Chat with Fran Fraschilla
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla will drop by to take your questions.
Fraschilla spent 23 years on the sidelines as a college basketball coach before joining ESPN as an broadcast analyst. He guided both Manhattan (1993, 1995) and St. John's (1998) to the NCAA Tournament in his nine seasons as a Division I head coach, leaving New Mexico following the end of the 2001-02 season.
Send your questions now and join Fraschilla Monday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:01 PM)
We're getting Fran right now!
Fran Fraschilla (2:05 PM)
It's been a wild 24 hours down here at ESPNU. We've been a part of the 89 hours of Bracket Madness. I'm operating on minimal sleep, but that's the way I like it.
Eric (Richmond (VA))
I like Siena to make it to the sweet 16 with wins over a injured Purdue and a good Texas A&M squad, am I crazy or do they have a realistic chance?
Fran Fraschilla (2:07 PM)
Siena's main problem is no team in the tournament will ever overlook this team again, especially because four of their five starters have experienced tournament success. They've gotten a really good matchup with a wounded Purdue team and they can certainly play with A+M. I doubt they get past A M, because of the Aggies ferocious half court defense. But I wouldn't count the Saints out either.
Talk to me about the Richmond/St. Mary's matchup...
Fran Fraschilla (2:09 PM)
St. Mary's reminds me of Northern Iowa in this tournament. Both teams, prior to the bracket coming out, had a legit chance to get to the Sweet 16. Unfortunately for St. Mary's Richmond is a very dangerous team, and, in fact, could get by Villanova to get to the Round of 16. St. Mary's has a couple of things in its favor, in a scorer in Omar Samhan and a bevy of great shooter, led by Travis Diener-clone Mickey McConnell. This matchup gives me a chance to talk about one of the tournament's underrated stars, the Spiders' Kevin Anderson. If you remember, Kevin Johnson from the 90s, that would be a great comparison.
As a tournament coach- and you find out your opponent on Sunday...walk through the necessary prep steps to get to a Thursday tip?
Fran Fraschilla (2:12 PM)
JD, GREAT question. I haven't had a chance to write that article this week, but I have written something similar in the past. If you can archive it on ESPN Insider, you still might be able to find it. Here's a short version....from the minute where a team knows where its destination is and its opponents are, everybody in the basketball program goes into 24/7 mode. From breaking down tape to organizing travel plans, practice sites, packing equipment and planning meals, it's all organized down to the minute. Think about Kentucky, they finished their season winning the SEC on Sunday afternoon and have to play Thursday. That 96 hours will be very hectic for Cal's Wildcats, but it's a fun time of year and everybody who is selected doesn't mind being a little sleep deprived.
tom* (parkville, md)
My brain is telling me to pick Vermont to upset Syracuse. Is it time for a lobotomy?
Fran Fraschilla (2:14 PM)
Yes. I love Mike Lonergan's Catamounts, but Taylor Coppenrath and TJ Sorrentine are not walking through that door. Syracuse should advance reasonably handily. But you may see Marqus Blakely in the dunk contest at the Final Four. YouTube him to see some incredible dunks.
Katelyn (Syracuse, NY)
Who poses the biggest threat to oust Syracuse from the West? I'll be honest, I don't want to have to play Pitt again.
Fran Fraschilla (2:16 PM)
In order to have a realistic shot at beating Syracuse, you must have a team that knows how to attack them and Pitt did a great job in doing that in early January. Personally, the team that I think could give them the biggest trouble is Vanderbilt. They have the AJ Ogilvy and John Jenkins. The Zags will provide a formidable opponent against the zone as well. But the teams will have to shut down Syracuse's multi-facted offense. That won't be easy to do.
Quin (Charleston, WV)
How does Duke get the final #1 seed over a WVU team with a stronger resume and five wins better than any win Duke has?
Fran Fraschilla (2:19 PM)
It's a conspiracy. The basketball committee likes Coach K....but seriously, I think Duke got the easiest road to the Final Four. For Kentucky to meet up with West Virginia in the Elite Eight after dominating college basketball for most of the year was criminal. Kansas' bracket is no picnic either, as Bill Self finds seven other Final Four coaches in the Midwest. I had West Virginia going to the Final Four in November, along with Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State. Something will give in the East, so I'll go with an experienced WVU team over the young, but very talented Kentucky Wildcats. I just hope Coach Cal doesn't read our chats.
Fran, what's your final four?
Fran Fraschilla (2:19 PM)
My Final Four is going to be Kansas, Syracuse, West Virginia and Villanova. If that happens, it will be a historic repeat of the 1985 Final Four that included three Big East teams.
Fran Fraschilla (2:20 PM)
I think Kansas will cut down the nets, because they have everything in place to do it.
