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)
It's 4 pm ET on a Friday and that means two things -- the two-dollar drink specials at the "sports" bar and grill down the street, and it's time to get amped, pumped-up and power-packed for mid-major collegiate hardwood action! I'm Kyle Whelliston, as usual, and I'm here to field all your WAC, MAC, SWAC and MAAC smack.
What do you think of the upcoming Southern Illinois - Nevada match up this Saturday? Two young teams trying to rebuild.
Kyle Whelliston (4:02 PM)
Both teams are taking their lumps, that's for sure. We're all so used to seeing the Wolf Pack and Salukis on the at-large watch, and neither is ready for that kind of consideration at this point. But both are going to be major factors in their league races, because Lowery and Fox both have histories of bringing along young teams fast.
Any thoughts on what will happen with the NEC race this year? Pre-season fave Mount St. Mary's is 0-2 already, though they have all the horses necessary.
Kyle Whelliston (4:05 PM)
They certainly do, and so does Central Connecticut. They've been putting things back together for the past year, and are ready to make a move. Ken Horton is really coming around as a sophomore. Sacred Heart also looks good after that win over the Mount.
Does the College of Charleston challenge Davidson in the SoCon?
Kyle Whelliston (4:07 PM)
The Cougars are playing really well, and would be 8-0 if they hadn't silver-plattered that early game against Temple. Shooting well and taking care of the basketball, two things that are important for any mid-major. We'll get a litmus test on Dec. 29 when they play each other, I'm glad that's being contested so early.
Matt (Athens, OH)
What is the deal with the MAC? Besides Miami, every other team has been getting consistently destroyed by BCS conference competition.
Kyle Whelliston (4:09 PM)
The entire west is awful, and the Kent transition post-Christian has been a lot more painful than anyne could have guessed. For a league like the MAC, it only takes a win or two against power-conference schools in December to get national attention. When Miami beat Illinois last year, it didn't matter that Illinois was down, the MAC had beaten the Big Ten so look out! Those wins haven't materialized yet. This league has been completely invisible on the radar so far.
ray gordon reid hilton head sc 29982
QUESTION TO KYLE WHELLISTON AT 4.05 PM HI KYLE HOW WWILL XAVIER DO AT U.OF CICINNATI TOMORROW
Kyle Whelliston (4:12 PM)
RGR! The X has everything it needs to shut down Cincinnati's offense. They have to continue to play smarter on offense. Xavier'll probably win a close game in the 50's.
After a "feh" nonconference performance so far, if VCU can beat Oklahoma are there any two bid scenarios in the Colonial? I thought Northeastern was supposed to be really good.
Kyle Whelliston (4:15 PM)
I'm telling you, that's all it takes. Just one huge win, and all of a sudden people are talking at-large. Look at Western Kentucky beating Louisville. Everybody beware the Belt! A lot's riding on VCU-Oklahoma, because that's one of the last chances this league has before conference play starts.
Kyle Whelliston (4:16 PM)
And I think a lot of people looked at Matt Janning (who is good at basketball) and figured that Northeastern was ready to contend. Preseason picks always have a lot to do with star power. But the truth is, NU's defense is as bad as you're going to find at this level.
Chris (Monticello, IL)
Illinois State is taking a lot of flack from fans and media over their early season schedule. Do you think the lack of quality opponents will hurt them or do you think winning two, three-day tournaments will pay off if they need to win the MVC tourney to qualify for the NCAA tourney?
Kyle Whelliston (4:17 PM)
I love Nicholls State and Winston-Salem, but they're not getting anybody ready for anything. The league is going to be plenty tough with Creighton and SIU, as well as all those teams getting better like Northern Iowa and Evansville. But I still don't understand this strategy. This is a veteran team that doesn't need its confidence boosted with 30-point wins over inferior competition. With guys like Eldridge and Oguchi, this squad should be going hell for leather.
Do you think Evansville Purple Aces recent success can be attributed to Ski (the citrus-ey locally made softdrink omnipresent in Southern Indiana) or to The Valley's best attribute - Good competition improves even the least among us?
Kyle Whelliston (4:19 PM)
I've found that most of life's problems can be cured by kicking your feet up with a tall, icy glass of Ski. But Evansville is keeping with the MVC's Spirit of '06: win the games you're supposed to win. Indiana State could use a reminder about that.
What conference record wins the WAC regular season this year in your opinion Killswitch?
Kyle Whelliston (4:21 PM)
Thanks to some improvements in the midsection, I'm looking forward to another four-way tie for first... at 10-6.
Brett (Winona, MN)
Is WKU even the best team in the Sun Belt? Is Ark-Little Rock for real? They have a nice win vs. Creighton.
Kyle Whelliston (4:24 PM)
Middle Tennessee was the preseason favorite and has been lost in this WKU hype. But they crushed Troy last night, and look loaded for bear. In retrospect, the UALR win over Creighton says more about that Bluejay slump than anything else. I saw them at Missouri State last week, and I can't see that team having the depth necessary to get through that long league season.
PG (Nashville, TN)
Kyle, how are ya pal? I'm anxiously waiting for that "Next Stop: Nashville, TN" to pop up on midmajority. You promised a visit to the Curb Event Center this year. Now to my question: For mid-major teams, do you view being senior-leaden as a positive or a negative for teams? I ask this because Belmont has struggled in a couple games this year (allowed both Austin Peay and Jacksonville to erase HUGE halftime deficits). Rick Byrd has said he's worried about this year's team because seniors can easily lose focus, and he's had senior-heavy teams that have underachieved in the past. Your thoughts?
