Chat with Dana O'Neil
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com basketball writer Dana O'Neil stops by to chat about the college basketball season.
O'Neil joined ESPN in 2008 after working for the Philadelphia Daily News.
Send your questions now and join O'Neil Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET!
Dana O'Neil (2:31 PM)
Hey everyone, Still bleary-eyed from that sensational game in New York City last night. Felt like an early holiday present - a March game gift-wrapped in December.Let's see what's on your minds.
how devastating is evan turners injury to ohio state?
Dana O'Neil (2:32 PM)
Alex: Pretty devastating, I'd say. The Buckeyes still have talent but it's going to be hard to replace a guy who averages a double-double. David Lighty needs to really come up big in Turner's absence. He's the leader of this team now.
Jason (Jacksonville, FL)
if you had to choose 1 player for your team, would you go w/ John Wall or Wesley Johnson?
Dana O'Neil (2:34 PM)
Jason: Wow, great question and a really hard one. Just having this discussion w/ a colleague over lunch. Johnson has a better outside shot than Wall, which makes him tempting but I think based on potential not even yet tapped, I'd have to go with Wall. Not by much, though.
Rebel fan (Co)
Do you think UNLV is the best team on the West Coast and can they make a deep run in the tourny
Dana O'Neil (2:37 PM)
Rebel fan: Being the best team on the West Coast is a little bit like kissing your sister, I'm afraid. Not a lot to choose from. I'd still have to give Washington the edge. Though come back to me after the Huskies play Georgetown this weekend. I like UNLV, although I'm not sure how much to take out of that win over Louisville. The Cards are in a bit of disarray right now. Big game against Kansas State coming up. We'll know more after.
James (The Iladelph)
Hi Dana. Do you, Andy, and Joe still think that Villanova is overrated? Or are you starting to believe that they deserve their high ranking? For the past couple of years, Nova has had tons of talent and Jay Wright has proven that he can get the most out of the guys he has available. People bemoan Nova's lack of a front line, but Pena has stepped up nicely. Even with Yarou out, I think they're still the favorite to win the Big East.
Dana O'Neil (2:38 PM)
James: I have come around to Villanova. I wasn't a believer early because I couldn't figure out how they'd replace Dante Cunningham. I've seen Villanova win without dominating frontlines before but I also saw them finally get to the Final Four when they had an inside presence. Hence, my doubts. But Pena has been an eye opener. NEVER saw this coming. If he keeps this up, it's going to be hard to count the Wildcats out of the top of the Big East.
Arvind (Ithaca, NY)
How about an Ivy League question? Is Harvard now the heavy favorite in the Ivy League or does the balance of Cornell's attack keep them as the favorite?
Dana O'Neil (2:40 PM)
Arvind: Absolutely an Ivy League question. Just wrote about Jeremy Lin! I'd say Cornell remains the favorite. They have so much back, but more they've done it before. Harvard has never won an Ivy League title. As in ever and until you do it, it's hard to be the favorite. I think the Crimson will make this interesting, though. There's not going to be a 16-0 march to the title this season.
Dana, first big test for Syracuse since their great Coaches vs. Cancer performance in front of an orange filled crowd at the Garden. Do you think they will beat the Gators in Florida tonight?
Dana O'Neil (2:41 PM)
Dan: Definitely a big test for the Cuse tonight but no other team has stunned and impressed me more this season than the Orange. I did not see this coming. At all. When I saw them play North Carolina, they were so sharp it was incredible. Florida is a whole lot better this year, tourney better, but I'm going with Syracuse.
Dom (New Mexico)
Dana who do you like in the New Mexico vs Texas A&M game in Houston on Saturday (Keep in mind the Lobos have quite a following in Houston with our own players from the area.)?
Dana O'Neil (2:44 PM)
Dom: Going to be an interesting game: A&M's defense against the Lobos offense, not to mention a game that will give more legitimacy to the winner. My problem with New Mexico is they just haven't been as tested as the Aggies. A
how good is louisvile
Dana O'Neil (2:44 PM)
Tommy: Not very right now.
