TOURNEY V-MAIL | March 24, 2004 | Send a V-Mail question
Q: Do you think Nevada can win the NCAA title? -- Brodie Freed (Butler, Indiana)
VITALE -- Any team in the Sweet 16 certainly has a chance. The odds are not in the Wolf Pack's favor, but Nevada was brilliant in tourney wins over Michigan State and Gonzaga. The Wolf Pack has a great combination in guards Kirk Snyder and Todd Okeson. I just feel Georgia Tech is a little too strong and too athletic. Give coach Trent Johnson credit for doing a great job.
Q: Why disrespect Syracuse, the defending champ, by telling UConn fans to pack their bags for San Antonio? Syracuse has adapted to the loss of Carmelo Anthony and Billy Edelin and are playing really well right now. -- Mike (Baltimore)
VITALE -- I'm not trying to disrespect Syracuse, and the Orangemen are playing well. I just feel that with center Emeka Okafor healthy, Connecticut is a different basketball team, on another level. I have great respect for what Syracuse is achieving, led by forward Hakim Warrick and guard Gerry McNamara -- even more so this year with the departure of Anthony and the absence of Edelin. Coach Jim Boeheim is showing once again why he is a Hall of Famer. I just feel Connecticut is dynamite.
Q: I was hoping you could enlighten some of us Arizona fans who are trying to figure out what happened to our team this year. What's with the lack of competitiveness and passion? Last year's seniors must be shaking their heads. -- Jason (Phoenix)
VITALE -- The problem with Arizona was obvious right from the beginning, the issues with depth. The Wildcats were hurt when forward Isaiah Fox went down in the Florida game in Springfield. Their depth was nowhere near what they hoped for. There were times where they played 5-6 players, and they played well, but the long season took its toll. They also didn't play coach Lute Olson's style of defense, and that was their big downfall. The lack of commitment on the defensive end hurt. Arizona was up and down all season.
Q: Don't you think that Gonzaga was overrated (and specifically Blake Steppe)? How many bad tourneys does this guy have to experience before people realize he's only slightly above average? -- Mark (USA)
VITALE -- I don't think Gonzaga was overrated. They ran into a buzz saw in the hot Nevada team. The Zags had a terrific season and should be proud of what they achieved. Like Kentucky and Stanford, they all have a lot to be proud of for their fantastic regular seasons. Sometimes success and failure is defined only by tournament performance, and that seems unfair.
Q: I'm a huge Kentucky fan and I just can't believe they lost. What do you think about next year and the new recruits we have coming? Do you think we will ever get back to greatness? -- Kentucky fan
VITALE -- There is no doubt that Kentucky will bounce back. They have great fans and great players. The recruiting class coming in -- with kids like Bradley, Crawford and Rondo -- plus an outstanding transfer in Patrick Sparks (who sat out after coming over from Western Kentucky) will be solid. Kentucky will go on and win their usual 25-plus games and the beat will go on again.
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.