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 2 p.m. ET!
Jay Bilas (1:53 PM)
Hello, everybody! Welcome to the sixty minutes of hell, the fastest chat on the planet! I type every word myself, so all spelling mistakes are due to my own lack of formal education, and to no one else. So, fire away
Todd (Washington DC)
Did you see Maryland finishing in the Top 4 in the wide-open ACC?I think UNC is in a little trouble--they have a tough conference schedule this year.
Jay Bilas (1:57 PM)
I did. But, I did not see North Carolina having the trouble they have had. This UNC team is not a vintage one, but it is way better than it is playing right now. The team that beat Ohio State and Michigan State was far better than this one, and it had the same players. The confidence of this team is shaken, and there is a lack of player leadership and toughness. While Larry Drew is no Ty Lawson and Dexter Strickland is no Wayne Ellington, they are good enough to compete favorably against the guys they are going against. Carolina will figure this out, but they are really struggling right now. As for Maryland, this team has very good guards, and the big guys are starting to come around. Rebounding was an issue, but the Terps are shoring that up better. The ACC is just okay this season, by its high standards. Duke is the best team, but there is nobody great in the league, or in the nation, frankly. This is a year of good, not great. The teams that keep getting better will really have a chance.
Brad Stevens (Historic Hinkle Fieldhouse)
Chances we run the table and go into the tourney 28-4? What seed would we get in that scenario?
Jay Bilas (2:00 PM)
Win them all, and you will probably get a three or a four seed. Butler is very good, but a little big light inside. Matt Howard is a terrific college player, but tends to have issues with bigger players, especially on the defensive end. A guy so smart gets way too many dumb fouls against the best bigs he plays. Butler can beat most anyone, and will be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament. I am not certain, however, that they can get past the Sweet 16. Size may be the difference.
Had Renardo Sidney signed with a Kentucky, UNC, Duke, Ohio State type program, whether good, bad, or indifferent, Do you think that NCAA would have made a decision by now?
Jay Bilas (2:02 PM)
The handling of this matter is really disappointing to me. If the young man is ineligible or deemed a pro, then bring forward the evidence and let him get on his way to Europe or the D-League. If the NCAA has no credible evidence, then let him play. Running out the clock is not the proper administration of this matter. Sidney is just a kid that wants to play ball. The NCAA needs to figure it out, and do it now.
Big Boxx (Dallas)
What's going on in Chapell Hill and Durham? Can they bounce back?
Jay Bilas (2:04 PM)
Both will be fine, but Duke will be finer. Neither is great. Duke has experience and good guards and will be better. Carolina has younger talent and needs more time to figure it out. Neither team has shown the chops to win the tough ones on the road, and time is running out. Duke has Clemson this weekend, and the Tigers are a different team at home.
Jay, with Evan Turner back at full strength (hopefully), what chances do you give Ohio State at catching Michigan State for regular season Big 10 title? Thanks
Jay Bilas (2:05 PM)
If they start at 0-0 now, then Ohio State has a chance. But, with MSU with a two game cushion, I would favor the Spartans. Turner is the best all-around player in the nation, and is a better rebounding Brandon Roy. After John Wall, I would consider taking him next if I had the second pick in the Draft.
Matt (St Pete FL)
Will the Seminoles make a return trip to the tourney or will or poor guard play and turnover issue keep FSU out?
Jay Bilas (2:07 PM)
The guard play isn't poor, it is just not "Toney Douglas" quality. FSU has outstanding big guys and should continue to play through them, but Derwin Kitchen and Michael Snaer have to continue to play their best and do it consistently. FSU has been outrebounded too many times lately. That is one area that the Seminoles should own....the glass.
What do you think Uconn's chances are realistically on Saturday against Texas?
Jay Bilas (2:09 PM)
If we were always realistic, nobody would want to play or watch half of these games. UConn is good enough to rise up and best Texas, but Texas is the better team. In a seven game series, Texas wins every time. But, if UConn defends and gets out in transition to get easier baskets, the Huskies can win. If it is a halfcourt execution game, Texas will win. Transition defense killed Texas against Kansas State. Their halfcourt and first shot defense was actually pretty good, just too many open shots and easy scores at the point of conversion.
Robert (Centerville, OH)
How does UK match up against Kansas and Texas?
Hey Jay!..How come there was no publicity for UTEP's big win last night? Stopping Memphis' 64-game conference winning streak is a pretty big deal considering they were going for a record 65 straight. UTEP took them down on their homecourt and ESPN completely ignored it. What will a win like that do for a team as talented as UTEP is the rest of the way?
