Chat with Dana O'Neil
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com basketball writer Dana O'Neil stops by to chat about the college basketball season.
O'Neil joined ESPN in 2008 Neil after working for the Philadelphia Daily News.
Send your questions now and join O'Neil Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Dana O'Neil (2:00 PM)
Greetings from East Buffalo where cabin fever will be setting in shortly. Save me with some hoops questions, please.
Adam (Tacoma, WA)
An article was just run in the Seattle Times about the possibility of expansion of the Pac-10. What is the realistic posibility of this happening, and what teams would be pulled into the PAC?
Dana O'Neil (2:01 PM)
Adam: I think conference realignment is always a possibility, so it wouldn't stun me. The logical choices would be BYU and Utah, I'd think.
katie (durham, nc)
Duke or UNC tonight?? and why?
Dana O'Neil (2:02 PM)
Katie: The news goes from bad to worse for the Heels. Travis Wear out indefinitely w/ an ankle injury. I would have had Duke anyway. Could be ugly.
Dana, mid-major question. I know you're a Joe Mihalich fan (very nice article on Tyrone Lewis, by the way!). What happened to Niagara this season?
Dana O'Neil (2:03 PM)
Chris: Thanks. Well Lewis and Bilal Benn both were hurt at different times, so I think that hurt them in terms of sheer ability but also in terms of chemistry. They still have the talent to make noise in the MAAC tourney.
JT (West Lafayette)
Which non-one-and-done freshman has had the most impact on his team his year?
Dana O'Neil (2:04 PM)
JT: Hmmm.. interesting question. Can I split the vote and say John Wall the first half of the season and Demarcus Cousins the second? Without them, Kentucky would be good but not this good.
Curt (Warsaw In )
I say my Hoosier's start turning the corner next year, what do you say?
Dana O'Neil (2:05 PM)
Curt: I agree. Getting good talent is key, obviously but I like the way this Indiana team is competing. Definitely on the right track.
Kit (Sudbury, MA)
If Princeton wins the Ivy League, will Cornell be in the picture for an at-large bid?
Dana O'Neil (2:06 PM)
kit: How is Princeton winning the Ivy League? Don't see anyone beating Cornell.
Kit (Sudbury, MA)
How many A-10 teams will dance this year? (I say five.)
Dana O'Neil (2:06 PM)
Kit: oops two kit questions in a row. I'll get in trouble. I'd say five is the right number. There are six that have an argument: Temple, Xavier, Dayton, Rhode Island, Richmond and Charlotte but I'd be stunned if all six make it.
Trevon Willis Jimmer, or Hobson for MWC player of the year???
Dana O'Neil (2:07 PM)
Vidal: Hard to pick but I'd lean toward Jimmer.
Adam (San Diego)
Dana, Did you watch the Vandy game last night? They looked quite good. What kind of chance to you give them to beat UK next weekend and take a share of the SEC?
Dana O'Neil (2:08 PM)
Adam: They did look very good, though Tennessee is sort of against the ropes right now. I think if anyone can challenge Kentucky - and that's a big if - it would be Vandy. They'd have to play about 30x better than they did first time around. Ogilvy needs to show up this time, too.
The Big 10 is looking like a fun finish. Impressed by the Illinois win last night?
Dana O'Neil (2:09 PM)
David: Extremely impressed by the Illini last night. Beating Michigan State at home when the Spartans don't have Kalin Lucas. Going to Wisconsin and winning is another. Really coming together at a critical time.
Grey Cat (Philadelphia)
Fred Hill, Norm Roberts going to be fired? Calhoun to retire? Pitino to the Nets? Shake up at DePaul and Notre Dame? Will the Big East undergo a serious coaching face lift this summer?
Dana O'Neil (2:11 PM)
Grey Cat: I'm not sure all of those are true. I'd say Hill is in deep, deep doo-doo. They want to expand the RAC and do it w/ ticket sales and fundraising. Can't do that w/o a coaching change, I fear. I'd think Norm Roberts was in trouble, too but I thought he was last year. Don't know that I'm buying Calhoun retiring or Pitino to the Nets, though. Certainly some shake up but perhaps not that much.
