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March 18, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Mark Schlabach

Mark Schlabach
  (10:59 AM)

March Madness is finally here! I'm sure everyone is excited about today's games. I see a bunch of potential upsets. Here we go....

jamie (pittsburgh)

Im really up in the air on tennessee,I can see them losing to san diego st. or making it all the way to the elite 8, what do ya think?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:00 AM)

We're on the same wave length regarding the Vols. Not sure which team shows up -- the one that beat Kentucky and Kansas or the one that looked so bad against 'Cats in SEC tournament. Wayne Chism has to carry them. Will be curious to see how San Diego State plays after winning the MWC tourney.

camm swigert (frankfort, ky)

do you thinks it is overstated that Kentucky has to rely on so many freshman. They have 30 games under their belt and only lost 2 games. When are they no longer freshman???

Mark Schlabach
  (11:01 AM)

Cousins and Walls weren't freshmen the day they stepped on the floor. They were targets at opposing arenas all season and did a good job of handling the pressure. Cousins has to control his emotions, but I don't think the big stage will affect either one of them. Plus, Patrick Patterson has been down this road before.

logan (kentucky)

what is your final 4 picks mine is ku kansas st nova uk

Mark Schlabach
  (11:02 AM)

I'm going with Kansas, Syracuse, West Virginia and Baylor. Call me an idiot for not believing in Duke and Kentucky. Just going with a couple of surprises.

Stephen (Indiana)

What powerhouse is packing their bags and going home later today after being upset?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:04 AM)

Would not be surprised to see the following higher seeds lose today: Notre Dame, Butler, Vanderbilt, Marquette, and Tennessee. I think Notre Dame, Butler and Vanderbilt all win, but could see them winning tight games.

brian (murray, ky)

Can the Murray State Racers really pull off the upset over Vandy?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:05 AM)

The Racers are definitely capable of pulling off the upset, but I'm not sure why everyone is dumping on Vandy. It's probably the most complete Vandy team in several years, and Kevin Stallings is a heck of a coach. I think Vandy could reach the Sweet 16 if Ogilvy plays well. The 'Dores have four legitimate scorers.

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

What does Florida need to do to upset BYU? The Gators have a lot of talent but are so erratic.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:07 AM)

I think the Gators might be in trouble. Need to get big games from Erving Walker and Kenny Boyton. Have to get Chandler Parsons some help. And have to find a way to slow down Jimmer Fredette. Guy can light it up. Would help if Tyus and Macklin play big, too.

matt (albuquerque)

i got oakland over pitt. david vs ....well you know.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:09 AM)

Wow. Gutty pick. Oakland is battle tested, having played at Wisconsin, Kansas, Michigan State, Memphis, Oregon and Syracuse. I don't think Pitt is a great matchup, though. I think Pitt shuts them down with defense.

Austin (MI)

I obviously don't see BYU very much, as is the case with most of the nation. How good are they?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:11 AM)

The Cougars have one of the best players in the country in Jimmer Fredette, who is averaging more than 21 points, plus they have three other legitimate scorers. Won some decent road games at Arizona and UTEP. A very good team with a great coach. Wouldn't be surprised to see them reach the Sweet 16 or the Elite Eight, to be honest.

Steve (Provo, Ut)

For the gators to win, they only need to do one thing... Just repeat history. The cougars, no matter how good they have been in the past, ALWAYS lose in the first round.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:11 AM)

Good point. Cougars have to get past the first round, which has been a problem in the past. I think this team is different, though.

Wayne (ROCKCHALK!!!!)

post your question or commeIf the Kentucky team that showed up against Tennessee in the SEC tourney shows up and plays like that the whole NCAAs....Is everyone on notice and needs to be worried, cuz we all knew what they were capable of, just hadnt seen it to believe itnt

Mark Schlabach
  (11:12 AM)

They have three players who are capable of carrying them: Wall, Cousins and Patterson. The bigs have to stay out of trouble, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Wall go on a Carmelo-like run during the NCAA tournament. Calipari obviously knows what he's doing during March.

Trey (Columbia, MO)

Who do you see winning the Mizzou-Clemson matchup?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:14 AM)

It's going to be an up-and-down game, as both teams really like to run. Clemson maybe slows it down a little bit better than the Tigers. Clemson has really relied on one player this year -- Trevor Booker. If Missouri can shut him down, I think they'll win the game. Like BYU, Clemson is carrying a tradition of losing in the first round.