Jay Bilas (2:13 PM)
Favorably, with equal talent. I am in awe of what Kentucky has accomplished to date. I was one that thought that the combination of youth, a new system, and a new coach would make for some inconsistency (like we saw against Miami and Louisville). But, Kentucky keeps getting better and better. And, this team works really hard, tries to do things right, and really gets after it. Can Kentucky win this whole thing? Yes, the Cats can. But, do I still have some concerns that youth will be a factor and perhaps make UK more likely to be upset along the way. Yes to that one, too. Kansas and Texas are far from perfect. KU has not played its best yet, and Texas is not great on the offensive end. Very good at times, but not great.
Jay Bilas (2:15 PM)
Sorry, I hit the wrong item. On the UTEP question that I posted before the UK answer, my guess is that people feel that things are different without Calipari there now. Memphis is not ranked, and it is not as big of a deal. But, it was significant still. UTEP has some SEC quality athletes and a very good team. I have been impressed with the MIners.
Roy (Toms River, NJ)
Didn't Texas look "rattled" against K-State..."rattled" in a way that you don't expect from championship-calibre teams? James didn't exactly "put the team on his back" the way other POY candidates have...
Jay Bilas (2:17 PM)
Everybody can look rattled at times. I have not seen a team this year that looks like a championship caliber team, but I have seen some very good teams that can grow into that. Clearly, somebody has to win the title this year, but there is nobody like North Carolina was last year. And, the top teams of Carolina, UConn, Michigan State, Pitt, Louisville, Villanova and some others were better last year than the top teams are this year. It is just one of those years.
Dustin (Lexington, KY)
There are now speculations that Eric Bledsoe could possibly be a lottery pick for the upcomeing draft. Do you think this will affect his decision to come back to school next year and if he does go how bad will it effect Kentucky's team?
Jay Bilas (2:20 PM)
Will speculation (like Draft stock discussions and mock drafts) affect his decision? Of course it will. These kids want to be pros, and they want to be in the NBA as quickly as possible, ready or not. But, there is nothing we can do about it. There is no accountability for mock drafts or in quoting anonymous sources on a player, and if Bledsoe leaves, it will not be a big deal to UK. Calipari is planning for it, and he will just bring in another great talent behind the players in place now. It is just business.
The Pac 10 is taking its lumps. But how is a conference that saw 15 marquee players leave early for the NBA suppose to sustain success? If all had stayed in school, I think it's safe to say the Pac would have seven teams in the top 25. With that said, which Pac 10 programs do you see returning to prominence and how soon?
Jay Bilas (2:24 PM)
I can sugarcoat it for you, but the Pac-10 is not very good this year. I have seen every team in the league, and very few of them are good teams. When people say parity in college basketball, you can just point to the Pac-10 to refute the suggestion. Some of the games have not been about which team is better, it has been about which team is simply worse. The Oregon v. Oregon State game at Mac Court was simply awful, and if someone didn't have to lose, both would have. Of course player defections affected the league, but that is to be expected. A perfect storm in problems his the Pac-10 this year with players leaving, coaching changes and some recruiting misses. The league will bounce back, but (even if you don't actually watch the games) the non-conference records are proof positive that the league is way down.
Big Boxx (Dallas)
Wesley Johnson (Syracuse) reminds me a lot of Kevin Durrant. Do you believe he'll be that kind of player in the NBA?
Jay Bilas (2:27 PM)
That's a fair comparison, although I would have said he is more like Josh Howard or Shawn Marion with a jumpshot. Johnson is long and athletic, and he is smooth with a really good perimeter shot. The only thing he does not do well is put the ball on the deck and get somewhere with it. He needs to be able to attack the rim off the bounce. If he leaves, he will go in the top ten. If he stays, it could be higher.
Jeff (Chicago, IL)
Hi Jay, it's become so cliche to talk about Wisconsin getting things done with a group of nameless players, but it would seem the Trevon Hughes is one of the best PG's in America that nobody is talking about. Thoughts?
Jay Bilas (2:33 PM)
Trevon Hughes is one tough hombre. The truth is, though, the Badgers should have been had last night in Kohl. Wisconsin played poorly, and Michigan let a great opportunity slip away. I couldn't believe that Michigan couldn't score. If you are going to do nothing but shoot threes, you had better make a few! To score only 48 points was pretty lame, but at least Michigan is finally guarding somebody. The first half of the year, Michigan's defense was poor. But, Wisconsin showed a lot of toughness in winning a game they should have lost. Aren't Wisconsin fans tired of lamenting how underrated its players and coach are" Bo Ryan is the most overrated "underrated coach" and all the announcers do is talk about Hughes when doing a Wisconsin game. We talk about Kohl being a great place that is tough to win in. Here is the bottom line....Wisconsin is one of the best programs in America. Hughes is one of the best guards in America. And, Jon Leuer is one of the best forwards in America. And, Appleton, Wisconsin has one of the best sports banquets and the best people in America in the Red Smith Banquet!! It is a great event!!
