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August 3, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Dana O'Neil

Dana O'Neil
  (4:01 PM)

Greetings everyone. Fun day with the brackets for the Nov./Dec tourneys coming out today and tomorrow. So... to the questions.

Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)

If I had to choose I would rather attend a rivalry (i.e. Duke/UNC) regular season game instead of a Sweet Sixteen game, how about you?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:02 PM)

Hmm... I don't know about that. So much drama and pressure in the NCAA Tournament, it ups the ante no matter who is involved.

kevin (richmond)

One of your colleague is saying that he thinks people are overrating syracuse due to their backcourt being weak, but almost everyone else is saying they have one of the deepest, most talented, and most experienced backcourts in the country. What is your opinion?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:03 PM)

Kevin: I happen to think the hype for Syracuse is legit. Very good team. Lots of experience (which I contend is the difference maker in the Big East) and explosive talent.

John (CA)

Dana, in your opinion, which program has the most upside, GT, ILL or UVA?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:05 PM)

John: Interesting question. I'd be split between Georgia Tech and Illinois and maybe lean Illinois. Both have a good recruiting base, strong tradition to lean on. I lean Illinois simply because as of right now, the Illini have made more strides in the Big Ten than Tech in the ACC.

Reese (Charlotte, NC)

Dana,Your thoughts on the Coach K phone debacle? Thanks.

Dana O'Neil
  (4:05 PM)

Reese: Blogged bout it the other day. My take is the rule is silly. I don't much care who broke it, but the whole concept of phone calls has gotten out of control. Kids can hit ignore.

Russell (New York)

Besides Maui, which early-season tournament are you looking forward to the most?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:07 PM)

Russell: As I was going thru them, thought Puerto Rico was pretty intriguing. Some very good teams, but all with questions. Could be competitive.

Jon (Norwalk, CT)

Hi Dana, love your work! Am I crazy to expect big things from Uconn this season. Both incoming freshman should have impacts and I know, I know, I know no Kemba, but they still have a lot of talent returning. What are your expectations for them?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:08 PM)

Jon: Not even a little bit crazy. Certainly they will have to adjust sans Kemba but the experience Lamb and Napier got in that run is critical. Lamb, honestly, was as good as Kemba in some regards by the end.

David (Michigan)

When does the Maui bracket come out?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:10 PM)

David: Tomorrow. And no, I can't tell you in advance.

James (Nashville)

How well do you think Calipari can blend in this new group of freshmen with his returning starters? And with Anthony Davis probably playing the 5, how well will he hold up against more physical players? Thanks Dana...

Dana O'Neil
  (4:11 PM)

James: I think he'll do just fine, as he's proven in the last two years. He does a remarkable job of basically starting from scratch each year. I understand the hesitancy about the inside game, but I also think the way Kentucky plays will make that manageable.

Blake (Abilene, TX)

Dana, Another dissapointing NCAA tourny for the Longhorns. Yet they had three players get drafted in the first round. This seems to be common place for the Horns. My question is Can the Longhorns do better than Rick Barnes? Or, is he the reason Texas basketball is even relavant?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:13 PM)

Blake: I hear that question about Rick Barnes a lot and I understand it. But remember two of those first rounders were freshmen and usually it takes time to build great teams. I think Texas will be relevant now no matter who is coach, but you have to give credit to Barnes for building up the brand beyond football.

Nate (Fayetteville, AR)

Hey Dana, how do you see the sec west shaking up next season? Will Arkansas compete? Did I really see an article the other day that LSU would be a contender?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:14 PM)

Nate: Wow. Really? that would surprise me. I think Alabama is certainly the team to beat. Green and Mitchell are an awfully good duo. Arkansas' freshmen certainly will be a huge boost for Mike Anderson but how good they are depends on how quickly they acclimate to his new system. Certainly wiggle room in the SEC West. I, for one, wouldn't put many eggs in the Renardo Sidney basket.

Charles (Dayton, Ohio)

Hi Dana is Ohio St your preseason number 1?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:15 PM)

Charles: No, probably lean UNC but I think the Buckeyes plus Kentucky will make this a very split vote.

Andrew (Los Angeles)

Why not pick Arizona to win the 2k Classic? They're just as experienced as A&M, if not more because of their Elite 8 run from last year.

Dana O'Neil
  (4:17 PM)

Andrew: Had a hard time picking that one, honestly. I went out of hte box with the extremely young, but hometown Red Storm.

Corey (Orlando, Fl)

Dana, How do you feel about the field for the Battle 4 Atlantis event in November? Do you think the UCF Knights can contend in a field with Connecticut, Harvard, Florida State, Utah, UMass, College of Charleston and UNC-Asheville?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:18 PM)

Corey: Pretty good field, for sure but I do think UCF should be in the mix. Connecticut, obviously, will be a heavy favorite but I remember how UCF started the year last year. Why not?

