Chat with Joe Lunardi
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Joe Lunardi (2:01 PM)
Greetings, all. Having put a December bracket in your stocking, let's Chat about it!
For a mid-major, how does a very close loss against a very good team on the road (like Belmont against Duke) factor into the committee's seeding?
Joe Lunardi (2:02 PM)
I think it really helps, Jordan, if the example team is already under consideration by the Committee. My view has always been that a team needs actual wins to get to that point.
Larry (Athens, OH)
My Ohio Bobcats are 8-1, with our only loss by 5 at Louisville, and up to #15 in the RPI this morning. While that RPI will certainly drop a bit during MAC play, do we have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid this year? Is the game vs. Northern Iowa on Tuesday a "must win" for us to get one?
Joe Lunardi (2:05 PM)
It's going to drop more than a "bit," Larry. Not even the most ardent Ohio fan would place the Bobcats anywhere near the Top 15. Having said that, yes, the return BracketBusters game vs. UNI is equally critical for both schools in terms of an at-large.
Do you make these projections based off of the current rankings? Or do you make them based off where you think teams will be when the selection committee deliberates?
Joe Lunardi (2:07 PM)
This early in the year, Ryan, the brackets are definitely more art than science. The data samples are so small that the outliers (e.g., Ohio U) are many. So I project a little bit and look mainly for NCAA-level scheduling and winning in non-conference games.
Goofer Fan (Waconia, Minnesota)
Is the Trevor Mbawke injury keeping Minnesota out of your bracket? I think they have a slightly better resume right now than teams like New Mexico and Marshall.
Joe Lunardi (2:10 PM)
It's more a question of schedule strength with the Gophers (or is that Goofers?). Minnesota has played two borderline NCAA teams. They beat one (VaTech) by three points at home and got drilled by the other (Dayton) on a neutral floor. Both other teams you mention have multiple NCAA-level performances.
Da_bomb (Warrenton, OR)
I saw your first bracket, and bearing in mind that it will change over the course of the season, I have one question: Why isn't Oregon State in it? They've been just as dominant as Stanford, I think, with only a couple losses. The Idaho loss could be blamed in part to a bad night by everybody due to the death of a friend on the football team. What will it take to get some more respect?
Joe Lunardi (2:13 PM)
The best thing that could happen for Oregon State right now would be for Texas to be, well, Texas. Otherwise that win looks way better than it actually is. And I would disagree that OSU has been anywhere near as good as Stanford thus far. Much improved are the Beavers, to be sure, but more an NIT team to my eyes.
Joe, please explain why you have Minnesota out and have teams like BYU, New Mexico, Marshall, FSU, Arizona, Temple, Seton Hall and Northwestern included? Gophers have better resume than all.
Joe Lunardi (2:15 PM)
I'm not getting the Minnesota thinking at all. Not that I hold the polls in any serious regard, but not even they are giving the Gophers any votes. And if an 11-1 record can't get you a vote in the coaches poll, well, you're not getting a sniff from the Committee until there are wins of consequence.
John (London, Ky)
Joe if your bracket is suppose to be about who would make it if the brackets were made today, how can you not even have Ole Miss in the next four out? They have a top 40 rpi and with wins over ACC, Big East, and Big 10 teams with the sole loss coming to Marquette.
Joe Lunardi (2:18 PM)
Ole Miss may be no better than the third-best team in its own state. The wins you reference are DePaul (wouldn't win the Horizon League), Penn State (worst team in the 12-team Big Ten) and injury-depleted Miami (at home in overtime). The Rebels one truly legitimate opponent beat them by 30 points on a neutral court.
In your latest Bracketology, why do you have Wisconsin getting the automatic bid from the Big 10? You don't think Ohio State will get it?
Joe Lunardi (2:19 PM)
Clarification, Zack: When no league games have been played, the auto-bid defaults to the team with the best RPI at the time of the bracket. Read my "Insider" column on the subject if you get a chance.
Joe Lunardi (2:19 PM)
Preseason picks were Kentucky, Carolina, Wisconsin and Pitt. Gonna' stick with the first three and root hard for a step up by the Panthers!
