Chat with Pat Forde
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com columnist Pat Forde stops by to chat some college basketball.
Among other things, Forde covers college football and basketball for ESPN and ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Forde Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Pat Forde (3:01 PM)
Sweet Sixteen is here and so am I. To the questions!
Which "cinderella" has the best opportunity to advance the championship game. And "none" isn't allowed!! You have to go out on a limb here (it is March Madness after all).
Pat Forde (3:02 PM)
Matt: Northern Iowa. Having already taken down Kansas, the rest of the road ahead is not as daunting. Michigan State is injured, and the Panthers seemingly would be at home in terms of playing style against Ohio State in a regional final. (Tennessee would be another story.) So I'm sticking with the Panthers -- in fact, I'm predicting a Final Four.
How do you bring up beards in an article without showing any love to Brian Zoubek? Is it a coincidence that his first beard comes in his best statistical year by far? I think not.
Pat Forde (3:03 PM)
James: Major, major gaffe on my part. Hate myself for it and owe Zoubek a Zapology. That's a serious beard -- and of course there is a direct correlation to his statistical improvement.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Pat: I asked this in another chat but would like your input. With so many lower seeds performing well in this tournament, do you think the NCAA committee will erroneously believe that expansion to 96 teams has become more viable?
Pat Forde (3:04 PM)
JB: I think there are people who want the 96-team tournament regardless of anything that has happened the last five days. It has more to do with money than anything else. And I still hate the idea.
With UK's size, depth and speed why is everyone making it sound like UK is the underdog? Am i missing something?
Pat Forde (3:04 PM)
Chase: Anyone who is making it sound like Kentucky is an underdog is lying or in denial. Kentucky is the favorite at this point.
Pat, why does everyone keep discounting MSU. They have Izzo and a core that went to the national championship game last year. I feel like everyone is looking for reasons why they will lose and not why they will win.
Pat Forde (3:06 PM)
Tone: There are years of reasons not to underestimate Izzo and Michigan State. He's just the best in this tournament. But the injury to Kalin Lucas and ongoing foot issue for Chris Allen are major blows. Lucas is their best player. Not sure even Izzo can find a way around that issue.
Dan (Kansas City)
Hit me with your new Final Four...
Pat Forde (3:06 PM)
I'll keep the three that are still alive -- Kentucky, Baylor and Syracuse -- and add Northern Iowa.
Wesley Johnson's game against Gonzaga was the best one he's played since the injury. Do you think he's healthy now? If so, how bad is that for the rest of the region, considering Onuaku hasn't sniffed the court yet in the tournament?
Pat Forde (3:08 PM)
Brandon: He sure looked healthy. If he keeps playing like that the Cuse will be tough to beat -- but I still don't see the Orange winning a title without Onuaku back. And I'll give Butler a chance to beat them this week if he doesn't play.
So should I buy some St. Mary's gear for attending the games in Houston this weekend? I only want to buy the gear if I'll get to wear it for two games... so whaddya say, Mr. Forde? Thanks for the input.
Pat Forde (3:09 PM)
Trace: Since I'm picking Baylor, I think you should save your money. But if I were a basketball fan I'd like to have some St. Mary's gear. Cool team. Love the way they play. Fun to watch.
What are your thoughts on the Tenn/OSU game?
Pat Forde (3:10 PM)
Andrew: Tennessee definitely has the size and athleticism to play with the Buckeyes, but I can see the Volunteers giving up too many open shots. Tennessee hasn't beaten much to get to this point, and I can still easily recall a 29-point mauling in the SEC semifinals.
Dwayne (Home of 2010 Ntl Champs LEX.)
Has there ever been a team with more talent than what Ky has this year with 5 probable 1st rd. draft picks?
Pat Forde (3:11 PM)
Dwayne: This isn't even the most talented Kentucky team. That 1996 unit had at least seven pros. Eight if you count ineligible Scott Padgett.
So far, has this been the most exciting tournament ever? Sure seems that way.
Pat Forde (3:13 PM)
Pat: It has been an awesome tournament. In every respect. Upsets, drama, great theater, rampaging emotions ... is it the best ever? I don't know. In the eye of the beholder, I guess. I have been wanting to go back and compare it to the first rounds in 1981, which was kind of the gold standard for first-round freak shows. Haven't had time to do it yet.