Timmy (Napoli, Italia)

What are your predictions for Purdue this year

Dana O'Neil
  (4:20 PM)

Timmy: So much will depend on how good Robbie Hummel can be. I'm not ashamed to say I'll be rooting for him. Class kid who deserves a great season. But they need his leadership and obviously his scoring sans Johnson and Moore. I happen to think they'll be pretty good.

Lewis (San Franicsco)

Hi Dana -- very much enjoy your writing. As usual, the preseason Pac-12 narrative will focus on how the conference is down and all the early departures. But I think this will actually be the strongest the conference has been in a while -- with Cal, Arizona, UCLA, UW as obvious tourney teams who are all capable of making noise in March. Oregon, USC, and Stanford are all potential tourney teams too. I know OSU has been bad, but even they have some talented pieces. What do you say, will the Pac-12 upset the media narrative this year?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:21 PM)

Lewis: I'd say the narrative should change this year. There are no top 5 obvious choices there but the conference should have depth.

The Hodger (Dinkytown, MN)

Who do you like in the MAAC, Fairifield or Iona (or someone else)?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:22 PM)

I'd say Iona. Mike Glover could play anywhere. And if MoMo Jones gets a hardship (which I doubt) definitely Iona.

J.C (Chicago)

Do you think the Hoosiers will be significantly better with the addition of Cody Zeller and the maturity of the rest of the returning players?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:23 PM)

J.C. I do think so. I know there's a lot of pressure on Tom Crean right now, but I also always believed this was going to be a long process. This should be the year that the results start to turn around.

Jeff (Camp Hill, PA)

What % chance do you give to any team but Xavier winning the Diamond Head Classic?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:24 PM)

Jeff: Extremely slim. I think Long Beach State is better than people realize so opener could be their toughest game.

Chris (Lexington, KY)

Do you honestly think there is no double standard when it comes to Duke and Coach K? I bet you dodge the question. God knows if it were Calhoun or Calipari that committed THE EXACT SAME potential violation as Coach K there is no way articles are written about the rule being inane and everyone would be calling those two cheaters!

Dana O'Neil
  (4:26 PM)

Chris: I'm not sure I can convince you that I honestly believe the rule is inane regardless of who breaks it, but I do believe the rule is inane. I can't tell you how many coaches talked to me about it during Peach Jam and all said the same thing - the days to limit phone calls are over. Technology protects the recruits now. That's not saying you shouldn't know it is a rule. You should. You get paid to know the rules as best as possible. But the rule is stupid. For everyone.

The Hodger (Dinkytown, MN)

Except for those rare occasions (Maryland's national title), will the ACC ever be anything more than Dukie V's favorite two teams (Duke & UNC)?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:28 PM)

I don't see why it can't be. I get so aggravated when people say how hard it is to win in the ACC because of Duke and NC. THink it's easy to win in the Big East with Calhoun, Boeheim, Pitino, etc., yet other teams constantly do. It's very strange how The premier basketball league has fallen to such shambles. Hopeful that the new blood of coaches can recharge it.

Paul cinta (Syracuse, N.Y.)

Do you honestly think Syracuse can win the National Championship, or is it kentuckys-north carolinas to lose?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:30 PM)

Paul: I'd put Syracuse in line w/ Connecticut and Duke as the sort of 1As to win it behind Kentucky, UNC and Ohio State. Think there are a lot of very good teams this year, which frankly should make things less clear cut. Which I prefer myself

J.C (Chicago)

I love Oregons recruiting class this year, especially Jabari Brown but do you think the addition of Tony Woods from Wake Forest is positive or negative for Oregon?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:31 PM)

JC: Tricky one, if you ask me. I'm not sure he'll upset the apple cart of the team. In fact he'll probably be very much on his best behavior. I just have a hard time with that entire situation. I'm not saying the kid should be punished for life, but it's so tricky when you get into the murky areas of assault or alleged assault.

Greg (Glen Mills, PA)

Dana, obviously the Owls have a huge hole to fill losing Lavoy Allen. Who do you see emerging as Temple's 5th starter?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:34 PM)

Greg: Definitely a big hole for them, but got some good players back and remember Scootie Randall is healthy. I'd guess the job will fall to Micheal Eric initially.

Kevin (Arlington, VA)

How long will it take St. Joe's to return to the NCAAs?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:34 PM)

Kevin: Certainly should be better this year. Very young team last year but with some good talent. Still not sure this is the year.

J.C (Chicago)

What happened with Rotnei Clarke in Arkansas? What a great get for Butler

Dana O'Neil
  (4:37 PM)

JC: Was a muddled, drawn-out process that in the end, should be best for player and school. Definitely a great get for Butler. Terrific shooter and a top-notch player. Says a lot about what people think about Butler these days.

Matt (Spokane)

Do you think Gonzaga will pursue another another brutal OOC schedule or back off a little? My thought is that they will.

