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February 19, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Joe Lunardi

Joe Lunardi
  (3:00 PM)

Sorry for the one-hour delay. Good to go now...

Jake (MI)

Hi Joe, love the work you do. In last year's tournament it seemed like there were a lot of mid-major 12 and 13 seeds that at least had a chance to pull off upsets in the tournament (12 VCU, 12 Long Beach, 13 Montana, even 14 Belmont). Any thoughts on who might have a shot this year? It seems like the pool is a little thinner.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:02 PM)

Hard to say without actual match ups, Jake, but I think we'll see more than a few "live" mid-majors in the field. Middle Tennessee, Belmont, Akron, Louisiana Tech, Bucknell, South Dakota State and Davidson are all good enough to win a game in the tournament.

Terps (College Park, Md)

We are potentially a team folks might want to avoid in the NCAA tourney. If Alex Len plays his game, we are going to be tough to face in the NCAA tourney. What do we have to do other than Beat UNC at home? Beat the teams we need to beat?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:04 PM)

Am not at all confident in Maryland making the tournament. A .500 ACC team with a near-300 non-conference schedule has more reasons to miss the field than make it. Let's get another good win or two, including one away from home, and then re-connect.

John (Chicago)

Hey Joe, love your work! Do you think its possible that the Illinois State Redbirds being a hot streak as of recent (7 of our last 9, wins over Indiana State and Creighton) could get an at-large? I know we would have to probably make the championship, but we have a BPI of 56 and is one of the hottest under the radar teams.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:06 PM)

Understandably, John, you're omitting the standard RPI/SOS numbers for Illinois State (111/116). Like the RPI or not, that's not going to get it done for the Redbirds.

Zach Wayne (New York)

Michigan St. deserves a 1 seed over Florida. MSU has 3 wins over Top 15 teams and losses to only top ten teams and Miami before they became the 2nd best in the country. Florida has no wins over top 15 teams and 2 out of 3 losses to unranked teams, that are not in the top ten currently, like Miami. Don't you agree that this week MSU is better, not only ranked, but they are more clutch?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:08 PM)

It's close, Zach, but I'd still give the nod to Florida for now (and it has nothing to do with "clutch," whatever that means). Beat Indiana tonight and then check out the next BRACKET MATH post tomorrow. You'll get your wish.

Matt b (NY)

If UNC does decent for the rest of the year, then beats duke to end the season, would you say that gets them in the big dance?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:09 PM)

Yes, decently.

Dave (Chicago)

Joe, what is the logic for having Illinois as a 10 seed? I feel their overall resume suggests they should be higher.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:10 PM)

The Illini are actually a No. 9 seed on the S-Curve, but dropped a line to avoid early-round conflicts with other Big Ten entries. They are rising about a line a week at this point and should continue to do so as the conference record improves.

Pearson Harper (Hillsborough, NC)

Why is Gonzaga so high up? They have only played 2 ranked teams and lost to both of them. Illinois and Butler. So, when you look at a team like Duke, you see differences. Like the fact that Duke has had one of the toughest schedules in the country, and they are dealing with an injury to one of their best players. I know you can't consider that until he comes back (if he does). but I just wanted to put that out there.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:11 PM)

The Zags have actually played four games against RPI Top 25 teams and won three of them. Don't confuse the polls with any indicators of actual quality.

myturn (Here)

Joe... Why Saint Mary's over Maryland?Fact: Saint Mary's has ZERO wins vs. RPI top 50. BYU (69), Santa Clara (96), and Harvard (92) are it's best wins. Fact: Maryland has two top 50 wins. Plus, their other top 100 (Stony Brook) is higher than SC and Harvard. Fact: Saint Mary's has two losses to sub 100 RPI teams (Georgia tech and Pacific) Fact: Maryland has Zero losses below 77. The worst Maryland loss is bubble team Virginia (currently listed as "in"). How can the SM profile be stronger? RPI and BPI are both within 5 of each other.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:13 PM)

One teams has eight road wins, the other has two. Next question.

Peej (NC)

Is Villanova in the field going 2-2 in the next four and losing in the first round of the BE tournament?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:14 PM)

Probably not, as that first-round conference tournament loss would likely be a "bad" one.

