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January 8, 12:39 PM ET
Chat with Graham Hays

Graham Hays
  (11:01 AM)

Thanks for stopping by. I guess we're going to try and make this a regular Monday stop on your chat schedule, which is cool, so let's talk some hoops.

Charles (Charlottesville, VA)

How worried should Cavalier fans be about their slow starts the last couple of games? Is the real Virginia team the one that got down 16 to Wake Forest in the first half and was losing to St. Francis, or the one that went on a 24 - 1 run over the last 8 minutes of the game to make it look like a blow out?

Graham Hays
  (11:03 AM)

They're probably both the real Virginia, which is why they're No. 14 and a Final Four sleeper rather than a top-five favorite. With Lyndra Littles back, the Cavaliers have as good a trio as just about anyone, with her, Wright and Mohammed. But it's also a team that had to replace its PG at close to the last minute because of injury and which is a very streaky shooting team.

hacksaw -hamden, CT

do u see NC beating uconn next week? does being at home give NC the advantage?

Graham Hays
  (11:07 AM)

It's going to be interesting to see if they can fill the Smith Center for that one and really create a big-time atmosphere. But Connecticut isn't likely to be bothered by it one way or the other. I'd still say the Huskies enter as the favorite, but it's close. One number that stopped me in my tracks a week or two ago was Cetera DeGraffenreid's assist-to-turnover ratio (she's at 72 assists, 29 turnovers right now). UNC is typically the kind of team that will play itself into trouble against UConn's pressure, but if DeGraffenreid can keep the tempo where Hatchell wants it and take care of the ball, it could be the start of something.

John (Nashville)

What are your expectations for the Lady Dores this year? What do you think of Tina Wirth?

Graham Hays
  (11:11 AM)

At this point, I honestly don't know. They really struck me in the preseason as a team with SEC title potential, but that win against Tennessee was pretty much the first time they've looked like it. That said, I really like Wirth's game. She does everything well, even if no single part of the stat line really stands out. Vandy went on a run about this time of year last season, and the Vols win could spark another. And unlike years past, two or three losses in league play wouldn't necessarily knock you out of the mix.

Pete (NC)

I just want to congratulate Hatchell on her monumentous win yesterday. She's a class act and a great coach. Congrats Coach.

Graham Hays
  (11:12 AM)

She's done a lot for the game of women's basketball and deserves the plaudits for No. 800.

Steiny (NYC)

What is the best story thus far in the college basketball season?

Graham Hays
  (11:15 AM)

Nice, a question from Steiny. Now I feel like I've made it in the chat world. There are a lot of candidates, but I'd say the overall lack of favorites is a great story. Granted, some will feel it's moot given Connecticut's strength, but I think it's great to be nearing the middle of January and you can still make a very strong Final Four case for pretty much the entire top 20. I'm not sure if it means more upsets early in the tournament, but it definitely means the third and fourth rounds are going to be compelling.

Helen R (Rochester NY)

I know the team is young and has many injuries, but can Tia Jackson hope to keep her job after Washington's showing this weekend?

Graham Hays
  (11:17 AM)

Scoring, what, 69 points in two games in the Bay Area? I imagine that's going to cause a few sleepless nights in Seattle, but regardless of who the coach is, I hope it's too soon for her to have to start watching her job. And even if it's only symbolic, the win against June Daugherty and WSU has to give her a little boost, right?

Jeff (Bossier City, LA)

With Ashley playing like Courtney of two years ago, Hand progressing, Stevenson becoming a sixth-woman candidate of the year, and Courtney being Courtney, are the Sooners reestablished as B12 and F4 favorites?

Graham Hays
  (11:22 AM)

I just talked to Gary Blair and he seemed to think Oklahoma is the favorite in the B12, although he was quick to suggest nobody sleep on his team or Baylor, among others. I'm definitely in the camp that this is a significantly better OU team, focus-wise, than the last few seasons. They've got the outside shot, they're taking care of the ball, CP is CP, and Ashley gives them a completely new dimension with her game this seson. It was telling to see them open up conference play with a 20-point win against a decent Nebraska team. That's the kind of game they might have sleptwalk through in past seasons.



Graham Hays
  (11:23 AM)

I'll be sure to pass it along.

Dave Verone Rio Rancho, New Mexico

So, what do the New Mexico Lobos (13-2)have to do to get some respect.Any one who has followed this team knows going into the year there were huge questions how this team was going to generate offense.In a couple of articles on your ranking the mid majors,you harp on their 2 blow out losses to at the time top 5 teams. Yes they lost to Stanford by 30 + points,but so did Rutgers a week later.The Lobos have beaten Depaul,Nebraska,and Texas Tech,and have managed not to lose to teams they should have beaten.Something that can not be said about a number of teams currently in the top 25. Thanks for your time and answer.

