Chat with Mark Schlabach
Schlabach joined ESPN.com in July 2006 as a college football and basketball columnist. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Mark spent nine years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering Georgia and the SEC, as well as the NFL and NASCAR. Before joining ESPN, Schlabach spent two years at the Washington Post covering college football and basketball, and boxing.
Send your questions now and join Schlabach in The Show at 4 p.m. ET on Monday!
Mark Schlabach (4:00 PM)
OK, watching the snow melt in Atlanta. Here we go. One week to go in the regular season.
Rob (Santa Monica)
Hey Mark, I just checked out Lunardi's latest braketology and he has 8 teams in from the ACC but Maryland is not one of those teams. 2 questions - can the ACC really get 8 teams and, if so, how can the Terps not be one of them?
Mark Schlabach (4:03 PM)
Somewhat surprising. I guess he's assuming Miami and Virginia Tech win out, which would mean the Hokies beat UNC at home this week. Maryland has a couple of really good wins, over Duke and Michigan State. But not a lot of other meat on the resume. It will be close and I think the ACC tourney in Atlanta will determine a lot of what happens.
Hanz (South Beach)
Who do you think has the best looking team heading into March?
Mark Schlabach (4:04 PM)
I like U Conn, Pitt, North Carolina and Oklahoma the best on any given night. Kansas is really hot right now. Michigan State is playing pretty well, too. No clear-cut favorite, but a lot of pretty good teams.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
Texas has had a down year. However if there is a positive it would be the play of Dogus Balbay. Have you seen him play? Do you think he is a jumpshot away from beeing mentioned with the likes of T.J. Ford, Daniel Gibson or D.J Augustine?
Mark Schlabach (4:06 PM)
Really liked how he looked when I went to a UT practice during the preseason. Obviously, he's still coming back from that knee injury. Good ball skills and very explosive. But can a point guard really shoot foul shots so poorly? He'll be the key for Texas in the tournament.
can duke make it to the final four?
Mark Schlabach (4:07 PM)
The Blue Devils' lack of depth and lack of solid frontcourt players will probably end up hurting them, but if they get the right matchups, they'll have a chance. Henderson is playing as well as anyone in the country right now. They're much better with Scheyer running the point. Eliott Williams has given them a spark. We'll see what they do at UNC on Saturday, but they had two good road wins last week.
Is the game this weekend between Florida and Kentucky essentially a play in game?
Mark Schlabach (4:10 PM)
Could be. Gators have a better computer profile, but neither team has done enough when you really look at them. Cats swept Tennessee, but were swept by South Carolina. Florida split with South Carolina, but lost twice to Tennessee. Gators beat Washington; 'Cats beat West Virginia. That's really about it. Both might end up getting in, but I'm not sure either team will do much during the tournament.
On the same note as Kyle from KY, what about this weekend's Michigan @ Minnesota matchup as an elimination game?
Mark Schlabach (4:11 PM)
Probably the same deal. Michigan really needs a road win. Minnesota just needs another win after slumping late.Lunardi has both teams out right now. Both probably need one or two more wins.
Hey Mark, Do My Buckeyes Get into the the Tourney this year?
Mark Schlabach (4:13 PM)
I think they have a better chance than Michigan, Minnesota, Penn State, etc., because they have five or six RPI top-50 victories. They've swept Michigan and Penn State, too.
mark. sorry to correct you but duke beat maryland at both match ups. maryland beat unc not duke.
Mark Schlabach (4:13 PM)
Thanks for the correction. Maryland beat UNC in College Park in overtime. Not Duke. Sorry for typo.
Looking over the latest rankings, I'm very surprised to see Memphis getting 4 #1 votes. Is this just a case of no one team being the clear cut favorite right now? I don't think Memphis is anywhere near #1.
Mark Schlabach (4:14 PM)
Memphis is pretty good. I saw them last week at UAB. I was impressed they won the game even with Tyreke Evans playing so poorly. Dozier and Taggart are both very good players. They have some depth. They won big at Gonzaga. They're as good as a lot of teams out there.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Mark, were you or Forde the first one to be able to report on both college football and basketball? I envy you two, couldn't have a better job.
Mark Schlabach (4:15 PM)
Throw in the Masters and it is a dream job. Pinch myself every morning.
