NEW YORK — Just hours after the Selection Sunday show revealed the NCAA Tournament matchups, the trash talking was well underway in the Sixers locker room. Those whose schools are tournament-bound are geared up for March Madness.
"Kansas … " Joel Embiid began.
A loud laugh emanated near him.
The exclamation came from Justin Anderson.
“They won the Big 12 Tournament …” Embiid continued.
“Trash!” Anderson retorted.
Embiid (Kansas), Anderson (Virginia), T.J. McConnell (Arizona), Jerryd Bayless (Arizona) and JJ Redick (Duke) will be watching their alma maters closely as the schools vie for NCAA Tournament glory. The players made their case for their universities to win it all:
Embiid (Kansas, No. 1): “They’ve got a pretty good chance of winning the national championship, unlike Virginia. All they care about is shooting threes. Sometimes it’s going to go in, sometimes it’s not. Just kidding. I’m a big fan of Virginia. Obviously Justin's over there talking trash. But I’m hopeful that we’ve got a pretty good chance of winning the national championship.”
Anderson (Virginia, No. 1): “It's an honor, it's a blessing. Those guys have earned it. They're just coming off the ACC championship. I think we have a really good chance to win it. These guys are bought in. These guys are humble. These guys are in a position to hopefully put themselves in the forefront, hopefully hoist the trophy up in the end.”
McConnell (Arizona, No. 4): “I think they could make a real run at this thing. With Coach Miller coaching them, that always gives them a chance. Especially with Deandre (Ayton), probably one of the most dominant players in college basketball. There's a bunch of guys, I could go on and on forever, Dusan (Ristic), with the experience of Parker (Jackson-Cartwright), Allonzo (Trier) and their bench guys have to step up. It's about making a run at the right time and that's what they've got to do.”
There is a chance Virginia and Arizona could meet in the Sweet 16. The same goes for Kansas and Duke in the Elite Eight. Of course things would get really amped up if any of these teams faced off in the Final Four or, better yet, the title game.
"Whoever comes out on top has bragging rights," McConnell said. "Especially with Jo, there will be a lot of trash talk."