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January 29, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Joe Lunardi

Joe Lunardi
  (3:00 PM)

Greetings, all. Thanks for waiting an hour. Ready to go now.

Robert A. Booey (San Francisco)

What is your beef with IU?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:04 PM)

Assuming you mean as a No. 1 seed, Robert, as I have the Hoosiers No. 5 overall. The fact is that 10 of Indiana's 18 wins have come against the bottom half of Division I. The only other non-AQ teams in the current field close to that number are Wichita State (10), Pitt (11) and Arizona State (12). So literally more than half of IU's record has been assembled in glorified practices.

Corey (Overland Park)

How damaging was the Texas Tech loss to Iowa State's chances to make the field?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:05 PM)

Not crushing. That one game isn't going to keep the Cyclones out of the tournament.

spike (college park, MD)

Realistically, can Maryland get into the tournament without beating Duke in a couple of weeks? In other words, would a high volume of ACC wins be enough in spite of a lack of high quality wins?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:07 PM)

It's going to be interesting, Spike. I told the Maryland people in December that they should expect a lot of conversation around that very topic. You're right, though. What the Terps need is something like 12-6 in the expanded ACC schedule to make it a moot point.

Navy pilot (Memphis Tiger fan in FL)

why all of the love for Creighton & Wichita St? Between them, the best win I see is Wisconsin, and each has a bad loss. Wichita st lost to what appears to be a terrible Tennessee team, and Creighton lost twice LAST WEEK. Why are they looked as so much better than Memphis (last week's last team in)?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:10 PM)

No offense, sir, but both of those Missouri Valley teams have flown circles around Memphis thus far. Look a little harder and you'll see Creighton and Wichita are a combined 8-2 against teams in the field or under consideration and Memphis is 0-3 against the same group. It's not close.

Bryan (Roanoke, VA)

Will a win against NC State tonight put UVA back into the tournament discussion?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:12 PM)

I have UVa at No. 61 overall, which is 12 spots out of the current field. Even more than Maryland, the non-conference schedule (No. 337) is a huge anchor. So it's more a case than losing "winnable" games drops the Cavs out of the discussion at this point.

Dan (Charleston, SC)

If Arizona State splits their road trip to the Washington schools this weekend will that be good enough to keep them in the field?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:13 PM)

You should read my column today, Dan. The answer has to do with both ASU's performance as well as those teams right around them on the S-Curve. They could be caught from behind in your scenario, for instance, or lose and stay put if many other key teams lose. I will say the game at Washington is especially big, though.

Max (Brookings, South Dakota)

What's your criteria for teams making the tournament from mid-major conferences, specifically the Summit League? Who ever's in first, currently?? It seems you like to bounce around with whoever is in first place.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:14 PM)

Current league leaders (in CAPS) are always included, yes.

CJ (Iowa)

What are you thinking? How can you have only 4 A10 teams in while putting in 8 Big East. Charolette and Richmond are better than Nova and Pitt. If the bracket was today they would be out. New Mexico is to high. They just got blasted by SDSU and you still have them at 4. Alford can't coach a big game, especially on the road. OK ST is not in. And UCLA is not a 6 seed. Blown out by AZ ST. Illinois is done, 2-5 in conf play. Minnesota is barely hanging on. Tubby will screw that up too. They are definitly not a 5 seed. And come on, you need to let go of Kentucky and UNC. Unless they go on a run they are probaly not in. If they do get in it is on namesake alone. Please rip up your bracket and start over.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:17 PM)

I think lots of things, C.J., and what I think right now is that you need to see things a little more clearly. I've seen Charlotte, Richmond, Villanova and Pitt multiple times, for instance, and there's just no way the first two are better than the second pair. And I'm an A-10 guy. Most of your other points are again the result of viewing individual teams in isolation, when the reality is that every team is constantly being evaluated against the ongoing performances of every other team.

Chris (Leawood, KS)

Joe, you mentioned that KU is you #1 overall team as of today. Was wondering why you have them in the south bracket and not the midwest? Wouldn't that be the best place for KU? Thanks!

