Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Q&A with Joe Lunardi - - ESPN Bracketologist

The Aggie Hoops Report recently caught up with ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi. Joe took a few minutes of his valuable time to participate in a quick Q&A with us about the 2006-2007 Texas Aggies.

His profile from
Joe Lunardi is the resident bracketologist for ESPN. In fact, he invented Bracketology and has been projecting the NCAA Tournament field for since its inception. Lunardi is a native Philadelphian and a graduate of Saint Joseph's University, where he spends the rest of the year as assistant vice president for university communications, and also serves as the radio analyst for SJU men's basketball.

Lunardi has missed one only team in his final tourney projections for each of the past six seasons. He has also never over-seeded his beloved Hawks, once writing "I'd put my own mother in the NIT if she played a lousy schedule." You can see Joe throughout the season on ESPNEWS, College GameNight, and other studio shows.

Joe’s Bracketology updates can be found here:

If you have access to ESPN-Insider, you can read Joe’s blog here:

We hope you enjoy our Q&A with Joe!

1.) In your latest Bracketology update (11/13/06), you currently have the Aggies as a #4 seed. How high of a seed could the Aggies realistically receive this year?

I wouldn't pay too much attention to that pre-season projection. Our regular weekly projections begin next week (Jan. 3) and will be much more accurate with respect to the non-conference portion of the season. Overall, A&M is still slotting as a No. 4 but could probably go as high as a No. 2 with a Big XII regular season title.

2.) In the eyes of the selection committee, how damaging will the back-to-back losses to LSU and UCLA become?

Those losses are a potential issue when it comes to seeding, but not NCAA Tournament selection. For a team with A&M's aspirations, it's still much better to have played those games than a couple of dogs.

3.) I thought the Aggies played their worst game of the season against LSU and one of their best of the season against UCLA, do you put stock in "quality losses"?

The UCLA game was incredibly important in my view in establishing the Aggies as a legitimate, national-level team this year. There were probably still some doubters out there, but anyone watching that game would have to be persuaded otherwise. So, yes, I put a lot of stock in so-called quality losses.

4.) The Aggies host a very dangerous Winthrop team on January 2nd. Can Winthrop come into College Station and leave with a "W"? Will Winthrop be a mid-major team to keep an eye on come March?

Winthrop is dangerous, but I wouldn't say "very" dangerous. To me this is a 10-15 point win for the Aggies.

5.) I think it's great to see A&M in a position where it appears they will have to play themselves out of the tournament as opposed to having to play themselves in. Is there a set number of wins in conference play (total of 16 games) that we should keep an eye on that will ensure the Aggies a spot in the tournament?

In the Big XII this year, given what A&M has done non-conference, 10 wins would have to be a lock (and nine would do it if there are some really good ones in there).

6.) I know the selection committee loves "quality wins" - - In looking at the remainder of A&M's schedule, I do not see many opportunities to pick up "quality wins" - - They have a game at Kansas and then home-and-home with Oklahoma State & Texas. With losses to LSU and UCLA, do we need to be worried about the Aggies picking up enough "quality wins" to receive a high seed?

It's an excellent question. To stay a No. 4 and/or move up, A&M is going to have to split its "up" games against the better teams in the Big XII. I believe this will happen, which is why the odds for A&M as a "protected seed" (No. 1-5) are better than 50/50. Although, in team selection terms, it's still very early.

Thanks for your time Joe - Keep up the great work!

You, too. Please tell everyone in Aggieland that I very much enjoyed my visit for the '05 NIT (broadcasting the game against Saint Joseph's). You could tell then that A&M was absolutely on the rise!!


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