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March 18, 6:33 AM ET
Chat with Dana O'Neil

Dana O'Neil
  (2:06 PM)

Sorry for the delay. Listening to Jim Calhoun here in Philly for the pre-game press conferences. Let's roll.

harley (GreenBay, Wisconsin)

Who do u think will win the NCAA Tornament

Dana O'Neil
  (2:07 PM)

Harley: I'm sticking with my original pick, especially now. Said Louisville in November. No need to change.

Brent (Syracuse, NY) [via mobile]

Hi Dana! How far do you have Syracuse going in your bracket?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:09 PM)

Brent: I like Syracuse. A lot of people talk about the Gerry McNamara squad fading after their Big East run. But that team, remember, wasn't even in the tourney. THis is a very good Syracuse team that I can see at the very least in the Sweet 16, maybe the Elite Eight w/ an upset of Oklahoma. I think they're energized, not exhausted.

Dan (Buffalo, NY)

Dana, while I know they shouldn't need Lawson against Radford, there's no way he sits out past Thursday, right?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:09 PM)

Dan: I don't think so, no. Big, big risk without him, even against an 8-9 seed. I'd let him sit against Radford and say a few Novenas that he's ok after that.

Brad (Gadsden,Alabama)

Can Miss. State beat Washington?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:10 PM)

Brad: Sure they can. Washington is good, but not unbeatable and Mississippi State is a dangerous team playing with house money. Wouldn't shock me at all.

Anthony (Kansas City, MO)

Hey Dana. Is Morehead St. beating Alabama St. 58-43 really what the NCAA had in mind when it came up with this Play-In Game idea? Seriously, doesn't Brent Musberger make too much money to do play by play for a game like that? Why not take the Last 2 Out from the selection process and put them in a Play-In Game? Wouldn't St. Marys vs. Creighton create a little more intrigue?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:11 PM)

Anthony: I don't like the play-in game period. I thought 64 was fine, thank you very much. I mean, was Alabama State really here? Don't thnk it's beneath Brent and I doubt he'd see it that way. I just think it's a silly concept overall.

Brad (Gadsden,Alabama)

What is your fav. first round matchup?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:13 PM)

Brad: Ooops. I answered question from you. Gonna get in trouble. But... I like a few. Ohio State-Siena; LSU-Butler, Oklahoma State-Tennessee all intriguing to me. Pick upsets in all three.


Why all of the love for Pittsburgh? Even the President likes 'em. Yes I'm aware that they're good, but one thing you can count on every year is them falling flat in this tournament. Why should this year be any different?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:14 PM)

Matt: Get your point but this team is awfully good. Wish they had one deadeye shooter, but they have enough good shooters, great depth and that defense sets them apart. Also unlike other years, this team can get up and down the floor if called upon.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

Wake Forest intrigues me as a four seed. Are there any other four through six seeds that you can see getting deep into the tournament?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:16 PM)

JB I like Purdue. Playing well now that hummel is healthier. Gonzaga intrigues me. Great talent if they can play like it. My upset pick to the Elite Eight is USC. If you asked me that in November would have said no way. But they are playing well and Derozan suddenly looks like the player we expected.

Emma (NJ)

Hi Dana. So i'm in an office pool and need help. What is your Final Four? Maybe I'll even split the pot if you are right

Dana O'Neil
  (2:17 PM)

Emma: You'd have better luck asking a gerbil. I never win pools. But... I have Louisville, Carolina, Pitt and Memphis. Not terribly exciting but that's it.

Andrew (Lubbock, Texas)

Hey Dana. Could Western Kentucky possibly make another run to sweet 16. I'm pretty sure they have a good shot at an upset over Illinois, but could they pull the upset over Gonzaga as well?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:18 PM)

Andrew: Got them pulling the upset against Illinois in the first round and it's not out of the question they beat say, Gonzaga. Gonzaga has played well lately, I know, but they've never really realized their potential if you ask me.