Matt (New Jersey)

What are Iowa's chances on making the tournament? I think they should be in, they have lost some really close games to some really good teams in the best confrence.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:15 PM)

Think Penn State from its NIT title season. Iowa's non-conference schedule (currently No. 325) will be an anchor in the absence of an otherwise overwhelming case, which does not exist to this point.

Ben (Circleville, OH)

In my opinion, Kentucky has 2 games which will decide their season, and I think they need to win them both. They play both Missouri and Florida at home. If they win those 2, they are in. If they split, they need a couple wins in the SEC tourney. If they lose both, their only hope is to win the conference tourney. Your thoughts?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:16 PM)

Totally agree (assuming they beat the weaker teams on the remaining schedule).

UNI in Wisconsin (Wausau)

Imagine that Northern Iowa wins out the remaining 4 regular season games and then loses to WSU in the Valley title game. Enough of a finish to get at large? (assume they beat the BlueJays in the semifinals)

Joe Lunardi
  (3:17 PM)

Would be very, very close. One worry: I've come to think the week-early MVC tournament is a negative for the league's bubble teams. There's almost been an "out of sight, out of mind" effect.

Gary (Albuquerque)

So Joe, RPI rankings are a useful tool for making brackets for the Tournament correct? Why does the MWC get ignored in your brackets when we are the number 2 rated conference in the country?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:18 PM)

How is four teams (with the highest seed of anyone for New Mexico) "ignoring" the Mountain West? Sometimes I wonder, like with those on Twitter hitting me for leaving UConn out of the field. Oh, well...

Joe (Hammond In)

Why did Notre Dame not move up a seed by beating Pittsburgh on the road? Did that road loss to Providence really hurt that much?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:19 PM)

Joe, remember nothing happens in a vacuum. There were dozens of games last week impacting Notre Dame's seed, not just the two they played.

Grant (Redondo Beach)

Joe, Six Pac Twelve Teams? Really? I would swap the amount of Pac12 with MWC teams considering how strong the MWC is and the RPI for the conference. Does Conference RPI only work for the "big boys" in helping them with teams getting in?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:22 PM)

Conference RPI is a complete non-factor in the Committee's work. And who are we leaving out that should be in? Every team with a winning MWC record is in the current field except Air Force, which is 1-6 against RPI Top 25 and 3-6 on the road. Everyone else is at least two games below .500 in the league.

Coach K (Duke)

Can we be a #1 seed if we lose to Miami on 3/2, potentially lose the ACC by 4 games, and don't win the ACC Tourney?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:22 PM)

No...

Troy (LA)

Can USC make the tournament without winning the Pac 12 tournament?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:23 PM)

Not in basketball...

Pierre (South Dade)

Can Miami afford to lose to Duke on the 2nd and still get a number 1 seed?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:23 PM)

Probably.

Chris (Renaissance City)

Does PC have a chance to get in? How would they have to finish to get there?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:24 PM)

I'm watching the Friars. They are still a ways away from the field (12+ spots), but have at least entered the conversation. Get a couple games above .500 in the Big East and come see me.

Brendan (Fort Collins, CO)

Hey Joe, how far can the CSU rams rise this season?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:25 PM)

Maybe to a No. 4 seed, although I wouldn't bet on it.

Nick H (Akron Ohio)

If Akron wins out but loses to Ohio in the MAC Tourney will you think they can get a at large?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:25 PM)

They can, but I doubt they will. Best non-conference win is Middle Tennessee State (at home, in overtime). Probably not enough.

Nate (Illinois)

Joe, Is the BPI considered by the committee when it comes to selection and seeding? It seems to be flawed or at the least not a good indicator of tournament quality teams...

Joe Lunardi
  (3:26 PM)

It's not an "official" metric, Nate, but each Committee member is within his/her right to use any (or no) quantitative evaluation tool.

Brian (Chicago)

What is the #1 factor looked at by the tournament selection committee when comparing two teams? Looking at the illini, while they struggled in early conference play, there is not 1 team in the nation will more impressive wins (@ Zags, Butler, Ohio St, Indiana, @ Minnesota). Shouldn't they be a higher seed than a 10?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:27 PM)

Hard to say, Brian, as each member can emphasize his/her own preferred criteria. I lean toward significant wins, especially away from home, and non-conference scheduling.

