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 (4:01 PM)
One of my favorite Mondays of the year. It's all hoops, especially for the next hour. Ready, set, go...
Hey Joe. I know it is extremely early but the UMass Minutemen are 14-4 (3-1) so far to start the season. Yes their RPI is in the low 60's and they have a below average SOS but do you think a 10-6 A-10 season plus a conf tourney win gets them close?
Joe Lunardi (4:04 PM)
It's not that early anymore, Dan, and I got an up-close-and-personal look at the Minutemen on Saturday. The issue for any of the Atlantic 10 "middle" teams is whether or not (and how many times) they beat the league's top teams on their way to conference tourney. I suspect the current clutter among Dayton, Temple, Xavier, SLU, etc., will make it harder, not easier, for someone for the next tier to break through.
I know its January, and its really hard for a single game in January to have a significant effect on a team, but could the FSU-UNC game be an exception. I don't mean that to say that FSU is definitely in or UNC can't recover, but if UNC is close with someone for the last 1 seed, or FSU is right on the bubble, is this the kind of thing that would stick in the back of a few committee members minds to push them one way or the other?
Joe Lunardi (4:07 PM)
Great questions, Matt. My thought is it's more likely to help Florida State than hurt North Carolina. Reason being that Carolina has many, many more chance to impress, whereas FSU doesn't figure to beat too many Final Four-level teams like they took it to UNC on Saturday. Make sense?
Under the bracket rules page it says that rematches from previous years tournament games should be avoided in early rounds. How many years back does the committee look to prevent rematches?
Joe Lunardi (4:09 PM)
The Committee has both "principals" (hard and fast) and "procedures" (more like guidelines) to follow. Rematches fall into the latter category, although we don't see them very often (at least from the previous season). I do seem to remember Texas A&M and BYU meeting two years in a row about five seasons back, and maybe Temple-Cincinnati another 5-10 years before that. Nothing else comes to mind.
Richard K (Darien, IL)
Concerning Top 50 wins. Hypothetically, when Illinois beat Northwestern it was a top 50 wins. If NW were to drop out of the top 50, would the win still be considered a top 50 win. Conversely when Illinois beat St. Bonaventure it was not a top 50 win. If the Bonnies were to go on an extended win streak and break into the top 50, would the Illinois win be considered a top 50 win?
Joe Lunardi (4:12 PM)
The NCAA "team sheets" break down each season based on current RPI (not a team's RPI "at the time" of a given game). There is a fair amount of criticism of this practice, but it's more often than not the right thing to do. I mean, if a Northern Iowa is No. 1 in the RPI in early January, is that really a TOP win for any team that beats UNI throughout the year?
As a former Gael, I was more than pleased with our 83-62 crushing of Gonzaga this past week....what do you think the ceiling is on SMC this year? Are we a "lock" for the NCAA tournament yet? Can we make a good run?
Joe Lunardi (4:14 PM)
Well, Brad, since I've been wrong -- in one direction or another -- about Saint Mary's in two of the last three selections, I may be the worst guy to answer your question. Having said that, it's going to take a lot of bad things for SMC to miss this year. My only caution would be that the return games with BYU and Gonzaga are on the road, so the current No. 4 seed isn't likely to hold.
Hi Joe... I notice Oral Roberts is a 12 seed this week. I know you have them in due to winning the league right now, but that seed is awfully close to the last at-large teams. Is the seed bump a procedural move, or are you inferring ORU is close to the bubble?
Joe Lunardi (4:16 PM)
If not an AQ this week, Oral Roberts would be five spots out of the field (at the top of the "Next Four Out" list). The problem for a team in such a spot is that losing the AQ position almost always results from a "bad" (or near-bad) loss, further diminishing that team's at-large prospects.
Joe, you have Dayton as a 10 seed. Do you really think Dayton can win the A10?
Joe Lunardi (4:18 PM)
Unlikely, Shaun, but you have to be impressed with their ability to continue winning without Josh Benson. The Flyers are the Atlantic 10 "AQ" in this bracket because of the best RPI among the league's one-loss teams. Obviously a huge week for UD, culminating with Xavier's visit on Saturday.
Mike (Murray, KY)
Joe, It seems that Murray is being punished for their conference. They deserve better than a 7 seed. I understand that their conference is weak but they are winning every game that they are supposed to are they not?
