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March 29, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Mark Schlabach

Mark Schlabach
  (11:00 AM)

Hope everybody has enjoyed the first two weeks of the NCAA tournament. One to remember. Hoping Indy is just as fun. Here we go....

Ivan ((East Lansing) )

Can you even give me three reasons why Coach K is better than Izzo?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:00 AM)

1. Hair 2. American Express commercials 3. Satellite radio showHard to pick anybody over Izzo right now. Absolutely brilliant coaching job after losing Lucas.

mitch ((East Lansing) )

C'mon Mark... 6 final fours in 12 years? Izzo is the best college bball coach right?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:01 AM)

See previous answer. I would have put him in the top three before this Final Four run. And he does it the right way to boot. Class act. Great coach.

byron ((Kansas))

I know we never got a chance to see them play but who wins between Kansas or kentucky if they played for the title?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:02 AM)

I think West Virginia would have beaten Northern Iowa. Would have given Kansas the edge because of experience.

austin somers ct [via mobile]

should the final 4 matchups be determined on seed not the region?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:03 AM)

Nah, I like it the way it is. How would you seed them now? 1. Duke 2. Butler 3. West Virginia 4. Michigan State....Not sure Butler shouldn't be No. 1 playing in Indy, especially with the way the Dogs are playing defense.

Gary ((Tenn) )

I know we didn't win last night, but how about some love for Bruce Pearl. He has made Tenn Hoops relevant again. This program will be back.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:03 AM)

Will be back? It's already there? If you had told me on New Year's Day that Tennessee would have been two points within playing in the Final Four I would have laughed at you. Never saw it coming after losing Tyler Smith. They seemed to be better without him.

Jarrod (Duke)

Mark, as a Duke fan all wer'e going to hear about is the call with Zoub's, yeah it might have took some momentum away from Baylor but that wasn't the only missed call of the game, I thought we played better the last 3 minutes and deserved to win, what do you think?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:05 AM)

Going to admit I didn't get to see much of the game because of travel coming back from Salt Lake. I didn't have Duke in Final Four because of lack of bench and lack of big-time bigs. I was wrong. Another great coaching job by Coach K. If Scheyer and Singler don't shoot better, Blue Devils will be in trouble in Indy.

Pat ((Dallas) )

How many times with John Cal's team lose because of Missed FT's?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:05 AM)

Or missed 3-pointers? Kentucky didn't shoot well from foul line all year.

Jack ((Detroit))

who is your fav to win it all now? MSU right?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:05 AM)

I'm going with Butler right now. Might be best "team" left in the field. Two legit players. Playing in backyard. But it's absolutely wide open.

Shawn (DC)

Dont get me wrong, I love Kalin Lucas. But do you think the Spartans would have made it to the Final Four without his injury? Once that happened, the Spartans became a team and rallied around the name on the front of their jerseys instead of the back of their jerseys. Just astonishing when you think about all they have been through all year and all the injuries.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:07 AM)

I think the Spartans are obviously better with Lucas on the floor, but you see teams rally around injuries. See Tennessee earlier this season after Tyler Smith was dismissed. Great coaching by Izzo, that's all you can really say.

Jarrod (Duke)

Mark, Duke was the 1st # 1 seed that was suppose to fall, and then we had the easiest bracket but were the only one to play the highest seed possible except Nova. After winning against a really good Baylor team I see we are not going to beat W. Va. So do you think we finally have a chance?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:09 AM)

I think Duke definitely has a chance to win it, but Singler and Scheyer can't go cold. Then again, Duke won when Scheyer couldn't shoot earlier in the tournament, and won when Singler couldn't draw iron vs. Baylor. Pretty resilient team.

Steve (Charlotte)

What are your keys you'll be looking for when MSU plays Butler?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:12 AM)

Butler guards vs. Summers and Lucious. Assuming Hayward gets Morgan. Willie Veasley has shut down everyone he's faced (Syracuse's Andy Rautins and Kansas State's Jacob Pullen), so MSU going to have to find another scorer in all likelihood. Summers has been very good, though.

