Chat with Joe Lunardi
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN college basketball Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi will drop by to take your questions on his preseason projections.
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 Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Joe Lunardi (2:02 PM)
Well, there are three games in the books. Everyone feeling good about their brackets? I know I'm looking forward to the season and to reconnecting with all of you.
JEsalukillini (Decatur, IL)
No Illini in the tourney? (kinda a glad, they need a chip on thier shoulder and something to prove) Thank you for not putting them in.
Joe Lunardi (2:04 PM)
Look a little closer. Specifically, Midwest No. 12 for the Illini. It's looking like a "bubble" type year in Champaign.
Evan (Auburn, Ala.)
Was Auburn even close to making it to your turnaround teams this year?
Joe Lunardi (2:06 PM)
The Tigers are on the list, right between Saint Louis and Wake Forest. Not NCAA good, mind you, but no longer dreadful.
Nestor V (Huntington Park,Ca)
Any chance Seton Hall makes the tourney?
Joe Lunardi (2:07 PM)
I definitely see the Hall as a potential sleeper, Nestor, and they may have made the preseason bracket from another conference not as deep as the Big East. I will see them at the Charleston Classic and ask our editors if we can do some live "chatting" from that up-and-coming field.
Aaron Hutchinson (Atlanta)
Jo Lun, what up?I wanted to ask you where do you see Uconn finishing and also with a lot of top tier talent returning will we see a VCU/Butler run this tourney?
Joe Lunardi (2:11 PM)
Aaron, I'm now on record as saying this will be the year of "chalk." In other words, the elite power conference teams are more powerful than they've been in a while and my guess is that squeezes out deep runs by the so-called mid-majors. Of course, we would have said the same thing the year George Mason upset your Huskies. UConn is very good again, obviously, but it's hard to imagine anything like last year's magical 11-game sprint to the finish.
Luke (Columbia, SC)
The A10 looks really really good. Great at the top and a nice middle. Surprised your first prediction only has 2 in. Don't you think at least one of GW, SLU, UD, SBU or Rich will sneak in? The NCAA tournament would benefit from players like Chris Johnson, Andrew Nicholson, and Kwamain Mitchell. All potential NBAers.
Joe Lunardi (2:12 PM)
Luke, I actually see a pretty wide gap between Xavier and Temple and then the rest of the conference. Saint Louis would be my choice as the next A-10 team in line.
After 2 final fours and back-to-back championship game appearances, has Butler achieved that name recognition that it doesn't necessarily have to win its conference tourney but to have a strong season to get in to the tourney?
Joe Lunardi (2:14 PM)
Butler has to do what every other team must. Play good competition (check) and beat enough of them to prove themselves as an NCAA team by March (we'll see). The Bulldogs are by no means a lock for the 2012 tourney.
Better chance of making the tournament... URI or Rutgers?
Joe Lunardi (2:15 PM)
Rutgers, as the Scarlet Knights have more talent and even more chances to post marquee wins.
Joe, My Zags have arguably the best and deepest frontcourt out west if not the country and have a ton of potential in the backcourt. Do you think a Final 4 run is realistic? Especially given what Butler has done the last 2 years as well as VCU last year.
Joe Lunardi (2:17 PM)
To me, Danny, the Zags were a huge disappointment a year ago. Perhaps I was just a year too early on them, or perhaps their weaknesses at the point and defensively were too systematic to overcome. Yes, Gonzaga can make a Final Four run this season, but I'm not making that bet again right now.
Who in the Pac-12's second tier could you see sneaking into a berth? Oregon?
Joe Lunardi (2:18 PM)
Could be Oregon, Stanford or Southern Cal. I'd vote for the Ducks on that list because they have the best coach of the group.
Basketball seems to be pretty top heavy this season. Will the Final Four and National champion be relatively predictable this season?
Joe Lunardi (2:21 PM)
This will be a theme all year long, Kevin. I actually think its a good thing that we may really have some "brand name" excellence. Having said that, the NCAA tournament remains the most unpredictable major sports event there is. That's why we love it and why our expertise ends at projecting the field, not its winners. Honestly, who thought a dominant Kansas team could lose to Northern Iowa two years ago? Surely we'll have a couple more of those head-scratchers in March.
Do you see George Mason as a contender again this year? I know you have them as a 10, but do you see them with any wins in the tournament?
Joe Lunardi (2:22 PM)
Compiled this bracket before the Andre Cornelius suspension, Jesse. GMU will be in a huge dogfight just to make the field. Let's not put the cart before the horse and start counting tournament wins at this point.
Jordan (Durham, NC)
What does Northwestern have to do to make it to their first tournament?
Joe Lunardi (2:23 PM)
Win more games....
Jonathan (San Antonio)
Please tell me how you have Alabama and Arkansas making the tournament and not Mississippi State??? A lot of folks think the Bulldogs are the only team capable of competing with Kentucky...
