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 Friday at 4 p.m. ET.
Kyle Whelliston (4:02 PM)
How do, mid-major hoops fans. There are exactly 100 days until Selection Sunday, and we have conference play starting up all over the place. Time to start paying attention! So what do you want to talk about?
Tony (Rochester, MI)
Hey Kyle, thanks for chatting. Love getting the scoop on MidMajors. My OU Golden Grizzlies put themselves in a tough spot with a top notch schedule, after the big win in Eugene, they have floundered. Is the Derrick Nelson injury affecting them that badly? Or are they just not as good as I was hoping for? Keep up the good work!
Kyle Whelliston (4:05 PM)
As luck would have it, I saw Oakland last night at UMKC. There is some major, major talent there, but everyone's not on the same page yet -- that's going to be the thing to watch, the chemistry. There were sequences where they were clearly out of sync. But Kangas hit that big 3 to give Coach Kampe his 400th.
Jake (Manhattan KS)
Kyle, I'd like your thoughts on Dayton and their 12 man rotation. Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson averaging double figures and the rest chipping 5-8 points a night on average looks like a recipe for success so far. Also, how do you like their chances in two tough roadies coming up: Saturday at Akron and Wednesday at Creighton?
Kyle Whelliston (4:06 PM)
A 12-man rotation can turn into chaos when everyone wants their minutes and touches, but that isn't a problem at UD. I saw them up close twice last weekend, and it's an amazing product. There's a great chance of a road sweep, Creighton is undergoing some adversity right now and Akron is very, very young.
Brendan Fort Sill, OK
It is very early into the conference season, but with VMI's win over Kentucky, close lose at UVA (40 hours after the win over UK) and the dismantling of Winthrop, are they at the head of the class in the Big South?
Kyle Whelliston (4:07 PM)
It's going to be a great race in that league. Look at what Liberty's done, 5-1 with wins over George Mason and Virginia. Gardner-Webb's in there. Radford has improved. And don't count Winthrop out, they're still young and will be much better by March.
Is there any chance USD makes the tournament this year with what looks to be no marquee victories in their non conference schedule? I just dont think they can sneak in by winning the WCC with gonzaga and st mary's looking even stronger this season.
Kyle Whelliston (4:09 PM)
A little over .500 would be a successful season for the Dons. There are three teams at the top of that league (Zagland, St. Mary's and San Diego) that are on a whole other level, and Santa Clara is improved. You've got the right coach in Rex Walters to guide the team out of the mass of last year.
Do you wish the competition was a little better for Illinois State?
Kyle Whelliston (4:11 PM)
I still can't figure that out. This is not a young team that needs confidence, there is a lot of upperclassman talent that should be pushing for an at-large. If the Redbirds have 25+ wins by March, Selection Committee members are going to look at this schedule and laugh.
Hi, Kyle. How far do you think Xavier will go in the tournament this year. Also, do you think they have the possibility of upseting Duke later this month.
Kyle Whelliston (4:12 PM)
Xavier has some room for improvement. It's been winning games with defense, and the ball control has been really sloppy. Free throw shooting has been awful. And they're still beating the big boys. As they get better in key areas, they will become even more scary. I'd believe they have a real strong chance of beating Duke.
Marc, Long Island
Kyle, Any thoughts on the Ivy League? Who is your pick to win it?
Kyle Whelliston (4:14 PM)
Cornell, Cornell, Cornell. The Big Red with injury problems is still way above the rest of the field. Just ask Syracuse, they gave the Orange everything they could handle.
Michael (Evansville, IN)
Does the So. Illnois/Louisville/Georgia stretch for my WKU Hilltoppers make us the favorites in the Sun Belt (or can we expect more stretches like the 2nd half collapse against Houston and the entire Murray game)? I can't imagine that any other team in the Belt is capable of that type of three-game run. I sure didn't expect us to have one of the better at-large NCAA profiles at this point with so many new guys.
Kyle Whelliston (4:17 PM)
Coach McDonald shuffled the rotation and got some excellent results, and A.J. Slaughter has to get the ball, just that simple. But they're not going to scare anyone physically yet and the offense as a whole still has a few miles to go. If they win the Belt, they will have earned it with blood.
Shane (Reno, NV)
What's happened to the WAC? This year is shaping up to be even worse than last year.
Kyle Whelliston (4:19 PM)
I dunno, dude... the bottom has dropped out. Nevada is winning some games it shouldn't, and Utah State looks good (I'm still sticking with that pick), but the WAC might have an overall losing non-conf record by January. Scary.
What are your thoughts on Curry as a pg so far? Do think asking him to run the point and carry such a large scoring burden will wear him down over the season?
Kyle Whelliston (4:22 PM)
He knows the position from back in high school, so his giant A/TO is no shock. But I'm thinking about Davidson's momentum as a program. This offense is so about him right now, and we can assume he's not coming back, so where is this team next year? There are a lot of SoCon teams that are really solidifying... App State, for example.
Can Seth Curry be as good as his brother Stephen Curry?
Kyle Whelliston (4:24 PM)
I was at Indiana State on Monday, and I saw a newspaper article that said Eddie Bird was named parks & rec manager in Terre Haute recently. Nobody remembers him because of his brother's long shadow, but he was ISU's fourth all-time leading scorer. What I'm trying to say is that Seth Curry's destiny is to be Eddie Bird.
Nick Walusis (Dayton, Ohio)
The Atlantic 10...mid majors or not? With Dayton and Xavier off to good starts how far can these teams climb in the polls before playing eachother?
Kyle Whelliston (4:25 PM)
Some might define "mid-major" as "subpar basketball," but I sure don't. The A-14 has a lot of disadvantages that makes great accomplishments like those at X and UD all the more remarkable. Keep this in mind: teams in that league have to convince recruits to come to their programs without the benefit of regular national TV coverage.
