Chat with Joe Lunardi
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN college basketball Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi will drop by to take your questions on this year's tournament projection.
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 Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Joe Lunardi (4:00 PM)
Welcome to a special "BracketBusters" chat. I'm at ESPNU in Charlotte prepping for the 6:30 p.m. ET selection show. In honor of that, I'll be looking for as many mid-major questions as possible between now and 4:45 p.m. ET.
Let me run two ideas by you real fast and get your reactions. 1) The Big Ten as a conference is underrated. 2) The Big East as a conference is overrated. Ready... go!
Joe Lunardi (4:01 PM)
John, I believe both conferences are rated/regarded exactly as they should. The Big East is both enormous and exceptionally deep. The Big Ten hasn't quite made up for the unanticipated troubles of Michigan State, but is still right there with the Big 12 as second-best in the country this year.
Bill (Springfield, Mo)
Would Missouri State still be in the bracket if it was hoping for an at-large bid?
Joe Lunardi (4:03 PM)
Today, yes, Bill. Missouri State would receive the last bye (above the at-large "First Four" teams) if not in the bracket as the Valley automatic qualifier.
Nannette Brown (Fairfax, VA)
Dear Mr. Lunardi, Gonzaga DOES NOT deserve to be in the tournament if the season ended today. Nor does MSU or Butler. MSU has a thoroughly average record and is 5-4 in conference, has no good wins on the road, and had to go into overtime at home to beat an 11-11 Indiana team that has a losing Big 10 record. Butler is 14-8 with a 6-4 conference record in an abysmal conference. Gonzaga is also 14-8, and they have 2 losses to teams in the RPI 101-150 range. Doesn't matter if it is 68 or 64, teams of this status do not deserve to get in. Teams like Richmond, Arkansas, and Penn State are more deserving than some teams you have shoed in. You display a terrible favoritism for big 6 conference teams and media darlings that cannot be justified when teams are individually analyzed with an unbiased eye.
Joe Lunardi (4:08 PM)
I've been accused of many things over the years, Nannette, but favoring the power six conferences is rarely one of them. And, last time I checked, neither Gonzaga nor Butler are members of those conferences. Clearly they and the other teams you mention all have flawed profiles, but so do Richmond, Arkansas and Penn State. Richmond was just pounded at home by Xavier, Arkansas is just a game above .500 in a bad SEC West, and Penn State lost at home to Maine. Richmond and Penn State still have a chance for at-large bids, but don't have as many marquee wins as the teams we now have in the field.
Joe Lunardi (4:09 PM)
I have UAB five spots out of the field at this moment. Memphis gets today's RPI tiebreaker for the auto bid from Conference USA. The Blazers profile is just okay (0-3 vs. RPI Top 50).
Jackson (Fairfax, VA)
Im a big George Mason fan and I was wondering who you think they'll get for bracketbuster and what there odds are of braking into the field of 68 via at large bid. Also, I was wondering why everyone's so high on VCU right now even though they haven't played a very strong conference schedule and have had several questionable losses (USF, Georgia State)
Joe Lunardi (4:11 PM)
I think GMU is the best team in the CAA right now, and I know several CAA coaches who feel the same way. I'll be looking for Mason to play one of the Missouri Valley leaders on the road in BracketBusters, maybe even a repeat of their big 2006 win at Wichita State.
With St John's signature win over Duke and Marquette big win over Cuse, do you think that eleven BE teams could get a berth into Big Dance this year? Or these two teams still has a lot to do to get a berth?
Joe Lunardi (4:13 PM)
I wrote a week ago that one of the Big East bubble teams -- Marquette, Cincy or St. John's -- would likely fall off the board at some point. At this point, if the Johnnies can get a split with Cincinnati, the Bearcats seem most vulnerable to me.
Dustin Deery (Cedar Falls, IA)
How do you feel about the Missouri Valley Conference this year. I see you have two teams getting in the tournament as of now. Any chance of a third in Northern Iowa? Could Northern Iowa surpass one of them and get an at-large without winning the conference tournament? They did beat MSU and WSU on the road.
