Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

February 1, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Joe Lunardi

Joe Lunardi
  (3:00 PM)

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. Everyone knows what that means. Six more weeks of Bracketology! Let's get to it...

Luke (Plainfield, IL)

Let's say Duke wins the regular season and conference tournament, what seed do they get? And Georgetown, 72% from the field, how does that happen?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:01 PM)

Luke, I still think Duke can be a No. 1 seed, but it would take the scenario you describe (ACC regular-season and tournament titles). As for the Hoyas, I remember them shooting roughly that percentage in the '85 national title game...and losing! Things happen.

Nate (Bristol, CT)

Joe, how much does the East regional being at the Carrier Dome hurt Syracuse in the brackets? I think it's apparent that Cuse would be the #1 seed in the East if the regional was anywhere else.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:03 PM)

Great question, Nate. Under normal circumstances, Syracuse and Villanova would be fighting for the No. 1 seed in the East. Also in play is that the next closest regions (St. Louis and Houston) aren't particularly close. So, yes, Syracuse is going to travel more than a typical No. 1 seed. Just one of those things.

Patrick (DC)

Since Butler and Siena are almost assured to meet in a Bracketbuster game, which team gets moved up or down to avoid the rematch?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:05 PM)

Another great question. I paired the two in this bracket not knowing what the Bracket Buster match ups will be (but knowing the game you mention is very possible). It wouldn't be hard to avoid a rematch in the NCAAs given that there aren't likely to be other Horizon or MAAC teams to bracket away from.

Josh (HI)

Atlantic 10 is poised to have a the most amount of bids coming from a non-BCS conference. Besides Temple, who do you think is considered the next best lock in the conference and who do you think has the most work ahead of them?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:06 PM)

I would rank the A-10 in this order: Temple, Xavier, Charlotte and Rhode Island (virtual tie), Richmond, Dayton. Dayton misses the field this week; Richmond just makes it. The rest are solid provided they lose only to one another.

Lowdg1 (Middletown, CT)

I don't know what to make of the Big East this year. After Nova, Cuse, GTown, WV, and probably Pitt there's potentially like 8 bubble teams. What are your thoughts?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:07 PM)

The last two teams in the field this week are Cincy and UConn, and the next three on the S-Curve are Louisville, Seton Hall and Marquette. So that's a variance between seven bids and 10. We'll end up with 8-9 as per usual.

Travis C. (Lake Highlands)

Please justify Georgetown as a number 2 seed over Texas.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:09 PM)

Last time I checked, Texas had lost three of its last four games. Georgetown, meanwhile, is tied with Purdue for the most InsideRPI Top 25 wins in the nation (four each). That was easy...

Rico (Minneapolis)

Joe, What's your overall take of Bracketbuster Weekend? Has it grown too big?

Colin (East Lansing, MI)

Joe...chances MSU get's a #1 seed if they win the conference outright, and then beat OSU or Wis, and Purdue on their way to the tournament title?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:11 PM)

I don't think it's too big, Rico, I just don't think there are enough games involving true bubble teams. Since we're never going to get the borderline BCS teams, I'd love to see the A-10, Mountain West, C-USa, etc., involved. Just my two cents.

Ray L (Seattle)

I noticed that Gonzaga's dropped to a 6 seed in your latest bracket. Why does the loss to USF ding them that much? What are their chances of getting back into the protected-seed mix to keep them in Spokane for the 1st round?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:12 PM)

The 'Zags are a bit overrated in the polls given their actual profile. A top five seed is really needed to get to Spokane. It should still happen.

ronny (chicago, il)

does the missouri valley have a chance at being at multiple bid league? its been the toughest mid major for some years now and never gets talked about as being a multiple bid league while wcc and mwc get talked about (colonial a close #2)

Joe Lunardi
  (3:14 PM)

The Valley has declined a bit since the '06 peak. I still like Wichita State's chances to earn a second bid this year behind UNI.

Chase (Ithaca, NY)

CORNELL in the Top 25! I don't wanna get ahead of myself, but if the Big Red run the table in the Ivy League, what kind of seed could they see in March?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:15 PM)

Princeton got the best Ivy seed ever, a No. 5 in 1998. I don't see the Big Red getting quite that high, but a 6-7 isn't out of the question.

