Chat with Eamonn Brennan
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com college basketball blogger Eamonn Brennan will be here to chat some college basketball.
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 (2:01 PM)
Hello and welcome to another college hoops chat featuring your host, Conan O'Brien! OK, so Conan's not here; it's just me. But I think we'll have a fair amount of fun anyway. Get those questions moving, and let's do this.
How much noise do the Charlotte 49ers make this season? They return 4 starters and upgraded at PG, and if they take to Alan Majors Big Ten system quickly they surprise like they did last year before the collapse.
Eamonn Brennan (2:04 PM)
Charlotte is a very good dark-horse candidate in the A-10. They were 18-5 before losing seven of their last eight last season, a collapse that became the rather large straw on the back of the Bobby Lutz camel. Always hard to tell how a team is going to take to a new coach and a new system, but the 49ers have talent to build on.
Scott (South Dakota)
What is Kansas going to look like this year? They lost so much talent from last year's team.
Eamonn Brennan (2:05 PM)
Kansas is going to be good, per the usual. Josh Selby, their freshman phenom point guard, is still not cleared to play by the NCAA, but even without him Kansas returns a very good frontcourt (Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, et al) and a host of guards that comprised one of the deeper talent reserves in the country last year. Will be interesting to see how Tyshawn Taylor plays with more opportunities.
Eamonn Brennan (2:06 PM)
Few schools can lose three players like Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins, and Xavier Henry and still get top 10 love to begin the season, but Kansas under Bill Self is one of them.
Erich Latham ll (Flint,Michigan)
Which big ten coach is on the hot seat if you will to start the season?
Eamonn Brennan (2:09 PM)
It depends on how you define hot seat, but if you're talking about the coach most likely to lose his job after this season, it's probably Penn State coach Ed DeChellis. DeChellis is 95-123 in seven seasons there, and Penn State has been pretty irrelevant that entire time. As for pressure without the threat of immediate job loss (let's call this "feeling the heat", a slight upgrade from "hot seat," a few coaches are feeling it, including Bruce Weber (with all that talent, another NIT year will not be taken kindly in Champaign) John Beilein (starting the rebuilding project again in season four of his tenure) and, to some degree, Tom Crean.
Tom (Manhattan, KS)
Why does everyone think KSU is the most overrated team in the nation? For one, somebody has to be preseason number 3 in the country. Yes we lost Denis but everyone else is back and everyone is going to be better including Pullen. All of last years freshman now have a year under their belt and will be much improved. Nobody (besides the coaches) thinks we can win the big 12 and make a Final Four push. Why is that and what has to happen for that to all change?
Eamonn Brennan (2:12 PM)
Well, "everyone" doesn't think that, because I don't. I have Kansas State as a Final Four team to begin the year, same as I did almost immediately after Gordon Hayward missed The Shot That Would Have Exploded Everyone's Brains Forever. (It didn't even go in, and I'm still reeling.) If that perception exists, it's probably thanks to the loss of Denis Clemente, which you mention, as well as the transfer of defensive stopper Dominique Sutton, a key role player on last year's team. But the Wildcats have all sorts of talent, and I think they're a good pick for the Final Four at this point. Only way to change perceptions is on the floor. We'll see.
Do you think that Colorado will compete for the Big 12 title this year? They played a lot of close games against good teams last year and have a lot of returing talent.
Eamonn Brennan (2:13 PM)
No, I'm afraid I don't. Colorado could have something of a breakout year, but I don't see them overtaking Missouri, Texas, Baylor (depending on Dunn, natch) in that group of teams just below the two conference favorites (Kansas State and Kansas.) The guards -- Alec Burks and Cory Higgins -- are obviously studs, but there's so little in the frontcourt at CU this year that even if those two play lights-out, the Buffaloes will struggle underneath.
Why is Ohio State ranked so high in every pre-season poll? They lost the PLAYER OF THE YEAR.
Eamonn Brennan (2:16 PM)
It's counterintuitive, isn't it? Thing is, Thad Matta landed another really good recruiting class, and that class just so happens to contain freshman forward Jared Sullinger, arguably the best incoming freshman not named Harrison Barnes in the country. They also return their other four starters from last year's team, all of whom are very efficient players. And with Sullinger (and DeShaun Thomas, another top recruit at small forward), the Buckeyes will be able to be versatile -- Matta can play two bigs with Sullinger and Lauderdale or four guards with Thomas and Sullinger/Lauderdale -- and much deeper. This is still a really good team. It might even be better than last year's.
