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April 17, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Joe Lunardi

Joe Lunardi
  (2:04 PM)

Happy spring! Are we really looking at a 2014 bracket already?!?

Brad (Gadsden,Alabama)

Joe, In the pre-season this past year Kentucky was ranked in the top 10 and they lost to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT everybody talked about how great last years UK class was and they failed

Joe Lunardi
  (2:05 PM)

You have to give Kentucky at least a partial mulligan due to the Nerlens Noel injury. While not a Top 10 team, the Wildcats would have at least made the NCAA tournament. The flip side is that maybe more of this season's frosh would have bolted.

Bay (FL)

If Smart, Nash and Brown do return for OKstate where do you put them in your way to early rankings.

Joe Lunardi
  (2:06 PM)

Have the Cowboys as a No. 4 seed (15th overall) in the first 2014 bracket.

Jake Rood (Iowa)

Iowa only has a 7seed!?! Come on Joe!!

Joe Lunardi
  (2:08 PM)

Hard to believe it only took three questions for an Iowa complaint. The Hawkeyes are 25th overall on our board. Most would consider that pretty good after a lengthy NCAA tournament drought.

L. Kepley (Raleigh, NC)

Where is NC State this year?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:08 PM)

Still in Raleigh, but not an NCAA tournament contender at this point.

Nigel (Kingston JA)

Will the AAC become a major Basketball Conference

Joe Lunardi
  (2:09 PM)

Yes, at least this season. Louisville, UConn and Memphis are all Top 15 teams.

rocky (michigan)

if amir williams turns out to be the player he was projected to be how good can ohio state be ?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:10 PM)

Well, Rocky, I have the Buckeyes as a No. 2 seed in this bracket. So maybe that's an answer for you.

Andrew (WI)

You have the MVC with only 1 bid, without anyone on the radar to get a 2nd. Should the MVC be concerned?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:12 PM)

The reality is the Valley will take a step backward losing Creighton. Wichita State picked the right time for its Final Four run, though, keeping some cache for the conference and returning as a likely ranked team. Northern Iowa would be my second-place pick, but not a serious at-large candidate at this point.

Andrew (WI)

By the way, may want to go in and manually fix your conference rundown in your projection. Looks like it got wrecked by realignment.

Joe Lunardi
  (2:15 PM)

Thanks, Andrew. That segment is clearly not correct. The actual breakdown is as follows: B10 (7), ACC (6), BE (5), B12 (5), P12 (5), SEC (5), AAC (4), MWC (4), A10 (3), WCC (2).

James Thomas (Kentucky )

I think your first bracketology is almost perfect considering the players we know that are staying and leaving, which conference do you think will be the toughest and which conference will have the most get in to the tourney?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:18 PM)

James, just wondering if your home state has anything to do with your opinion...

Jason (Germany)

Can you clarify? With Smart returning, along with Nash and Brown, you are saying they project as a #4 seed, no higher? In other words, you took that into account when building your bracket projection?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:18 PM)

Yes.

Andrew (WI)

I think you deserve a medal for building a bracket without making a conference realignment-related mistake. CAA autobid apparently to Charleston, Patriot autobid to Boston U, etc.

Joe Lunardi
  (2:19 PM)

Now you're talking, Andrew! And extra credit for Elon in the Southern Conference (in case Davidson leaves sooner rather than later).

Amaru (Anchorage, AK)

Say UNC picks up Wiggins, where would the land seeding wise?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:19 PM)

Top line (pending more departures from current team).

David (Charlotte, NC)

As a Maryland fan, what type of expectations should I have for the team next year?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:20 PM)

I don't think the guards are explosive enough to contend with the best teams in the ACC, and that was before losing the big guy.

John (Detroit)

Does Michigan's 2 seed take a hit at all if Hardaway officially announces he's leaving for the NBA draft at his press conference in 45 min?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:21 PM)

Most likely, yes. North Carolina (for the moment) would be the team to move up as a No. 2 seed.

Jason (Gville FL)

Florida seems low at a 5 seed. They lose three perimeter scores but gain what should be one of the best front courts in the NCAA plus the second highest rated point guard out of high school. A little insight into your reasoning would be much appreciated?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:22 PM)

Here's my main insight, Jason: We still have 11 months to get it right!!