Lunardi has the friars as one of the last four in the dance. If they lose to Villanova what will they have to do to secure a spot?
Mark Schlabach (4:17 PM)
I personally think they have to beat Villanova to get in and maybe even win a game or two in the Big East Tournament. I don't think their profile is as good as West Virginia, Syracuse, etc. They have only two wins over RPI top-50 opponents and they're 2-7 against the top 50. Sweeping Cincinnati will help, but other than the wins over Syracuse and Pitt, they didn't beat any of the Big East's other good teams. Beating Villanova would certainly help, though.
Josh (Knoxville, TN)
Texas A&M is #35 in RPI, but doesn't make the field of 64 (65, whatever). However, down the road in Austin they're at #38 and are projected as an 8 seed. I know you don't make the Bracketology, but do you think you can explain this to me? Thanks.
Mark Schlabach (4:19 PM)
Texas has six wins over top-50 opponents, including Villanova and Oklahoma. Texas A&M beat Arizona and LSU, but there's not as much meat on the resume.
If we beat indy but lose to Minnesota and lose the first game of the Big10 tourney, do we still dance?
Mark Schlabach (4:19 PM)
I'd be really surprised. I think you need to beat Minnesota and Indiana, or win one and two games in Indy.
Dom (Albuqueque, NM)
What are New Mexico's (19-10, 10-4, Tied for 2nd with BYU in the MWC) chances to get into the dance if they win out which includes Utah tomorrow night @ The PIT, and a road win @ Wyoming on Saturday?
Mark Schlabach (4:21 PM)
Have to beat Utah to have a chance in my opinion, or maybe get to the MWC Tournament finals. Utah, BYU and UNLV have better cases, but NM would have a chance by finishing second in MWC.
Eric (Dayton, OH)
Does 1 more win against Xavier, Duquesne, or in the 1st round of the A-10 Tourny make Dayton a lock for the NCAA?
Mark Schlabach (4:23 PM)
I thought the Flyers were pretty close to locking it up and then they lost a couple of road games. But if they win at Xavier, the Flyers will get into the tournament. It might not even take that as long as they beat Duquesne and don't go one-and-out in the A-10 tourney.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
This is a standard question of mine that I have yet to get answered. We often hear about 'good losses' this time of year but does the committee also see games as 'bad wins?' Syracuse blowing a 16-point lead at home then beating a just-OK G-Town team in OT and the Penn State home narrow escape against a bad Indiana team seem to be 'bad wins.' Thoughts?
Mark Schlabach (4:26 PM)
I don't think there's too much to "good losses," but I guess if teams are otherwise even, they might be a factor. If Team A lost at Duke or Oklahoma by two points, I guess the committee would look at it pretty closely. I'm not sure point differential is as big in basketball as it is in football.
A couple of local team questions for you... UC- In or out? UK- are the dancing shoes staying at home for the first time in 17 seasons? X- what seed?
Mark Schlabach (4:27 PM)
Cincinnati really hurt itself by getting blown out at Syracuse yesterday. Providence swept two games from them, and they didn't beat many of the Big East's better teams. Kentucky probably has to win at Florida, or get to the SEC Tourney finals. I think they'll get the benefit of the doubt because they're Kentucky -- that's my opinion -- but their case is very, very shaky right now. Nothing other than sweeping Kentucky and beating West Virginia a long time ago.
Joel (Fayetteville, NC)
Believe it or not, I hear rumblings from UNC fans around hear that they aren't happy with what Roy Williams has done this year. At this point in the season, has UNC underachieved?
Mark Schlabach (4:28 PM)
Some injuries to deal with and they play in a pretty good league. Other than Hansbrough and Lawson, I don't think they have truly exceptional players. Ellington is too streaky, and Green gives you some pretty good spurts. I think he's done a good job. It was premature to annoint them national champs back in October.
Is Carolina's Defense this year's Memphis FT shooting? Will it cost them the big one?
Mark Schlabach (4:29 PM)
Too many lapses, that's for sure. But I've seen other teams do it, too.
Mark, If Memmphis wins out John Calipari should be coach of the year with Bill Self not to far behind with the players they both lost.I think how you recruit plays into your year.
Mark Schlabach (4:30 PM)
He recruits well, no question about it. I agree with your assesment, and I think it's pretty remarkable that no one in Conference USA can beat them. I'd think you'd slip up at least once every now and then.