As much as I respect all of the College Basketball Analysts out there, none had Syracuse in the Top 25 in the preseason. Are the analysts that wrong, or is it at all possible that Syracuse is not quite as good as their record and such shows?
Dana O'Neil (2:12 PM)
Dan: They lost three of their top players and no one had a clue how good Wes Johnson was. They are absolutely, 300 percent NOT overrated. They are as good as, if not better than, they're record.
Kentucky had trouble putting away a very mediocre Crimson Tide. At different moments, Cal benched Wall and Cousins because he was unhappy with their play? How vulnerable are they? Can the Vols bounce back and beat em Saturday?
Dana O'Neil (2:13 PM)
Nate: I'd say the one problem w/ Kentucky is that they do sort of lose their edge at parts. Maybe it's youth. Maybe it's boredom. I'm not sure which. I think Cal did the right thing benching both Wall and Cousins. If they slack, everyone else will, too. It makes them vulnerable, sure, but I also doubt highly they'd have the same attitude in a big game.
Dana UNM vs UNLV tonight??? Who do you think takes it and who wins the MWC?
Dana O'Neil (2:16 PM)
Ronnie: Going to be a very interesting game. The Lobos, I'm sure, would love some revenge but both teams are red hot. I'm excited to watch and I'll lean toward the home team. But only slightly.
Nick (Sacramento CA)
Why don't we hear more hype about Evan Turner from OSU for Nat'l Player of the Year? It seems like the guy flirts with a Triple-Double on any given night, shoots over 50% and that's with already coming back from broken vertebrae!?
Dana O'Neil (2:17 PM)
Nick: I think we hear plenty and right now he's at the top of my ballot. He's absolutely sensational and at worst will finish in the top 3 of the POY balloting. Or at least he should.
Who do you have winning in Dayton tonight, the Flyers put a lot of energy into beating Xavier, Charlotte kinda took a break against Fordham and got saved by Derrio Green. Can Charlotte take advantage tonight?
Dana O'Neil (2:19 PM)
Charles: Another big game. Like I said, there are 6 A10 teams who have a shot at getting in but not all 6 will make it. Was impressed w/ the hammering Dayton gave Xavier. It's hard to pick against Charlotte the way its playing right now but I think winning at Dayton is a tall order.
Who can win an at large big from the Big 12
Dana O'Neil (2:20 PM)
Jesse; Presuming Kansas wins it, Texas, K-State, A&M , Missouri and Baylor all in the mix.
How far can Gonzaga go this year? Do you think Oregon will chase Few yet again this off-season? Why East Buffalo?
Dana O'Neil (2:22 PM)
bob: It's snowing like crazy in suburban philly, hence the East Buffalo. Zags are a sleeper team, I'd say. Which is sort of funny since they're the original sleeper. Elias Harris has added so much to that team and makes them a really tough out. I have no idea what Oregon will do but they'd be foolish not to make a run at Mark Few.
Is Sherron Collins the favorite to win Big 12 Player of the Year? He is the most important player on arguably the nation's best team. He is probably the nation's clutchest player as well.
Dana O'Neil (2:23 PM)
Brock: Yeah, I'd say he is. I thought back in October that he and Aldrich might negate one another but Collins hits the clutch shots and has been more consistent start to finish. I'm sure James Anderson will get a look - deservedly so - but I would think Collins deserves it.
John (Madison, NJ)
Who's big men are better, Uconn or Cuse? And do you feel that will be the determining factor in tonight's game?
Dana O'Neil (2:24 PM)
John: I'd say Syracuse's big men are much better but I think the zone will be the determining factor. Connecticut has no one who can shoot from the outside. No one. I have no idea how they're going to handle that zone.
Dillon (Pikeville, KY)
Dana, If you had to put together the "perfect team" using players across the country, who would be your starting 5?
Dana O'Neil (2:26 PM)
Dillon: Do I have to go by position? If so I'd say John Wall and Scottie Reynolds in the backcourt (though I have a hard time leaving out Sherron Collins); Evan Turner and Wes Turner as forwards/wings and Demarcus Cousins inside. Wow... that's a team.
