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March 31, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Dana O'Neil

Dana O'Neil
  (1:01 PM)

Greetings everyone. Last chat before I head to Indy. Really excited for this wide open FInal Four.

AJ Graves (INdy)

What a job Brad Stevens has done in his first three seasons!!! I hope no big schools comes after him!

Dana O'Neil
  (1:02 PM)

AJ: Amazing but I'd be stunned if he wasn't on some short lists. Thing is, maybe having watched Todd Lickliter crash and burn at Iowa he may be less inclined to leave in a hurry.

Danielle (Ashburn, VA)

A year ago after MSU lost to UNC, Draymond Green asked permission to address the team. He reminded them that UNC had lost Kansas the previous year in the same fashion. And that this year they were now champions. How prophetic his words seem now!

Dana O'Neil
  (1:04 PM)

Danielle: I remember that moment. I am absolutely amazed and impressed with Michigan State's resolve to get back this season. Incredible run and if anyone still thinks Tom Izzo isn't the top coach in the country, I'd leave to hear the argument against.

Russ (New York, NY)

Can you give me one good reason other than money that tournament expansion should happen? How meaningless would the regular season be if 12/16 Big East teams make the field? This is ridiculous in my mind.

Dana O'Neil
  (1:04 PM)

Russ: Can I give you one good reason? No. There isn't one. THe only reason is the almighty dollar. The regular season is devalued and why even bother with conference tournaments? Complete joke if you ask me.

Brian (LA)

Duke has always been built on defense under K but they just did not have the horses the last few years. Your article makes it seem like this year Duke finally is relying on defense.

Dana O'Neil
  (1:05 PM)

Brian: MIght have been built on it but didn't play it. This team is much better defensively than years past and much grittier. Trying to give credit where it's due.

Eric (Oak Ridge, NJ)

Hi Dana, Seton Hall hires Willard and now there three best players all declare for the NBA draft when they are all 2nd round picks at best. Any idea why they are all running away?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:07 PM)

Eric: Don't know but Kevin Willard might want to send them a thank you note. The players that are leaving were a handful and part of the undoing of Bobby Gonzalez. I think a full housecleaning is in order.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

OK Dana, the Orangemen are out and my bracket has been busted. What do I have left to keep me interested in the final weekend of the tournament?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:08 PM)

JB: Are you kidding? Unlike last year's Carolina Coronation this is wide open. Any of these four teams could win. Great storylines all over. I think this sizes up to be one of the more entertaining Final Fours in a long time.

Chase (Harrisonburg, Va)

How long will it take Morgantown to burn down if West Virginia wins it all?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:08 PM)

Chase: Five minutes.

Eric - west virginia [via mobile]

Dana can you explain to me what wvu has to do to beat duke? I mean clearly we have no shot based on everything we read

Dana O'Neil
  (1:09 PM)

Eric: NOt in my book. I"m picking West Virginia to win the whole thing. The Mountaineers have been a strong rebounding team all season despite being undersized and don't see a reason for that to change; can hit 3s (ask Kentucky), have a star in Da'Sean Butler and are perfectly content playing ugly, grind-it-out hoops.

julia (dayton)

Butler's going to win it all, I just know it. What do the bulldogs have to do to get past State? And will playing in Indy give them any sort of discernible advantage?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:11 PM)

Julia: I'm honestly not sure about the advantage. I mean, every local who has no school tie will root for Butler but this isn't a gigantic state school with a gigantic alumni base. Plus Michigan State fans can drive over. Ditto West Virginia to an extent. As for beating State, I think this isn't a time to change what you do, particularly against a hobbled Spartan team.

steven (st. louis)

How would you rate this year's tournament so far and the current final four field?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:13 PM)

Steven: I guess it depends on your criteria. For sheer entertainment purposes, this is off the charts and again, I love the more wide open/better storyline of this Final Four. I can see where some people would argue that the two 'best' teams in the country probably won't be playing for the title but I think that's what makes the NCAA Tournament so special. Villanova wasn't the best team in 1985, but everyone remembers them.