Joe Lunardi (4:23 PM)
Mike, this is true only if you believe that seeding should more closely correspond to the polls than to other measures. The reality is that, while legitimately a Top 25 team, no one is going to objectively evaluate Murray as a Top 10 team. If I gave you truth serum and asked you to name those teams who would be favored to beat the Racers on a neutral floor, the answer would be somewhere between 20-30 teams. So that puts their seed somewhere in the 5-6-7 range come Selection Sunday. And that's about right (if not a little better) than what you'd give a team with "scalps" like Southern Miss, Dayton and Memphis.
So what is the highest seat do you think Creighton go get if they keep winning?
Joe Lunardi (4:23 PM)
The Blue Jays are there right now (No. 4 seed).
Joe, Why did you move Alabama down they lost to a ranked Mississippi State team on the road?
Joe Lunardi (4:26 PM)
I probably have Alabama a line or two too low, Brad. The Tide dropped only two spots on the S-Curve (from 27 to 29) after the loss at Mississippi State, and certainly no No. 1 seed would want to see them in their opposite 8-9 game in the tourney. The flip side is that, while beating some good teams thus far, 'Bama has lost to all of the very good ones.
Brad (North Pole, AK)
If Baylor beats Kansas and Missouri this week, do they deserve the #1 overall seed?
Joe Lunardi (4:27 PM)
It's a fair question, Brad. It would certainly elevate the Bears to no worse than No. 2 overall. Both Baylor and Syracuse have tremendous wins, but 'Cuse would still have a stronger overall SOS ranking.
Jim Boeheim (Syracuse)
Thoughts on odds for Cuse getting a No. 1? Odds for overall No. 1? Odds for FF? Odds for NC?
Joe Lunardi (4:27 PM)
Jim, you need to get "Insider" and see these odds updated every week. Surely you can afford it...
joe - where is there no respect for the UC bearcats? they have won 9/10, with road wins against ranked georgetown and pitt, also beat ND (and oklahoma and georgia). they're currently #2 in the BE and a buzzer beater against st john's from being undefeated in BE play. what else do they need to do to convince you that they don't belong in a play-in game?
Joe Lunardi (4:31 PM)
Well, you've got it half right, Jason. Let's not forget should-never-have-been home losses to Marshall and, gulp, Presbyterian. With a non-conference schedule ranked No. 328, Cincy is going to need to keep its gaudy Big East record to move up. Not saying they won't, just that it's not enough yet.
Jon (New Brunswick)
Joe,Can you at least acknowledge that the Maryland Terrapins are impressing you and might get to be part of Bracketology this year against all odds?
Joe Lunardi (4:33 PM)
Can acknowledge anything you want, Jon, but the Terps will not be part of Bracketology this year. Legitimate rebuilding underway, but the NCAA-level wins aren't going to be there for Maryland.
Joe, I've noticed these past few weeks that Texas is continuing to hover around a 10 seed. With their only quality win coming against Temple, and rough loses to NC State and Iowa State, could Texas be on the bubble?
Joe Lunardi (4:34 PM)
Texas is tough to evaluate this year, Max. They've really been more "sizzle" than steak. At some point, even a young team has to win "up" games to prove it belongs in the tourney. Otherwise, yes, we could be looking at a bubble situation for the Longhorns in March.
Steve (Staten Island)
Joe, Any chance that Wagner gets in without winning the NEC tournament?
Joe Lunardi (4:35 PM)
Greg (Boise, Idaho)
Going back to Dayton. Do you think that their OOC scheduele will be enough to get them an at-large?
Joe Lunardi (4:35 PM)
Not the schedule, but the wins might be (keep rooting for Minnesota, for instance!).
Any chances Kansas plays themselves to a #1 seed when it's all said and done?
Joe Lunardi (4:36 PM)
Ask me in about seven hours, Jarred. Winning tonight would certainly be a step in that direction.
It looks like my biggest fears are coming true. UNC and Duke are locks for #1's and UConn and Ohio St are going to end up 2's or 3's due to getting beat up in conference. Can the selection committee look at the talent of the teams more than the rankings to seed team properly? I'm really afraid that we're going to have another horrible region through just looking at the numbers.