Joe Lunardi (4:14 PM)
Am not seeing a third MVC team, Dustin, but the Valley should get two. Anxious to see the BracketBusters pairings for the top teams (MoState, Wichita and NoIowa).
Brian (New York, NY)
Are there any bracketologists out there who you think do a better job than you?
Joe Lunardi (4:15 PM)
My daughters kick my butt every year in tournament pools!
Justin (Orem, UT)
Just read an article on ESPN about the paucity of western teams worthy of the tourney. So, Joe, do your part to help out the west. Give some positive press to a deserving Utah State, a team with 2 losses on the year (at BYU, at Georgetown) that should be seeded much higher than 10.
Joe Lunardi (4:17 PM)
Plenty of quality, Justin, if not quantity. BYU and San Diego State are obviously legit, and I'm still high on Washington and Washington State. And that's not counting Saint Mary's, Utah State, etc. It's not a terrible bunch at all.
Riley (State College, PA)
What does penn state have to do the rest of the way to get in?
Joe Lunardi (4:18 PM)
Add a meaningful road win, Riley, and that might be enough to erase the sting from two years ago. That and avoiding a truly bad loss down the stretch. I have the Nits three spots away today.
Ben (Tuscaloosa, AL)
What are Alabama's chances of making a run in the tournament? Do they have any big strength that might get the some upset wins?
Joe Lunardi (4:20 PM)
What's crazy, Ben, is that Alabama could be the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament and still not have a strong enough at-large profile. That's how bad the SEC West is, I guess, although it's hard for me to imagine the Committee passing over a regular-season SEC champion regardless of division.
What is the reasoning for you to have Texas as the number 3 overall and Pitt number 4? Pitt beat Texas and has a better record and rpi. Not that it really matters right now, we still have a lot of basketball left. Just curious.
Joe Lunardi (4:21 PM)
That's not what I have, Brasky. Pitt is my No. 2 overall team followed by Texas and then Kansas. Both major polls have Pitt at No. 4, but (thankfully!) I don't have to vote there!!
How do you still have Temple as an 8 seed? Why not Duquesne who is undefeated in A10 and has already beaten Temple and just beat Dayton by 18 on Sunday?
Joe Lunardi (4:23 PM)
I really like Duquesne, Jim, but you have to look at much more than head-to-head meetings. Temple's best wins include Georgetown, Maryland and Georgia. The Dukes have taken out Temple and Dayton, both at home. It's not close at this point.
Joe, WVUs schedule is completely sickening the rest of the way. They play 7 out of 10 games against top 17 teams. They are 5-3 right now in the big east. If they were to finish 8-10 in conference, would they get a big considering their SOS, RPI and especially non conference wins over Purde and Vandy? ///
Joe Lunardi (4:24 PM)
Great question, Jim. Yes, I believe an 8-10 Big East team could (and in this case would) make it due to WVU's overall body of work. Having said that, I'd still pass a rule requiring all teams to be "tourney eligible" at .500 or better in their league.
Joe when does bracket busters come out today?
Joe Lunardi (4:25 PM)
We go on ESPNU at 6:30 p.m. ET. See you then!
Eric Shaw,Benton Harbor, mi [via mobile]
Is it possible for either BYU or SDSU to get a #1 seed if they win out?
Joe Lunardi (4:26 PM)
Our tourney odds program gives SDSU a 25 percent chance and BYU a 15 percent chance to be a No. 1 seed at this point. Seems about right to me.
Kevin (Chattanooga, TN)
Tennessee has shown they can play with anyone this year, but also have shown their inconsistencies, where do you see the Vols in the tourney?
Joe Lunardi (4:27 PM)
One win, one loss, Kevin. That's been their whole season pattern, right?
I'm assuming Alabama is only in right now because they have the best SEC record, correct?
Joe Lunardi (4:27 PM)
Correct (5-1 league record for the Tide).
Matt (Cedar Falls, IA)
Not much of a question to ask since my Northern Iowa question was taken (from who I am guessing is a fellow Panther alum). Just wanted to say I enjoy checking out your bracket weekly. Anticipating any surprises for the selection show tonight?