Joe Lunardi
  (3:18 PM)

What do you think the KU crowd would prefer, Chris? Mileage is about the same to each regional site, but a South placement allows the No. 2 overall team to be much closer to a regional site. All of these things come into play.

Joe (Sheboygan, WI)

Question about bracketing - A team like Miami doesn't have a natural 2nd/3rd round site this year. Might they get shipped to Austin even if it is 100/200 miles further in order to accomodate other teams staying close to home?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:19 PM)

It's going to happen, Joe, so my answer is "yes."

Steven (Key West, Florida)

Is today's bracket based on where we stand today, or based on where you think teams will finish? Thanks.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:19 PM)

Always the former, Steve.

Devin (Indy)

Lunardi, Gonzaga a 2 over Butler a 3? Last I checked Butler beat Gonzaga? And doesn't the committee take into account losses without your best player? Not that losing at La Salle is the worst loss ever...

Joe Lunardi
  (3:23 PM)

Folks always get hung up (too much so) over individual game results. And this example is especially juicy. Devin wants Butler ahead of Gonzaga due to a single game in which the Bulldogs didn't have their best player, then to essentially ignore the loss Butler suffered without the same guy. It can't and doesn't worth that way. Otherwise, South Dakota State would be slotted ahead of New Mexico, Central Connecticut over La Salle, Columbia over Villanova, etc. Repeat after me: BODY OF WORK.

Dave S (Owensboro KY)

Hey Joe, I notice the 1-seed for Florida. I agree! But recently you did say that the SEC would likely be incapable of providing enough profile fodder for the Gators to ultimately get that 1-seed. Yes, the SEC is...uh, not good. But it's so "not good" I can't imagine Florida losing another game (at Mizzou, Ole Miss, at UK) included. Especially at UK. Wouldn't a dead run through the conference get them on the top line? I think they're the best team in the country, and I'm not even a big fan.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:25 PM)

Since that statement, every legitimate one-seed candidate (sans Kansas) has lost, in some cases multiple games. So that door opened and the Gators burst through. That's the good news for Florida. The bad is that all the others can afford to lose and stay on the top line. Either way, they are VERY good and I'm feeling good about my preseason pick for them to play in the national title game.

Kyle Bruinsma (Grand Rapids, MI)

Even with such a young team, how high can Michigan rise?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:26 PM)

Uh, how about No. 1? What's left after that??

Scott (Fort Worth)

Do you see any chance that if Akron and Ohio U each have 25+ wins and meet in the Conference Championship that the loser could get at-large consideration and finally make the MAC a two-bid league again?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:26 PM)

Not gonna' happen, Scott. The MAC continues to schedule too poorly out-of-conference to put itself in position for multiple bids.

Christian (Boondocks, MI)

Are you still seeding Kentucky based on a prediction that they "might turn their season around"? Cuz Boise State has a better resume and they're outside the Bubble right now.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:29 PM)

Quantitatively, Christian may be right, but we all know there's more to it than that. Is the Committee more likely (right or wrong) to look at a 4-2 SEC team or 2-3 Mountain West team? Then there are more qualitative metrics such as Pomeroy and our own BPI. These come into play more and more each season, as those don't come close to favoring Boise State. So I'd close with this: Who would be favored on a neutral court and who would you bet on if your life depended on it?

Jake V (San Diego)

Is there any way in which UM and MSU won't both be in Auburn Hills (assuming they both get a top 3 seed)?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:31 PM)

Unlikely, but not impossible. They are so many good Big Ten teams that the chase for those two pod-leading spots could be unusually crowded. The flip side is that nearby Dayton as another subregional host is also available for top Big Ten teams (and, potentially, Kansas City).

Matt (Philly)

Looking at the RPI, how big of a difference is beating #300 on the road compared to beating them at home? Because it seems like that's how the A-10, MWC and MVC always boost their rankings.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:32 PM)

It's actually avoiding the 300-types, home or away, that helps the most.

James (CT)

Would UConn be in the field if they were eligible?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:32 PM)

Yes, right around an 8/9 seed level this week.

