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August 29, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Eamonn Brennan

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:03 PM)

Happy Monday, everyone. Let's shake off the weekend with a little college hoops talk, shall we? And ... go.

Hayden (Charlotte, NC)

So Is it a pretty locked deal with Carolina being the number one team in the nation? Kentucky is very taleted and I can see alot of shifting between the two, rank rise, throughout the season. Also what do you think about the match up between John Henson and Anthony Davis come December in Lexigton?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:04 PM)

I think UNC is just a hair above Kentucky for the No. 1 spot in the country to start the season, but that doesn't guarantee anything when those teams get in the floor this fall. We always see a bit of movement at that No. 1 ranking even when there is one clearly dominant favorite; that's how the season works. I'd expect even more of that with so many potentially great teams out there (UNC, UK, OSU, and UConn among them).

Dawan Jackson (Louisville, KY)

I just want to know how come you all ("experts") do not show Louisville any love. How are you going to pick Syracuse over Louisville and Syracuse has not beaten Louisville in years. Look at all the talent we have coming back and you all still pick Syracuse to win the Big East. Louisville should be ranked in the top five this year. Kuric, Dieng, C.Smith, Blackshear, Behanan, Swopshire, Buckles, Siva, Z.Price, A. Nunez, M.Marra. and came in third in the Big East last year with a depleted team, C'mon man!

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:06 PM)

I see your point, but right now, Louisville is less of a known entity and -- if it plans on being one of the best teams in the country -- will be doing so because of the infusion of young talent like Blackshear and Behanan. Until I have a chance to see those guys be difference-makers, I'd give Syracuse a slight edge in the Big East. But Louisville is right there in that same second-tier national group -- the five or six teams below the top four that could make serious runs at contention if everything goes as planned. Make sense?

Taylor (Ct) [via mobile]

Does andre drummond put UConn as favorties with the likes of kentucky and unc?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:07 PM)

I alluded to this above, but yeah, I think Drummond pushes UConn into that top four alongside UNC, Kentucky and Ohio State. The fifth best team in the country isn't nearly as clear, but that top four feels almost locked in as we approach the season.

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:09 PM)

And in terms of ranking those teams, here's what I think -- and what the polls will almost certainly say when they're first released: 1. UNC, 2. Kentucky, 3. OSU, 4. Connecticut. I still think UNC and UK are the clear top two, but I could see Connecticut fans making a persuasive argument that they deserve to be No. 3 over Ohio State.

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:11 PM)

The good news? Rankings don't matter. Like, at all. They're fun to argue about, of course, but they don't actually mean anything. Always important to keep in mind, as we fans tend to get a little too worked up over these things.

Tom (Houston)

Who is this Ryan Kelly and where did he come from? He looked like Dirk' progeny in the China games I saw

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:13 PM)

Kelly was a solid little role player last year, but his play in China was especially impressive. If he can hit key outside shots for Duke and help stretch the floor by drawing opposing big men out to the three-point line, he'll be a great complement to the rest of that squad.

BeardoMSU (Starkvegas!!)

Eamonn, if somehow the stars align and Mississippi State some how finds itself in the favor of the basketball gods, how good can this team be? With an "in shape and motivated" Renardo Sidney, UTEP transfer PF Arnet Moultrie, and a very underrated PG in Dee Bost, This team should be right in the mix for the SEC championship, yes/no? Not to mention, we brought in a very good recruiting class, highlighted by 5* Rodney Hood; as well as what seems like good depth coming off the bench for the first time in years. My fingers are crossed! Thanks, Eamonn.

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:16 PM)

Well, the in shape and motivated Sidney bit, as any good MSU fan knows, is a huge question mark. I've yet to see any real evidence that Sidney has gotten his act together, despite the claims he's made this summer. (We heard much the same last year, too.) But like his team, SIdney is clearly talented. He just has to put it all together. If he does so, MSU has a chance to be a very tough out in the SEC. I'm looking forward to a mid-December progress report. Until then, anything's on the table in, ahem, Starkvegas.

