Chat with Mark Schlabach
Schlabach joined ESPN.com in July 2006 as a college football and basketball columnist. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Mark spent nine years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering Georgia and the SEC, as well as the NFL and NASCAR. Before joining ESPN, Schlabach spent two years at the Washington Post covering college football and basketball, and boxing.
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Mark Schlabach (2:04 PM)
OK, thanks for joining the chat. Hope everybody has filled out their bracket and hope your favorite team made the field. Here we goo...
why did fsu get a 5 seed, when syracuse got a 3 seed? do you see something wrong with this?
Mark Schlabach (2:05 PM)
A little strange. I don't really like FSU's matchup, either. Playing Wisconsin in the first round won't be easy.
Alex, Ann Arbor [via mobile]
Which 12 seed do you like more, Arizona or Western Kentucky?
Mark Schlabach (2:06 PM)
Probably Arizona because they have some really high-end victories this season. Probably play a little looser with the pressure off them. But I really like the Hilltoppers' guards.
Mark, if I told you a 19-13 team that lost in the first round of their conference tournament, lost 5-6 coming into the tournament, and went 2-9 on the road, got an NCAA bid...what would you say?
Mark Schlabach (2:08 PM)
I'm very surprised. I thought the 1-5 slide and 2-9 road mark would do them in. Especially after USC won the Pac-10 tourney. That being said, Arizona is capable of winning a couple of games.
Mark: How does Dayton, who was considered a "Lock" going into Selection Sunday, get an 11 seed, and than some of the bubble teams going into Selection Sunday got higher seeds than the Flyers? Im a little ticked off and think Dayton kind of got screwed over a little!
Mark Schlabach (2:12 PM)
The more I looked at it Saturday and early Sunday, the more I thought Dayton might actually be in trouble. Bad losses (at Charlotte and Saint Louis) down the stretch, lose in A-10 semis. But probably a little bit low on seed.
Scott: (Atlanta, GA)
I'll be in Greensboro for the first two rounds. Can you tell me which teams would give Duke and UNC tougher games in the second round? I would love to see an upset or two while I'm there!
Mark Schlabach (2:14 PM)
Texas for Duke, because of its size and length. Minnesota's style of play probably suits the Blue Devils better. LSU for Carolina because Thornton is a lot like Tony Douglass, he can keep LSU in games if he gets really hot.
DJ Young (San Diego, CA)
Mark, your comments on why Steve Fisher's Aztecs were not invited to the dance in the bubble. Although they are a bit inconsistent, the team is rather solid.
Mark Schlabach (2:15 PM)
I thought they were certainly one of the last four out. Good wins in MWC play, but not much in terms of non-league wins. They were a lot like a lot of other bubble teams who didn't make the field. They'll have to schedule tougher nonleague games next year.
Mark, how is it that the second place team in the Pac-10 gets a 6 seed and has to travel the longest distance of anyone?
Mark Schlabach (2:16 PM)
Really a tough draw for UCLA. Have to play VCU in the first round, then potentially Villanova in Philly. The Bruins didn't get any favors from the selection committee.
Mike (Baltimore) [via mobile]
Are there are couple of 4 or higher seeds that you think have a real chance to move deep into the tourney? Possibly west virginia or purdue?
Mark Schlabach (2:19 PM)
I really like West Virginia's chances. I think they're capable of beating Dayton and Kansas, maybe even Michigan State. Keep an eye on Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are playing really good basketball right now. Dominant big man and good three-point shooters. They could beat Washington and Purdue (or lose in the first round). Arizona is another team that could win a couple of games.
Anthony (Jackson Michigan)
Any chance for the Wolverines in the First Round?
Mark Schlabach (2:20 PM)
Have to get past Clemson first. Tigers are long and pretty talented. They'll defend the heck out of you.
SHONEY -- MAINE
DID THE COMMITEE HOPE TO SEE A POSSIBLE BLOCK PARTY IN THE SWEET 16 WITH A THABEET/VARNADO MATCHUP? DOES THE COMMITEE LOOK AT POSSIBLE PLAYER MATCHUPS WHEN DECIDING THE SSEDINGS?
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
What teams to you think were overseeded and what ones do you feel were underseeded?
Mark Schlabach (2:25 PM)
Overseeded -- Maryland, Utah, Oklahoma, LSU? Underseeded -- Mississippi State, Purdue, FSU
Who should win national coach of the year? Runner up?
Mark Schlabach (2:27 PM)
Hard to argue with Rick Pitino or Jamie Dixon or Bill Self or John Calipari (given what Kansas and Memphis lost). I'd go Pitino and Calipari.
Do you think memphis deserves a number 1 seed
Mark Schlabach (2:28 PM)
I thought it was 50/50. It's hard to argue against any of the four No. 1s, but I thought Memphis did enough, too. Bottom line: Conference USA is killing Memphis.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Mark, who do you see eventually ending up in Detroit? I really don't see all 4 number one seeds making it this year, the field is too wide open.
Mark Schlabach (2:28 PM)
I have Louisville, Memphis, Villanova and North Carolina. Louisville winning it all.
