V-MAIL | Feb. 3, 2005 | Send a V-Mail question
Q: I read your article last month in USA Today ("Big East ready to make waves") and must say that I'm confused. You say that the Big East is the deepest conference but lacks the championship-caliber teams of the ACC. Then why every year do you continue to pick the ACC as the best conference while a Big East team has won the national championship the past two years and three of the past six? Doesn't make much sense to me, please explain. — Hoop fan (Washington, D.C.)
VITALE — The past two years, Connecticut and Syracuse were great, great teams. I really think this year the edge goes to the ACC in terms of heavyweight teams. North Carolina (eventually) and Wake Forest are potential Final Four teams. Georgia Tech could come on when B.J. Elder returns. Look at what Maryland did by beating Duke and Georgia Tech back-to-back.
Q: Winning big games while having all the injuries makes Kansas the scariest team of the year so far. How much will winning through this adversity help toward achieving a championship once all the Jayhawks are fully healthy? — Lance (Tampa)
|Kansas big man Wayne Simien, who has missed four games, is averaging a double-double (18 ppg, 10.4 ppg).|
VITALE — Kansas now has the mind-set that it can play when someone is out of the lineup. Plus, the experience gained by several reserves when Wayne Simien was out could help long-term. The Jayhawks developed players who normally wouldn't have gotten minutes.
I was very impressed with Kansas in the recent win over Texas at Phog Allen Field house. That was the best they've played all season.
When Simien was out of the lineup, Kansas still beat Georgia Tech and Kentucky, and those wins had to build the team's confidence. But they're much better with him in the lineup, baby!
Q: If Illinois and North Carolina played today in Chapel Hill, who would win? — Mile High fan (Denver)
VITALE — If they played in Chapel Hill, I would give the edge to North Carolina. Wouldn't it be great if these teams met in Saint Louis at the Final Four? I bet Illinois' Bruce Weber and Carolina's Roy Williams would be happy to face off there. On a neutral court, it would be a great game. If I were picking my Final Four right now, Illinois and North Carolina would be there.
It's the old who-do-you-like-best argument: Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays? Jennifer Garner of Jennifer Aniston? It's a debate that we'll have to wait and see on. I would give the slightest edge to North Carolina because the Tar Heels are a little stronger in the post and have Marvin Williams coming off the bench. The backcourts would negate each other. I was impressed with Illinois winning in two hostile environments like Madison, Wisconsin and East Lansing, Michigan.
Q: What is your impression of Western Kentucky and new coach Darrin Horn? He's a WKU alumni, played under Ralph Willard and coached under Tom Crean. Is he a lifer? Does his turnaround from last season point to a chance to dance for the Hilltoppers in March? — Josh (Chicago)
VITALE — It's good to see Darrin Horn getting a chance at his alma mater. I know people were impressed with his experience as an assistant coach. I feel that he is a good hire long-term, and it's good to have a former player who was popular on the sidelines.
Q: If you were to construct a college basketball team of the best 12 mid-major players, who would you include? My starting lineup would like this: Center: Nick Fazekas; PF: Ronny Turiaf; SF: Taylor Coppenrath; SG: Adam Morrison; PG: Ken Tutt — Mid-major fan (Calabasas, CA)
VITALE — Whenever you look at the mid-majors, you'll find many talented players. Taylor Coppenrath of Vermont sticks out to me. Look at what he did against Kansas this season and UCLA last season. Ronny Turiaf also sticks out on your list, but if you ask Gonzaga, the school will tell you it isn't a mid-major.
Paul Millsap of Louisiana Tech is an outstanding rebounder — but again, is the WAC a mid-major? Michael Harris of Rice also would be considered an outstanding mid-major player, but we have to define what a mid-major is. There are lots of outstanding players at lower-profile schools who don't get the same visibility of the stars at higher-profile schools.
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.