Greetings everyone, happy holidays and an early Happy New Year. Lots of great games to settle in for this week. So let's talk.
Will the Syracuse frontcourt be able to contain Herb Pope Wednesday night? Melo's looked greatly improved this year, but he struggled against bigger and tougher bigs in the BE last year, and Pope might be the toughest matchup for the SU bigs to date. What do you expect to see, and will this be the key matchup in the game?
Rob: Herb Popel has been outstanding, unexpectedly so. Put him as my (for now) Big East POY. Definitely containing him, especially on the boards, will be critical for the Orange but the Hall needs its guards to play smart against the zone and to handle Syracuse's tough backcourt. Should be a good one.
With virtually no big wins in non-conference (Oregon St.'s OT win over Texas seems the best), is it possible the Pac12 is a one bid league? Two are most?
Nate: As of right now, I'd say it's extremely possible.
I know its fun to bag on the 'Cuse for their schedule and for being "barely challenged", but no one talks about the schedule of the other two top big east teams: L'ville and Uconn who have a combined 1 true non conference road game and played powerhouses such as IUPUI, Holy Cross.
Andrew: I'll give you Louisville but UConn played in the Bahamas. I know it's neutral but it still isn't in the same state. I just think good teams ought to go out and play other good teams. Ohio State does. Kansas does. Kentucky does. North Carolina does. Michigan State does. Should I keep going?
Hey Dana, last night on Twitter you posed the question "What is wrong with Pitt?" It seems that what is wrong with this team is their preseason ranking. A preseason unranked team loses to Long Beach St at home in their third game, and it's a non-story when they lose again. The departure of Khem Birch has to be concerning, though.
Chris: What strikes me as strange about Pitt is exactly what my colleague, Seth Davis, pointed out on Twitter: they aren't tough. That's always been Pitt's bread and butter. They've been undersized and undermanned before. They've never been soft. Agree losing Birch is concerning, though I always argue if a kid doesn't want to be with you, let him go.
Dana:I root for 3 diff teams ND,the Illini and NM lobos...which one has the best chance of making noise come dance time?? thanks
You gotta pick one, man! I'd say Illinois. Know the Illini lost to Missouri but saw a lot in those final minutes.
Could you give the most overrated and underated...mid-major team'BCS' teamplayer conference
Brandon: Overrated has to be a tie between Memphis and Vandy. Underrated has to be Missouri. Conference: overrated winner is Pac 12. Underrated... hmmm.. Missouri Valley or A10. Player: underrated is Doug McDermott. Gotta think on overrated on that one.
Regarding the 'Cuse pre-Big East SOS debate: what's with the constant "they never play outside the state of New York" thing? It's a big state. Comparing true road games or even miles traveled (the Garden is 253 miles away) makes more sense. If it's because the entire state of NY is considered their comfort zone, it just sounds like they're being penalized for traveling well. Thoughts?
Lisa: Syracuse fans tend to live in the state of New York just like Connecticut fans live in the state of Connecticut and Texas fans tend to live in the state of Texas. My point is that good teams ought to go out and play good teams. Leave your comfort zone. You can't say NYC is a road game and then say Syracuse owns the Garden during the Big East tourney.
Mississippi state or Baylor? Who ya got?
Good one... Very impressed with Arnett Moultrie and all of Mississippi State. Think winning in Dallas, though, is a tall order. Lot of good athletes in this one though. Dee Bost vs. Pierre Jackson could be fun.
Creighton hasn't had a nationally broadcasted game this season. Do you think that when people actually see them play they'll stop thinking they're "overrated"?
Fred: Maybe but doubtful. Some people have a hard time looking beyond name brands for teams and conferences... despite how good the Valley has been. They'll get theirs come March.
Dana: You've chatted for nine minutes and still haven't mentioned Kentucky. Who's your favorite Cat?
Rick: Hadn't been asked a Kentucky question. That could be a record. Hmm.. favorite Cat... I really love Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kid doesn't take a possession off and is as tough as nails.
Dana, povided Xavier gets back to winning, how much consideration will they get for 3 losses while starters were suspended?
John: Certainly it will be taken into consideration by the committee - who was and wasn't on the roster. The Long Beach State loss isn't a disaster. Hawaii not so much.
Virginia has had a pathetic out of conference schedule, but so far has only had one slip up. How well do they need to do in conference to avoid being on the bubble in March and getting the Virginia Tech treatment?
Kyle: Greedy greedy greedy. Remember how bad Virginia has been? The non-conference sched is an issue but this is a legit good team. I don't expect them to slip much below 3d or 4th in the ACC. Gotta really mess up to miss the dance.
What ever happened to the best student section contest that you were talking about a little while back? Where did The Show end up ranking in your eyes?
Justin: We discussed it on our Podcast a few weeks ago. Believe was second to Cameron.
Frank Haith preseason coach of the year and do you thik Pressey got hammered at practice for playing the last 5 minutes against Illinois 1 on 5?