Chioke Hassan (Baltimore,Md)

Dear DanaI heard that P.J. Carleismo is a canidate for the Oregon job. Could you see that happening?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:14 PM)

I've heard PJ's name bandied about. Would be a tough sell unless he has a heckuva staff that wants to go knee deep in recruiting. He hasn't recruited in forever. But then again, everyone else is saying no.

Nathan (Rock Hill, SC)

Who on Duke will guard Butler? Smith usually guards the point, but Butler is incredible and I think Smith is the best matchup

Dana O'Neil
  (1:15 PM)

Nathan: I gotta think they might want to go with Singler because of Butler's size and strength. Just a guess, though

Matt (Bethlehem, PA)

Dana, Do you think Penn did the right thing by taking the interim tag off of Jerome Allen?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:17 PM)

Matt: Not sure about that one. Jerome did an OK job this year but this was a mulligan. It's a big job at a critical moment. Penn could really tail off if it doesn't get rolling again here and while I like Jerome, he doesn't have a lick of experience. Will be interesting to watch.

Katelyn (Syracuse, NY)

Any way Wes Johnson stays?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:17 PM)

Katelyn: And this goes for those asking about Evan Turner: only if they change the NBA age limit do either stay. Why on Earth would they?

Kit (Olathe, KS)

Do you think Tom Izzo only recruits players he believes will buy into his system instead of going after the best recruits in the country who might give him trouble and split his team? I think Izzo is the best in game coach but I really don't know if you can be the best coach in the country if you don't get the best recruits.

Dana O'Neil
  (1:20 PM)

Kit: I think he definitely recruits the best players but the ones he knows are willing to become part of a great team. I don't see anything wrong with that whatsoever. I'd rather watch good players become great and great players become a fantastic team than watch a bunch of mercenaries brought in to bide their time for the NBA Draft. Plus it's hard to argue with the man's Final Four record.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

Can a five seed winning the tournament really be considered a Cinderella? Syracuse wasn't a Cinderella in 2003, were they?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:22 PM)

JB: Butler is the ultimate Cinderella in terms of finances and Hoosier romance. It doesn't get better than Butler for that.But on the court? Been to the tourney nine of the last 15 years and were preseason top 10. That's not Cinderella.

Tom Corbett (NC)

Its official, Scottie Reynolds is graduating despite what you say. Will Nova be a top 10 team again next year without him?Tom

Dana O'Neil
  (1:23 PM)

Tom: Not sure. Villanova needs a leader desperately, a guy who takes over and really commands the team a la Dante Cunningham. Have plenty of talent next season but that wasn't the problem this year, either.

Matt (Durham)

I felt that coming into the year, Duke might struggle in games without having all of the Big 3 on top of their game, but throughout the tourney, they have had at least one of them tank every single game and they're still playing. Is it more encouraging that they can win with an off night from one of them, or discouraging that they can't get them all going at the same time?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:25 PM)

Matt: Go half full and say more encouraging. Honestly, if I told you Kyle Singler was going to go 0 for 10 in the Elite Eight would you have even watched? Credit to this team for finding ways to win even if all three aren't on fire every night.

Scott (Chicago)

What are you hearing about the head coaching vacancy at DePaul?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:26 PM)

Scott: All sorts of names but nothing concrete. Sort of surprised, to be honest. DePaul knew since Jerry Wainwright left it would be in the market for a head coach, yet it's fumbling this search desperately.

Randy (St. Paul)

Hey Dana, are the conference commissioners trying to destroy college sports? Expanding the tournament now likely, but yet we can't get a playoff at all in football? When is it going to be about the fans who pay the money, and not just solely about the money?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:28 PM)

Randy: Couldn't agree more. Less much up hoops before we fix football. Brilliant planning there.

Brad (Boise, ID.)

Do you agree with critics like Rob Parker who question Tom Izzo's coaching based on the fact he has won the NCAA title once in 5 Final Four appearances?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:29 PM)

Brad: I get the point. Why is he awesome and Bob Stoops a choker? I guess my counter to that would be: Tom Izzo has to win four games in two weeks on a short turnaround just to get to the Final Four. Bob Stoops has four weeks to plan how he wants to choke in a critical bowl game. I just think it's harder to get to the Final Four and that needs to be taken into account.

dave(ohio) [via mobile]

Is it better for the tournament if duke beats wv, or vice versa? Cause let's be honest either your a duke fan or a duke hater, there may be a small grey area but everyone watches them.

