Chat with Eamonn Brennan
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com college basketball blogger Eamonn Brennan will be here to chat about the Sweet 16 matchups.
Brennan started with ESPN.com in December 2009. He writes for the College Basketball Nation blog.
Send your questions now and join Brennan Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Eamonn Brennan (2:02 PM)
Hey, everyone. Eamonn from College Basketball Nation here to chat for the next hour or so about all things college hoops. Get your questions in and let's do this thing. It's the most wonderful time of the year.
At what point can we stop calling Xavier a mid-major?
Eamonn Brennan (2:05 PM)
Several years ago. Xavier plays in a mid-major conference -- the A-10 is well below the $20 million average athletic budget cutoff Kyle Whelliston sagely established as the mid-major "red line" a few years ago -- but Xavier's actual budget and basketball program worth is much more in line with a major conference school. Programs like Xavier and Gonzaga and even Butler have crossed over into that rare area where, despite the conference they play in, it's hard to consider them an underdog. For more on this stuff, check out a blog post I wrote yesterday. http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/8639/mid-major-still-means-something And yes, I am going to shamelessly plug the blog throughout this chat. You expected anything less?
Eamonn, it seems to me like it's become just as popular to hate teams as it is to root for them. Are we as sports fans becoming too much like those who follow celebrities just to trash them? Let's start a movement against negativity.
Eamonn Brennan (2:07 PM)
How very idealistic of you, JBM. I admire that. Unfortunately, I have a feeling plenty of people are still going to enjoy hating their rivals -- or typically piled on places like Duke -- no matter what you or I have to say about it. It's fun to hate. But I'd totally sign your petition.
Gregory (West Palm Beach, FL)
Will the Pac-10 be better next year, or will it be another down year for the conference?
Eamonn Brennan (2:08 PM)
This is probably a better question for our man out west, Diamond Leung, but from what I've heard and given the young players in the conference, the Pac-10 should be slightly better next year (if not all the way back to its powerful recent past). Arizona especially should take major strides in the second year of Sean Miller's rebuild.
Anil Rao (West Lafayette, IN)
As an IU graduate, do you believe that Purdue has a shot against Duke? How about Butler?
Eamonn Brennan (2:14 PM)
I do, actually, but it's a long shot. If Hummel's around, Purdue is a pretty brutal match up for Duke, because Hummel is one of the few players in the country who can match up on both ends of the floor with Kyle Singler. Without him, it's much tougher. And trust me when I say that my IU past has nothing to do with my basketball present. (Even if it did, I'd still have no ill will toward Purdue. Matt Painter is a fantastic coach.) As for Butler, I've doubted the Bulldogs at my own peril thus far in the tournament -- I had UTEP in their place in the Sweet Sixteen, which will be the last time I trust Derrick Caracter. Ugh. Butler can pull this off. They'll need Gordon Hayward to bring his best stuff, though. Another mediocre outing would doom the Bulldogs against an impressively balanced Syracuse team.
Garrett (Richmond, VA)
Your opinion on Sylven Landesberg leaving Virginia?
Eamonn Brennan (2:16 PM)
In some ways, Landesberg's departure feels like it's more about the late-season academics issues Landesberg had -- and any residual problems that caused with new coach Tony Bennett -- than a genuine attempt at an NBA career. Landesberg is a talented player, but like Mason-Griffin from Oklahoma, it's hard to see this as the right decision for him. Virginia fans will certainly agree.
Do you see St Mary as an elite 8 team?
Eamonn Brennan (2:19 PM)
In other words, can they beat Baylor? Sure. Will they? I'm not ready to go that far, because as good as St. Mary's has looked, Villanova was way overseeded as a No. 2 and played like it. Meanwhile, Baylor handled its business against a very tough defensive team in ODU. The problem with St. Mary's is that they're so deadly from the perimeter, and if you collapse on Samhan you're basically picking your poison. (Picture those mid-90's Shaq-and-Penny-and-Nick Anderson Orlando Magic teams). I think Ekpe Udoh is one of the few players in this tournament that can guard Samhan straight up, and that's the difference. It's going to be an awesome game, though.
Jon Scheyer (Durham, NC)
Why have I been having such a large problem shooting the ball so far in the tournament?
Eamonn Brennan (2:21 PM)
Eh, it happens. That's sort of been the story of Duke's year -- when you were on, Kyle Singler was off, and vice versa, with a bit of Nolan Smith thrown in for good measure. Duke got an easy draw with this tournament -- as so many of you submitting questions are quick to remind me -- but they've acquitted themselves well so far. Fortunately, I don't know that you need to be on for the Duke game, Jon. Just manage the ball, don't turn it over, and get it to Kyle as frequently as possible. Dude's on fire.
Any word on Arinzi's injury for the cuse.
