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College Basketball

Eric Prisbell and Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 8, 2007 11:00 AM

It's March, and the madness is just around the corner. As teams jockey to improve their seeding (or just make the tournament), Washington Post college sports writers Eric Prisbell and Adam Kilgore were online Thursday, March 8, at 11 a.m. ET to take your questions about college basketball.

A transcript follows.

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Eric Prisbell: Good morning, everyone. I've been up since 5 a.m., ready to go. I'm glad, and more than a little surprised, to see Adam Kilgore ready to go on the chat at this hour, but we're set. Lots of questions on a variety of topics today. Clemson-Florida State in one hour from the St. Pete Times Forum. Georgetown-Villanova in one hour as well. Let's start.

Adam Kilgore: You're looking ... LIVE! at the St. Pete Times Forum, where the media herd is flocking to see Al Thornton try to get Florida State an NCAA bid against Clemson. Anyone who says the ACC tourney should be in Greensboro was not in Ybor City last night at a little place called The Boneyard or sipping the dynamite mojito at The Columbia. Tons and tons and tons of great stuff to chat about today, of course. Onward.

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Rockville, Md.: Prisbell

Did you see this from Heather Dinich? Sounds like a challenge to me. Should I be putting money on Heather?

"First of all, what's the difference between male sports reporters here and, well, me? About 50 more pounds of luggage. Patrick Stevens of The Washington Times has one bag. Eric Prisbell of The Washington Post shows up to BWI with a carry-on. A CARRY-ON for six days?

In my defense, one of my bags was all gym clothes. Somebody has to kick Eric's butt while we're down here."

Eric Prisbell: The challenge is indeed on. I think it's wise to put your money on the guy from Jersey. Let's be honest here, is there any reason for anyone, man or women, to have three bags, including one that weighed 55 pounds and that was red-flagged by BWI officials because it was wider than Kilgore's midsection? Heather must have had everything from a George Foreman grill to a fondue set in that thing. That said, after last night's debacle with Kilgore and Co., I think I should have stuffed my carry-on a little more.

Adam Kilgore: I actually fit my fondue maker in carry-on. Had a little trouble fitting it in the overhead bin on the flight from Roanoke, but I made it work.

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Nova Nation: Greetings, gents. With Villanova's sky-high RPI rating, do you see them leapfrogging other Big East teams ahead of them when the field of 65 comes out?

Eric Prisbell: They could, but Nova has also been hot of late. If Nova wins today, they could jump a few slots. Behind G-town, I still like Louisville out of the Big East to perhaps, perhaps make a bit of a run next week.

Adam Kilgore: If Nova wins the Big East, I'm guessing it could probably snag a four or maybe even a three, depending on some other outcomes. Definitely time to start putting Scottie Reynolds in the Mike Conley Jr. and D.J. Augustin discussions as a freshman point guard that could carry his team with scoring this month.

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Washington, D.C.: Is it true that Maryland's RPI rank dropped from 10 to 12 on Tuesday because the NCAA decided to re-categorize the loss during the BB&T at the Verizon Center as a home loss rather than a neutral court loss? Isn't it absolutely ridiculous for them to make this change months after the fact, the week of Selection Sunday?

Eric Prisbell: The NCAA has a way of doing things that may surprise people. I don't think it will matter much. Maryland should be anywhere from a 3-5 seed with an outside chance at a 2 if they win this thing here.

I'm hoping now for Buffalo after several writers pumped it up last night. Bring on the wind chill.

Adam Kilgore: That is a little silly, but it seems fair to make that a home game. Prisbell is right, it won't have much of an impact.

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Dunkirk, Md.: Thanks for taking questions today.

Why is Duke still ranked in the top 25? They have lost 6 of their last 10 game. They lost twice to Maryland by more than 10 points in each game and Maryland is now ranked after beating NC and winning seven in a row. I agree the Duke is a lock for the tourney, but a top 25, what gives?

Adam Kilgore: Believe it or not, Duke's RPI is higher than its Top 25 ranking. I don't vote in the AP poll, and when I talk to voters about putting Duke in, the main answer is there's no one else to put ahead of them. Duke still has some good wins this season (granted, they came about three months ago and all at home). But I actually agree, I don't think Duke has proven on the court it's one of the best 25 teams in the country.

Eric Prisbell:"That's Duke," as one coach has said 10 or 20 times.

