Chat with Myron Medcalf
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, college basketball writer Myron Medcalf stops by to chat about the hardcourt.
Medcalf joined ESPN.com in 2011 after a four-year stint covering colllege basketball for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. His relationship with ESPN began in 2004, when he was an intern for ESPN the Magazine in New York City.
Send your questions now and join Medcalf Monday at 2 p.m. ET!
Myron Medcalf (2:00 PM)
What's up, everyone? Thanks for joining me. Let's talk college hoops. ...
Who do you have winning the Illinois-Minnesota game? As an Illini fan, I'm very worried about the Egwu-Mbakwe match-up. The last time the Illini played a team with a dominant big man (Gonzaga), they had to shoot lights out from 3 (11-26) to win. Illinois hasn't shot as well the last couple of games. I'm not feeling too good about this game.
Myron Medcalf (2:03 PM)
Good question. This is Tubby's best team at Minnesota. He's never had this level of athleticism in the backcourt. And the Gophers are so versatile. But Illinois has talented guards, too. The Illini live and die by the 3-ball usually. But they beat Ohio State despite being 8 for 27 from beyond the arc. ... If I have to pick, I'll go with the Gophers because of Mbakwe inside. He's the x-factor and Minnesota can match Illini's backcourt.
Does Bucknell's Mike Muscala have a future in the NBA? Do you see him being drafted?
Myron Medcalf (2:05 PM)
I hope so. He can play off screens. He has a high-level post game. He's active on the boards and he can knock down a jump shot. Mike Muscala is one of the best players in the country. He looks like an All-American right now. That should be good enough for a slot in this summer's draft. Unless 30-plus teams don't like talented bigs.
Do you think Behanan is good enough for the NBA?
Myron Medcalf (2:06 PM)
I talked to an NBA scout who attended Louisville-Kentucky. He says yes. And I agree. I love Behanan's toughness and aggression. I also think he can defend at a high level when he wants to. You'd like to see a more consistent jump shot. And, as the NBA scout told me, he'll have to prove that he can score over longer players at the next level. But his power will help with that.
Angel Tucson [via mobile]
Do you see Arizona as a real national champion contender?
Myron Medcalf (2:08 PM)
Right now ... You have to say yes. It hasn't always been pretty for the Wildcats. And I'm still not sold on everything that happened at the end of Arizona's win over Colorado last week. But Sean Miller has everything you'd want on a team that wants to contend. He has versatile bigs. He has a talented leader who has been clutch all year. And a veteran who just puts in work. Plus capable reserves.
Is North Carolina NIT bound?
Myron Medcalf (2:10 PM)
I can't say that .... yet ... Tar Heels have played some elite teams .. but if this lackluster effort on the road continues in ACC play, then yes. Jay Williams said it best during the Virginia-UNC game ... UNC is searching for a leader. In January. That's a problem.
Andre (Tallahassee, FL)
Although they are unbeaten, what strikes you as the one area that could haunt Michigan aside from perhaps youth?
Myron Medcalf (2:12 PM)
Multiple bigs who can capitalize on a high offensive rebounding rate. That's the kind of team that will really challenge Michigan. Indiana, Minnesota could be a problem for the Wolverines. I'm not sure how they'll handle aggressive post players. Plus, a team with athletic guards who can stay in front of Trey Burke and play him honest .. as honest as one can play the best point guard in America, of course.
Myron, What do you think is going wrong with Alabama?
Myron Medcalf (2:15 PM)
Great question, Brad. The Crimson don't have enough scorers (114th in Ken Pomeroy's efficiency ratings). The Trevors (Lacey and Releford) are talented. But they don't have enough help. Injuries (Engstrom, Steele) have affected Alabama's depth. The nosedive could continue in the SEC.
Anthony Bennett. All-American?
Myron Medcalf (2:15 PM)
Mike (Mission Viejo)
Duke, legit contender or just a hot start?