Ryan (LA)

Explain to me how anyone could not see Duke as the favorite with two teams losing key players to serious injuries and Butler? Mark, it is ok to admit you are wrong...the Plumlees and Zoubek are better than people think. It is ok, the first step to curing a problem is admitting you have one...

Mark Schlabach
  (11:15 AM)

I said it was wide open. I didn't think Butler would beat Syracuse or K-State. I think people are grossly underestimating how good Butler really is. This is much more than a feel-good story. They might be the best "team" left in the field. Their guards are good enough to slow down Scheyer and Smith, so Singler would have to play better. We'll see what happens in the semis. WVU definitely good enough to beat Duke. Butler played OK with wrist injury, and 'Eers were good enough without Bryant with the way Mazzulla played.

Katelyn (Syracuse)

Will Wes Johnson stay for his final year or go to the NBA?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:15 AM)

I personally would be surprised if he's back. Just my opinion.

Katelyn (Syracuse, NY)

I think Duke was set up with a perfect situation to get to the final four. Not because they had an easier road, but because everyone thought they were overrated. Despite being a number 1 people didn't think they were "that" good, so they've been able to sort of quietly go about their business while the focus was on the other three number 1s.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:16 AM)

Agreed. And I think their road to Indy was a little tougher than people believed. Baylor was a tough out.

Jerry (Texas)

Do you think that Duke was given the easiest road to the Final Four from all the #1 seeds. I mean Kansas and Kentucky were the 2 best teams in the country and they were seeded with the 2 top #2 seeds in Ohio St. and West Virgina. I wouldnt give Duke much credit until they beat West Virgina, I mean they beat a good Baylor team but their previous wins werent impressive especially beating a Purdue team without Hummel?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:17 AM)

South Region was probably the easiest bracket, but Baylor was a very good team, in Houston no less. Easiest road? Probably. Any less deserving? Definitely not.

Pete (NC)

Can anyone really expect a Duke fan to be unbiased? Everyone hates them, they haven't been in this position in a long time, and they're the only #1 seed left. Baylor was the toughest test so far, and the refs helped them out late. I see a battled-tested WVU advancing easily by double digits. Agree?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:17 AM)

I think it's wide open. I can see either team winning. Can Mazzulla play that well again? Will Butler shoot the ball better with the wrist injury. I wouldn't expect Singler to go 0-for again, I know that.

Jason Hamilton (baltimore, Maryland)

Hmmm let's see, 11 final 4's, 3 national championships with a 4th on its way, and 2 olympic gold medals. You have got to be kidding me right? And I like Izzo.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:18 AM)

I wasn't taking anything away from Coach K. One of the top-five coaches of all time. Could be argued Izzo has done more with less, though.

Katelyn (Syracuse, NY)

Considering Kansas, Syracuse, & Kentucky could or will lose some of their biggest players, which number one will have the best shot at similar success next year?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:19 AM)

If Hayward comes back, Butler will be very good again. West Virginia is still pretty young. Michigan State and Duke are always there.

Adam R (Connecticut)

Mark, the Big East beat only 1 team seeded higher than an 8 this Tournament, which was West Virginia on Saturday. Is this a fluke or a sign of things to come for a weaker Big East Conference? Also, is this year's tournament more surprising than 2006, with all the upsets and the Final 4 teams?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:20 AM)

Yes, definitely more surprising than 2006. Big East was probably a little overrated, but some of those teams ran into hot teams, too. Nova and Pitt weren't playing great down the stretch. Only stunner was Syracuse losing, and I think the Orange probably missed Onuaku.

Joey (SC)

Is Butler considered a Cinderella because of who they had to get through??

Mark Schlabach
  (11:21 AM)

I think they're considered a Cinderella because of their small enrollment, limited financial resources and the fact they play in the Horizon League. As far as the five players they put on the floor, they're as good as anyone in the country.

todd (adair, Ia)

Iknow this isn't a final four question but wha tis Iowa doing hiring another mid major coach when there are better names out there? I know Fran is a good coach but this needed to be a home run not a single up the middle.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:22 AM)

Fran is a good hire. He's done a great job at Siena. He'll do a nice job at Iowa.

