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January 27, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Dana O'Neil

Dana O'Neil
  (11:00 AM)

Good morning all after a wild hoops evening. Sorry for the early start and advance warning - I'll have to jump out a little early. Crazy day, so let's get to some questions.

Ryan (lawrence)

With Xavier henry's recent struggles do you think there is any way his stock drops and he returns to school next year.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:01 AM)

Ryan: I'd be awfully surprised. His struggles haven't been monumental and remember, the NBA Drafts more on 'upside' and potential than it does statistics. You never know but i'd be surprised.

Dennis (Narragansett RI)

Dana: Last nights win for URI over Dayton at Dayton has to go along way in helping Rhody. Very low RPI with a lot of road wins and a neutral site win over Oklahoma St. If they beat Richmond and Charlotte at home and finish with over 20 wins shouldn't that get them in the big dance?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:02 AM)

Dennis: That definitely helps Rhode Island, not just in the terms that you stated but also to separate itself in an A10 pack. It also hurts Dayton. The Flyers are awful on the road but to lose at home is a killer.

Paul (Arlington, VA)

Penn State is 0-7 in the Big Ten, Ed DeChellis is headed for his 4th last place finish in 7 years. How does Penn State justify keeping him on as head coach, when he has not even been as successful as his predecessor (who was fired after 8 years and 2 NCAA tournaments)? He has not been to the NCAA tournament at all, and has only won 31 big ten games in 7 seasons - horrendous. Yet he has had his contract extended through 2014. Is the administration at Penn State just completely asleep? They have good programs in almost every other sport on campus

Dana O'Neil
  (11:04 AM)

Paul: Tricky question. I visited w/ Penn State last year and when Ed DeChellis told me the lack of infrastructure that was in place before he got there - silly stuff like signage on the court and office/locker room space and marketing - I was stunned. That doesn't win games but it wins recruits. After last year, obviously I thought they'd be a a lot lot better. This will be a curious litmus test. Penn State rarely fires anyone - it took them forever to make Rene Portland go away -but if the admin wants to give more than lip service to 'caring about hoops' it would have to make a change, I think.

Jamie (Rochester, NY)

Dana, Any chance Syracuse sees some no.1 votes this week barring a blunder at DePaul?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:04 AM)

Jamie: Maybe some, yes. I don't think there will be a unanimous decision at all this week. Especially if Kansas wins at KState, if Villanova beats Notre Dame and Kentucky beats Vandy. Very interesting vote this week.

LJ (Houston)

Dana, two questions for you: Kansas or Syracuse, who is the best team in America? And, how far does Kentucky drop?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:06 AM)

LJ: Loaded question the first. Not sure I'm certain either is the best team in the country. There are about 3 others I'd mix in. I was awfully impressed with KU in its mop up of Mizzou and even more amazed at the way Syracuse manhandled Georgetown. Wow. Kentucky won't tumble far and shouldn't - unless the Cats lay an egg against Vandy at home, too. Probably 3rd or 4th.

Rich (Michigan)

How many teams do you think the MWC will make the NCAA tournament???

Dana O'Neil
  (11:07 AM)

Rich: Interesting league this year. I'd say the obvious three - BYU, UNLV and New Mexico. To me all have done enough to merit a bid.

Joe (San Antonio, tx)

Dana-Who do you like tonight, BYU or UNM?

Pete (West Lafayette)

Dana, do you think Purdue has any chance to run down Michigan State for the Big 10 regular season title?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:09 AM)

Sorry computer snafus. To answer the first: Tough playing at the Pit but I'm going with BYU. Think Cougars are ready to make some noise for real.As for Purdue... if Jackson returns healthy and viable, then the Boilermakers have a shot. But they need him desperately and not just on the court; on the court like he was.

Alex (Baltimore, MD)

Maryland is now 4-1 in the ACC sitting on top of the standings. They have beaten 3 out of 4 teams by over 20 points. How good in MD? can they win the ACC?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:10 AM)

Alex: Maryland is a really funny team. Sort of overlooked and forgotten and then oh hello, they're atop the ACC. Wild. I still think Duke might be the better team but w/ the way Vasquez is playing right now, it's hard not to like the Terps. They're coming on very very strong when it matters.