Jared (Charleston, SC)
In your reply earlier you said Tennessee would be another story. Do you think that UT would give Northern Iowa a more difficult task then taking down Ohio State due to matchups?
Pat Forde (3:14 PM)
Jared: Yes, simply because of Tennessee's full-court pressure. Just as Maryland would have been a tougher matchup for the same reason. If there's one weakness we've seen from UNI, it's handling a full-court press. Haven't seen much of that in the Missouri Valley and it's showed.
Dominic (Seattle, WA)
Being a St Mary's Alum I thought you might want to know that the city of Moraga, where St Marys is located, has 16,000 people. Half of the remaining 16 schools have more undergraduate students than Moraga has people. Gotta love the NCAA Tournament. Go Gaels!!!!
Pat Forde (3:15 PM)
Dominic: Thanks for the census data. Good to know. Really, St. Mary's would be THE story of the week if it weren't for Cornell and UNI. Crowded field of feel-good stories.
Pat, What does Kentucky have to do to slow down Cornell's shooters?
Pat Forde (3:17 PM)
Justin: Kentucky will have to be back and ready in transition, guard the pick-and-roll well and then close out on shooters. Cornell has the best three-point shooting team in the country.
K-State is the favorite, but i really like Crawford, Holloway and Love getting the upset for Xavier......do you feel Xavier can get this win before bowing out to Cuse.
Pat Forde (3:18 PM)
Brandon: Should be a great game, one of the best of the regional semifinals. But K-State is playing great right now, and its defense is exceptional. I like the Wildcats.
Clark (New York City)
Pat, not sure why WVU would be favored by more than one or two. Seems like Wash matches up quite well, with their own Butler in Pondexter. Thoughts?
Pat Forde (3:20 PM)
Clark: I think Washington matches up decently. The question to me is more whether the Huskies can be trusted to keep playing at a high level. They've been pretty inconsistent all season.
Chris (Virginia Beach)
Pat, after seeing Duke play well thus far, especially on defense, is your pick for Baylor 1)actual basketball acumen,2) spite, or 3) Duke hate?
Pat Forde (3:21 PM)
Chris: I'd say the first. I don't hate Duke and I'm not spiteful, and it's not exactly like picking Pine Bluff over Duke. Baylor is really good. Duke is really good, too, but beating UAPB and Cal isn't enough to dazzle me to the point of changing my pre-tournament pick.
What are Purdue's chances of beating Duke and getting to the Final Four with Hummel being out?
Pat Forde (3:22 PM)
Scott: If the Boilermakers pull it off, it'll be one of the great achievements in recent NCAA tourney history. But I don't see it happening. I think Duke wins by a solid margin.
If Rautins, Triche and Johnson play like they did against the zags I am banking on them winning the NC even without Onuaku. Is that a safe bet? I am surprised that no elite analyst picked them to win it all. Talk about team chemistry.... there is no other team with that kinda chemistry.
Pat Forde (3:23 PM)
Joe: No, it's not a safe bet. There are plenty of much better teams out there than the Zags.
If it's not played in Houston, do you still like Baylor's chance to Final Four over Duke?
Pat Forde (3:23 PM)
Nayiwan: Yes. But not as much.
I'm glad you brought up the topic of UNI handling a full court press. KU was beaten by plyaing poorly, but moreso by terrible coaching. When you have a more athletic and talented team you don't let the other team dictate the pace. KU should have been pressing the whole game and won by double digits.
Pat Forde (3:25 PM)
Nick: Kansas definitely made a tactical error in allowing the game to be played at UNI's comfort level. I don't know about winning by double digits, but I don't know why the Jayhawks waited until the last two minutes to apply serious pressure -- especially after watching UNLV stay in the game with that Thursday night. Lon Kruger did a much better job gameplanning for UNI than Bill Self did.
It seems to me that there is a double standard when it comes to the NCAA vacating wins. When FSU lost football wins recently, It affected Bobby Bowden's chase of Joe Paterno and the all-time wins record, but in Basketball, the penalties seem to only affect your ability to hang a banner. John Calipari was recently credited with his 5th straight 30-win season even though he should now have 0 wins for 2008, and Arizona was reported as just having it's NCAA appearance streak broken despite having one of it's appearances vacated, which should have broken the streak. I really don't care much one way or the other how the NCAA enforces this, but I would like to see consistency across different sports.
