Chat with Kyle Whelliston
Kyle is the founder of midmajority.com and is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.
Send in your questions now and join Kyle right here for all the answers on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.
Kyle Whelliston (4:00 PM)
Hooooops Nation! Can you hear me? That chill in the air isn't air conditioning, it's fall, baby! Which means football season, and when we're done with that nonsense it'll be time for basketball again. Who's excited? C'mon, put your hands in the air like a mid-major player! Whoo!
After his summer Olympics, should Patrick Mills enter the season as a preseason All-American? He looked unstoppable against elite competition. Keep holding it down for the mid-majors!
Kyle Whelliston (4:02 PM)
Hey Jared, thanks. I watched every Australia game these past two weeks, I hope the AA voters did too. It wasn't just the 14.2 ppg and shooting better than 50%, he passed up a lot of shots and continually adjusted his game to the context. Never took matters fully into his own hands. He's going to have an extremely special season.
Tom in Omaha
How close will Creighton be to the top 25 when the first polls come out?
Kyle Whelliston (4:03 PM)
Depends on if voters watched that team last year. I don't think there's any question the Bluejays will be runaway league favorites in the MVC. They were very young in 07-08, but everybody played big minutes... and they still won 22 games! The sheer depth and experience on this team is going to be frightening.
Brendan (Long Island, NY)
Since I know you don't like to refer to them by name, outside of "them" how do you expect the rest of the WCC to do this year?
Kyle Whelliston (4:05 PM)
Gonzaga? Love those guys. They've really helped attract more exposure to the league, and the televised rivalry games with Saint Mary's helped enormously in getting the WCC three bids. Now it's up to the other five teams to get it together -- the gap between Gonzaga, SMC and USD and the others is huge. If a solid midsection forms, it could be a multibid league every year and not have to rely on stars aligning as they did this past March.
marc, middletown nj
hey kyle, how about my monmouth hawks? looked really impressive having a 3-1 record and blowing out the competition in 3 wins and losing by 1 in their other loss. their offensive numbers and more importantly their defensive numbers looked very strong. how do you see my hawks panning out in the wide open nec this year?
Kyle Whelliston (4:09 PM)
You're speaking of that Italian tour they're on... that's always a fantastic way to gel. And their defense wasn't really that bad last year, they just could shoot a lick. Still a young team, they could get to .500 this year for the first time in a while and build on that when they go into the new building.
Bernie (Chicago, IL)
It is hard to believe that the MAC hasnt had an at-large bid to the dance since Western Michigan in 99'. Is this the year the commitee finally wakes up & realizes this conference is filled with solid programs & 1 bid is a joke?
Kyle Whelliston (4:11 PM)
Actually, it was Miami... Western was the year before. But that's the thing -- the MAC is too solid. Last year was a perfect example of the MAC dynamic, Ohio and Miami had serious nonconference wins, but as soon as everybody got into league play teams just beat on each other. Again. The committee wants to see 2-3 separate from the pack, and that's not going to happen in the MAC unless things play out just right.
ray gordon reid jacksonville fla 32217
QUESTION TO KYLE WHELLISTON AT 4.15 PM HI KYLE HOW YOU SEETHE SUN BELT
Kyle Whelliston (4:13 PM)
Hey Ray! I can always see your questions coming a mile away. I think this is a great opportunity for Middle Tennessee State. Everyone's back, and they overachieved last year by making it to the final. WKU and USA should be right back there again too if they can replace their lost scoring.
Will Jacksonville State surprise anybody with there new coach James Green?
Kyle Whelliston (4:17 PM)
As you probably have figured out by his resume, Brad, Coach Green loves defense. And by "defense," I mean slow, sludgy 40-35 games. Not pretty, but it's effective. If the team buys in, the Gamecocks should knock off a few of these super-fast OVC teams and get back into the playoffs. It's been a while since they've played in March.
Will the WAC make a comeback as one of the premier mid major conferences this year?
