Talladega: Elliott Sadler - NASCAR spotlight

Sadler handicaps Final Four. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 2, 2003) -- Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford) gets the nod as NASCAR's resident expert on college basketball. After all, he is the only NASCAR Winston Cup driver who used to play Division...

Sadler handicaps Final Four.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 2, 2003) -- Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford) gets the nod as NASCAR's resident expert on college basketball. After all, he is the only NASCAR Winston Cup driver who used to play Division I college basketball.

Before Sadler was a driver, he was a "Duke," as in a James Madison University Duke. His basketball aspirations were nixed by a knee injury and he turned to his other competitive love, stock car racing. But as you might imagine, the 6-foot-2 former guard retained his love of hoops and still follows the sport intensively.

That said, Sadler threw up the proverbial air ball when initially handicapping this year's NCAA Tournament, picking the Kentucky Wildcats to go all the way.

"Like 80% of America did," Sadler joked.

With Kentucky gone, Sadler was asked to play handicapper again, this time solely on the Final Four -- Marquette, Kansas, Syracuse and Texas -- gathering this weekend in New Orleans.

Sadler likes Marquette -- the team, incidentally, that beat Kentucky -- to beat Kansas on Saturday and capture the championship on Monday night. Sadler thinks Syracuse will top Texas in the other semifinal.

"Watching Marquette play against Kentucky, with that fearless kind of attitude ... they're not supposed to be this far, so they have a nothing-to-lose [attitude]. I think they're going to take it all the way.

"I like Kansas because of [its coach] Roy Williams who used to coach at North Carolina under Dean Smith," Sadler said. "Of course, I like [Texas coach] Rick Barnes because he used to coach at Clemson, which is an ACC team. I can tie in a lot of little [personal] stuff. And I like Jimmy Boeheim because he does a lot for the kids and for college basketball.

"I think [Marquette and Syracuse] are very athletic. I know Texas has a lot of depth and Kansas has a lot of senior leadership but I really think athletic ability and the quickness of those other teams is going to overcome. I'd like to see Marquette win. You kind of always pull for a Cinderella team."

Sadler and fellow NASCAR Winston Cup driver Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford) plan on attending Saturday's semifinals after they complete their final practice session at Talladega Superspeedway, in preparation for Sunday's Aaron's 499.

"DJ and I talk college basketball all the time," Sadler said. "Rick Barnes is helping us with tickets. It'll be the first Final Four I've attended so I'm looking forward to it."

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Elliott Sadler , Dean Smith
Teams Williams