Frank (Washington, DC)

Do you think Drummond takes anything away from Alex Oriakhi and Jeremy Lamb - two players expected to break out in big ways for UConn this year? Or does he make their play better?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:17 PM)

Lots of UConn questions today, huh? The Huskeis fans are out in force! I don't think Drummond will take anything away from those guys. If anything, his presence should take some pressure off Oriakhi around the rim, and it should allow Lamb to play his natural small forward role without having to worry as much about crashing the glass. I see him helping both players far more than he takes anything away.

Jon (Norwalk, CT)

Eamonn, do you think Uconn has a definitive leader? I think Shabazz, while young, can be that guy. What do you think?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:18 PM)

I think Oriakhi is a likely candidate, too, but I've always been impressed with Shabazz when I've had the chance to speak with him. He could certainly be that guy.

Adam (Idaho)

Do you think Stockton can provide stability at PG for Gonzaga? Seemed like a weak spot for the Zags last season.

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:20 PM)

It's not ideal, because I'm not sure Stockton is the sort of high-major point guard you can go to war with when you're fighting big, athletic backcourts in the NCAA tournament. More likely than not, it'll be a weak spot again this year.

Reese (Charlotte, NC)

Eamon,Any chance that we see San Diego St. up in the ranks like we did last year? Thanks.

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:20 PM)

The Aztecs won't be nearly as good as they were last year, but that doesn't mean they're going to totally fall off. There's still some talent there. I would expect a solid season -- a trip to the NCAA tournament is hardly out of the question -- but nothing like last year's brilliance.

Brian (Boston, MA)

Michael Bradley of UConn is on a 6-year pharmacy track. I believe he will be able to use a scholarship on one of his more expensive post-grad years thanks to giving up his scholarship this year. Does that make you more comfortable with the situation?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:24 PM)

I'm not uncomfortable with this situation specifically. If Bradley wants to give up his scholarship to have a better chance of making the NCAA tournament, that's his prerogative. Same goes for the Louisville situation earlier this year, which Pitino explained well enough to lessen any potential misgivings about Kyle Kuric having to waive his scholarship (his dad's a neurosurgeon, Pitino discussed it with the family, and so on). My discomfort comes from the fact that coaches can ask their players to do this in the first place. The one-year scholarship renewal system doesn't get nearly enough attention; it's totally unfair to players, who can be cast aside or run off to make room for a talented new player but have to wait a year to play if they want to leave a school of their own volition. Each specific situation is different, but in general, the system is incredibly imbalanced. That's what's causing the discomfort.

Greg (North Carolina)

If you're Mike Alden at Mizzou, what do you do with Frank Haith?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:27 PM)

I'm glad I'm not, because it's an incredibly tough call. I think he's basically stuck. If he fires Haith now, he could be subject to a messy, expensive lawsuit. If he places him on administrative leave, he essentially punishes his talented players -- who could compete for the Big 12 title in 2011 -- by placing them in a sort of limbo. As ugly as the Shapiro allegations are, and as unappealing as the idea of doing nothing must be, I think his current course -- waiting until the NCAA has a chance to investigate -- is probably the best one.

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:27 PM)

Not that it's very good. Missouri fans were already upset about the hire. Imagine how they must feel now.

Mike (NY)

Do you believe Michael Bradley actually had a choice in the matter? If he had said no to giving up the scholarship and Andre Drummond couldn't go to UConn, wouldn't he be the most hated man on campus? I would think he had no choice in the matter

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:30 PM)

Well, you never know. It's not hard to imagine a coach giving a player some kind of ultimatum. Besides, you're right about the external pressure from fans, fellow players, and the like. But you have to take the situation at face value. It's not impossible to imagine Bradley wanting to do the best thing for his teammates and not just for himself. In that way, it's sort of noble. But like I said, the entire system that allows these sorts of decisions in the first place doesn't feel right.