Can Davidson create the same kind of Magic they did last year?
Mark Schlabach (4:31 PM)
If they make the NCAA Tournament. I think the Wildcats will have to win the Southern Tourney to get in. Not enough quality wins. I think the committee and public would like to see them make the field, but I think they'll have to get the automatic bid to do it. Yes, they can get hot again as long as Curry is on top of his game.
Jimmy (Tallahassee, FL)
What is Florida State's ceiling in the Tourney?
Mark Schlabach (4:32 PM)
If Douglas keeps playing the way he's playing, they'll have a chance against almost anybody. Alabi and Singleton are giving them good play inside, and I really like the way they play defense. Shoot foul shots well, and they've proved they can win on the road. I think Sweet 16 or Elite 8 is a strong possibility.
do you think penn state has a good chance of getting in the NCAA tourney?
Mark Schlabach (4:34 PM)
I think they're probably the last Big 10 team in, if they make it. Good wins at Michigan State and Illinois, but nothing from non-conference. They really need to beat Illinois and Iowa.
Dave (San Francisco, CA)
If Arizona sweeps Cal and Stanford at home this week, do you think they get in the tournament?
Mark Schlabach (4:35 PM)
Yes, three-game losing streak hurts Arizona, but they have some really quality wins and would finish 10-8 in the Pac-10. Also beat Kansas at home.
What's more likely - BC gets beat by 30 in the first round, or BC makes a Sweet 16/Elite 8 run?
Mark Schlabach (4:36 PM)
Depends how Rice plays, probably. Trapani, Sanders and Raji have to give him some help. They can win a game or two in the tourney, maybe more. It's all about matchups.
If Michigan beats Minnesota on the road are they a lock or do they have some work to do....and if they get in do they have a chance of making some noise in the big dance??
Mark Schlabach (4:38 PM)
They'd still only be 9-9 in the Big Ten, which doesn't guarantee anything. I think they'd have to win a game or two in the Big Ten tourney, but wins over Duke and UCLA will help.
Mike (San Francisco)
Is Cal still a lock for the NCAA tournament?
Mark Schlabach (4:40 PM)
I think so. They win once this week they're 11-5 in the Pac-10.
Bill (Damascus, MD)
Hello Mark, do the Hoyas have a chance after the win at Nova? Most of the teams on the buble don't have some of the wins the Hoyas have. Thanks for the insight.
Do you think Jack Bauer will make it through this season alive?
Mark Schlabach (4:43 PM)
My favorite show. Hope he stays alive.
Sam (Charlotte, NC)
Mark, I read an article the other day that Pyscho T is not a lock for 1st team All-ACC, how can this be? I understand the league has good guards, but come on, the man can play and leads the league in scoring.
Mark Schlabach (4:44 PM)
I'd have Hansbrough and Henderson and three guards (probably Teague, Lawson and Douglas). Maybe Rice or McClinton.
How is it possible that K can blowup his starting lineup in february (promoting Thomas and Williams) and still keep winning? How does he get so much out of those kids? Do you have any insight on his secret?
Mark Schlabach (4:45 PM)
Surprised he didn't make the move earlier, but I guess he didn't think Williams was better. It starts with their defense.
Mark, so what's your take on the Hoyas? Murderous schedule has taken its toll on a young team, but wins against Memphis, UConn, Cuse, Nova have to keep them in the discussion when their worst losses are to SHU and Cinci (bubble team from the best conference). Right?
Mark Schlabach (4:46 PM)
Just touched on it. Theyr'e talented, but didn't do anything for five or six weeks until they beat Villanova. They have good wins, but not too many lately. Again, I think they have to win both games this week and win twice in New York to have a chance.
Coach of the year in the Pac-10? Everybody seems to think Craig Robinson has it, but Cal was preseason #8 and UW was preseason #5. Who is your pick?
Mark Schlabach (4:47 PM)
All three have been very good. I'd got with Romar. Love winners.
John smoots(charlotte NC,)
do you know how julius peppers played bball for UNC and now plays football. who do you think would be the best bball player that could play football??
Mark Schlabach (4:48 PM)
Harangody or Blake Griffin.
Mark Schlabach (4:49 PM)
Folks, gotta run. Have a great week. Talk to you again next week. Thanks.