As March Madness draws nigh, you know who's your guy: John Gasaway of BasketballProspectus.com, happy to chat as the hardcourt drama mounts.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Yo, hoops nation! Ca va bien? I'm me, you're you, and it's March! By Godfrey I do love it so. Coming to you live from the luxe Google-style campus here at Prospectus HQ.
In honor of the fam's impending move back to the States I'm being serenaded by Dom's "Living in America."
Lastly let me say that if at some point during this chat someone does not log on as "Kevin O'Neill" and do a very good barroom tirade I for one will be sorely disappointed.
Now, what's on your mind?
Ben Allaire (Bathroom Stall (Crying)): Can you think of another instance of a team not only being up 10 with a minute to go and losing in OT, but being up 10 with a minute to go and giving the other team THREE (!!!) opportunities to win the game in regulation?
That UVa-Miami game was the biggest meltdown I have ever seen (including Duke-MD from a few years back).
John Gasaway (Basketball): You should be in a bathroom stall crying! Stay there! Keep crying! That was astounding. Remember what a big deal it seemed like when Illinois came back from 15 down with 4 minutes left in the Elite Eight against Arizona in '05. This puts that to shame. Everyone stop what you're doing and go look at this:
It looks like an EKG from a Hoo's heart. Amazing.
Matt (KC): If Kansas somehow loses to CU today, are they still a lock to be a #1 seed?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Oui.
Kevin B (Chicago, IL): Could Belmont give us our first 4-13 matchup in the tournament where the 13 seed is actually statistically favored in log5, or will the committee actually see how good they are and bump them up to a more reasonable seed?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Conceivable, but I'm guessing the Bruins may be more of a 12. Also seeing some unusually robust projected 4's -- namely UK and FL.
JT (Philly): How confusing will Belmont's success be to the national media and their attempts to force it into a standard narrative? No one big star to focus on, no crazy gimmick (like VMI), just a team that gives a lot of people minutes and wins.
John Gasaway (Basketball): I think an A-Sun team getting to the 2nd weekend would be narrative enough. Plus they're fun to watch. Could happen!
Jannson (Chicago): What other teams can you recall taking a complete nosedive like Minnesota did this year? I know they had some injuries and a transfer, but this has to be some sort of record.
John Gasaway (Basketball): The Gophers were no world-beaters this season but still, the nosedive was aided and abetted by horrendous luck. Over their last 10 reg-season games they were outscored by a bad but not disastrous 0.08 points per trip. (Do that in the Big East and you're an NCAA 5-seed! Har!) Tubby's team went 1-9.
Folks, get your Notre Dame questions in now. We will have an all-ND interlude here in a few minutes.
Also: Paging Kevin O'Neill!
Steve (North Dakota): I don't suppose you have a prediction for the Great West's representative in the CBI?
John Gasaway (Basketball): "GASAWAY PICKS WOLVERINES TO WIN TOURNAMENT" Unfortunately for Michigan I refer of course to Utah Valley, the UNLV (i.e., host) of that there get-together.
Foreign Lurker (Abroad): John, what sort of matchup should ODU be hoping for in the 1st round? Can they reach the 2nd weekend?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Selfishly I would love to see the Monarchs face a weak defensive rebounding team, because the ODU's Michigan-State-back-in-the-day-level scary on the offensive glass. Alas, likely 1st-round opponents like Temple (mui strong) and Illinois (average) don't really fit that description.
Todald (New York): Do you think George Mason's chance for a run took a hit with it's failure to win CAA tourney?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Hey, they lost in the CAA tournament in 06 too. Maybe it's a ritual they need to go through.
wittman1984 (Cambridge, MA): Why do you want to beat up spunky 5'10" 152 lb. point guards that are really quick, surprisingly plucky defenders, and seemingly run an efficient offense?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Au contraire! I was merely trying to reference an old Woody Allen line and something of a mis-tweet resulted. Anyway David Stockton I salute you!
Andrew (Portage, WI): Is Wofford the 1st round sleeper very few are talking about?
John Gasaway (Basketball): On paper they're more or less where they were last year when they scared the cheddar out of Wisconsin. Plus Charles Barkley's talking about them.
iamse7en (Woodbury, MN): John, let's be realistic here. My BYU Cougars are finished. There's no way, that with absolutely ZERO post presence on O and D, they can make the elite 8, right? I don't care if Jimmer goes off for 50. My once-in-a-lifetime season is ruined, right?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Hey, Woodbury! Say how-do to all my peeps at SEH Consultants there in the greater Twin Cities. Now: if you define "doomed" as "not reaching the Elite Eight" then pretty much everyone's doomed. I just think the Cougs could conceivably surpass what they did last year, even Davies-less.
lbihced (Medford, N.J. ): Please settle a family argument. Am I crazy to think Temple can go further in the tournament than Villanova? I know there a lot of factors but does Temple's style cause more of a problem come March?