Kendall (Washington)

With teams such as OSU and K-State playing as well as they are right now, could this push Gonzaga to a #1 seed?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:29 PM)

If Gonzaga makes it to the top line, they will have pushed themselves there (and gotten help from current top teams losing multiple times). The strength of their early "victims" isn't really a factor at this point.

Cardsownthecuse (Louisville, KY)

What does Louisville have to do to get a 1 seed in the coming weeks? Do they have to beat Syracuse AND winning the Big East Tournament?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:29 PM)

Probably...

Jay (CA)

The RPI is a joke...Indiana is the overall #1 seed and they are 12th in the RPI. New Mexico is 3rd. How does that make any sense?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:30 PM)

It's only one tool, Jay.

Greg (New York)

What are your thoughts on the Pomeroy ratings? I don't like them at all, because margin of victory means NOTHING; the game changes once the outcome has been decided-Some coaches opt to empty their bench, or slow the game down, while some choose to run the score up.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:32 PM)

I look at EVERYTHING, Greg, including the teams themselves on the court. Different metrics are of differing value given the circumstances of individual teams. The key is spotting the outliers in each system (including your own eyes!!) and adjusting the evaluations accordingly.

John Boehner (Tanning bed)

How does the Big East get more teams in then the B1G?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:32 PM)

Well they start with four more schools, so that helps...

Dennis (Waikaloa HI)

Two questions: 1) You have had the Zags as a final four pick all season. Just lucky or did you see the emergence of Olynyk? 2) I also understand your logic on the overall four and five seeds potentially matched up in the Elite Eight. How often has that happened and what has resulted?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:34 PM)

Dumb luck (ha, ha...). And the Elite Eight pairings rarely work out that way. Could have been a UConn-Memphis final (West Region, 2010), but Memphis lost to Missouri in the Sweet 16. I also recall a certain regional final between St. Joe's and Oklahoma State in 2004, but would rather not go there...

Scrapper (Chicago)

Where can we go to see your current S-curve?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:35 PM)

BRACKET MATH (every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday).

Jimmy (Louisville, KY)

Joe, Maryland would have 8 road wins, too, if they played road games against Utah St., Drake, BYU, Portland, SanFran, Santa Clara, USD, Loyola Marymount...9 if you throw in St. Mary's loss to UNI. Maryland's road losses have been to Miami, Duke, UNC and FSU. Don't those numbers you so quickly sighted have a lot more to do with opportunity than quality?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:36 PM)

No, they'd actually have to play at least eight road games (which hasn't happened yet).

Wiz (Milwaukee)

Joe, how much would I have to pay to be allowed to follow you around the week before the brackets are announced. It's on my bucket list

Joe Lunardi
  (3:36 PM)

It wouldn't be very exciting, so I suggest you revise your list!!

Dave (Boston)

Joe, how much longer do you think there will even be an NCAA tourney? 10 more years? Or do the superconferences kill it and have their own thing by then?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:37 PM)

No idea, Dave, but consider me retired by then...

Greg (Seattle)

Seems to me like the Zags have hit their ceiling as a 2 seed. Would they drop a line with any loss from here on?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:37 PM)

Agreed, Greg.

Matt (Columbia, MO)

Better team right now, SLU or Mizzou? And what are the circumstances in which Mizzou doesn't get a tourney bid?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:38 PM)

Definitely Saint Louis, Matt. And Mizzou is currently our last team with +80% odds at making the field, so the Tigers are one loss away from official "bubble" status.

Kentucky Blues (Greensboro)

So, if Kentucky has 20 wins, are they in?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:39 PM)

It's just a number (and an especially irrelevant one in Kentucky's case).

Randy (Madison, WI)

An chance Wisconsin gets to a 3 seed?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:39 PM)

Win the Big Ten tournament and we'll talk!

Brandon (Chantilly, VA)

Does a Virginia win over Miami tonight lock up a NCAA spot for the hoos?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:40 PM)

Would all but clinch it, yes...

Brian (Philly)

How about a little love for La Salle? Why is no one talking about the possibility that their backcourt of Duren and Galloway could take some "Power 6" scalps in the tourney?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:41 PM)

Totally agree, Brian. Duren is especially unknown outside the city (and even within the city, for that matter). Explorers really have it going, but also face a very dangerous game at Temple on Thursday.