Eamonn Brennan (2:24 PM)
As of right now, it doesn't look like Arinze Onuaku is going to play.
Basketball Fan (Minnesota)
Is it just me, or is all this hype of Cornell beating UK a little unrealistic? As far as the NCAA tournament goes, dont they have about the same experience?
Eamonn Brennan (2:27 PM)
If you want to argue that Cornell is going to beat Kentucky, "experience" is definitely not the reason to do so. One reason would be that Cornell has won its first two tournament games by absolutely torching -- with offensive ratings of 135.6 and 146.5, respectively -- two very good defensive teams in Temple and Wisconsin. Cornell will have to be just as good from the perimeter if they want to keep up with Kentucky, a team that treated Wake Forest like a No. 16 seed this weekend.
Peter (Atlanta, GA)
Does any of the three Cinderellas have a legit chance at a Final Four berth and if so, who?
Eamonn Brennan (2:31 PM)
I think it's a close call between UNI and St. Mary's, and I'd give the edge to UNI. Why? First of all, the Panthers have already beaten arguably the overall No. 1 seed, and they caught a major break when Michigan State point guard Kalin Lucas lost his achilles tendon in Michigan State's win over Maryland. MSU is a different team without Lucas, which we saw when Lucas was injured earlier in the season, and so UNI has a much more favorable match up than the Gaels. Say both teams in the Sweet 16? Then I still give the slight edge to UNI, because Ohio State is vulnerable to disciplined defensive teams. But I truly think either team is playing well enough to do it. Let's hope so, right?
Eammon, I don't understand why you say Duke has such an easy path and yet you don't have them in the final four. If Baylor is a bad matchup for them, that would seem to mean that they got a bad path for a #1 seed. Right?
Eamonn Brennan (2:34 PM)
Tom from Austin has been submitting this bad boy repeatedly for about a half an hour now, so let's just go ahead and answer it. It's actually a really good question, sir. That would seem to be something of a contradiction, now wouldn't it? Here's how I'd answer: It's not a contradiction to think that Duke received the easiest road of all the No. 1 seeds -- despite the fact that its case for a No. 1 seed was the most marginal of the four -- and also think that Duke isn't good enough to outlast that road on the way to the Final Four. See what I'm getting at? Just because I don't think Duke beats Baylor doesn't mean Duke didn't objectively get the fewest threatening teams in its region. It did. I also think Baylor wins. At this point, though, the seeding stuff is old hat. We've been over it repeatedly for two weeks now. Everyone that's in the tournament is still here because they're awesome at basketball, and everything will be settled on the floor one way or the other. On March 24, freaking out over this stuff is kind of beside the point.
Eamonn, loved your work with "The Dagger", and glad to see you at ESPN. Will Jeff Foote be able to operate AT ALL against Cousins, Patterson and Orton?
Eamonn Brennan (2:38 PM)
Aw, you know how to get your question posted, Perry. What a gentleman. I have a tough time seeing Mr. Foote getting much to look at down low. Kentucky's interior defense is really good. At this point, the way to beat the Cats is pretty straightforward: You slow the ball down, pack in a half-court zone, make them shoot outside, and hope Cousins doesn't get so many offensive rebounds that the Cats' misses stop mattering. If you're Cornell, you can add another corollary to this plan: Shoot really, really well. Shoot well even if a very athletic, NBA-bound hand is in your face. Make your shots. Cornell has done that the first two games of this tournament, and it's the Big Red's only hope of getting consistent points against a sneakily stifling Kentucky defense.
Matt Hines (Champaign-Urbana)
hey E, how solid are the Illini in the NIT?
Eamonn Brennan (2:39 PM)
Ha. Can we institute a no-NIT questions rule? OK, I just did. And triple-stamped it. Sorry, Mr. Hines.
Dave (New Jersey)
Why don't teams schedule more non-conference games towards the end of the season to prepare themselves for the tournament? A team like Georgetown or Villanova might seem battle-tested because of the rigorous Big East schedule, but the tournament shows again that unfamiliarity with an opponent is almost equivalent to talent- what would hurt a team like Villanova to schedule a mid-major say, in late February?
Eamonn Brennan (2:41 PM)
The problem with this idea -- which is a good one, on its face -- is that no major program is going to take the risk of scheduling a mid-major late in the season when the bubble talk is ripe and you could need a few big wins to get in the NCAA tournament. The cost-benefit analysis is pretty skewed for the major conference team there. Heck, major conference teams barely want to schedule quality mid-majors in November, let alone February.
You think that the Northern Iowa Panthers have a legit shot at gong to the final four?
Eamonn Brennan (2:43 PM)
Yep. See answer above. But they got a big break with the MSU match up and have shown they can beat the top talent in the country. Why not?
