The NCAA tournament field is set, and Yahoo's Tourney Pick 'Em has teamed with Quicken Loans for the first Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge. Chris Paul, Paul George, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony are participating in the Celebrity Bracket Challenge and are submitting their own picks where users can join their individual bracket pools. Paul, George, Bosh and Anthony talked recently with Yahoo Sports about their strategy for NCAA tourney pools and how they would spend $1 billion.
If you won the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge with a perfect bracket, what would you do with the money?
Paul George: "Of course I'm retiring. I'm going to try to own the Pacers and run [Pacers president] Larry [Bird] up out of his spot. Yeah man, I'm retiring for sure. That's a lot of money to sit on. Of course, I'm going to invest it right and make sure my money works for me, but I'm definitely leaving the game at that point and resting up early."
Chris Paul: "Me and my wife actually have joked about it, and even guys in our league talk about, 'If you were to win the lottery, what would you change?' A lot of people say that the first thing they'd do is quit their job. That's not what I would do. I love my job. I'm getting a chance to live my dream now. What I'd actually have happen is my family and people around me, a lot of their lives would change. I'd really get an opportunity to do some of the things in philanthropy that I've always wanted to do. I get to do a lot of different things now, but obviously I'd get to do a lot more."
Chris Bosh: "I'd spend it, give away some to charity and take care of the people I need to take care of. And then I'd go on the best vacation the world has ever seen. I would continue to play. I wouldn't have anything else to do. I love basketball. We all played this game since we were little and we did it for free. I'd continue to play this game for sure."
Carmelo Anthony: "I might still want to play just to be playing. I'm going to have the money. But to still be able to do what you do and still have fun doing what you do and still know you got a billion sitting in the bank, that would make life just that much easier."
'Melo, you wouldn't use the $1 billion to buy the New York Knicks?
Carmelo Anthony: "Yeah, I am going to need some more investors if I want to try to buy the Knicks."
What advice can you give to someone filling out a bracket?
Chris Paul: "You should always do one bracket with your heart. Then you do one bracket with logic. But with this, the billion-dollar bracket, you better do one bracket with logic. If you go with your heart, you're wasting your time."
Chris Bosh: "Don't think too much. The more thought, the more kind reasoning you do with yourself about why this team can win. Anything can happen in one game. It makes it really, really difficult to figure out what is going on. I'd say keep your emotions out of it. Just kind of pick at random."
Paul George: "You got to watch college basketball. It's different in the NBA guessing who is going to win a game, but in college it's much more strategic. You got to sit down and watch to know who is going to beat who and what matchup is going to be the better matchup or what playing style is going to be better than another playing style. You really have to be a fan of college basketball to be successful in [tournament pools]."
Carmelo Anthony: "You have to know which team is which, how the team has been playing throughout the season. Injuries come into play. And you also have to have luck on your side as well."
Who is your pick to win the tournament?
Paul George: "I'm going to try to get some brownie points for the summer. I am going to roll with Coach K [Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who also coaches USA Basketball's national team]. They got a proven player in Jabari Parker and they have a good system. Coach K always does well in tournament time. It's tough to go against a great coach. Whether they win it or not, Duke often makes it to the very end. It's about limiting minor mistakes. I think Duke has a chance this year."
Chris Paul: "I can't tell you that. I can't tell you that. I still got a few things to analyze. There are a billion dollars to talk about here. But I really like Louisville right now because I really like the kid Russ Smith and I like UConn because I'm a big Shabazz Napier fan. You have to have great guard play in the tournament."
Chris Bosh: "I'm in the same boat. I don't even know how I'm going to pick this bracket. I'm trying to watch a few of the championship games. I'm still trying to check out who's doing well, who's doing what. You have to be playing well at the right time. That has a big thing to do with it."
Carmelo Anthony: "That's a no-brainer. That's a rhetorical question." [He's picking Syracuse.]
OK, 'Melo, if you had $1 billion on the line, and you had to choose between your alma mater, Syracuse, and top-ranked Florida, what would you do?
Carmelo Anthony: "I'm not going with Florida over Syracuse for a billion. I'm sticking with my boys."
Who is your sleeper team?
Carmelo Anthony: "Wichita State got a good thing going right now … especially coming off the regular season they had."
Paul George: "I don't think there is a sleeper team. But my second option would be Arizona. I'm going to go with the Wildcats as my second option. They got a little bit of everything. They got playmakers. They got scorers. They got guys who make a big impact on both sides of the floor. Nick Johnson and the big kid [Aaron Gordon], the Blake Griffin Jr. I think they got a little bit of everything that will separate them in tournament time."