Austyn Dunbar (St.Petersburg, Florida)
What do you think of the Florida Gators this year with much returning starters with another year of experience and couple good recruits with great talent. Do you think any chance to compete in SEC And possibly do damage in tournament.
Eamonn Brennan (2:18 PM)
Yes and yes. Five starters returning -- including Kenny Boynton, who could make a big frosh-to-soph efficiency leap -- plus top recruit Patric Young: The Gators were picked to win the SEC by the media for good reason. I'm not sure they're a Final Four-caliber team, but they should be in the mix in the top 20 from wire to wire.
Do you think that a team from the Missouri Valley can do what UNI did last in the NCAA tournament? If so, which team will be the team to do it?
Eamonn Brennan (2:19 PM)
What UNI did -- taking down the best team in the country, and doing so in insane fashion -- is no small feat, so I wouldn't count on it being repeated anytime soon. But if any MVC team can do it this year, it's probably Wichita State. Also look out for Creighton, which will have an awfully good frontcourt once Rutgers transfer Gregory Echenique gets eligible in the second semester.
JL Castro (Hoboken, NJ)
Why is everyone so high on Florida? They were a Chandler Parsons miracle away from not qualifying for the tourney - why is returning all 5 starters from this mediocre team such a great thing? I'm sure Patric Young is a great player, but I don't see him having such an impact that he can bump them up to elite status
Eamonn Brennan (2:22 PM)
This is a pretty valid concern, which is why I was a little surprised the preseason media vote was as lopsided on Florida's behalf. I think the youth of the Gators is one reason you can expect their returning starters to be better than last year, and a good reason to bump them up a few notches, but you're right: UF is going to have to prove they're that much better than last year's team for me to get too excited.
The Pitt URI game was surprisingly close for me at least. Is this a case of early season jitters with Pitt or are the two teams closer than originally thought?
Eamonn Brennan (2:24 PM)
I'd say a little bit of both. Rhode Island is a solid program under Jim Baron; the Rams lose key players every year and still maintain some semblance of forward momentum. Pitt is a team like Florida: Rated highly to begin the season thanks primarily to its high number of returning players. But are those players that much better than last year? And, of course, it was the first game of the season. Jitters isn't the word I'd use for it, but some measure of sloppiness is expected when you start your season on Nov. 8.
Steve (Blacksburg, VA)
How do you see the VT-KSU game going? Can the Hokies go in there and win?
Eamonn Brennan (2:26 PM)
If they do, Seth Greenberg should throw himself a party, because his oft-repeated Selection Sunday woes will almost officially be over. A win at K-State will do that for you. But K-State is an incredibly difficult place to play, and Va. Tech's injury-riddled frontcourt could have serious problems with Curtis Kelly, Freddy Asprilla, et al.
do you think renardo sidney will be a one and done player and a lottery pick in the draft
Eamonn Brennan (2:27 PM)
If I had to guess, I'd say yes to the first question and no to the second. Sidney seems almost entirely concerned with getting to the NBA (not that I blame him, because being in the NBA is awesome) but he's had a couple of weak exhibition games and hasn't proven much of anything yet. Hard to see him going in the lottery, but you never know.
Bryant (Lawrence, KS)
Do you think that by the end of the season, the Big XII could be the best power conference, top to bottom?
Eamonn Brennan (2:29 PM)
Possibly. It depends on how well Texas and Missouri handle their challenging non-conference schedules, and whether Baylor gets LaceDarius Dunn back in time for the Bears to make a serious run at the conference title. If Texas is anywhere near as good as their talent suggests, they could be a top ten team. But for now (and, honestly, by the end of the season, too) I think the Big Ten gets the nod.
What are reasonable expectations for Villanova this year?
Eamonn Brennan (2:31 PM)
Ah, Villanova: Perhaps the biggest feast-or-famine team in the country this season. Does Jay Wright have the talent to make it to the Final Four? Absolutely. Do I feel comfortable predicting that talent will mesh well enough to accomplish a Final Four berth? Absolutely not. For now, let's set the bar at a top three finish in the Big East and an Elite Eight berth, and adjust our expectations if the Wildcats figure things out early.
