Chat with Dana O'Neil
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com basketball writer Dana O'Neil stops by to chat about the college basketball season.
O'Neil joined ESPN in 2008 after working for the Philadelphia Daily News.
Send your questions now and join O'Neil Thursday at 11 a.m. ET!
Dana O'Neil (11:03 AM)
Greetings from sunny Houston, everyone. Getting ready for the wisdom of Omar Samhan shortly.
Brad (Elizabethtown KY)
Hey Dana, love all your work on here! So at what point does Kentucky stop getting their "first test of the season". I think there have been at least 5 games that have been considered their first real test. At what point are we "tested"?
Dana O'Neil (11:04 AM)
Brad- Not a bad point, there. You're right. Everyone keeps saying that the Wildcats can't handle this, that or the other and yet they've handled this, that and the other all season. At this point, it's beyond testing. It's about surviving matchups.
Ryan (Newport Beach)
We know Onayuke will be out thursday, but what are the chances he plays in the elite 8 if the Cuse advance?
Dana O'Neil (11:06 AM)
Ryan: I don't know for sure but the last I had spoken to Jim Boeheim, Onuaku hadn't even ridden a stationary bike. That's a long way from competing, if you ask me.
Bob (Lynchburg, VA)
A lot of people talk about what a good recruiter and coach Dalonte Hill is, how come he isn't mentioned as a replacement at his alma mater, Charlotte?
Dana O'Neil (11:07 AM)
Bob: I'm not certain that he won't be. If he's not my guess is fairly or unfairly, there's that stigma that came w/ him when he was hired at KState (I think unfairly by now), that he was just brought in to get Beasley. The fact is, he continues to get players and KState is better than ever. If he doesn't get a job this year, I'd be stunned if he didn't next year.
Dana,I'm biased as a huge Butler fan, but I think we have a much better chance tonight than most experts are giving us. What do you think? I'm sure you're hoping we do and validate your preseason Final Four pick!
Dana O'Neil (11:09 AM)
Zach: Absolutely I need validation and were it not for Kalin Lucas' Achilles I could have been preseason brilliant. I think it's a tough, but not impossible order for Butler. Syracuse isn't going to shoot 54 percent against Butler. Gonzaga plays Ole defense. Butler doesn't. Can't let Orange get out in transition and have to work against that zone.
Also, what are the chances for Purdue? They're hurt, but Kramer and their defense is really stepping it up...any way that they could beat Duke?
Dana O'Neil (11:10 AM)
Sam: Honestly pick against Purdue at your own risk. I am equal parts stunned and impressed with what the Bolilermakers have done already. I do think it gets monumentally tougher against Duke just because of depth, numbers and the Blue Devils ability to defend. I'm not saying it can't happen but I'd be surprised.
Rik (St. Louis)
What two or three players left in the field would you want taking a shot down one with a second left?
Dana O'Neil (11:11 AM)
Rik: Good question. Let's see, John Wall, Evan Turner and Wes Johnson are the obvious picks. But I wouldn't be upset if Ali Farokhmanesh did, too! Kid has nerve.
Katelyn (Syracuse, NY)
You've got SU playing at 7 tonight and games in the Dome starting at 7:30. Why wouldn't the NCAA put SU and the games in Syracuse on different nights? No one's going to the WV/Washington game that's from Syracuse.
Dana O'Neil (11:13 AM)
Katelyn: I've heard that a lot. Not brilliant planning, certainly and I can't understand the rationale behind it. I have a feeling, though, that the Dome won't suffer. In my experience, no fans travel like Kentucky fans.
2 Questions Dana - Who wins the West Region (Cuse or KSU) and can you give a compelling reason why West Virginia won't lose to Washington? The Huskies put up points on a regular basis while W. Va seems to go on loooong scoreless stretches. Now with Truck out, the Mountaineers will have a VERY tough time keeping up with the scoring of the Huskies.
Dana O'Neil (11:14 AM)
Gerry: Sure I can give a compelling reason. A few, actually. West Virginia had no problem imposing its pace and style on Gonzaga. Why can't the Mountaineers do it against Washington? Losing Truck hurts the depth, but the fact is Mazzulla has been playing more and playing better. It won't kill them.As for the West region, I have Syracuse in my Final Four so I guess that's my answer. Although I'm torn w/ my original Final Four pick of Butler.
Do you think Tony Barbee is a good hire for Auburn?
Dana O'Neil (11:15 AM)
Aaron: I do. That's a really hard job, really hard. But he's well connected and he works hard. He's going to need time. People need to understand that. Auburn has been irrelevant for a very long time and no one is a magician.
