Chat with Joe Lunardi
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN college basketball Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi will drop by to take your questions on this year's tournament projection.
Lunardi is the resident bracketologist for ESPN. In fact, he invented Bracketology and has been projecting the NCAA Tournament field for ESPN.com since its inception. Check out his lastest bracket.
Send your questions now and join Lunardi Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Joe Lunardi (4:00 PM)
Greetings, all! Looks like another full slate of questions/comments from the Bracketology public. Let's get to it!!
You have Gtown, WVU, Louisville, and Pitt all in the same region. There is no restriction on the number of teams from one conference being in the same region? I thought they would keep it as minimal as possible.
Joe Lunardi (4:02 PM)
Here's the deal, Tim. In this bracket there are 10 Big East teams, total, so there are going to be multiple regions with more than two each (or, in this case, one region with four). The rule in such instances would be to have no intra-conference match ups until the Sweet 16 (as opposed to the regional final). Crazy, I know.
Hi Joe, just out of curiosity, why is Fresno State considered the AQ for the WAC this week when the Bulldogs sit behind Boise State and Utah State (both undefeated) in the current WAC standings with one loss? Was this a simple oversight or is there a hidden by-law I overlooked? Thanks for your time and I look forward to following Bracketology as the season progresses. Take care.
Joe Lunardi (4:05 PM)
It's my rule, John, no one elses. At 2-0, Fresno State is a half-game up on Boise State and Utah State. So my "rule" accomplishes two things: 1) it gives Fresno State a moment in the sun (however temporary), and more importantly 2) best replicates the Selection Weekend dynamic of "bid thieves" winning conference tournaments unexpectedly. If I don't allow said placements, we end up with a deeper at-large pool than is likely to be in the actual bracket come Selection Sunday. This week, Fresno State and Hofstra are serving that purpose.
Jimmer (Provo, UT)
Joe, We beat UNLV at the Thomas and Mack and we jump into the top ten in the polls, and yet you still only have us as a 4 seed in the tournament! Why the disrespect?
Joe Lunardi (4:09 PM)
BYU is also No. 1 in the latest RPI. Does that mean we should have you as the No. 1 overall seed? More specifically, BYU is No. 13 on the latest S-Curve. That puts the Cougars within a fraction of a No. 3 seed (just behind Texas, whom I deem to have higher caliber wins). It's a paper-thin distinction, I'll admit.
Jon (Washington, DC)
How is Duke a 1 seed in the east? They have beaten no one in the top 20 of the RPI. Syracuse shares a win over MSU at a neutral site and has a much stronger RPI. The NCAA has said in the past that previous year's performance have no relevance on the seeding. Duke probably doesn't even deserve a 1 seed considering they have not played anyone tough, and will not play anyone tough for the remainder of the season. The body of work just isn't there for Duke this year. This isn't the BCS, getting ranked high in the preseason shouldn't determine your seeding in march.
Joe Lunardi (4:12 PM)
I'm hardly an apologist for Duke, Jon, but you need to take off those anti-Blue Devil glasses. Duke is the unanimous No. 1 team in the country by acclamation. They are going to be the No. 1 seed in the East barring hugely unexpected developments, so you'd better get used to the idea.
Dan (West Chester, PA)
Big fan of what you do, Joe. I have asked a number of other ESPN experts this question, but you are clearly THE man to ask. Selection Sunday is one of the best days of the year. I love the anticipation of watching the bracket being revealed. Now, what are the chances that the teams playing in the "First Round" become leaked prior to Selection Sunday? With the Play-In Game in the past, it was not as big of a deal because these teams hadn't played in a week or more and teams had an idea of who might be playing in that game. Now, according to your projected bracket today, do you really see a team like USC being notified at 6:00PM Sunday that they have to fly to Dayton and play Team X on Tuesday? That seems extremely unfair. And that being said, could you see the committe basing its decision on who plays in the "First Round" on who is closest geographically to Dayton, OH?
Joe Lunardi (4:15 PM)
These are great questions, Dan, and I have gotten mixed responses so far in attempting to secure answers. Seems that the Committee is still discussing the pre-notification options for the very travel considerations you mention. What I suspect is that there will be several NCAA charters "at the ready" to minimize the travel issues, even for West Coast teams. I do not think distance from Dayton will be an issue in the final selection of these schools.
Jon (St. Paul)
Hey Joe, what are your thoughts on Kansas? Are they a legit Final 4 contender? They have a ton of talent but in some of their games they seem to play down to their competition, although still getting the wins.
Joe Lunardi (4:15 PM)
I know it's too early to talk pod locations, but I was curious as to why Villanova gets the second spot in Charlotte over Kentucky. Charlotte is much closer to Lexington than Tampa and UK has the higher seed, so why send them farther?
Joe Lunardi (4:17 PM)
Truthfully, Matt? Because I screwed up the new automated "Bracketology Tool" which submits the entire bracket -- including sites and pods -- to Bristol. It's only our second week with the new system, but a good catch on your part! Then again, I've been called a Bracketology Tool many times before!!
