BCI Talks To Mark Adams

As we have periodically throughout this basketball season, BCI sat down to talk with college basketball analyst Mark Adams about a variety of topics. Mark is an analyst for the Dayton Flyers as well as both ESPN and Fox Sports Net.

Q. When you look at Cincinnati after yesterday's win over #16 West Virginia, does UC fall into the "lock" category or the "bubble" category?

A. I think they're still on the bubble but leaning heavily toward the lock. The "X" factor is you never know what athletic directors are in that room when they're making their final decisions. Strange things have happened. As an analyst, I've got to look at things pretty objectively, and I think Cincinnati is probably in unless something really weird happens like a multitude of #1 seeds get knocked off in their league tournaments. Take the Missouri Valley Conference for example. Southern Illinois and Bradley are playing right now for the championship, but Wichita State won the regular season and Northern Iowa beat LSU. Are they going to take four from the Missouri Valley? The Missouri Valley thinks there ought to be five including Missouri State who is right with Cincinnati in the RPI's. Conference championships like that could be a factor if Cincinnati gets in, but after beating West Virginia and earlier knocking off LSU, they're in good shape. Syracuse losing to Villanova today really helped Cincinnati too. With Cincinnati's strength of schedule and the strength of the conference, I would think they're in unless weird things happen.

Q. The BCS for football has a very strict formula in choosing its teams, and Ohio uses computers to choose its high school football playoff participants. You mentioned possible bias of the athletic directors on the NCAA selection committee. Should the committee try to remove that chance of bias in its selection process or at least give an exact criteria of how they choose their teams?

A. I would agree with you on the last point. They should come back and tell exactly what their selection process is. This isn't something that all of a sudden appears from a magic formula. These people are looking at objective criteria, and I think they've shown over the years that they get it right more than they get it wrong. I don't see the need for the secrecy. The only need for the secrecy would be if there are backroom deals between certain conferences and AD's, and I'd hate to think that's going on.

Q. Looking at the BCS conferences that you mentioned earlier, is the Big East the best basketball conference?

A. I think they are, and the RPI in this case has it wrong with the Big Ten being the #1 conference in the country. Let's take a look at Louisville for example. Rick Pitino is probably considered one of the top five coaches in the country. They get a transfer from Kansas with a big reputation, and they have the Dean kid who everyone says is an NBA player. Louisville is in the bottom five in the league with that coach and those players and barely lose to UConn at UConn yesterday. That's all you need to know about the strength of that league. The Big East without a question is the best conference in the country.

Q. Can the Big East realistically expect eight or even nine schools to be selected to the tournament?

A. It would have been realistic if Syracuse had beaten Villanova today. With the Syracuse loss, I just can't see the selection committee taking a 9th team that's under .500 in its conference.

Q. Has the Big East's decision to play an uneven conference schedule hurt its chances of getting nine teams into the tournament since Syracuse had to play Connecticut, Villanova and Cincinnati twice? (Syracuse did not play Marquette or Providence)

A. Great question. Ultimately, that is going to hurt your bubble teams. Is that the difference between Syracuse getting or not getting a NCAA bid? It's not fair to the players, and its not fair to the coaches. Typically when a conference makes that decision, it's all based on money.

Q. You cover a lot of Atlantic 10 and MAC basketball. When you look at those conferences, how many bids will they receive barring upsets in their tournaments?

A. One bid. Absolutely. The reason for that is the MAC was #9 in the RPI last year and got only one bid. It was the first time in NCAA history that a conference ranked that highly got only one bid. This year the MAC is #16. The Atlantic 10 RPI is #11. That's a one bid RPI ranking. George Washington has helped the conference get a lot of national exposure, but their nonconference schedule is one of the worst in the country. By virtue of their being so powerful in the conference and playing such a weak nonconference schedule, other teams didn't get a chance to improve their RPI against them. George Washington's RPI is only #33 despite having only one loss.

Q. What mid-major conferences will get more than one team in the tournament even if its regular season conference champ wins the league tourney?

A. The Colonial Athletic Association would be one. You have George Mason who is ranked #22 in the RPI. I did their game when they beat Wichita State at Wichita State. You also have Hofstra at #33 who is a very good team and UNC-Wilmington at #43. Old Dominion isn't too bad either. Should they get two? I think they should. The Mountain West has typically been a multiple bid conference. San Diego State was the regular season champ, but Air Force has a #37 RPI, and Utah is always in the hunt. Conference USA is another one. Memphis is the class of that league, but that's a situation where Calipari went out and played a tough nonconference schedule, and that helps the other teams in the league when they play Memphis. It was the total opposite scheduling philosophy of George Washington, and it should help their league.

Q. Who are your four NCAA tournament #1 seeds as of right now?

A. UConn would definitely be a #1 seed. Duke is a definite #1 seed but may not be the overall #1 seed after yesterday‘s loss. You've also got Memphis and Villanova. I love Villanova and have seen them play several times. Those would be my four. Ohio State is in the mix, but I think UConn and Villanova playing in the Big East are more deserving, and you can't take Duke out of there. I just think Memphis is better than Ohio State.

Q. Your opinion has been there is no way Andy Kennedy will be hired as UC's coach, but some media are now backtracking from that stance. Are you backtracking?

A. No. I think he‘s done a great job and admire how he's handled the season, but I think the best thing for Andy Kennedy may be to go off some place and establish his own program in his own way. With the way he's handled things this year, he'll get that opportunity. I just think the administration has an anti-Huggins sentiment, and Andy was Bob's assistant.

Q. You've coached against Mike Montgomery and know him fairly well. Is Mike Montgomery a fit for the Cincinnati job?

A. The only reason he'd be a fit is because he's not a fit in the NBA. He's had two bad seasons in the NBA, and sometimes guys just need a job. I can see why his name might come up because of what they're looking for, but I think Mike may struggle in that environment. He was at Stanford for all those years and Montana before that and those are pretty radically different universities from Cincinnati. I've coached in the PAC 10 and went to school at Cincinnati, and I think there would be some culture shock for Mike Montgomery.

Q. What league tournaments will you be covering?

A. I have the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals for the afternoon session this week. I have the Atlantic 10 semifinals on Friday evening. That will be on Fox Sports Net. I'll also have the Mid-American Conference championship game on Saturday at 7 o'clock on either ESPN or ESPN2.

BCI appreciates Mark Adams taking the time to talk to us and share his insights and opinions.

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