DJ: He's got to be in consideration. THe hire no one thought was a smart one, tons of turmoil in the off season, loses one of his best players to an ACL and they're top 10? As for Pressey, I'd hope he's exhausted from running. That was a debacle flashback to last season. He's smarter than that.
Xavier or the Zags on New Year's eve and who needs it more?
DJ: Xavier is my pick. Home game. both need it for the here and now but Zags need it for the long term.
How will Indiana come out of this tough three game stretch (MSU, OSU, Michigan) to start Big 10 play?
Jeff: Huge question right there. They've got to get one and really need two to sort of live up to the expectations they've earned in the non-conference. Think Ohio State is a tricky order, though I'm curious to see Zeller on Sullinger. I'd say 2-1. Think they're better than Michigan. Michigan State could be a push, but I'll lean Hoosiers.
Related to Allen's question, if LBSU doesn't get automatic bid from Big West, any chance they are an at large big.
Julius: To answer both questions: think Long Beach State is the class of that league. Now that doesn't mean UCSB can't pull an upset, just wouldn't expect it. As for at-large, boy I'd hope they'd be in the conversation. Played a great non-league schedule and have some good wins (at Pitt, against Xavier) to show for it.
Dana, Deeper bench IU or MSU??? And do you see any upsets this week in the BiG 10?
Steve: Well it depends on Jones and Sheehey's availability. That's a short rotation otherwise. As for upsets... hmm... Purdue could give Illinois a game.
Thoughts on the improvement of Kansas State and how do you see them finishing in the Big 12?
Malcolm: Really good turnaround for the Wildcats after a disappointing year last year. Impressed with what Frank Martin has done. In the Big 12, there's a lot of wiggle room right now. I honestly think Missouri is the best team in the conference, slightly ahead of Baylor. After that I'd put KState on line with Kansas.
Don't you think it is about time for the media to tell the truth, that the PAC-12 is a one bid league this year?
Sarah: I did, I did! Earlier in the chat!
Can St. Joe's challenge Xavier and Saint Louis for the A-10 title?
Paul: Think St. Joe's is vastly improved. Really like how they play together. They can be fun to watch. I still think the top tier of Xavier and St. Louis (and Temple if Scootie Randall gets healthy) is a tough crew to break.
Should Mizzou be on possible upset alert against Old Dominion on Friday? I'm concerned that Mizzou may relapse again to last season style play and give up a big lead and make stupid decisions to allow Old Dominion to stay in the game, much like what happened with Illinois. What do you think?
Chris: ODU isn't as good as they were last year. Not a very good scoring team, which will make it a rough matchup against Mizzou. I'd argue that they got last year out of their system against Illinois. That was a frenetic reaction, it seemed, to the atmosphere.
Dana, whats goin on with the cats? How do you think we'll do against WVU tonight?
Jack: Excellent question. They're young, not just in terms of years but in terms of experience. That's a lot of it. Still too much talent to struggle this much, if you ask me. Think WVU is finding its rhythm. Kevin Jones has been terrific, so I'd say not a good night for Villanova.
Is there a more schizophrenic team than Kansas. If Tyshawn Taylor is playing well, KU is a Sweet Sixteen or even Elite Eight team with the right matchup. If Tyshawn Taylor is playing like he did in the second half of the Duke game, then KU is a bubble team.
Patrick: I think Kansas is exactly what you're seeing right now. They're good some nights and lousy others. That's part and parcel of a young lineup. The Kansas on the front of the jersey can't make up for that.
New Year's Eve - Creighton at Your Wichita State Shockers?
Larry: Nice game. In fact there are a million good games on New Year's Eve. Gonna make for a nice diversion from Dick Clark's Rockin Eve or whatever that stuff is called. Anyway... Place will be jumping. Still lean Creighton.
Do you think Marquette is a top ten team this year? And how will they do in the Big East?
Kevin: Think they are in the top 15 for sure, could push to top 10. Also think they're maybe the fourth or fifth best team in the Big East - Syracuse, Connecticut, Louisville, and then toss up with them and Georgetown. Love Darius Johnson-Odom.
Is Kevin Jones the best player in the Big East right now? Leading in points and rebounds per game!
Chad: I picked Herb Pope in my primer today but Kevin Jones is on my ballot. Pope has been insane all year for a team that has surprised a lot. The question is can he and the Hall keep it going? Not sure.
Can NW make the dance? Only halfway decent win right now is Seton Hall and that might not be halfway decent after the Big East starts playing.
Patrick: Ah, the annual question about Northwestern and the NCAA Tourney. Some year the answer will be yes. The challenge is the Big Ten is pretty darned good. Which can be viewed two ways: if NW gets a few upsets, they're in. If they don't, they're out.
Where you gunna be on New Years Eve for coverage??? Just seeing if your gunna make the Hoosier fanatics happy??
Steve: I was tempted, but my family might disown me. I will be on the Jersey Shore (no, not the one w/ Snooki) watching it while children run amok around me.
Could Texas be a Preseason Top 10 team next year?
