Chat with Fran Fraschilla
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla will drop by to take your questions.
Fraschilla spent 23 years on the sidelines as a college basketball coach before joining ESPN as an broadcast analyst. He guided both Manhattan (1993, 1995) and St. John's (1998) to the NCAA Tournament in his nine seasons as a Division I head coach, leaving New Mexico following the end of the 2001-02 season.
Send your questions now and join Fraschilla Thursday at 4:30 p.m. ET!
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Buzzmaster (4:38 PM)
We're still trying to track Fran down (he's traveling today). Hopefully he'll be here shortly to take your questions.
Fran Fraschilla (4:45 PM)
I apologize for being late (flight problems). On my way back from that Louisville-Villanova game last night. I've always loved spending time with FSU's Chris Singleton, especially at the Nike skills Academy. He had a great game last night as they took down the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils. I'm sure Duke will learn a lot from that loss. Watching the game film will be a great motivator for them.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the 2010-2011 NCAA Men's College Basketball National Champions?
Fran Fraschilla (4:48 PM)
Man Chris, do you think I have a crystal ball. My picks in November were Kansas, Duke, Pitt and Ohio State with Duke winning it all. Mainly because I thought Duke would have Kyrie Irving but the dynamics have changed. If you'd ask me today who the best team in the country is, I'd have to give a slight nod to Kansas over Duke, Pitt, OSU and Cuse. The Morris twins are beastly and Selby is a top 15 pick. I do love the Buckeyes as well as I think they have the best starting five in all of college basketball.
Caleb (Fowler, MI)
With Michigan keeping it close against Ohio State and Kansas the past 2 games, do they have any shot at beating other good teams in the Big Ten and getting in the NCAA tournament?
Fran Fraschilla (4:51 PM)
They are about a year away because they have a very young group of young players. I do love what coach is doing with this group. I have first hand experience coaching against him. What you've seen in the last tow games a snippets of that they can be in due time. The must defend their home-court and can't lose to team like Indiana, Iowa, or Penn State home or away.
Fran, better backcourt - Syracuse, Pitt, Nova?
Fran Fraschilla (4:55 PM)
That's a great question. Some of my favorite players in the country are in that mix and I'm going to offend somebody. Fisher and Wayns are impossible to keep out of the paint. Gibbs and Wanamaker are as tough as nails. Jardine is one of the most improved players in the country. If you had to make me decide, I would go with Fisher and Wayns. What's ironic is all thee are undefeated in the Big East and have only two losses on the season. So guard play has been a key factor.
Eric Leisure (Holland)
Is Talor Battle the best player no one is talking about?
Fran Fraschilla (4:57 PM)
If you are a fan of the Big Ten, you know Taylor has been a big time player in that league over the course of his career. Remember is sophomore year when he helped the Nittany Lions win the NIT. He's gone into places like MSU on the road and has come away with big wins. For a guy his size, I've always admired his toughness. He's the ultimate scoring guard.
Hey Fran, are my Hokies FINALLY going to make the NCAA tournament this year?
Fran Fraschilla (5:01 PM)
It's an uphill battle for this team particular with all the injuries. At 1-1 in the ACC and 10-4 overall, there is a lot of work to be done for Seth Greenberg's crew. Generally they've had good losses but no monster wins. And if you think about it, they'll get little credit for being some mediocre ACC teams during conference play. A win at UNC tonight would be a good starting point for your hokies. By the way, they are the best defensive free throw team in the league, holding teams to only 59%.
Garrett (Richmond, VA)
How badly will Duke crush Virginia on Saturday?
Fran Fraschilla (5:03 PM)
(Laughing) Once you get to conference play Garrett, anything is possible. I'd say Duke is an overwhelming favorite to win. I don't have to be a genius to tell you that. And while strange things happen in conference play, I think Coach K will have Nolan Smith and the boys fired up and ready to play.
Scooter, minny [via mobile]
Do u think gophers will get better after a rough start to the season?
Fran Fraschilla (5:05 PM)
Coaching is about problem solving and right now Tubby Smith has some problems including a 1-3 start with Purdue looming tonight. Off the court issues have certainly been distractions but the league is strong enough and the Gophers have eight of their last 14 at home. If I have to look into a crystal ball, they are looking like a 18 or 19 win NIT team this season.
Are you on board the Jimmer train?
Fran Fraschilla (5:09 PM)
I've been on the Jimmer since his sophomore season. As someone who's coached in the MWC, I try to keep an eye on those teams. But that still doesn't mean I'm not amazed at what he's doing. Most of his best games have come on the road; at UNLV, Utah and others. He is a big time shot maker, as of today he has been the more impressive single player in college basketball. For you Penn State fans, its interesting that Jimmer and Taylor Battle played on the same summer AAU team, the Albany City Rocks. A pretty good backcourt, huh!
Do you think UC is legit? I know there OCC schedule is weak, but i think they are a tough team. Your thoughts?
Fran Fraschilla (5:14 PM)
Corey I know they are too legit too quit. At 16-1, they have a salty record. Granted the meat of they schedule stats Saturday at Syracuse followed by at ND and St. John's. A 9-9 record will get them into the tourney but a win or two on the road will certainly silicify their record. They are one of the better pressing teams in the country. Check back with me in early February after a brutal stretch in conference and we'll see where they stand. By the way, this in the best I've seen Yancy Gates play in his three years on the Hill. He's starting to look like a power player and not always settling for the mid-range jumper.
Alex (Winchester, KS)
What will keep Kansas from making a run in the NCAA tourny?
Fran Fraschilla (5:17 PM)
A lack of focus, that's always been Kansas' bug-a-boo when they've been knocked out early by teams like Bradley, Bucknell and NIU. All the ingredients are there for another Final Four run if they can stay focused. The twins have been terrific. Taylor has been solid and Selby has been the mid-season x-factor for the Jayhawks. Whether they stay focused and mature will decide if they are playing in Houston in early April.
Agustin (Bay Area)
How far does Duke drop in the rankings after last night's loss to unranked FSU? Do they drop below SDSU, who is unbeaten and sits at No. 6?
Fran Fraschilla (5:19 PM)
No way Agustin. I was SDSU last week in Dallas, although they are a very good basketball team and are ranked accordingly; I don't see them among the elite teams at the moment. By elite I mean top 10. Duke might drop to four of five at the lowest come next week but they are a better basketball team then the Aztecs at the moment.
What do you think of the ticket hold-out for the Syracuse v. Georgetown game in DC? Do you think its fair and what kind of turn out will SU fans bring??
Fran Fraschilla (5:27 PM)
I think it's a cheesy move on Georgetown's part. They are not selling individual tickets to non Georgetown students or alum. I think it's because they don't want Syracuse fans to take over the building. But I say who cares? An electric atmosphere in the Verizon Center would benefit Georgetown. Somehow I have a feeling that there will be enough orange in the building anyway.
Fran Fraschilla (5:30 PM)
Busy week coming up for me starting in College Station as the Texas A&M Aggies have a great matchup with Missouri. Is there a more underrated club in the county than Mark Turgeon's team? They are very vanilla and they don't have many stars but they play great defense. Khris Middleton is on the verge of startdome for the Aggies and is worth talking about. As good as Marcus Morris has been for KU this season, Marcus Denmon for the Tigers has made the biggest jump among the league's best players this year. A fun game with contrasting styles.