Dana O'Neil
  (1:31 PM)

Dave: Certainly no one has the brand recognition that Duke has in this Final Four, so maybe to an extent the more casual fan will watch if Duke is in the title game. But I'm hoping that true hoops fans will watch regardless. It's the national title game, One Shining Moment. C'mon!

Tom D. (Austin, TX)

Dana, it seems that the pundits are pretty split down the middle on the WVU-Duke game. Who has the better claim on the "nobody believed in us" argument. Duke, who everyone and their mom picked to lose before now, who less people picked to win it all than WVU, and who most at ESPN saw as unworthy of their seeding and region? Or WVU, the team that has so rarely gotten to the final four, who has a team filled with athletic wings with a pitbull attitude, who perhaps more people picked to make it hear, but less actually believed they could?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:33 PM)

Tom: Both have a pretty good argument but I'd say Duke wins most 'us against the world' arguments. I mean, are there WVU haters? I mean outside of Pittsburgh? And certainly people - myself included - thought DUke didn't deserve a 1 seed and wouldn't make it through.

Ryan (Dayton, OH)

Dana, I know there is currently a moratorium on NIT talk in these chats but how exciting and fast paced of a title game will it be between my lighting fast Flyers and the resurgent Tar Heels on Thursday?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:34 PM)

Ryan: No moratorium. I agree. Should be a ton of fun and it's also interesting that these 2 teams are in the final. Think a lot more was expected of both. Kudos to both for not packing it in.

Will J (Portland, OR)

Dana, are you surprised Tim Floyd was hired at another D-I university so soon after his mishap at USC?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:35 PM)

Will: Stunned frankly. He could very easily be hit with a show cause, which means UTEP will have to go before the Committee on Infractions to figure out what limitations may be placed on its new head coach.

Tim (NJ)

Dana, I can't get enough of the coaching carousel. It is like one big gossip fest with writers and fans throwing out ridiculous names and then debating whether or not the coach makes the jump. It is almost worthy of its own page on espn.com or at least a twitter feed.

Dana O'Neil
  (1:36 PM)

Tim: Makes my head hurt. So much of it is agents and search firms floating the names they want or coaches looking to jack up their own salaries. Smarm city.

Christian (WV)

REAL QUICK....WHO'S YOUR PICKS?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:38 PM)

Christian: Spartan fans should be happy. I've gone against my November Michigan State national title pick since January and I've been dead wrong and I'm going against it again. Think Butler wins that one. And I'm sticking with West Virginia, a team I've been wildly impressed with since early March. Huggy Bear holds the trophy at the end.

Bill (Rhode Island)

Dana, I just want to throw this out, and see what your immediate reaction to it would be. Because it's so shocking, so revolutionary, and so fantastic an idea I think it deserves 30 seconds for reflection. Here it goes. Next head coach at Boston College: Pat Summit

Dana O'Neil
  (1:38 PM)

Bill: You'd better send me smelling salts if that happens.

James (Durham)

Lets say hypothetically that Mason Plumlee finally breaks out this weekend. Can anyone really beat Duke if that happens? Purely a hypothetical question, of course.

Dana O'Neil
  (1:39 PM)

James: Well, a breakout by Mason alone wouldn't get it done but it would tilt the odds. Was very impressed with both the Brothers Plumlee against Baylor. Gave Duke critical minutes. Definitely more athletic than Zoubek too.

Beau (State College, PA)

Dana, hello from Happy Valley! What was the biggest surprise in Duke's win Saturday night? Especially considering you picked them to lose.

Dana O'Neil
  (1:41 PM)

Beau: Thanks for reminding everyone I picked Baylor. Duke fans love me so much to begin with. Think there were a lot of critical things but the biggest was the rebounding. 22 offensive rebounds extended possessions and got Duke critical putbacks.