Tom D. (Houston, TX)
Dana, welcome to the city of one bazillion restaurants (most of them great). Why do people keep saying that Duke has an easy bracket and yet many of those same people do not have them making the Final Four? If there is a particularly hard matchup for them in there, isn't that a hard bracket for them?
Dana O'Neil (11:17 AM)
Tom: Some recommendations, please! Tonight good eats w/ the madness package to watch both games would be appreciated. It does seem sort of contrary, the argument against Duke. I think people (myself included) were surprised that they were seeded ahead of Syracuse and that Kansas got such a hard road (not that anyone saw the Northern Iowa pothole) and thought that comparatively, Duke had an easier road. That make some sense?
Matt (Enumclaw WA)
Is cornell as good as everyone says or was their road to the sweet sixteen easier then most think?
Dana O'Neil (11:18 AM)
Matt: Oh no, they're that good. Seriously. Big men, can shoot it, offensive minded, well coached, seniors. Remember they hung w/ Kansas in Allen. Their seed was smoked by the bad loss to Penn, otherwise they could have rolled in here as an 8.
Joe (New York)
Whose gonna win the National Championship?
Dana O'Neil (11:20 AM)
Joe: So my Kansas pick doesn't count anymore, I guess? I think you have to go with the likely suspects of Kentucky or Syracuse, but I don't say that with the utmost of confidence.
Dana - what impresses you most of the Syracuse Team? And While everyone (myself included) will be rooting for Cornell, do they REALLY have a shot against Kentucky?
Dana O'Neil (11:21 AM)
Cuse: I think they do. Most of my colleagues think I'm insane. They do not, I repeat do not have the athletes to keep up with Kentucky, particularly John Wall. But Cornell does have size, can score and can get up and down. I'd be floored if they didn't play the tightest, most packed-in zone in the history of time. That makes rebounding tougher so they've absolutely got to work hard on the boards. But I myself don't think it's completely outlandish. 'Maybe it's my Steve Donahue fandom. Known him for 10 years.
Brian Zoubek (Houston, TX)
I am a large large man and a rebounding machine. Which of these lilipution boilermidgets will stop me on the offensive boards?
Dana O'Neil (11:22 AM)
Brian: Yes, you are and they're all going to have to stop you. Can't be one guy.
By the way, I think I'd want Dasean Butler taking that last shot, thank you.
Dana O'Neil (11:22 AM)
James: Good one. He's pretty good at it. Six this season alone.
Jacob Pullen's beard: underrated, overrated, or properly rated?
Dana O'Neil (11:23 AM)
Brian: Underrated. Every bracket needs a touch of Amish.
Mike T (Charlotte)
Can Tennessee win it all?
Dana O'Neil (11:24 AM)
Mike T: I dont think so, no. But I wouldn't fall over if they got to the Final Four. Don't expect it but wouldn't fall over.
Katelyn (Syracuse, NY)
Based on something I heard, AO is done for the year. Can my boys in orange win it without him? And what kind of statement would that be if they did?
Dana O'Neil (11:25 AM)
Katelyn: I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case at all. Can they win? Ask Gonzaga. Sure they can. But it gets markedly tougher with every game. They do have to play differently without AO and DaShonte Riley has to be able to contribute something. It's not as bad as say losing Wes, but it hurts.
Dana, since Tweety and Lace can both drive into the paint and shoot from outside, do you think Baylor should start the game driving into the paint and trying to get Sahman in foul trouble. I think thats our best chance of winning.
Dana O'Neil (11:26 AM)
Colin: Baylor is so athletic, it just needs to stick with what it knows best. I can't imagine Scott Drew changing things up now to suit St. Mary's. I think Baylor wins this one, as much as I love Samhan!
Andrew B (Manhattan, KS)
K-State and Xavier played earlier this year in Manhattan and the cats controlled the whole game. I know that Xavier has become a much better team since then but so have we. Which team do you think has become a better basketball team since that point and do you think it will been shown in tonight's game?
Dana O'Neil (11:28 AM)
Andrew: I think Xavier has gotten better and that's only because they had so much further to go. The team I saw early just wasn't very good. However, I think KState is a much better team right now. Have so many weapons in Pullen, Clemente, Kelly. I think KState wins.
Hey, i'm a graduate of KU how do I grieve with the loss against NI?
Dana O'Neil (11:30 AM)
James: Root for them to win the whole thing? Although as a Penn State football fan, when Iowa knocked us out a year ago, I wished a lot of evil upon the Hawkeyes. I just watched the BCS bitterly. THat may work for you with the title game.
Andrew (Green Bay)
Northern Iowa. UW. Cornell. What an exciting tournament. But some have written that the Big Boys will start to put things back in order in the Sweet Sixteen. In your opinion, how many underdogs will populate the Final Four next week?