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Clifton, Va.: Hope Maryland gets blown out of the water by Miami and misses the tournament just so I can watch Gary overreact. And I am sorry ,no conference should have more than 4 teams in the big dance. And if the ACC and SEC and others don't like it, tough!

Eric Prisbell: Well, be prepared for the ACC to get as many as eight teams in if Al Thornton and FSU can win in a few hours. The league is very deep this year and there is no clear front-runner. Maryland is very hungry for this rematch with Miami. In the second half, I expect Gary to be able to empty his bench much like Kilgore emptied a couple ATM's last night.

Adam Kilgore: If Miami shuts out Maryland today, the Terps will still make the tournament. Although if Maryland misses the tournament this season, Gary would probably be arrested. But that won't happen.

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D.C.: Do you think UVA will win the ACC Tourney?

Eric Prisbell: It may be hard to see a third scoring option emerging three straight nights. I give the team with the most depth, UNC, the advantage in this thing.

But I have UVA-UNC in the final

Adam Kilgore: I do not think Virginia will win the ACC Tournament. Not enough post defense for UNC, and I actually think Georgia Tech will knock the Cavs off in the semis. Seems like the Yellow Jackets are peaking at the right time with all those great freshmen. Lot of athletes on that team, too.

Virginia will have a hard time in the postseason, which is too bad because I'd love to watch Singletary and Reynolds do some damage. Virginia's flaws (lack of post strength and a consistent third scorer), though, are too pronounced and easy to exploit by teams in the tourney.

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UMass alum in D.C.: In some recent years, the Atlantic-10 tourney winner has been the only A-10 men's team to make it to the Big Dance. Any chance that at least one other A-10 team will get into the NCAAs this year?

Eric Prisbell: Umass has a chance, but Wright state's win over Butler took away a slot from a bubble team. Right now, I think UMass is just on the outside looking in, but there are a few days still to shuffle a spot loose.

Adam Kilgore: Prisbell hit it down, I'd say. Nothing to add, although this seems like a good time to say, growing up in southern Maine, my favorite team of all time was the UMass team with Lou Roe and a freshman Marcus Camby, with Carmelo Travieso and Edgar Padilla -- the Puerto Rican backcourt born on the same day -- jacking 3s. I cried when it lost to Big Country and OK State in the Elite Eight. Too bad it never existed.

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Boston: Six bubble teams

Drexel

Florida State

Kansas State

Missouri State

Old Dominion

Purdue

You can take THREE, who do you take?

Eric Prisbell: K-State has the worst chance of the bunch, in my opinion.

If FSU wins today, I want them in.

I want ODU.

And I'll take Missouri State because they are coached by a great man and because they have deserved it two straight years.

Purdue could very well make this field.

Adam Kilgore: If I can take three, I'll go Old Dominion, Florida State and Drexel, in that order. ODU should be a lock; it would be a crime if the Monarchs missed out, and if they do they can blame that awful James Madison loss. Florida State went 6-5 in the ACC with Toney Douglas and 1-4 without, so a win with him today should prove to the committee they're good enough with him. Drexel has 14 true road wins, including at Syracuse, which should be rewarded. I want Missouri State in, too, but KState could steal a bid if it beats Texas Tech in the Big 12 tourney.

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TerpTown, USA: Of course I meant Duke possibly losing to NC State. That's what happens when you type while talking with a room full of guys yapping away.

Eric Prisbell: No worries on your typo thinking Duke was playing G-Tech. Eight hours ago, I couldn't tell the difference between G-Tech and Cal-Tech.

Duke will be in the tournament. They'll have Henderson back for that. But they could lose today because State's starters are very good and neither team has depth.

Adam Kilgore: I think State beats Duke today. The Pack has a tremendous starting five. Gavin Grant might be the league's most underrated player, even if he should probably be a better defender. Costner is a solid inside-out scorer, and McCauley does damage in the post. Without Gerald Henderson, Duke becomes nearly as thin as State. Atsur-Paulus is also a pretty big mismatch is State's favor.

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Reston, Va.: Hey guys,

Virginia?? do you think they can make it out of the first/second rounds of he NCAAs or are they as flawed as most of the ESPN analysts think they are? How bout Leitao's coaching job this year?

Adam Kilgore: I think the Cavs are doomed by their flaws -- no inside punch, no consistency on offense from anybody but the guards. I'd be surprised if the Cavs made the Sweet 16 and if they draw, say, Davidson, I don't like their chances.