Greg (Boise, Idaho)
Do you think Dayton is still the A-10 favorite or do you think other teams are in the hunt such as Richmond or Temple
Dana O'Neil (2:46 PM)
Greg: I'm not as 300 percent sold as I was a month ago. I still think the Flyers have the most talent and should win the league, but I also think Richmond is looking awfully good and could be a legit challenger to the A10 title.
Kevin (Stamford, CT)
Who do you think will see a bigger improvement at the end of the season - UConn or Kentucky?
Dana O'Neil (2:49 PM)
Kevin: Interesting question. Connecticut is going to get better real soon when they add Ater Majok. To be honest, I feel like the Huskies are sort of treading water, waiting to add them. I was very impressed with them last night. Thought they played really well and really hard, but I do think they have a lot of room to get better. Would be nice if SOMEBODY could hit an outside shot.Hard to believe, I also think Kentucky can get better. They're sloppy and frenetic at times right now, all attributable to their youth. If they can keep their tempo but somehow take better care of the basketball, they too can get even better.
Charles (Dayton, Ohio)
Good Afternoon DanaThere was one team that I think is under the radar so to speak but will be really dangerous in the Big East is the UC Bearcats with Deonte Vaughn and Lance Stephenson and Yancy Gates is becoming a beast. What do you think?
Dana O'Neil (2:50 PM)
Charles: They were my sleeper team, so clearly I agree with you. I think Deonta Vaughn is terrific and now that he has help, will be even better and Lance Stephenson, once he sort of simmers down into his role, will be even better. Big rivalry game with Xavier this weekend, but I'd say the Bearcats ought to win it.
wow whats going on with butler. If butler loses there next game do they fall out of the top 25?
Dana O'Neil (2:51 PM)
Kyle: Oh, I think the Georgetown game will send them out of the top 25. I have no idea what's up with them. Really, really disappointed .. and not just because I was the doofus that put them in the Final Four. Still think they have a chance to be a very good team and scare people in the tourney, but clearly they're not going to get the help with a good seed.
My predicted Big Ten finish....1. Purdue 2. Mich. St. 3. Minn. 4. Ohio St 5. Illinois 6. Wisconsin 7. Northwestern 8. Michigan 9. Indiana 10. Penn St. 11. Iowa
Dana O'Neil (2:53 PM)
Bob: I like it for the most part. Might juggle around a few in there. Think Wisconsin might finish higher - loss to Green Bay notwithstanding. Might still flop Ohio State ahead of Minnesota, even without Turner and I'd maybe reorganize the bottom a bitMe: Michigan, Northwestern/Penn State (not sure which) then Indiana and Iowa. Should be a fun league to watch regardless.
Rick (Virginia Beach, VA)
Dana,Does any team in America possess more athletic, long players than West Virginia? They make it impossible for the opposition to run their offense. EVERY pass is contested.
Dana O'Neil (2:55 PM)
Rick: The Mountaineers are terrific, a typical Huggins team that harasses the bejesus out of opponents. Absolutely love Ebanks. I wish Kilicli could play sooner and don't understand the rationale behind a 20-game suspension for him to save my soul. He'll make them even tougher defensively.
Will Wall be a Naismith POY finalist?
Dana O'Neil (2:56 PM)
Trevor: Um, yes. Very possibly the final finalist.
Pat Knight (Lubbock, TX)
My team is on a roll, by playing good team ball. I have multiple guys that can put up 15+ points any given night. You think we'll continue to play this way and make the Big Dance?
Dana O'Neil (2:57 PM)
Shouldn't you be coaching or something? You're dad won't be happy. As for your team, the Red Raiders are much, much better. You said it at Big 12 media day and I didn't believe it, but you've got guys who can defend, which is a nice change. The Big 12 isn't an easy league to move up in this year but I'd say you could very well play your way into the tourney.Now get to work.
Who's you're favorite in the Missouri Valley?
Dana O'Neil (2:59 PM)
Honestly I'm having a hard time getting my arms around that league this year. The Northern Iowa loss to DePaul really stunned me. I'd say UNI still belongs near the top but I also have a hard time discounting any team w/ Osiris Eldridge.