Myron Medcalf (2:17 PM)
Um, it looks quite legit. Plumlee, Curry, Cook and Co. Coach K has the tools to beat any team in the country. The Blue Devils are top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency. If they're healthy, they can contend with any team in America.
Josh (Overland Park)
Even though I agree with Eamonn, who always says "polls don't mean anything", how in the world is VCU not ranked? They are GOOD.
Myron Medcalf (2:19 PM)
VCU's best win is Memphis. VCU beat Lehigh by four even though the Mountain Hawks didn't have C.J. McCollum for a full game. ... Rams are good. But I can't say they have a Teflon argument for the top 25. They are, however, ranked in the Coaches' poll.
Assuming Syracuse or Louisville wins big east, will the winner get a #1 seed?
Myron Medcalf (2:20 PM)
Hard to say no ... Especially if its Louisville ... But that's also assuming the champ doesn't finish with a bunch of bad losses in league play. But right now, I'd say yes. Good chance of Big East champ (and remember Big East tourney could be a factor, too).
GBK (Lincoln Park)
Myron, is there a more entertaining team to watch in college hoops right now than the Michigan Wolverines? They put up 78 points in the last 27 minutes against an Iowa team that Indiana barely beat (and I'm pretty sure Iowa's homecourt isn't worth a 28 point difference).
Myron Medcalf (2:21 PM)
Wolverines are certainly an exciting team to watch. So many talented wings and they play tough for 40 minutes. I like to watch Louisville, Arizona and Kansas, too. So they're not alone. A lot of exciting teams right now.
Jason (St. Louis)
Even though it probably won't happen, which major conference team would you pick to run the table during conference play?
Myron Medcalf (2:22 PM)
Nope, it won't happen. If I had to pick, I guess I'd say Arizona. Wildcats have held off some tough teams already. But again .. I don't think it will happen.
Steve (Norfolk, VA)
Myron, though I believe a big-bodied post player can give Michigan some trouble in the rebounding realm, if a team goes big they will have to fight UM's speed and better still shooting. Besides the 1.36 points per possession the ESPN power ranking provides, UM has also has scored 337 points than their opponents, for an average of scoring more than 22.5 points per opponent. The closest opponent was PITT at 5, and largest was EMU at 39. UM's top 5 shooters are shooting lights out with 4 shooting over 40% beyond the arc, and one shooting 38%. Not to mention they are also really working the paint hard, and were successful even against a 7 footer from Iowa. This team is legit, not only because of talent - but maybe one of the most unselfish team. So go big opponents and get scorched on the run and the perimeter.
Myron Medcalf (2:24 PM)
I didn't say that a team with capable bigs would beat Michigan for sure. I just think that's the kind of team with the best chance to defeat the Wolverines. It'll never be easy against Michigan, not with its depth on the perimeter. But I think Michigan and Indiana will be its toughest tests to date because of their weapons inside.
Speaking of VCU, you have them ranked #17 this week, but a certain 14-1 team that beat them at their place, once again, gets absolutely no mention. Why?
Myron Medcalf (2:26 PM)
They're in the conversation. I can't tell you how often I wish I had 30 slots. You always miss someone. ... But I really look at the power rankings as power rankings. Who are the best teams right now? And Carl Hall's absence has clearly hurt a Wichita State team that will need him to compete for the MVC title, IMO.
Myron, what are your thoughts on Marquette's potential going forward coming off a big upset win over Georgetown Saturday?
Myron Medcalf (2:29 PM)
I don't know because they've been winning at home. The last time the Golden Eagles left Milwaukee, they lost to UW-Green Bay. They were crushed at Florida. Next week's matchup at Pitt will be a good test. But they deserve credit for that win over Georgetown. Whacky finish ... didn't showcase a lot of discipline ... but they pulled it off. Still, I need to see Buzz's crew on the road.
What is it about the Big Ten, in particular, that makes it so difficult to win on the road?