Brad (Rhode Island)

Why do you think Baylor, BYU, UVA, Alabama, Stanford, and Iowa make the jump from NIT to NCAA but not Providence. Providence returns 4 starters and adds Tyler Harris and Brandon Austin to an already talented core

Joe Lunardi
  (2:24 PM)

Ed Cooley asked me to leave the Friars out. Seriously, I looked hard at the Friars, but am a little concerned about the shorter "coat tails" of the new Big East. Will take a closer look a their status and non-conference schedule in the summer or fall, when these projections tend to be more accurate.

Matt (Kentucky )

Re: UK next year. Not all recruiting classes created equal. Plus 3 important returning upperclassmen

Joe Lunardi
  (2:24 PM)

So you're saying I should have the 'Cats better than No. 1 overall??

Gerardo (AZ)

Hi Joe! I'm slightly surprised you don't have ASU anywhere to be seen. Jahii Carson is really a one-of-a-kind player. If gambling were legal, I'd bet that he carries them into the tournament. Thoughts?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:25 PM)

ASU was considered. Hopefully they play a better non-conference schedule to enhance their at-large profile for next year.

Jason (Gville FL)

Cop out answer Joe!

Joe Lunardi
  (2:26 PM)

Maybe I'm feeling a tad burned from riding the Gators so had this past season...

David (Boston)

BC was oone of the most improved teams year over year this season. With everyone returning, do they make the big dance?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:27 PM)

Not seeing that, David, in what is an absolutely loaded ACC.

Adam (Denver)

Gonzaga as a 4 seed in the west. Is this with or without Kelly Olynyk? How will his draft decision later this month affect the preseason seeding for the Zags?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:27 PM)

The Zags would obviously slide even further in that case.

Phillip (KY)

I know you have Louisville as a 2 seed which is good. It just seems that a team that is returning most players from a championship team would get a little more consideration for a top line. Im assuming thats based on who you think will be leaving. Who do you think will be leaving for Louisville?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:28 PM)

My calculation took away both guards and Dieng.

Gerardo (AZ)

Of the four teams Wiggins is considering, three would clearly jump to (or stay in) the top line. Where would you put Florida St if that is his choice?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:28 PM)

Would have to squeeze the Seminoles into the bracket somewhere.

Kevin (PA)

I see you have Duke on the top line. How much better do you see them being than last season?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:29 PM)

They may be worse. Read my blog post today for an in-depth view of why Duke was chosen as the fourth No. 1 seed.

Adam (Denver)

This past year many analysts said around a dozen teams could win the national title. How many teams do you think are in the title conversation next year? Any darkhorse contenders?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:31 PM)

Sounds about right, Adam. My dark horses would include Oklahoma State, UConn, Memphis and Tennessee.

Todd (Champaign)

With the Illini losing 4 significant players, what should make me confident they can get in next year?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:32 PM)

I'm not confident, Todd, so you probably shouldn't be.

Matt (Kentucky)

Sorry joe I was referencing that UK remark to the guy talking about last season. Not your ranking of them

Joe Lunardi
  (2:32 PM)

No worries, Matt.

James (Houston)

So, what are the Lunardi Final four picks this year?!

Joe Lunardi
  (2:32 PM)

Good one, James...

John (Detroit)

Who is your favorite to win it all with respect to your latest bracket?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:33 PM)

I'll take the two Wildcats (Kentucky and Arizona) and you can take the field!!

Bob (Seattle)

Surprised that MSU is a #1 seed. No incoming class, probably lose Payne, maybe Harris. If both go pro, where does MSU end up?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:34 PM)

This seeding would certainly need to be adjusted in that case.

Scott (CT)

UK on paper looks great, But rarely do freshman translate to national champions, Looking at a better Uconn team than 2011, and I don't see any better Guard play than Uconn's. What your opinion on Uconn's chances?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:35 PM)

Rarely? Didn't it just happen 13 months ago? As for UConn, the Huskies are 11th overall on our board.

Rob (Raleigh)

Really, NCSU not even on the bubble? Miami is? Not much thought given to this obviously, but NCSU still has 3McD's starting and 4 high level players coming into the program and a transfer(turner) ready to step in. Targeting some JUCO/Transfer bigs right now for immediate impact and they will likely end up with a better seed than this year.

Joe Lunardi
  (2:37 PM)

I may be overreacting, Rob, and will look at it more closely. Not in love with either State or Miami at this point.