Zachry C. (Statesboro, GA)
Do you think coach Mark Fox's efforts will help Georgia get into the NCAA tournament within the next few years?
Dana O'Neil (2:27 PM)
Zachary: Honestly Mark Fox deserves something - a coach of the year plaque, a raise, a parade. He has done an absolutely incredible job with that team. He doesn't have a whole lot to work with and yet look at the Bulldogs. I'd say he definitely will right the ship there.
So, who are you picking from the four Big Ten teams with three losses to actually take the regular season title?
Dana O'Neil (2:29 PM)
Dave: That's a really hard one. Because I'm not sure how long it will be before Kalin Lucas is 100 percent again, I'm mostly torn between Ohio State and Purdue. Maybe the Boilermakers. Playing like we expected them to back in October.
EPSN classic just replayed the UConn-Syr 6OT game. I was at the Pac-10 tourney and we were all watching it on the TV's and ignoring the game. Where were you?
Dana O'Neil (2:29 PM)
Nate: I was there. Unforgettable. Got to the Garden at 11 am for the first game that day; left at 340 AM.
Are you jumping off the MSU bandwagon or are you riding your preseason pick to the bottom of the heap?
Dana O'Neil (2:30 PM)
Ian: Oh no I'll ride it to the bottom of the heap. I feel a whole lot less certain, needless to say, but I'm a good captain. I'll go down w/ the ship.
Ben (new york, ny)
Best "mid-major" conference?
Dana O'Neil (2:30 PM)
Ben: Does the Atlantic 10 count as a mid major? They say no. I say yes (no football), so I'd say the A10.
Joe Lunardi said that there is a greater chance he can get a date with me that the Northwestern Wildcats have of making the Big Dance. Is that true? Do the Cats have no chance?
Dana O'Neil (2:31 PM)
Scarlett: Well I'd say Joe has zero shot at the date... but, I'd say Northwestern is a pretty long longshot at this point and it's a shame. They've played so well and so hard w/o Coble this year.
What's Iowa going to do about their coaching situation after the season?
Dana O'Neil (2:32 PM)
Patrick: I'd be surprised if Todd Lickliter survived. Feel bad. Great man, decent coach but it's a really, really hard job.
Scott (Dallas, TX)
Does Tony Bennet get ACC coach of the year honors? or Paul Hewitt?
Dana O'Neil (2:34 PM)
Scott: If I were voting, Tony Bennett. That's a hard, hard job and he has such a unique style, yet look at how well Virginia is playing. And frankly, Georgia Tech has been its usual up and down self despite all that talent. Don't see Hewitt in the running at all.
MM (KC )
How far can Missouri's stock rise the remainder of the year with home games with Texas, Kansas and away games with Baylor and Kansas State? 3 out of 4 would raise their stock a great deal my opinion.
Dana O'Neil (2:35 PM)
MM:No doubt. The Tigers have every chance to really raise their stock and with the combination of how they play and how well they play at home, those will be two very, very tough wins.
Matt (Bethlehem, PA)
Do you see Siena going on a Davidson-like run in the tourney or do they lack the star power of a Steph Curry?
Dana O'Neil (2:36 PM)
Matt: Edwin Ubiles is capable of Steph Curry-like nights but I think Siena as a team is very capable of a deep run. They've made noise in the tourney before, are playing very well and are battle tested from a tough non-conference swing.
Do you see any dominant team in the NCAA this year? There does not seem to be anyone of the caliber of the Memphis's and UNC's of years past...
Dana O'Neil (2:38 PM)
Josh: There's no single one dominant team but I'd say there are maybe a pack of four that are significantly better - Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Villanova. I actually like it this way. More interesting. Who wants to wait for a coronation?
Dana, I thought that it was against the rules for players to play college ball after they've played professionally? Why is it that Kyle Lowry can play for Villanova while he's also playing for the Houston Rockets - just because he's changed his name to Maalik Wayns doesn't make it legal, does it?
Dana O'Neil (2:39 PM)
Steve: Haha. Both Kyle and Maalik would be very flattered by that and there's no doubt Wayns is cut of the identical cloth of Lowry. Tough as nails and fearless.