David (Kent, OH)

Any chance the MAC is a two-bid league? It would have been two years ago if KSU didn't clean up the MAC tourney

Joe Lunardi
  (3:16 PM)

The disappearance of the Mid-American Conference from meaningful March basketball is truly unfortunate (and also preventable with some better scheduling strategies). I don't see any legitimate at-large teams this year, either.

Greg (CT)

Hey Joe, we've heard of mid-season losses being discounted due to injuries to key players, but what about a key coach? Would the committee consider bumping UConn into the tournment (or up a seeding line) assuming Calhoun returns for tournament time?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:19 PM)

There is nothing in writing about this in the Committee's principles and procedures. However, I'd have to think that if the Huskies play significantly better if/when Calhoun returns, that the Committee would know and adjust accordingly. UConn's A.D. is also on the Committee and, while he cannot vote for or against the Huskies, he can answer basic questions about the state of the team (and its coach).

Rich (Paducah, KY - cuse grad)

Joe, i know it isn't a huge deal right now, but please please explain to me how Syracuse is under Kentucky in the rankings?!?!

Joe Lunardi
  (3:20 PM)

Haven't had the chance to say this formally this year (as we do every year): Polls are dumb!! And, thankfully, they barely mater in college basketball.

matt (narragansett, ri)

how do you have charlotte and ri as a virtual tie, uri has a better record, better rpi, yes charlotte beat temple while URi lost to temple in ot, but charlottes next best win was against a mediocre louisville team who played that game without some of their starters. i just dont see how they are a virtual tie. is it only because of their wins verse temple and louisville and no other factual reasons

Joe Lunardi
  (3:23 PM)

Conference "pecking order" is very important in these kinds of discussions. In the A-10, Charlotte is 6-1 against the No. 67 conference schedule and URI is 5-2 against the No. 113 conference schedule. It would be highly irregular for the Committee to leapfrog the trailing team under these circumstances.

Zach (Boston)

Hey Joe- Why Baylor so low as a #7 seed? Mid-20s RPI, solid SOS and 7 RPI top 100 W including Xavier, at ASU, at S. Carolina, at Texas and home vs. OK State. Fared quite well at KU also. Did the 3-3 Big 12 record scare you?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:24 PM)

I didn't like where Baylor fell in this bracket, either, Zach. The 3-3 was an issue, but it just happen that the Bears are No. 25 on the S-Curve. That makes them the "highest" No. 7.

Terry (the 'Burgh)

If the Big East is most years arguably the USA's strongest mens hoops league, including (maybe) this year, then why don't we ever come close to getting 70% of our teams into The Big Dance like lesser leagues? Is the resulting number just too big?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:27 PM)

Terry, 70 percent is by far the exception. The Big Ten has done it in the 10-team era and no one else. The Pac-10 has never had seven and the ACC never did better than six of nine. Ten is the high end for the Big East, and only if everything breaks perfectly.

The Bull (New York)

Joe- You still think Harvard gets the nod in the IVY? 36 point blowout and the game not as close as the score. Like I said before to you, Cornell a legitimate at large team! You might have jumped the gun on declaring Harvard as Ivy representatives in your bracket a couple of weeks ago (1/11/10). "So then you have to ask yourself: Is Cornell genuinely better than Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Baylor, etc.?" (lunardi) Answer: YES. Wake up and give The Red their due...It is not too late for you to jump on the wagon and enjoy the show as we roll into March Madness- half of your followers haven't opened your bracket yet...

Joe Lunardi
  (3:28 PM)

Harvard had the league lead on that date, Bull, that's why they were listed. Cornell was thus in the at-large pool. No need for anyone here to wake up (other than Harvard's fans after Saturday night's massacre!).

