[With the NCAA March Madness tournament just days away, SOHH’s speaking to diehard sports fanatics and former NCAA/NBA players to find out who they’re riding with this year. Today, former North Carolina Tar Heels/NBA champion Kenny “The Jet” Smith speaks on the tournament.]
I’m North Carolina until I die. North Carolina is who I’m always rooting for and I’m always optimistic for them without question.
But this year, there’s a lot of teams that individually don’t have that one guy that the NBA itself is salivating over. They have a collection of guys that are pretty good players. So if you go down to Indiana or go to that other school in Durham, I never say their name. I went to North Carolina, so we never say that name. We’re talking about Miami, there’s a lot of schools, Georgetown, that have a good collection of players that are going to make the tournament a lot of fun this year.
What everyone talks about is Mid-Major and major, to me, that landscape is not there anymore. The only separation between a Major and a Mid-Major is finances. That’s it. The school has more finances that the other school does.
The Butlers and Gonzagas of the world, those schools aren’t Mid-Majors anymore. If you look at just the basketball players, you say, no, but if you look at how those basketball players got to the game, oh yeah, that’s a Mid-Major because they didn’t have a private bus, they didn’t stay at the Four Seasons or the Ritz. If I look at them on the court, I wouldn’t be able to judge that.
There’s a lot of teams that are highly ranked that you don’t know. They’re not your typical ACC powers or your Big Ten powers or your Pac-12 powers. Not many people have seen Gonzaga play. Not many people have seen Miami play. Those are the teams that are dominating throughout the year that people haven’t seen.
I think this is the year where those types of teams will now get interest that they’ve never gotten before and the key will be how they handle it. when they become the star of the big states. It’s easy to walk to the big dance when no one knows you’re coming but when you’re there, can you handle that pressure when you’re shot at?
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Kenneth “The Jet” Smith is a retired American professional basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association. He currently works as a TV basketball analyst, primarily for Inside the NBA on TNT