Kevin (Chattanooga, TN)
How improved is the SEC this year? So far, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Mississippi all seem to be more solid than any of the SEC teams were last season.
Jay Bilas (2:36 PM)
It is much better than last year. When Kentucky is really good, it lifts the whole profile of the league. The SEC was pretty pedestrian by its high standards last year. This year, UK, UT, Vandy, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State are all NCAA quality teams. I'm a little surprised that LSU isn't more competitive this year, though. In time, Georgia and South Carolina will be back, too.
Ryan (Geneva, IL)
Jay,With Northern Iowa's loss to Wichita State on Tuesday, do you still think there is a good chance they will get an at large if they don't win the conference tournament with wins against Iowa State, Boston College and Sienna in the non conference? And if so what seed do you think they can get? Thanks!
Jay Bilas (2:38 PM)
Northern Iowa will get in. I am convinced that the Panthers are a top forty team, and that is very conservative. With Kwadzo Ahellegbe, Jordan Egelseder and Adam Koch, UNI has some truly outstanding players that have all won before. Wichita State is improved and that is a tough place to win. My guess is that UNI will be in the 6 to 10 range, but I cannot imagine a scenario in which UNI is not in the field (unless the Panthers lose the rest of their games).
What is your take on Scott Drew's removing his team from the floor during KU's starting line-up presentation and then barking "box-out!!!" during KU's free throws??
Jay Bilas (2:42 PM)
I didn't see the line-up intros, so I do not really know what you are talking about. I watched the game with the sound off and the TiVo remote going back and forth looking at different things in the game, so I didn't hear Ron and Hubert talk about anything like that, either. If anyone on the Baylor bench was yelling during free throws to distract the shooter, they probably shouldn't do that in the spirit of good sportsmanship, but it is hardly a big deal. I'm pretty sure that some KU fans were yelling at Baylor shooters, too. Lighten up, Francis!!
Scott (Los Angeles)
Gosh Jay, I am struggling here... I am a Baylor grad and want to be excited about the fact that we played Kansas as tough as we did at their place last night. Does the selection committee look at any "good losses"? Is there even such a thing as a "good loss"? Thanks Jay!
Jay Bilas (2:47 PM)
The Committee looks at every game, or that is the theory. In truth, there is probably no way that every Committee member can be up on every single game that is played. And, every person looks at things differently and values different things in a team. I know people that value the paper more than what they see, and vice versa. The goal is to get the best teams. The result of any one game will not make the difference. The total picture and total body of work is the main thing. If you have two teams, say Baylor and Florida, and there is only one spot left, which team gets it? We can go over good wins and the like, which we should do, but I have seen both teams play multiple times, and I think Baylor is better. My vote would be quick and easy on that one.
Now that Jay Wright is playing 11 guys (who are almost all posting useful stats) in tough Big East games - and resting Scottie Reynolds more than in prior seasons - doesn't that legitimize Villanova's chances of becoming a genuine contender in March? (People who haven't seen them don't believe - at all...)
Jay Bilas (2:50 PM)
Before the season, I picked Villanova to be in the Final Four. I am a believer. The key is the continuing development of the big guys. Yarou, Pena and Sutton have to keep getting better, and I think that they can. The guards are really good, but there needs to be that toughness and edge that was brought by Cunningham, Anderson and Clark. Those three were men. And, they were a big factor in the Final Four run. There are not nearly as many great teams this year as there were last year, and that works in Villanova's favor. And, Scottie Reynolds has been magnificent. He is an example of why seniors are such a joy to watch. Reynolds may not be scoring 30 a game, but his 18 a game is so mature and efficient. He's been great all season.
What do you think about what Lucca Staiger did to Iowa State?
Jay Bilas (2:53 PM)
Very disappointing to see a kid run out on his team and teammates. He made a commitment, and he backed out of it in the middle of the year. I know of no one that would consider that ideal. I hardly consider it an epidemic, though. So far, it is Christian Drejer and Lucca Staiger. The world will not spin off of its axis over those two.
Jay, I don't know if you have seen the top teams of the CAA play this year or not, but the league is very good. William and Mary, VCU, ODU have all beaten some big boys out of conference and Mason and Northeastern are coming on strong right now. This conference deserves multiple bids this year. Your thoughts?