Dana O'Neil
  (4:38 PM)

Matt: They'll go brutal. It's in Mark Few's DNA.

bill (syracuse)

i thick the big east should split up i hate playing the same teams in regular season twice then have to play that same team again in the tournament.whats your take on splitting it down the middle or maybee some of these other confrences need to produce better teams so its not all big east again?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:39 PM)

Bill: I'd hate to see it split up, honestly. It's an unwieldy beast, I agree but the integrity of the league are the schools that would be kicked to the curb - the Catholic non-football schools that have been the league's backbone.

Blake (Abilene, TX)

Dana, are your Eagles going to leave any talent for the rest of the NFL?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:39 PM)

Blake: I only live outside of Philly. Not an Eagles fan. Not by a longshot. Born and raised a NY sports fan, so Giants for me.

Nate (Fayette-nam)

Hey Dana, Mike Anderson runs a system called "the fastest 40 minutes" or something like that. Is that just a gimmicky system like the "wildcat" in football, maybe, something that doesn't translate to the big league? How often do teams go deep into the tourney with such a run and gun style like that?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:41 PM)

Nate: It's the fastest 40 minutes and I'd argue it's already worked pretty well in the big league, ie the Big 12 with Missouri. Mizzou had terrific success under Anderson and his style isn't so much run and gun as it is creating a defensive frenzy.

Blake (Boston)

Hey Dana, met you a few summers ago with John Akers while I was interning at the Basketball Times. How do you think Mark Turgeon will do at Maryland in the next 4 years or so?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:43 PM)

Blake: Hey there. Gonna take a little time for Turgeon to get his system and his players in place. Certainly this year will be tough. But the single smartest hire of the off season was Dalonte Hill. That will make Maryland very good very quickly.

J.C (Chicago)

Belmont in the sweet 16 this year?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:44 PM)

JC: I wouldn't argue with that. Should be a nice hot mid-major pick. WIth maybe Wichita State and Iona. Oh and what the heck, Butler.

Jope (Philadelphia)

In regards to the inane recruiting violation, do you think these will start being reported more, now that many of these high school ane college athletes tweet constantly about their daily lives? One tweet could easily "expose" a violation.

Dana O'Neil
  (4:44 PM)

I think that already is happening to an extent. Twitter and Facebook give coaches and compliance officers heartburn.

BK (Beantown)

Too bad about ur love of NY teams...Do you think Rivers will be a one and done at Duke? I hope not!

Dana O'Neil
  (4:45 PM)

BK: Pipe down there, Boston. I would say right now I'd expect him to go but a lot has to happen for him and for the NBA.

Dan (nyc)

Dana, What do you think about Dayton and first year coach Archie Miller? Alot of talent still there

Dana O'Neil
  (4:46 PM)

Dan: Sure is and Archie Miller is a terrific coach. Don't expect things to change too dramatically

Erol (Connecticut)

Dana, you are a great sportswriter. Do you find, in the year 2011, any of the (hopefully now old and long gone) challenges as a woman in a too-often male-dominated sports world? I would hope those days are past, but curious as to your experience.

Dana O'Neil
  (4:49 PM)

Erol, Well thank you. I'd say for the most part, those issues have died down. Certainly with teams, coaches, etc. Sometimes there are fans and readers who are less than kind, but that sort of comes with the territory.

Reese (Charlotte, NC)

Dana,People speak of UNC, Kentucky and Ohio St. as possible championship contenders. Of the three, which one do you think has the least chance of at least making it to the final four? Thanks.

Dana O'Neil
  (4:50 PM)

Reese: That's a horribly difficult question. Depends on their bracket, of course. But if you're going on what's on paper and I have to pick, I'd say Ohio State. I'm not all in on that by a long shot, though.

Kevin (NYC)

Dana, who are your top 5 active coaches right now?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:51 PM)

Kevin: Krzyzewski, Izzo, Roy Williams, Bill Self and then I'd be split between Calhoun/Boeheim. Think all of them recruit well, coach well and make their players better.

J.C (Chicago)

Better Chicago team this year, DePaul, Loyola, Northwestern or UIC?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:52 PM)

JC: Northwestern.

Tim (Athens, GA)

Dana, of the "senior" active coaches, which do you think will be the first to retire? Calhoun? (You'll need your crystal ball...)

Dana O'Neil
  (4:53 PM)

Tim: Yeah, I'd say Calhoun. Think he might be the most ready

Matt (Spokane)

Best team in the west this year Gonzaga or the field?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:54 PM)

Matt: Maybe Arizona..

Russell (New York)

I've always found it ridiculous to predict who could be a Final Four team or Elite Eight team, even in January or February. Once the tournament starts, depending on brackets and matchups, anything cn happen. Wouldn't it make more sense to talk about who the five or ten best teams are instead of how far they can advance?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:55 PM)

Russell: Well sure but then what would we argue about? or talk about?

Dana O'Neil
  (4:57 PM)

Alright folks, time to go. Thanks for the questions. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the rest of the brackets and a chat with my colleague, Andy Katz.