Joe- Utah State finally upgraded thier non-conf. schedule but that doesn't seem to matter as they are still in the 11-12 seed projection. If they win 14-16 conference games again how high can they climb? Also, is the bracketbuster game a must win?
Joe Lunardi (4:19 PM)
Very modest upgrades, P.J., and zero wins to date in any of those games against current tourney teams. I doubt the Aggies will rise above a double-digit seed.
I see that Maryland is your second team out of the tournament right now. They haven't really beat anyone (best win @Penn St), but have hung tough with a lot of top team like Pitt and Illinois in New York and just yesterday @Duke. How tough will it be for them to grab a bid in a bad ACC if they can't beat Villanova or Duke in the rematch?
Joe Lunardi (4:20 PM)
I believe Maryland, despite its 0-2 start, will win enough ACC games to make the NCAA field. Their non-RPI metrics are very, very strong and suggest the best is yet to come for the Terps.
A losing record last year. No 2009 recruits. Picked to finish 10th in the ACC. If Steve Donahue can take BC to a top-4 finish in the conference, is he a candidate for ACC COY?
Joe Lunardi (4:20 PM)
Without a doubt, Derek, unless Duke goes wire-to-wire without a loss.
Do you think Notre Dame has what it takes to stay with the Big East elite this year or are they just pretenders to the throne?
Joe Lunardi (4:21 PM)
I like Notre Dame a lot, Mike. Big, strong, tough, skilled and older. All good things, especially in this year's Big East. I do think they're in a tough spot tonight, though.
Ahhh, another week of wins for Villanova - including knocking off an undefeated. But Bracketology only bumps them from a 4 to 3? You have betrayed your Main Line roots, Lunardi!
Joe Lunardi (4:23 PM)
First of all, Matt, you have mislabled my roots. Second, Nova's Big East wins are Rutgers, SoFlorida and Cincinnati. I can't put that head of what Notre Dame has done or what UConn has done to date. Long way to go, though.
Alex (Champaign, IL)
Illinois has the ability to beat anyone in the country (Gonzaga, UNC, and Wisconsin already), but they also can lay an egg (UIC)! Can Illinois compete with Ohio State and Purdue for the Big 10 Championship and can they compete for a National Title???
Joe Lunardi (4:24 PM)
Which makes the Illini pretty much like every other team in the country, Alex. I think overall that Illinois is close to Ohio State and Purdue, but maybe a half-step behind either.
Bob (Ann Arbor)
How many wins does Michigan State need to make the NCAA tourney? 17-18? Or More?
Joe Lunardi (4:25 PM)
We're going to be talking an awful lot about Michigan State, I suspect, Bob. Their ultimate fate will depend more on the "quality" of their wins than their "quantity," which is why I still like their chances.
Cameron (Galesburg, IL)
I've found Minnesota to be a team that's impressive with senior step-up Trevor Mbakwe and the shooting off Hoffarber, but they're sort of hot and cold. They're already 1-3 in league play losing at MSU, Wisconsin and Ohio State. Tough road games in the league and you still have them as an 8th seed. What wins do they need to pick up to stay in? For example are they still in if Michigan State and Ohio State come to Minnesota and beat them?
Joe Lunardi (4:27 PM)
The Virgin Islands tourney win is keeping Minnesota in the top half of the bracket, Cameron. That plus you have to consider what a brutal start they had in the Big Ten schedule. Time to stablize, though.
You are always so logical, Joe. But the resumes of Gonzaga and Mich St. seem to be indentical. RPI's close. 4-5 vs. top 100 RPI. Worst losses (@ Wazzu, @ Penn St.) similar. Why the seeding disparity?
Joe Lunardi (4:28 PM)
Need to put you in touch with my wife, Nate! As for the disparity, I probably have Michigan State a little too high at the moment. Gonzaga seems right.
I have not seen SDSU play, but do you think they will be a 2 seed when it's all said and done?
Joe Lunardi (4:29 PM)
No, because I think the Mountain West's trube round-robin will catch up to them at some point.
Are there going to be rules with regards to what regions the "first four" are in? Right now, you have 18 teams in the East Region but on 16 in the West. Will the selection committee allow this or will the put 17 teams in each region?
Joe Lunardi (4:29 PM)
No such restrictions, Matt, at least not that I know of.
The ACC is down but BC did pretty well in the non IVY league portion of their OOC. Does 9-7 get it done as it usually does in the ACC with a good OOC?
Joe Lunardi (4:31 PM)
Nice one, Bill. Yes, BC is 2-0 in the ACC and 0-2 in the Ivies. This year, I'd feel a lot better for them with a 10-6 ACC record (unless 9-7 includes a win over Duke).
Jon (Washington DC)
Joe,You have stated the rules for bracketing year in and year out and thats how you make your selections. Are you now saying bracket rules do not apply to duke? Your answer is completely unacceptable and completely avoids the question. If there is evidence that Duke should be #1, you should be confident in your choice. Otherwise you should follow your own rules about selection and move Duke to its appropriate location. What sports writers think has never been an appropriate reason before to seed someone, and it should not be now.