E. Davis (Chapel Hill, NC)
If I comeback to school next season and pair w/ the emerging Jon Henson, Ty Zeller and Harrison Barnes w/ Bullock or Kendall in the back-court, Strickland, McDonald, etc off the bench - I'm gonna leave school w/ 3 Championships (2 NCAA & 1 NIT). Book it bro.
Eamonn Brennan (2:43 PM)
OK, Ed. Whatever you say. We can have this conversation after your team finishes its NIT run. (Harrison Barnes is going to be a stud, though.)
Herky the Hawk (Iowa City, Iowa)
If someone would have told me that we'd be the FOURTH best team in the state of basketball mecca IOWA, I would have hung it up years ago. This is embarrassing... Go Panthers I guess!
Eamonn Brennan (2:44 PM)
Oof. Tough season for Iowa fans.
On the flipside of your "Cornell needs to keep up that offensive efficiency" comment, would you say that if they do, nobody can beat them? I mean, they can have a much tougher time on D than they have and turn the ball over several more times and still win if they shoot 60% and 50% from 3's, right?
Eamonn Brennan (2:46 PM)
Yes and no. It's hard to expect Cornell to keep up this level of efficiency on the perimeter. I mean, they're really, really good out there -- the best three-point shooting team in the country -- but this tournament tear is otherworldly. My point is merely that Cornell is vulnerable elsewhere, as they have been all season, and that the shooting will have to remain relatively torrid (if there is such a thing) to keep pace with a Kentucky team that is just dominating in all phases of the game.
As far as the midmajor question, Duke did schedule Tulsa late in the year. Tulsa was predicted to be at the top of C-USA when the season started but just didn't turn out that way. I think they were trying to get ready for an 8 seed type team.
Eamonn Brennan (2:47 PM)
Good point, Brian. It was still a win-win for both teams; Tulsa got the Cameron Indoor experience, Duke got to play a non-conference against that type of team. Maybe that's the plan: Schedule the late non-conference mid-major game to get ready for the tournament ... but make sure to do it at home.
How great would it be to have UNI, Butler, St Mary's, and Cornell in the Final Four?!!!!!
Eamonn Brennan (2:49 PM)
One word: awesome. http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/8604/heres-to-the-best-final-four-ever
Eamonn, if Duke makes it to the final 4 will people say it was the easy root or will they say maybe the program is back?
Eamonn Brennan (2:50 PM)
Probably a little bit of both. There's no getting around that Duke had a comparably easier road to the Final Four than any of the other teams that will have made it. But making the Final Four in any region in any year is impressive, and let's not get it twisted: Duke is a very, very good team. Weak region or no, they'll deserve the accolades.
Cole (Oskaloosa, Iowa)
What percent chance would you give for Northern Iowa to make the Final Four?
Eamonn Brennan (2:51 PM)
Being a Davenport native, I had to give some love to my dude in Oskaloosa. What's up, man? If I had to put a hard number on it, let's say 25 percent. Which, given the four teams left in the Midwest, is actually pretty bullish.
I win a lot of money if UK wins it all, Baylor goes to final 4, Cuse goes to final 4 (or finals, doesnt matter), and OSU does NOT go to final 4... I'm strangely overconfident, you like my chances?
Eamonn Brennan (2:53 PM)
I wouldn't go punching any tickets to Vegas quite yet ... but you have to like where you're sitting right now. (For the record, I like Ohio State to get to the Final Four, but I'm not ruling anything out in that Midwest.)
Eamonn, why would the so called analysts on TV pick against MSU against UNI? What else does Izzo have to do in March to get the respect the program deserves? 5 final fours in 11 years isn't enough? I understand how great and fearless UNI is playing right now, but just because MSU has some key injuries doesn't mean the team won't be any less prepared or capable of making a final four run.
Eamonn Brennan (2:54 PM)
Corey, I wouldn't take it personally. The fact is that Michigan State just isn't the same team without Kalin Lucas. It's true. I don't think that means UNI is an obvious winner, because the Spartans are still talented and very well-coached. (If they're losing, I bet they won't wait until the last few minutes to start trapping UNI's undersized guards. Cough, Bill Self, cough.) But there's no question UNI got a good draw here. It's not a respect thing. It's an injuries thing.
Bigger lock for 10 yrs on an NBA bench, Sherron Collins or Scottie Reynolds?
Eamonn Brennan (2:56 PM)
Hmm. Good one. I'd say Scottie Reynolds -- maybe a little more athletic. It's hard to picture either of them being longtime NBA guys. Both could have very prosperous careers in, like, Spain, or something.
The midwest, as everyone knows, is the most messed up part of the bracket this year. This is what i want to know. Who is now the favorite in the Midwest bracket and does the winner have a hot chance on making it to the championship game?