Joe Lunardi (2:24 PM)
I do not have Arkansas in the field, Jonathan. And Alabama is the only SEC West team that can realistically compete with Kentucky.
Florida State with an 8 seed when they play @MSU, vs UConn, @UF, Harvard, UMass, Auburn and Princeton OOC? You dont think 10-6/11-5 in a conference you project to have 6 bids with your fair share of wins vs that OOC schedule is better then an 8 seed?
Joe Lunardi (2:26 PM)
Look at some of the other 8/9 seeds, Robert. It's a much better group than you think. Cal, St. Mary's, Texas and New Mexico could all be Sweet 16 teams, same as the Seminoles. It's far too soon to get wiggy about seeding.
Stephen (Sacramento, CA)
Hey Joe, who do you see winning the Big Sky Conference this season? Will Northern Colorado go back to the dance again this year?
Joe Lunardi (2:28 PM)
Weber State won the coaches poll (I think). I'm going with Montana, but I did look closely at Northern Colorado.
Eric (New York)
Joe! Fellow St. Joe's Alum here... any chance St. Joe's squeezes into the tourney this year? Maybe a conference championship?
Joe Lunardi (2:29 PM)
One more year, Eric, but thanks for asking!
Is this FINALLY the year the Lobos break through past the second round? I know we took a hit with Kirk redshirting and Henry tweeting more than studying this summer, but you gotta give me some hope???
Joe Lunardi (2:30 PM)
Assuming you mean the third round now, Lee, and the Sweet 16 for the Lobos. They have at least a 50/50 shot from my seat.
Joe, any chance of the WCC getting a 4th team into the field this year? If so, who would be the most likely candidate?
Joe Lunardi (2:31 PM)
Would have to be a fluke winner of the conference tournament, Brandon. Extremely unlikely.
Tony (Louisville, Ky)
Who is your preseason favorite to cut down the nets in April?
Joe Lunardi (2:32 PM)
I'm picking Kentucky over Carolina, with Wisconsin and Pitt joining them at the Final Four.
John (Dallas, TX)
Where do you see Baylor at by the end of the year and what is there potential in the tourney??
Joe Lunardi (2:33 PM)
John, I'm not as high on the Bears as many others. Perhaps I've not gotten over last season yet.
What is your reasoning for having Syracuse over UConn for the last #1 seed?
Joe Lunardi (2:34 PM)
I think they're ever-so-slightly better. Thankfully, their play on the court will matter more than what I think.
Joey! How deep do you think Temple could go this year in the Tourney? They've got such a deep, experienced team.
Joe Lunardi (2:35 PM)
To me, Temple is a big-time sleeper and will be in the Sweet 16. Experience and coaching will more than make up for the loss of Lavoy Allen.
You have 8 Big 10 teams in the tourney and Indiana as one of your first four out. What are the chances you think Indiana makes it 9 out of 12 Big Ten schools with bids?
Joe Lunardi (2:36 PM)
Very unlikely, Greg. Too many potential bubble teams from the same conference for all of them to make it.
Will (New York)
You really think Kentucky can finally win the big one? Theres no way all those freshman go all the way, it never happens.
Joe Lunardi (2:37 PM)
I didn't pick them because I expect them to lose, Will. UK will be a very, very good team by March.
What's the potential of Harvard making a Cornell-run?
Joe Lunardi (2:38 PM)
Interesting thought, Mathew. While I wouldn't go Sweet 16 for the Crimson, winning a game isn't out of the question. Would love to know how close Harvard really was to an at-large last year.
Looking to the future of the Big East and the drop of big name basketball/football schools, do you think it's wise for Uconn to remain in the conference and if not is the ACC the only real place they fit?
Joe Lunardi (2:39 PM)
You're asking for basketball judgments on what have become entirely football questions. From an institutional standpoint, UConn's revenue figures to be higher in the ACC. But they have to be invited first...
Sarah (Wichita, Kansas)
Oh no you don't Mister Smarty Pants. I see you are trying to put OUR SHOCKERS as the last team but our bus has already left the stadiumn parking lot and you are not on it. Sorry but the Shocker Bus is already full with sports writers who have recognized out pootential. We don't need any Joe's-Come-Lately.
Joe Lunardi (2:40 PM)
So I should take them out??
Can Duke make a national championship run with two of their impact players being freshman (Austin Rivers and Miles Plumlee)?
Joe Lunardi (2:40 PM)
Rocco Donatiello (New Jersey)
Does Syracuse have what it takes to cut down the nets in April?
Joe Lunardi (2:41 PM)
Very much so...
Joe Lunardi (2:41 PM)
Time for one more, gang, let's make it a good one!
Top 5 Sleeper teams...readdyyyyy: Go!
Joe Lunardi (2:42 PM)
Wisconsin, Marquette, Michigan, Alabama, Temple.
Joe Lunardi (2:43 PM)
Got to run, gang. We'll be doing this a lot more now that the season has begun. Thanks!