Newman (Clemson, SC)
if you were a head coach about to play Ohio State, how would you prepare for Evan Turner?
Dana O'Neil (2:40 PM)
Newman: Prayer? Seriously you have to find a way to get someone else to beat you. The trouble is, he's such a good passer that if you double him, he'll kill you.
There has been some discussion recently about expanding the tournament which I think would be terrible but was curious of your thoughts?
Dana O'Neil (2:41 PM)
Justin: I think it would be awful. It's a great product as is. Why make it the NHL, where everyone makes the playoffs? And the arguments that coaches are in favor it is hooey. Of course they are. Their contracts are written w/ incentives and bonuses if they make the tourney. That's 32 more chances for a bonus.
john rowland (kentucky)
Besides Kansas, Villanova, Syracuse and Kentucky, are there any REAL contenders for a 1 seed in the tournament?
Dana O'Neil (2:42 PM)
John: If Purdue continues to push in the Big 10, they have a case. Maybe West Virginia if they unseat either Villanova or Syracuse but that's doubtful.
Dan Hall (South Orange, NJ)
Jim Boeheim, Jay Wright, or Stan Heath? Which coach has his team 'Balling the best in the Big East and is most worthy of BE COY?
Dana O'Neil (2:43 PM)
Dan: All deserve a look but I'd say Boeheim. He lost his three top scorers and doesn't just have his team competitive -as Heath does - he has them in the top 3. That's amazing. I was stunned when I read Pat Forde's column this weekend that he's never won the award. Crazy.
John (Hamden, CT)
Best league race: ACC, Big Ten, or Pac 10? Also, predictions on all three?
Dana O'Neil (2:44 PM)
John: I'm going to go w/ the Big Ten simply because there are four good teams that could win it. Predictions: Duke, Purdue and Cal.
Robert (San Diego)
Hi Dana... MWC champion will be who?
Dana O'Neil (2:45 PM)
Robert: Can I answer that after UNM-UNLV? Another really interesting and tight race. Since I said UNLV wins tonight I guess I'll go w/ the Rebels but I don't say that w/ a whole lot of conviction. Going to be a fun race to the finish.
Scottie Reynolds have the Big East Player of the Year wrapped up about now?
Dana O'Neil (2:46 PM)
Paulie: No, he doesn't. He has that Wes Johnson character to contend w/ at Syracuse. It could very easily be a split this year.
Rick B. (Austin, TX)
any suggestios how to get my team back on track when I have the problem of 11 really talented players on my squad???
Dana O'Neil (2:47 PM)
Rick: Yes stop playing all 11 of them 300 minutes a game for starters. Rhythm and rotation ought to be settled right now. Sit your freshmen down and talk to them and get Dexter Pittman back in the offense. Averaging 7 points per game in the losses and 12 in the wins.
John (Metarie, LA)
What are your thoughts on what Chancellor Ryan is doing to our hoops program and all the sports at the University of New Orleans? Its a disgrace what he is doing to our stuent-athletes and our coaches.
Dana O'Neil (2:48 PM)
John: It's a complicated situation at UNO. I have a story going up about it on the site today. May even be up by now. Not sure. It's a shame and there's a lot of blame to go around, no doubt.
John David (Preston)
Hi Dana, What are the chances KY takes home the Championship, POY, and COY this year? Has this ever been done?
Dana O'Neil (2:49 PM)
John: I don't know if it's been done to be honest. I'd say the chances are in descending order: championship, POY and COY. THey have a legit shot at the title. I'd say John Wall will still be very high in the mix for POY but needs to get out of his funk before Evan Turner swipes his hardware and as for COY, Cal has done a great job managing talent but I'd say Jim Boeheim deserves the award. I actually voted Cal COY last year when I thought he did an awful lot after losing so much, kinda like Boeheim.
if you had to pick one right now, who would you take to defend the block, ALDRICH or cousins?
Dana O'Neil (2:50 PM)
Derek: Cousins. He's frighteningly good and mean. Good combo.