Myron Medcalf (2:31 PM)
I think the problem with winning on the road is not so much tied to the hostility in foreign venues as much as its connected to the league's overall depth. ... I don't know when, but a top-5 Big Ten team will fall at Iowa, at Wisconsin, at Purdue (again) this season. ... There's parity, there's depth, great coaches and really crazy fans. ... Overall, however, it's the fact that you just don't have many - any? - "easy" games in the Big Ten. It's a grind.
Yeah, I know this is hoops but who wins tonight in the other major college sport? Bama or ND?
Myron Medcalf (2:32 PM)
Bama will win by two touchdowns. 31-17
chris (wilmington nc)
Does wiggins go to unc now with dakari going to kentucky
Myron Medcalf (2:33 PM)
I don't know ... but if Cal gets Wiggins? Wow. Just wow. That class is already ridiculous but it's going to reach historic levels if Wiggins is added to the mix. ... I've watched him play on the circuit multiple times this season. He's the truth.
It appears the A-10 is loaded this year how many bids do u the league getting ?
Myron Medcalf (2:35 PM)
Another great question. First, I'd like to say that the folks who believe VCU is the undisputed favorite in the A10 need to reconsider. Temple, Saint Louis, Butler, Saint Joseph's (maybe), UMass (maybe).. could all contend for the A10. And they're all in the conversation for at-large bids. This is a league that will benefit from the "You have to send someone to the tournament" theory with the SEC, Pac-12 down. I'll say 4 bids. Maybe more.
Who will be the better team come march and April. Kentucky or UCLA?
Myron Medcalf (2:37 PM)
That's a tough one ... I could see both teams evolving into top-25, Sweet 16 level programs come March. ... But I think Kentucky has the higher ceiling. Wildcats don't know how to play together yet but they're slowly figuring it out. That finish at Louisville showcased its potential. That team, the one that fought until the end of that loss, will beat a lot of teams the rest of the way if it plays like that.
Myron Medcalf (2:38 PM)
You ever wonder why most teams fail to improve at free throw line? .. Check out this week's Back to the Basket column. ... http://espn.go.com/ncb/notebook/_/page/backtothebasket130107/back-basket-weekly-look-college-basketball
I was extremely disappointed with Cincinnati's loss on Saturday. They can't seem to score consistently, how do you see them doing the rest of the year?
Myron Medcalf (2:41 PM)
Well, that's the problem, Alex. I don't know if the Bearcats will reach their potential if their offensive challenges continues (80th in offensive efficiency). But this is one of the best defensive teams in the country (third in efficiency). Will that be enough? I'm not sure. Like Louisville last season, this is a Cincy team that needs buckets in tight games to beat the Big East's best.
True of False: Maryland is the second best team in the ACC?
Myron Medcalf (2:42 PM)
False. Terrapins might be third, though.
Brian T (Las Vegas NV)
How does Dave Rice at UNLV bring a healthy Mike Moser in the already loaded frontcourt rotation???
Myron Medcalf (2:44 PM)
Well, it's a good problem to have. The beauty of the challenge is that Moser is a veteran. I think he'll find a way to contribute regardless of his role. But even though Anthony Bennett is clearly the program's top star, Moser is going to get a lot of touches and opportunities once he returns. He deserves them. I see more positives than potential negatives for Moser's return.
Luke (Kansas City)
Myron, Kansas is 99-1 in their last 100 home games. That place is deafening. Can any Big 12 go into Allen Fieldhouse and come out the victor?
Myron Medcalf (2:45 PM)
Baylor on its best day ... Oklahoma State if it punches Kansas in the mouth early the way Temple did ... yep and yep. Will it happen? We'll see. But Kansas has been extremely dominant. And as easy as it is to look at the Temple game and identify weaknesses, the Jayhawks turned it up on both ends of the floor when they had to and won.
Myron, do you think players are too soft and the refs are too whistle happy? I'd take a team from the 80s over anybody now in the pampered era.