Pat Forde (3:26 PM)
Everyone talks about how smart Cornell is but Duke is ranked higher in academics you betta recognize!!!!
Pat Forde (3:27 PM)
Mark: Duke also gives athletic scholarships. Cornell does not.
Alex (Ann Arbor)
Your team has the ball with 10 seconds to go, tie-game. Here are your options: 1) Turner one-on-one 2) Wall one-on-one 3) Ali open three-pointer. Who you taking?
Pat Forde (3:28 PM)
Alex: I can't have all three? They've all done it this year for their teams, so they're all great options. But only one of them has done it in the NCAA tournament. Twice. Ali, bomaye.
Steve Likins (Napa, California)
Cornell upsets Kentucky, advances past UW, loses to Duke in an Epic Game and Duke beats Kansas State in a Track meet. Is this a bold prediction?
Pat Forde (3:28 PM)
Steve: Yeah, that would qualify as bold.
Has Northern Iowa's performance, and Eglseder's performance in particular, helped big J's chances of landing in the NBA draft...second round maybe?
Pat Forde (3:30 PM)
Brandon: I'm not Chad Ford, I'm Pat Forde. However, I'd say he's earning himself a chance to play at the next level. Good offensive skills. The questions would seem to be conditioning and footwork -- can he slide, run and jump?
Mateen (East Lansing)
MSU never presses - do they incorporate some modest press in to their gameplan against NI? My guess would be no, but they try to push the hell out of the ball on every defensive rebound. What do you think?
Pat Forde (3:31 PM)
Mateen: I do expect Michigan State to really push the ball off the glass, yes. That's been a forte of the Spartans for a few years now. As for pressure defense -- maybe you mix in a couple possessions of it early and see if it's working, then make a call.
Why no love for WVU?
Pat Forde (3:31 PM)
Ralph: I do love WVU and think a UK-WVU regional final would be the best of the bunch. Mountaineers have the toughness for that game, the question is whether they have the talent.
Mateen (East Lansing)
Is Izzo the best NCAA tourney coach in history? If not, who else would you take (only for the NCAA tourney)? I'd take Izzo hands down as they best.
Pat Forde (3:32 PM)
Mateen: Well, there's this guy named Wooden and his 47-10 NCAA tourney record...
Final Four: Cornell, Northern Iowa, Butler and Saint Mary's. With a Cornell Vs. Northern Iowa final. Wishfull thinking would be great if the mid majors could pull this off.
Pat Forde (3:33 PM)
Andy: The world would explode. And I would love it.
Scotty (Waco, Texas)
Does Baylor really have anything to be worried about on Friday vs. St Mary's? They're a great team to their credit - but Baylor is so much more powerful and athletic, and with Lace Dunn raining threes...does St. Mary's even have a shot?
Pat Forde (3:34 PM)
Scotty: Baylor absolutely has something to worry about. I do think Udoh will be a very tough matchup for (You Don't Mess With The) Samhan inside, but St. Mary's has good perimeter players as well. This will not be an easy game -- but I like Baylor to win.
Jason (Jacksonville, FL)
When teams like say George Mason make the Final Four I know it's a great story and people love seeing these kinds of things happen but does it really make for great basketball? The 2006 Final Four with Florida, George Mason, UCLA, and LSU was the worst group of Final Four teams I have ever seen in my life
Pat Forde (3:35 PM)
Jason: Blame that more on LSU and UCLA than Mason. George Mason played Florida closer than LSU played UCLA, and closer than UCLA then played Florida. George Mason was NOT the reason that Final Four was a dud from a standpoint of competitiveness.
Say something about how impressive that final play was in the MSU-MD game. I mean, Tom Izzo doesn't call a time out, big man Draymond Green is dribbling the ball up the floor, Delvon Roe manages to duck at the right time and somehow Korie Lucious hits it!
