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March 17, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Dana O'Neil

Dana O'Neil
  (2:01 PM)

Happy Madness Eve everyone. Less than 24 hours until the fun begins. I'm packing up for Buffalo here amid a flooded basement. Any contractors out there? Kidding.. let's talk important stuff: hoops!

Ryan (Newport Beach)

If this was the year a 14 seed could knock out a three what 14 seed would you like? 13 seeds like Siena, Murray State, and Houston all seem to have a legitimate chance at knocking off the 4 seeds, why should three seeds be safe?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:03 PM)

Ryan: Certainly if you're looking for a year to go non-chalk, this would be it. I agree that there are some good 13 seeds like you and the single most dangerous double-digit seed has to be UTEP. As for the 14s little trickier, I'd say. Maybe Oakland?

Ed (South St Paul, MN)

I think West Virginia is really good. Tempted to pick them to win it all. But are we overrating them even a little bit? They've won their last 4 games at the buzzer (2 of those vs Notre Dame & Cincy). While they get credit for WINNING at the buzzer, is this a red flag??

Dana O'Neil
  (2:05 PM)

Ed: It's not the buzzerbeaters, it's how the Mountaineers got there that would be a slight concern. They have a terrible tendency to blow big leads and against a team starving for an early-round upset or a talented team in later weekends, that could be a risky way to do business.That said, I really like WVU. Love their toughness and smarts. Joe Mazzulla can't score as well, but he's directing the team brilliantly. Slightly undersized but they rebound like madmen.

Jason (Dayton, Ohio)

Besides Evan Turner, what player from Ohio St needs to be clicking for OSU to make a deep run?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:08 PM)

Jason: Is all of them an acceptable answer? Ohio State doesn't go terribly deep so the Buckeyes can't afford an off night from anyone when it gets to second round and beyond. But if you're asking for one, I think if David Lighty can be a threat, that takes some heat off of Turner.

Matt (Philly)

I feel like all of the conspiracy theorists like to ignore any mitigating facts. Mainly that Duke would have to play TWO road games in the regionals. If anyone else got that draw, we'd hear nothing but complaints, but not only does no one think thats hard, but the analysts have barely mentioned it when talking about the draw, they only focus on Purdue being weak and Villanova being on a downslide.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:09 PM)

Matt: Seriously? Should the NCAA move a sub-regional to Greensboro? There's not much they can do here. They put the top seeds as close geographically as they can. Honestly, Duke fans should say thank you. Really.

Scott (Los Angeles)

I am a Baylor grad and I am a little worried that they are getting too much hype... is this a bad thing?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:11 PM)

Scott: Had this conversation with a friend the other day. He had about 15 people tell him Baylor to the Final Four and he went the other way. There's always a bit of squeamishness being the hot sleeper pick, but Baylor has played its way into that category. The Bears are good. That's what will get them there, that and a favorable region.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:11 PM)

Scott: Had this conversation with a friend the other day. He had about 15 people tell him Baylor to the Final Four and he went the other way. There's always a bit of squeamishness being the hot sleeper pick, but Baylor has played its way into that category. The Bears are good. That's what will get them there, that and a favorable region.

Hayden (Logan, Utah)

are you still mad at me?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:11 PM)

Hayden: Yes. Come bail out my basement. Please.

Mike (Oakland, CA)

Why do I seem to be the only one concerned with Onuaku's injury? It seems worse than they're letting on, and it changes that team, doesn't it?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:12 PM)

Mike: I agree that it changes the team significantly, yes. The Orange only go 7 deep on a good day. THe two backups to Onuaku are little-used freshmen. Talk about welcome to the big time. And because of the zone, it becomes even more complicated. I'm not sure that it's more serious than they're letting on, but it's certainly more serious than initially diagnosed. Syracuse needs Onuaku as quickly as possible. Anxious to get an update in Buffalo tomorrow.

chris (tampa)

Dana, what ist round matchup are you looking forward to the most this weekend in Buffalo?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:14 PM)

Chris: Not the sexiest first round. Two high seeds, a coaching mismatch (Mike Anderson over Oliver Purnell). I think Florida State-Gonzaga should be interesting. I'd expect the Seminoles' physical play and defense to give the Zags fits.

Broad Street Brian (S.Philly)

I know Cornell is good, but aren't people underestimating the Owls? I mean they play defense like they hate you from the old neighborhood and never beat themselves. Isn't that the kind of boring team the plays on the second weekend?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:16 PM)

Brian: I hate that matchup for a ton of reasons. First of all how in heaven's name is Temple a 5? Makes no sense. And Cornell is good. Really good. It's a horrible draw for two great teams coached by two good friends. And yes to me Temple is the sort of team that will give people fits. Fundamentally sound and really get after it defensively.

