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November 24, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Dana O'Neil

Dana O'Neil
  (11:01 AM)

Happy Thanksgiving Eve. Plenty to talk about already so let's get to it.

Chris (Los Angeles, CA)

Does UCLA stand a chance against Villanova in the NIT semifinal?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:01 AM)

Chris: A chance? Sure. But the Bruins are going to have to call on the Ben Howland trademark defense to do it. Villanova is loaded with talent and guys who can kill you off the dribble. UCLA has to slow them down.

Philip (North Carolina)

In terms of talent Syracuse is amongst the best in the nation. Statistically, though, they shouldn't even be in the top 25. Obviously Boeheim has many problems to fix this season. Still, is there a specific problem that you think they can improve upon, build from, and eventually become the top 10 team that they are capable of being?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:03 AM)

Philip: I'm not sure the Orange are quite as bad as Jim Boeheim would like us to believe. Some coach talk there. But they do need to fix a few issues: number one, starting the game when the game actually starts. Syracuse's tendency to wait until the 2d half to get moving is OK against subpar competition. Won't work in the Big East. They also need better 3-point shooting, understandable with the loss of Andy Rautins, but still something that has to be fixed.

Chris (West Wendover, NV)

How do you like Murray State's chances in the 76 Classic this week? Does their early loss to Ole Miss hurt them?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:04 AM)

Chris: Well I picked the Racers to win it so I like them! Really do think they are the best team in the field and while the Ole Miss loss isn't great, this is an excellent chance at redemption

John (VA)

Arizona has been impressive in their first four games, albeit against weak opposition. Do the Wildcats have a chance to get back in the Top 25 polls this season, and if so, what do they need to do to earn their ranking?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:05 AM)

John: Working on an Arizona/Kansas preview as we speak and that's the short answer to earning back the ranking. The Wildcats look good but they haven't played anyone. Need to beat Kansas to get the ranking.

dweedo ( bloomington, MN) [via mobile]

How high will the gophers rank this year ? And will they pass michigan st after they lost to uconn ?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:06 AM)

I'm guessing the Gophers will skyrocket the rankings. Not sure Michigan State will get killed for losing to UConn but if they lose back to back, could be problematic. My colleague Andy Katz has been singing Minnesota's praises since the preseason.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Who is Replacing John Wall at Kentucky while Wall is playing with the Washington Wizards?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:07 AM)

Chris: Well, I thought Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight did a pretty nice job last night.

timmy c (lancaster, pa)

Dana,Is Pullen that bad, or is Duke's front court that good?Happy thanksgiving!

Dana O'Neil
  (11:08 AM)

Timmy: Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. Know Pulled is not that bad. Horrible night at a horrible time. But some of that has to do with Duke. The Blue Devils can defend and make great players look bad.

Matthew (Madison, WI)

Hey Dana, so I think its now clear to everyone that Duke is best team in the county by far, but could they go undefeated? The only game I see them having a slim chance of losing is VA Tech at Va Tech. Duke is a pretty young team and has lots of room to grow and mature. That game is the third to last game of the season, is it reasonable to say undefeated?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:10 AM)

Matthew: Undefeated is so darned hard. The ACC isn't all that great, so that helps the Blue Devils for sure, but remember they've got tough non-conference games, too. Michigan State (loss notwithstanding), Butler (loss notwithstanding) and Temple. They are easily the best team in the country, but so much has to break right to put up the 0 in the loss column

Chris (Erlanger, KY)

Has UK earned more respect for beating a very talented and experienced #11 UW last night? Seems like a lot doubt UK because of their youth and no Kanter.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:11 AM)

Chris: They've earned mine. I don't think anyone thought Kentucky was going to be even in the neighborhood of lousy, but I do think people were surprised at how good Terrence Jones is. I'm curious to see how they play in a game where there is more defense, less one-on-one iso like Washington offered.

PJ (Boston)

Do you now believe that UConn is for real?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:12 AM)

PJ I believe UConn is better than I anticipated. Much better. For real in terms of..? National contender? Not sure. Factor in the Big East? Yes.

Marc (boston)

How do you think Temple will fair in the Old Spic Classic?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:13 AM)

Marc: Picked em to win. Really like Temple. Saw them against Seton Hall in person. Defense is, as expected, solid and carries them when they can't score.

