Chat with Mark Schlabach
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, college basketball reporter Mark Schlabach stops by to chat about the season. Check out his Bubble Watch to find out which teams are in and which are out.
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 to chat Thursday at 4 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (12:20 PM)
Hey guys, we're tracking down Mark. Hopefully he'll be here soon!
Buzzmaster (12:54 PM)
Sorry folks. Mark got tied up. We're going to reschedule him for 4.
Mark Schlabach (3:52 PM)
OK, sorry for the delay today. I'm traveling and I was waiting for the latest bubble watch to be published. It should be up shortly. Hope everybody is having a good week.
Hey Mark, if VT loses to Duke on Sunday are they going to stay in your top 25? Or would they stay in since they are expected to lose anyway (no ACC team has kept Duke within single digits in Cameron)?
Mark Schlabach (3:53 PM)
I really like the way the Hokies are playing right now. Delaney is really pushing for ACC Player of the Year. I don't think I'd drop them for losing at Duke because almost nobody wins there. But Hokies could use another signature win or two. Great spot in ACC standings right now, though.
Mark, how high of a seed do you think the Spiders can get if they win out including the A10 Tourney?
Mark Schlabach (3:54 PM)
It would be hard to find a hotter team than the Spiders right now. I think they could get to a 7-8 seed, maybe higher because of the high RPI rating. They'll be a dangerous team in March.
gary j (janesville WI)
Why is everyone ignoring the white elephant in the room? If we expand the tourney to 96 teams, it will screw up our beautiful, symmetrical, one page, easy to score brackets.
Mark Schlabach (3:56 PM)
Exactly. Leave the tournament alone. It's perfect right now, why mess with it?
Clayton (College Station)
Mark, does Texas A&M just need to get to 9-7 in the Big 12 and theyre in? Or would they need 10 wins to get in?
Mark Schlabach (3:58 PM)
I think 9-7 would get them in. They're playing in the toughest or second-toughest conference in the country right now. Aggies sure looked like an NCAA-worthy team, even in a loss to Kansas.
I was curious as to your thoughts on Clemson. Currently they have wins over Butler on a neutral court, plus FSU and MD at home. Their worst loss is at BC. They lost 4 of 5 during a crucial stretch when Demontez Stitt was hurt, though he played through much of the injury. After a home game against UVA this weekend, they play a brutal last four with road games against MD, FSU, and Wake, plus a home game against GTech. Will they get any sympathy for Stitt's injury given that he played through some of it and if they go 1-4 to finish at 7-9 in the conference, do they have any shot of making the dance without multiple conference tourney wins?
Mark Schlabach (3:59 PM)
Committee will probably take Stitt's injury into consideration, but I think Clemson should be fine as long as it doesn't collapse down the stretch. No bad losses and Butler and Maryland wins will be worth a lot. Could use another big win to feel safe, and need to take care of Cavs at home.
What do we need to do to make the dance? Win out? Strong run in the Big east turny? Is it possible?
Mark Schlabach (4:00 PM)
No room for error down the stretch. Win a couple of big ones, take care of business against the rest and win a couple in Big East tourney. Want to see Huskies do it more than once before I get excited.
Why is no one picking Xavier to win the A-10?
Mark Schlabach (4:00 PM)
Musketeers are playing pretty good basketball, other than blowout loss at Dayton. Richmond is hot, but Xavier is right on their heels. I think it's one of three teams: Temple, Xavier or Richmond. Dayton, Rhode Island and Charlotte slipping to middle of pack.
Rich (paducah, ky)
Do you think a team like Kentucky has been fairly untested with the sec strength? If they played a team like Syracuse or another big team from one of the more tougher conferences, how would they fare? I think not so well
Mark Schlabach (4:01 PM)
SEC is what it is. Three good teams at top and not much else. But UK is as talented as any team in the country. How will freshman like Wall and Cousins hold up in March? I think 'Cats will be fine.
jimmy ((North Kingstown RI))
URI is 19-6 and has lost 3 straight games to TEMPLE, RICHMOND and ST. LOUIS. Do u think they will make the dance if they win there next 4 games against Charlotte, Fordham, Umass and ST. Bon. with a 23-6 record and an 11-5 conference record?
Mark Schlabach (4:04 PM)
It will be close. I think they'll be fine, but the 11-5 A-10 record would be inflated because Rams only played Xavier, Richmond, Dayton and Charlotte once. Lost both games to Temple. Decent wins over Dayton and Okie State, but not a lot else. Rhode Island probably needs Charlotte and Dayton to keep struggling.
Bill (Utica, NY)
Mark, With so much parity this year in college basketball would you agree that their are about 7 or 8 Mid Majors, not counting the A-10 and Butler and Gonzaga, that have a good shot at making some noise in the tournament (i.e. Northern Iowa, Murry State, Siena, Cornell, Old Dominion, St. Marys, Witchita State). It seems that it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that a few of these teams could make it to the sweet 16?
Mark Schlabach (4:05 PM)
Definitely a big opportunity for mid-majors. Pac-10, SEC and even the ACC are a little down. Teams like Richmond, ODU and Gonzaga could make a l ot of noise, along with Butler and a few others. Will be fun to watch.
If Kansas and Kentucky played today who would you pick to win? I would pick Kansas to win in a thrilling close contest.
Mark Schlabach (4:06 PM)
I'd go with Kansas' experience in March. Collins and Aldrich could match Wall and Cousins. Definitely a potential championship game.
Peter (Atlanta, GA)
Can Memphis still sneak in to the NCAA tourney as an at-large team with another big win or two?
Mark Schlabach (4:08 PM)
Probably needs to beat UAB and Tulsa and reach finals of C-USA tourney. Not sure if that's even enough. Only one win over an RPI top-50 foe. Wins over Marshall, IUPUI and Oakland won't get a team into the dance.
