"Hello? Yeah, can I speak to Tom…Tom O’Connor please?"
"Sure, tell him it’s Mike Brey from Notre Dame."
"No, he’s not expecting my call."
"Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you, too."
"Yeah, hey Tom, I’m gonna cut to the chase here. Whose idea of a cruel joke was it to give us George Mason in the first round?"
"Don’t give me that line. Lightning can strike twice. Lorranga has five guys left over from the team that won over everyone’s hearts.
"Two of ‘em—Will Thomas and Folarin Campbell—were starters in ’06. Campbell scored double figures in all the tournament games. Thomas was player-of-the-game when they beat Michigan State and Wichita St. Everyone in Denver is gonna be pulling for them."
"Are you kidding me? The Colonial has been a killer the last couple of years. You remember what VCU did to Duke last year? To make matters worse, if we survive, we get Washington St. or Winthrop."
"We’re gonna need new jock straps if we play Bennett’s kids, ‘cause they are in their opponents’ every night."
The Cougars are allowing teams only 56.5 points per game, and they take care of the ball averaging only 10.3 turnovers per game.
"Don’t even try and tell me the Pac-10 is down this year. You know as well as I that conference is stacked from top to bottom."
"And then Winthrop? My kids are still wincing from that one last year. The Eagles have been to the tournament three years in a row now. They won’t be so starry-eyed anymore. And Winthrop is limiting opponents to 58 points per game."
"How do I know? It’s my job to know these stats."
"Yeah, I don’t know why Marshall hasn’t moved on from Winthrop—six trips to the dance and all."
"On top of all that, you give us UNC to deal with."
"Oh yeah, Luke against Hansbrough could be a great matchup; I’d just rather see it in the Elite Eight or Final Four"
"We are a Final Four team!"
"Look we won 14 games in our league. We’re No. 1 in the nation with 18.9 assists per game. Our assist to turnover ratio 1.46—second in the nation, and our rebound margin is 5.8; good for 20th in the country."
"Yeah, I know that means we can hang with big boys, but could you at least let us get out of the gate?"
"You know it’s bad when a guy who bleeds Duke Blue rates him as the best. All I can get is this guy Wally talking about my players. He such a homer his last name should be Simpson. He thinks McAlarney is a point guard. Man he’s gotta get with it."
"Yeah, I know American is 41 percent from behind the arc."
"Do I think they can hang with Tennessee? What? Tom, are you doing your brackets?"
"Let me get this straight.
"You guys stick me with a road to the Final Four filled with potholes and land mines, and, now, you want my help?"
"All right…I've got a few minutes. Let’s run through it."
"Yeah, it’d be nice if American could make Tennessee sweat like a long-tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
"I just don’t see it. I suppose Princeton almost did it two decades ago against Georgetown, but American might have more turnovers than points scored when they face the Volunteer press.
"Thing is Pearl’s gang has these great numbers: 82.5 points per game, 18.2 assists per game (fourth in the country), 9.3 steals per game (11th), and 1.42 assists to turnovers (fifth). But, if someone takes care of the ball and makes the Volunteers run half-court offense, Tennessee will struggle."
"Like I said, American won’t do it, but Butler could throw a little scare into the Vols. The Bulldogs only turn the ball over 10.3 times per game (third). They hold teams to 57.8 points per game (fifth), and they convert 9.2 threes per game (14th). Mike Green and AJ Graves are a solid one-two tandem on the perimeter. Both can go off the dribble, and both can knock down the open jumper. Matt Howard is a ball-getter inside."
"Pitino’s Cardinals are going to need to take care of business against Boise St. Matt Nelson will cause matchup problems for Padgett. The key to this game will be the Louisville press. The Cardinals allow opponents to hit only 38.3 percent of their field goals. If Louisville stays out of foul trouble, the Broncos will make a quick exit.
"But Louisville will have their work cut out for them in the second round.
"Jeff Capel’s Oklahoma Sooners have seven wins this year over tournament teams, including two against underrated Baylor.
"The Sooners play St. Joe’s in the first round. The Hawks managed to survive the grueling Atlantic Ten this year with a 9-7 conference record. Both the Hawks and Sooners lost their most recent games."
"Indiana and Arkansas will fight it out for a chance to play the Heels.
"With all the controversy the Hoosiers represent an enigma of sorts. Will they come together and play without a conscience for Dan Dakich? Or have the problems caused division in the locker room?
"Arkansas has a nine seed, but the SEC has been a mystery this year. Could the Razorbacks be in over their heads?"
"Well look, Tom, I gotta run. Practice starts in a couple of hours. You guys have given us enough to prepare for."