Jordan: Wow, let's get thru this year! Impossible to know until we know who's coming back. Kabongo is terrific. Will say that.
Dana, What team are you most surprised about?
Brad: Probably Missouri. Thought Haith was a strange hire. Thought the Bowers injury would destroy them. Surprised locally with St. Joe's. A lot better this year, which you sort of saw coming at the end of last season but still impressive.
Dana, with MD getting Alex Lin in the rotation will that take them to another level in which they so desperately need to be at.
Brett: Well adding Len to the roster, along with Howard, certainly gives Mark Turgeon a lot more to work with. But this isn't going to be an overnight wunderkind success.
Does Tom Crean have the early lead for COY award? What's the rest of the season need to look like for him to be in the conversation?
Seth: I'd say he's in the mix. Think Frank Haith has the early lead, though. What's he need to do? Make the tourney.
How can the Pac-12 be overrated when everyone agrees it's down this year?
Charles: At the beginning of the season, folks thought Cal, UCLA, Washington, Arizona would all be decent. Overrated.
Hey Dana, Who do you have winning the showdown between my Buckeyes and the Hoosiers this weekend?
Andrew: I think Ohio State wins.
Does Ben Howland have a job at the end of the season, and if not, who's in line to take his place? Seems like a good place for Brad Stevens.
Patrick: Brad Stevens is linked to every coaching job in America despite insisting he's going nowhere. I really don't see an Indiana kid leaving for Westwood. I could be wrong. As for Howland, I'd say touch and go.
Hi Dana, great article on Fab - thanks!! Sounds like he has gotten the last years trouble (on and off the court) behind him. Everyone knows he still needs a lot more development but do you think an NBA team would draft him this summer if he entered? Is this a guy you think will stick around for 4 years? Happy holidays!!!
Tim: I'd hope he'd stick around because he needs it. He's remarkably better this year but still has tons to do. That said, the NBA loves to draft guys on upside and potential, and a 7-foot kid with potential is enticing. Hopefully he resists.
Why is Georgetown's start considered so "surprising"? Their roster is littered with four star recruits and they start three guys who have been in the program for four years. Is it a matter of people underrating the program that JTIII has built?
David: They lost their two best scorers and the guys who dictated play in Austin Freeman and Chris Wright. Henry Sims wasn't even in the conversation last year and now he's terrific. I think that's surprising. Not meant to be a knock on JT3 at all. If anything it's a compliment.
Were you as shocked as I was at how the Diamond Head final played out? Not surprised k-state won, just figured it would be a close game.
Dusty: A little bit. Thought it could be closer than that but honestly I think it just tells you that KState is finding its rhythm.
Do you think pitt will fix its struggles?
Jim: I'd never bet against Jamie Dixon. He's shown time and time again, it's not a good idea.
Settle the argument for us. Which is a bigger game for Louisville? Georgetown or UofK?
Andrew: Trick question, I suppose. Obviously the conference wins are critical and technically should matter more. But I'd argue beating the No. 2 team in the country, your detested rival, would rank bigger. That game is NYE fireworks 12 hours early.
If you had to guess, which Big Ten teams make the NCAA tourney?
Seth: Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan State. Think Michigan probably gets in, too and Purdue has a good shot but those 2 aren't locks yet.
So UVA is good with a bad non-con sched..... hmmmmmm. How is this any different than VT the past few years? Why is UVA getting a pass?
Jeremy: They're not yet. They need to win ACC games. If they go in the league and tank, they won't get in.
Do you believe Rick Pitino when he says 2017 is it?
Patrick: I believe he believes it. I'll believe it when I see it. But Lord, it's not like he's saying he's retiring tomorrow. That's five years away. That's a long time!
So I guess Phil Martelli's official stance is say nothing, look stupid, and hope everyone forgets about it?
Dusty: Apparently it's working, too. Everyone seems to forgot about their mission to free Todd O'Brien.
Does Dayton have a chance to compete in A-10?
Dan: Think Dayton is decent but not sure they are in that top tier just yet.
Hi dana it;s been a long time since we last spoke to each other my question is do you think notre dame could be a ncaa team by march thoughts.
Victor: I don't see it happening this year. I know Mike Brey has done a great job in the past winning without star players (no Harangody) but tough sledding without Abromaitis, I'd argue, this year.
What mid-major do you give a shot at making the final four (not Long Beach State or Creighton)
Brandon: Does Xavier count?
Xavier, Memphis, and Gonzaga aren't mid-majors, so they don't count.
Brandon: Hmm... I'm not sure I can say any with huge conviction, then. I mean someone could have a VCU in them but is there one out there I see right now other than those I'm not allowed to mention? Not sure.
If Indiana wins both games this week (long shot, I know) should they be a top 10 team? Top 5?
Jay: Longshot, yes but top 10 yes. Top 5 harder to break in to. Someone (other than just Ohio State) would have to lose.
Alright folks, time to bolt. Happy New Year to all of you and see you in 2012