Graham Hays
  (11:26 AM)

Right now, I'm not sure comparing your team to Rutgers is going to help your case. But for the Lobos, they're in good shape. They've given themselves an opportunity to prove they're legit to people like me (and perhaps slightly more importantly, make the NCAA tournament). My rationale for a wait-and-see approach is all those wins you mention were at home. Before the Air Force win, they hadn't done anything on the road. Given the reshaping you're talking about, especially on offense, nobody can fault them for scheduling like that early in the season. It's the best way to figure things out and gain confidence, and it seems like they've done that. Now go on the road and win some games at places like Utah, TCU, Wyoming and San Diego State, and everyone else is going to be asking for room on the bandwagon.

Jake Phoenix Arizona

Ok Graham, my questions to you are, do you think Tennessee will mature enough this season to make it to the final four and how good do you think the Lady Vols will be in the next three years?? I mean yea it a while away, and this year will be a struggle, but is it me or does look like this will be the team to beat in next few years??..Oh and how bout Shekinna Stricklen??..Girl got some range!!...Thanks Graham

Graham Hays
  (11:30 AM)

At their best, the Lady Vols are a Final Four-caliber team, despite their youth. The problem is that youth means some pretty wild swings of performance. Despite getting outrebounded by Vanderbilt, Tennessee worries me in the backcourt. With Cait McMahan having to step away from the game because of injuries, they don't have much depth. Unless Sydney Smallbone comes on in conference play, you're really talking about a three-guard rotation with Bjorklund, Stricklen and Bass, in which two of the three are freshmen. They've played Manning a lot of minutes back there so far, but it just seems like she's better suited to the frontcourt, at least for now as a freshman. Tennessee has the talent to win four in a row in March and get to St. Louis; it's the consistency that's going to be the issue.

Chris (MD)

Biggest surprise in the season so far?

Graham Hays
  (11:33 AM)

Good question. Haven't really thought about it. Probably Rutgers for me. It makes sense there would be some growing pains after losing Ajavon and Carson and mixing in the new class, but it's not looking good at all right now. From a positive standpoint, maybe Notre Dame hanging in despite the injuries or Marist remaining dominant at the mid-major level with a lot of new faces.

Mike (Norfolk, Virginia)

ODU is obviously not the team it was last year, but should we Lady Monarch fans worry about them this year. It's still early in CAA play, but ODU's wins haven't been as impressive so far like years past in conference play. VCU is looking good. Is this the year the Lady Monarchs don't make the tournament with an automatic bid?

Graham Hays
  (11:36 AM)

Wouldn't worry yet, Mike. They got the win against VCU at home, even if it was a nailbiter. Charlie Creme would be able to project better than me, but both of those teams look like NCAA tournament teams, regardless of which wins the auto bid. The other two league games were on the road, I think. If they're still winning by single digits in conference play after a few more home games, then I'd make more of it.

Jax, FL

If you were to submit your vote for player of the year right now, who would it be?

Graham Hays
  (11:38 AM)

Probably Maya Moore, with Courtney Paris and Angel McCoughtry still very much in the thick of things. It will be interesting to see if a situation develops where Moore and Renee Montgomery split some votes. They're both deserving candidates.

Graham Hays
  (11:39 AM)

DeWanna Bonner is another one for that list out of Auburn. And maybe Shalee Lehning from Kansas St. as a sleeper.

Pat (Millsboro, DE)

Who do you think will win the MD-DUke game tonight?

Graham Hays
  (11:43 AM)

I see Duke holding serve at home. Duke is one of those (many) teams I'd like to see play about 10 more times before the tournament, to try and get some kind of handle on them. Chante Black definitely needs to take an assertive role tonight, but if Maryland's young frontcourt can take her out of the game, it bodes well for the Terrapins making a run of their own in ACC play. I'm just not sure they have the depth.

Scott (Huntsville, al)

Is Auburn really a better team this year then Tennessee

Graham Hays
  (11:47 AM)

I'll say yes. That doesn't mean Tennessee can't beat Auburn on any given night, but especially right at this moment, the Tigers are a more consistent, finished product than the Lady Vols. I only wish I could get down there for the game Jan. 25 at Auburn. The Tigers really haven't had to match up against a team that could stay with them player for player, with the possible exception of Florida last weekend, and that could be a bit of culture shock.

Alex (San Francisco)

Do you think Stanford's early season losses on the road will disqualify them from a 2 seed even if they run the table in the Pac-10? What do you think their best case scenario is going forward? Do you think they have it in them to run the table in the Pac-10?

Graham Hays
  (11:50 AM)

If they ran the table, I'd expect a No. 2 seed, although it could be that dreaded No. 2 opposite Connecticut. I would say the losses at Duke and Tennessee probably makes it difficult to envision a scenario where they get a No. 1, unless some really wacky things happen in the Big 12 and SEC. Might be more likely that they split with Cal and both get No. 3 seeds.

Graham Hays
  (11:50 AM)

All right, thanks for making this a success. I appreciate all the questions!