Paul (Boston)

Do people ever consider that you get nights off in the Big East? When you play DePaul, Rutgers, Providence, St. John's...those are automatic. Not many in the ACC...maybe that is why Big East is overrated, the slop at the bottom.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:22 AM)

When you have 16 team, 14 of them aren't going to be great. NC State and Virginia and Miami weren't great, either.

Paul (Boston)

Come on, Cal was #20 in the RPI and the Blue Devils' second round opponent? That is not easy.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:24 AM)

I'm not buying RPI rankings. Cal didn't beat anyone all year until knocking off Louisville in the NCAA tournament.

Greg (Texas)

Mark, How distracting is the impending University of Oregon offer to Izzo going to be? I mean you never hear any rumors of Coack K going to UCLA for instance.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:24 AM)

I'd be absolutely stunned if Izzo leaves Michigan State for Oregon. I see no way it happens. So I don't see it being a distraction at all. If it happens, it would take 80-percent of Phil Knight's net worth.

Hayden (Logan, UT)

so, now who do you have winning it? I say if Duke gets past WVU, they win it all to my chagrin.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:25 AM)

I'm going with Butler over West Virginia. Call me a softie.

Jon P (Louisiana)

Will the world take notice of Mid Majors finally or does Butler have to win it all in the year everyone thought Kentucky was a lock?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:26 AM)

I think they've already taken notice, Butler, N. Iowa, St. Mary's, Cornell. Butler is a mid-major only in finances.

austin somers ct [via mobile]

if the championship was decided by a fight between the 4 coaches who would win? i would take WVU

Mark Schlabach
  (11:26 AM)

Agreed

Tommy (Chicago)

Is it ok if we do not call you a softie but just a Duke-hater? Add Schlabach to the list.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:27 AM)

Call me whatever you like. I've been called worse. I'm not a Duke hater. If I was, I'd be on here ripping the officials for the call yesterday, which I'm not. I just said I think Izzo is every bit as good as Coach K, who is one of the top 10 best of all time.

Jason Hamilton (baltimore, Maryland)

Michigan State has had exactly 1 more McDonald's All Americans in the past 10 years. Try again? Who has done more with less?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:28 AM)

Research department is confirming.

Steve (Milwaukee)

The only way Duke loses to WV is if they shoot 4-32 from 3-point range. If UK is decent, we are not talking about WV anymore.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:28 AM)

Don't sell Mountaineers short. Tough and physical enough to beat Duke.

Pete (NC)

New Mexico St, Maryland, Northern Iowa, Tennessee. Not the toughest road to the Final Four. Do you see MSU running into a wall once they play an actual team in Butler?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:29 AM)

I wouldn't have wanted to play any of the last three teams. Maryland shared ACC title with Duke, and N. Iowa and Tennessee were as hot as any team in the NCAAs.

Patrick (Chicago)

Come on, Mark...Virginia, Miami & NC State are NOWHERE NEAR as bad as DePaul or Rutgers.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:29 AM)

Agreed, but they're not great, either.

Steve (Milwaukee)

Just like Baylor was tough and athletic...

Mark Schlabach
  (11:29 AM)

Good point. But who thought Baylor would play that well two games in a row? Not me.

The Stay Puft Marshmellow Man (via mobile)

What's wrong with being soft?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:30 AM)

Can you be soft and a Duke hater at the same time? Isn't that a contradiction?

Ryan (LA)

Boy, the Duke hate continues...Butler? Give me a break...Duke just won in Houston in a hostile environment, they can do the same in Indy.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:33 AM)

I said it was wide open. Don't see WVU and Butler short, though. Michigan State, neither. I think any of the four can win. Butler just beat Syracuse and Kansas State, both of which might be good enough to beat Duke.