Kevin (Spokane, WA)
Do you think that the Zags can realistically go into conference play with only a couple losses after losing Matt Bouldin, or is this nonconference slate simply too tough?
Eamonn Brennan (2:33 PM)
I think the schedule's probably too tough. Gonzaga will probably be lucky to come out of that slate with four or five losses. Given the relative ease of their conference schedule, that would be a pretty solid number.
Erich Latham ll (Flint,Michigan)
Whos is this years John Wall or Demarcus Cousins?
Eamonn Brennan (2:35 PM)
Candidates include Harrison Barnes, Kyrie Irving, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Knight, Josh Selby (if he's on the floor, of course) and maybe Perry Jones, if Jones has managed to become less raw and more productive this offseason.
J.J. (Richmond, VA)
Hey Eamonn, huge cuse fan here. I can definitely see the Cuse making it to the final four this year because they have players who have some great experience and then they have the great new freshmen with Fab, Dion, and C.J. Fair. Do you see the 'Cuse making a final Four run?
Eamonn Brennan (2:37 PM)
I think Syracuse might again be one of the sneakier, but smarter, Final Four picks to start the season. Boeheim lost a lot of talent, sure, but he still has plenty of backcourt experience, really, really good freshmen, and a handful of role player types (Mookie Jones, Rick Jackson) that could be big contributors if given the opportunity. Relative to their prospects, Syracuse isn't getting a ton of love right now, but that could change in a hurry.
Cody Zeller, IU bound. Yogi Ferrell will follow. Crean is going to take control of the state. Book it.
Eamonn Brennan (2:42 PM)
There are some signs of progress already. As ESPN's Dave Telep reported recently, Crean has made major inroads with Indiana Elite, one of the best AAU programs in the country and an ostensible feeder program for IU, if Crean gets his way. In some ways, the Cody Zeller saga is a bit overplayed among IU fans. Yes, he'd be a great get, and symbolic of a new era, and all that, but whether Zeller commits or not, Crean will still have a handful of top Indiana recruits committed, and there will still be plenty more work to do.
Ray Ray (Cincy)
Matt in IN is funny. The Hoosiers don't come close to controling their state. I think Matta owns it
Eamonn Brennan (2:42 PM)
Recruiting-wise, Matta kind of owns everyone right now.
Eamonn Brennan (2:43 PM)
Except Kentucky, of course. (Had to mention that, lest 2,000 angry comments from Kentucky fans start streaming in.)
As a devoted fan to both the Zags and the Courgars, which will emerge as the best of the west with BYU moving to the WCC? Willing playing head to head each year help both or bury one of them?
Eamonn Brennan (2:44 PM)
I think it helps both. BYU gets another top game on its schedule, and Gonzaga gets to shed the notion that its conference is too weak for respect come NCAA tourney time.
Enes Kanter (Lexington, KY)
When will I know my fate?
Eamonn Brennan (2:44 PM)
Never. Everyone stop asking. (No, but for real, no one knows, and the NCAA takes its time with these things, so patience remains the best policy going forward.
Will Alabama be a surprise team?
Eamonn Brennan (2:47 PM)
To use fantasy football terms (and I shouldn't ever do that, because I am on like a five-year streak of putrid fantasy football performance) let's classify Alabama as a deep sleeper. No one is really talking about them, but the combination of Anthony Grant's system and a really weak SEC West could get them a few more wins that you might expect.
Will (Atlanta, Ga.)
Is the Colonial deep enough to be a two or three bid league?
Eamonn Brennan (2:48 PM)
Three? Probably not. Two? Sure. VCU and ODU both have chances to beat top teams in their non-conference schedule. (ODU gets Georgetown at home to open the season; huge game.) Provided neither slips up against a pretty tough group of conference foes, one could get an automatic bid and the other an at-large.
Chris (Cincinnati, OH)
Talent or experience?
Eamonn Brennan (2:50 PM)
How about both? If I had to answer, I'd say talent. If you're talented enough, you pick up the things the experienced guys took two years to learn in a matter of months. But the best college hoops teams balance the two.
Devin (Stuebenville OH)
Is Michigan State deep enough at gaurd to go all the way..Lucas, Lucious, Summers..who else is gonna log big minutes?
Eamonn Brennan (2:51 PM)
Easy: Freshman guard Keith Appling. He's the No. 4-ranked shooting guard in the incoming class, he's super talented, and he should get a good number of minutes in support of the trio you mentioned.