Mike Garvin (New Paltz)
If Evan Turner lights up the NCAA Tournament the way he lit up the Big Ten Tournament, could he be drafted over John Wall?
Fran Fraschilla (2:22 PM)
No, Mike. I'm a huge Evan Turner fan and think that he's the most versatile player in college basketball, but John Walls only come around once every 10 years. Of course, unless they play for Coach Cal. In that case, they come around every year, because he's likely to be his third straight NBA Rookie of the Year, with Derrick Rose winning it and Tyreke Evans likely to win it this year. John Wall is destined to be an NBA superstar, as long as he continues to work hard and have a great attitude.
Jay (Bloomington, IN)
A lot of people are going to take Siena over Purdue. Is there any other 13-16 seed you give a good shot at an upset?
Fran Fraschilla (2:24 PM)
Good question, Jay. The Murray State-Vandy matchup will be very interesting, because the schools are very close in proximity. Murray is a very underrated 13 seed with depth, athleticism and a great defensive scheme. If I were Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears, I would not sleep on Sam Houston St., a team that gave Kentucky all it could handle at Rupp Arena before losing by 10. The Bearkats' Corey Allmond lit the 'Cats up with 11 3's that night. One intriguing 5-12 game is the UTEP-Butler game. While I love the Bulldogs, they have struggled in recent years with sounds athletic defensive-oriented teams. The Miners fall into that category.
Frank (Coram, NY)
I am glad that you believe in Villanova too.. Why are we in the minority?
Fran Fraschilla (2:25 PM)
They struggled at the end of the year as Jay Wright tried to get his young big guys some playing time. It hurt them on the offensive end, but it may pay dividends in the NCAA Tournament. While the Wildcats definitely struggled, I also attribute it to hitting the meat of their Big East schedule. Every team in the Big East, outside of Syracuse, had a minislump during the year. Just remember how important Scottie Reynolds can be in this tournament.
Allen (SW Philly)
Fran, Temple a 5 seed. Thoughts?
Fran Fraschilla (2:27 PM)
Temple is a very sneaky candidate to get to the Elite Eight, although their road will not be easy. Cornell is not your typical Ivy League team, but more on par with Butler and Gonzaga. Wisconsin is certainly dangerous as well and a mirror image in terms of sounds offense and stingy defense. One of those teams could give Kentucky all it could handle in a Sweet 16 matchup.
Fran Fraschilla (2:27 PM)
The Owls have an outstanding leader in Juan Fernandez and a rebounding machine in Allen.
Could Butler feasibly make the Final 4. They've won 20 straight games and beaten OSU, Xavier and Siena
Fran Fraschilla (2:29 PM)
I love Brad Stevens' team and I'm a huge fan. They've got a tough, and almost unfair draw, with UTEP, Vandy and potentially Syracuse. I wouldn't count on them being this year's George Mason, but it would be a great story, because they would be less than 5 miles from Lucas Oil Stadium. It would be a great story and I wouldn't mind seeing it.
Randy (St. Paul)
What do you think about Minnesota being a sleeper sweet 16 team? I think they drew pretty well with Xavier and possibly Pitt, and don't underestimate a home type crowd in Milwaukee.
Fran Fraschilla (2:31 PM)
All good points, but I honestly felt they were fortunate to get into the field. I will lose a friend for life, but I think, in retrospect, the Big Ten was not as strong as many thought. They certainly are capable of winning two games, but they're also capable of losing to a good Atlantic 10 team by double digits in the first round. It doesn't matter anyway, because Tubby has done another great coaching job and I'm happy for him.
Jay (West Bend, Iowa)
year in and year out, the 'experts' always talk about the Missouri Valley as being a premier non-BCS league, yet UNI gets a #9 seed. Can you help explain this?
Fran Fraschilla (2:33 PM)
I agree completely. I think Northen Iowa very easily could have been a 6 seed and probably deserved it. They, in my opinion, got hosed with the ninth seed. If they are to escape a solid UNLV club, they have little chance at knocking off Kansas. In the right bracket, this could have been an Elite Eight type of team. They're that good.
Can either PAC-10 team win a game?
Fran Fraschilla (2:34 PM)
Yes. I think they're both capable of winning an opening round game. UW matches up favorably against a fiesty Marquette team. They're very similar because of excellent guard play and undersized scorers. Cal is capable of raining 3's on Louisville's zone, but I sense that Rick Pitino will find the Bears' shooters. It's time to do some recruiting out there in the Pac-10.
Fran Fraschilla (2:36 PM)
Can't wait for the weekend to get underway, in fact, I'll have my first day off in 17 on Thursday and will be spending it with my family at the Oklahoma City regional. If you're there, make sure you say hello.