Bryan (Virginia)

What do you think the chances are of Maryland beating Kansas if they both make it to the Sweet 16?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:18 PM)

Bryan: Think could be a tough matchup, frankly. I was very impressed w/ Jordan Williams against Duke, but Brian Zoubek ain't Cole Aldrich or either of the Morris twins. Vasquez will have to be as on as on can be - in control in a game where the tempo could make him go a little loopy and shooting well. Not out of the question, but not easy.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

If St. Mary's ends up playing Notre Dame, who do the Catholics pull for?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:19 PM)

JB: Split the vote: Irish Catholics to Notre DAme, everyone else to St. Mary's.

Chase (Charlotte)

So just admit that you are a Duke hater like Forde. Seriously you tell Duke fans to say thank you like we are afraid to play anyone. Give us Kentucky, give us Kansas, I really wanted some WVU too just for fun.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:20 PM)

Chase: Nope not a Duke hater at all. Just don't think they deserved to be seeded above Syracuse based on body of work and strength of conference. I said say thank you because teh question is whether it was unfair they were playing away from home.

Tom (JCPenny's, PA)

Are we going to see some Big East coaching shakeup's this year? We have seen some unextraordinary teams, to mention Rutgers, DePaul, Seton Hall

Dana O'Neil
  (2:21 PM)

Tom: Well some unexpected shakeups today, for sure. Surprised that Seton Hall moved on Bobby Gonzalez. Goes to show Ws and Ls aren't all that mattered. And equally surprised Rutgers is sticking with Fred Hill. Think St. John's could certainly open too.

Nate (Madison)

Am I crazy in one of my brackets having Michigan St upsetting Kansas?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:21 PM)

Nate: In one of them? No. In all of them? Yes.

Adam (Albuquerque, NM)

How many of the 4 MWC teams do you think will make it out of the first weekend?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:23 PM)

Adam: I know all about BYU"s bad first-round run but I think they win. Think UNLV won't have it easy, so torn on that one a little. Like New Mexico and think San Diego STate has a chance to pull an 'upset' over a sort of up and down Tennessee team. So maybe all four?

John (Richmond)

The spiders are getting an immense amount of hype, do you think it goes to their heads? Or can we get excited about them playing next weekend?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:25 PM)

John: I really don't see it going to the Spiders' heads. I mean, it's not like they waltzed into the tourney on a 25-game win streak. Plus CHris Mooney is an awfully grounded guy. Not sure about next weekend, however. THink they get by the first round but Villanova? Don't think it can happen.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

Dana: Honest opinion here. Do you think any teams got a raw deal in terms of seeding and/or not even getting an invitation and if so, which ones were among the worst treated?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:27 PM)

JB: I'm with Jay Bilas on the second part. Can't be any crybabying this year. Softest, weakest bubble in a long time. If you couldn't play your way in this year, you don't deserve to be in. Think Temple got majorly shafted with a five. Don't get UTEP at 12. Think Syracuse should have been the third No. 1 and think Kansas got an awfully tough region for the purported overall #1.

Joe (St. Louis)

Why is everyone writing off louisvilles chances to upset Duke having already beaten a Syracuse team twice with Pitino having a chip on his shoulder and out for some Duke blood. Likely the best big man and better pro prospects. Inconsistent but fully capable don't you think?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:28 PM)

Joe: Capable sure? But I think the reason people are wondering is the last part: the inconsistency. Louisville is a complete puzzle. If the Cards play well and Edgar Sosa doesn't lose his mind, sure they can win but who can be sure that's going to happen?

Matthew (PA)

It seems pretty obvious that there is no legitimate basketball reason to expand the field to 96. There's no way in the world that Virginia Tech and Mississippi state could win a championship let alone UNC or UConn and that's what this tournament is for. If the NCAA would just admit that their doing it for the money, I would be less upset about it. I wouldn't agree, but I would understand. This tourney is over 90% of their revenue. Your thoughts?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:29 PM)

Matthew: Friend of mine, Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post, did a 96-team field. Said it was brutally bad. Carolina got in. Leave it at that. I think it would be awful but of course it's about the money. It's always about the money and hte NCAA will never say it's about the money. It's about more quality opportunities for competition for the student-athletes. Hang on.... barf bag.

