Chat with Jay Bilas
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas will stop by to chat about the hoops season.
Bilas provides expert color commentary from courtside on college basketball games, and serves as a studio analyst and as the co-host of ESPN's popular studio shows College Gameday and College Gamenight. He also writes for ESPN.com, and contributes numerous reports for SportsCenter. Since 2003, Bilas has provided in-depth player scouting and analysis for ESPN's coverage of the NBA Draft.
Send your questions now and join Bilas Thursday at 4 p.m. ET!
Jay Bilas (3:31 PM)
Good Afternoon! Thanks for stopping by the chat. Let's get started......shoot!!
What is your reasoning for ranking Duke above Purdue in the power rankings. Purdue has met every challenge with a strong performance, and tougher challenges at that, than any other undefeated team.
Jay Bilas (3:32 PM)
I have seen both teams, and I think that Duke is a bit better right now. By the end of the year, perhaps Purdue will be the better team. It was a close call, as they were 4 and 5 in my rankings. The difference is that Duke has more scorers and scores the ball easier. Both teams guard well, and both teams play their tails off. It is a tough call.
Charles Musil (Blue Rapids, KS/ )
Is Jacob Pullen one of the most underrated players in the country?
Jay Bilas (3:35 PM)
I don't know about underrated anymore, and I am not really sure what it really means. If a player is "properly rated" to you is probably a function of how often that team appears on national television. Pullen is a terrific player having a great year, and nobody has played harder, I really like Kansas State's guards, as Denis Clemente is among the fastest guards in the country. Really good team.
I was down in the dumps a few weeks ago with Jamie Dixons recruits and all of a sudden the season just turned around. What is keeping him from landing more talent? Obviously his coaching is great because he has a mediocre team winning games.Thanks Jay.
Jay Bilas (3:38 PM)
Dixon brought in a great recruiting class this past year, maybe the best he's had since he's been at Pitt. Dante Taylor is a Top 25 prospect, and he is starting to figure it out. I wouldn't get too worked up over recruiting. It is not about winning the announcement or the magazine rankings. It is about winning, and Dixon brings in players that can win together.
Jay: I know UK is undefeated and looking really good but do you see any bumps in the road for them in the future...also, do you think they could beat Kansas or Texas...they both look really good??!
Jay Bilas (3:41 PM)
No team has impressed me more with its development than Kentucky. John Calipari has done a remarkable job, and really harnessed and brought along the talent. I thought that UK would suffer some significant growing pain, but the Cats have been inflicting the pain. John Wall has been the best player, Demarcus Cousins is the most talented big man, and Patrick Patterson is the most important player. UK keeps getting better and better. I just hope they still have enough gas in the tank down the stretch.
Robert Arthur (Indianapolis)
Do you see the controversies caused by Coach Calipari (thinning out the program at UK to make way for his players, programs left with vacated final fours,etc.) leading to NCAA rule changes, or increased scutiny of UK by the NCAA?
Jay Bilas (3:45 PM)
I thought the whole controversy was overblown and silly. Academic scholarships are performance based, so why shouldn't athletic scholarships be the same? This is competition, and all of the players in question had a chance to stay if they were good enough. Patrick Patterson stayed, and he is a big part of what UK is doing. I find it objectionable that some would suggest that those that left UK were Billy Gillispie's bad players, because they are not bad players. They are just not good enough to play over Wall, Cousins and Bledsoe. All of the players in question landed on their feet. It is a non-issue to me.
Did you feel like the Cornell game showed my Jayhawks are not as good as we all thought, or is Cornell just really good. All i no is im thankful for Sherron Collins.
Jay Bilas (3:49 PM)
Cornell is a good basketball team that is capable of beating Kansas or anyone else this season on a given day. But, Cornell is not nearly as good of a team as Kansas, Texas or any other team in the Top 20. There is a big difference between "can win" and "just as good" or "better". Kansas wins that game 99 times out of 100, and would usually win by double digits. What I find interesting is how last night's game fits into the "parity" theory. Is there really parity when we are giddy and showing special coverage of an Ivy League team playing well against the No. 1 team? If everyone is so good, shouldn't we expect that? Kansas is very good and will get better, but nobody can play poorly and blow out a good team like Cornell.