Pat Forde (3:37 PM)
Dave: Here's what I loved about the entire last 30 seconds: zero whistles. No timeouts, no fouls, no subs, no checking the monitor. Just 10 guys going at it. And guess what? we saw three consecutive great plays: two by Michigan State and one by Maryland. Get out of the way, coaches and officials, and let 'em play!
Miles (Heart's Still In EL)
You can't compare wooden and izzo. Look at the quality of play, and number of teams differences....not to mention the whispers of transgressions.
Pat Forde (3:38 PM)
Miles: I'm pretty sure I did just compare Wooden and Izzo. And Wooden wins. In fact, I bet if you ask Tom Izzo, he'd tell you Wooden wins, too.
Have you watched Tennessee play any? They do not full court press this year.
Pat Forde (3:39 PM)
Jason: Yes I have, and I watched them pressure full court for at least portions of the game against Kentucky in person. And if the Vols were going to play UNI, I'm going to bet on some full-court pressure.
Vegas has Kentucky as odds on choice...Cuse 2nd choice...who wins that title match-up and why?
Pat Forde (3:41 PM)
Don: If it comes down to that -- and Onuaku is playing -- it would be a lot of fun. The zone would be a real challenge for Kentucky. I know the Cats are shooting it better right now, but can they sustain that all the way through the tourney? And could Andy Rautins get the kind of looks he's been getting against Kentucky? Could Scoop Jardine get in the lane? Could Cuse handle Cousins? Lots of potential fun with that one.
Pat I have seen your comments regarding UT vs OSU. We here in Knoxville know that this game will be a tough one and we are definitely the underdog. What are the keys for UT to knock off the Buckeyes.
Pat Forde (3:42 PM)
Andy: Don't let Diebler, Buford and Lighty kill you from the outside. I kind of think if Tennessee tries too hard to stop Turner it will leave those guys open from the perimeter -- and when they're shooting well, Ohio State is Final Four-good. That, and Tennessee has to take good shots. Too many wild jack-ups or settling for early 3s and the Vols will lose.
I may be from Tennessee but Kentucky blew Wake out of the water this past weekend. Every single player was on fire and Patterson had one of the best games of his career!
Pat Forde (3:43 PM)
Bryce: And I saw Wake lose by 21 on a neutral court to Miami, the last-place team in the ACC. Take a number on beating Wake.
First off, how can you take Northern Iowa over the Buckeyes if they both reach the Elite 8. Ohio state has an excellent full court press and yes UNI has a better matchup Evan Turner is a playmaker that can spread the ball around and create plays. So on to point, does Evan turner stay for next season. He has stated he loves Ohio State and is considering staying, so will he? and can we once again see this Buckeye team late in the season as no one will be leaving for the NBA draft as well as a huge recruiting class for Matta.
Pat Forde (3:45 PM)
Tristen: Look, saying I'd pick UNI to win that game doesn't mean it's going to happen. You don't have to take it as an outrage. But, yes, if UNI can beat Kansas, I think it can beat Ohio State as well. As for Turner staying: um, no.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the 2009-2010 NCAA Men's Basketball National Champions?
Pat Forde (3:45 PM)
Chris: At this point it's hard to pick against Kentucky. The tournament has opened up for the Cats.
So Ali Farokhmanesh is on the cover of Sports Illustrated and everybody is hyping Northern Iowa. Is there a chance they go into the Michigan State came with their heads in the clouds?
Pat Forde (3:47 PM)
Mike: Human nature says it's possible. But I've been around these guys a bit and they're an unusual bunch, from the coach on down. They're not overly excitable. But given the unusual media attention this week, it's undoubtedly been a challenge to them in terms of keeping their routine.
Can you please tell me what Jay Bilas is thinking picking Cornell over UK? After we blasted Wake Forest I thought he might change his mind but he still likes Cornell!
Pat Forde (3:49 PM)
Zach: You all don't have to take our predictions so personally -- we don't invest our souls in making picks, I promise. In reality, it's one of the least-important parts of my job. But Jay made a surprising pick at the beginning of the tourney and it looks good so far with Cornell playing brilliantly to date. Why should he bail on that pick now?
Rumor is Donovan turned down 3 mill from St. John's. Why would they even think they could lure him away in the current world with their outdated facilities versus UF state of the art facilities?