Jack (MA)

I'm liking Missouri and their road to the E8. I know they have Memphis but what are your thoughts

Dana O'Neil
  (2:19 PM)

Jack: Agree with you to a point. Not sure if they can handle Memphis but I think it will be a heckuva game. Mike Anderson knows Memphis very well and that swarming defense could be very problematic with a team that still doesn't have a 'true' point guard.

Jim (Seattle, WA)

Dana, I don't understand this VCU upset over UCLA. The bruins can flat out score and Howland is a superb coach. Do you think people are overlooking the bruins?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:20 PM)

Jim: Depends a lot on Collison's tailbone. If he's not right, UCLA isn't right. I do, however, fear the upset that everyone is picking.

Steve (Moraga, CA)

Dana, everyone knows that the Gaels got hosed. But what a blessing in disguise- I get to see Patty Mills and Steph Curry face off on Monday! Could this be the game of the postseason (yes, postseason)?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:21 PM)

Steve: Couldn't agree more! What a fun, fun game. Can NOT wait to see it.

Anthony (Kansas City, MO)

Dana, Give me the upset no one is talking about.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:22 PM)

Anthony: Not sure NOBODY is talking about it but I like Temple over Arizona State. Sun Devils haven't been playing well, Temple has. Plus Dionte Christmas went 1 of 12 against Michigan State last year. He doesn't want that to happen again.

Mike (Happy Valley, Pa)

Whats good Dana?!? I was listening to Jim Rome over lunch and he had Bruce Pearl on as a guest. Pearl believes the tournament should be expanded again because of the amount of quality teams left out in recent years. What are your thoughts on this and why all the sudden (the last few years) is there temptation to change the greatest event in sports?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:24 PM)

Mike: Sure. Let's let in all 344 and start it in December. Hell no. If there was ever a year to argue against expansion this is it. I think it was hard to find 34 at-large bids. The glamour teams have plenty of chances to get in and if they don't they can't whine that some other school that has to win 3 games in 3 nights or schedule 15 road games in December since no one will play against them at home took their spot.

Joel (Tucson)

First #2 seed to lose will be?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:24 PM)

Joel: I have MIchigan State going down to USC in the second round.


As a life long Democrat do you think Calhoun is upset that Prez. Obama took Memphis? I mean JC was at the innauguration for goodness sake.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:25 PM)

Chris: Hey, this isn't politics. THis is hoops. Best team wins.

Curt (MD)

I understand keeping costs doen, especially now, but Nova playing in the Wachovia Center come on. At least send them to Dayton. I can see a 1 seed getting rewarded for a great season but a 3. This all but guaranteed Nova getting to the Sweet 16

Dana O'Neil
  (2:26 PM)

Curt: The committee can preserve site preference for, I believe, the top 4 seeds if they choose to. Villanova smartly moved one game to the Spectrum so this didn't count as a home court. I have less of a problem with Villanova in Philly than I do Ohio State in Dayton.

Mike (Ohio)

So Dana, did you get a chance to look over the President's bracket here on ESPN? Any thoughts?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:27 PM)

Mike: I did and I like the fact that the POTUS and I have the same Final Four. Good to know I travel in smart company.

Mike(Auburn, MA)

Can Portland State make a nice little run in their home state?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:27 PM)

Mike: At the risk of ticking off Xavier nation, I have Portland State in the upset.

Aubs(the ville) [via mobile]

why is so many people doubting louisville? they have a great coach and more heart and talent than 98 percent of the temas in the tourney.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:28 PM)

Aubs: Got no idea. Agree w/ you 100 percent. Great coach, great defense.


Hypothetically speaking, if Kentucky decides to fire Gillispie, who could you see as a possible replacement? Didn't seem like there were too many people jumping at the opportunity last time around...

Dana O'Neil
  (2:29 PM)

Dave: I bet if they went at Billy Donovan again he'd think REAL hard.

Justin (NJ)

Dana, real quick. If it came down to it, Duke or Villanova in the sweet 16?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:30 PM)

Justin: Interesting matchup but I think Villanova wins. Duke has a hard time guarding teams off the dribble and that's all Villanova does.

