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Learn more at Goalie.com today. So excited. It's a rite of passage every March. This is our true sign that March Madness is underway when Jerry Palm, who does not sleep or sleeps strange hours, or I can't even really keep up. He joins us in studio to talk about the brackets that we've seen and how well his bracketology lined up with what the committee showed us on Sunday night.
So Jerry, welcome in studio. How many selection Sundays for you now? This is my 30th year of doing brackets. 30th year? Yeah.
So predating CBS. Oh yeah. Yeah. Well, I started, do you not know the story? I started trying to calculate the RPI because I had a new computer and a database and too much time on my hands, but I wanted to learn this thing. Al Gore just invented the internet.
Of course. So I created this database, but I had to go to the library to get all the scores because we didn't have team websites where you would download things. So I did that and I've shared it with people back in 94 or 93 really, and never thought anybody would care and people cared, but the real miracle of my story, the only reason I probably got into this, maybe this would have happened some other way, but it's better this way. A guy who covers Penn State, Dave Jones for the Harrisburg Patriot News, the one year in a generation that Penn State is good at basketball was 1996 and he found what I was doing and contacted me and we traded a bunch of emails and talked on the phone and he liked me and he tells two friends, they tell two friends, shampoo commercial breaks out and pretty soon everybody who covered college basketball knew who I was and I don't think I could have done anything to stop it, but it took Penn State being good at basketball for that to happen. That one year. That one year.
But it's a once a generation thing, so they're kind of due. When did you first get paid to do it? Oh gosh, 2002. I mean I made a little bit, I was still working as a programmer. I mean my degree is computer science. I worked for lawyers and bankers for 17 years, so I started this in the middle of that and I was doing it as a hobby and really just for fun. But then I got downsized in March 1st of 2002. So right before the tournament.
That's wrong. But it turned out to be right for me because I had by then had a pretty good network of sports writers and stuff and users and things like that and I went to the Final Four that year and I met with some of them and said, you know, what if I make my site a subscription site? Do you think people would go for it?
So I would go for it. I'd promote it, you know, so I did and for a while I was, I'm like one of the first people to make money on the internet doing sports and sports media and people are still trying to figure out how to do that. So I did football also. I added football in 98 when the BCS started. I had been doing some freelancing along with my subscription site which required a delicate balance because I was freelancing primarily for CBS and they would print whatever I gave them for free and I have a subscriber base so I had to make sure I was giving them different things.
They, for lack of a better term, bought me out in 2011. I went to CBS full-time and so I've been with CBS ever since, full-time since 2011. I am so glad that you are because otherwise we would not have crossed paths and we look forward to Jerry's conversation every year in Selection Sunday because he usually misses one. I missed one.
Maybe two. You got one wrong this year. So of the 68 teams in the NCAA tournament, the men's side we're talking, which school did you miss? I missed Arizona State and I had Rutgers, so that's the second year in a row I missed on Rutgers.
I remember. So I'm beginning to, you know, have a complex I think about Rutgers. What I need is for Rutgers to be better so that they're not so close to the bottom or worse, I don't care, take a pick.
Just don't be so close to the cut line so that I can have a chance to not miss you. Did that have to do with Rutgers playing in the Big Ten which of course fielded eight teams? No, I mean it's just they were my last team in, Arizona State was my first team out. That's the team that ultimately got in. They were very similar in different ways, but I thought Rutgers had better wins, little bit stronger schedule from playing in the Big Ten, so I went with them. Their losses were worse and I think there was a subjective part of this, which the process is subjective, guided by objective data, but still, you know.
It's a committee of people. Well, right, and so I think at the end of the day, Arizona State probably looked more like a tournament team than Rutgers did, and that's not an unfair evaluation. We end up with Alabama as the number one overall seed in the South region and there was a little bit of a debate on the selection show, of course, on CBS Sports. What's your opinion of Bama as the top seed instead of Kansas, who as recently as 48 hours ago, you and I were talking about KU as the overall number one?
Yeah, I think they should have been. I mean, they have the number one schedule by a lot. It's overwhelming. They have 17 quad one wins, they're 17 and seven in quad one, so they played 24 quad one games. That's the majority of their schedule.