Alex (Missouri)

Can you elaborate on the coaching mismatch between Anderson and Purnell?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:30 PM)

Alex: Purnell is 0 for life. Anderson has overachieved with teams throughout his career. If that's not a pick em lock not sure what is.

Pete Cilantro (5th Tier Blog)

Dana,What are your thoughts on Jay Wright? I think he is a bit over-rated as a coach. Sure he can recruit but is he a good game day coach? I think there are other coaches in the BE that get overlooked - Buzz Williams is a perfect example. Give him the roster of Villanova and maybe he takes them to 5 sweet 16's in 5 years - instead of only 4 out of 5.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:31 PM)

Pete: I disagree. I've watched Jay for his entire career at Villanova and I think he's become a much better in-game coach. Makes adjustments, actually even runs an offense every now and again. THat said, I think Buzz Williams is a helluva game coach. Not saying better than Jay, but your point with him is valid.

jamie (pittsburgh)

i got baylor vs texas a&m in the elite 8, is that possible and who ya like in that one?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:34 PM)

Jamie: It's very possible. Soft #4 in Purdue, a

Zack (NC)

If Wisconsin makes the sweet 16 do you think they can beat Kentucky and maybe even West Virginia?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:36 PM)

Zack: I learned a long time ago to never bet against a Bo Ryan team. This is typical Bo team. Underrated all year. Struggled with injuries, now healthy, great player in Trevon Hughes. They could give anyone trouble because of their style of play and fundamentals.

Parker (Atlanta)

I see 3 potential upsets in the South. Utah St, Siena, and ODU. Which of these teams has the best shot?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:37 PM)

Parker: I'm not sure it's even fair to call Siena an upset. I'd say of the 3 that's the most likely.

Mark (Chicago)

So with the success of young assisstant coaches who can recruit (Pastner, Buzz) do you think we'll see more hires like that instead of recycling old head coaches?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:38 PM)

Mark: Boy I hope so. Or at least mid-major coaches getting an opportunity - thinking a guy like Kevin Willard at Iona, Steve Donahue at Cornell. I hope schools take risks instead of pulling people out of mothballs.

JJ (Liberty Twp, OH)

If you think two teams are evenly matched, what's the one thing that tips the scales for you in picking a winner?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:39 PM)

JJ: Coaching. Sounds simple and really it is. Who is the better in-game coach and who has had more NCAA success?

jamie (pittsburgh)

most of your response on the baylor/texas a&m matchup didn't post

Dana O'Neil
  (2:40 PM)

Jamie: Hmm.. I think I said that matchup could certainly happen based on the strength of the region. I have Baylor in the Final Four so that would be my pick.

Matt (Milwaukee)

Dana - Big East not only landed 8 teams in teh dance but 7 are seeded 6 or higher, and 5 are seeded 3 or higher. Do you think these seeds are legit or did the committee overrate the BE a bit?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:41 PM)

Matt: Mixed bag. Was surprised at Notre Dame being a six. They weren't in the tourney 2 weeks ago. Thought Villanova might have been a 3, not a 2.

Mike (Oakland, CA)

Follow up to my question on Onuaku's injury and your response (and thank you for it). The severity of the injury very likely was underplayed for the sake of the committee, wouldn't you say? I mean, he was fine and then by Sunday night he was out for the first two games.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:42 PM)

Mike: It could have been gamesmanship, I suppose, but they never said he was definitely going to be ready by the first round. Said he was day to day. I'm not sure if they would have knocked them down to a 2 unless he was Kenyon Martin done.

Villa06Nova (Villanova, PA)

So I won my schools stupid lottery for tickets to go see Nova in Providence, should I make the trip? Will the Cats actually make it out of this region?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:43 PM)

If it's a stupid lottery, why'd you enter? Of course you should go. It's the NCAA Tournament. Go sit in the Dunk and enjoy four games. Nothing better.

Blake (Jamaica)

Is it time Tom Penders gets recognized as one of the better coaches in America.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:45 PM)

Blake: Amazing, amazing run by Houston. I mean all indications were that Penders was going to get canned. He's made a history of doing this, so clearly the man knows a thing or two about the game.

43Tigers (Clemson)

I'm a part time Roadie and Full Time Clemson fan--Is Clemson in the Final Four a Hoop Dream? Don't want to look like a fool on the MySpace

Dana O'Neil
  (2:46 PM)

I'd keep that one to yourself or among your closest Clemson fans.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:46 PM)

I'd keep that one to yourself or among your closest Clemson fans.