Eamonn Brennan (2:57 PM)
Yes. Ohio State is a very, very good team, David. I can see them winning it all. Can't you?
Derek (Wichita, Kansas)
What is your view of Kansas State in the tourney so far this year? From my view, KSU still is not getting any respect at all, even with a defense that, at some times, is almost impossible to score on.
Eamonn Brennan (2:59 PM)
I made the mistake of picking BYU to beat K-State -- I thought Jimmer Fredette would be a tough matchup problem for the Wildcats. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did Jacob Pullen shut down one of the country's best guards, he scored 34 points on the opposite end. K-State needs more love. This is a really good, really balanced team, and because they play such a guard-heavy, uptempo style, they probably don't get enough credit for their defense. They're legit. (Also, Frank Martin never stops being entertaining. What a maniac.)
Give us your Elite 8 predictions.
Eamonn Brennan (3:01 PM)
Fair enough. Let's go with: UNI over Michigan StateOhio State over TennesseeSyracuse over ButlerKansas State over Xavier Baylor over St. Mary'sDuke over PurdueWest Virginia over Washington (don't freak out about Bryant's injury; Mazzulla will fill in just fine)Kentucky over CornellOf course, because I just picked these, expect approximately three of them to be correct. That's about my hit rate in this tournament so far. Stupid brackets.
Eamonn Brennan (3:02 PM)
I'm actually really enjoying this, so I'm going to stick around for a little while longer and take some more comments and questions, if you guys don't mind. Fire away.
Roger (Shreveport, LA)
Is Kansas winning desite of Bill Self and not because of him? Yea he did win a national championship but that was a senior oriented class with NBA players on it who were leaders and had great chemistry.
Eamonn Brennan (3:04 PM)
Uh, no. Sure, Self has had his share of coaching mistakes, but you have to remember that none of these players would even be at Kansas were it not for Self's insane ability to recruit each and every year. That part of coaching is a little overlooked. Not to mention that I think Self's a pretty solid x's and o's guy, too. Sure, Kansas should have pressed earlier against UNI, but crazy stuff happens in the tournament. I don't think that loss should stand as an indictment of Self.
Kurt Warner (Cedar Falls, IA)
Is Ali Farokhmanesh the coolest name for a white guy ever? I know he's got an Iranian father, but still?
Eamonn Brennan (3:06 PM)
Going to go ahead and not touch this question with a 10-foot pole. Please direct all further queries on this matter to John Mayer.
Was Big East overrated and over-seeded?
Eamonn Brennan (3:08 PM)
Overrated? Eh. Overseeded: In spots. I thought a No. 2 was way too high for Villanova (especially in that South), a No. 3 was probably a little too high for Pittsburgh, and a No. 6 was maybe a little too high for Notre Dame. That said, most of these games have been close losses, and only Georgetown (an up and down team for most of the season) and Villanova (which faded bigtime down the stretch) looked truly awful. Was the Big East overrated? Yeah, a little bit, but in the end it's played like what it was all year: A deep conference with a lot of average-to-good teams, one really good team (WVU) and one elite power (Syracuse).
Rickey Henderson (Hall of Fame)
Eamonn you are great, but Tom is the greatest Brennan at ESPN of all-time.
Eamonn Brennan (3:09 PM)
I have absolutely no problems with that. When Ricky's right, Ricky's right.
Is it really hard to get the best recruits to commit to a school like Kansas? Same goes for Duke, UNC, and Kentucky. I don't think it shows anything about their recruiting ability and everything about the legacy of the program.
Eamonn Brennan (3:11 PM)
Sorry, but how many 17 year old college basketball recruits really care about tradition, legacy, and so on? If anything, big program coaches have an advantage thanks to resources -- they have the richest boosters, and thus the best facilities, and thus the best players. There's no question coaches at schools like Kansas have built-in advantages that other coaches don't. But you still have to get the 17-year-olds to sign on the line that is dotted. It's not as easy as it looks, even with a gleaming practice facility in your front yard.
Jon (Houston, TX)
Most talented guy in the tourney that nobody talks about?
Eamonn Brennan (3:12 PM)
Let's go with Jacob Pullen. He's gotten some run, sure, but he's been largely lost in the upset shuffle. What he did against BYU was otherwordly. The beard needs more love. Or fear. Whichever the beard prefers.
We're still in this tournament right? How come NO ONE is talking about us?
Eamonn Brennan (3:14 PM)
If you're talking about Washington, plenty of people have been talking about you, so simmer. If you're talking about Syracuse, then it's because you've quietly handled your business while the rest of the bracket has crumbled around you. Either way, just keep winning. That'll fix this issue quickly.