Greg (Southlake, TX)
Jay, how long will it take until my Wolverines get back into nat'l prominence?
Jay Bilas (3:54 PM)
It depends upon what you mean by national prominence. Michigan is not playing well, and is not guarding well. While it is important for Michigan to shoot a good percentage, it is not any more important than defense. Think about it. How many times do you hear coaches and talking heads, when referring to the nation's elite teams, say that they really have to shoot it well to win? Hardly ever. Why? Because the best teams get easy baskets off of defense, offensive rebounds, free throws and by attacking the rim. Against the best teams that Michigan has played, the Wolverines have given up close to 50% shooting from the field. And, there has not been a consistent third scorer step forward to add to Harris and SIms. Those two are pros, and they need some help. John Beilein is a great coach, and Michigan should be better this year. I still think that Michigan should make the NCAA Tournament.
1) How good is Gonzaga Really?? better than last years team?? They get throttled by Duke but only loss to Mich st. by 4, also Have two very good road wins vs. Oklahoma and Illinois. 2( What are the key's for Mark Few's to make a deep run in the NCAA tourny club despite their young lineup?
Jay Bilas (3:58 PM)
The Duke game was an aberration. Gonzaga can really play, and has really good big guys in Sacre and Harris to go along with its quality guards. If it were me, I would start Bouldin at the point and bring Goodson off of the bench to provide a different look and some speed and energy. I would like to see the ball in Bouldin's hands more. But, Mark Few has proven to be pretty darn good at this stuff. Along with Jamie Dixon and Bo Ryan, Few is the best that is yet to play in a Final Four. He will.
You honestly think Kansas and Texas are playing the best basketball in the country? I find it hard to believe that all ten analysts were unanimous on that decision, yet couldn't find where to put a team like Pitt, who is scattered throughout from 11-24. Are these power rankings the indicator of the best in the country NOW or up to this point?
Jay Bilas (4:02 PM)
I had Pitt in my Top 25, and so did some others, I'm sure. Kansas and Texas are the best teams and have the best chance to be the best at the end of the year. However, there are no great teams this year, at least not yet. That will make for some wild swings in the rankings and a more wide open NCAA Tournament. As to the Power Rankings, I have no idea what they really are. Each voter votes and the results are tabulated. As far as I know, each person has a different standard. I wouldn't worry about it...no poll has affected whether a ball goes in the hoop or not, and whether one team beats another.
Brian Williams (Chicago)
Will Jon Scheyer get drafted and, if so, where do you think he will go in the draft.
Jay Bilas (4:03 PM)
Yes, Jon Scheyer will get drafted. It may be in the Second Round, but he will get selected. I think that Scheyer can play in the NBA, but he is not an elite athlete that will be a no-brainer at the next level. He may have an issue as to who he can guard, but I think he will have a good chance to find a place in the NBA.
Have you seen Ekpe Udoh play down at Baylor? Pretty impressive.
Jay Bilas (4:05 PM)
Yes, I have. In fact, I watched Udoh play when he was at Michigan. He is from Oklahoma and was lightly recruited out of high school. Tommy Amaker brought him to Ann Arbor and believed he would blossom into a really good player. When Amaker was fired, he tried to get Udoh to stay at Michigan, but he chose to leave. Scott Drew has done a nice job with Udoh, and he has developed into a really good rebounder and shotblocker that can also score.
Dan (Overland Park, KS)
If the National Championship game was tomorrow, who is your winner?
Jay Bilas (4:07 PM)
I would probably lean toward Kansas. But, the Jayhawks still need to get better. And, they have the capacity to get better. This is still a very young team in spots.
Do you think that Evan Turner's back injury will linger for the rest of the season and have a resounding effect on Ohio State?
