Entering the NCAA Tournament, Doug Gottlieb thought that the four best teams in the country were Kentucky, Arizona, Wisconsin and Duke.
Now that we’re down to 16 teams, who are the top four left?
“That’s a tough one,” Pac-12 Network analyst Kevin O’Neill said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Kentucky and Arizona, to me, are the two best teams because of length, athleticism, etc. etc. I think Wisconsin is very good. I think Gonzaga is better than Duke. I think Gonzaga beats Duke. They have legitimate size to combat either Arizona or Kentucky. And I know (Jahlil) Okafor is a great player and all that, but they’ve got two or three of him on the front line size-wise. I think Gonzaga is going to get there. I really do.”
O’Neill likes Arizona to get to the Final Four as well. The No. 2 Wildcats (33-3) play No. 6 Xavier (23-13) in the Sweet 16 on Thursday at 10:17 p.m. ET.
“I think they have a mismatch at both wing spots with Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson,” O’Neill said. “And I think Gabe York has become a very valuable player off the bench. I think he’s better off the bench than as a starter. He gives them scoring punch off the bench, and I just think Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Jonnson, they have a mismatch against almost everybody they play against.”
T.J. McConnell, meanwhile, is a “great college point guard,” and Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski are quite formidable in the paint.”
If victorious, Arizona would advance to the Elite Eight to face the winner of No. 1 Wisconsin (33-3) versus No. 4 North Carolina (26-11). Both Gottlieb and O’Niell believe that the Tar Heels – with their size, length and athleticism – have a chance to keep it close against the Badgers.
“Here’s what I think they have to do,” O’Neill said. “They’re going to have to double-team (Frank) Kaminsky in the post. Otherwise, Brice Johnson or whoever else plays him is going to get in foul trouble one-on-one. I think their athleticism, if they double-team Kaminsky – he’s really dangerous in those long post-ups. I agree with you that Brice Johnson can guard him out on the perimeter. They’ve just got to get it out of his hands as much as they can – almost take an NBA approach and say, ‘Okay, anybody here is beating us except Frank Kaminsky.’ Because if you take Kaminsky out of the game, you only have to look to the Rutgers game to see what happens when Wisconsin doesn’t have him heavily involved in every possession.”