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April 28, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Eamonn Brennan

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:03 PM)

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'll be your host as we chat about all of your college hoops offseason-related questions for the next hour or so. Let's do this.

Adam (Albuquerque) [via mobile]

What Mid-Major Confrance has the best teams?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:05 PM)

This is an interesting, semi-offbeat way to start, but I like it. If we're talking about 2009-10 or 2010-11, I'm going to say the Atlantic 10, which just beats out the Mountain West, Missouri Valley, and Conference USA. What does everybody think?

Jon (PA)

Big east fan here, lets say the big 10 takes 2 teams (Syracuse and Pitt) for example, where would the big east turn to reload, perhaps we do get Memphis this time around?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:07 PM)

I think Memphis is a likely candidate. I also wouldn't be completely surprised to see the Big East go after a school like Temple or Xavier -- schools that fit the conference's basketball cachet. But that's a long way away, and the reverberations from Big Ten expansion are almost impossible to predict at this point. What happens when the ACC, Pac-10 and Big East are all trying to expand at the same time. Chaos, mass hysteria, et. al.

Rob (Detroit)

I know it's early, but what 4 teams (Out of 68 thankfully) do you predict to be in Houston for the Final 4

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:10 PM)

It's tough for me to round out the top four without knowing what JaJuan Johnson is going to end up doing -- if Purdue gets their big three back, I have them in the Final Four for sure. As it stands, I think your top two are Michigan State and Duke in whichever order, followed by Kansas State or Butler (assuming Hayward comes back, which is looking unlikely at this point).

Chad (in a cornfield surrounded by pigs, IA)

Saw your article on Hoiberg. Agree there?s some risk, but not to the degree you convey. Hoiberg?s success stemmed from perfect fundamentals and high basketball IQ, pretty good correlation to coaching. While name recognition may be an issue in recruiting, hard to believe many high schoolers will turn down training from a 10 year NBA vet who helped scout for and run an NBA franchise. Gillispie?how many of his TX recruits would have come to Ames?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:14 PM)

First of all, Chad, your location is awesome. When you can't beat the stereotype, join it. (Or maybe you're making fun of us native Iowans. In which case, not cool, dude.) Anyway, I want to make it clear that I don't think Hoiberg is a bad decision, per se. I think he can be a good coach. It's just that usually when people get jobs -- whether it's in coaching or not -- unless their name is Vinny Del Negro, some modicum of prior experience is required. Hoiberg doesn't have that. I have no doubt he knows the game of basketball inside and out, but there will be a learning curve there. There just will. As for Gillispie, I don't think he would have been enough of a slam dunk to take on the personal risks associated with the hire, but among current coaching candidates, he's the one with the best, most enticing resume, especially for a marginal program school like Iowa State. In the end, the Cyclones got a slam dunk, press conference-winning hire who might struggle to get his bearings but who will certainly be popular throughout his tenure. That's a pretty good start.

six (albany ny)

Do you think my UNC Heels can turn it around next year with our new class coming in?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:15 PM)

Yes. It won't be a crazy good season, but Harrison Barnes and company should ensure that it's not nearly as bad as 2009-10. (By the way, 2009-10 was a real doozy of a year for UNC fans. Not only do Roy Williams and co. have one of the worst seasons in the program's history, but they do it in the same year Duke returns to the top of the pile. Rough.)

Austin McGee (In a Cotton Field Surrounded By N%^S)

Everyone this year will be talking about who will be the Butler of 2009, but will another small school like that make another run into the title game, or did we witness a rare occurance?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:18 PM)

I think Butler could do it again, sure. Gonzaga is a national program at this point despite their small enrollment; the Zags could win a national title. Xavier has been in the Sweet 16 how many years in a row now? I think we witnessed something pretty special in Butler, but I think it can and will happen again.

Bruce (Tennessee)

Could the Big 10 please consider Kentucky?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:19 PM)

Sorry, Bruce. You're stuck with the Cats.