Michael (Colo)

So, what's this about the NCAA thinking of going to a 96-team tournament field. Seriously, why don't we just get rid of the regular season and start the playoffs with all the teams; some kind of double-elimination thing. I've heard the George Mason arguments before, but frankly, to me, something that happens once in a couple of decades does not necessitate explanding the field and diminishing the regular season even more. Of course, the NCAA doesn't care about that. They just care about a couple more rounds of money.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:30 PM)

I'm on record as opposing that much expansion from a basketball standpoint (e.g., no one is being left out who can actually win the championship). I'm open to considering more modest expansion proposals so long as the mid- and lower-level conferences aren't further disadvantaged.

Miller (Iowa)

What's your take on Northern Iowa in the NCAA? Who will they play in the bracket busters?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:31 PM)

All I know is they can't play Siena.

Adam (Abq, nm)

joe, Do you think the Lobos have the best home court advantage in the nation at the PIT? (besides Cameron Indoor)

Joe Lunardi
  (3:31 PM)

I've seen many, many, many outstanding home court environments.

Shawn (Phoenix, AZ)

Does Arizona's win over Cal, and SOS, get them back in the game for the Dance?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:32 PM)

Arizona is now the co-leader of the Pac-10 (w/Cal) and owns the current tiebreaker. The Wildcats are in our latest field.

LJ (Houston)

Joe, it is pretty clear to me that Syracuse is more deserving of a higher seed than Villanova, but definitely is more deserving than Kentucky. Why are the Orange ranked 4th below UK? They look like the biggest contenders to KU to me.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:32 PM)

Totally agree, LJ.

Tom D. (Austin, TX)

Can Carolina get in with a 7-9 conference record?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:33 PM)

Doubtful, Tom, as keys considerations such as "strong finish" and "quality wins" just won't apply.

Sam (East Lansing)

If you had to name your Final Four today, who would be in it?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:34 PM)

Kansas, Syracuse and Michigan State would be there. Leaning toward Villanova as the fourth (not knowing any team's actually NCAA match ups, of course).

Bill (RI)

URI has a top 12 RPI number but no one gives them a mock seed that is in accordance with that. Is the thinking that Rhody is a computer monster but only a decent team?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:35 PM)

Way better than decent, Bill, but clearly not No. 12 by any measure.

Zag nation (Spokane)

Let's see the Zags played the toughest out of conference schedule in recent memory and beat WInsconsin who is a 5 seed and lost to MSU who blitzed Wisconsin. Who has Wisconsin beaten to get a better seed. Mid-majors always get boned.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:37 PM)

No boning here, Zag. Take your argument one step further and find me a team above Gonzaga with a worse loss than San Francisco.

Bubba Kurth (Stillwater, OK)

What do you think will be the outcome in Stillwater tonight, Longhorns vs Cowboys?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:37 PM)

No reason to think Texas will magically return to form. Have to like Oklahoma State at home.

john (ny)

Why is Kentucky ahead of Syracuse in the coaches poll?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:38 PM)

This topic just won't go away today. The answer is that voters are overreacting to the DePaul near-miss and forgetting close wins for Kentucky, etc.

Joel (Seattle)

Speaking of home court advantages, I would like to borrow Ashley Judd - do you have her number?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:39 PM)

Check with Forde Minutes on that.

John (Indy)

What's the highest possible seed can you see Butler getting..do you think a 4 is possible with a strong finish??

Joe Lunardi
  (3:39 PM)

Possible, not probably. Beating Ohio State (without Evan Turner) is still their best win.

Devin (Tucson, AZ)

Any kind of expansion of the tournament would diminish the records of North Carolina and Arizona in consecutive tournaments made. The elite teams are gonna win the tournament anyway 19 times out of 20. Arizona's streak of 25 straight tournaments is remarkable, to extend the field to 96 would diminish that feat

Joe Lunardi
  (3:40 PM)

Among other things to be diminished...

Eddie (Mount Pleasant, MI)

Joe, Can you explain your rationale for having middle-of-the-road Big 12 teams in like Texas A&M (best win against Clemson) and OK St. (best win against Kansas St. fresh off the upset of then #1 Texas) opposed to other bubble teams like Florida (who beat MSU) and Northwestern (beat Purdue, finish with a cakewalk schedule in the Big Ten)? Also, you still have Conference USA as a one-bid league. Couldn't Tulsa (who beat OK St.) or UTEP make a fairly good case to be an at-large team?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:41 PM)

I could make a good case for Florida, but not Northwestern (sorry, Wilbon). And we have both UAB and UTEP in the new bracket.