Jeff (Indy)

Ready to gloat about your Butler preseason final four pick? Couldn't be happier for you, GO DAWGS

Mark Schlabach
  (11:36 AM)

That was Mr. Forde and Mrs. O'Neil. I'm not as smart. Kudos to my colleagues.

Dan (NJ)

Will Darryl Bryant play?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:36 AM)

They're trying to find a way for him to play. I wouldn't take Mazzulla off the court right now, though.

David (Denver, CO)

MarkCan somebody please teach Butler how to cut down the nets? Did anybody else notice they completely butchered it and cut from the bottom up leaving nothing to hang over a trophy or neck

Mark Schlabach
  (11:37 AM)

Give them a break. Haven't done it much.

Hayden (Logan, UT)

bigger surprise: MSU or Butler?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:37 AM)

MSU without Lucas. Thought they were done.

James (Kansas City)

Of all of Duke's Final Four teams, this is probably the least talented, but seemingly the most likely to win the title, given the remaining competition in Indy. Would you agree?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:38 AM)

I don't know about most likely to win. Had some great teams in the past. And not sure about least talented. Scheyer, Smith and Singler are as good of a trio as anyone in the country. Depth and frontcourt leave a lot to be desired, but Blue Devils still have a lot of talent (and coaching).

Mark (Knoxville)

I know Butler is legit....great team...but isn't it still an unbelievable story...being that not many people in the world would have picked them to be national champions? As crazy as this tournament has been...I would love to see the title in their hometown! Awesome!

Mark Schlabach
  (11:39 AM)

I like the fact that all four teams in Indy build their rosters and don't rely on one-and-done players. It's the way college basketball is supposed to be. Butler is a great story, but the other three are unique on their own merits.

Ben (Sandy, UT)

Why do people ask you what you think and what your perceptions are and then get angry when it's not their team?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:40 AM)

It keeps me employed, so I don't mind. It's why I love college sports.

Ryan (Alaska)

What kinds of special advantages will Butler get by playing the Final Four in their hometown?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:40 AM)

Might get to sleep in own beds. One disadvantage: players have to go to class all week.

Mark (Wyoming)

Sorry I think Baylor would have beaten Butler handily

Mark Schlabach
  (11:40 AM)

We'll never know....

Ryan (Alaska)

Cal DID beat someone in the regular season: they beat Murray State...and they beat Vandy in the first round.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:42 AM)

Murray State was a good team. I stand corrected. So the Bears beat one team. And they beat Washington once. Good.

Billy (Kentucky)

Do you think the all the UK starters will leave?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:42 AM)

I would think Wall, Bledsoe, Patterson and Cousins are gone.

Marky (Miami)

Lemme guess you thought Baylor would beat duke

Mark Schlabach
  (11:43 AM)

I had Baylor in Final Four.

Ryan (Seattle)

Why do you keep saying the Duke front court leaves something to be desired? Dominant, no, but Zoubek, Thomas, and the Plumlees have consistently out rebounded their competiton, particularly on their offensive end creating second chance points.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:43 AM)

Zoubek and Plumlee have played well.

Paul (Mequon)

Can we get a little love for Delvon Roe? This guy has some guts, to play with torn cartilage? And Chris Allen - playing with a torn ligament?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:44 AM)

Sparty players have always been tough. Always a blue-collar personality on Izzo's teams.

John (Miami)

Love that you don't look at RPI...don't let the facts and the stats get in the way of your opinions!!!

Mark Schlabach
  (11:45 AM)

I obviously pay attention to the RPI and strength of schedule because I do bubble watch all year. But you also have to look beyond the RPI. It's not the end all. Cal had two quality wins the entire season, yet had a top-20 RPI ranking.

William (Mississippi)

Who are the x factors in the semifinal games?

Mark Schlabach
  (11:46 AM)

Duke's frontcourt. Butler's guards. West Virginia's PG. Michigan State's role players.

Mark Schlabach
  (11:47 AM)

Folks, I'm outta here. Have to get on a conference call with Final Four coaches. Talk to you later in the week.