Brad (Philly)

Will it be Temple or Xavier taking the A-10? Who's got a better shot in the tourney?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:31 PM)

I'd expect a really tight contest, per the usual. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd give a slight nod to Xavier. That team has the potential to be special, both in the regular season and come March.

Lauren (Columbus)

With the last 2 great recruiting classes in Cbus, do you think Matta will open up his lineup to play more than 6-7 guys?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:33 PM)

He's never been particularly willing to do so, even when the players on the bench are capable of taking more minutes. Matta seems to prefer tight rotations and coherent units. He definitely has the horses to stretch that rotation out this year. I think you'll see some of it in the beginning of the year, followed by a slight shrinking by the time Big Ten play begins in January.

John David (Preston KY)

The list on next year's recruiting class for Kentucky is still VERY short. Who do you expect to be the first to sign? How many do you expect Kentucky to get? Should we be worried?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:34 PM)

I wouldn't be worried, no. Calipari is off to a bit of a slow start for 2012, but when you recruit the past two years as well as he has, you deserve the benefit of the doubt going forward. The Cats will be just fine.

Greg (North Carolina)

Outside of Duke and Carolina, any chance of another ACC team making a little noise this year? It's not good for the ACC or any conference to be so top-heavy year-in-year-out.

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:37 PM)

Well, the Duke-UNC rivalry is usually great for the sport, so I'm not sure I necessarily agree with the premise. That said, if any team can hang around at the top -- and I'm not sure anyone is as good as Duke, let alone as good as UNC -- I think it's Florida State. Bernard James is a beast, Okaro White could have a breakout season as a sophomore, and we know the Seminoles will play lockdown defense every night.

Greg (North Carolina)

Any mid-majors to look out for this year?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:38 PM)

There are always a few. I think Butler will still be competitive on a national scale, even if another trip to the national title game isn't in the cards. Iona is also intriguing, especially if Momo Jones can convince the NCAA he should be eligible as early as this season.

Joe (Lexington)

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't UConn going to be banned from the NCAA tournament next year? Their current APR is 893, and the new policy is that anyone under 930 APR receives a post season ban. Since it is a four year average, even if UConn gets a perfect 1000 for this next year, the max APR score they can receive is a 919. (0.75*893)+(.25*1000) = 669 250 = 919. Why is anyone talking about this?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:39 PM)

The new APR rules banning underperforming teams from the NCAA tournament don't go into effect for another four years, so teams aren't retroactively punished for low scores they incurred before they had to start worrying about missing the tournament as a result.

cody (berkeley)

Do you think the redstorms crazy class of incoming freshman can mature enough to lead them back to the dance?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:41 PM)

To be honest, I have no idea. That's just how it goes with this many freshmen -- you're not really sure what you have, and how ready you are to compete at a consistently high level, until you get everyone on the floor in game situations. I'm fascinated by St. John's this year. They're hypertalented and hyperyoung. It's going to be a fun experiment in the power of turnover.

Logan (NYC)

For the Pac-12 to recover from its recent downturn, it is going to need consistent recruiting from multiple teams. At the moment, it only looks like Sean Miller at Arizona is getting the job done. Will another Pac-12 team or two be able to step up and match what Arizona is doing?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:42 PM)

UCLA has already notched a couple of solid players in its 2012 class, and I think Ben Howland has really begun to right the ship that capsized slightly when so many of his young players left early for the NBA. The Bruins aren't quite recruiting at Arizona's level, but they are closing the gap.

Cody (South Carolina)

Any chance a team in the ACC not named Duke, UNC, or Fla State will contend? Second question: why the decline of the ACC and when will the ACC be a juggernaut again?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:44 PM)

I'm not sure there's a fourth team in that conference that can truly contend with those three (especially UNC), no. As for the conference's decline, I think it has more to do with coincidence than anything else. We've had resignations and hirings at a handful of schools that traditionally compete for conference titles and NCAA bids -- Wake Forest, NC State, Maryland, Georgia Tech, and on down the line. It happens and it's usually temporary. I wouldn't go burying the conference just yet.