The Pac 10 looks awful this year. Is this conference the SEC of 2010?
Dana O'Neil (3:00 PM)
Joel: Scary as it may seem, it could be worse. I would love to make a pitch for a West Coast trip but for the life of me, the only story I can think of is why is West Coast basketball so dreadful? There's a happy read, huh?
whats your thoughts on the sec this year? can florida win in the sec?
Dana O'Neil (3:02 PM)
Brannon: Can Florida win? Sure. Will they? I'd say no. That honor goes to Kentucky. SEC is better this year. Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee are obviously very good. Think Ole Miss is a dangerous team to overlook with their great guards and when Mississippi State adds John Riek here in short order, watch out.
Joe (Raleigh NC)
How good will Seton Hall be this year and can they get into the NCAA's?
Dana O'Neil (3:03 PM)
Joe: Seton Hall is definitely better and one of those dangerous teams in the Big East. I wish they had a meatier non-conference schedule to help build their RPI and reputation. They're really going to have make their case in the league and that is a hard place to build a case.
Do you think Oklahoma will continue to struggle or will they turn it around in Big 12 play?
Dana O'Neil (3:06 PM)
Bryan: I think they'll get better. They're really young at so many critical positions. I think it's a very good sign that Tony Crocker is upping his production. The Sooners need someone other than Willie Warren to rely on.
Hey Dana O'Neil, who is your pick for the 2010 final four? Thanks!
Dana O'Neil (3:07 PM)
Colleen: Oh boy. My original pick made all of last month looks a little crummy right now. If I'm getting the mulligan, I'm going with Kansas (got that one right), Texas, Kentucky and either West Virginia or Villanova. I can't choose between them just right.And I'll change that again next week.
Bronc40 (Lawrenceville, NJ)
What is up with Ryan Thompson and Rider, can he get the Broncs back into the NCAA's for the first time since the D-Suber/Mark Wilcox era?
Dana O'Neil (3:09 PM)
Bronc40: Gotta answer this one since I covered the D-Suber/Mark Wilcox/Deon Hames era!! I think Ryan Thompson is fabulous and yes, he is good enough to do it. But it's a really tough league this year with Siena and Niagara. I'd say any of those three could win it.
Hal (New Orleans)
Great win by Indiana over Pitt in MSG. Freshmen class looks stellar. As a Hoosier alum, am I realistic to hope for a .500/NIT season? Crean's got em on the right track!!
Dana O'Neil (3:11 PM)
Hal: Boy I don't want to be a wet blanket. That was a good win over Pitt but honestly, Pitt's not very good. I think the Hoosiers are better, a lot better and as they did last year, I think they'll improve as the season goes on. Tom Crean teams always get better. The problem is, to get to .500 they have to do pretty well in a really good Big Ten.
Lisa (Bloomington, IL)
Please tell me something good about Marquette....
Dana O'Neil (3:13 PM)
Lisa: Sure. They are way better than I thought they were. Way, way better. The two losses, I'll admit, were a little disappointing but remember what you're replacing - three very, very good guards. Buzz Williams is a heckuva coach and if he can get these guys in sync, he has a great foundation to build on in Lazar Hayward.
do you think purdue could be favorites in the final four ( if they make it) because it's in indy
Dana O'Neil (3:14 PM)
Gabe: Well sure. Michigan State turned Detroit green and I'd expect the Boilers to color Indy as well.
Orange fan (Florida)
In your opinion will Wes Johnson be a NBA lottery pick?
Dana O'Neil (3:15 PM)
Orange: Absolutely. He's arguably one of the top 5/10 players in the game right now.
Josh (Los Angeles)
I know you just wrote about Jeremy Lin. What do you think his chances are at the NBA draft this year? It's been pretty clear for a while now that he can play with anyone in college basketball and that he can hold his own against NBA-leve talent. What do you think his chances are of getting drafted?
Dana O'Neil (3:16 PM)
Josh: The NBA is so frustrating to me. They pick on upside and measurements and all this who-ha instead of whether or not a kid can play. I heard it about Jameer Nelson for two years. He was too small, too this. And now he's an All-Star. So I don't know if Lin will get drafted. I do, however, think he could help a team smart enough to take him.