Oh yes, two-thirds. Yeah, it's a ridiculous number, and you know, those 17 wins, I mean, not all quad one wins are the same, so like Oklahoma's a quad one win, that's not a tournament team, but most of those wins are teams that are playing in the tournament. I just felt like that should be rewarded, not that Alabama had a poor year by any stretch, but I just thought that Kansas should be one, Alabama, Houston, Purdue, and I am reasonably sure that had Purdue lost to Penn State today, UCLA would have been a one and Purdue would have been two. It's interesting to hear Chris Reynolds, who's the committee chair this year, talk about how they considered six or seven teams as top seeds. How much actually changes on the final day or even in these last two days where we have so many conference championships that are taking place? Yeah, there are five conference championships. They usually have contingency brackets, which is why I know that there was a contingency bracket for if Purdue won. Now it could have affected Penn State, but it probably would have said if Penn State won, but this said if Purdue won, which is why I think had Purdue lost that game, which they tried to lose, that they might have been knocked down to the two line and UCLA moved up, but UCLA was number five overall. How much did Duke improve its status by winning the tournament in John Shire's first year? Probably not more than one seed line in part because there's just not a lot of room to move necessarily, although more maybe at that part of the bracket than at the top, but also the ACC isn't that good this year. So while they may have played the best team they could on their way to that championship, they still aren't great teams. It's kind of another down year for that league, not as bad as last year, but still a down year for that league.
So excited to have Jerry Palm in studio with us. As you hear, he's been talking about RPI and seedings and brackets for 30 years now, but with CBS Sports, it's After Hours with Amy Lawrence here on CBS Sports Radio. We have some very high profile programs that are dealing with injuries, significant injuries, and Chris Reynolds mentioned on the show that they do consider that when it comes to the bracket.
What does that mean? How differently would you treat a school based on an injury? Well, we've seen celebrated cases in the past. Kenyon Martin was the first one with Cincinnati in 2001. He got hurt. He was going to be the National Player of the Year. He was a National Player of the Year and Cincinnati was going to be the overall number one seed. He blows his knee in the first game of their conference tournament and they go on to lose. So the committee never really got to see very much of Cincinnati without Kenyon Martin and they made him a two seed. It's an obvious drop based on an injury. It's not usually that obvious, 2010 Robbie Hummel blew his knee for Purdue late in February.
Not that I'm bitter, but I'm bitter still. That was a number one seed, a favorite to win the national championship on the short list and Purdue still won the big 10, struggled a little bit, ended up with a profile that looked like a three seed and they ended up a four. So a one seed drop, that's not really that dramatic. So UCLA loses Jalen Clark and he's done for the year. We know he's done for the year. He's their second leading scorer, rebounder, defensive player of the year in the league. Key piece of what they do, they lost to Arizona. I actually put UCLA down to a three thinking that might be an appropriate spot for them. The committee had him number five overall. So they didn't, they did not bring them down because of that injury, which I'm not going to say they're wrong to do that, I mean, and you don't get cases like this every year, you know, that's, I just named three, you know, with high profile teams, but the committee puts a little more weight on what, how you play with the roster you're taking into the tournament versus otherwise, but the operative word there is little, a little more weight and sometimes they don't have much information.
But it was interesting because he specifically mentioned a handful of teams that they had looked at based on injuries, moving them around and changing match-ups. When you look at the four brackets or the four regions, excuse me, which one is the toughest? The East. Purdue has got, just as a number one seed, their second game could be Memphis, which just beat Houston today. They could play Duke in the Sweet 16, which is a team they beat earlier in Portland, but is much better now and the ACC champion. Then they could play Marquette in the Elite Eight, the two seed, which is a team that they played earlier in the season at home, a five point win for Purdue. You know, these are really good teams and Kentucky's in that region and Michigan State's in that region.
That region is stacked, Purdue's region is stacked. So they made them a number one seed, but they didn't really do them very many favors. It's not like we expect that all four number one seeds are going to make it to the final four this year in Houston. It's happened once. Actually, right. My first and only final four that I've ever attended in person was Houston in 2017, right?
You and I were able to cover that one together, which was fun. So it's back in Houston. So it is rare, but when you look at the paths of the four number one seeds, you mentioned Purdue has the toughest road, Alabama, Houston, Kansas, which is the, I'm using my air quotations, easier route. I think Alabama's road is relatively easy. You know, Alabama, you're the overall number one seed. I mean, that should be part of being the overall number one seed. They don't really think of it that way because they don't bracket based on the strength of the teams. They treat all of the twos, they think of all of the twos as the same, all of the threes as the same, and teams go in the bracket based on geography, whatever. They will put you at the closest available site that they can put you because that's what really drives the bracket. So for Alabama, the teams in their part of the bracket works out to a little bit easier path for them, but it's the NCAA tournament.
Nothing's really easy. No, of course not. It's why it's three of the greatest weeks in the entire sports calendar. Jerry Palm, we always look forward to him being in studio following the selection show. One team he got wrong, one. The stats and the numbers and the process has changed, but you have not, Jerry. You are the same.
You continue to follow it. It's after hours here on CBS Sports Radio. We always love Cinderella's this time of the year. So a couple of teams you think people should at least consider as Cinderella's that could make an extended dance.
Okay. So there were three double digit seeds that I like, and I liked them before I saw the bracket. Two of them did not get great draws.