On Leitao, he's done a great job this season. He demands a lot, particularly on defense, and his scorched-earth tactics work well with the bunch he has.

Eric Prisbell: I think UVA has a chance, with the right matchups, to make the Sweet 16 because the backcourt is superior and they have a third option step up from time to time.

After that, I say V-Tech has the chance to go further because they have some more balance.

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20009: Even though they lost to Kansas, Texas would scare the bejeebers out of me if I had to play them. Do you think the 'horns will make some noise this month?

Eric Prisbell: Very scary team that could be bounced in the first round or make a run at a Final Four. Durant's the best player in the field, and it would be great to see a Oden-Durant game between a No. 1 and No. 4 seed.

Adam Kilgore: Yeah, like a boatload of teams this season, Texas could be one-and-done or it could cut down the nets in Atlanta. Anything is possible with Kevin Durant. D.J. Augustin, quietly because of Durant, is really coming into his own, too. I just wish he would look for Durant more and his shot less at times.

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Chicago: I thought that Xavier had the best chance of getting an at large out of the A-10, not UMass.

Eric Prisbell: I was thinking Xavier would win the tournament. But you're right, Xavier would have a great chance of making it if UMass won the league tourney or something.

Adam Kilgore: Yeah, if someone like George Washington won the A-10, Xavier would have a better chance than UMass.

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Annapolis, Md.: I know almost nothing about basketball, March Madness or what RPI stands for, so could you direct me to a succinct resource to bone up on this topic? I would like to be able to converse with my colleagues for the next month. Thank you.

Adam Kilgore: The Washington Post, only 35 cents in the District. Also, washingtonpost.com.

I'm actually not sure if such a site -- one strictly on basics, a glossary of terms, etc. -- exists. But it's a really good idea for people like Annapolis who want to be in the conversation.

Actually, Jerry Palm's site, collegerpi.com, does a good job of explaining some of the mechanisms of March. That site is a gift from God.

By the way, RPI stands for Ratings Percentage Index, and it's a tool to help seed and select teams for the tournament.

Eric Prisbell: Adam is right about Palm.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me anytime at espbell@aol.com.

My schedule this month includes basketball, writing, food and a few hours of sleep each night.

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WVU: Is tonight a must-win against Louisville or are we already in?

Eric Prisbell: West Virginia needs to win.

Adam Kilgore: Yes, West Virginia, I believe, only has three wins against the Top 50, which won't cut it. But if the 'Neers win, they start putting themselves in decent shape. They beat no one outside of Morgantown this season.

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Washington, D.C.: I just wanted to complain about all the attention you guys pay to Maryland, when clearly George Mason and George Washington are the best teams in the area. Oh wait, sorry. Ignore my comment. That was just a leftover from the quick flash-in-the-pan that was last year's basketball season.

I hope the Terps face Georgetown in the NCAAs so we can shut them up too.

Eric Prisbell: Mason didn't do half bad in last year's tournament though.

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Waldorf, Md.: Winthrop had trouble with VMI (10-19) in the Big South Championship game. Isn't Winthrop overhyped? Or does their 19-0 record against teams with RPI higher than 200 honestly impress you?

Adam Kilgore: I'm impressed by their losses. They hung with North Carolina in Chapel Hill for most of that game and took Wisconsin to the brink in Madison, losing by three. They also played Maryland tough. And they won at Old Dominion. The only thing that worries me is they're too trendy of an upset pick, which usually doesn't end well.

Eric Prisbell: It is an interesting case, no doubt. Give a team like Duke the same schedule and they probably finish with the exact same record, losing to the same teams. And Duke will get a 6 or 7 when Winthrop gets an 11 or 12, if they are lucky. I have watched them here and there during the year and think they are legit.

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Washington, D.C.: My schizophrenic Hokies drive me crazy. As long as they match up against teams they're not supposed to beat, they'll go far though! How long do you think they can last in the tournament?

Eric Prisbell: I agree, which is why Game 1 of the NCAAs scare me for V-Tech. If the Hokies get by, I like them for the Sweet 16, probably.

Adam Kilgore: I like Tech much better than I like Virginia for the NCAA Tournament. Tech is a deep team that's also versatile and it plays great defense, and those are three qualities that, in tandem, are tough to beat in March. If Coleman Collins plays well, the Hokies could go as far the Elite Eight, I think. They're that talented and they have a good feel about them, coming back from the tragedy of last season. But, as they've shown, they're just as capable of losing in the first round. That's a scary team to look at in a bracket.