Kyle Whelliston (4:18 PM)
It can't get worse than last year, the WAC just overscheduled itself to death. But there are a whole lot of seniors gone -- this is one of the leagues hardest-hit by graduation, which throws the race into chaos. Two bids may be another year away, but the story of the league may be some new blood in contention, like San Jose State and maybe even Idaho. I like Utah State to win it handily though.
John (Richmond, Va)
Kyle, Can the CAA send two teams to the dance this year? Also who is your pick to win the CAA this year?
Kyle Whelliston (4:20 PM)
This is a really cloudy year in terms of forecasting -- just about everybody from the famous CAA Uprising Of 2006 has graduated. Old Dominion and VCU have the best overall returning talent, but I'm convinced Jim Larranaga is so good, he could mold a beer league team into CAA champions in five short months. Can never, ever, ever count GMU out.
Kyle Whelliston (4:21 PM)
As for two bids, it all comes down to nonconference play. I strongly believe that VCU deserved an at-large bid, but that the noncon losses came back and bit them.
Doug Dyer, Chattanooga
Southern Conference : Of course, Davidson should be strong and nationally ranked, what are your thoughts on Chattanooga with all 5 starters returning ?
Kyle Whelliston (4:23 PM)
The SoCon ShootAround should be up in the next few days, keep an eye out for that. Both Chatty and App State should be in a position to keep Davidson honest, steal a game or two from them, and hang together long enough to strike in March. It won't be a 20-0 Wildcat walkover again, and if one of those two can pull a massive tourney upset, we might be looking at the first two-bid SoCon ever. Ever!
Chris (Omaha, Nebraska)
KYLE!!! Southern Illinois. If that solid recruiting class comes storming out of the gates right away will they start putting it to the Jays right off the bat? How about a Final Four in 2010?
Kyle Whelliston (4:26 PM)
CHRIS! Coach Lowery has never needed a whole year to rebuild or retool, it always comes together in the end. Creighton seems head and shoulders above at this point, but there's that second tier -- SIU, Bradley and Illinois State -- that could put the Valley back into two-bid territory if there's a huge nonconference performance or an earth-shaking BracketBuster in there. (2010... so modest.)
Jack (San Fran)
what do you think about the WCC's new ESPN Thurs-Sat contract? Do you consider it better than being part of Big Monday?
Kyle Whelliston (4:30 PM)
It's better for a number of reasons. First, the WCC has name recognition now that it didn't when the Big Monday thing started, and doesn't need to compromise as much. I've sat courtside at a few of those late-night starts, and it wore on just about everyone. People get pretty cranky at 1 a.m.
Kyle, any chance Towson has a change to challange the VCUs and George Masons in the CAA in the next couple of years? How can Pat Kennedy rescue the Tigers?
Kyle Whelliston (4:31 PM)
He tried the quick-fix one-man-show transfer method, that didn't work. But there are some really positive signs -- first of all, pretty much everyone's back. Also, Pat's Cats have the fundamental building-block of what makes good mid-majors great, which is ball control (look at Siena, Butler, Drake and so on). Nobody is going to steal it and get out in transition on these guys. Once they get shooting and defense worked out, they'll be golden.
Kyle, how far can the nasty backcourt of Chris Lowe and Ricky Harris carry UMass? Is Harris/Lowe the best backcourt in the NCAA?
Kyle Whelliston (4:33 PM)
One of the most exciting, sure. The real intrigue is how they adapt to the dribble-drive motion offense, which UMass is definitely going to be running. You have a Memphis guy and the originator of the revolution there, and it's going to be fun to watch.
hugh frederick ,md
Kyle how do you think George Mason has done in recruiting and what is your assessment of their chances for the NCAAs in 2008-09?
Kyle Whelliston (4:36 PM)
PG Andre Cornelius and PF Ryan Pearson are going to be names we discuss a lot in the next four years. Christ the King is a brand name in prep hoops, and anytime you're not a Big East school and can nab one of its stars (Pearson), it's a huge deal. I don't think any other CAA school can touch that class. As for the NCAA's, there's no better elimination-game coach in the conference, so they'll be ready for another Richmond run.