John Gasaway (Basketball): I think this question was posted pre-South-Florida. I trust you've won this argument with your family by now.
sansterre (Louisville, KY): Who saw Wisconsin being the #1 offense in the country, substantially off offensive rebounding no less! I'm not much of a believer in small sample sizes, but if you could lie to me and say that Wisconsin's time to make an improbable run into the final four is coming soon, I surely would appreciate it. :)
John Gasaway (Basketball): No one, no doubt, but let me give stylistic credit where due. The Badgers got to 30 percent of their own misses in Big Ten play, right at the conference average. This offense was fueled by many threes and few turnovers.
Kevin B (Chicago): If Northwestern pulls off a miracle and beats Ohio State, do they suddenly have an at-large capable profile?
John Gasaway (Basketball): If Northwestern can beat Ohio State they need to just keep going and get the auto-bid. (Buckeyes lead by 5, early 2nd half.)
Matt (Phila.): Can advanced metrics tell us why Wisco's defense is so mediocre?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Not sure how advanced this is, but Wisconsin's Big Ten opponents made 38 percent of their threes and never ever turned the ball over. You nail the key word on the head. This D isn't bad, it's just mediocre. And that looks odd coming from Bo.
Last call for Notre Dame talk. Have a good stack of Irish queries that we'll tackle here in a sec.
Luke S. (Lexington, KY): John, tell me how important you think experience is in the tournament. I feel like Duke and Butler last year gave the TV dudes too much reason to yell the "experience wins in March" mantra, and I wanna know if that's justified.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Florida was young-ish in 2006, certainly. Then we had a long run of NC's who immediately decamped en masse to the NBA after the title game. And then last year, which was sui generis, with Hayward the only 1st rounder in the title game. Call experience a contributing factor but not an ironclad requirement.
Steve (North Dakota): is the way to beat Kansas just to sit back in a zone and make them shoot threes?
John Gasaway (Basketball): That and go all Tonya Harding on the Morrii before the tip, yes.
SevenJE (Boston, MA): Please make a case for Boston College to be in the tournament because I certainly cannot, even with a win over Clemson today. They’ve earned nothing.
I don’t want to hear about their winning record in the ACC. They’re now 8-2 vs. the bottom of the conference and 2-5 vs Duke, UNC, VT, Clemson. A nice win over Texas A&M and drubbing of Cal are just about negated by losing to TWO Ivy league teams at home, a loss to Rhode Island, a sweep at the hands of Miami, and narrow home escapes to Providence and Bucknell.
Personal preference, but I’d rather see Missouri State, who at least earned and achieved something this year. They won a good MVC and swept 2nd place Wichita State. They can point to some sort of accomplishment on their resume.
John Gasaway (Basketball): They look middling, no doubt. But so do the other bubbly types. One interesting thought that just flashed across my ESPN Insider wire as I was starting the chat (meaning I haven't read the piece yet) is that the additional four bids might actually make a surprisingly large difference in quality in terms of the last team in. Zounds, maybe it really *is* a "weak bubble" this year!
Vision (Springfield, MO): Please tell me an outright Missouri Valley championship and making the Finals of conference tourney means more than finishing 11th in Big East (Marquette) for my Missouri State Bears?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Hey, put some trailers on the practice field, build yourself into a decent football program, and join the Big East. Worked for South Florida.
Purdidit (Indianapolis, IN): True or False: One of the major storylines of the 2011 NCAA Tournament will be the dominance of the Big Ten?
John Gasaway (Basketball): "Dominance" may be too strong for a big 3 of OSU, Purdue, and Wisconsin that figures to get little to no help from Illinois, etc. But if the Badgers can break their multi-year string of losing to a scrappy mid-major, yes, those other two certainly look fearsome.
And with that we come to our NOTRE DAME INTERLUDE!----------------------------
Woo! All-ND, all the time for next 5 minutes. Go!
jhagan2 (Pittsburgh): Regarding Notre Dame, you said today that they had the chance to play better than Pitt and Duke this year but didn't come close. As evidence you cite the teams' relative efficiency margins. Leaving aside the Irish win at Pitt, I'll concede that Pitt performed better in-conference than Notre Dame. But what exactly do efficiency margins tell us when comparing Notre Dame and Duke? There is zero overlap in competition. Strictly comparing efficiency margins across conferences, your logic suggests that Virginia Tech, Alabama, Washington, Florida, Kentucky, Temple, Richmond, Duquesne, Old Dominion, UAB, and Cleveland State, among others, are as good or better than the Irish. Why put any faith in efficiency margins when comparing teams from different conferences?