Spencer (Kentucky)

Hi Dana. Hey listen, aren't UK fans going to have to get used to Elite 8 appearances and nothing more? Maybe I'm too cynical, but it seems Cal will--year in and year out--get blue chip one-and-done freshmen who will be exciting all year and then flame out in the tourney pre-Final Four because of youth? Or does he just need to teach his kids 1-3-1?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:43 PM)

Spencer: I'm not sure that's the case at all. Certainly this was the first time these guys played like freshmen but I put part of the blame on Cal, not the players. Can't for the life of me understand why the best/fastest backcourt in the country is continuously jacking up 3s when none of em are falling? The real question is: how in teh world can he duplicate this class? Wow.

Stinger (Pittsburgh)

Hi Dana! What's going on with Coach Dixon,he was on a Pgh radio station yesterday and wouldn't say if he will be the coach of the Panthers next season,could he have been to busy packing for Oregon?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:44 PM)

Stinger: I'd be awfully surprised if Jamie left, to be honest. He's got a very good thing going at Pitt. I know money talks and Oregon has it thanks to Phil Knight, but I'd be surprised.

Dave (Syracuse, NY)

Dana, I think the field expansion is ridiculuous. I mean why not just play the regular season for seeding and have a 300-something team tournament. Does that sound about as ridiculuous as the 96 team in your opinion?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:45 PM)

Dave: Yep, it does. People already argue the regular season is meaningless. Now it really will be.

john radocesky scranton pa. [via mobile]

Can Butler win it all? I believe they can I have been rooting for them the whole tournament

Dana O'Neil
  (1:46 PM)

John: Sure they can. I mean, they're here, aren't they? I don't think anyone is a runaway favorite in this Final Four. Could easily see every one of these teams cutting down the nets on Monday night.

Duke Fan (Durham)

Dana, don't worry. We love you a whole lot more than Pat Forde (see- likeability index article and everything else he has written about Duke). Trust me on that one

Dana O'Neil
  (1:47 PM)

Hmm... digging for the compliment in that one.

Aaron (East Lansing)

One player from each team that can lead their team to cut down the nets?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:49 PM)

Aaron: Good question. Lemme think: Butler: Gordon Hayward, obviously. Michigan State Going with Draymond Green. Without Lucas his passing skills are even more critical. Duke: Say Jon Scheyer. Need him to be on to win it all, I think. And West Virginia: I'd say Mazzulla again. Doesn't need to score 17, but can't get in foul trouble.

Clint (Oakland, CA)

Let's assume expansion does happen. In that scenerio NIT would most likely dissapear. Would the rule that the regular season conference champ making the NIT allow those teams to automatically make the new expanded tournament? That would at least allow more lower level quality teams in.

Dana O'Neil
  (1:50 PM)

Clint: I think that' the plan, but don't quote me on that.

Dana O'Neil
  (1:50 PM)

Clint: I think that' the plan, but don't quote me on that.

AJ (Jersey)

Who is right now the Most Outstanding player of the tourney?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:53 PM)

AJ: Hmm.. I'd say if you're going based on numbers and critical impact from start to finish, right now toss up between Gordon Hayward and Nolan Smith.

Ryan (MD (WVU Alumni))

Looking at the match ups between WVU and Duke, it seems that everybody is saying that WVU can't handle the size of Duke inside. Now I have a deep hatred for the blue devils from my UMD cheering days, but come on do people really believe that?

Dana O'Neil
  (1:54 PM)

Ryan: Well it's a simplistic argument because Duke clearly is a lot bigger inside than WVU. But it doesn't take into account that West Virginia has outrebounded opponents all season, size be damned.

Dan ((Midland Park, NJ))

If the tournament is expanded to 96 teams, will they play 'One Shining Moment' twice after the national championship game? Thats the only way they sell expansion to me.

Dana O'Neil
  (1:56 PM)

Dan: A continuous loop starting with the noon game on the first day would work.And on that, I've got to get my bags packed and head to the airport.Enjoy the end to a great tournament everyone. Thanks for the questions as always