Joe Lunardi (4:33 PM)
My job, Jon, is to predict what the Selection Committee will do. And, like it or not, there's never been a consensus No. 1 team like Duke that hasn't gotten the best possible seed. They've also beaten seven current or possible NCAA teams, so it's not like they haven't been tested.
Ryan (Provo, Utah)
Joe, seriously, Texas w/ 3 losses, only two OOC true road games (1-1), is higher on the S-curve than a top-10 1-loss BYU (undefeated in 4 OOC road games)? Texas also beats a lowly Rice team by 3 points at home. This S-curve sounds like another way to justify the power conference teams above the BYU's of the world. Please explain.
Joe Lunardi (4:34 PM)
Ryan, if you're a frequent reader you know no one goes after BCS frauds quite like yours truly. I just happen to believe the Texas resume at this point is better (however slightly). Again, we're talking No. 12 and No. 13.
Aaron Burgin (Vista, CA)
Here's hoping I can get in the chat this week!I know you've probably gotten some heat about having USC in the tournament field the past two editions of Bracketology, but having watched them play several times this year, they are much better than their 10-6 record would indicate. What do they need to do to stay in the field?
Joe Lunardi (4:36 PM)
Glad we agree, Aaron! Don't always get a lot of that on Monday's. USC's mantra should be to avoid "bad losses." Their strength of schedule should take care of the rest.
Jane (West Lafyette)
Joe I gotta ask, how is Purdue above ND in the Curve? We don't have 1 RPI top 50 win and they have 7... we have a 51-100 loss and they don't...
Joe Lunardi (4:37 PM)
Too early for that kind of RPI breakdown analysis, Jane. I mean, Princeton (all due respect) is a Top 50 RPI team at the moment. If Penn beats them twice, are the Quakers a No. 2 seed? You get my point...
I just got my tickets to the Anaheim regional! What are the chances I will get to see my UW Huskies there?
Joe Lunardi (4:38 PM)
Are you talking placement or winning the first two games?
Hi Joe. please clarify something for me. i am pretty sure you said last year that the top 8 teams would be ranked so that the overall top seed would play the worst #2 seed. didn't seem to happen last year as the selection committee stated that they considered wvu as a #1 seed, but wound up in the same region as kentucky. so, does the committee just pair #1s and #2s as they deem fit?
Joe Lunardi (4:40 PM)
I believe it should be that way, Brian, but it's not what the Committee does. They seek balance among the top four lines in any region in order to give favorable geographic slots to as many teams as possible. In other words, you could see the best No. 1 and best No. 2 seeds in the same region with the worst No. 3 and worst No. 4 candidates.
what do my n'western boys need to do in conference to make their first dance?
Joe Lunardi (4:41 PM)
Let's start by winning another league game or two. Two games under .500 in the Big Ten isn't getting anyone in the tournament, Nick.
Joe, is this the year that BYU finally breaks into the Sweet 16? And what do they need to do to get better than a 4 seed, where you presently have them?
Joe Lunardi (4:42 PM)
AT least BYU doesn't have that long NCAA losing streak to worry about this year. Yes, they should be playing in the second weekend.
Joe, Is Wednesday's game at the Garden more of a home game for the Johnnies or 'Cuse? Being that 'Cuse seems to never lose at the garden
Joe Lunardi (4:43 PM)
If that were really the case, Dan, wouldn't Syracuse win the Big East tournament every year?
dusty (st. louis)
outside of duke, which undefeated team would be your best bet to stay undefeated till the ncaa tournament?
Joe Lunardi (4:44 PM)
Would have to say San Diego State given the conference challengers facing Ohio State (Big Ten), Kansas (Big 12) and Syracuse (Big East). Don't think any of them will actually do it, though.
St. John's is going to come back down to earth sometime soon right?
Joe Lunardi (4:45 PM)
If "earth" means losing a few close games, yes.
Why is UCLA having so much trouble now? They have top recruits at every position but they look like a high school basketball team when it comes to playing together. Who is to blame?
Joe Lunardi (4:46 PM)
According to Kem Pomeroy, UCLA is one of the 35 youngest teams in the country. That might have something to do with it, Rey.
Odds that Pitt ends up playing in Cleveland?
Joe Lunardi (4:47 PM)
Extremely favorable, Rich. Certainly better than LeBron's!!
Austin Hansen (Southern California)
What is the highest seed that BYU could get?
Joe Lunardi (4:48 PM)
I'd bet on nine NCAA teams, Austin. It's going to break the record of eight, I'm convinced.
Texas A&M hasn't been given much pub so far this year, but they keep climbing up the rankings. Given what you've ssen of them, could they get to the sweet 16, and if not, what's their weakness?
Joe Lunardi (4:48 PM)
Haven't seen enough yet to really say, Travis. Saw half the Washington game and that's it, so far.
Can Oklahoma make it?
Joe Lunardi (4:49 PM)
Not seeing that, Jacob, especially out of this year's Big 12.
Joe Lunardi (4:50 PM)
That's it for me today, gang. Have to head out a few minutes early for a radio show. Thanks, Joe!!