Ryan D. Eyestone (Whitehall, Michigan)
Will Denard Robinson do as good in the rest of the season? And, will he have a good shot at the Heisman?
Eamonn Brennan (2:53 PM)
Ryan, I'm afraid you've wandered into the wrong chat. Don't be alarmed. Ed Hochuli, chat referee, should be here soon to guide you down the hall.
Why is everyone higher on Illinois than Minnesota? I'm a bit biased obviously, but considering the Gophers went dancing last season and have a better team this season, and you can't overlook the advantage of having Tubby on the sidelines.
Eamonn Brennan (2:56 PM)
I put Minnesota in that group under Michigan State -- Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota -- that will hang around in the hunt for the Big Ten title and should have plenty of NCAA tournament juice when March rolls around. Right now, I still think Illinois has a much higher ceiling. Bruce Weber has three seniors returning (including Demetri McCamey), two sophomores rounding into legit college basketball players (D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul), and a super-talented freshman (Jereme Richmond) that could make an immediate impact on the block.
If Gonzaga wins most of those tough non conference games and goes undefeated in the WCC, do you think they could be a one seed?
Eamonn Brennan (2:57 PM)
Quite possibly, yes, but I don't see them going undefeated in the conference (that's just really hard) or winning so many of their non-conference games that they can climb the enthusiasm gap between, say, the WCC champ and the Big East champ, or whatever.
Thoughts on Vanderbilt winning a first round tourney game?
Eamonn Brennan (2:59 PM)
Entirely doable. Vandy lost A.J. Ogilvie, which is tough, but also returns two really underrated wing players in Jeffrey Taylor and John Jenkins. Vanderbilt is a bit under the radar this year, but they could be sneaky good.
Ryan (Dayton) [via mobile]
thanks for the chat today. Is there any sort of talent comparison between a top flight d2 team and say like a low major d1 team?
Eamonn Brennan (3:01 PM)
Sure. I think the very best Division II teams can probably hang with the very worst Division I teams, because the very worst Division I teams can be truly awful. The rash of exhibition upsets this preseason probably supports that theory, and really, is any given D-II champ all that much worse than NJIT or Chicago State? I doubt it.
Hakan S. (Montgomery, Alabama)
Cam's comint to AU was way back last december. If ALL this SMOKE was known then why didn't people bring it up then? Obviously Miss St. and possibly Florida are a.) jealous of Auburn and Newton's success and b.) they don't want him to win the heisman. Also it's ok to talk w/ someone about an atmosphere of a school and even if the word "money" was used in the conversation but there's no signature or transaction, then there's still no problem. I personally agree that Cam and his family has done nothing wrong, the magicians who are creating this smoke are breaking major federal violations! WAR EAGLE!
Eamonn Brennan (3:02 PM)
Ah! Look out everyone! It's angry Auburn fans! They're invading college basketball chats in their non-stop quest to talk down the Cam Newton story! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
Is the gap between Duke (on paper) and everyone else larger than we've seen in previous years? Your thoughts on any potential weaknesses the Devils may have?
Eamonn Brennan (3:05 PM)
The gap between Duke/Michigan State and whoever you want to slot in at No. 3 (I've got Ohio State) is pretty large, but I think Michigan State, while a clear No. 2, is still in the vicinity. As for Duke's potential weaknesses: offensive rebounding. That stat, more than any other, won them the NCAA title last season, and with Brian Zoubek (who morphed into a ridiculous offensive rebounder last season) and Lance Thomas gone, that's going to be a question mark. Can the Plumless plug that gap?
Coach Izzo (Breslin Free Thrown Line)
What can i do to get my team ready for our Dec 1 match-up against Duke?
Eamonn Brennan (3:07 PM)
Dude, you're Tom Izzo! You already know, or you wouldn't be Tom Izzo. To answer the question seriously, I'm really not sure, except to maybe keep the atmosphere light. A potential No. 1 vs. No. 2 game at Cameron Indoor Stadium is going to have plenty of inherent intensity; no need to rachet up the pressure before the game actually starts. I'd pull the Norman Dale routine, tell my guys to have fun out there, and then wait for tip-off to go back into rawrr-angry-coach mode. But like I said, you're Tom Izzo. I have literally nothing to tell you about coaching college basketball.