Daniel (NC)

How about Belmont and Wichita St.?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:45 PM)

Re: the mid-majors to watch, absolutely. I really like Wichita State this season. Great veteran presence and experience there, which is a huge advantage for mid-major teams when they face off against allegedly more "talented" but younger squads in the NCAA tournament.

Blaine (California)

Should Duke fans be concerned with the mostly disappointing showing from Austin Rivers in China?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:47 PM)

There are some valid concerns there. Is he a point guard? A shooting guard? Does he make his teammates better? But those concerns existed (despite Rivers' prodigious talent) before he suited up in China. Exhibition games are just that, and there's no reason to draw too many conclusions from them.

phil (lake forest)

Eamonn, why would Oklahoma invite back a known cheater (Sampson) to coach an alumni game? Given everything going on the NCAA, this doesn't seem too smart to me.

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:48 PM)

They also invited back Dave Bliss! To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what Oklahoma is thinking. There's nothing inherently illegal about having those two guys hanging around, but it doesn't seem like the best symbolic statement -- especially since the program is currently being investigated by the NCAA for violations committed after Sampson's violations-filled tenure. Thoroughly strange stuff.

drake (miami)

how bad does julian gambles injure hurt the hurricanes?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:51 PM)

It's not bad because Gamble is a star. It's bad because the Hurricanes needed him to take the frontcourt reins from Reggie Johnson while Johnson recovered from offseason surgery. Until he gets back, Miami now has a serious dearth of size. An already bad offseason (to say the least) got a lot worse when Gamble got hurt.

Cheesehead Sports Nut (@CheeseheadSN)

There were some rumblings in Milwaukee about the Milwaukee Bucks possibly hiring Bruce Pearl much like they did with Kelvin Sampson who has moved on to being the head assistant coach for the Houston Rockets. Now that Pearl knows his punishment from the NCAA he can move forward and the NBA seems like the best option for him. It seems like Pearl would be a good hire for the Bucks, do you agree?

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:53 PM)

I think Pearl would be a good hire as an NBA assistant pretty much anywhere, but Milwaukee makes sense as a fit thanks to his experience coaching UW-M before his stint at Tennessee. Some NBA franchises seem to prefer its new coaches start out in the D-League, so that might be a deterrent. But if Pearl could get straight to an NBA bench, you'd have to think he'd take the gig.

Tom ((Houston))

Give me a Pac10 sleeper

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:55 PM)

I like Cal and Oregon. Neither team is going to wow anyone, but both Cal has a glut of returners back in the lineup and Dana Altman has been coaching Oregon up since he arrived in Eugene. Neither is a top team in the league, but they could benefit from a weak bottom half and get a few wins on the way to possible tourney consideration.

doug (greensboro)

straight up, who wins the 2 unc-duke matchups this year??

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:57 PM)

I think UNC is significantly better at nearly every position, so it's hard for me to see Duke winning. But both games should be absolute joys to watch -- that's going to be some intense uptempo hoops, kids.

John David (Preston KY)

And, what game are you most looking forward to this year? Thanks!

Eamonn Brennan
  (1:59 PM)

The early-season Champions Classic games should be a great time, but the best game on the docket has to be UNC-Kentucky. It's going to be capital-C Crazy.

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:02 PM)

All right, everyone, I'm going to cut the chat off at the prescribed one-hour mark today. I don't like to do it, but today it needs to be done. No time for marathon sessions today.

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:02 PM)

If I didn't get to your questions, feel free to ping me on Twitter (@eamonnbrennan), Facebook (search /EamonnHoops) or send me an email to collegebasketballnation at gmail and I'll try to answer them when I can.

Eamonn Brennan
  (2:03 PM)

Have a fantastic afternoon, kids. And remember: college hoops is just 47 days away. We're so close I can smell it. Peace!