Neil (New York)

Is there a chance Indiana remains #1 seed overall even if we lose to MSU? Really want to keep Indiana in Indianapolis.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:42 PM)

Might drop for now, Neil, but with plenty of chances to regain that spot.

JJ (USA)

What are Arizona State's chances to make the tournament? If they win @ UCLA or @ Arizona, are they a lock?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:43 PM)

Hard to be a lock with that kind of non-league schedule, JJ.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:43 PM)

Going "rapid fire" down the stretch...

Matt (NC STATE)

At 18-7, is NC State a bubble team with no impressive road wins and weak ACC losses?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:43 PM)

No, they're just average.

DJ (Cuse)

Mizzou wins tonight does that move them to lock status?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:44 PM)

Just about...

Kevin (PA)

When it is all said and done, does Duke end up with #1 seed?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:44 PM)

No.

Justin (Villanova, PA)

Pick one: Cal, Arizona St, or Nova

Joe Lunardi
  (3:44 PM)

Cal.

Ron (Everywhere that is perplexed by Virginia)

So if Virginia beats Miami they get a pass on a terrible RPI, terrible non-conference SOS and fact that they lost to 3 CAA schools?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:45 PM)

Not a pass, just a seed not befitting their league record.

Brent (Indiana)

Why is Butler allowed to play in the Midwest region?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:45 PM)

No longer the "host" school (since leaving the Horizon League).

pj (midlo)

more deserving uva or md

Joe Lunardi
  (3:46 PM)

For now, Virginia.

Nick (Milwaukee)

Marquette vs Syracuse for the Big East Title next week Monday?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:46 PM)

Georgetown has the same Big East record (9-3) as those two.

Tyler (Louisville, KY)

Max number of teams that get in from MWC?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:46 PM)

Five.

ER (Boulder)

Miami or Florida if they match up in the tournament?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:46 PM)

Florida.

Tim (ATL)

Oregon - more likely to play their way up a a seed or two, or down a seed or two?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:46 PM)

Down.

Idranul Eoj (Florida)

How does UF lock in a one seed with the SEC's weak apperance.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:47 PM)

Not relevant.

Danny (Albuquerque)

Will you and the rest of the ESPN crew do a harlem shake video?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:47 PM)

You'll have to ask my friend Ben Franklin about that.

allan (memphis)

Gonzaga or Miami?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:47 PM)

Zags.

kevin (sd)

gonzaga or arizona as best in west?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:48 PM)

Zags, again.

Hamlet (Denmark)

Who wins the Oscar for Best Picture?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:48 PM)

Argo.

Bernie (NY)

Is Cuse the best team in BE?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:48 PM)

Louisville.

JJ (USA)

Why the hate for Kentucky? They have a better resume than Arizona State.

Joe Lunardi
  (3:48 PM)

Not with the current active roster...

Dave (Kansas)

Mizzou or Florida tonight?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:49 PM)

Gators.

Brad (Austin)

What does UT (Texas) have to do to make the tournament?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:49 PM)

Try to qualify in something other than men's basketball.

Nick (South Dakota)

South Dakota State or Murray State Saturday

Joe Lunardi
  (3:49 PM)

Bunnies!!

Tom (Atlanta)

Have you ever been asked to participate in the annual mock selection event in Indy that they did last week?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:50 PM)

Thrice (they should be sick of me by now!!!).

Steve (Kentucky)

Are your locations for teams in total flux or becoming clear?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:50 PM)

Depends on the team.

Albert (Gainesville)

Does the fact that UF and Georgetown attempted to play a game this season come into factor in determining non-conference schedule?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:50 PM)

Not a factor in either case, I don't think.

Paul (Chicago)

Can Illinois make it to the Sweet 16?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:51 PM)

Sure.

Steve (Kentucky)

IU and Louisville in Dayton?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:51 PM)

The lack of a true southern host for Miami and Florida makes that a possibility.

Paul (Chicago)

Can someone just throw you in a room and let you make the (real) brackets?

Joe Lunardi
  (3:52 PM)

That's on my bucket list!!

Joe Lunardi
  (3:52 PM)

Until next time, thanks and Happy Hoops!!