2015 Final Four: Dan Shulman talks to Wildcat Blue Nation


ESPN broadcaster Dan Shulman spoke to Wildcat Blue Nation this afternoon. For the second year in a row, Shulman is calling the 2015 Final Four and Championship Game for ESPN International.

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Daniel Solzman: Thanks for joining Wildcat Blue Nation today. How are things treating you?

Dan Shulman: Things are good, thank you.

Daniel Solzman: You’re calling the Final Four and Championship Game this weekend for ESPN International. Last year was your first Final Four. What was that experience like and what are you looking forward to seeing this weekend?

Dan Shulman: It was fantastic. Having never called a Final Four before, it was just a thrill to be there. To see some good close games, too, it was just terrific last year. This is as good of a weekend as a guy can have: doing the semis this weekend, the Cardinals-Cubs on Sunday, and back for the championship game on Monday. I’m really excited about it. Obviously, Kentucky is the favorite but there are three other really good teams that are there. I think we are going to have some great games.

Daniel Solzman: Given your baseball duties, I’m sure you’re appreciating the shorter commute compared to last year?

Dan Shulman: Yeah, Indy to Chicago is better than Dallas to Los Angeles. That will make it a little bit easier. It’s just a short flight and it’s all going to work out well.

Daniel Solzman: How do the Cats and Badgers match up compared to last season?

Dan Shulman: Well, Kentucky, obviously, is a different team. They’ve got some of the guys back but they’ve added a lot of players this year so Kentucky’s a much better team this year than they were last year. Even though they made the national championship game last year, they didn’t have a great regular season. Now, they’re potentially on the verge of history at 38-0 right now.

But I think Wisconsin is better as well. Sam Dekker is a better player now than he was last year. Bronson Koenig is a better player now than he was last year. They’re a very, very confident team. I think this is a fascinating matchup. I would give Kentucky a slight edge but I don’t think is going to be easy for them at all. If they play poorly, they’ll lose. They’re going to have to play well to beat Wisconsin.

Daniel Solzman: There’s the possibility of a rematch between the Cats and Duke on Monday night. How big of a game in general would that be for college basketball?

Dan Shulman: It would be a monster. An absolute monster. I think between the history of the two programs, the run that Kentucky is on right now trying to go undefeated the entire season and the following that Duke has—that both programs have, it would be absolutely enormous. At the beginning of the season, if somebody were to say to you “Pick the dream matchup in the final,” it’s probably Kentucky and Duke, no disrespect to anybody else. They might be the two most popular and also the two most polarizing programs in college basketball. It would be a huge event if those two were to meet on Monday Night.

Daniel Solzman: What do you make of the USBWA not naming John Calipari as the Coach of the Year?

Dan Shulman: Oh, I don’t know. I think he certainly deserves consideration but I think sometimes people look at it and say, “Well, look at all the talent he has.” I think you can look at it different ways. It’s one thing to win with less talent. It’s another thing to get that much talent to put their egos aside and play for the team. I think he did a great, great job this year but I think whether it’s Jay Wright or Tony Bennett or Tom Izzo or Bo Ryan, I think you can make the case for a lot of guys for that award.

Daniel Solzman: Come Monday, do you think that Calipari will be elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame?

Dan Shulman: Yes, I do. I think he will. I think Bo Ryan’s good. Bo Ryan is on that list as well but nobody ever talks about that. I think Bo Ryan’s got a shot as well. If it doesn’t happen this year for those two guys, they’ll get in soon. Tom Izzo’s going to join them before too long.

Daniel Solzman: Thanks again.

Dan Shulman: Alright, you’re welcome.

Daniel Solzman: Happy Passover.

Dan Shulman: You too, Daniel. Take care.