Kory (Lawrence, KS)

Who do you have winning it all?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:14 AM)

Rock Chalk.

Kev (NYC)

Are you surprised that ND is only a 2.5 pt favorite against ODU?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:15 AM)

Didn't notice, but ODU is a tough first-round matchup. Play the same slow-down style of play that Notre Dame has used the last few weeks, and really gets after it on defense. I think the Irish should be OK, but wouldn't be surprised to see ODU win a couple of games.

Marc (Malden, MA)

I thought the committee seeded the top 8 teams on a S-Curve? How the heck are West Virginia and Ohio State in the same regions as Kansas and Kentucky?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:17 AM)

I was surprised to see it. Thought Kansas' road was tougher than Duke's or Kentucky's. Kansas should have been given more respect as the overall No. 1 seed.

Jarrod (Duke)

Mark, I understand why people seem to think Duke got special treatment in the tourney, but Kansas, Kentucky, and Duke were the only teams in the the top ten all year. So I was wondering with a top schedule, winning ACC and 3 top players was I crazy for putting them in the finals or am I a homer?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:24 AM)

Big Three can carry the Blue Devils a long way; those guys always hit the big shots. Need to get something out of Zoubek and Plumlee and more out of the bench. Big Three know how to win big games, though.

Shane (Pittsburgh)

How far can Pitt GO?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:24 AM)

Not a great draw for the Panthers. Tough matchup in second round with potentially Xavier, which has a very good team. Pitt was up and down, but is capable of putting it together.

Jason (Englewood,Ohio)

Besides Evan Turner, which Buckeye must be clicking in the tourney in order for OSU to make a deep tourney run?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:26 AM)

If they could get more out of Buford and Diebler it would be a start. Any help for Turner would be a plus. He's capable of carrying his team a long way, but can't do it alone. Dude can flat out play, though.

eric (el paso)

MarkIs the Butler/UTEP an even match-up or is it a total mismatch waiting to blow up on the Miners?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:28 AM)

I think it will be a close game. I like Butler to win, but UTEP won a lot of games this year. Butler has a poor man's Duke Big Three in Hayward, Mack and Howard. All three are very good players. Butler really hasn't been tested in a long time (like before Xmas), so it will be interesting to see what happens if they face some adversity early in the game. Can Butler handle Caracter? Culpepper is capable of scoring a ton of points, too.

Cosmo (Anytown, USA)

If you didn't have to work, how would you spend the next 4 days?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:29 AM)

Sitting in front of eight TVs with eight remotes and a few beverages.

Cosmo (Anytown, USA)

If you were playing Kentucky, wouldn't you do everything you could to try to get under Cousins' skin to get him off his game or out of the game altogether? To me, he is more important than Wall - although Wall is better.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:29 AM)

I think that is exactly what a lot of opponents have tried to do, from egging him into fouls to pulling down his headband. He has seen it all.

Marc (Charlotte)

Dook is 1-3 against teams seeded on the 1-6 line in the tournament. How exactly do they end up with such a high SOS and RPI when they don't play any top teams?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:30 AM)

Won the ACC regular season title with Maryland and won the ACC tourney, which still carries a lot of weight with the committee. Had a very high RPI rating, too.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:31 AM)

If they had to play Marquette again, the Golden Eagles are very familiar with them. And it was a very close game in late December in Morgantown. Marquette definitely knows how to win the tight games. I'm curious to see how good New Mexico really is. The Lobos beat a ton of good teams, and I'm curious to see how they play on the big stage.

Ben D (NY)

Kansas State...loses in the 2nd round to BYU or runs to the final four?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:32 AM)

I have the Wildcats reaching the Elite Eight. They played well against everybody this year.

Quinn (Richmond)

Mark, I am very nervous. Please say something good about my Spiders...

Mark Schlabach
  (11:33 AM)

I can see the Spiders upsetting Nova in the second round. But I can also see them losing to St. Mary's in the first round. Richmond is a very good team with a very underrated backcourt. Guards will take you a long way in March. I'd be surprised if Richmond didn't win its first game.

Mark (WI)

Why all the love for Washington? They played in a terrible conference without any notable wins and they seem to be a worse version of Marq who was battle tested in the Big East.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:35 AM)

Isiah Thomas and Pondexter are very good players, but they don't get a lot of help. I watched a couple of UW's games in the Pac-10 tourney and they're very long and athletic. Might be a tough matchup for Marquette. But the Golden Eagles were definitely more tested during the regular season playing in the Big East.

kyle (manchester england)

In reguards to Cosmos question about cousins and your answer about the headband--Is it just me or does it seem like when the headband goes off that he literally goes off and has a whole different demeanor and is joking around the whole time while hes beating you down?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:36 AM)

He definitely seems to have a good time on the court and loves the physical nature of it. He didn't seem to like the groin shot in the Tennessee game last week, though.