Pat Forde (3:49 PM)
Ken: Good question. No idea why St. John's thought they could get him.
As far as playing team basketball, who is the best team in the tournament? Take care Pat.
Pat Forde (3:51 PM)
Patrick: In terms of overall balance, Northern Iowa. And watch their team defense, it's remarkable. They help the on-ball defender as well as any team I can remember seeing. Bill Self said the usual thing is "helping the helper," but that UNI helps the guy who helps the helper. If that makes sense. Get me some Hamburger Helper, please.
biggest dissappoinments of the tourney?
Pat Forde (3:52 PM)
Milton: Big East in general, Georgetown and Villanova in specific. Mountain West performance in the second round. Oklahoma State.
Is it bad form to put the 'Cuse regional at the same time as the West regional? Cornell is playing at the same time as Syracuse on Thursday. The Carrier Dome could have been a home game for the Big Red, but instead local Syracuse fans are dumping their tickets to Kentucky fans (at highly inflated prices) so that they can watch the 'Cuse game.
Pat Forde (3:53 PM)
Stanley: Very bad form, I'd say. I was surprised at that and think it might lead to a lot of empty seats in the Carrier Dome. Another logistical flaw among several in this tournament.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
The gap between the mid majors and majors seems to be tightening more and more. Do you think it is due to kids at the mid majors actually completing four years of school? There's something to be said for team chemistry, right?
Pat Forde (3:54 PM)
J.B.: That's definitely a factor. Look at Cornell: 8 seniors. Look at UNI: I think it's nine juniors and seniors, or maybe eight. Look at St. Mary's, with a senior Samhan. UNI's team has been virtually intact for the past two years, and that helps.
People predicted Butler to the Final Four in preseason, then wrote them off after a few losses. Now that they are close why are people still writing them off?
Pat Forde (3:56 PM)
Kyle: I am the people of which you speak. I picked Butler for the Final Four preseason (look it up). Then got off the bandwagon. I got back on after seeing the Bulldogs in person vs. Siena, but did not pick them when the brackets came out because of being in the same region with Syracuse. But if Onuaku stays out, Butler can win that region.
I think UNI is overrated and the ESPN hype machine is taking it to another level...
Pat Forde (3:57 PM)
Collins: UNI wasn't overrated Saturday night, bro.
That bad form argument makes no sense. Cornell should get Cuse fans to team up with them to make it 100% Cornell fans or what?
Pat Forde (3:58 PM)
Mike: Nooooo. I'm saying you shouldn't schedule games in the arena of a city where the home school is playing that same night somewhere else. Because Syracuse fans will want to watch Syracuse, not go to the Carrier Dome and watch the other two games. So I'm thinking there will be empty seats.
For all those saying Izzo is the greatest tourney coach of all time... they do realize he's only won the NC once right... ONCE!! I don't care how many times you almost get there. That's like saying Bobby Cox or Marv Levy are the greatest playoff coaches of all time... ABSURD.
Pat Forde (3:58 PM)
What he said.
Do you think Cornell can beat Kentucky?
Pat Forde (3:59 PM)
Dan: Can? Yes. Definitely. Will? No. But I hope it's a great game and the Big Red at least has a shot at it.
JP (SicEm USA)
Pat, Why will Baylor beat Duke?
Pat Forde (4:00 PM)
JP: Lace Dunn has the potential to be the best player on the floor. Udoh will be the best big man. Love Tweety Carter. And I wonder about the wear and tear on Duke's big three. Jon Scheyer hasn't made many shots in the past couple weeks.
So y do u guys hate Syracuse?
Pat Forde (4:01 PM)
Jake: We hate every team. Just ask around.
Big Ten always plays well tourney time, why is that?
Pat Forde (4:02 PM)
Jason: "Always" is an overstatement, but the Big Ten generally does well. A couple theories on that: good players and coaches, obviously, but also they're pretty well tested for the half-court games that you usually get at tourney time.
So how long can I revel in Kansas' loss? GO K-STATE!
Pat Forde (4:02 PM)
Bryan: All the way until KU beats K-State again. Go for it.
Pat Forde (4:03 PM)
OK folks, that's it for questions this week. See you all next week, enjoy the games this weekend!