Dana O'Neil (11:30 AM)
Andrew: I do think that order likely will be restored here. Maybe one gets through, but no more than that.
unsung hero of the sweet 16: Scoop Jardine. Cuse will need him driving the lane effectively in order to attack the bulldog defence. I see a 20 point night easily and a Cuse vicotry...Thoughts?>
Dana O'Neil (11:31 AM)
Joe: have a story on Scoop going up later today. Check it out. I love my Philly guards.
when will people stop bashing duke? apart from laying an egg at georgetown (they weren't alone in that respect, when they focus, georgetown could beat anyone) and that mysterious loss to nc state, they have looked solid all year. while i know baylor is more athletic, duke hasn't shown trouble with dispatching more athletic teams (other than georgia tech early on in conference play). the duke team also has WAY more tournament experience than the bears
Dana O'Neil (11:32 AM)
Matt: I don't think people are bashing Duke, just pointing out their weaknesses as they do with every other team. And yes these guys have more experience, but they also have more experience packing up early. Haven't stuck around long, which also is why people question whey they can do it this year.
do you think kentucky's youth will come back to bite them? they still haven't played a truly elite team (i'm sorry, but while the win over wake looked impressive, wake is a team that has underachieved all year). i feel like while they're the most talented team of the tournament, lack of experience will inevitably hurt them down the stretch...
Dana O'Neil (11:33 AM)
Matt: It hasn't bitten then yet and there's 2 weeks left in the season. Not sure why it would now, to be honest.
Clive Bigsby (H-Town)
How do you see the South Region finishing out?
Dana O'Neil (11:34 AM)
Clive: I like Baylor. Like their athleticism, their toughness coming out of the Big 12 and the semi homecourt advantage here.
Katelyn (Syracuse, NY)
I've heard playing in a dome can be tough at first. Does Cornell have an advantage having payed in the Carrier Dome a lot before, that they might be able to capitalize on while Kentucky's shooters adjust?
Tony (Overland Park)
Dana-Do you think that the reason we saw so many upsets the first few days is a product of the selection committee not seeding teams correctly? I understand that parody is part of the college basketball landscape but I think they seeded several teams below where they should have been seeded this year.
Dana O'Neil (11:36 AM)
Tony: Well, I thought Temple should have been higher than a 5, Nova lower than a 2 and Cornell maybe higher than a 12 but the overall No. 1 isn't supposed to lose in the second round. To anybody. I think what you're seeing is the gap closing in a year when there really wasn't a dominant team.
Who so far is the most valuable player of the tournament?
Dana O'Neil (11:38 AM)
AJ: Wow, there's a bunch. Wes Johnson, Chris Kramer, Omar Samhan. Maybe for consistency in both rounds and for what his team is dealing with, I'd got with Wes right now, but honestly there are 10 guys to choose from.
Jake (Clemson, Sc)
I don't understand the whole logic behind the idea that Duke got such an easy road. You can't judge how difficult a bracket is for a high seed until the second week and unless my eyes are lying to me the South region is the only region to still have its 3 and 4 seed and the only one with three of the top 4 seeds still alive. Everyone was speaking of how hard Kansas got it but you know no one was talking about Northern Iowa when they brought this up... they were speaking of osu and gtown (who of course lost in the first round) If Duke lost to Northern Iowa people wouldn't be saying it happened because of how good Northern Iowa is (like they do with Kansas) but it was Duke choking. People just reaching because of their hatred for Duke.. pretty repetitive like your partner Pat Forde who creeps into irresponsible territory when it comes to his hatred for Duke.
Dana O'Neil (11:41 AM)
Jake: I'm answering so you'll stop hijacking my chat.People don't hate Duke. I don't. Pat Forde doesn't. You need to understand. We're reporters. We don't have universities or programs. We don't hate anyone except maybe irrational fans.I think we looked at Duke's roster, it's questionable appearances in recent NCAA Tournaments and said they could be ripe for the picking. Could we be wrong? Absolutely. And I guarantee if UNI played like it did against Duke or the Cleveland Cavaliers, people would have sung UNI's praises.
Scott (Lansing, MI)
With no Lucas, Allen on one foot, Roe on one knee, and everyone and their brother picking UNI to win, isn't that basically the a basic March Madness mathematical equation for an MSU win? I mean, it is Izzo Month after all.
Dana O'Neil (11:42 AM)
Scott; Hey I picked Michigan State to win it all in November. And I would never ever bet against Tom Izzo in the month of march, even if he was rolling out a bunch of first graders.
While I love filling out multiple brakcets, don't you think if ESPN only let you fill out only 1 bracket it'd be a lot more entertaining? With all the millions of brackets submitted, it seems every final four possible will be submitted. I'm not sure why someone's 9th bracket should win the big prize, but maybe that's just me.