JC (Columbus, OH)

Are you aware of which schools have basketball-specific practice facilities and do they have any impact on recruiting?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:14 AM)

JC: Plenty do. It's a facilities arms race these days. Teams either have their own facilities, are building them or renovating them. And yes, they do impact recruiting simply because if you don't have one, it speaks to the commitment of the university to hoops.

Blaine (MS)

One they get Sidney and Bost back, where do you see Miss. State at the end of the season, NIT bound again, or making it to the tourney?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:15 AM)

Blaine: Depends. Is Sidney in shape? If he is and if Bost is on target, they could make the tourney. The SEC West certainly is open

Steph (Denver)

Michigan State's loss to UConn and non-blowout of Chaminade. Completely disregard the results because it's so early or should some be concerned? UConn could be a good team.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:16 AM)

Steph: Tom Izzo's teams notoriously look lousy in November and great in March. Sure, they should be better - at least against Chaminade - but I wouldn't cross Sparty off the short list for the Final Four.

Jay (Gary, IN)

Dana, how is Bruce Pearls violations different from Kelvin Sampson's. Shouldn't Bruce Pearl suffer the same faith and not be allowed to coach in the NCAA

Dana O'Neil
  (11:17 AM)

Jay: Kelvin was a repeat violator - on probation for committing the same violations at Oklahoma when he got to Indiana. Pearl was not. He also admitted it. I do think there will be more punishment doled out on Tennessee but not sure if Pearl himself will be hit.

Chris (Lexington, KY)

What will your thoughts be if Kanter wins his appeal?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:18 AM)

Chris: Think it would be tough. The university agreed to $33k. That's a big number. Also in order for it to be overturned, would have to be a complete reversal. It's not like they're merely reducing the games. They'd have to say he can now play conceivably for four years (though heaven knows he won't!) instead of zero. I'd be surprised.

ryan (illinois)

Who is the best team in the Big Ten from what we have seen so far this season? Illinois or Ohio State?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:19 AM)

Ryan: So we're just tossing Michigan State into the trash heap already? Not sure I'm ready to concede that one. But if you're asking me to choose between the two, I'd go Ohio State. Sullinger is a game changer.

Rob (New York, NY)

What is the word on JayVaughn Pinkston and James Bell? When can we expect them back for Nova?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:20 AM)

Rob: The Pinkston decision could be by next week. Bell is a lot longer. Maybe a redshirt?

Greg (Cleveland)

who do you think is the most underrated ranked team thus far?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:21 AM)

Greg: Maybe San Diego State. Think the Aztecs are terrific.

J.B. (PA)

Morning, Dana. Glad to see you back. What is your feeling about Penn State this season and might it be the last one for Ed DeChellis if they don't fare very well? Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:22 AM)

JB: Well now that Joe has said he's coming back, the administration won't be hog tied figuring that out, so perhaps they'll notice there is a basketball team on campus. I'd say the Lions need to be - and should be - competitive in the Big Ten for DeChellis to stay.

Rex (BlueGrass state)

Who do you got... Kentucky or Uconn?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:23 AM)

Rex: I think Kentucky. Too much talent. Too fast.

Jon (DC)

Am I unreasonably optimistic about the Terps early season. It seems like, despite tough losses to Pitt and Illinois, they may be ahead of where predicted and better than advertised. Your thoughts?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:24 AM)

Jon: No, not at all. I was really impressed by Maryland in NY. Played with a lot of grit and Jordan Williams is a monster. Think could be better than predicted

Kevin (CT)

Dana, Now that Uconn's gotten my hopes up that they might be pretty good this year, do you think the NCAA investigation will have any punishments that might effect this year's team?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:25 AM)

Kevin: Absolutely not. If there are any punishments to be meted out, I'd suspect they'd come for next season, not this season.

Brandon (Charlotte)

and the most overrated ranked team thus far?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:25 AM)

Brandon: Easy. North Carolina. How in the world they are even still ranked confounds me.

Brandon (Charlotte)

Hey Dana--- do you have a favorite basketball town to travel to during the season? Of the ones that stand out, what is the appeal? Fair to say you'd rather spend a day in the 'Cuse than anywhere near UConn's campus? :-)

Dana O'Neil
  (11:26 AM)

Brandon: Austin Texas is never a bad place to go.

Ezra (Tucson)

Do you think Arizona could win the Pac-10 over Washington?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:26 AM)

Ezra: I actually had Arizona written on my preseason picks and deleted it. Tall order for a young team, but Derrick Williams is the kind of player who can carry a team to big things. Kinda mad I didn't stick with my gut right now.