Andrew (Mankato)

Mark, please tell me the good Gophers team will show up that played against MSU and Purdue, not that jv squad that played Ohio St.!!

Mark Schlabach
  (11:37 AM)

Tubby knows how to win games in March. One of his better coaching jobs this season, if you ask me. Picked his team up off the mat after they lost Nolen, and he was able to get them to play their best at season's end. Difficult matchup against Xavier in the first round, though.

Adam (Houston)

How far do the Longhorns make it? It's been pretty hard to watch them the last half of the season

Mark Schlabach
  (11:37 AM)

You're not alone. I don't know which team to pick in that game. Both were huge disappointments, but both are very talented. Whichever team shows up with the right mindset probably wins the game.

Cosmo (Anytown, USA)

On a scale of 1-10, how opposed to the "96 team field" idea are you? This tourney is the closest thing sports has to perfect and they are trying to ruin it.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:38 AM)

If "one" is I don't want it, then I'm a negative-99. I think expanding it would ruin a perfect product. Absolutely no reason whatsoever to expand the field.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:38 AM)

If "one" is I don't want it, then I'm a negative-99. I think expanding it would ruin a perfect product. Absolutely no reason whatsoever to expand the field.

Brian (North Carolina)

Do you think UNC should be in the NIT? I'm a Tar Heel fan and even I don't think so. Is it about more about the name and $ than the season?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:39 AM)

Could you imagine seeing UNC, Arizona, UCLA and Indiana in a 96-team NCAA field? That's what I'm talking about. Way to water down the regular season even more.

Ty (Detroit, MI)

Mark is it weird that i have three 11 seeds moving on? SDSU, Minn and ODU all got good matchups in my opinion. Do you have any of those pulling upsets?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:40 AM)

I like San Diego State over Tennessee for some reason, and I could see ODU beating Notre Dame in a tight game. Not sure about Minnesota. I have Xavier winning a couple of games.

Hayden (Logan, Utah)

make it 60 teams, 1 seed 1st round bye

Mark Schlabach
  (11:40 AM)

That might work, but it's kind of like the BCS. Teams 61-66 are still crying foul.

Amad (seattle)

I'm having trouble picking the Wake vs. Tex game. You never know what you're gonna get on any given night from either team. What are your thoughts.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:41 AM)

I completely agree with you. As bad as Texas was down the stretch, the Demon Deacons were worse. And Wake Forest still has last year's meltdown against Cleveland State fresh in its minds.

frank (illinois)

hey after illinois poor performance last night in the NIT does it appear the committee made the correct decision in excluding them from the NCAA?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:42 AM)

I wouldn't have had a problem with Illinois making the NCAA field. A lot of high-end victories, but too many losses. Never fair to gauge a team on its first NIT game. Always a lot of disappointment to overcome from not making the NCAAs. Those teams are usually flat in the NIT.

Gale (Washington)

If my huskies get past Marquette, should i really worry about New Mexico or are we in the sweet sixteen?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:42 AM)

I would worry about getting past Marquette first.

Yonnick (Atlanta)

Do you think georgia tech can make it again like they did in 04??

Mark Schlabach
  (11:43 AM)

I think they definitely have the talent to win a couple of games, especially if Favors keeps playing the way he played in ACC tourney. Need to get more out of the guards and quit turning the ball over, but Lawal and Favors are going to be tough matchups for anyone.

Brian (North Carolina)

So you agree that UNC should NOT be in the NIT?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:43 AM)

No, I wouldn't pass them up. They're as good as Stony Brook or some other teams in there.

Kristen (New Mexico)

Hey Mark! Why is New Mexico being look down on? I understand havent been dancing in awhile and from the MWC, but they do have the pieces and coaching to get far...dont you think?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:44 AM)

NW has a very good team and beat a lot of good teams. I think a lot of people are curious to see how the MWC teams do in the NCAA tourney. Haven't seen them on TV much this year.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:45 AM)

Folks, I've got to get set up for the first games. Join us on Cover It Live on ESPN.com throughout the day. I'll be there all day today and tomorrow. Enjoy the games and here's hoping your teams win. Thanks again.