I know this is farfetched, but since nobody on the UK squad has come out and said "NBA" quite yet, could this be the beginning of a completely unfair UCLA John Wooden-esque run? The world is a better place when Ashley Judd is happy.
Eamonn Brennan (3:15 PM)
Saying that's "farfetched" is like saying the visual effects in Avatar are "sorta cool." Sorry, sir. Someone's spiking your Big Blue kool-aid.
Eamonn, my man, why do I have to keep listening to people talk about how if only Kansas pressed the whole game, it would have been a blow out? It is ridiculous for 3 reasons 1). Kansas has not played that style, and presing that much takes fitness and a lot of practice, contrary to popular belief. 2). It worked short term (last minute or 2) solely because they hadn't all game and No. Iowa probably wasn't ready for it due to point 1. 3). No Iowa is a veteran team with veteran guards, what actually makes people think they wouldn't adjust and then wouldn't have hit many open daggers? Thoughts on my rant?
Eamonn Brennan (3:19 PM)
Greg, part of me agrees with you. I don't think that's a viable strategy for Kansas all game long. But I do think that once it's clear things are trending badly, you take a look at your huddle and your opponent's and wager a simple bet: Our guys can turn these guys over. We're way bigger, way longer, way more athletic. That bet was right! It just needed more time to really pay off. Not the whole game, but certainly more than the last few minutes.
Megan (Arlington, VA)
As a lifelong Kentucky fan, I can decide whether I want Duke to lose as soon as possible, or if I want them to make to the Final Four and be torn apart by my Cats on their way to the 8th National Championship. From an outsider's perspective, which do you think would be more vindicating?
Eamonn Brennan (3:21 PM)
Mmm. Yes. The hate is strong with this one. (Not going to answer. I have no real opinion on that matter. Just wanted to compliment you on the depth of your anger. Truly impressive.)
Jordan Crawford one of the Top 5 NCAA tourney performers to date?
Eamonn Brennan (3:23 PM)
No question. Averaging around 27 a game in his first two games, and has done so in pretty brilliant fashion. Let's do a quick top all-first-weekend list. I'll go Crawford, Samhan, Pullen, Wes Johnson, and either Ryan Wittman or Ali Farokhmanesh.
I don't think it's fair to say the Big East was overrated because of how the tournament has shaken out. You can't make judge those teams based on the results of 1 game - it's called sample size. If all the games involving Big East teams were played 100 times, I still bet the BE team wins more often than not.
Eamonn Brennan (3:25 PM)
Fair enough. We tend to make too much of what happens in the tournament when we're talking about best conferences. Frankly, the tournament is crazy, and it's a small sample size. The Big East deserves credit for being as tough as it was for so much of the regular season.
As a Duke fan, I can't decide what is more annoying. Reading how everybody hates a bunch of 18-22 year old student athletes who do nothing wrong everyday on this website or hearing Digger, Hubert, Elmore, etc... say it during every game. Which would you find more annoying?
Eamonn Brennan (3:27 PM)
I think it's more annoying to say everyone hates Duke. Or to hate Duke for no other reason than the fact that they're Duke. Has Duke had its fair share of "hateable" players in recent years? Sure. (Honestly, J.J. Redick brought that all on himself.) But there isn't a single guy on this year's team that deserves that sort of scorn. They're a really good, inoffensive basketball team. We should at least respect that.
Ed Hochuli (Chat Ref)
Terry, your incessant whining has resulted in a 15 yard penalty. We'll repeat 1st down.
Eamonn Brennan (3:29 PM)
Aw, you guys got Ed involved. This can't end well.
Who is the most hate-able guy left in the tournament? We had Devendorf last year, I think people still hate him...
Eamonn Brennan (3:32 PM)
Devendorf left a legacy that will be hard to match. Now that I think about it, I can't say I find any of the remaining players hateable at all. Which is probably good, because it'd be uncomfortable for me to have to reveal my "hate" for a 20-year-old kid playing a sport for my entertainment.
Ed Hochuli (Chat Ref)
I'm here to keep the chatters in line Eamonn. Whining, excessive post length, and use of emoticons are prohibited unless you want to see me flex my guns.
Eamonn Brennan (3:33 PM)
Ed has issued his warning. Chatters, please be advised.
I always forget what my strategy is when it comes to picking brackets. But watching this year, is it just me or do teams that rebound (particularly offensively) well tend to be the safest choices? Second chances and not giving up second chances seem to be the keys from many of the games I've watched (of course there are exceptions like Cornell shooting lights out).
Eamonn Brennan (3:35 PM)
That's one die-hard rule of bracket picks: Look for teams with good offensive rebounding percentages. Then again, you shouldn't take any bracket advice from me. My bracket is a smoking crater where a piece of paper once was.
