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Community Conversations: Experts weigh in on NCAA Tournament's return

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In News Channel 3's latest podcast, News Channel 3's sports director Andy Pepper chats former WMU Head Coach and current ESPN analyst Steve Hawkins, who led the Broncos to the 2004 and 2014 NCAA Tournaments; Ed Kengerski of Michigan Sports TV, who covers the Wolverines on a daily basis; and former News Channel 3 sports reporter Mike McCann. (WWMT)

The NCAA Basketball Tournament — cancelled last year because of the virus that shall not be named — tipped off Thursday afternoon, March 18, 2021.

News Channel 3's sports director Andy Pepper chatted about this years 68-team field with three men who absolutely love the game of basketball: Former WMU Head Coach and current ESPN analyst Steve Hawkins, who led the Broncos to the 2004 and 2014 NCAA Tournaments; Ed Kengerski of Michigan Sports TV, who covers the Wolverines on a daily basis; and former News Channel 3 sports reporter Mike McCann who is — to put it bluntly — a bit of a college basketball junkie.

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We covered a lot of ground during our about 47-minute podcast.

Some of the topics discussed include:

  • How vulnerable is top seeded Michigan without senior Isaiah Livers, who is sidelined indefinitely with a stress injury in his foot? Ed Kengerski tells us why the Wolverines are uniquely qualified to handle the loss of their 2nd leading scorer and top three-point shooter.
  • What can we expect from Michigan State? The Spartans beat three Top-5 teams in a 13 day stretch late in the season, but are faced with the dauting task of winning three games in 6 days just to reach the Sweet 16.
  • Is undefeated Gonzaga a lock to reach the Final Four? The Bulldogs have already beaten the #2, #3, and #4 seeds (Iowa, Kansas, Virginia) in their region by double digits this season.
  • How will the Big Ten - which sent a conference record 9 teams to the Big Dance - fare in the Tournament? Expectations are high for a conference that has two #1 seeds, a pair of #2 seeds, and a #4 seed.
  • Which highly seeded teams won't survive opening weekend? Steve Hawkins thinks #4 Virginia could very well be upset by MAC champion Ohio.
  • Which players are you most excited to watch in the tournament? I'm eager to see more of Gonzaga's fantastic freshman point guard Jaylen Suggs, who is projected to be a high pick in this years NBA Draft.
  • Which teams will be playing in the National semifinals on April 3rd at Lucas Oil Stadium?

Listen in to the conversation during this special Community Conversations podcast

Due to the pandemic, the NCAA is holding the entire tournament in Indiana.

#1 Michigan will play the winner of the First Four matchup between Mount St. Mary's and Texas Southern on Saturday afternoon inside Purdue's Mackey Arena. You can watch that 3:00 game on CBS. If Michigan wins, they will play their 2nd round game on Monday.

#11 Michigan State will play UCLA in a First Four matchup on Thursday night at 9:57. That game will also be played at Mackey Arena, and will be televised on TBS. If MSU wins, they will face #6 BYU on Saturday night.

To listen to more News Channel 3 conversations, find us on your favorite podcast platform, or visit the Community Conversations page.