cunningham go down. I’ll miss watching him in college basketball.
NM: I thought this was one of the best opening weekends in years. The games were so good I barely noticed the missing fans.
WP: It was a great weekend of opening games — my brackets are totally screwed.