John Gasaway (Basketball): I do think Florida and Kentucky are worthy of the ND comparison. UAB? Not so much. I don't want anyone to get too wrapped up in one team having a 0.08 and another having "just" a 0.07, whether it's within or across conferences, but we can look at that information along with everything else, even across conferences.
Andy C (Indiana): You ran a story about Notre Dame being only +0.07 in conference play. Does that figure change significantly if you take away the four games they were missing Scott? I would think that figure would be a better indicator of how the Irish might expect to fare going forward.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Scott is mui important, a point I made in my February rah-rah piece on the Irish. Then too Pitt fans would point out they lost Gibbs for a bit.
Kevin B (Chicago): Has any team improved both their profile and rating the past 6 weeks like Notre Dams?
John Gasaway (Basketball): George Mason? North Carolina? ND is certainly up there.
Steve (North Dakota): If Notre Dame ends up getting a 1 seed, are they the worst and/or most vulnerable 1 in quite a while?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Theoretically that could be the case, but of course it depends in large part on the teams the committee puts at 8/9 in that bracket.
Nathan Walker (Wake Forest, NC): Do you believe all the Notre Dame hype? Their improved defense this season definitely speaks well of them, but their inconsistent shooting bothers me. Their effective FG% was 75% at home against Nova, but lost five of nine while shooting under 50%...
John Gasaway (Basketball): Judging from the Notre Dame fans I've heard from this morning, no, apparently I don't believe all the ND hype. I do think this is the best team Brey has had for a while thanks to that strange new weird thing in South Bend known as D. I hear what you're saying about their lapses -- I saw them look very mortal at WV -- but, again, I don't suppose anyone out there this year would keep UCLA '73 up nights.
Folks this concludes our NOTRE DAME INTERLUDE--------------------------
Back to the other 344 teams.
batts40 (IL): What happened to my Racers this year? They seemed poised to have a big year after winning 30+ last year and taking Butler to the wire in Round 2.
John Gasaway (Basketball): I have no idea what happened to your beloved Murray State this year. We sang their praises at some length in the book last fall and look what happened -- a big step back on both sides of the ball. Either 2010 was a fluke or 2011 is. Go figure.
Bill (Chapel Hill): Any chance the committee focuses on recent performance and leaves Villanova out of the field?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Nope, though if this were a 65- instead of 68-team field things might have been much more interesting.
George (Charlotte): John, if one hand you can take Duke, Ohio St. and Texas, and on the other hand you have the NCAA Tournament field - which way do you lean?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Interesting threesome. Well, I've read enough Pomeroy boilerplate to always answer "rest of the field," particularly when that 65 includes swaggering beasts like KU, Purdue, Pitt, ND, Carolina, Kentucky, etc.
Julio (Schoolyard): I think you are using "mui" to mean "very" but by spelling it wrong you are confusing everyone. Its "muy". MUI seems like some sort of fanalytic acronym I haven't learned yet.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Yes, it stands for Marquette University Integers. The Golden Eagled are MUI good!
Mike White (South Dakota): Do you think St. Mary's makes the field? Does their perimeter shooting do enough to cover up their relatively weak group of bigs against tourney opposition?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Yes, I think the Gaels will hear their name Sunday night. No, their late-season does not fill me with confidence for a Samhan-era kind of deep run.
Folks in other news Northwestern 49, Ohio State 48, 4:22 left at Conseco.
Todd (Austin): Can you explain what happened to Central Florida? That's a 5 seed OOC resume down to NIT bubble in 3 months.
John Gasaway (Basketball): No, it was shocking. It's like there's only so much hoops mojo in the state of Florida and after UCF beat Florida it was all transferred from the former to the latter. Very strange.
Couple more questions! Then I may have to focus on NU-Ohio State and no, I did not anticipate having to focus on that.
Brian (Orlando): You seem to be high on Kentucky. Just as high on Florida?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Absolutely. Florida = ND without the attention. Always great offense, joined on 2011 at long last by respectable D.
Buckeyes up 2, 2 minutes left. Gotta scoot.
Folks thanks for chatting! Be sure to come by Prospectus on Thursday for our annual Cover-it-Live get-together with the whole gang. And I'll do another one of these in a couple weeks. Sorry I didn't see you here today Kevin O'Neill!
John Gasaway (Basketball): A bientot, y'all!