Tom (Chicago)

Dana, you didn't pick Duke to win it all originally which means either you are a hater or know nothing about how to analyze talent. Which is it?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:27 AM)

Tom: Neither. I thought if Purdue had Robbie Hummel that, after last year, they'd be hungry and that would give them the slight edge.

jacob (illinois)

Was Kansas State bad yesterday or is Duke just really really good?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:28 AM)

Jacob: yes

scott (stratford, ct)

You think Kentucky has guys faster than K Walker and Shabazz Napier? did you watch the game against MSU?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:29 AM)

Scott: Player for player, all the way down the roster. Kemba is ridiculously fast and playing out of his mind, no doubt, but I believe Kentucky will be aware of that.

Ryan (Louisville, KY)

What are your thoughts on Louisville this year? Seems like our non-conference schedule is weak, which concerns me.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:30 AM)

Ryan: I think that's by design. A young team, not a lot of experience. Need them to get confidence; not be demoralized. If Louisville fares well in the Big East, it would negate their weaker non conference. Still too early to tell how good the Cards really are.

timmy c (lancaster, pa)

Will UNC get there act together or should we be talking about them as a bubble team?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:31 AM)

Timmy: I think so. I think it's way too early to write anyone off or anoint anyone. They have issues - Henson has to play better - but it's also so early.

Frank (Pittsburgh, PA)

Can you please be realistic with these people thinking UConn is a National Title contender already? Why are you letting them ask questions which include their dillusions/homerism about how good their team really is.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:32 AM)

Frank: I believe the word fan derives from fanatic. You're supposed to be all in with your team. Do I think UConn is now a national title favorite? Nope. Do I see why their fans are excited? Absolutely. You remember last year? Brutal.

Tom (Houston)

Dana, who is the second best team in the ACC. It certainly is not Carolina.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:33 AM)

Tom: Good question. It still could be at the end of the day but right now I see a lot of similar teams in the ACC. Virginia Tech, Maryland, maybe even Florida State?

trent (maryland)

the a10 battle seems like its going to be very competitive this year. Are 5 teams in the tourney a real possibilty?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:36 AM)

Trent: Five is a lot. Temple, Xavier, Dayton (maybe, depending on how they do w/ stiffer competition) and Richmond (despite loss to Iona) I think have a good shot. After that, someone is going to have to really shine.

Matt (CT)

Dana, What did you think of Jay Wright playing Cheek at point and 4 forwards/centers? They've come a long way since the four guard offense no? Does Nova have what it takes to get back to the final four and win?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:37 AM)

Matt: Yes it's nice to see Villanova have some great frontcourt players for a change but this team will still go as far as Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns takes it. Do believe this team is talented enough for the Final Four.



Dana O'Neil
  (11:37 AM)

Ray: Good league but I like VCU. Even like em to beat Tennessee tonight.

Chris (Chapel Hill)

Dana can you tell me look into your magic 8 ball and tell me why the tar heels are struggling, something more than "their young" or "dont worry roy will fix um".. because watching them almost blow a 20 point lead to asheville last night has got me worried

Dana O'Neil
  (11:39 AM)

Chris: I don't blame you. That's not good. I think the same sort of thing is missing right now: you've got a collection of players, not a team. I don't care how many All-Americans you toss together, if they don't work together, they don't win. Seems to be what's ailing UNC right now.

Marc (Boston)

Do you see any major basketball conference shifts in the near future?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:40 AM)

Marc: There will be shifts but it wont' be basketball's doing. Think football realignment isn't done yet and as we learned this summer, basketball will be tossed into turmoil by whatever football decides.

TJ Corbs (North Carolina)

Is Phil Marteli on the hot seat? Tought start for the St. Joe's Hawks.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:40 AM)

TJ: I doubt it. They're really really young. This is a major rebuilding year. Know St. Joe's hasn't been great but Phil has an awful lot of good will build up.

Mike (Pitt)

Do you think this Pitt team is better than the Fields, Blair, Young team? Preseason, I would have said no, but this team is much more talented than they are given credit for. Easily the best group of guards Pitt has ever had in Gibbs, Wannamaker, and Woodall

Dana O'Neil
  (11:41 AM)

Mike: Not sure I can go there, mostly because I thought DeJuan Blair was ridiculously good and Sam Young perennially underrated. Think this is a very solid, very strong team and I love how unselfish they are.

thomas (philly)

dana what are your thoughts on lasalle's chances against missouri today and they chances of making the tournament?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:42 AM)

Thomas: Can't make mistakes against Missouri. As in zero. They'll get smoked otherwise. Like what I see out of Aaric Murray early but the Explorers have a ways to go before their tourney caliber.