Octavious (Baton Rouge)
I'd like to take your temperature. ...on Baylor. Do you think they're still as "hot" as they were when they started the tourney? Do you think they can defeat St. Mary's and potentially Duke in Houston?
Eamonn Brennan (3:36 PM)
I have Baylor in my Final Four. No reason to come back from the ledge now. I think both match ups are very tough for the Bears -- particularly Duke, who is really good at stopping athletic teams, and whose bigs have finally come to play a little bit -- but I still like Lace and company to get to Indianapolis.
Answer the question in conversation room being discussed below. Your team is down 1..what coach do you want drawing the play and what player do you want with the ball?
Eamonn Brennan (3:39 PM)
Fantastic question. Let's go ahead and give Tom Izzo the clipboard here -- few coaches have as many beautifully designed inbounds plays as Izzo, and I know for a fact we'd be able to get the ball to my player of choice, which is ... Evan Turner. Hat tip to John Wall here, too, because I know both players are so unstoppable we wouldn't have to have to settle for a jump shot. We'd get a look in the paint at the very least.
Javid Sternell (Chat Commissioner)
Yawn.... The Duke debate is hereby closed. They got a marginally easier bracket, but it is not clear how easy Final Four teams' paths will be until next weekend. There are no hateable players on the team this year. Duke hatred and fan whining should hereby suspended until the next JJ Redick comes to campus. Case Closed.
Eamonn Brennan (3:40 PM)
Starts slow clap ...
Do you think Michigan state is a good contender?
Eamonn Brennan (3:43 PM)
Well, they're in the Sweet 16, which is a testament to the strength of their program and of Izzo specifically. But a contender? Nope. Not before Lucas' injury, and not after. Not this year.
From a die hard UK fan, I agree Turner gets the slight edge
Eamonn Brennan (3:44 PM)
I'll start another slow clap for Brandon not being one of those fans who freaks out (I'm looking you, Big Blue Nation) any time his teams or players aren't declared the best in the country. Three cheers, Brandon!
Pete (West Lafayette)
Would Purdue getting to the Final Four without Hummel qualify as a Cinderella story?
Eamonn Brennan (3:45 PM)
I'd go that far. Purdue is still a talented team without Hummel, but they looked dead in the water in the Big Ten tournament. Even getting this far is something of a shock.
Breaking News: Northern Iowa signs coach Ben Jacobson to extension through 2020. Eat your heart out Hawkeyes, you're not getting him!
Eamonn Brennan (3:46 PM)
And a tough season for the Hawkeyes gets even tougher.
Brennan, you really make the last shot debate just about Turner/Wall? What about Da'Sean Butler? I know there's at least 2 fan-bases since the Big East tourney alone that wake every night in cold sweats because of what he did.
Eamonn Brennan (3:49 PM)
I request your forgiveness and understanding. It is utterly ridiculous that I forgot to mention Da'Sean in the last-second shot thing. Inexcusable. I've done a bad thing, and I blame no one but myself. I thought ... I was entitled. I thought ... I didn't have to play by the rules. I've learned a lot since then, and I'm ready to get back to doing what I do best: chatting about college basketball. Thank you.
I don't need Jacobson.. the Hawkeyes need the great B.J. Armstrong to bring them back to dominance.
Eamonn Brennan (3:49 PM)
Well, that's one theory.
Seeing the impact that mid-major teams have had this year on the tournament, are you for or against the expansion to 96 teams?
Eamonn Brennan (3:52 PM)
Some accused me of being wishy-washy in here earlier -- now THAT's a surefire way of not getting your comment approved, sir! -- and this is an issue I've been waffling on since I first heard about it. But now that we're in the thick of the tournament, I find myself leaning more and more toward the anti-expansion camp. I've yet to hear a good reason for why the tournament needs to expand to 96 teams. If the goal is to include more mid-majors, great. I can get behind that. But I've yet to hear that as an argument, and I'm worried that expansion would be less about honoring more mid-majors than it would about getting big-money teams with mediocre records onto that 96-team bubble. I don't like it.
One upset in the Sweet Sixteen, and its a 9 over a 5? Way to go out on a limb Eamonn.PS: Washington will beat WVU
Eamonn Brennan (3:53 PM)
I was pretty chalky there, wasn't I? OK, fine: St. Mary's beats Baylor. There. Happy now?
Roger Goodell (Chat Commish)
Javid, I'm the chat commish here. Ed, take care of this joker for me.
Eamonn Brennan (3:54 PM)
Oh no, now Roger Goodell's involved. What have you guys done?
You should break Simmons' chat record. Off to a good start.
Eamonn Brennan (3:55 PM)
Isn't it like 10 hours? I need some sort of a warm-up or something.
Tournament Anti-Expansion Committee (Basketball Heaven)
We'll change it to 96 if a 16 beats a 1. Carry on.