Adam in Dayton
Kyle, I know you got a chance to see Dayton in the not quite in Chicago Invitational. Is it just me, or is Marcus Johnson vastly underrated? He, along with the rest of the team, struggled from the perimeter against Auburn, but he was 8-8 at the FT line down the stretch in a one point win. His defense is all-league caliber, he's the team's glue guy, and even Dayton fans tend to overlook his play in lieu of Chris Wright's dunks. Shouldn't Marcus be getting more love for his role in UD's 7-0 start?
Kyle Whelliston (4:29 PM)
Another tangent, bear with me for a second: I hate the Red Sox, but up in New England every single player has his own t-shirt and a huge Facebook fan club, because fans have chosen the one that most fits their personality and worshipped him. This Dayton team is like that -- UD fans, pick your favorite, join their club, and enjoy this ride.
Killswitch... the State rankings are up (plug for your other site here). The highest team in the West is USU at 14, then NMSU at 18. What happened to us?
Kyle Whelliston (4:32 PM)
Wow, thanks for that! And I'll never live down that nickname. I think Menzies is doing a great job cleaning up that house, as I've said many times. But you've seen the Aggies, you know how iffy that defense is. And they don't rebound, which can't be expected when all the bigs are that young. They should be better by the end of the year and get a round or two into the WAC tourney.
Sarah (Austin, TX)
Anyone else tired of seeing these "made for tv" BCS "challenges"? Let's see the top mid-major teams play some of the top BCS schools. Any chance this happens?
Kyle Whelliston (4:35 PM)
Hi Sarah. It's too bad that these have to happen, they're essentially events to try to get people who don't care about college hoops excited about it for a minute. Unfortunately, the type of cross-cultural exchange program won't happen... BCS schools know how embarrassing it is to lose to a good mid-major (mostly since there's a week of press coverage about it afterwards), and generally don't put themselves in those positions willingly.
John (Albany, NY)
What does the University at Albany have to do on Saturday to beat Siena? What are the keys to the game?
Kyle Whelliston (4:40 PM)
Just named this my game of the day for Saturday over at the other place. UA needs to crash the boards however possible. Siena shoots well, but don't have a lot of size. If Albany can out-work them and beat them out to missed shots, they'll get a few extra tries. Those young Great Dane guards will need as many shots as they can get.
Mike (Auburn, WA)
St Mary's missed a chance to take on some heavyweights in the 76. With their remaining schedule (the only team even near ranked is the Zags) can they get an at-large if they don't win the WCC? What will it take?
Kyle Whelliston (4:43 PM)
Last year was somewhat similar. They didn't beat teams that were considered heavyweights, got smacked by Texas and Southern Illinois, and still made it in. The difference now is the strength of the league. San Diego and Gonzaga will push them hard, and if there's any midsection at all in the WCC, it'll be even better. Don't write them off quite yet.
Tim (Athens, OH)
What do you make of the MAC so far? I know it's early, but the pre-season favorites - Kent and WMU - haven't been very good, while other teams - Ohio, Buffalo, Ball St. - have exceeded expectations. How do you see the conference playing out? Can Ohio win the league under John Groce?
Kyle Whelliston (4:48 PM)
Kent's going to be fine, WMU is a disaster, the west is weak, but I really like how well most of these East teams have scheduled. There's still a sliver of a chance at a 1999-style split decision. Ohio is still a year away, but that's definitely going in the right direction with Groce.
Brant (Louisville, KY)
What's your take on the young Butler Bulldogs this season? They eked out a W last night in their first road conference game at Cleveland St. Do they have what it takes to surprise everyone and hold on to the Horizon title?
Kyle Whelliston (4:52 PM)
That's definitely what's known as "serving notice." In retrospect, none of us should have been surprised. The recruiting class was strong, and Matt Howard made an instant impact in 07-08, setting up a monster year this season. The defense has been amazing. So yeah, they'll definitely be there at the end.
How is the Big West shaping up? thanks.
Kyle Whelliston (4:54 PM)
Sort of upside down from the way it looked a couple months ago. Most of us picked Northridge and they've been awful, Long Beach has really stood out and Pacific has come together despite all that off-court adversity over the summer. Still waiting for Fullerton to make its move.
you should write less and answer more Qs
Kyle Whelliston (4:55 PM)
Tried that once, people complained.
Eddie, New Milford, PA
What was your worst prediction last year at this time?
Kyle Whelliston (4:56 PM)
That Sam Houston State would follow up wins over Texas Tech and Central Florida by winning the Southland. Their legs died in February. I owed a lot of people dinners for that one.
What is wrong with my Creighton Bluejays? Do we have a chance to get a W in the next two games at Saint Joe's and here in Omaha next Wednesday against Dayton?
Kyle Whelliston (4:58 PM)
Team turmoil, mostly. P'Allen Stinnett was benched for Nebraska, and there was a local story that Altman laid out football helmets and pads for the team in practice last week. Message: "you're not tough enough." It's true, they're not. It would be very hard to get a win in either of those games.
Besides UNC, Who has impressed u=you the most?
Kyle Whelliston (5:02 PM)
I prefer Gonzaga with its speed and defense, but that's just me. Shame they won't play eachother in the regular season.
Do you answer all questions or just pick the ones you think are good ones?
Kyle Whelliston (5:03 PM)
The latter. And yours was the best one I've had all day.
Kyle Whelliston (5:03 PM)
With that, I've got to sign off and hit I-70 so I can make it to the Buckeye State by tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who came by, apologies to those who asked all the great questions I didn't get a chance to answer, and we'll see you again next week!