What are you favorite memories of playing in the NCAA tournament?
Chris Paul: "There was nothing like it. When we won those first two games my freshman year, you can't wait to get back to class. Everyone is happy. Everybody is rooting for you. You get to miss a couple of days of class so you can go to wherever the next city is early. It's just fun. You know everyone is paying attention. The energy is crazy. I remember a lot of things from my NBA career and I love it, but my sophomore year we were supposed to win an NCAA championship [and lost in the second round]. Believe it or not, it still haunts me."
Carmelo Anthony: "Just the preparation that it took. You don't really have that much time to prepare for a team because it's one-and-done. The first two games you play every other day. Then you go back to school for a couple days and try to figure out who you are going to play next. Just the whole run that we had playing against the top seeds. We were the third seed going into the tournament. We lost in the Big East tournament, and at the end of regular season we weren't ranked high. But all the pieces fell into place at the right time for us [to win the 2003 tournament]."
'Melo, how often do people bring up your championship run at Syracuse?
Carmelo Anthony: "Everywhere you go. It seems like Syracuse fans and alumni are everywhere. Everywhere you go that kind of is the only thing they want to talk about, that championship run we had there. When I go back to Syracuse, it always feels like it just happened. It's hard to believe that it was 11 years ago. …I was blessed to win two gold medals, but winning the NCAA Tournament, there is no better feeling than that."
Chris Bosh's and Paul George's teams at Georgia Tech and Fresno State didn't make the NCAA tournament during their time at college.
Chris Bosh: "That is one dream I never got to live. I feel left out. In the [NBA] locker room there is always bragging rights about your school, who is playing where and what is going to happen. Guys kind of reflect on their NCAA runs. When you got [Heat teammates] like Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem, they both went to the Final Four a couple of times. That's a bittersweet thing. I never got to see what all the fuss about. I made the right decision. But that is something that still haunts me today."
Paul George: "It really, really bothers me. It's the main reason why you want to go to college and play to get a chance to go up against the top guys and represent for your school. That was one of my biggest goals and something I wish I could've done."
Who is the top NBA prospect in college basketball right now?
Chris Bosh: "I'm going with the big kid out of Kansas [Joel Embiid]. He's the best prospect. I think him and Jabari Parker. [Embiid's] a big [man], and you always need a big to give you something to build in the league. He's agile, he can block shots and he can rebound. He has a nice touch down low and he can play down there. You can tell when guys are talented. He's pretty good. I just like what a team would be able to do with him."
Chris Paul: "For me, it's easy. It's Jabari Parker. I have an AAU team. I get a chance to see these kids when they're 14 and 15 years old. I'm at the Peach Jam. And Jabari, if you could still go to the NBA out of high school, I feel like he would've went. He's talented. He's ready for the next level."
Paul George: "My No. 1 pick would probably be Jabari Parker. He is the most polished college player right now, as well as one of the top players with the most upside. It's going to be a win-win for him in the future when he first steps into the league. I like his game. I'm a big fan of Jabari."
Carmelo Anthony: "I'm a big Jabari fan, but it also depends on who has the pick at the No. 1 spot. But as far as being ready-ready, I think Jabari is ready. I think the big kid from Kansas [Joel Embiid] has some upside and [Kansas' Andrew] Wiggins has some potential. But as far as being ready to come in and step right in and kind of make an impact, I'd have to go with Jabari, too, especially because of the way he plays. He can play multiple positions. He can put the ball on the floor. He can score. He is in that Duke system, so he has some savvy with him."
Which of your current NBA teammates will have the best bracket in an NCAA pool?
Chris Paul: "Obviously, me. If not me, Jared Dudley might have a chance, Jamal Crawford. Maybe Blake [Griffin] because he is just lucky like that. Jamal and Jared Dudley follow college basketball a lot like I do."
Chris Bosh: "I would probably say Shane Battier because he watches college basketball like a hawk the whole season. He's into numbers and all that stuff. He can probably give you reasons why a team would win a few games. He can definitely give you reasons why each team can win."
Carmelo Anthony: "I got to pick somebody who really watches college basketball. Tim Hardaway [Jr.] is fresh out of college. He knows all the players. He knows all the teams. He might come close. He is still kind of in the college mode right now."
Paul George: "I'm going to go with David West. D-West has a pretty good knowledge of the game of basketball. I think he would have a good bracket."