Ryan (East Lansin)

Eamonn, One thing I'm missing among all this expansion talk is what is in it for a team to leave the Big East or Big 12 to go to the Big Ten? In other words, are we just assuming that the Big 10 gets the pick of any school in any conference, and that the selected teams dont get any say in joining? What about the possibility of all these teams NOT wanting to join the Big 10?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:21 PM)

Ryan, the answer to your question is money. Through TV deals, the Big Ten network, and so on, the Big Ten simply makes more of it. It has the highest average athletics department budget of any conference. If schools want more money for their budgets, a move to the Big Ten is prudent. It's not the only concern, but it's what's driving the notion that the Big Ten can pretty much get whoever it wants.

victor (cincinnati)

I know this is being endlessly talking about, but oregon still doesn't have a coach, whats the deal?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:24 PM)

Uh, Victor? Dana Altman? Heard of him? Public service announcement time: Yes, everyone, Oregon has hired a basketball coach. His name is Dana Altman. May we never mention the Oregon coaching search again.

TBRA (Brennan's Closet)

When the Big Ten makes it's expansion, do you think it will be more or less difficult for the current bottom feeders of the Big Ten to establish themselves amoungst recruits (argument solely intended for basketball). I think it will make it more difficult for teams like Iowa and Northwestern to get out of the dungeon. Your thoughts??

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:27 PM)

This argument makes sense on one level, in that teams like Iowa and Northwestern will have that much more competition in an expanded Big Ten, and it will be harder to win, and if it's harder to win it's harder to recruit, and so on. At the same time, everybody already recruits against everybody; I'm not sure I buy the argument that recruits think about conference when they choose their school, and the competition between, say, Iowa and Missouri for X recruit won't change all that much from what it is now.

Drew (Cincy)

Which incoming recruit will have the biggest impact on CBB next year?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:29 PM)

We've already mentioned him, but I think it's Harrison Barnes. If Barnes comes in ready to dominate at the college level, North Carolina gets right back where it usually is, and the national hoops scene changes along with it. Watching Kentucky's recruits meld together in the shadow of Wall-Bledsoe-Cousins should be awfully interesting, too.

Andy (Carbondale, IL)

In your article that came out today, you stated that if the Big 10 expanded to a hypothetical 16 team conference it would have 8 historically and recently "elite" teams in Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Missouri, Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Indiana. How is Illinois not included above most of these teams? Illinois would be the second best team according to your, ESPN's, recent rankings of programs all-time.

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:33 PM)

I assume you're referring to the Sagarin rankings compiled for the ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia. Keep in mind those numbers include strength of schedule, and that's a big reason why Illinois is ranked so high (Northwestern is No. 77 on the list despite never having made the NCAA tournament.) Anyway, Illinois probably belongs on that list, but I have a hard time with that ranking, because at this point there's no question Michigan State and Purdue are better programs historically. Illinois has never won a national title; Michigan State has. Purdue has the most Big Ten titles anyone; Illinois, um, doesn't. But anyway, yeah, even without the Sagarin ranking factored in, Illinois' 2005 season puts them there anyway.

James (Chicago, IL)

Is Marquette even in the discussion to move to the Big Ten. Sure, they don't have a football team, but location is there.

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:35 PM)

No, I think no football is a dealbreaker in any expansion talk. Even if Marquette did have a football team, Wisconsin dominates TV sets in Wisconsin, and expansion is just as much about widening the Big Ten Network's reach further West and to saturated markets like New York, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, etc.

Ryan (East Lansing)

In follow-up to you response, if the Big Ten pretty much has the pick of the litter due to lucrative TV deals and high athletic budgets, then what is stopping Notre Dame from joining? Is their footballl contract with NBC superior to anything the Big Ten can provide, or are the Irish just being stuborn? The Irish are the abvious choice, (and have been for years) to join the Big Ten.

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:38 PM)

Actually, our football Big Ten Blogger Adam Rittenberg has written about this extensively: http://espn.go.com/blog/bigten/post/_/id/10740/bt-expansion-push-could-force-nds-hand.The upshot is that Notre Dame's TV contract still isn't enough to compensate for the money that it could make by being an affiliated member of the Big Ten. In other words, Notre Dame's hoops team isn't an unlikely candidate to join the new steroidal Big Ten in years to come.

Eric Ray (806)

What is your assessment of the job Pat Knight has done? A lot of people in Lubbock want a a change but I think he should get a few more years to prove himself.

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:40 PM)

I think Knight is in that weird little middle-ground wherein it's not time to pull the plug yet, but he doesn't have the full confidence of fans, and so every failure or success begins to play into the "how much longer will he last?" game. Not a fun place to be. But I don't think it's time for Tech to move on just yet.