What's your thoughts on Maryland's chances and why were they overseeded?
Mark Schlabach (2:29 PM)
I think it's a tough first-round matchup against Cal. The Terps will win if Vasquez plays well and Hayes and Milbourne keep contributing. I think you give Maryland credit for beating Michigan, Michigan State, Wake Forest and UNC, but they lost at Virginia late and also lost to Morgan State. I thought they'd be a Nos. 11-12 seed. Gotta lot credit for playing in the ACC.
The way the message is being conveyed by the committee, had siena not won their conference would they have been at large since they scheduled so many tough games. Pitt, Kansas, and Ok St.
Mark Schlabach (2:30 PM)
Maybe, but I also think you have to win some of those games, too. I think Siena would have been a very tough call if they hadn't won their league tourney. High RPI rating, but no top 100 wins. I think they would have been left out, actually, just like Davidson.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Mark, do sites open up allotted tickets to the public, if they aren't all sold by the schools?
Mark Schlabach (2:30 PM)
Not sure. Guessing there won't be available tickets in Greensboro, though.
Overly generous path aside, it seems like everyone is assuming that UNC is just going to start firing on all cylinders come Thursday. But they (and almost everyone except Louisville) haven't really been that impressive of late. Do you think someone like the Zags could pull off the huge upset?
Mark Schlabach (2:31 PM)
Sure, especially if Lawson doesn't come back at 100 percent. I think Louisville is the only team hitting on all cylinders right now. Everybody seems to have some flaws.
Danton (Dublin, Ohio)
Being that the game is in Ohio, if Ohio State can get past Siena, do you see a large Buckeye crowd against Louisville in Dayton Sunday? If so, would this have an effect on UofL?
Mark Schlabach (2:32 PM)
Not sure. Louisville has won some road games. Dayton is pretty close to Louisville, too. I didn't think it was fair to give them Ohio State in Ohio in the second round. They are the overall No. 1 seed. How does Duke and UNC get to play in North Carolina and Louisville plays an opponent in its home state (potentially). Doesn't seem right.
I know I'm biased, but how can you give COY to anyone other than Mike Anderson? When you compare this year to last year, consider the preseason expectations, and what he's done in only three years, I don't see a more compelling argument.
Mark Schlabach (2:33 PM)
You're right, he should be on the list, too. Great job this season. He's up there with the rest. But Cal and Self had to replace nearly everyone off those Final Four teams. They had a few good players coming back, but not many.
What is the most intriguing match up in round 1?
Mark Schlabach (2:34 PM)
Love the VCU-UCLA game and LSU-Butler and Ilinois-Western Kentucky and Clemson-Michigan and Cal-Maryland and Washington-Mississippi State and USC-BC and Arizona-Utah. All potential upsets.
Were there more or less bid stealers (Clev St, Temple, USC, Miss St) than usual this year? And which team already in the tournament benefitted the most from one of the aforementioned teams "stealing" a bid?
Mark Schlabach (2:36 PM)
There were quite a few, actually. The ones you mention and Maryland beating Wake Forest to get into the field. It could have been worse. Not sure I understand the second part of your question. I thought Arizona would be out once USC got in, but it didn't happen.
brock (sacramento california) [via mobile]
shouldnt the gaels have gotten arizonas seed?
Mark Schlabach (2:37 PM)
I think Saint Mary's had a compelling case, but Arizona had more high-end victories. The Wildcats beat a lot of good teams, including Gonzaga, which beat Saint Mary's three times.
Mark Schlabach (2:38 PM)
Gordon Hayward at Butler is a great freshman. Eric Maynor at VCU is a great scorer. A.J. Slaugher and Orlando Melendez-Vladez at Western Kentucky are both pretty good guards. Kenny Hausbrouck at Siena is a very good player. Ben Woodside is a great shooter at North Dakota State.
Mark Schlabach (2:39 PM)
Like their chances a lot. They'll definitely benefit from playing in Philly. They can beat Duke and UCLA (or VCU). They're very familiar with Pitt, obviously. I have them reaching the Final Four.
Considering the distance Ohio State has to travel during the football season, I think playing one game in the state of Ohio for once is more than fair.
Mark Schlabach (2:40 PM)
Thank goodness they're not playing an SEC team, right? Just kidding.
Travis C. (Lake Highlands)
Can you explain to me the #9 seeding for Tennessee? The SEC champ, with a high RPI and schedule strength, and they're NINE?!? I was expecting a six...
Mark Schlabach (2:41 PM)
Thought Tennessee and LSU would be seeded a little bit higher. Speaks to the mediocrity of the SEC this season, more than anything else. Tennessee is capable of getting to the Sweet 16 or even better. They're also capable of losing in the first round. Depends which team shows up.
Marc (Malden, MA)
The committee says they want to minimize travel, but Florida St is playing in Boise and Utah is playing in Miami. They're both 5 seeds, so that makes zero sense.
Mark Schlabach (2:41 PM)
There were a couple of those scenarios. But they have to balance the brackets and keep conference rivals in opposite brackets. It's complicated.
Mark Schlabach (2:42 PM)
Woops, sorry. Forgot to post the questions.