BJ (Fort Worth, TX)

You seem to cast off the Wildcats of Kentucky. They have a lot going for them this year and look like a title contender. I realize they are young and arguments have been made of their weak schedule...is this why you cast them off?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:42 PM)

UK was our No. 1 overall seed last week. How is that "casting off?"

james lutz (Chicago)

How does Syracuse drop from 2 to 20 in the newest insiderRPI. I know it only takes into account road and neutral sites and playing at Depaul must have hurt their strength of schedule but that drop seems massive, and they won the game not big but they still won a road Big East game?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:43 PM)

Something isn't right in how the new data is being posted. Will get into it as soon as "Chat" is done.

lance garrett (springfield, mo)

Is there anyway that missouri state can make the tournament without winning the mvc tournament?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:44 PM)

Probably not anymore.

Isiah (Seattle)

Is the Pac-10 really only going to get 2 teams, or do you see that changing?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:44 PM)

It might be only one team, Isiah.

Chris (Virginia)

Where can we find the S-Curve rankings?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:45 PM)

See the "Nitty-Gritty" report on the InsideRPI pages (when they are posting data correctly, that is!).

Heath (Cleveland)

Why isn't th e play-in game between the last two at-large teams that get in? Shouldn't they be the ones that have to play in? Anyone in the committee thinking about this?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:45 PM)

It would make far too much sense (almost as much as having no Opening Round game in the first place!).

Frank (Tucson, AZ)

Joe, I know its unlikely, but being as bad as the PAC-10 is this year, you think 'Zona could still get in if they win the majority of their final games and then lose in the finals of the PAC-10 tourney?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:46 PM)

Agreed.

Luke (Norfolk, Va)

Wouldn't an Old Dominion vs. Northern Iowa matchup in the Bracketbuster be awesome, talk about size!

Joe Lunardi
  (3:46 PM)

Fingers crossed on that one, Luke.

Josh (Provo)

Do you think it is possible now for the MWC to get 4 teams in the tourney?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:47 PM)

Absolutely, Josh, depends on San Diego State's finish.

Mike (Portsmouth)

CAA, CAA, CAA...who's the best at large candidate?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:48 PM)

Old Dominion, thanks to the win at Georgetown.

Mike (Pittsburgh)

Why do people keep asking about the polls? People - polls don't matter. This is a bracketology chat! Now on to business....where do you see Pitt's final seed shaking out? They've got some great resume wins, but some shaky losses too. What do they need to do in the final 9 Big East games (incl. at WVU and home for WVU and Nova) to end up in the 3-4-5 area?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:48 PM)

Yesterday (South Florida) hurt. I think ultimately Pitt will be in the 4-5 seed range.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:49 PM)

Three more, gang, then I've got to check into these RPI posting issues.

Paul (Vegas Baby)

I understand the point you make about looking at a teams entire body of work but haven't we lost the forest for the trees in all this number crunching? How can Purdue spank WVU and be behind them despit having the same # of losses? To a lesser extent, how can Texas be 5 slots (!!) behind Mich State given their identical records and head to head matchup?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:50 PM)

Any single game is only one slice of a roughly 30-slice pie and should be evaluated accordingly.

Hayden (Logan, Utah)

So, based on your ignoring me, I take it USU must win the WAC tourney to dance, right? thats crap

Joe Lunardi
  (3:50 PM)

Sorry to disappoint you, Hayden.

JUSTIN (KINGSTON, TN)

DANG IT !!!!!!!! WITH WHAT RECORD COULD UNC RECIEVE AN AT LARGE??? 10 TO PLAY AND ACC T

Joe Lunardi
  (3:51 PM)

Minimum 7-3 in the last 10 for Carolina.

Ben (Georgetown)

Joe, I love when you spin the wheel during bracketology weekend. Please tell me you still have the wheel to play with this year.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:51 PM)

Not me, Ben, we have no spinning wheels here in Bracketville. Thanks everyone!!

Joe Lunardi
  (3:51 PM)

I'm outta' here...