John (Hamden, CT)
So, let me get this straight. The fans are against expansion, the media is against expansion, but the powers that be know that the fans will continue to watch and the media will continue to cover regardless, so it doesn't matter. All that matters is money... what's wrong with this picture?
Dana O'Neil (2:50 PM)
John: It's the same reason there are 2,000 bowl games sponsored by toilet bowl cleaners: money.
Dana, why are you hating on Scottie? You forget your roots?
Dana O'Neil (2:51 PM)
Paulie: Scottie is one of my favorite players, period. Had the pleasure of covering Villanova in his first two years and there is not a tougher player or better person around. Just saying he's in a tough race with Wes Johnson for Big East POY right now.
4 teams that could surprise and make an unexpected final four run?
Dana O'Neil (2:53 PM)
Matt: These aren't absolute stunners but outside chances; Georgetown, Ohio State, Gonzaga and I'm still not going to totally count out Texas. I had Butler in my preseason Final Four. I'd absolutely LOVE to see that.
There seems to be a little bandwagon-type reaction to Pitt lately. You see the downfall in the other No 1's from last year, the UNCs and UConns, - where's the Pitt love? They were a No. 1 seed last year - lost 4 starters in the meantime. Did anyone really expect Pitt to go 18-0 in the Big East? Jermaine Dixon misses a couple of games, and in the losses they've had, all but the WVU game they were tied or within 4-5 points in the last few minutes of the game. And in Morgantown, they were afraid of getting pelted by loose change. What gives?
Dana O'Neil (2:54 PM)
Mike: Just talked bout this on the radio in Pittsburgh the other day. The fact is, when they won those games early people thought they were better than they probably were and better than anyone ever should have expected them to be. Pitt is a very good team, especially considering what they lost. To me making the tourney is a huge, huge success for Jamie Dixon.
C-USA! How many teams get in? UAB has the best resume but UTEP could win the league. Does Tulsa also have a shot?
Dana O'Neil (2:55 PM)
CUSA: I'd say UTEP and Tulsa are on the bubble. Both can play their way in. And I'm still sticking w/ my preseason pick of Memphis to win the tourney. Why? Because I'm stubborn.
Do you think Syracuse's 3 pt loss to Lemoyne was the best thing that could have happened to this team? What a fantastic team since that game.
Dana O'Neil (2:56 PM)
Lemoyne for team of the year! That was exactly what it appeared to be then: an aberration. I'd argue this team would be this good even if it had mopped up Lemoyne but no question, Cuse was embarrassed and duly motivated.
John Di Carlo (Philadelphia - Little Italy)
Temple has dropped 2 recent road games. Are the wheels coming off or just a bump in the road? Do you still think they are serious second weekend contenders?
Dana O'Neil (2:57 PM)
John: THey didn't lose to chump change, that's the good news. This is a team like Pitt - way better than anyone should have expected w/o Dionte Christmas. I'd say they have a chance at second weekend. Will depend on matchups and how well they shoot it.
Dana--any chance any team from the SEC west gets into the dance? Or do you think the tournament will look at their heads up record vs. the East and wince? Thanks.
Dana O'Neil (2:58 PM)
Stephen: Yeah, slim pickings there, I'd say. I suppose maybe Ole Miss and Miss State could make a case but I don't see it happening.
why has Penn State struggled so much, now 0-11 in the Big Ten after last years NIT championship, why havent they been able to sustain that success?
Dana O'Neil (2:59 PM)
Max: Good question. They don't have players is the simple reason. Talor Battle is trying to win games 1 on 5. I'm stunned.
Chris (Abilene, TX)
True or False: A&M has a realistic chance at beating Kansas on Big Monday next week in College Station. Why?
Dana O'Neil (3:00 PM)
Chris: Sure there's a chance and why? I've been to big games there. Atmosphere can be fantastic. Also Donald Sloan is playing as well as anyone in the country right now and Bryan Davis is a very underrated player as well.
Dana O'Neil (3:01 PM)
OK folks, time to go watch the blizzard outside my window and kick myself for not going to buy milk or whatever provisions you're supposed to have in this stuff. Chat at you next week.