Oakland men’s basketball coach Greg Kampe admitted Sunday night it was a “sad” day. He had hoped his Golden Grizzlies would be learning about their first-round NCAA Tournament opponent, but a heartbreaking, last-second loss to Northern Kentucky in the Horizon League tournament put an end to that dream.
And, so, Kampe watched the NCAA Tournament bracket reveal like so many of us — as a fan.
And like most fans, he had a lot to say.
He spoke with The Detroit News about his initial observations, the road for Michigan State and Michigan, and, of course, his Final Four picks.
What was your immediate reaction to the bracket?
I can’t understand ... eight teams got in from the Big Ten. That’s more than any other conference. So if the conference has the most teams, how does the team that won it and won the tournament (Michigan State) not get a No. 1 seed. And then gets put against the No. 1 overall seed (Duke) as a No. 2? To me, that’s not right. I would be very angry if I was Michigan State.
And how are they No. 6 (overall seed) when it’s the best league, and I’m saying it’s the best league (Big Ten) because they had the most teams. Although, three teams from a conference (ACC) that didn’t get as many teams in the Tournament are No. 1 seeds. It just didn’t make any sense to me. Nothing ever does.
You’ve kind of already answered this, but how do you see the road for Michigan State? (Oakland played MSU and lost, 99-69, in December.)
I think the No. 1 team you wouldn’t want to see them play is Duke. The way they’re built, the only team out there — well there are two teams they would struggle with the way they’re built, and that would be Duke and Virginia. The physicality they have, they way they rebound.
With the loss of (Josh) Langford, (the Spartans) had to reinvent themselves on how to win. Look at what they did with Langford, they were the best fastest team I’ve ever seen play. And Langford was the key.
Tom (Izzo) completely reinvented them when they lost Langford. Now they’re a team that wins in the 60s.
And what about Michigan, also a No. 2 seed?
Michigan’s path, they got in the best bracket. It’s all about matchups, and their style of play. In Michigan’s case, there’s no one there (in that side of the bracket) that is going to be a Michigan State. Obviously, the physical, grind-it-out team is the kind of team that hurt Michigan. That’s why they lost three times to Michigan State.
Well, there’s no Virginia there, there’s no Duke there. Gonzaga has got size, but they don’t love on physicality. Michigan got in the best draw that they could get in.
Any sleeper teams out there to consider picking?
Let me grab my bracket, let’s see. I like Liberty. If you’re looking for upsets, I like Cal-Irvine. I think Murray State is a possibility. I know a lot of people are talking about Belmont, but I don’t see them winning against Temple and Maryland. I like Seton Hall over Wofford.
What about the team that beat you in the Horizon League tournament, Northern Kentucky?
Nah. That’s a terrible matchup for them. There are teams they could beat, but Texas Tech is a grind-it-out defensive team. They’ll outphysical them.
And now, your Final Four?
I’m looking at all the No. 1 seeds, with Virginia winning it all. Very boring.
This is the year Virginia wins it. I don’t see Kentucky beating North Carolina. I think they’re too young. I think Gonzaga ... if a non-No. 1 seed gets there, I think it’s Michigan. But it was hard to win three straight Big Ten (tournament) championships and they almost did it, and it’s hard to go to consecutive Final Fours, and I think they almost will.