Joe Lunardi (4:38 PM)
Scott, I would be very surprised if both Duke and Carolina end up as No. 1 seeds. There's not going to be room on the top line for two ACC teams when you get past Syracuse, UK and the Big 12/Big Ten survivors. The ACC just isn't that good.
Thoughts on Iowa State's chances to make the tourney? Would 11 Big XII wins be enough?
Joe Lunardi (4:40 PM)
It would be pretty hard for Iowa State to get 11 Big 12 wins without collecting a serious scalp or two. I would like the Cyclones chances in your scenario, Alex.
Josh (Los Angeles)
Joe, I see BYU as one of the last teams in in this weeks bracket. Where do you personally think the Cougars will end up?
Joe Lunardi (4:41 PM)
Let's start by having BYU break through against either Gonzaga or Saint Mary's. If the Cougars lose all four of those games, they will end up in the N.I.T.
Adam (San Diego)
Joe, glad you're starting to see the light with SDSU! After watching Saturday's game are you now a believer? If so, how do you thing they are seeded IF they take only 1 of 2 against New Mexico and UNLV (away losses in Vegas and the Pit)?
Stanley Roberson (Crestwood,KY)
Why is Duke a number 1 over Ohio State? Ohio State pounded them and plays in a much stronger league! makes no sense
Joe Lunardi (4:42 PM)
Had the Aztecs as a solid single-digit seed even before the UNLV win. Not sure there was any non-believing on my part.
Joe Lunardi (4:45 PM)
Head-to-head results are rarely much of a factor in these kinds of evaluations, Stanley. The bottom line is that Duke is 7-2 against the at-large consideration pool and Ohio State is 4-3. That's too great a difference in my book for a single game to break the tie. Do we then seed Kansas ahead of the Buckeyes? Or Illinois? Are they even with Indiana? You get the idea...
Kyle (West Virginia)
Joe, I know Marshall has won their last 3 games by a total of 5 points, but why do they keep dropping in seeding if they are projected to win C-USA? Will beating WVU and Southern Miss this week help a lot or not so much?
Joe Lunardi (4:47 PM)
It would help a lot, Kyle, because Marshall needs more so-called good wins to balance out losses to Ohio, Akron and Belmont. None are truly bad losses, but those are no better than bubble teams.
Joe,What would Clemson have to do to get in? How likely is that to occur?
Joe Lunardi (4:48 PM)
Not happening this year, Mike, sorry.
can the Pac-12 get four teams in? how about more than two?
Joe Lunardi (4:49 PM)
No way four is happening, Al. And "one" might be more likely than "three," if you really think about it. I haven't yet, but will in an upcoming column.
Marshall also has wins against Belmont, Iona, UCF and Cincinnati who are all top 60
Joe Lunardi (4:50 PM)
Correct, Dave, all of whom (except maybe Cincy) are also bubble teams. So what we're saying is that Marshall is about .500 against the "bubble." If that doesn't also make you a bubble team, I'm not sure what does.
Is Wichita State getting closer to at-large "lock" status? Also, any way the MVC gets 3 bids(2 at-larges)?
Joe Lunardi (4:51 PM)
Closer, Tom, but by no means a "lock." And last night's losses by both UNI and MoState didn't help the Valley's bid for three.
Joe Lunardi (4:52 PM)
Coming down the home stretch, gang. Time for three more...
i should've phrased that differently. What is Marshall's seeding "ceiling" so to speak with a strong finish. Still face both Southern Miss, Memphis twice and WVU on neutral court
Joe Lunardi (4:53 PM)
Optimally, Marshall could rise above the bubble (think 9-10 seed) by winning a majority of those games. Maybe a bit higher if one of the wins is West Virginia.
What is the highest possible seed for Gonzaga this year??????
Joe Lunardi (4:55 PM)
It's certainly possible for the Zags to be a top four seed somewhere, but a No. 5 seems more likely to me. Either a four or five would almost certainly send them to Portland for the first weekend.
what are the chances of having two colonial teams in the NCAA's. What about 3?
Joe Lunardi (4:57 PM)
Definitely not three, Tim, and two is a long shot at the moment. Their just weren't enough big non-conference wins for any of the CAA contenders to make that case. Then again, I said the same thing about VCU last year and have been buying/eating humble pie ever since!
Joe Lunardi (4:57 PM)
That's it for me, gang. Same time, next week. Thanks!