Kevin (Richmond, VA)

Collison vs. Maynor, how great of a matchup is this going to be during the VCU/UCLA game? Who will you be pulling for?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:30 PM)

Kevin: Not pulling for anyone. Want a good game and suspect I'd get one. That matchup will be key, depending on Collison's health.

Andy (LA)

Of your final four picks, with which are you most uncomfortable?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:31 PM)

Andy: Toss between Carolina and Pitt. Carolina because of Lawson's healthy and Pitt because if they have to handle a familiar Villanova team in Boston, not sure how that works out.

Should've Went to Wake

Any thoughts on the next coach for the Cavs. Does anyone want this job. Thought we were finally turning the corner.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:32 PM)

Sorry about your college choice. Don't know if he's interested but wouldn't be surprised if they went after home state boy, Jeff Capel

Chris (Virginia Beach, VA)

Ok, so all I hae been hearing is how Duke struggles in the tourney and that this year will be no different. Yet, Pitt lost in the second round last year just Like Duke did, and UCONN lost in the first round, and didnt even make the tourney the year before. THose teams have been excused, why can't Duke? They did win their conference tourney, when Pitt and UCONN lost in the furst round of theirs. Your thoughts on the DUkies.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:35 PM)

Chris: Definitely don't think Duke is susceptible for a first-round loss this year. Much, much better team.

John (NYC)

Thoughts on Siena getting a 9. Was that too high and do you see them doing anything?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:36 PM)

John: I think it's well earned. Played a very good non-conference season and I do think they can pull the 'upset' in the first round.

timmy c. (lancaster)

speaking of Capel... What will he get from his Oklahoma squad? They looked untouchable before Blake's concussion, now they look a little out of cink. Which team shows up this weekend?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:37 PM)

Timmy: Yea, something isn't right with this team. Not sure what it is, though. I gotta think Blake Griffin will win them to victory if nothing else.

Robert (Memphis)

Who do you like Tennessee or Ok. State

Dana O'Neil
  (2:38 PM)

Robert: I waffled an awful lot on that game. .Went with Tennessee based on nothing more than great talent and the fact they finally seem to be playing smarter.

Terry (Stamford, TX)

Dana, you almost always take an A&M question, but I haven't seen one yet. How do you think the Aggies fare against BYU (again)?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:40 PM)

Terry: Welcome to deja vu all over again. Not sure about this time, though. BYU has some pretty good scorers that will be difficult for A&M to handle. Better do better than they did against Singletary.

Chris Bennett (Trumbull, CT)

Dana why is everyone saying Memphis will beat UCONN? Last I checked, UCONN has awesome D, a better offense than Memphis, and Memphis allowed a lot of points to Big East teams when they played (except Cinci)?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:41 PM)

Chris: I think Memphis has the biggest chip on its shoulder of anyone in this tourney and that's dangerous. Play great defense, athletic and fast. Think it will be a helluva game, frankly.

Kevin (Waukee, IA)

Which number 1 seed will be the first to lose?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:42 PM)

Kevin: Well the only #1 don't have in is Connecticut. Got them losing to Memphis.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

Speaking of Griffin taking the team on his shoulders and carrying them through, in your opinion what was the best case of a one man show leading his team all the way that you have seen?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:42 PM)

JB Easy. Carmelo Anthony.

jack (NJ)

I have to say the Committee did a great job with this years bracket. This is one of the toughest years to pick first round games and they have some great match ups as well

Dana O'Neil
  (2:43 PM)

Jack: Almost too good, to be honest. It's a pretty analytically perfect bland bracket.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:43 PM)

Jack: Almost too good, to be honest. It's a pretty analytically perfect bland bracket.


do you have any surpise teams in the elite eight?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:44 PM)

tommy: Got USC, that's my shocker. Think playing up to their ablilities finally.

Jeff (TO)

How deep could West Virgina go? Can they getinto the elite 8?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:45 PM)

Jeff: I struggled deciding between them and Kansas. Went w/ Kansas but think they could pull the upset. They need Ruoff to really shoot it well and guard against turnovers.

Kevin (Waukee, IA)

Do you think a 16 seed will beat a number 1 seed in the next 10 years?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:45 PM)

Kevin: Maybe. I think it's getting closer and closer. Hey, maybe tomorrow!

