Not to alarm Kentucky fans, but Kenny Smith has correctly picked the last two winners of the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday, and this year, he picked Wisconsin.
“They have experience. They have size,” the TNT NBA analyst said of the Badgers on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s kind of like playoffs in football, playoffs in basketball at the pro level. The rotations shrink. So their second unit aren’t playing against guys just coming in for six minutes to get some run. You’re going to play against the top-quality point guards, and then you got (Traevon) Jackson coming in for Wisconsin. So now (Kentucky’s) second-unit guy is actually playing against a guy who is actually a starter, so it’s a lot of different movement. But Kentucky, great team. Come on. If they win, I’m not going to (be surprised). Wisconsin, though, I just thought when the tournament started, they had everything. Inside, outside, experience and coaching.”
Kentucky and Wisconsin tip off Saturday at 8:49 p.m. ET – almost 24 hours after Smith’s new show “Meet the Smiths” debuts on TBS on Friday at 9 p.m.
“It’s funny,” Smith said. “Everybody’s like, ‘How intrusive is it?’ It just feels like a continuation of my life on the show. I call it a reality comedy or unscripted comedy. It’s an unscripted comedy. A lot of fun, but it’s just straight comedy. I am not the coolest person in my house.”
The show follows his Smith, his wife, Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith, and their five children (three daughters and two sons). Between the show’s debut and the Final Four, Smith has a very busy weekend ahead.
“It’s crazy,” he said.
Smith also opened up about his former college coach Dean Smith, who passed away in February. Smith (the player) was one of 180 or so former Tar Heels who received a letter and a $200 check from Smith (the coach) instructing him to go out and have a free meal on him.
“We always said he was ahead of his time, a next-level guy,” Smith said. “But even in passing, (he’s teaching) us lessons about honoring people who you love.
“I’ve never told this story, but I’m going to tell it,” Smith continued. “He calls me right when he retires, and he calls me and he says, ‘Kenny, I’m calling to apologize.’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ He says, ‘I want to apologize because Phil Ford’s not going to get the job.’ He said, ‘They won’t hire him because of some transgressions that’s happened, but I’m not going to be able to help get an African-American coach here. (After) all the things you guys have done for me, and not being able to put one in place . . .
“I still get chills,” Smith went on to say. “I never want it to be about race, but that’s the type of person (he was) and his thought process of how we helped him in a time when he was the first one to bring Charlie Scott in. But he thought about it. And in passing, he’s still thinking about his players and what they’re doing and what they’re thinking.”