Kyle Whelliston (4:28 PM)
Hey PG, don't worry, I'm comin'. If you look at the last few seasons, Belmont has always dropped a few early games that it should win... Kennesaw, MTSU and UNCW games come to mind. I think he's talking about his seniors' focus to get his seniors focused, if you know what I mean. They'll be fine, and should win that league again.
Big Ant (Philadelphia, PA)
Outside of Xavier, who do you see picking up at-large bids in the A-14?
Kyle Whelliston (4:31 PM)
Temple, Dayton and Rhode Island. I'm guessing four bids at this point, and unlike last year, a lot of strength is going to be generated during league season. A win over the X is going to be worth a ton.
SMC NEEDS this win v SDSU in order to get an at large, don't they? Can they beat the Aztecs?
Kyle Whelliston (4:33 PM)
They need wins, period. Saint Mary's should not have lost to either UTEP or Arizona. But splitting with Gonzaga during the regular season would erase a lot of mistakes, as it has in the past.
Bob F (Chicago IL)
Hi Kyle, has UIC improved enough to make a run in the Horizon & is the Horizon potentially a two-bid league this year?
Kyle Whelliston (4:36 PM)
It would be so great to see the HL get two bids this year on its own merits, instead of requiring a slim title split like Wright/Butler a couple of years back. If Butler keeps winning, they're right back in that conversation. And UIC has the speed and size and is so talented, they just play dumb sometimes. The Flames could have a great league season if they stay out of their own collective way.
Darren (Okoboji, IA)
If the A-14 is getting 4 bids, how many will the MVC see?
Kyle Whelliston (4:39 PM)
If Creighton is as good as it's been in the past week, which is how good we thought they'd be, that's an NCAA team. SIU is going to get right and be in the thick of things. Illinois State? That team will have to win on Selection Sunday to get in. I think we can get two out of that mix.
Shane (Reno, NV)
Will people notice that the bottom of the WAC is improved, even if the top isn't?
Kyle Whelliston (4:39 PM)
There's been incremental upward motion with the perpetual dregs, but that's not what the league needs right now. It needs one or two teams to carry the flag and start beating power-conference teams, get the WAC's name out there. Nevada and Utah State are in really good position to be those teams, but they're not closing the deal when given the chances.
Anthony Fairfield, CT
The Fairfield Stags are on a six game winning streak. Where do you see them going from here?
Kyle Whelliston (4:42 PM)
The great thing there is that the Stags are beating the snot out of bad teams like Fordham and Saint Peter's, which is the best way possible of saying "we're not a bad team." I'm looking forward to the New Year's game with Siena, that will show what they're really made of.
Chris (Burlington, VT)
Figure I'll ask a question even though I'll be in a boring History of Canada final at 4pm... Given the somewhat surprising success of the AE conference in regards to its OOC schedule so far this season (7 teams at or above .500 today), do you think it signals increased parity within the conference itself? Or should I resign myself to a two horse conference race between the likes of UVM and BU?
Kyle Whelliston (4:44 PM)
If you're an Insider and can read this, Chris, I hope there was a question about "Due South." The America East's .500+ record in noncon is a great story, and it's a testament to how smartly everyone scheduled. Everybody's winning games. We'll find out about the parity alter.
What has been the most important mid-major win of the season so far?
Kyle Whelliston (4:47 PM)
I'd go with Western Kentucky over Louisville. It was three things: an in-state upset of historical proportions, a signal that Sweet 16 WKU isn't going anywhere after key graduations, as well as a strong win for the Sun Belt after a breakthrough two-bid year.
Mike B. - Boston
What gives with the CAA this year? Looks like it's anyone's conference with the extremely mediocre OOC play.
Kyle Whelliston (4:50 PM)
Except for Hofstra, of course. Seven-game win streak! But seriously, wins over power-conference teams is what we need, and they aren't coming this year. While I'm sticking with my VCU pick, I'm getting the feeling we're all shortchanging George Mason's chances despite overwhelming historical evidence that we shouldn't.
Brian (Green Bay, WI)
With Butler off to a great start and Wright State off to an aweful start, who is the favorite to win the Horizon League this year?
Kyle Whelliston (4:54 PM)
Wright State is just snakebit with injuries and horrible scheduling. Maybe next year for them. I still like Cleveland State to win, but Butler is making its presence felt and there are very strong teams at UIC and Green Bay. This could be the most exciting HL race in years if it ends up as a four-horser.
Jason Thompson is ripping it up in the NBA, I don't see any other players from mid major programs doing this. Can you now admit Rider is the best mid major program ever?
Kyle Whelliston (4:56 PM)
Just ahead of Indiana State, who produced a pretty good mid-major ripper-upper three decades ago!
Ben (Cincinnati, OH)
Hi Kyle! What the heck is up with Tennessee-Martin? They were the pre-season favorites to win the OVC, but are 2-5 overall and 0-2 in conference. Is Lester Hudson fading into mid-major obscurity?
Kyle Whelliston (5:00 PM)
Another team that's been betrayed by its defense... look at all those points it's giving up to teams like Morehead and Eastern Kentucky. Hudson is seeing a lot of extra double teams, mostly because Marquis Weddle is shooting 27 percent. He's the one who has to step it up.
Kyle Whelliston (5:00 PM)
OK, that's my hour! Thank you so much for coming by, we'll do this all again next week at this same time. Enjoy the hoops this weekend!