Jim (Cornfield County)

Does Nebraska have enough drawing power (Yes I know the men's basketball is consistently bad) to be a player in Big 10 expansion talks?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:41 PM)

Football, football, football. Remember, expansion is all about money and football, and the Cornhuskers certainly have enough of both. The basketball team wouldn't do much for anyone, but the powers that be wouldn't care.

Bryan (Washington)

Which freshmen are you most excited to watch next year?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:45 PM)

I'm most excited to watch Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving square off in the ACC. Seeing how Josh Selby replaces Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry in Kansas' backcourt will be interesting all season. And of course there's Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and Enes Kanter at Kentucky; it's possible the Cats will have four, maybe even five, frosh in their starting lineup in 2010-11.

Adam R (Hartford)

Eamonn, I am a die-hard Huskies fan. I bleed blue and white. My boys have made the Final Four every 5th year since 1999, and made an Elite 8 Appearance in between each of those seasons. When can I look for my Huskies to return to the dominance I know they can bring?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:49 PM)

Where UConn basketball goes in the next several years will one of the more interesting ongoing subplots in the country. Jim Calhoun doesn't have a great recruiting class locked up for 2010 -- he has just one player in the ESPNU 100, and he's stuck replacing seniors Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson. With Calhoun climbing in years and dealing with health issues from time to time, the class of 2011 could be make or break for the next five years of the program. In other words, I'm not sure, but I wouldn't expect a return to dominance this season.

UK Band member (Got left behind in Syracuse after the EE)

Will the Cats be able to make back here next year and pick me up?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:51 PM)

That might be a little bold -- this team is reloaded with talent, but it's not Wall-Cousins-Bledsoe-Patterson talent. That said, the ceiling for Kentucky was a lot higher than the Elite Eight this year, so I'm not sure that's necessarily a fair barometer. The correct answer here is I don't know. I haven't seen Knight, Lamb, Kanter and company play together, and no one knows quite how that will work out. I'd be lying if I said I did.

david (chicago)

I love college basketball but DePaul is a joke, I mean they play home games an hour and a half away from campus. Do you really think OP can turn this team around?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:53 PM)

That's the main problem with DePaul's program right now: Facilities. A stadium on campus would alleviate so much of what plagues DePaul in recruiting, in fan interest, in revenue, all of it. As that doesn't seem to be on the horizon, I think Purnell's success will be pretty limited. DePaul should improve, but I'd be surprised to see Purnell build them into anything resembling the glory days of the 1980s.

Sylvester (Columbus)

Enes Kanter or Jared Sullinger, who you taking for your team?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:55 PM)

I'm not a recruiting expert, and I confess to not having seen either of them play in anything but grainy AAU videos, but our ESPNU scouts have Sullinger as the No. 2 overall player and Kanter as the No. 25. I'll stick with them and say Sullinger.

Eric Ray (806)

What 1 thing would you change about college basketball?

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:56 PM)

This is easy: Expand the tournament to 96 teams.

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:56 PM)

(I'm kidding, you guys. You guys know I'm kidding, right?)

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:59 PM)

Seriously, if there was one thing I'd change about college basketball, it would be ... the influence of shoe companies on the AAU circuit. To me, this feels like the root cause of so much of the recruiting issues we have. There are other major problems though, and if I were going to get really radical I'd say we need to pay players something more than their scholarship. I'd also say we need a freakin' semicircle painted under the hoop. Also more refs; the current crop is overworked and underpaid. And as much as I love having a few more days off in the spring and summer, for selfish reasons I'd make the season longer. More basketball! Wheee!

Eamonn Brennan
  (3:01 PM)

Oh, and I almost forgot: the one and done rule. I think baseball's system ought to be the NBA's and NCAA's too -- you either go to the pros straight out of high school or you're committed to the college game for at least three years. That would alleviate some of the mercenary stuff we've seen in the one and done era. It would give the very best players in each class the chance to go be successful in the pros right away, while at the same time preventing the NBA from dealing with the onslaught of risky high schoolers that plagued the league in the post-Jordan years. This will never happen, of course. But it should.

Eamonn Brennan
  (3:04 PM)

All right all, that'll do it for me. No extra-long chatness today, as there is much more blogging to be done. I'm sure you're all devastated. Enjoy the rest of your day, and if you're not reading the blog already, then God, Jed, I don't even want to know ya. (West Wing reference? Anyone?) OK. Peace.