Dylan (Barcelona, Spain)

what do you think of umass so far this season? do you think with their good start they could make a run in the A 10 and even make the big dance?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:43 AM)

Dylan: Kudos to Derek Kellogg. The Minutemen are better but we have to simmer down before we start talking NCAA for UMass. Haven't played anyone yet and have a very tough league to contend with.

Chris (Erlanger, KY )

Do you think there will be a new 2 yr rule for players out of high school or will the "one and done" stay?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:44 AM)

Chris: I wish there would either be a 2-year rule or no rule, personally but I'm not sure that change will come. We may have a de facto 2-year rule. If there's a lockout, some freshmen may have no choice but to stick around.

Jezz (Paris)

Terrence Jones seems to be what Harrison Barnes was hyped to be. He's been more than impressive. Freshman of the Year?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:45 AM)

Jezz: So, so, so early for all of that. Yes, Terrence Jones has been absolutely terrific. As has Jared Sullinger. As has Kyrie Irving. I'm gonna let the season play out before casting my vote.

Ara K (Philadelphia)

Best team in Philadelphia Temple, Villanova, or the Eagles?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:45 AM)

Ara: I'm a Giants fan by birth, so saying the Eagles would take an act of God. Villanova.

chris (Memphis)

Memphis or Kansas?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:46 AM)

Chris: Hmmm... tough one. No Selby for Kansas. But I'd still say Kansas. More experience.

Jordan (Springfield, Mo)

Dana, What are your thoughts on the MVC this year. And who do you see moving on out of there in March?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:47 AM)

Jordan: Interesting year in the Valley. Tons of good teams but I still like WIchita State to win it. That UConn loss looks better and better every day.

Rockchalk (Jayhalk)

the morris brothers are unbelievably good...thoughts?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:47 AM)

Rockchalk: I concur wholeheartedly.

Brandon (Charlotte)

How would you rank the top 5 conferences?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:48 AM)

Brandon: Big Ten, Big 12, Big East (now), SEC (great in the east, average in the west), ACC (one great team, a bunch of unproven teams after)

Louis (NYC)

The reason UCONN fans are so excited is that we have a top player in Walker and he was expected to have no talent to play with and elevate to a new level. The departure of Dyson seems to have moved Kemba into the the direction of "This is my Team, My Time" mode than giving up. What chances do you give my Huskies to take out Kentucky tonight?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:49 AM)

Louis: I get you. Last year's team was just hard to watch and I agree that Kemba has decided this is his team, which is a very good thing. I think beating Kentucky after such an emotional win over Michigan State will be tough but regardless, UConn leaves Maui with a lot more well-earned respect. Think it will be a close game.

Chris (The Nati)

What are your thoughts about the refs reviewing the monitors for the UK/UW game? Seems to me nothing should have been called or the whistle blown right away. They didn't even stop play when Knight inadvertantly hit the UW guy.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:50 AM)

Chris: I gotta say I was confused by all of that myself. I'm all for officials getting it right and I know there's a major emphasis on elbows, etc, but I don't see how that happened. It was like Romar had a red flag.

Brad (Gadsden,Alabama)

What is wrong with Alabama will grant ever get this team to the ncaa tourny?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:52 AM)

Brad: Oh my, patience my man, patience! This is Alabama basketball, not Kentucky. Takes time to resurrect.

chris (Memphis)

and josh gave you all that love.. saying Andy can't come to games anymore.. :)

Dana O'Neil
  (11:52 AM)

Chris: I know. He'll oust me now in favor of Eamonn Brennan.

timmy c (lancaster, pa)

Dana, I'm hungry. Where can i get the best philly cheese steak?

Dana O'Neil
  (11:53 AM)

Timmy: Chink's in the Northeast on Torresdale Avenue. Only do cheesesteaks and milkshakes. 300 percent better than anywhere else in the city. Tell Joe I said hello.

Dana O'Neil
  (11:54 AM)

And with that hunger-inducing question - and a major meal just ahead to fast for - I have to bolt a little early. Half-day at the elementary school and gotta get the kids off the bus. Enjoy the games, enjoy your Thanksgiving and thanks for the questions, everyone.