Matt (Needham MA)
Hey Mark, When I look at the selections I see probably the two best mid-majors - Siena & Butler at the 9 seed. My initial impression is that they are rewarding the little guy with a realtively high seed. But then you realize that if they win their first round game (Siena vs Ohio St & Butler vs LSU) thay have virtually no chance of getting to the sweet sixteen since they will have to play the #1 team in their region (Siena vs Louisville, Butler vs North Carolina). They would have a better chance of advancing if they were an 11 or 12 seed. Is the little guy getting the short end of the stick or am I just a conspiracy theorist?
Mark Schlabach (2:43 PM)
No, you're probably better off being a No. 10 seed or No. 12 seed. That 8-9 game is always tough. But I'm sure UNC would rather play someone else than Butler or LSU in the second round, too. I thought Butler and Siena were deserving of Nos. 9 seeds because of their RPI ratings.
Hey Mark, Who's this years Cinderella team like Davidson was last year?
Mark Schlabach (2:44 PM)
Siena. Western Kentucky. Butler (again). Maybe Utah State or Northern Iowa.
Do you think elliot williams has made duke a better team and if he has do you think that with him that they can get in the final four?
Mark Schlabach (2:45 PM)
I think he brings a lot of energy to the court, and having Nolan Smith back on the floor helps them, too. Still concerned about their lack of front-court players. Might make a matchup against Texas a little difficult in round two.
Mark, please answer my question regarding the Bilas-Vitale-Phelps fiasco last night. Inquiring minds want to know.
Mark Schlabach (2:45 PM)
I thought it was good TV. Great debate and they obviously had heart-felt opinions.
Victor (Olney, MD)
Mark do you think Oklahoma has a chance of falling to Clemson in the 2nd round. It seems like they could get muscled around inside and be the first big seed out early. Thoughts?
Mark Schlabach (2:46 PM)
I think Clemson would have a chance. Booker is very underrated. Not sure he'll muscle Blake Griffin around, though. This is the same Clemson team that just lost to Georgia Tech. Kind of like Tennessee -- not sure what you're going to get.
The Real Mark S (Dayton, OH)
All the experts love Louisville but aren't they potentially the weakest #1 seed? They don't have great pure guards and their big men are inconsistent. Can't a strong rebounding team with quick, penetrating guards expose the Cradinals? Why aren't they the weakest #1 seed?
Mark Schlabach (2:47 PM)
They just won the Big East regular-season and tournament titles. That doesn't make you the worst No. 1 seed. They defend like crazy and Pitino's teams are always at their best in March. I really like their chances, which is why I have them winning it all.
What do you think unc has to do to win a national championship? And do you think that they will win the national championship?
Mark Schlabach (2:48 PM)
I have Louisville winning it all. But if Lawson comes back healthy, and Green finds his touch again and Ellington gets hot from the perimeter, the Tar Heels will definitely have a chance.
Mark, what is your take on Wake Forest? Do they have what it takes to get past Louisville, or should they be content with a Sweet 16 appearance this year given the gap in experience and their unfortunate draw?
Mark Schlabach (2:48 PM)
I thought Wake Forest was the most talented team I saw this year. Teague didn't play well in Atlanta, but he's still a very good player. They're young and have struggled away from Winston-Salem. But they're still talented enough to put a run together. Just have to handle the pressure.
Here's what I take issue with...anyone who knows the sport of basketball knows you can win games and lose games you should/shouldn't. So why wouldn't the committee use percentages against top 50-100 as opposed to flat "good wins"...Yeh, Zona won 6 games out of 16 against top opposition because they had those chances...Since they aren't giving these schools those chances, how can it be fair to judge Creighton harsher for less wins when they won a higher percentage of those key games?
Mark Schlabach (2:50 PM)
You make a good point. It is difficult for smaller schools to get games against the BCS teams, unless you're willing to play on their court. But you also have to win some of those games. And you can schedule some of the lesser teams from the BCS conferences. I know Saint Mary's didn't count on Southern Illinois and Oregon struggling this year. It was a tough decision, I'm sure.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
If you did not have to work, how would you spend the greatest 2 days of the sports year (Thursday and Friday)?
Mark Schlabach (2:51 PM)
I'm actually going to be sitting in front of the flat screen watching games from home. Blogging and writing overview pieces. Not hitting the road until next week. I'm really looking forward to being a "fan" this week.
Zach (INDIANAPOLIS, IN)
Again Mark I ask what do you think of the fact Xavier gets a 4 seed and Butler a 9 seed? Butler beat Xavier on Xavier's home court by 9 does that not count for anything especially for a mid-major battling for seed respect anyhow? Xavier is a solid team but no reason they should be seeded 5 spots higher. Your thoughts please?
Mark Schlabach (2:52 PM)
Butler is a very good team. Saw them win at Davidson. I thought a No. 9 seed was sufficient. Lost a couple of games at home against Horizon League foes late in the season. Xavier beat some good teams, too.
Mark Schlabach (2:53 PM)
Folks, gotta run and finish a column. Have a great week. Enjoy the games. I'll be blogging on Thursday-Sunday.