I don't even care. I'm picking them anyway. One is VCU, the A-10 champion. That's a team that was one of the favorites in that league and ended up being a one bid league this year, which is kind of unusual, but they had some injury problems in non-conference play when they can resume build.
Dayton as well did. And so they ended up with a 12 seed, which is probably below their actual quality. I think VCU could win a couple of games. Drake from the Missouri Valley with Tucker DeVries, the son of the coach, and he's good enough to play at a high major school. He's not, he's playing with his dad and that's a very good team.
He's a really good player. They've got a chance to win at least a game or two. And then my third one with the one I'm least confident in now that I've seen the bracket is Oral Roberts. Oral Roberts from the Summit League. You may remember two years ago, they were in the Sweet 16 with leading scorer in the nation at that time, Max A. Smith.
Well, he's still there. And a couple other guys from that team are still there. Now the problem for them is they get Duke. Size matchup might be troublesome for them, but that's a team that already knows they can win.
Like a lot of these teams think they can win and maybe they can win, but Oral Roberts knows they can win because they just did it not that long ago. So 30 win team. Yeah. Yeah. So that's the, they're the only team to go undefeated through their conference this season.
So tremendous. So they're going to get Duke. We've got the matchup problems with Duke, but you know, they're not going to lay down for him either. One of the metrics I look at when I'm filling out brackets or just in general, which I feel tells me how battle tested a team may be is strength of schedule. You mentioned Kansas being far and away, tops in the country and strength of schedule. What's a metric that maybe you look at or that you feel like gives an accurate assessment of a team and its value, but not just that it's ability to win in a tournament. Yeah. You know, it's funny.
I don't really look at the metrics too much. You know, like Ken Pomeroy has got great stuff. Ken Palm. Yes.
Ken Palm. I mean, you could just look at his rankings and you could pick teams off his rankings. You probably get two thirds, you know, cause that's, he's got a defensive ranking, right? Yeah. Yeah. He's got offensive and defensive efficiency and it's like adjusted and tempo adjusted and things like that.
So it's really, you know, if you're geeky that that way, it's pretty good stuff. Teams that get to the final four and especially teams that win the tournament invariably have got a high first round draft pick on their roster invariably now. So you know, Brandon Miller at Alabama, Marcus Sasser at Houston, Jalen Wilson at Kansas, Zach Ed at Purdue 10 years ago when they still played through the post of the NBA, but they don't anymore. But, but these, that level of a player just not for that league. So teams like that, and you can, I, you can easily identify others that those are the kinds of players I look for.
I also look for experienced guards, which for example, Purdue does not have, at least not in the starting lineup and, and defensive, good defensive teams, good free throw shooting teams. Yes. Free throw shooting. Yes. But you have to be in a game where the free throw shooting matters, right? For sure. But you have fewer possessions, oh, and good rebounding teams because you can create new possessions for yourself, but you have fewer possessions in NCAA tournament games, mostly because teams just play a little tighter.
So you don't get as much up and down. Even with teams that play that style will not do it as much. They'll do it more than others, but not as much. So you know, if you can, if you can take care of the ball, if you can get rebounds, if you can shoot free throws, you've got a pretty good chance to win most of your game. It is, I think pretty full circle, at least for me exactly three years ago today, we were all dealing with the fact and processing the fact that March Madness had been canceled.
It was March 12th, 2020 and I've heard, yes, me too. I've heard your story. I know where you were covering games, but now three years later, when I say that, what pops into your brain? I'm so glad we get to go to games again. But whenever I think of that year, in fact, we even talked about it a little bit in our bullpen today is Dayton. Dayton had a generational team, a team that Dayton doesn't get, and they never got to see it play. And it's just, it still hurts me to think of that team not getting a chance to possibly do something for a school that never gets to that level, and Dayton's a great basketball school.
They really are, but that is something completely different for them to have the number one team in the country and not to not get to see that team play still hurts three years later. Yeah. Wow.
You can find him at JP Palm CBS, and now 30 years after he covered his first tournament or first time doing the brackets part of CBS Sports, which is awesome. We're always excited to have you in studio. Thank you so much. One school missed. I don't know how that brings your average down, but it pretty much keeps it the same.
That is his margin for error. Awesome. And you're headed to Columbus to cover games that will eventually end up in Houston, Columbus, Louisville, and Houston.
Very nice. Awesome to see you again. Thank you so much for coming in. Oh, thanks for having me in. It's March.
That can mean only one thing. The madness is here, not in front of a TV on game day. Listen to every round of NCAA March Madness live from Westwood one free in the Odyssey app. Catch all the biggest moments of the tournament, no matter where you are. From Cinderella's to buzzer beaters to champions search for NCAA March Madness right here in the Odyssey app to get started.
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