CBS college basketball analyst and former Chronicle sports columnist Seth Davis was on campus Tuesday to speak to students and promote Coke Zero’s Department of Fannovation contest. Coke Zero will award $10,000 to the creator of the most innovative way to enhance the basketball fan experience as chosen by other fans. The Chronicle’s Gabe Starosta and Taylor Doherty sat down with Davis before the event to talk about college hoops.
The following are excerpts of that conversation:
The Chronicle: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us. How long will you be in Durham for?
Seth Davis: I’ll be in town until tomorrow night. I’ll be at the game tomorrow night. Early Thursday morning I’m going to fly to Indianapolis. The NCAA has a mock selection [session] for the media, which I did last year so I probably wouldn’t have gone this year, but I have this new show on CBS College Sports Television, an hour long show, and so we’re going to put a camera crew there that will watch us go through the process.
TC: Can you tell us more about the NCAA mock selection process? In terms of the ACC, what’re you looking at?
SD: Well we’re not looking at North Carolina, are we? It’s interesting, even a few weeks ago I was saying, “Hey, everybody stop panicking, Carolina is going to be fine,” because you just assumed that they would get better. They’re so young and they have a great coach, so you just assumed this is how the process happens. To not only not have that happen but for them to go the other way is pretty striking. They’ve got a lot of work to do. They have to at least split with Duke and they have to probably win a couple of road games at [Georgia] Tech and at Wake Forest. I think at the end of the day, the minimum is going to be six [teams], and right now the seventh is probably Virginia Tech. They have a pretty good case.
TC: So if the season ended today, who would be the number one seeds, and what seed would Duke be?
SD: Not a number one seed. The top three are easy in Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse. I think Villanova is the fourth, especially with their win last night [over West Virginia]. Coming off the loss to Georgetown, their best win before that was probably when they beat Georgetown at home. They didn’t have a whole lot of quality wins. But I think they’re a number one seed.
Duke right now is probably a two. They’re no lower than a three. The thing about Duke now [is] you’d be hard pressed to find an example to find a team winning the ACC regular season and winning the ACC tournament and not being a number one seed. I doubt that’s ever happened. Duke’s got a chance to do that. People don’t really talk about them being a number one seed, but if they do that…the opportunity is there for Duke.
TC: What type of relationship have you developed with Duke graduates in the media?
SD: Jay [Williams] and I have actually become very good friends. Jay did work last year for CBS College Sports, so I was on air with Jay a lot and we’re still in touch. We text and all that. He’s doing great, he’s getting better all the time. He called me maybe a month and a half ago and just wanted to pick my brain and was asking, “How do you keep on top of everything?” I said, "Listen, you know, depend on your folks in research" and this and that. Part of learning how to prepare for television is learning how to not over-prepare. That took me a couple of years because you can get into everything and then have nothing.
TC: The Blue Devils will play in a rivalry game tomorrow night when they head to Chapel Hill to face the Tar Heels. What are your thoughts about the game tomorrow night?
SD: I think it’s going to be a good game. You know, anybody who thinks that Duke is just going to just waltz in there…it’s just not going to happen, it’s just not. Carolina has shown that they can play well. They just haven’t played well lately; they’ve played poorly.
TC: Who’s your pick to win the game?
SD: I’ve got the Dukies, but I think it’s going to be a close game. The comment…that Coach K made on my show was that the [UNC] team that’s lost all those games by those big margins is not going to be the team that shows up tomorrow night. They’re going to play well. I’ve lived too long, and I’ve seen too much…. Obviously, I’m biased being a [former] Duke student, but the Duke-Carolina game [in Cameron], I think, is the single best sporting event that somebody can be at.