Cyborg SID (Hanover, N.H.)
As a newbie to the Ivy League, tell me what's in store for me here. Hope to see you up this way at some point this year!
Kyle Whelliston (4:38 PM)
First of all, the "e" and the "w" in New Hampshire are silent. The locals will beat those two letters out of you if they haven't already. Second, never buy New Hampshire cheese, get it from Vermont. Basketball-wise, enjoy the small victories in life. And cheese. It's likely to be another long season for Dartmouth.
which team will suprise everyone?
Kyle Whelliston (4:41 PM)
I think Oakland out of the Summit League is positioned for some great things. You may remember them beating Oregon last season. They have pretty much everyone back, and a massive recruting class that includes some of the best prep players from Michigan. Folks should really keep an eye on the Golden Grizzlies.
Kyle Whelliston (4:42 PM)
Heck, the entire Badlands Conference is going to be great. North Dakota State (beat Wisc. & Marq. earlier) is postseason-eligible, and IUPUI just produced a first-round draft pick. I'm going to be spending some serious time in that conference.
Kyle, do you still pick Cornell as the favorite in the Ivy League? And did Cornell get overly ambitious with its schedule (at Syracuse, at Indiana, at Minnesota, St. John's in NIT, at Siena, at St. Joseph's, La Salle, Bucknell, Boston University)?
Kyle Whelliston (4:44 PM)
I do, I think they have one more year in them before the P&P show starts up again. As for the schedule, good for them. At this level, you can play UNC 10 times and it won't matter. The winner of this league gets a 14 seed no matter what.
The DaddyMAC (Cleveland, OH)
Rank the three MAC coaching hires: Kent St. - Geno Ford Toledo - Gene Cross Ohio - John Groce
Kyle Whelliston (4:46 PM)
Ford was the best choice to keep the program's momentum going. Cross was the best available for cleaning up the mess that exists at Toledo now. But Groce is the best long-term hire.
Paul (Daly City, CA)
What are your thoughts on Rex Walters and USF? Will he be able to make them a 1970-'80s perennial top-20 team again?
Kyle Whelliston (4:48 PM)
I go to over 100 games a year and run into a lot of coaches in my travels, but I don't think I've met anyone with the enthusiasm and vigor as Coach Walters. It might sound like a cliche, but he'll run through a brick wall to make that program good. It might take a while, but he'll turn it around.
Jon (Hamden, CT)
Any hope for Quinnipiac this year?
Kyle Whelliston (4:51 PM)
Give the Bobcats one more year. They had to do the one-man-show thing last season with DeMario Anderson, which usually gets you some credibility (like a .500 record), but the guys who are left usually don't know what to do for a while once the guy who took a third of the shots is gone. But remember where the Q was just a few years ago. Long-term, this is going to be a fantastic program in the NEC.
Bucky (Lewisburg, PA)
Kyle, Give me a quick Patriot League breakdown.
Kyle Whelliston (4:53 PM)
Navy and Bucknell down, Colgate and Holy Cross up. Lots of parity again. American's to lose.
Scott (Troy, MO)
Does the A10 have a nother good year?
Kyle Whelliston (4:55 PM)
The talent level coming into the conference is astounding... seven top 150 recruits. And you know that the nonconference wins will come, it's just a matter of everyone staying healthy. I say we start the NCAA-bidding at four and work from there.
Any thoughts on Tyree Evans going to Kent? Why does a quality program need to take on a troubled athlete with a track record like that?
Kyle Whelliston (4:59 PM)
That's so not your real name. While they've never taken on somebody with that kind of rap sheet, Kent has had a lot of success with calculated risks, and it's because of all that cliched "supportive family" stuff you hear about certain programs. But it's true here. I think he'll be fine.
Kyle Whelliston (5:00 PM)
Oh goodness, 5:00 already? The SportsNation guys want to go home, so I'll sign off for now. Once again, thanks to everybody who brought questions, especially the ones I couldn't get to. I'll do better next time. In the meantime, thanks again and see you next time!