Owen Randall (San Francisco, CA)
Joe - two questions:1) Are the lower end seedings based purely on RPI? ODU hasn't been lighting the world on fire, but you'd have to think that they have better results than say Lamar or South Dakota State2) With so little data to go on yet, what was the reasoning of putting W. Virgina in over Kent State, even with their head to head?
Joe Lunardi (2:22 PM)
A lot more KenPom than RPI at this point for those lower-end spots, Owen. And the WVU-Kent St argument has merit. This is a case where I'm guessing what the Committee would do as opposed to how I would vote.
Dusty (St. Louis)
Will the selection committe discount Kansas' win over Ohio St. when determining KU's seed?
Joe Lunardi (2:23 PM)
A little, not a lot, unless it ends being the difference for something like a No. 1 end.
Chris (New York)
Why isn't Providence in any discussions after a 9-2 start?
Joe Lunardi (2:25 PM)
Who is the 9-2 against, Chris? I see two Top 100 opponents and two losses by a combined 27 points.
I know you have said that you wouldn't have my MSU Bulldogs in your top 25. If they keep up their play and Sidney hunkers down hard for SEC play, what is the best seed you could see them nabbing?
Joe Lunardi (2:26 PM)
That tweet was over a week ago. Mississippi State is up to No. 24 on my board as of this bracket.
If the PAC 12 was called the MAC 12 (e.g. no history) would be they get more than one bid? The best result for the conference has been close losses to Florida and Syracuse.
Joe Lunardi (2:27 PM)
Good one, Mike. As I've often said when asked about conference expansion, "less" is rarely "more" at the end of the day. Last year's 11 Big East bids were a loud exception, but an exception just the same.
Nick (Columbus, OH)
Not to make this an all Ohio U. chat, but in terms of "NCAA-level scheduling" how do you look at a team like that? They only have one "Big 6" opponent on the schedule in Louisville, but then a series of good mid-major games at Marshall, at Oakland, at Northern Iowa, vs. Robert Morris, vs. Lamar. How much traction do those type of wins get a team that might lack the big "name brand" win?
Joe Lunardi (2:29 PM)
More than you would think, Nick. I consider most of those "NCAA level" (or at least "NCAA consideration") games. The Committee is quite wise to the ways of scheduling and its difficulties at the mid-major level. Keep the faith...
Mike (San Diego)
Joe, why is there no love for the Aztecs? For the life of me, I can't figure out how they are not ranked. What gives, Joe?
Joe Lunardi (2:29 PM)
Don't worry about it. The Aztecs are right where they need to be.
Does the WCC really have an opportunity to get more than one team in? GU has a more opportunities to build up their RPI (not many though) and BYU none at all after Baylor and St. Mary's schedule is weak as far as signature wins are concerned.
Joe Lunardi (2:30 PM)
I would be very surprised if the WCC is a one-bid league at the end of the year. If it happens, though, it's going to make every member who voted for (but still lost to) BYU look a bit dumb.
Do you feel that my Hoosiers can ride the momentum gained with the UK win into the Big 10 season and be a factor in the dance? I noticed you put them as a 4 seed in your most recent bracketology.
Joe Lunardi (2:31 PM)
Dance, yes. Protected seed, probably not.
Why wouldn't Kentucky be in the South and Ohio State in the Midwest?
Joe Lunardi (2:31 PM)
Isn't Lexington closer to St. Louis than it is to Atlanta?
Why does the PAC 12 get multiple bids? We have some of the worst teams in the country?
Joe Lunardi (2:32 PM)
At least two of the current three (Stanford, Cal, Arizona) should hold, and I think Washington is more than good enough to move up. It isn't nearly as bad as we saw a couple of years ago.
What do you think of Nova's chances of getting into the NCAA tourney field?
Joe Lunardi (2:34 PM)
Pass (for now), for what should be obvious reasons.
Joe: Does Ohio State have enough depth to go deep into the tournament? Matta has not had a history of developing a long bench and the injury to Sullinger demonstrates the risks involved in not developing younger players by tournament time. I understand OSU has some good but raw youngsters.
Joe Lunardi (2:35 PM)
Mark, I think you are vastly underestimating Thad Matta. He's taken one school to the Final Four and another to Elite Eight. He seems to know a little something about deep NCAA appearances.
I watched the ODU vs Fairfield game - if ODU is good enough than Fairfield should be in easily. Because they showed nothing in that game!