Joe (Raleigh NC)
Who will be the last undefeated team standing this year?
Dana O'Neil (3:18 PM)
Joe: Was looking over this the other day and I could easily make a case for Villanova being 15-0, heading to Louisville on Jan. 9. Kansas has tough games against Michigan and Cal coming up, Texas has Michigan State and North Carolina and though it's at home and they're better, Kentucky has the rivalry game with Louisville.
Tom D. (Austin, TX)
How different will Duke look with Mason Plumlee back? Does he make them a Final Four contender?
Dana O'Neil (3:19 PM)
Tom: No question Plumlee makes them immediately better. He's so athletic and really adds a new dimension. I'd say the Blue Devils were in the contention for the Final Four even without him, so with him, sure they have a shot.
chris sherlock (kentucky)
did the uk wildcats win yesterday
Dana O'Neil (3:20 PM)
Chris: I've heard such a rumor, yes.
Dana, Michigan State's perceived weakness is inside scoring. Lately Delvon Roe and Raymar Morgan have really emerged to manhandle the glass, while the 6'10' freshman Sherman is quietly getting better and more physical. Come March, I would not bet against Izzo. His record in the tournament shows he can out-coach anyone with the constant improvement of his teams.
Dana O'Neil (3:21 PM)
Corey: I'm with you 100 percent. I had Michigan STate as my original national champion. Was disappointed in them at North Carolina but I agree, Izzo-coached teams ALWAYS get better. The key really is Roe and Morgan. They need to be good, consistently good.
derek baker (norwalk ca)
how far do you think ucla will go
Dana O'Neil (3:21 PM)
Derek: In what? The CBI?
Jim (Green Bay WI)
With UW-Green Bay's mens basketball team beating Wisconsin last night 88-84, what are the chances of us becoming ranked and or getting votes?
Dana O'Neil (3:22 PM)
Jim: Would love to say it's automatic for my old friend, Tod Kowalczyk but one win does not make a ranking. It's a great win for Green Bay but not enough all by itself.
Tom D. (Austin, TX)
Dana, you didn't answer my question after posting it. What a Tease!
Dana O'Neil (3:23 PM)
Are you sure? Plumlee, right? I did answer that one.
Kevin (Schenectady, NY)
Hi Dana, hope everything is going well. Not sure if you remember me but we have talked in the past about my beloved Terps. I know they have started slow in the maui and played real hard vs nova. However, don't have anything to show verse good teams. How do you see them ending up? As always, I'm opitmistic and think they can be top 25 and sweet 16 like many thought.
Dana O'Neil (3:24 PM)
Kevin: The Terps are hard to pin down. I think this year could be a lot like last year, unfortunately, where Maryland is in, out and on the bubble in the last anxious weeks. As you pointed out, they don't have that signature win to call on to make them a lock.
Hi, Dana. Nobody shows any love for my Memphis Tigers so far. Anyways, how do you feel so far about Josh Pastner's job @ Memphis? With the talents he got for the next year, I can't wait for the 2010-2011 season. Thanks.
Dana O'Neil (3:27 PM)
David: Josh has done a great job, both on the floor and on the recruiting trail. I picked them to win C-USA, so I did show em love and I'm sticking by that!
can kansas state beat ku and atleast go to the sweet 16
Dana O'Neil (3:27 PM)
Tonn: I like Kansas State a lot. Think they are one of the dangerous sleeper teams nationally and certainly in the Big 12. So yes, in a heated rivalry game like that, they can absolutely win.
Shouldn't Cuse be the front runner in the Big East with what they have done and the margin of victory? Any final 4 consideration for them? Villanova has for the most part been average.
Dana O'Neil (3:28 PM)
Matt: My bad. They definitely need to be in the mix for winning the Big East. I'm still brain dead after that game last night.
Dana O'Neil (3:29 PM)
Alright folks I have to bolt and get to some other ESPN duties.Should be a fun one tonight between Florida and Syracuse.Thanks for the questions