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 (3:00 PM)
Greetings, all. Going to start right at the top of the hour as I've got to head over to TV in about 40 minutes.
Joe, I don't understand how you can say the Aggies are in the first four out in the tournament? We're 15-3, and are definetely in the top 5 teams in the Big 12. We beat Baylor on Wednesday, and we hung with OU until there was 30 second left in the game, while holding, arguably the best player in the country, Blake Griffin, to well below his average in points and rebounds. You can't penalize us for a loss against Okie State on the road. Anything can happen in college basketball i.e. George Mason. We have quality wins over Baylor and LSU, and you have to think we can beat an underachieving Texas at home and possibly in Austin. We can also beat teams like Kansas on Monday. Tune in, its on ESPN. Please, give the Ags some credit, not mad, just sick of my "below the radar" team not getting any credit. We're a good team.
Joe Lunardi (3:03 PM)
Aren't these the same Aggies that are 1-3 in the Big 12? And that Kansas thing didn't work out too well.
Jeff (Omaha, NE)
Did Virginia Tech play its way onto the bubble last night? Or does it depend on how good the win over #1 Wake Forest looks at the END of the season?
Joe Lunardi (3:04 PM)
A little of both, Jeff. I have VaTech at No. 42 on the S-Curve at this moment, which would be good for a No. 11 seed if the bracket were being updated today.
Mr. Lunardi, I know a lot would have to go right for this to happen, but if Kentucky goes through a down SEC with 1 or 2 losses and wins the league how high of a seed could they get? Even in a weak(er) SEC that would have to get them a lot of respect from the committee, right?
Joe Lunardi (3:06 PM)
I'm working on a piece for Monday in which we compare the current SEC (and its apparent lack of 1-4 NCAA seeds) to the weakest past seasons of other major conferences. I believe UK is going to rise above this mediocrity and be a top four seed this year.
Matt (Hammonton, NJ)
Joe, I was at the Saint Joe's-Duquesne game Wednesday. Quite exciting. My question to you as someone who knows a little bit about hoops. Do you think Duquesne will grow from the loss or will it kill their season? Pretty good team for having a ton of youth in the rotation. Just hope that this wasn't a death blow to what has been a very nice year so far.
Joe Lunardi (3:07 PM)
Not a death blow, Matt, and it's pretty cool just to have a Duquesne question. My long-term concern is whether or not this team can make a commitment on the defensive end. I see St. Joe's every game, and the Hawks would have trouble scoring 99 points in an empty gym.
Ryan (Norwalk CT)
Fran Fraschilla wrote an article about how the Big East might be hurt by how physical they play come tournament time. After seeing the Providence vs Seton Hall game last night I was afraid PC might not make it to next week with how physical the games have been. Jeff Xavier had his eye closed on a play against Marquette where no foul was called and the Weyenmi Efejuku got pushed going for a dunk and fell 10 feet straight onto his back without a foul being called. I love physical play, but do you think the Big East has to be a little more strict? And what do you think Providence has to do to make the tourney?
Joe Lunardi (3:08 PM)
I'll leave the issue of physical play to players and coaches. More interesting to me are the prospects of Providence. The main thing for the Friars is to get multiple wins against the top seven of the conference. That's their ticket.
Do you think George Mason can make another crazy run this year?
Joe Lunardi (3:09 PM)
Let's get GMU into the tourney first, Steiny. There are three teams tied at the top of the CAA at the moment and George Mason plays one of them, VCU, this weekend after losing to the other (Northeastern) earlier in the week.
Jeremy (State College, PA)
Hey Joe, there's finally something else to get excited about in State College besides football! Any chance of the Nittany Lions making the big dance come March?
Joe Lunardi (3:11 PM)
It would be an incredible story, Jeremy. I'd put the odds at about one chance in five.
While Butler's numbers are looking good I know they will get pulled down (RPI & SOS) while playing the Horizon League. What do you think is a realistic seed for them?
Joe Lunardi (3:13 PM)
I'm having a hard time deciding what to do with Butler. The numbers are impressive, for sure, but I have a hard time believing this team is as good as last year. Plus I fear a league stumble or two coming up given the recent close encounters. My best guess is a seed in the 7-8 range.