Mike (Syracuse)

Why don't the polls show who has the better resume rather then who was ranked higher pre-season. You cannot tell me Kansas or Nova have a better resume then Syracuse. We are #1 RPI #5 SOS and 5-1 verse ranked teams. Two common opponents for Kansas were Cornell and Cal who we demolished.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:12 AM)

Mike: There's no question Syracuse has a better resume than Villanova and preseason polls are absurd, I agree. But the beauty is, unlike football they really have no weight in determining who the best team is.

Kyle (Indianapolis)

Butler is a team that stays quiet during Horizon League play, but takes care of business. Could Butler go undefeated going into the NCAA's?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:13 AM)

Kyle: Sure can and Butler also can be a team that no one will want to see come March. I know a lot of people will discredit any success now, saying it's only in the Horizon League, but I say an experienced team that is running very well is a very, very dangerous team - I don't care who the opposition has been. Said the same thing about Memphis two years ago, too.

Tom D. (Austin, TX)

Dana, Pat Forde says Duke is the only top ten team incapable of winning it all. Do you agree?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:15 AM)

Tom: To an extent. In my mind I've separated the teams I really think have a shot - Kansas, Kentucky, Texas, Syracuse, Villanova and Michigan State - from the teams that only kinda maybe have an outside shot - Purdue, Duke, West Virginia. I don't think it's crazy out of the question for Duke to make it, but these Devils look eerily close to the ones we've seen lately, the ones that fade come March.

aj (villanova)

If Kstate beats Kansas on Saturday and Nova beats Notre Dame tonight who will be ranked #1 nova or syracuse?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:16 AM)

AJ: Will be a very interesting call. The resume says Syracuse but having once been an AP voter, I know it's very rare that a team wins and is leapfrogged in the standings and that's what would have to happen. But btw... I think Kansas wins and it's all moot.

Mike (Chicago, IL)

After another tough loss last night at the hands of the Gopher's, are Northwestern's chances at making their first NCAA tournament finished?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:17 AM)

Mike: Not finished but definitely on life support. Feel really bad for Bill Carmody. He's done a great job w/ this team, coaching w/o Kevin Coble.

John Boy (all around you)

With South Carolinas huge win last night at home, do you think this will be the begining of the end for the cats or do you think it was a wake up call that the boys in blue cant just rely on their individuality and they pick up playing more team ball and go crazy on everyone?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:18 AM)

John: That's the million-dollar question right now. Kentucky is just too talented, I think, too fall apart. But the Cats have to be careful that no one starts pointing fingers and even more than no one - Patrick Patterson especially - starts feeling disenfranchised.

Brian (East Lansing)

Should State be worried about how their play the past couple games. Real close ones against UM and Sota as well as sloppy play against IOWA. I'm a die hard fan but Sparty can't be happy with how they have been playing...

Dana O'Neil
  (11:20 AM)

Brian: No, I don't think Coach Izzo can be real happy with how they're playing, either. The good news - they're all wins. The bad news- I thought they'd be much sharper right now as Izzo-coached teams usually are. Still think they have what it takes to get back to the Final Four (and that's partially cuz I picked them and don't want to look like a moron) but they have to play better, no doubt.

Derek (Manhattan)

Dana are you coming to Manhattan on Saturday?? Thoughts on the the K-State/KU game? That place it going to be crazy!!!!!

Dana O'Neil
  (11:21 AM)

Derek: No, I wish. Pat Forde gets to enjoy the mayhem in the Little Apple. I expect the place to be insane and if it's not, I'll be disappointed in all of you. I think it will be a very good game, but the Kansas team I saw whup Mizzou is a little scary. That's the Kansas team I saw against Temple and expected to see all season.

mark (ct)

who will be a better college player mouph yarou or ater majok

Dana O'Neil
  (11:22 AM)

Mark: Impossible to say right now. Both are so raw and unpolished, especially Yarou since he was out of practice for so long.

