Chat with Joe Lunardi
Lunardi is the resident bracketologist for ESPN. In fact, he invented Bracketology and has been projecting the NCAA Tournament field for ESPN.com since its inception. Check out his lastest bracket.
Send your questions now and join Lunardi in The Show on Friday at 3 p.m. ET!
Joe Lunardi (3:03 PM)
Greetings from the frozen Northeast. Let's get right to it, as I need to head to TV a little earlier than usual today.
ben, the 501 little rock arkansas
joe what is your beef with arkansas i mean they're 12-1 with a whipping of then #4 ou and then a win over #7 texas i mean come on i know theres a lot of seaon left to be seen but a little respect?
Joe Lunardi (3:05 PM)
No beef with the Hogs, Ben (and how's that for a mixed metaphor?). But it's worth noting that as soon as I put Arkansas in the bracket, they go and lose two straight SEC games.
Mando(houston, texas) [via mobile]
Are the tar heels no longer the favorite to win it all?
Joe Lunardi (3:06 PM)
I wouldn't go that far, Mando, but it's a great question nonetheless. I suspect that if you back any serious college basketball fan into a corner and made them bet their lift on one team they'd still pick the Heels in '09.
I have a feeling that if Minnesota and Kentucky end up meeting in the NCAA's that it will not be as a 8/9 matchup based on the past week of games. Have both teams exceeded your expectaion and can we expect them to move up in the next braketology?
Joe Lunardi (3:09 PM)
Minnesota is certainly going to move up, Mike, especially if they complete a road sweep this Sunday at Northwestern. UK is also on the rise following the win at Tennessee. If they back it up Sunday at Georgia, the 'Cats will also be well in the top half of the bracket. I wouldn't say, though, that Kentucky is exceeding expectations (more like finally beginning to meet them). The Gophers are well ahead of schedule, of course, and one of the best stories anywhere at the haflway point of our season.
When will the brackets be updated more frequently then once a week? Need something to get me thru the day at work.
Joe Lunardi (3:10 PM)
Didn't you hear it's a recession, Greg. You're supposed to work harder and I'm supposed to cut back on the number of brackets. Actually, we go twice weekly after the Super Bowl. For now, you'll have to get by with a Monday bracket and a Friday chat.
Ed (Charlotte, NC)
Joe, How high of a seed can Davidson really acquire if they end up going 28-3 with all three loses coming against top 10 teams?
Joe Lunardi (3:12 PM)
Many terrific questions today, including this one. I think the high end for Davidson is probably a No. 4 seed. If I had to bet the mortgage, it would be for a No. 5 in Ed's scenario.
Eric: (Boston, MA)
Syracuse has just started a gauntlet of 10 games that include G'town(2), Nova(2), Notre Dame, @Pitt, L'ville, @Prov, WVU, @UConn. Over those 10 games what record would be good enough to stay out of bubble territory?
Joe Lunardi (3:14 PM)
First, you'd have to say the Orange were overdue for such a stretch after opening Big East play with DePaul, Rutgers, South Florida and Seton Hall. Playing .500 in these next games games would leave 'Cuse at 9-5 in the Big East, still well above any serious bubble trouble.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Mr. Lunardi: Can you see the top four seeds in the tournament being represented by only two conferences?
Joe Lunardi (3:16 PM)
That's what I wrote about this week, J.B. It's never happened, but it sure looks like the stars could be aligning that way this season. More likely is that a Big Ten or BIg 12 team or UCLA sneaks onto the top line somehow, but it's a real shot for the ACC and Big East to gobble up all four No. 1 positions.
Can Maryland beat Duke, or is Duke too big and oversized for Maryland's undersized team?
Joe Lunardi (3:18 PM)
That game is still a week or two away, right? And the first meeting is at Duke if I'm not mistaken. Given that the Terps have only played one true road game to date (a loss), you'd have to say the odds aren't in Maryland's favor.
Chris (Albany, NY)
Hey Joe, great job as always. I am a Providence grad and well aware that PC is 0-5 against tourney teams (including Northeastern) and 11-0 vs non tourney teams, thus our #79 RPI. However, I believe PC is getting better game in and game out under Keno and think this team could crack the top 9 of the conference. Would 11 league wins (we play the top 9 10 times, so probably 4-6 vs those teams) be enough to get into the dance? Thanks and keep up the good work
Joe Lunardi (3:20 PM)
Providence has a chance to become a litmus test for the committee. If the Friars get to 11 wins in this Big East, they'd almost have to be worthy of an at-large bid. My guess is they'll be closer to a 9-9 conference record, though.
Timmy C. (Lancaster, PA)
Joe, How will the committee decide which 1 and 2 seeds to send west to arizona if there is a logjam of quality teams from the ACC and Big East?