Myron Medcalf (2:48 PM)
It's so difficult to compare eras. Maybe those players were tougher. But most weren't 6-10 playing small forward/wing. The game has changed. There's so much versatility today. And I think kids are still tough. But the game is not as physical as it was in past decades. I agree with that. ... But how many Kelly Olynyks were competing back then? ... I appreciate each era for what it was/is. ... On refs .. I just want them to get it right. Waving off Sabatino Chen's buzzer-beater? Wrong.
How do you feel about lowering the shot clock to 30 seconds? Also, why has it taken them this long to even consider it?
Myron Medcalf (2:50 PM)
Don't touch the shot clock. Some teams milk it and play slow. Some push the pace. But we have parity at this level because teams that don't have the same athletes as others can create a scheme that uses the clock to its advantage and allows it to compete. Why change it? This is not the NBA. It's not supposed to be.
Charles (San Jose)
Sabatino Chen's gotta make your All-Name team, right?
Myron Medcalf (2:50 PM)
100 percent. Might be the greatest name ever. ...I think he'll be a hit if he ever becomes a rapper.
Tim (Canada )
Do you think UNLV will play Moser at the sf with the pairing of Birch and Bennett being extremely effective?
Myron Medcalf (2:52 PM)
That will be a challenge. That's not Moser. But it may have to be. That's Rice's challenge right now. ... Bennett/Moser sounds pretty good. Bennett/Birch with Moser off the bench sounds good. Bennett/Birch/Moser sounds good. ... So many pluses. I think Rice will figure it out.
What's Minnesota's ceiling in the tourney? Nat'l Champ? Final Four? Elite Eight? At this point, I would be disappointed with anything less than an Elite Eight.
Myron Medcalf (2:54 PM)
Then you're not from Minnesota. Many Minnesotans will be surprised by that. They tend to expect the worse. ... The season is still young. .. Let's see how Minnesota and Michigan and Indiana and Michigan State and Illinois compete on the road going forward. That's the separator in this league. I need a bigger sample size.
Indiana most complete team in NCAA Bball?
Myron Medcalf (2:54 PM)
What about 12 foot rims? Height shouldn't give you such an advantage in hoops. For every 6'10 versatile guy there is a 6'10 stiff who is only out there because he is tall.
Myron Medcalf (2:55 PM)
Ted (Windy City)
Myron, agree on how tough the Big Ten is but why does there always have to be those 47-41 games like Wisconsin vs. Nebraska? Those games set back basketball 100 years. We would score more than that in jr. high games.
Myron Medcalf (2:58 PM)
Depends on what you're looking for, I guess. I watch the NBA when I want to see the NBA. .. Plus, it's to be expected in this league. It's a physical league. Refs let teams play so you see a lot of pressure that limits shot selection. ... And Wisconsin? That's just what Wisconsin does. But Badgers have a lot of success with that style. I appreciate the diversity ... it's not always pretty .. but overall, the product is impressive.
How many teams can the Pac-12 get in the tourney this year? would 4 be realistic based on non-conf performance and talent? (Arizona, Colorado, UCLA, Oregon?)
Myron Medcalf (3:00 PM)
Right now ...it's Arizona. Colorado, Oregon, UCLA are maybes (sorry for the delay ... computer issues).
Myron Medcalf (3:02 PM)
Folks, it's been real. If I missed you, check me out on Twitter. I'm @MedcalfByESPN (https://twitter.com/MedcalfByESPN) ... Check out today's Back to the Basket notebook. Some good stuff for college hoops junkies in there. ... http://espn.go.com/ncb/notebook/_/page/backtothebasket130107/back-basket-weekly-look-college-basketball ... Also, power rankings are out ... http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/powerrankings/_/season/2013/week/10 ....
Myron Medcalf (3:03 PM)
Thanks again for your time ... Same time, same place next week .. feel free to email me too ... firstname.lastname@example.org