V-MAIL | March 12, 2004 (updated) | Send a V-Mail question
Q: I don't understand how any other conference can have more teams in the Big Dance than the ACC. People are talking about the SEC and maybe the Big 12 having as many as the ACC. Do you think any conference should have more teams in the NCAA Tournament than the ACC? -- AJ Sanders (Baconton, Georgia)
VITALE -- The ACC is the toughest conference in America. I think everyone knows that, so I don't need an RPI to tell me that. I just look at the VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) and I can tell that Florida State, sitting at 6-10 and in seventh place in the ACC, can play with anybody. Just ask the coaches in the ACC and they will tell you how tough the Seminoles are. Put them in some of the other conferences, and they would be in the upper echelon without a doubt. The ACC is numero uno, the premier conference in the nation -- and should have seven teams in the Big Dance.
Q: Can you explain why people consider Jameer Nelson to be the front-runner for player of the year over Emeka Okafor? With a season average of a double-double and almost five blocks per game, Okafor is the most complete player in basketball. I think college basketball fans are captivated by Saint Joseph's undefeated run. ... It's not a team award, it's an individual award that should go to the best individual player in basketball -- and that's Okafor. -- Greg Bennett (Bristol, Connecticut)
VITALE -- Okafor is the best talent in America. He's a shot-blocker, scorer and rebounder. But I still go with Nelson as player of the year because of his consistency, getting it done from day one. Okafor had back spasms earlier this season and they have flared up again recently. Nelson has led his team to a perfect regular season. To the victor goes the spoils.
Q: Why isn't Tubby Smith considered for coach of the year? Everyone said at the beginning of the year, "Kentucky has no shot, they have no bench." Well, the Wildcats are SEC East champions again! St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli has done an awesome job, but look at the relative skill level of the SEC and the A-10. If St. Joe's were in the SEC, the Hawks would barely be above .500, if that, in conference play. -- Kevin (Bowling Green, Kentucky)
VITALE -- Everyone out there, all Tubby's peers, have such great admiration and respect for his ability to coach (and Tubby knows this). When talking about national coach of the year, how can you deny the likes of Phil Martelli, who went undefeated in the regular season, or Stanford's Mike Montgomery, who lost just one game. What about Joe Scott at Air Force, whose team was picked last in the Mountain West and won the regular-season league title? The Falcons beat BYU, Utah, UNLV and New Mexico.
Q: Do you think Pittsburgh has a good chance at the national championship? What's your prediction of how far Pitt will go in the NCAA Tournament? -- Chris Tatar (Pennsylvania)
VITALE -- I think Pittsburgh has a great chance to go to San Antonio. I love the Panthers' defensive tenacity, which is second to none. Pittsburgh has a great diaper dandy in Chris Taft, and an outstanding point guard in Carl Krauser, who has given the Panthers solid point production but hasn't received the respect he's deserved. Coach Jamie Dixon has stepped in, taken the game plan originated by Ben Howland, and executed it. The Panthers communicate very well and they play with a tough mindset physically and emotionally. They represent the city of Pittsburgh well, blue collar all the way.
Q: With some high-profile jobs open (St. John's and UNLV), why don't we hear the name of the most available high-profile coach (Nolan Richardson) as a candidate? -- Chris Pope (Camden, Arkansas)
VITALE -- I hear Richardson's name popping up strong, maybe at Houston to replace Ray McCallum. He could be back. There are a host of other guys waiting for jobs. Names like our ESPN's Steve Lavin, Lon Kruger, Mike Jarvis, Matt Doherty. The coaching carousel should be spinning this offseason.
Q: Do you think Georgia Tech can make a run at the Final Four this year? Syracuse went on a late run to win the national championship last year. The win over Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium should do a lot for Georgia Tech's confidence. -- Tim Poulos (Houston, Texas)
VITALE -- Georgia Tech has the athletic ability, perimeter game and personnel to beat any team on any given night. Tech proved that early by beating Connecticut and Texas Tech, and recently at Duke. This is a dangerous club, and B.J. Elder can flat-out score. You have to like the development of Luke Schenscher and the point-guard play of dynamic Jarrett Jack.
Q: This is ridiculous -- is anyone watching college basketball? None of the three ESPN.com All-American teams includes North Carolina guard Rashad McCants, by far the best player in the best conference (ACC). Why? -- Nick Kulik (Mahwah, New Jersey)
VITALE -- You can only name 15 players for those teams. McCants has certainly enjoyed a great year and is one of the premier scorers in the South and in the nation. He had some shortcomings on the defensive end, but he has gotten better and better in that area. He certainly is an All-America candidate.
Q: I was wondering if you would consider coming out of retirement and coaching at New Mexico State. When coach Lou Henson retires, I think you would be a great choice to replace him. The Pan-a-maniacs would love to have you as coach. -- Jerome (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
VITALE -- Lou Henson is the perfect guy for that job ... you don't want me, even though I'm unbeaten over the past 25 years. I've coached every team in America in that time from the broadcast table! I like the man New Mexico State has. Loo Doo is a special guy who knows how to win.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit before providing color commentary for ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.