Jay Bilas (4:09 PM)
I am not a doctor, but when I did the Ohio State-Butler game, I was told that the broken bone in his back was not a weight bearing bone and that he would be able to return relatively soon. Obviously, that was correct, because he played twenty minutes against Indiana. Turner was the best player in the nation when he got hurt and he can be again. Ohio State would not let him play if he could not be healthy and productive. He has too much on the line.
Tom D. (Austin, TX)
Is this the worst year for the Pac10 in the modern era?
Jay Bilas (4:11 PM)
Probably. The league got hit by personnel losses and coaching changes....the perfect storm of problems. The stunner for me was Oregon State's loss to Seattle. The Beavers were drubbed by 51 points by a team with a losing record. That is very troubling.
Jay-Any chance the CAA is a multi-bid league this year? William & Mary is the obvious candidate but VCU, Mason and ODU have al played well.
Jay Bilas (4:14 PM)
Could very well be. Old Dominion is very good, and William and Mary has some really nice wins. Tony Shaver changed his style to be more competitive against better teams, and he has a really good player in Quinn McDowell who played at Moeller HS in Cincinnati. The Tribe does not have great players, it has good players that play great together.
Dan (Atlanta, GA)
Do any of the four un-beatens have what it takes to enter the big dance undefeated?
Jay Bilas (4:15 PM)
No. Everyone will lose this season. There is no team that is capable of running the table during the regular season, in any league. That is asking too much.
Tom D. (Houston)
Best backcourt in America?
Jay Bilas (4:17 PM)
Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry of Kansas are very good. I like Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith of Duke, John Wall and Eric Bledsoe of Kentucky, and I think that Michigan State's guards are very good, as well.
Is Jimmer Fridette under-rated? No one talks about him and he put up 49-9-7 on AZ.
Jay Bilas (4:20 PM)
Stop with the "nobody talks about Jimmer Fredette" business. I have done BYU's NCAA Tournament games the past two years (both against Texas A&M in the 8-9 game) and I talked about him plenty. Fredetter is a really good guard, and knows how to play. And, we will continue to talk about him as the season progresses. It would be nice, however, if the Cougars were on television more often.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
Jay, Explain the importance of a guy like Dogus Balbay of the longhorns? He is such a lock down defender even the game against Arkansas when he was on the court at the end Texas started to pull away.
Jay Bilas (4:22 PM)
Dogus Balbay is one of the five best perimeter defenders in college basketball, and nobody puts better pressure on the ball at the point of attack that he does. Against Michigan State, Balbay took Kalin Lucas totally out of the game, and he made big play after big play on the defensive end. Balbay sets a great tone, and he does not need the ball to play and impact the game.
Tom D. (Houston, TX)
Most improved player in America from last year to this year?
Jay Bilas (4:24 PM)
I would put Pitt's Ashton Gibbs at the top of that list. He is really good, and makes great reads.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
Can you try and explain UNC's loss to Charleston and how people can currently take them seriously as a contending team going forward both nationally and in the ACC?
Jay Bilas (4:26 PM)
The Heels are young and have played a really tough schedule. I think playing Charleston on the road will pay dividends later on, and will pay off. Carolina has young guards, and the guard play has not been great. But, this is still a Top 20 team that can beat a lot of people. I said early on that I thought that Carolina would lost 8 or 9 games this year. This will be a lot like 2006 for North Carolina.
Canby (Cedar Falls, IA)
What are your thoughts on Northern Iowa and the Valley?
Jay Bilas (4:29 PM)
I have Northern Iowa ranked in my Top 25. With Adam Koch, Jordan Egelseder and Kwadzo Ahellegbe, the Panthers have some outstanding players that are experienced and tough. With Wichita State playing better, Missouri State capable under Cuonzo Martin and Southern Illinois and Illinois State very solid, the MVC is again a really tough league. I would be surprised if anyone beats Northern Iowa, though. That is the league's best team.
Russell (New York)
Jay, how far do you see Villanova going this year?
Jay Bilas (4:30 PM)
Good enough for a Final Four. WIth those guards? Sure, they will miss the toughness of Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson, but if you have guards like that, you have a chance.
Jay Bilas (4:31 PM)
And, I should have put Villanova in the best backcourt discussion. With Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Reggie Redding and Malik Wayns, you have a great backcourt.