Jay Bilas (2:56 PM)
I would tend to agree that the Colonial has three teams that will be in the mix for an at-large bid. William and Mary (my sister's alma mater), ODU and VCU are all good teams that can beat people. With the Pac-10 down, there are a few extra spots available, and my guess is that mid-majors will benefit this year. There are a bunch of very average majors this year relative to years past, and I think that mid-majors like the three mentioned above and some teams in the Missouri Valley will get better looks because of the relative weakness of some of the major leagues.
Jay, how good can Chris Wright of gtown be?
Jay Bilas (2:58 PM)
He can be a pro. He is strong, can really score, and he has good quicks. I really liked him when I first saw him, and he is continuing to get better. He is among the very best guards in the BIg East this year.
Are the top ACC teams just down this year, or is the ACC seeing the "other" ACC teams getting better? Kind of like the parity the Big East has been seeing over the past few years.
Jay Bilas (3:00 PM)
The top teams are down. Do you honestly think that everyone got better and rose above North Carolina? No way. There is no great team out there. Not one. But, there are some very good ones. It may make for some more interesting games and some unpredictability. And, some people simply cannot tell the difference between a close game and a good game. An example would be Michigan v. Wisconsin last night. It was close, and it was hard fought and competitive, with both teams going after it and trying hard. But, it was poorly played and not a good game. I hope that makes sense to you.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
If you could see that UNC wasn't great, what took the pollsters so long (although it wouldn't surprise me if they kept them at 25 just because)?
Jay Bilas (3:04 PM)
Most pollsters probably thought, like I did, that UNC would get better through the season. I certainly thought I would see more of the UNC team that beat Michigan State and Ohio State. Instead, I am seeing the UNC that is shaken and under-confident right now. And, don't take the polls seriously. A poll is just a collection of diverse views on teams. Some rank according to best teams, others do it by a snapshot of who wins and loses that week, without regard to how a team played. And, some simply have no clue. I'll let you vote as to which group I am in (and you will probably choose the latter!)
Basketball west of the Mississippi seems down this year -- but I caught a BYU game recently -- and they seem REALLY good. Will they get seeded fairly come Selection Sunday?
Jay Bilas (3:07 PM)
It is down. Way down. I cannot recall a year with so many average teams in the West. And, I do like BYU's team. I think that Jimmer Fredette is one of the toughest guards in the country, and Jonathan Tavernari is one of the best Sixth Men, if not the best. But, BYU is not better than they were last year or the year before, in my humble judgment. The rest of the West and the country simply is not quite as good.....yet. There is still time for some teams to improve. Ironically, BYU can advance further, but not be quite as good this year.
Jay, Dan Patrick said this morning that if Duke/UNC had raised in excess of $1 Million for Haiti relief, it would have led SportsCenter. Did it get so little coverage because it was UK and Cal?
Jay Bilas (3:10 PM)
UK's response to the tragedy in Haiti was heartwarming and says a lot of good things about the great people of the Commonwealth and Big Blue Nation. But, please, did you do it to help those in need or to lead SportsCenter? My guess is that it is the former. That is what is important. And, thanks for doing that...you should be commended for your kindness and generosity.
Coach Solo (Mike) (Kansas)
Jay, no question but a comment: As a high school basketball coach we used your "Toughness" article in our player handbook. It is called the Bilas Bible!THANK YOU!!!
Jay Bilas (3:12 PM)
No, thank you for teaching and coaching young people. I am a product of team sports, and there is nothing better. There are few things in a young person's life to match a coach that believes in them. Thanks for the unnecessary compliment....the toughness article was just some things I stole from all of the great coaches I have played for, worked for, and have been around during my career. I am lucky to have been influenced by so many great basketball people....people like you. Thanks.
Jon (Barron, WI)
After watching SYR earlier in the week, do you think they are a legit contender for a final four slot in April?
Jay Bilas (3:14 PM)
YES. I spoke to some of the Notre Dame players after the game, and several of them said that they felt that Syracuse was a Final Four team, and that was not said for attribution like so many fluffy things that are said for television. They were really impressed and so have I been. Syracuse has a real chance. Best chance that Jim Boeheim has had since 2003 to reach a Final Four.
Who's taller, you or Van Pelt?
Jay Bilas (3:18 PM)
The answer is me. That is also the answer to the following questions: Who is better looking? Who is stronger? Who is smarter? Who is the better athlete? Just kidding....SVP is one of the great guys you will ever meet. He is a Maryland grad, and bleeds Terp red. Also, as funny and genuine a guy as you will meet. But, I am taller (and stronger, more athletic, and better looking) Thanks for stopping by my chat this week. See you next week! Best, Bilas