Andy (Topeka, KS)

What are your thoughts on BYU to the Final Four? They have a very similar style of play to K-State, so that one can be a toss-up, and I still think either one matches up well against the rest of the region, especially if Jimmer is on.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:47 PM)

Andy: It's a pretty long longshot, I'd say. I agree about the style of play, but I do like the toughness of K-State and Jimmer would have be green light on. Heaven knows he can be, so it's not completely crazy talk.

Buckeye70 (Bench Warmer's)

Dana,Big fan of your work, we miss reading you in the Daily News! But I digress....anyways, if you had to have 1 player in the tourney to take a shot with a trip to the Final Four on the line who do you go with?b70

Dana O'Neil
  (2:48 PM)

Buckeye: Thank you much. After last week, I might have to go with Da'Sean Butler.But if you're talking seriously one shot for the FInal Four: Evan Turner.

G-Unit (Crib)

Have you filled out your NIT bracket yet...Who you got?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:48 PM)

Gotta finish the CBI first.

Hank (Columbia, SC)

Am I crazy that I pick Pitt to be one of the teams to be in Final Four?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:49 PM)

Hank: Maybe a little. I really like Pitt. Love how hard they play but don't think they're a Final Four team.

Scott (Delaware)

Speaking of coaches of the year, Pitt's Jamie Dixon needs to get some serious consideration. Wasn't the team picked to finish 9th or 10th in the Big East. That guy can flat out coach!

Dana O'Neil
  (2:51 PM)

Scott: Yes he can flat-out coach and sure he deserves some attention. He's one of maybe 10 guys who have done great work this year but my vote goes to Jim Boeheim. From unranked to No. seed (or, you could call it the opposite pendulum of Texas).

Bobby Gonzalez (New Jersey)

I really brought a lot of spunk to Seton Hall... what happened to me and my team this year?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:52 PM)

Bobby: One too many punches to the groin. Headache players beget headaches for coaches which beget headaches for administrators which beget pink slips.

Stuart (Nashville)

Dana,Everyone is picking Vanderbilt as an upset in the first round. Do you think Murray State is getting a little too much credit based on their SOS and the large disadvantage in size they are giving up? Seems to me like everyone is jumping on the Murray State bandwagon without really comparing the teams.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:52 PM)

Stuart: Really? Missed that hot pick? Agree that Murray STate has played a decent schedule, but I don't see Vandy losing that game.

MountOliveTarHeel (Carolina)

With UNC out, I need a team to root for, but Duke is the devil. Any other top teams you think I can jump on the bandwagon and not turn on my fellow Heels?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:54 PM)

Sure. Sign up for Villanova. Knocked out Duke last year. Could get em again this year in the Sweet 16.

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

What do you think about ODU's chances against Notre Dame? The Monarchs did beat G-Town earlier.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:56 PM)

not out of the question. The way Notre Dame plays now, with this slow-down style, it keeps teams in the games so long as they don't waste possessions. No turnovers are key, offensive rebounds critical. The way the Irish are playing right now makes Georgetown look like the Roadrunner.

Owlified (Temple University)

Any truth to the rumor that the Jonas Brothers will be performing at the Final 4?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:57 PM)

Um, I don't know but if it's true my 8-year-old daughter and her posse of girlfriends will never forgive me.

Mike F (Longview, WA)

I have heard a lot of nay sayers on ESPN touting that Washington doesn't really have a chance... If they can play up to their potential, do you seem them being a possible sleeper team???

Dana O'Neil
  (2:58 PM)

Mike: Marquette isn't likely to kill anyone, so sure Washington has a chance. I think the reason people are discrediting the Huskies is because they haven't done anything all year to make people believe they can win this game.

mike (ct)

I swear I've heard a hundred times in the past year or two that how a team finished was no longer a consideration for the NCAA tournament. Then, in defending the boneheaded move of putting Duke above Syracuse, the committee chairman gives us the fact that Duke won 11 of 12 and their conference tournament as their reasoning. So is or isn't the last 10 games a criterion? And what exactly is so impressive about beating Virginia, Miami (fl) and Georgia Tech in a row?

Dana O'Neil
  (3:00 PM)

Mike: The criteria is whatever criteria works for that specific case. No, it's not supposed to be that way but that's the way it always has been. One team gets in based on strength of schedule, one left out because of last 10. It's a frustratingly subjective process, but hey look what it gave us? THe fun begins tomorrow and I've got to sign off if I'm going to be ready for it.Enjoy the games everyone.