Stephen (Kentucky)

Cousins lately has been playing insane. Is he starting to make a case for POY even though in the eyes of many he is in John walls shadow? and where does he rank among big men in the league?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:23 AM)

Stephen: I spoke to a coach recently who told me that very thing - that he isn't sure if Cousins isn't actually a better player than Wall and maybe might be a better pro. I'd put him in very, very elite company among the bigs of this season. He has cray talented moves and can motor that big body pretty well.

isaac (nervous in tennessee)

hey dana...well the heels finally pulled out a true road win last night. fluke or a sign of things to come? or just part of the rocky road of a young team?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:24 AM)

Isaac: I wouldn't say it was a complete fluke, no. This is a team loaded w/ talent if not knowledge of how to use it. But I wouldn't think it's smooth sailing right now, either. It's going to be a bit bumpy for Heel fans, I'd argue.

Geoff (Rochester, NY)

Dana, The A-10 has several teams in the hunt for a NCAA bid(Temple, Rhode Island, Xavier, Richmond, Dayton & Charlotte). How many do you think they end up getting?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:27 AM)

Geoff: Going to be very interesting to see how things shake out in that league for sure. To me, Temple and Richmond are in thanks to some really good non-conference wins. I'd be stunned if Dayton didn't make it and Rhode Island also has a pretty good case w/ wins over Oklahoma State and BC. Xavier and CHarlotte may have work to do. But it's going to be very close.

Michelle (Seattle)

What do you think of the burgeoning duo of Matt Bouldin and Elias Harris? It seems like they are building serious chemistry on the court. If this continues, how far does Gonzaga go?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:28 AM)

Michelle: I agree. Gonzaga sort of slipped off the radar thanks to that crazy non-conference schedule but while no one is looking have quietly climbed back atop the WCC. Harris has been flat-out phenomenal and yes, add him w/ Bouldin that's a team that could be a very tough out in the tourney.

Joseph (Lexington)

Another Kentucky question: Hypothetically speaking, If all the freshman stay, and Pat decides to not go up to the bigs even tho hes graduating, would next year be the year that the country knows without a doubt they would be playing for who gets to get the national runnerup?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:29 AM)

Joseph Well yes, but that has about as much a chance as happening as me winning the Heisman next year. Ain't no way John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are coming back. Maybe not Bledsoe, either.

Mack (Minneapolis, MN)

Dana. Enough about John Wall. Who are your other player of the year candidates as of mid-january?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:30 AM)

Mack: Right now it's Evan Turner, Damion James and Scottie Reynolds along w/ Wall. I'm a big believer in a player of the year ought to be someone who is not just putting up huge numbers but is impacting a very good team.

Greg (Washington, DC)

Dana, Jim Calhoun goes on indefinite medical leave and UConn snaps its three-game losing streak with home wins over St. John's and Texas. And I've heard rumblings that Calhoun and Kemba Walker have butted heads a bit this season. Could the Huskies be a better team without Calhoun, and if so should he just retire?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:31 AM)

Greg: No, I don't think so at all. The guy is in the Hall of Fame for heaven's sake. Maybe he and Kemba have butted heads but I'm going with Calhoun's wealth of knowledge versus Kemba's in that fight. He should do what he thinks is right for him to do.

Brock (Denver)

If Siena finishes 18-0 in the MAAC regular season and get upset in the conference tournament championship game, will they get an at-large bid?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:32 AM)

Brock: I would hope so - they played a quality non-conference schedule. Problem is, they don't have that big splash win.

John (Oxford, MS)

How many Kentucky questions will espn chats answer? Every time I get on here none of my questions about Ole Miss are ever responded to, but I see at least 15 Kentucky questions.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:32 AM)

John: Ask away.

Mike (FL)

Dana, I'd like to introduce you to Wesley Johnson.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:33 AM)

Knew I'd forget someone. Absolutely. Wes Johnson in the mix for POY too. THanks.