Wil (Woodbridge, VA)

How bad did mid-majors get jipped this year? Only 4 at-larges? It seems the committee doesn't want another George Mason or Davidson.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:47 PM)

Wil: It was a tough road for mid-majors this year. Not enough great wins to make a solid argument. Would love to see more, myself.


Dana, you are messing with our brackets! you give great analysis, but your picks have been way off all year. How can I pick the same teams you are suggesting?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:48 PM)

Ken: Agree. If I were you, I'd look at what I say and go the polar opposite. Much better chance. I'm going to do another pool where I let my 4 year old pick. I bet he does better.

Sam (Chicago)

USC beating Mich. St? How come?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:49 PM)

Sam: How come? think USC is coming together at the right time. Always had a ton of talent and is finally playing like it. I love Tom Izzo and would love to pick Michigan State but they've been so inconsistent this year.

Matt (IN)

Do you have an all-time favorite tournament moment.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:50 PM)

Matt: Two years out of college, I had the good fortune to be right next door at the Spectrum, watching Christian Laettner hit the buzzer beater. I remember Bob Ryan of hte Boston Globe walking in to the press area and saying, 'We're not worthy.' Meaning we couldn't do it justice. I remember thinking if he's not worthy, I'm up the creek!

Mitch (PA)

Do you see the Zags making one of their famous runs this year. I know they are no longer the underdog, but if any teams is going to open eyes it will be them again.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:51 PM)

Mitch: I'm not sure. They have the talent but they haven't played like it all. One of the more intriguing teams in the bracket, I think. .I have them losing to Carolina but if they play like they're capable, they could beat the Heels.

Shawn (Big Apple)

Dana, loved the article on Big East expectations. What if they get 4 in the Final Four? Think it could happen? Who would it be?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:53 PM)

Shawn: Wow. That would be stunning. It could happen. Both 3 seeds are good enough but I'd be awfully surprised.

Doug (NY)

Which 12-5 upsets you got, Dana?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:54 PM)

Doug: I went a little loopy. Did the bracket when I was still recovering from 6OTs. Have Arizona, Western Kentucky and Wisconsin. Not sure that's gonna happen. Like my conviction in my picks?

DrexelJay (Philly)

Dana, are you as sad as me that Cheif Kickingstallionsims is gone?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:55 PM)

Drexel: Absolutely I am. If only because I wanted to type his name at least once.

Brian (Cincinnati)

How come there is no love for XU? They have struggled down the stretch but they have played a great schedule and Sean Miller knows how to coach this item of year.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:56 PM)

Brian: I agree about Sean Miller but I haven't been in love with this team all year. I think they're good but nowhere near as good as they were last year and that's no knock. That team had a ton of experience.

Joe (Boston)

ESPN's summary says "teams who struggle in the halfcourt will not like playing CSU" (Cleveland St.). Isn't that Wake to a T? How vulnerable are they as a 4?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:57 PM)

Joe: Wake has been so up and down all season they're very hard to predict. Have the talent to go far but I just don't trust it.

Harry Himes Meadowbrook PA

Hello Dana: I believe that 'Nova's Fisher and Stokes will have outstanding tournamenrt play. What say Dana?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:58 PM)

Harry: I say they need to. Villanova can't afford to rely solely on Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham. Someone else has to be productive and those are the two most likely candidates. Fisher also has to be careful. No room for silly turnovers.

Brian (Syracuse)

Not sure if this went through before, so I'll try again... I couldn't help but notice that Syracuse is the only Big East team in a bracket with no other Big East teams. Will the fact that they're playing teams who haven't gotten a good look at them help the Orange? Maybe something like that 2003 run through all those Big 12 schools who didn't know which end of the zone was up?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:59 PM)

Brian: There's that factor and the other is that Oklahoma is really a mess right now. Haven't been right for a while so that would give Syracuse an edge. I have them losing to Carolina in the Elite Eight for what it's worth.

Dana O'Neil
  (3:00 PM)

Alright folks. Gotta get back to work here. Enjoy the best time of the year and thanks for the questions.