Label Maker (BCS Country)
The high-mid-low labels are tiresome and insulting by implying less than. Go ahead and use them for talking finances and budgets. But the game is played on the court and good teams are good teams and bad are bad, no matter what budget. Leave the pre-packaged dividing labels to the accountants and just call basketball teams, "teams"!
Eamonn Brennan (3:57 PM)
Label Maker, I agree with you up to a point. But I feel like mid-majors -- or whatever we want to call them -- whose athletic department budgets are a third or a fourth of X Big Ten team's deserve some sort of distinction, because what they're doing is far more impressive. Whatever that term is is fine with me. But it's not fair to just say that every team should be judged on their own merits, because college basketball is not an inherently fair playing field.
I was about to make the Simmons' comment. Impressive stamina, now to just increase your typing speed!
Eamonn Brennan (3:58 PM)
I can't do, captain! I don't have the manual dexterity!
did you just let that man talk you out of you final four pick in your bracket?
Eamonn Brennan (4:00 PM)
Brandon: Seemed easy, right? That's what happens when your bracket comes in at right around the 15th percentile. My entire faith is shaken. I'm a shell of my former bracket self. Up is down, black is white, cats and dogs living together ... mass hysteria.
Coach Martin (Manhattan)
You have me going to the Final Four right? Right....? (death stare)
Eamonn Brennan (4:00 PM)
AH! Uh, yes! Yes sir! (Furiously scribbles in Kansas State.)
Expanding to 96 teams is akin to giving everyone in Little League a trophy. At some point you have to learn that in the real world, you don't always get your way.
Eamonn Brennan (4:03 PM)
Slow clap for Marc, too. The argument that more teams should get in the tournament because "it's a good experience for the kids" is baffling to me. What is this, Dad's Club soccer? Do we get orange slices at halftime? You'll notice the people primarily making this argument are coaches, who can't come right out and say "expansion makes my job 10 times easier, because people can't freak out on my when I miss the tournament, because I'll never miss a 96-team tournament." But for coaches, that's what it's all about.
With that logic, would it be smarter for teams who annually find themselves at the bottom of major conferences to cut ties and go join a mid major conference?
Eamonn Brennan (4:04 PM)
For tournament purposes, maybe. For money purposes? No effing way.
Dan Hawkins (Boulder)
Go play intermurals buddy!
Eamonn Brennan (4:05 PM)
Yes! Complete non-sequitur Dan Hawkins quote. I love it.
Alex (Manhattan, KS)
Eamonn, What kind of shot would you give K-State to make it to the final four and then the championship game? I have been waiting patiently to hear your expert opinion. Thanks!
Eamonn Brennan (4:07 PM)
"Expert opinion"? You must be in the wrong chat, sir. But seriously, I really regret my BYU pick over K-State. They've been nothing but impressive thus far. If you're looking for a percentage, let's be kind and say K-State has a 40 percent chance of getting to the Final Four and a 10 percent chance of winning it all. Which is completely arbitrary, but not too bad, actually.
Pete (West Lafayette)
Slow clap for Alex...now that was some first rate butt-smooching right there.
Dream Final: Syracuse vs. Kentucky or Butler vs. N. Iowa?
Eamonn Brennan (4:09 PM)
How about Kentucky vs. Northern Iowa. The number of people referencing "Hoosiers" in pre and postgame storylines would cause the pop-culture/sports continuum to implode upon itself, leaving nothing but cold, hard analysis in its wake.
Odds on that i don't have a team next year worth the sweet 16 or even the dance, ala the UF flop?
Eamonn Brennan (4:12 PM)
Low, especially if Bledsoe and Orton stick around for another year. Either way, Kentucky should still be pretty good in 2010-11.
Any chance Tenn could be mentioned at any point during this chat session? Everyone seems to forget the have beaten some pretty good teams and no one seems to give them any chance of beating Ohio St. What are your thoughts?
Eamonn Brennan (4:15 PM)
Fair point -- plenty of you have been asking the same question as Danny for much of the chat. I think Tennessee gives Ohio State a very close game, easily their most difficult of the tournament so far, but I think Ohio State is just too cohesive and talented to lose here. People say this is just Evan Turner and a bunch of scrubs, but Lighty and Buford are both drastically underrated, and Jon Diebler is one of the purest shooters in the country. Don't sleep on the Buckeyes.
Blake (Charlotte, MI)
Seriously man, i paitiently waiting/wasting time at work for you to give me some reason MSU can succeed instead of reasons why they will lose...give a man some hope
Eamonn Brennan (4:19 PM)
Your marginal grammar aside, Blake, how about this: Offensive rebounding. UNI is a very good defensive team, and rebounding is one of their strengths, but the Spartans are the sixth-best team in the nation at offensive rebounding percentage. MSU's game plan: Limit outside shots. Muscle the ball down low. (Draymond Green needs to have a big game.) And grab a whole mess of misses.