Joe Lunardi (2:37 PM)
ODU is listed as the CAA auto-bid for now. It has nothing to do with head-to-head comparisons. Fairfield needs either to lead the MAAC or be evaluated above the lowest at-large team (in this case, Seton Hall). And, having seen both in person, Seton Hall is better than the Stags this year. Sorry.
Andy (St. Louis)
What seed do you see Missouri getting and how far do you think they can go?
Joe Lunardi (2:38 PM)
This is an interesting case, Andy, as Mizzou's seeding may be tied directly to games with its most heated rivals (Illinois and Kansas). Get 2-3 wins in those games and the Tigers could be as high as a No. 2 seed.
Any chance Xavier can get a 1 seed? If so, what will they have to do?
Joe Lunardi (2:39 PM)
Great question, Jeff. Xavier would need to be almost as perfect as No. 1 seed St. Joe's in 2004, which almost lost its top seed by losing to X. This Xavier schedule is stronger than the Hawks that year, so there's an outside shot for the Musketeers.
If NC State were to have a winning conference record in the ACC, do you still see them as a long shot? What would it take to get them in. They have had close games with all good teams played so far, beating texas and princeton, but loosing close to stanford, INDIANA, Vandy.
Joe Lunardi (2:41 PM)
Gonna' have to be more than a winning record, Rob, as it doesn't appear as if the ACC is strong enough to launch, say, a 9-7 team into the NCAA field. NC State is going to need at least double-digit league wins I suspect.
How do you feel about Saint Louis challenging Xavier for the A-10 title? And where do you see them fitting in for postseason play?
Joe Lunardi (2:41 PM)
The Billikens are good, Kevin, but not that good.
Why would you keep the Badgers in your Final Four, They aren't even the best team in their state (as evidenced by their loss to Marquette at the Kohl Center - the floor they supposedly cant lose on)
Joe Lunardi (2:43 PM)
Fair point, Matt. I'll admit it's more of a hunch, just like when I picked Marquette for the 2003 Final Four. It should be permanently obvious that the four "best" teams rarely make it together to the final weekend.
Why do the Louisville Cardinals get no love? Everyone says they are "overrated", but they are a team that plays very well together. Also they are finally getting healthy, and with Ware back and Blackshear getting healthy, people should be concerned
Joe Lunardi (2:44 PM)
What's wrong with a No. 2 seed, Corey? You want Chris Paul, too?
Jon (Owensboro, KY)
With the OVC increasing its number to twelve, do you think there will be the opportunity for multiple seeds from the conference?
Joe Lunardi (2:45 PM)
Only in rare instances, Owen.
Give me the truth on the racers this season. with probably 2 or 3 conference losses this season where does that put us for at large consideration?
Joe Lunardi (2:46 PM)
Three OVC losses would almost certainly be too many, Brandon, as you're then assuming a fourth in the conference tournament.
Eric (Cincinnati, Ohio)
The BCS does it's best to pick the best team in the nation, not a champion. On the other hand the NCAA tournament decides a champion, not necessarily the best team. Which gives you a better feeling in the end?
Joe Lunardi (2:47 PM)
That's completely arbitrary, Eric. What I will say is that the NCAA tourney does a far better job of crowning a champion than the BCS does at picking the best team.
Joe Lunardi (2:48 PM)
Three more, gang, than I've got to get back to the dreaded "real job"...
Nate (Woburn, MA)
Joe, Harvard has been a great story early this year. If they continue this path, what do you feel would be a reasonable seed for them in the tourney? Is a #9 too far out of the question?
Joe Lunardi (2:49 PM)
Absolutely not, Nate. The best "comp" is No. 5 seed Princeton in 1998. I'm not saying Harvard is as good as those Tigers, but that's the known ceiling for the Ivies.
Not going to answer my question?
Joe Lunardi (2:50 PM)
Blake's question disappeared for reasons beyond my technology. He asked what No. 1 seed will be the first to lose. My answer would be that at least three of them already have.
Jessica (Frankfort, Ky)
Who is the overall #1 seed?
Joe Lunardi (2:51 PM)
Today, Jessica, that would be those Syracuse Orangemen.
Joe Lunardi (2:51 PM)
Happy Hoops and Happy Holidays, everyone! Back at you in early January. Thanks!!