Michael (Evansville, IN)
I'm looking at the SEC's RPIs right now and boy are they ugly. 10/12 teams (including UK) are currently 54th or worse in the RPI...numbers that don't bode well for AT LARGE selection. Would you agree that if an SEC team (and ESPECIALLY an SEC West team) is going to get an AT LARGE bid, there had better be almost no parity in the league. There are just too many bad teams to go say 10-6 or 9-7 in that league. For example, I can't imagine how devistating a loss to Georgia would be...there just aren't enough good teams to balance out the possibility of bad losses.
Joe Lunardi (3:14 PM)
Agreed, Michael. The best thing for the SEC (and most conferences) is clear separation for the better teams. I think it will happen in the SEC East with Kentucky, but the SEC West could conceivably be shut out without a runaway winner.
Chris (Washington DC)
With the wins against Minnesota and at Michigan State, do you think that the Northwestern Wildcats have played themselves onto the bubble, or actually into the tourney. And it is seriously time to start considering them as contenders?
Joe Lunardi (3:16 PM)
Like Penn State, Northwestern is absolutely in the conversation. The difference for now is Northwestern's road win at Michigan State. That isn't enough in itself, but the Wildcats certainly haven't eliminated themselves yet (which is saying a lot given the program's history).
What chance do the Cards have for a 1 or 2 seed? They always seem to get dissed by the committee when it comes to seeding
Joe Lunardi (3:18 PM)
I'm not sure about the dissing, mike, by I do think Louisville is in a prime spot for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. The issue is maintaining momentum in this year's Big East, which is no easy task. Then again, I did have the Cards as a No. 1 seed in my preseason bracket.
Mike P Chester Hgts PA
Even with their loss at home to the Hokies, Wake has looked both surprising and Strong, how far can they go and what do they have to do to improve?
Joe Lunardi (3:19 PM)
Almost every team -- even the best ones -- lose occasionally in college basketball. The key for Wake is to rebound and not let Wednesday's upset linger. I like their chances to play deep into March (or even April).
Hi Joe! Sorry about your Eagles. As for the Golden Gophers, if they go .500 in the Big Ten does that get them in?
Joe Lunardi (3:21 PM)
We're used to it, Rob. Philly has had its champion for the next 30 years or so. As for Minnesota, I don't think .500 is good enough because that would mean a sub-.500 last six weeks.
Brad (Cedar Falls)
Hey Joe! I'm a big fan! I got a few questions for ya. UNI currently has a two game lead over three teams that are tied for second place in the Valley. Is UNI a serious contender to win the Valley, or will they falter down the stretch like they have in the past? My last questions is how many teams do you see getting in from the Valley, and who will they be? Thanks!
Joe Lunardi (3:22 PM)
The Valley could be headed to another one-bid season, unless UNI (or someone else) can remain separated from the pack in the regular season. Without a clear-cut champion, I see only one Valley team in the tourney.
You wrote something kind of amusing in your column yesterday. You wrote Dayton may have shot themselves in the foot losing at UMass? Why is it shooting yourself in the foot losing at UMass, but 4 above you state Kansas has a good shot, and they lost at home to UMass?
Joe Lunardi (3:25 PM)
Two reasons, Greg: 1) Kansas is more likely to post other big wins; 2) Dayton's loss speaks to a long troublesome trend of losing to lesser teams on the road. I think the Flyers are still an NCAA team, but when you need a "too many men on the court" technical to win at George Washington (as was the case last night), it gives you pause.
Michael (Evansville, IN)
Just wanted to chime in on the Louisville getting "dissed" question. Don't you remeber 2005 when the UofL ws 4th in the RPI but got shipped out West as a #4 seed...I'd say that meets the standard for getting "dissed."
Joe Lunardi (3:26 PM)
I wouldn't complain about that, Michael. That was a truly favorable draw and resulted in a Final Four appearance for the Cards.
James (Hampton, VA)
Can the SEC get some recognition...they do not have one team with a losing record yet no one is talking about them. What gives?
Joe Lunardi (3:27 PM)
The SEC has won exactly one road game against an RPI Top 25 team, James. That's what gives.
