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Q&A: Basketball writer says seeding is key and Badgers are dangerous

Sleep-deprived Basketball Prospectus writer John Gasaway took a few minutes to share some of his pre-NCAA tournament impressions with amNY this week.

Why do you believe seeding is an underrated factor? With a team that is overseeded or underseeded, you’re creating a lot of potential for injustice there, both for that team, their opponent, the bracket — the whole thing. ... For instance, on a possession-by-possession basis, [third-seeded] New Mexico played at a level in the Mountain West that is exactly the same as what [11th-seeded] San Diego State did.

Does a lack of familiar powerhouses make this bracket trickier? I know that UConn and UCLA and Arizona and North Carolina are taking the year off, but if you look at the top lines, you still see Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Duke. That’s some pretty familiar company.

Who do you place more stock in: a star player or a star coach? I guess I would suggest that star players make star coaches. I would place more faith in the talent on the floor. The players for guys who are undoubtedly star coaches — Jim Calhoun, Roy Williams or Ben Howland — this year weren’t quite able to get over the hump.

How risky is it to a pick a relatively lower seed to reach the Final Four? The last five years, No. 1 seeds are 40-0 the first weekend. Getting that really high seed, it’s nice. It determines who you play and it keeps the scary teams away from you longer and allows you to go farther.

So what’s your Final Four? I’ll go with, definitely, Kansas and Duke. And, let’s see, Syracuse and Wisconsin.

Confidence in the fourth-seeded Badgers against Kentucky, huh? I think that Kentucky was given a tough bracket. People have focused on the Kansas regional, and rightfully so. It is brutal. But I just think Kansas is experienced enough and good enough that they can pull it off. But to me, Kentucky this year is like Kansas last year. There’s no doubting the talent, but this ... is their first time doing this.

Are you willing to change your picks before Thursday? Absolutely. The injury status of Arinze Onuaku [of No. 1-seeded Syracuse] is huge, and it could even come into play the first weekend, in their second-round game.

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