Joe Lunardi (3:24 PM)
It goes like this, Timmy: The committee will rank the No. 1 (and all other) seeds in order and give geographic preference to them in sequence. So, in the case that all four No. 1 seeds are ACC or Big East teams, the fourth-best in the committee's mind will be in the West Region. The process continues in similar fashion for No. 2 seeds and so on, with the exception being that the committee will not continually place the weakest team from each group of four in the West. This is what it means when we hear talk of "balancing the brackets" across all four regions.
David Fairborn, OH
Boy, with wins like one the other day against Fordham, Dayton sure isn't helping their cause, are they? Are they poised for a collapse, in your mind?
Joe Lunardi (3:25 PM)
Unfortunately, David, we've all seen this movie before. And it's especially predictable when Dayton goes on the road. I'd be more concerned about one-sided losses at Creighton and UMass than the Fordham escape. The latter could be a mulligan, while the former is a long-time (and fatal) trend in terms of NCAA consideration.
Alex (Saratoga Springs)
Louisville has been know to start worse than expected, but they always finish strong, and end up as a contender. Do you think they will beat Pitt tomorrow? And do you think they can win the big east?(that would gurantee them a #1 seed right?)
Joe Lunardi (3:27 PM)
Yes and yes, Alex. Tomorrow is pretty much a 50/50 game against Pitt, and you have to like the home team in such cases. And the Big East champion is almost certainly headed for a No. 1 seed.
I confess to not viewing your latest rankings, so please excuse my ignorance here. It seems to me that the MVC is as tough as ever and should again be a multi-bid conference. Do you agree?
Joe Lunardi (3:30 PM)
I don't necessarily agree, Matt. As much as I love the Valley, let's not confuse "competitive" with "national contenders." The balance of this year's MVC is making for close games and a lot of parity. However, I'd be hard pressed to say that automatically translates into multi-bid status for the league. I've seen Illinois State and Creighton, for instance, and I don't think either is the kind of Sweet 16-level team we've seen from the Valley is recent years.
Justin (NY, NY)
What must Michigan do in the Big 10 to make the tournament?
Joe Lunardi (3:31 PM)
The key for Michigan, Justin, is to avoid losing to bottom-half teams and build as much cushion in their record as possible. Their closing stretch (at Iowa, Purdue, at Wisconsin, at Minnesota) is brutal.
Michael (Evansville, IN)
I'm concerned about Utah. They're currently 17th in the RPI but, as far as I know, no computer number factors in their loss to a DII team. I noticed when Boston College lost to Harvard, their RPI dropped 20 spots. Clearly a loss to a DII is significantly worse. In reality, if someone were to include a computer formula where a game against a DII school counted say on par with a game against the worst team in DI, then Utah's RPI would probably be 40 points worse (or more) than it is right now and they'd be a borderline NCAA team. I know the selection committee will see Utah's entire profile, but what they will also see is a computer profile that is vastly skewed by failing to take account of the DII loss. Isn't it time that someone came up with a way to quantify how bad it is to play (AND ESPECIALLY TO LOSE TO) a DII team.
Joe Lunardi (3:35 PM)
The main way to quantify it is that Utah will have one less win than other bubble teams which played (and presumably defeated) a DI opponent. Ask Billy Tubbs, whose 30'ish RPI Oklahoma teams once missed the tourney because three of their wins were non-DI games. Having said that, I'd be more concerned with Utah's standing in the Mountain West than I would be about something that happened four months before Selection Sunday. If the Utes are at or near the top of a very good Mountain West this year, the DII loss won't be much of a factor.
Meg (Green Bay, WI)
I'm a huge Gonzaga fan, but lately, i've been pretty disappointed with their losses. How do you see them finishing up this season?
Joe Lunardi (3:36 PM)
I think it's quiet possible the 'Zags won't lose any more games. Other than Portland State, none of their existing losses are to bad (Utah, for instance, is a lot better than people think).
Joe Lunardi (3:36 PM)
Got to scoot in a minute, so let's do three more quick ones.
Joe - Do you think the difficulty of the Big East conference schedule will result in a clump of teams at the top with several losses, leading to lower seeds for all the teams (5-9 range)?
Joe Lunardi (3:38 PM)
I think the better (say, top 6-7) teams in the Big East are going to be no worse than No. 7 seeds. A couple may get knocked down a line procedurally, as it's going to be difficult for the committee to place all these Big East teams in the bracket, but their higher-than-expected loss totals will be accounted for.
Do you think Florida will win the SEC?
Joe Lunardi (3:39 PM)
Not anymore, Brendan. Kentucky looks like the best in the SEC at this point.
The Big 10 seems quite deep this year and looks like 7 bids are possible, as you have this week. I was surprised that you only had 1 team, MSU, seeded higher than a 6. Don't you think that with the league having as much depth as they do that it's more likely they get 3 or 4 teams as top 4 seeds? Thanks!
Joe Lunardi (3:40 PM)
I don't think so, Steve. Let's not confuse quantity with quality.
Joe Lunardi (3:40 PM)
Thanks, everyone. See you on ESPN News at 4:10 p.m. ET.