Greg (Washington, DC)

Dana, Jim Boeheim has been criticized for playing just one style of defense all season (e.g. Doug Gottlieb), but it's worked out great so far. The defense is very long and athletic, forcing opposing to shoot (and miss) the three ball too much and turning them over plenty. Do you see Boeheim's use of the zone as helping or hurting his chances at COY?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:34 AM)

Greg: So he should play man just because? Don't get that at all. That zone is a beast, longer and tougher I think than when Carmelo and Warrick were at Syracuse. I don't think that ranks in the Coach of the Year voting at all. He should be considered though my vote would go w/ Dave Rose at BYU

John (Oxford, MS)

Ok I'll ask again, what does Ole Miss need to do to lock up a tourney bid, and give Andy Kennedy his first trip to the dance?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:36 AM)

Win. Kidding. But really, winning the West would help. I think Ole Miss is in a very typical predicament: can't afford any real bad losses and it would be very helpful to steal a quality win or two. I think the Rebels need to distinguish themselves from the pack of Vandy, Miss State. And they have the guards to do it.

Nora Gracia (Harlingen, TX)

Do you realize Texas went TWO WEEKS at #1, and did not "lose the same evening" as you wrongly wrote in your article about UK's loss?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:37 AM)

Nora: Yeah, I do. That's why I shouldn't be allowed to type after midnight.

Justin (VA)

I know one game doesn't change everything, but the talent Devan Downey showed against Kentucky is downright ridiculous. Think the senior has boosted his stock high enough to maybe get drafted in the NBA? I know his height will hurt him but the class is low on true point guards...your thoughts?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:38 AM)

Justin: I would hope so. The NBA drives me crazy with this sort of thing. I sat here and watched everyone tell me why Jameer Nelson couldn't play in the NBA. Funny no one is saying that any more. I don't care how big you are, what your wingspan is, how high you can jump. One question: do you know how to play? Devan Downey knows how to play.

Barry (Denver)

To me the beauty of college hoops is that from January until selection sunday is that we get to watch mid-major teams come out of the wood-work and make a splash. Why is it that all anyone seems to talk about are the big conference teams and #1's? save those talks for after week 1 of the tourney I say! Lets talk about the little guys, the William and Mary's, the Northern Iowa's, Old Dominion, Wichita State,...

Dana O'Neil
  (11:39 AM)

Barry: That is the beauty of the game but the nature of the beast is the big guys hog the spotlight. I think there are quite a few teams - including some you mentioned -that we'll be talking about in March. When it really matters.

Andrew (Philly)

Does anybody realize that Devan Downey went 9-29 last night? Everyone is acting like he made every shot he took. I understand he broke the press but he still shot 31 percent from the field.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:41 AM)

Andrew: Yeah and he has to take 29 shots for that team to have a snowball's chance. Draws in the defense, sets up the offense, hit 10 of 11 from the line. It wasn't a piece of art but it was pretty darn effective. He scored 30 against the No. 1 team in the country, playing on a team w/o 2 of its best returning players. Give the poor man his due!!

Mike (CT)

Do you think UConn turned a corner with the win against Texas or do you think they go back to their old ways and continue to struggle in half-court sets?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:42 AM)

Mike: I'm not sure. I was absolutely floored by that win, to be honest. But the Huskies also played very well against Kentucky, remember. This could be a classic team that gets amped for the really big games and covers up its deficiencies w/ energy. We'll see...

TC (Phoenix)

If a team is going to the NCAA tournament, is it a better strategy to lose an early game in their conference tournament so they can rest up for the NCAA tourney?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:44 AM)

TC: I don't buy that at all, to be honest. I know it works in the NFL - rest the starters and waltz in. But I think you want to go into the tourney playing you best basketball and in the best rhythm. I'd be disappointed if teams stopped caring and went Indianapolis Colts on us.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:44 AM)

Alright folks. I'm sorry to cut this short but if I don't, I'll have an angry 8 year old to answer to. Enjoy the week and we'll catch up again next week. Thanks for the questions.