Lee (PA)

If Gonzaga wins out, what are their chances of getting a #1 seed? What needs to happen to have that happen?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:33 PM)

It could happen, Lee, but I just think there are too many top seed candidates for it to come to pass.It's more likely the Zags lose a game they shouldn't than everything break their way with a half-dozen other teams.

James (Norristown, PA)

Earlier in the year you said you thought it probably wasn't likely that the Big East could get more than 7 teams in, and more likely that they would have less than that. Since you now have Villanova in the tourney and St. John's right outside looking in, do you think it's possible now that we could see 8 or even 9 BE teams in? Or do you think the teams knock each out by the end of the year?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:35 PM)

Great question, James, and anyone who had Villanova beating Louisville and Syracuse back-to-back please raise your hands! Given that, along with St. John's, the Big East is in a much better position than we could have thought. Who knows? Maybe it's eight and it comes down to a rematch between Nova and the Johnnies at MSG. The first game was pretty good, no?

Kevin (Chicago)

Can Illinois get into the tournament simply by not losing to any of the bottom teams in the Big 10, considering wins against Zags, Butler and Ohio St.? Granted, they have already lost to Northwestern and Purdue, but I mean from here on out.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:36 PM)

They have to get to an 8-10 conference record, Kevin. Only once has a team worse than that in league play ever gotten at at-large bid.

Mike (Ku fan in StL)

KU's offense and defense are miles apart. Historically, what team had the largest "quality" spread between the two and made it to the final 4?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:38 PM)

Miles? According to KenPom, Kansas is No. 19 in offensive efficiency and No. 3 in defensive efficiency. We've seen way, way worse in the Final Four over the years.

Milton (Illinois)

Was the Lobos loss to SDST a case of an off night while playing a very hungry and desrperate team or a harbinger of things to come?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:38 PM)

No way to know that until both teams play again. I would lean strongly toward the former.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:39 PM)

Okay, let's go "rapid fire" for about 10 minutes before I've got to scram for a radio interview.

Kalil (Ohio)

Is Wichita State overrated?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:39 PM)

No, and if so, only a tiny bit.

John (Tucson, AZ)

Why is Duke a 1 seed still?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:41 PM)

Only two teams in America have a "win average" (e.g, average ranking of all teams they've beaten) under 100, which is outstanding. Duke is one of them. Bonus point to whomever gets the other.

Phil (Waco)

Do you see Baylor moving up or down from an 8 seed the rest of the year?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:41 PM)

Seems like a likely destination for the Bears, plus or minus a line.

Steve (Kentucky)

What's the chance Indiana and Louisville are both in Lexington for early rounds?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:42 PM)

Starting to look like Indiana will be in Dayton.

Craig (Phoenix)

Michigan

Joe Lunardi
  (3:42 PM)

Nope (141.9 for Big Blue).

justin (fargo)

Have you looked into the bracketbuster yet??? Any big match-ups to see?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:43 PM)

Start working on that this coming Friday. Pairings announced next Monday on ESPNU.

John (Tucson, AZ)

Arizona.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:43 PM)

Close (104.8).

Lee (PA)

Miami, Fla? Gonzaga? Butler?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:43 PM)

Oh-for-three.

Adam (Albuquerque)

New Mexico.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:44 PM)

D-I-N-G (97.1). Congrats!!

Bill (Lexington)

Will Louisville play in Lexington in NCAA's?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:44 PM)

Almost certainly, yes.

Victor (Boulder, CO)

Do upcoming matchups @Utah and @Oregon State hurt Colorado's RPI and/or potential seeding, even if they win both road games?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:45 PM)

Could hurt RPI a bit, but won't change seeding in a negative way.

Brian (Villanova)

Record for Villanova at end of regular season. Go.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:46 PM)

I'm too smart to venture a guess (I went to St. Joe's!).

Pat (Albany)

On the Win-Average question - Butler?BTW, re the point about the Butler / Gonzaga seeding, Butler's "body-of-work" looks like its at least the equal of the Zags, actually better.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:47 PM)

Close, but not quite. Zags 6-2 vs. field (Butler 5-3) and a slightly harder schedule overall. Certainly not enough of a gap for a one-possesion game to make the difference.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:48 PM)

That's it for this week, gang. Have a great one!