Dana O'Neil (11:43 AM)
Pete: I agree. I only ever do one bracket. Make your picks and live and die with them. In my case, that would be die.
You've seen WV and KY play this year, what are the things about that potentail matchup that could send the game either way? Or, is it a foregone conclusion that KY would beat WV?
Dana O'Neil (11:44 AM)
Steve: I don't think it's a foregone conclusion at all. The biggest obstacle - literally - would be Cousins. West Virginia isn't that big inside and would have to find a way to neutralize him. But the Mountaineers have played a 1-3-1 all season and that could hurt Kentucky, too.
Matt Quillen (Tennessee)
Who do you think will win the Tennessee-Ohio St. game and why?
Dana O'Neil (11:45 AM)
Matt: I think Ohio State. Been impressed with how other guys have been playing while everyone is busy keying on Evan Turner. That's something the Buckeyes were missing for a while there.
SubmarineMike (Jacksonville Fl)
Can't believe you left out DaSean Butler when you mentioned clutch players earlier.. he has been nails
Dana O'Neil (11:46 AM)
Me either. I only saw two of his buzzerbeaters.Hey it's only 1045 here.
After his game winning shot, i think Korie Lucious will lead Michigan St. to the Elite 8. What do you think?
Dana O'Neil (11:48 AM)
Patrick: It's not out of the question that MIchigan State makes the Elite Eight and if they do, Lucious is going to have to step up!
jeff meyer (newport beach, ca)
Dana, as a bruin alum', its rather sad watching them these days. as a hoops powerhouse, where the heck is the recruiting? i know every great program goes through these times, but im frustrated with whats going on in westwood. will they turn it around soon?
Dana O'Neil (11:49 AM)
Jeff: Buddy you went to three Final Fours in a row!! It's not like the world has fallen apart. I agree. Need to get some good players fast but UCLA has been victimized by its own success, losing guys to theNBA.
Dana, being familiar with the Nova program, do they have the leadership next year to bring all of their talent together?
Dana O'Neil (11:50 AM)
Tim: To be honest, I don't. That to me was the biggest problem this year. I love Scottie Reynolds. One of hte greatest kids in the game but he's not a natural-born leader and I'm not sure who is. Someone absolutely has to be or they could struggle again.
Now that Ernie Kent has been fired from Oregon who would you suggest a good viable replacement?
Dana O'Neil (11:51 AM)
Erik: I know they have a working wish list and a reality list going. I wouldn't be stunned if someone like Mark Turgeon ended up there.
Northern Iowa can be the next George Mason...True or False?
Dana O'Neil (11:52 AM)
Mark: Can be? Sure. I think both Northern Iowa and Cornell are better teams than that George Mason team. No disrespect to George Mason intended.
Ryan (East Lansing)
Dana, If the final 16 teams were competing based on best mascot who would win? And don't say Boilermaker Pete.
Dana O'Neil (11:52 AM)
Ryan: I'm a big fan of Otto the Orange. And the Butler Bulldog rocks, too.
Hi Dana, What would be the most interesting final at this point? Im a MSU fan, myself, i would definetly want them...but who know what will happen.
Dana O'Neil (11:53 AM)
Keith: OH I think the final people would like to see is Syracuse against Kentucky. Great talent, both really good all year, the zone versus those ridiculously good players, two great coaches.
Jabo Pullen's beard....essential for KState if they want to make the final four?
Dana O'Neil (11:55 AM)
Mike As essential as Samson's hair. Hide all razors.
What upset today would give you the biggest 'OH MAH GAWD!' reaction?
Dana O'Neil (11:56 AM)
Clyde: Cornell. I mean, I don't think it's outlandish. But cmon. Cornell beating Kentucky. This Kentucky team. It would be insane.
Dana, please remind the world that Mark coury only "started" at UK because we had an insane coach and that Coury still only played the first 2 minutes of each half. All of this crap about him leaving a sweet deal as a starter for UK needs to be squashed.
Dana O'Neil (11:58 AM)
Ian: Well yeah, of course. Pretty funny he started at Kentucky but not at Cornell. Might be the ultimate damnation of Billy Gillispie. But he left the Wildcat Lodge and charter planes and adoration. So it was still pretty sweet deal.
But in all fairness....an Orange? ... ... Really? As a cuse alumni, I understand the history behind it, but no one else does and probably laughs at us!
Dana O'Neil (11:58 AM)
I find him amusing. Or maybe I'm just tired.Regardless, I have to go and get my act together for these press conferences.Enjoy the games. Hopefully this Thursday is insane as the last one.