Will Stanford need to go 10-8 in Pac 10 play to get a bid? They were flawless in non-conference, but while losing to noone, they also beat noone. I'm guessing the Pac 10 is a 4 bid conference this year?
Joe Lunardi (3:28 PM)
Depends on the composition of the 10 wins, Vern. The Cardinal need to win more "up" games than the recent home triumph over Cal.
Richard (Logan, UT)
Many in Utah feel that the 18-1 WAC leading Utah State Aggies are getting a little overlooked. What do you think they would need to do to get an at-large bid if they happen to lose in the finals the WAC tourny, a possibility as it is played on a very unfriendly (Reno, NV) court this year?
Joe Lunardi (3:29 PM)
The best thing Utah State can do is root for Utah. The better the Utes do, the better the Aggies can make their claim as an at-large team. I think it's going to happen.
Why do you have Memphis as a 4 seed in your latest bracket and as #12 in your power rankings (highest of any voter)? I don't see any impressive OOC wins (SHU, Cincy?)or a strong Road/Neutral record (3-2). What is making their profile impressive to you?
Joe Lunardi (3:30 PM)
The bracket was done on Monday, Ray, and the power rankings submitted this morning. In the interim, several teams ahead of Memphis on our S-Curve have lost.
Should I worry about my Orange making the tournament this season? They did well out-of-conference and already have beat ND.
Joe Lunardi (3:30 PM)
It's the out-of-conference work, barring a complete Big east collapse, that is going to get Syracuse back in the tournament.
What does Mizzou have to do down the stretch to grab an at large bid? Will 10-6 or 9-7 get it done?
Joe Lunardi (3:31 PM)
I have to think 10-6 would be enough, Fred, and perhaps even 9-7 with a decent conference tournament run.
Jeff (Charleston, WV)
Given the strength of the top 10-12 teams in the Big East, what do you see as the minimum requirements for the 8th, 9th and possibly 10th teams possibly receiving an NCAA bid. Where would you seed WVU after we defeat Pitt this weekend?
Joe Lunardi (3:33 PM)
This is going to be the most common question over the next few weeks, Jeff. And my answer is and will be: What have those teams done out of conference (not much in the case of Villanova and Providence) and who have they beaten among the teams ahead of them in the league? To me, WVU is on another level thanks to the wins at Ohio State and Georgetown. In fact, I would put West Virginia in ahead of Notre Dame at this point.
Will the Huskies end the nation's longest home winning streak tomorrow night? Harangody has struggled with Tha-Beast in the past.
Joe Lunardi (3:34 PM)
Crash Davis said, "Always honor the streak." But I'm going with UConn regardless.
Roy Williams Chapel Hill NC
With the big win over Miami and against Clemson .Is my team back in the number 1 overall seed ?
Joe Lunardi (3:35 PM)
Let's get back on the top line first, Roy, and then worry about No. 1 overall. None of the teams ahead of you have a wart the size of Boston College.
Joe, Cincinatti has better RPI, SOS, nonCON SOS and more top 100 wins than Notre Dame. So why a solid #6 seed for ND, but Cincinatti does not even appear on your considered list?
Joe Lunardi (3:36 PM)
It couldn't possibly be that 2-4 league record, could it? Or the 0-5 record against 1-25 teams? Just sayin....
Brett (Heath, Ohio)
Joe - after a 14-0 start, has Illinois State resigned themselves to 3 good days in St. Louis to get into the NCAA tournament?
Joe Lunardi (3:37 PM)
With a non-conference schedule at No. 326, I'm afraid so.
Joe, who do you think beats Duke in the 2nd round of the NCAA's this season?
Joe Lunardi (3:38 PM)
I think you're going to be disappointed, Vince.
Wayne ellington chapel hill nc
So Joe are you saying right now that we are not a number 1 seed in the south or east?
Joe Lunardi (3:38 PM)
Correct, Wayne. Glad that Episcopal Academy education is paying off. It's about performance, not potential.
Joe Lunardi (3:39 PM)
And, with that, I'm outta' here. Have a great weekend, everybody. See you on ESPN News at 4:10 p.m. ET.