Zack (Ohio )

harvard question joe

Joe Lunardi
  (2:39 PM)

There was a question about Harvard and a possible single-digit seed. The answer would depend on what the Crimson can do out of conference. The Ivies alone won't get them that good a seed.

Nolan (TN)

Thank you Joe for putting tennessee in your bracket this year! they get Jordan Mcrae trae golden and jeronne maymon plus 3 recruits plus the big man Jarnell stokes but how far do you think they will go in the SEC tourney? By Nolan Age 12

Joe Lunardi
  (2:40 PM)

Shouldn't you be in school, Nolan? Glad you like the Vols pick...

Luke (Kansas City)

Why does everyone disrespect Kansas at the beginning of EVERY season? Yes Kentucky's class is unreal, but in most years, Kansas' class would be ranked #1. Do you think the Jayhawks will drop off as much as everyone else does?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:40 PM)

No, I do not see a huge drop-off. I have the Jayhawks in my Top 10.

Brian (NJ)

Im surprised the Gonzaga seeding assumes Olynyk coming back. If he returns they would have almost every contributor from last year's team (Harris and Hart only contributors gone).

Joe Lunardi
  (2:41 PM)

Everything went right (which rarely happens, as we know).

Joe (Troy, NY)

Was your placement of Syracuse pre or post MCW's declaration? What if CJ Fair goes?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:42 PM)

Post Carter-Williams, pre-Fair.

B Mand (Sarasota, FL)

Assuming Cincinnati stays in the AAC for a few years, could you see any other team competing with them and UCONN year in and year out?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:42 PM)

Memphis, maybe Temple.

Joe (Troy, NY)

Joe, UConn seems like they would be a match for the New ACC....emerging football program, established Hoops power. How come they weren't ever considered?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:43 PM)

I expect it to happen at some point.

Nolan (TN)

Yes Joe but I am homeschooled and I get done at 2:30. and do you think Jabari Parker for Mason Plumlee? And will duke get to the Final Four?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:44 PM)

Nice! But not seeing Duke in next year's Final Four.

Judd (Texas)

Joe, looks like you have La Salle as the favorite in the A10 and, no A10 teams higher than an 8 seed. Does losing Butler and Xavier really hurt them that much in regards to RPI?

Zack (Ohio )

Would Kansas ever think about swithing to the B1G?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:46 PM)

To the A-10 question, yes, those are very big losses from an RPI perspective.

Joe Lunardi
  (2:47 PM)

To Zack, I think we've all learned the hard way not to dismiss any possibilities regarding conference re-alignment.

John (Detroit)

Call me crazy, but with Penn St having Newbill, Marshall, and Frazier back, are they strong enough to compete for an NCAA birth?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:47 PM)

You're not crazy, John, but the league is still too good.

Tom (Malvern, PA)

Nova as only an 11 seed? I would think they would be higher.

Joe Lunardi
  (2:49 PM)

Seemed a little off to me, too, Tom. But they were a true 10-seed this past year and their new league isn't nearly as good. That's a real storyline for the coming season.

Joe Lunardi
  (2:49 PM)

Last three questions...

Russ (NYC)

Why no love for St. John's? Returning entire team basically and got 5 star recruit in Jordan, plus the additions of Sanchez, Gift and 3 point specialist Hooper.

Joe Lunardi
  (2:50 PM)

First Four Out at this point. And, to repeat, let's not forget the new Big East could have far shorter "coat tails" than its predecessor.

Judd (Texas)

Even though most teams only saw them once on their regular season schedule? Could a stronger non-conference outlook improve the chances of say, VCU, or is this just the beginning of the end for A-10 tourney prominence?

Joe Lunardi
  (2:51 PM)

The smarter/better of the remaining A-10 teams will schedule "up" out-of-conference, as Temple and UMass once did with incredible success. It'll be more like what the A-10 has always been. It's the most recent seasons which are an exception.

Timmy (CT)

Does your bracketology column explain how you place teams into the bracket before the games are played? It'll be nice to see UConn back in the field

Joe Lunardi
  (2:53 PM)

Well, Timmy, that's the trick, isn't it? Some think it's crazy to try, and others can't get enough of it. I try to split the different and not take the year-in-advance bracket very seriously.

Joe Lunardi
  (2:53 PM)

Until next time, thanks and happy hoops!!