Joe Lunardi (4:28 PM)
Here you go, Matt: We're sending Duke to the UNI Dome (just kidding!!).
Ian (Green Bay, WI)
Marquette has beaten both Nptre Dame and Syracuse, and there biggest loss is 8 points....you gotta put them in the field don't you? And whats your prediction in the Super Bowl?
Joe Lunardi (4:28 PM)
I've had the Golden Eagles in the field for a few weeks now, Ian. As for Super Bowl XLV, I have to go Steelers or risk being disowned by the Pittsburgh in-laws.
If the field were set today and you had to pick one mid-major that you felt could make a deep run in the tournament, who would it be?
Joe Lunardi (4:32 PM)
Saint Mary's, Utah State and George Mason can all win a game or two. Same for the top of the Valley (I'm just not sure who's best!).
Hey Joe.Not necessarily a mid-major question, but still. What are your thoughts on Kansas State? A lot of people have written them off as not even an NIT caliber team, yet you still have them as a 10 seed in your latest bracket. They haven't had super quality wins (Baylor, Wazzu, VTech, 'Zaga), but most of their losses are to ranked (or ranked at one time, anyway), with the exception of decent Oklahoma State and Colorado teams. What do you see that the majority of the college basketball world doesn't?Thanks.
Joe Lunardi (4:34 PM)
I still see some very good players who haven't gotten over the hump in conference play. Much of that is inconsistent play, of course, but part of it is also their Big 12 schedule to date. I'd still bet on K-State to make the field.
Mike (Rochester NY)
Joe, How could you give Kent State a bid from the MAC if Buffalo beat them by 25. As a possible MAC Tournament final I dont understand how you give it to Kent State.
Joe Lunardi (4:35 PM)
In a multi-team tie as currently exists in the MAC, we list the current RPI leader as the automatic qualifer. Thus, Kent State. If only two teams were tied, we'd use head-to-head result(s).
If Cal sweeps this week at home against ASU and Arizona, will they be in your field next week?
Joe Lunardi (4:36 PM)
Not enough to beat Arizona at home, Mike. ASU is not a factor for Cal at this point.
Omar Samhan (Europe)
If the SMC drops the bracketbuster matchup and the WCC final, but wins the rest (7 more wins including Zags at home), we are still looking good right? Basically, we can lose the Zag home game or the Bracketbuster - but not both correct?
Joe Lunardi (4:37 PM)
I think you'll be dancing, Omar. You're too big for me to argue with!!
How many of these team do you think will make it. Temple, Richmond, Duquesne, Xavier, Marshall, Memphis, UAB, ODU,VCU, George Mason.
Joe Lunardi (4:39 PM)
IN: Temple, Richmond, Xavier, UAB, ODU, George Mason. OUT: Duquesne, Marshall, Memphis, VCU.
Keith (Big 12 Country)
What is your justification for having a 1 loss KU as the 4th number 1 seed behind Texas and Pitt? I know it is a screwy year in College Basketball but I don't understand.
Joe Lunardi (4:39 PM)
They lost to Texas at home, right? And Texas lost to Pitt on a neutral court, right?
Nick D. (Colorado)
Always enjoy your stuff. Took a look at your latest bracket and Insider RPI. Looks like every top 50 team is included in the bracket or bubble list except CSU. How far off are they from an at large bid?
Joe Lunardi (4:40 PM)
I should probably have CSU on the bubble list, Nick. Check my "Bracket Math" column on Wednesday and we'll see where the Rams fall.
How can you reward teams like BYU and SD St who play noone out of conference but beat up on a a lower level conference?
Joe Lunardi (4:45 PM)
DJ, you're smarter than that. BYU has faced tourney-level teams Utah State, Saint Mary's, Arizona, UCLA, UNLV and San Diego State (winning all but UCLA). SDSU has beaten Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, Wichita State, Cal and UNLV (losing only at BYU). Teams like Syracuse would never play so many games away from home, much less against NCAA-level competition.
Joe Lunardi (4:45 PM)
Got to run, gang, the BracketBusters pairings are coming in. See you at 630p ET!!