I know big blue travels well but don't you think Cornell has a home court advantage traveling just up the road to the Carrier Dome?
Eamonn Brennan (4:20 PM)
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, but never doubt the ability of Kentucky's fans to travel. Considering the disparate size of the fan bases, it's safe to say Big Blue Nation should be well represented.
Alright, all boring questions aside, the big question is have you seen the Gus Johnson soundboard?
Eamonn Brennan (4:21 PM)
Yes, I have. It's, it's ... beautiful: http://www.gusjohnsongetsbuckets.com/Answering your bosses phone calls with the Gus Johnson soundboard is not recommended. But highly approved.
Urban Meyer (Gainesville)
You're either for the marthan Eamonn chat or you're against it. If you're against it, go buy a seat in 37F.
Eamonn Brennan (4:22 PM)
You guys are awesome, by the way. Keep it coming. (Marathon chat is probably not going to happen. There's a blog that needs tending to. But I am willing to go for a little while longer.)
Peter (Atlanta, GA)
You are awesome for chatting this long, btw. Who would be your starting lineup among the teams left for breakout stars of the tourney? (By position, if you can)
Eamonn Brennan (4:26 PM)
Let's try this: G Jordan CrawfordG Jacob PullenG Ryan WittmanF Omar SamhanC Jeff FooteSixth man: Ali Farokhmanesh. (Ali's easily the biggest "breakout star" but probably hasn't played quite as well as those other guards over the course of both games. But how could you leave him out?)
The Spelling Police (on patrol)
Urban it's "marathon" not "marthan." We understand that you coach in the SEC, but this is still unacceptable. Here's your ticket and please, stay safe out there.
Eamonn, are those wildcats still whining about that little 15 foot turn around shot i made almost 2 decades ago, well if they do get a chance at us again do we have enough bigs to play with them or are they to athletic for us?
Eamonn Brennan (4:29 PM)
Oh, Christian. You never miss a chance to rub salt in the wounds, do you? If the Wildcats do get a chance at you again, it doesn't look good down low. Zoubek and Cousins is a great rebounding match up -- Brian Zoubek might deserve some breakout star status too, given his sudden penchant for grabbing every miss in sight -- but it's hard for me to see Duke being able to handle everything Kentucky brings down low. I would love to see this game. It would be thoroughly interesting.
Ryan (East Lansing)
Eamonn, if the 16 teams left were competing based on the best Mascot...who would win?
Eamonn Brennan (4:30 PM)
I'm afraid I can't answer this one, because my heart belongs to Western Kentucky's Big Red -- the greatest and most confusing mascot of all-time. http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/03/25/sports/basketball/25bigred.jpg
Eamonn Brennan (4:31 PM)
Cornell's Big Red is actually a Bear, which is way less cool than an anthropomorphic blob of red fabric.
Northwestern University (Chicago)
In or Out for next years tournament?
Eamonn Brennan (4:32 PM)
In! Next year is totally Northwestern's year. (And the Cubs are going to win the World Series! Wooo!) Seriously though, with Coble coming back and joining a surprisingly good Northwestern team from this season, I think Northwestern has its best shot in forever in 2011.
Pete (West Lafayette)
Etwaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson will have to be at the top of their games, no doubt. Does Purdue also need a big game from Grant/Kramer to get the job done?
Eamonn Brennan (4:34 PM)
I think you sort of answer your own question here. Duke is a tough match up for Purdue without Hummel, as we've discussed. Grant will need to fill that gap -- someone has to guard Singler relatively well, and if Kramer can harass Scheyer into a few uncharacteristic turnovers, the Boilermakers have a shot.
Kige Ramsey (Lexington, KY)
Do you know how to do the John Wall dance?
Eamonn Brennan (4:35 PM)
What is there to know? Don't you just sort of move your wrist inward and outward? So I guess my answer is no.
Don't forget the hand on the hip. It's essential if you want to do the true Wall dance.
Eamonn Brennan (4:39 PM)
All right, guys, the questions are starting to slow down, and any time we start talking about my ability -- or lack thereof -- on the dance floor, it's probably time to call it a chat. As always, thanks so much for your questions. I'll be chatting before tomorrow's tipoffs on the blog, so be sure to stop by there. (But you don't need a reminder, because you guys are reading the blog anyway, right? Thought so.) Talk to you soon. Cheers.
Eamonn Brennan (4:40 PM)
Next time we'll go after the marathon chat record. Who's with me?
Eamonn Brennan (4:40 PM)
OK, off we go. Thanks again.