Who is the best team in the Summit this year?
Eamonn Brennan (3:09 PM)
With Keith Benson back, Oakland. But look out for Oral Roberts and IUPUI.
Why is there any reason to believe the Plumlees can fill that rebounding role? I'm saying this without visiting Saint Pomeroy or anything, but weren't both Plumlees terrible on the boards on a per minute basis last year? Having said that, Duke still looks like the best team in the country to me. I'm just not sure that there's that much to be excited about with the borthers.
Eamonn Brennan (3:11 PM)
Miles was actually quite good on the glass last year, especially on the defensive end, where he pulled down 22.5 percent of available rebounds. That's an impressive mark, especially coming in the same frontcourt as Zoubek. Mason is more in line with your impression, in terms of rebounding rate. But he'll have plenty more opportunities this season, so we'll see.
Do you think Isiah Thomas and the Golden Panthers make any noise in the SBC?
Eamonn Brennan (3:13 PM)
Eh. It will depend on how soon Dominique Ferguson, FIU's big-time recruit, can get eligible, and whether Alex Legion can finally play productive college minutes after transferring pretty much everywhere (Kentucky, Illinois) thus far in his career. Even with that talent boost, FIU is still way behind Western Kentucky and the upper echelon of the Sun Belt.
Chris (Cincinnati, OH)
Do you think there should be a larger college basketball event to start the season so more people know the season has started?
Eamonn Brennan (3:16 PM)
Indeed. I actually wrote about this Monday -- college hoops might have the most poorly organized and marketed beginning of any major sport in the United States. (Heck, maybe anywhere.) But the tip-off marathon (ESPN plug!) is a really good step in the right direction. And, let's face it, for the foreseeable future any college hoops season opener is going to lose a lot of traction to college football, and the NFL. So it goes.
DJ (Va. Beach, Va.)
Who do you like Friday, Big East power Goergetown, or mid-major power Old Dominion?
Eamonn Brennan (3:18 PM)
I'll take Georgetown just by a hair. If this game was later in the season -- after ODU had adjusted to losing Gerald Lee -- then I'd say ODU. And yes, I realize you can say the same thing about G-Town and Greg Monroe, but I think all that guard experience in Chris Wright and Austin Freeman will see the Hoyas through what might be the biggest season-opening test in college hoops this week.
Brent (San Diego)
What is the key for the Mountain West Conference to get four teams in the NCAA Tournament once again this year?
Eamonn Brennan (3:19 PM)
I don't think there's any obvious "key." Obviously, BYU, UNLV, SDSU and New Mexico all have to perform well in their non-conference schedules, prove to the rest of the country that they're playing high-level hoops, and then keep things at a high level throughout the conference season. Easier said than done, but that's the only key I can think of.
Coach K (Durham, NC)
I am awesome. Confirm.
Eamonn Brennan (3:22 PM)
Come on, Coach. This is beneath you. (But yes, you are awesome, and if you need more reasons why, check out Pat Forde's first Minutes column of the season.)
Coach Roy Williams (NC)
Pleas God let Harrison Barnes be really good. What happens if he isn't AA good?
Eamonn Brennan (3:24 PM)
Hey, all the ACC coaches are getting in on the fun? If Barnes isn't good, which seems slightly unlikely, then UNC still probably has a better year than last year, but not by much. A lot is riding on Harrison's ability to change the Tar Heels, but there are other issues that North Carolina has to solve independent of Barnes' performance, too. (Number one: point guard.)
Chris (Cincinnati, OH)
Once Coach K leaves Duke, they will not be awesom. Confirm.
Eamonn Brennan (3:25 PM)
All depends on who takes over the program. Whoever it is, I would not want to be in that shadow. I'm not sure a big-time coach would leave a big-time program to go there (a la Roy at Kansas to UNC), because of the monolithic nature of Coach K's presence there. I'd expect the successor to be a former player. But who knows? That still seems a long way off.
Eamonn Brennan (3:28 PM)
With that, I'm going to bid you farewell. We went for an hour and a half or so -- not my best time by far, but I think we got a good number of questions answered here. Sorry if I wasn't able to get to your submissions (except for the Florida guy who dropped an f-bomb, I'm not sorry about you, you big meanie), and as always thanks for joining the chat. College hoops is here. Excuse me while I go dance in the streets. Peace.