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S. Rockville, Md.: Prisbell, you bring up the "give Duke Winthrop's schedule" argument again. What if you gave Winthrop Duke's schedule? How many games does Winthrop lose then?

Eric Prisbell: Great point, especially considering how tired Winthrop seemed to look when they played at Maryland a few days after visiting Miss. State, I think.

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Washington, D.C.: As one of the numerous Davidson alums in D.C., its been exciting to see the 'Cats and Stephen Curry getting so much national attention. How do you legitimately feel about their shot in the tourney this year? They're projected to have their highest seeding in their last three appearances and (thankfully) won't be playing Ohio St. again in the first round.

Eric Prisbell: Davidson should get, what, a 13 or 14? They could be this year's Northwestern State. I will pick Winthrop in the first round regardless of who they play, even though Winthrop has become so darn trendy the last few weeks. Davidson is still a little under the radar to the casual observer.

Adam Kilgore: Yep, loving Davidson right now. Curry, by the way, is the son of Virginia Tech all-timer and former NBA player Dell Curry. He wanted to go to Tech, but Seth Greenberg wanted to redshirt him, he wanted to play right away. I don't think you can blame Greenberg; Curry's size would probably limit in the ACC, but he can get away with it in the SoCon.

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Bison Country: Alright guys, here's a tough one...

Who wins the Patriot League tournament tomorrow, Bucknell or Holy Cross?

Eric Prisbell: holy cross in a great game.

Adam Kilgore: This will be the best game of the whole week. It's two really good teams that have zero shot of getting into the tournament unless they win, so the intensity will be sky high, as will the level of play. I'm going with Holy Cross close.

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Gainesville, Fla.: What are Mississippi State's chances of making the NCAA tourney? These guys are the champions of the SEC West, had close losses to Florida and Kentucky, and are on a roll right now. Yet, nobody is even mentioning them as even a possible bubble team. What gives? And how can the Big East be expecting eight teams in the dance (as shown by ESPN during the WVA-Prov game last night) and only five from the SEC?

Eric Prisbell: RPI is too high, and 17 overall wins or so won't cut it. They may have to win the SEC tourney.

You know in pick-up basketball there is the A court and the B court? The SEC West is the B court on a Wednesday at noon, when some office workers arrive for a half-court five-on-five game. It's just not up to snuff this year.

Adam Kilgore: Re: Big East vs. SEC, the Big East is 16 teams and the SEC is 12, so naturally its going to have more teams. And the SEC has been dreadful this season. I feel like a fool for pumping Arkansas in some earlier chats; I liked their athleticism but they just totally tanked all year.

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Hoya Paranoia: If Georgetown wins the Big East Tourney, do you think they will snag a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs.

Eric Prisbell: I think that would be in pretty good position for it, but they'd need someone to slip up, perhaps Kansas or UCLA or Florida. G-town does not have a bad loss on its resume.

Adam Kilgore: Other teams would have to lose, but that's pretty likely the way teams are falling by the wayside. I'm saying there's about a 20 percent chance Georgetown winds up with a one seed.

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TerpTown, USA: If Duke loses today could they possibly be out? What seed would you put them if they can't get past GTech?

Adam Kilgore: Duke is absolutely making the tournament. If the Diablos lose today, I think they get a 7 or 8 seed.

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Belmond, Iowa: It will be an injustice if the Big Ten lands two No. 1 seeds. One, fine, but two number ones? Any thoughts?

Eric Prisbell: It could happen. A lot depends on how the other top teams do in the conference tourneys and how the committee looks at Sunday's final. It wouldn't shock me.

To be honest, after last year's selections, nothing really would shock me this season.

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Washington, D.C.: How many times have you bashed Duke in this chat? Guess it's comforting for Terp fans to know when Maryland flames out of the ACCs and the NCAAs yet again this year (congrats on avoiding the NIT!), you'll still have your Duke hatred for solace.

Adam Kilgore: I don't think we've bashed Duke at all in this chat, actually. My brother went to Duke, I don't hate it. It happens to be a flawed basketball team this season, that's all.

Eric Prisbell: Duke will be a top 5 team next season. Good times are ahead.

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RE: Missouri St.:"And I'll take Missouri State because they are coached by a great man and because they have deserved it two straight years."