Jay, what was your favorite place to play when you played at Duke?
Jay Bilas (4:33 PM)
I loved playing at Carmichael Auditorium at North Carolina, Cole Field House at Maryland, and Reynolds Coliseum at NC State. All are out of play now. Total bummer.
joe dimichele (chicago)
hi jay, How Far do you have the spartans going this year
Jay Bilas (4:35 PM)
I thought that Michigan State had the chops to win the whole thing before the season. The big guys have not played as well as I anticipated, and the leadership of Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers has not been quite as strong as I expected. But, Michigan State is still capable of winning this thing, and I think this team will play its best in March.
walt (Kansas City)
Is Ty Lawson success with the Nuggets helping Sherron Collins draft stock because they are very similar
Jay Bilas (4:37 PM)
Not at all. Lawson and Collins are different players, and are judged by what they do well or less than well. Collins will have the chance to play in the NBA, but nobody I know in the NBA is comparing the two favorably. Lawson is faster and more explosive end to end. and is the better prospect.
What do you think Kemba Walker needs to do to become a better half court point guard?
Jay Bilas (4:39 PM)
Walker needs to slow down and learn how to play with pace. Walker is a great transition guard, but needs to be a better guard in halfcourt situations. He is, after all, just a sophomore.
Who has surprised you in the A10 thus far? Which teams do you see dancing in march, and how many wins will it take in A10 play to solidify an at-large spot?
Jay Bilas (4:43 PM)
I'm not sure that I am surprised, but I certainly am impressed. Rhody. Temple, Xavier, Dayton, Richmond and Charlotte are very solid teams that have a good chance to beat anyone they play. Is the Atlantic 10 as good as the Big East? No. But it is good.
What are the chances Cornell could snag an at-large bid if they falter against Harvard? They have some nice wins this year.
Jay Bilas (4:46 PM)
It depends upon the quality of teams at the end of the line with Cornell. There will not be any Pac-10 teams, and Cornell will have to have a very good showing in Ivy play. The bottom line is not sentiment, but whether you believe the Big Red is among the 34 best teams remaining after the Automatic Bids are in. Pretty simple, but you have to make some hard choices.
Phil (North Carolina)
Jay, What are you thoughts on the rule which requires high school players to attend College for a year before turning. If they are good enough to be drafted shouldn't they be allowed to play.
Jay Bilas (4:50 PM)
It does not require players to go to college. It is a labor rule that was bargained by the NBA and the NBA Players, and the NCAA has nothing to do with it. And, I have no problem with the rule. If the NBA wants a more mature and educated product, fine with me. College is not such a hardship anyway. We are only talking about six to a dozen players anyway. Most players find that they aren't as good as they thought.
I presume you inadvertently neglected to list Cameron.
Jay Bilas (4:52 PM)
I thought that went without saying. I didn't forget. I also enjoyed playing in Card Gym. And my high school gym was killer.
Thought on Washington? Poindexter has really stepped up his game yet the Huskies havent quite lived up to expecations. Still think they win the Pac 10?
Jay Bilas (4:55 PM)
There is another guy that could easily be placed among the most improved players. Pondexter is a tough match-up problem that is really hard to guard. I think that U-Dub is good, but still need to ugard effectively.
Chris (Fullerton, CA)
Is this the year the MWC could get three or four teams in the Big Dance?
Jay Bilas (5:01 PM)
The short answer is, "win". Nobody knows exactly what it will take, which teams will be competing against MWC teams, and how many openings there will be. I would feel pretty confident that New Mexico, BYU, San Diego State and Utah will all be right there.
Todd S. (San Francisco, CA)
Any chance Howland is on the hot seat?
Jay Bilas (5:04 PM)
Ha!! This is a good one to end on. The answer is NO. Ben Howland is one of the nation's elite coaches, and he guided UCLA to three straight Final Fours. UCLA is having a down year, but it is only temporary. UCLA and Howland will be back and soon. Thanks for stopping by and joining me on the chat. See you at a game. Best, Jay