Kamal (New York)
UNLV didnt help themselves by losing 3 games is a row. What do they need to do to be a lock for the tourny???? Is it possible for them to make it without winning their confernce tournament???
Mark Schlabach (4:09 PM)
Definitely took a big step back by losing three in a row, but Rebs still have four wins over RPI top-50 foes and beat New Mexico in the Pit, which isn't easy. Wins over Louisville and BYU will help. Win the rest of regular season games and one or two in MWC tourney and I'll think they'll have a good chance.
Danny (Saint Joseph, MO)
After beating Texas last night, Missouri (19-7, 7-4 RPI 38, SOS 50) has five wins against top 50 RPI teams. How many more wins do the Tigers need to feel safe?
Mark Schlabach (4:10 PM)
I moved the Tigers up to "should be in" status. I think they're really close. Coming on strong at end and Texas Tech and Okie State are trailing Mizzou now.
If Purdue makes it to the Final Four how much of an advantage will it be for them to play here in Indianapolis? We thought it would be for Michigan State and we saw what happened there.
Mark Schlabach (4:11 PM)
I think it would definitely be a big advantage. UNC was better than Michigan State last year. Not sure there are many teams out there that much better than the Boilers right now.
Saint Louis is quietly making a statement, are you seeing NIT for this team? NCAA next year?
Mark Schlabach (4:12 PM)
Moved them on the bubble watch page after wins over Dayton and Rhode Island. Still have a long way to go, but Billikens have a small chance for at-large bid. Majerus is doing very good work.
Andy (Carbondale, IL)
How many of their 5 remaining games does Illinois have to win to make the tournament?
Mark Schlabach (4:14 PM)
Hard to imagine a 12-6 team from the Big Ten not getting into the NCAAs. But Ilini probably need to win at least three and really could use a win over a team like Purdue, Ohio State or Wisconsin.
If Butler is too lose in the Horizon League conference tourny, will they still receive an at-large bid? And I was wondering on your opinion on whether or not it's better for mid-majors to play big time conference teams in the non-conference season? Would Butler have been better off not playing the big boys and avoiding those losses?
Mark Schlabach (4:15 PM)
I think Butler is definitely safe for an at-large bid. And, no, it's better for teams from mid-majors to play the big boys. It's how you get an at-large if you don't win your conference tourney. Teams like Siena and Northern Iowa didn't play the out-of-conference games, so they might have to win their tourneys to go. Butler in better shape because of conference strength.
can the tar heels make it into the dance?
Mark Schlabach (4:16 PM)
The NIT? Done as far as the NCAAs are concerned, unless they win the ACC tourney. Heels need to worry about finishing above .500.
Will my Gators finally make the big dance this year? or will it be back to the NIT?
Mark Schlabach (4:16 PM)
Big one tonight. Really needed home win over Xavier. Definitely on the bubble and could use some more victories.
Mike (College Park)
Mark, You said you wouldn't drop VT from your rankings if they lost to Duke. Yet you saw fit to drop MD from your rankings this week after losing to Duke, even though they followed it up by crushing UVA and gutting out a win last night vs. NC State. What gives?
Mark Schlabach (4:17 PM)
I think I still had Maryland ranked in my power rankings. I don't vote in the AP poll. VT just beat a really good Wake Forest team.
Mike (New York (Uconn fan))
Do you think the committees will purposely pick a number of teams from the Big East conference no matter who are they to get into NCAA tourney? Like they think 7 or 8 teams deserve to go, but the last two could go to a team that have won the most conference tourney. Cuz this conference is the best in the country!!
Mark Schlabach (4:19 PM)
I think the committee picks teams based on their own merits and not based on league reputation. They're not going to take teams like Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Cincinnati, UConn -- unless they deserve -- just to get eight or nine Big East teams in the field. Those aforementioned teams needs to turn it up a notch.
Jacob (Fayetteville, AR)
If the hogs finish the season strong and possibly and make a good run in the SEC tournament could they get good consideration for tournament, and possibly looking at some of the losses in the beginning of the season as not legitimate because of all of the suspensions which included the loss of Courtney Fortson, who has proven to be one of the best guards in the SEC.
Mark Schlabach (4:20 PM)
I don't think the committee considers suspensions as much as injuries. Suspensions are self-inflicted wounds. Hogs are playing better, but they still have only one win over an RPI top-50 team and play in a pretty mediocre league (and in the lesser division). would have to do a lot between now and Selection Sunday to have a remote chance.
what will Louisville have to do the rest of the season to stay in the tournament?
Mark Schlabach (4:21 PM)
Keep winning. Good wins the last two games. Beat Georgetown or Syracuse.
Mark, if Utah State wins out and gets to the WAC title game and loses to say, Nevada, will the WAC get two teams in?
Mark Schlabach (4:23 PM)
It would be close. Aggies would have a ton of wins but only one big one (BYU). I don't know if that's enough.
What does Charlotte need to do to get into the tourney?
Mark Schlabach (4:24 PM)
Quit losing to Duquesne at home. Beat Xavier or Richmond and win the rest.
Aaron S. (Arkansas)
So the Razorbacks are 1st in the SEC West and tied with Tennessee 3rd in the SEC. Do you see them as having any sort of chance in making it to the NCAA tourney?
Mark Schlabach (4:25 PM)
Not at this point.
who you got taking the final shot on your team, collins or wall?
Mark Schlabach (4:25 PM)
Mark Schlabach (4:26 PM)
Folks, gotta run. Hope everybody has a good weekend. Hope your teams win. Check out latest Bubble Watch on ESPN.com later today. Take care.