Does the committee look at teams blindly or do they they consider how they have done in past tournaments and/or who the coach is? If teams were labeled "XXX" and "QQQ" during discussions do you think the field of 65 would look much different?

Eric Prisbell: No, you're right. I was joking around there a little.

The committee takes the credentials of this season. Missouri State was third in a top 6 or 7 league and beat Wisconsin. That's pretty good. They can shoot the ball very well.

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Sad About GMU: This is coming from a a bitter GMU alum. Do you think VCU has a chance to get out of the first round? The were nearly defeated by a GMU team that was not hitting their perimeter shots and made stupid fouls at the end of the game. I personally don't think they have a chance because they do not have a good big inside man. Also, that being said, who do you think is gonna be the most compelling story in the tourney?

Adam Kilgore: I think VCU is making the Sweet 16, and I've thought that for about two months. They're exceedingly well-suited for the tournament: Great guards, pressing defense for a tough preparation, good coach.

No one knows what the most compelling story will be, which is what's going to make it the most compelling story.

Eric Prisbell: I may have VCU winning a game, but probably not two. Depends on matchups. Most compelling story? The great freshmen, especially Durant, players who normally would be playing it out in The League this time of year.

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Fairfax, Va.: Can you tell me why Clemson is on the outside looking in with an RPI of 36 and wins over Florida State (twice) and at Old Dominion, two teams that many say are on the inside of the bubble.

Eric Prisbell: FSU has the Toney Douglas factor helping them. They weren't good without him, but he is back for the tournaments. FSU has played like 16 games against top 50 comp and beat Florida earlier this season. Ff Clemson wins today, FSU is toast.

Adam Kilgore: Clemson also is not playing its best right now, despite the win at Tech. I think the Tigers are 3-7 in their last 10, which is damning.

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The Garden: Villanova v. Georgetown? Who do you like? Gotta say, I'm scared to play them again, and then have to face Syracuse again (probably). Any chance the Hoyas win the Big East tournament?

Adam Kilgore: Considering they're the the top seed and one of the hottest teams in the country, yes, there's a chance they Hoyas win the Big East tournament. I'd be surprised if they didn't, but Scottie Reynolds is not someone you want to be playing right about now.

Eric Prisbell: Georgetown

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Wheaton, Md.: What influence has Chuck Driesell had on the Maryland team?

Eric Prisbell: He is a worker. When he was hired, AAU people told me he was a good hire, perhaps not a great hire. I think he has shown to be closer to a great hire. It has reconnected Maryland to its past, and Chuck will work the recruiting scene very hard. That may not mean a top 10 recruiting class, but it should give Gary enough talent to work with the next few years.

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Arlington, Va.: Pitt is a strong team with great RPI and SOS numbers. However, they don't seem to be playing their best right now. How do you seem them doing in terms of a seed?

Adam Kilgore: Depending on its Big East tourney showing, I'd say probably between 2 if they win the thing or 4 at worst.

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San Diego: Prisgore,

Let's face it, the rest of the year is just waiting for March Madness. The tourney and office pools go together like fine wine and brandy. Spring is in the air and love is free! Okay, maybe I'm getting carried away here. What kind of shape is Oden in at this point? If healthy, look for a rematch of the BCS championship game for the final two, Gators-OSU. I'm not exactly going out on a limb with this pick, but remember, you heard it hear first.

Eric Prisbell: I don't know the latest update but I expect Oden to be better and healthier than he was a month ago. I always thought OSU could be dangerous if he gets near 100 percent. I'm staying away from them going really deep though. The top two Big Ten teams are very good, but the bottom of the league is so poor I'm not ready to crown either the national title team right now.

I still like Kansas.

Adam Kilgore: I'm taking Florida to win the title; wild horses couldn't drag me away from that pick. I think Oden's hand is totally healthy, but people around him don't want him playing without the cast for total fear of further damaging it and risking his future. So he is healthy, but limited some, anyway. Despite said limitations, his offense game and mean streak is improving all the time. And the biggest reason to be high on OSU is Mike Conley's Jr.'s emergence.

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Adam Kilgore: Thanks, as always, for the great questions and for checking in. Sorry if we couldn't get to your questions. Time to amble out to the court for the best game of the day, Clemson-Florida State. I'm saying Florida State by six. Enjoy all the games, and make sure the collegerpi.com browser is minimized when the boss walks by.

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