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January 26, 11:07 AM ET
Chat with Jay Bilas

Jay Bilas
  (3:45 PM)

Hey everybody, I'm ready to go. I am here early today, and sorry for being late last week. Tough travel day (is that an excuse I am making?). Let's go!

Andrew (Highland Park, New Jersey)

Jay, why do analysts frequently comment on UK needing to get back to an elite 'level', and in the same sentence mention what a good job Tubby Smith did here? Sounds like a contradiction to me.

Jay Bilas
  (3:50 PM)

UK is one of the greatest programs of all-time, and has been great for so many years that it has become an expectation that UK will be in the Top 20 annually and in the Final Four every so often. Tubby Smith is credited with doing a great job because he did a great job. He won a National Championship in 1998 (and save the Pitino's players routine) and he had his team in the Elite 8 a few times. In 2003, Tubby would have been in the Final Four if not for the injury to Keith Bogans, in my judgment. In my humble opinion, Tubby did not recruit some kids because he grew tired of off court issues that had been troubling him, and during his last few years there he proved how great of a coach he is. I am not surprised at how well he is doing at Minnesota. Tubby Smith is one of the finest coaches and finest people I know. It is not a contradiction. Thanks for the question.

Ben (Lincoln, NE)

Jay, do you think Doc Sadler deserves some credit for how he has the Nebraska team playing? They haven't had that big upset yet, but they have beat Missouri and Kansas St. and given Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. and Kansas all three fits before losing close games all while undersized and out talented.

Jay Bilas
  (3:52 PM)

Doc Sadler is an outstanding coach. People may not like to hear this, but it is tough to recruit basketball players to Nebraska. Doc is doing a really fine job, and will continue to do really well. I think really highly of Doc as a coach and a person. He does things right.

Chris (Holland, MI)

What do you think of Michigans chances showing there inconsistencies throughout the season? Do they have a shot at the NCAA Tourney

Jay Bilas
  (3:55 PM)

If Michigan misses the NCAA Tournament it would be really unfortunate. This is not a great year for really good teams, and the Pac-10 and SEC are down. With wins over UCLA and Duke, I still think it near impossible for Michigan to miss the field. John Beilein is a really good coach, and he will guide the team through this. There are a lot of games left. I cannot imagine a collapse that would cause Michigan to miss the NCAA's. Keep the faith.

Dave (Springfield)

Jay, your thoughts on the recent meltdowns of Georgetown, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Notre Dame? Seems at least two could miss the NCAAs. As of now, who would be your favorites to replace them?

Jay Bilas
  (3:58 PM)

Chill on the "meltdown" talk. These teams have hit tough stretches, especially with schedules. And, they have been right there to win games. Notre Dame was a possession away from beating Louisville at Louisville, and had the last shot. Syracuse had two starters out against Providence (who is WAY better than people think...that team is all seniors and now have a healthy Sharaud Curry). Could a team on this list miss the NCAA Tournament? Perhaps, but it is still too early to count them out. All were ranked two weeks ago.

j rock

Blake Griffin is a solid player, a poor man's Hansborough, but Oklahoma plays an easy schedule. How much will this hurt them in the tourney?

Jay Bilas
  (4:00 PM)

Solid player? Blake Griffin is the best player in the nation, without reasonable argument. Tyler Hansbrough is a great college player, but there is not an NBA executive alive or dead that would take Hansbrough over Griffin. Not one. On the schedule, I think that OU has been challenged. This team is very good, and with Griffin, I would not put them out of the discussion for Detroit.

Justin (Cincinnati)

Jay, do you think the rough Big East schedule will help teams in the end or is there a chance the brutal schedule will wear teams down come March (i.e. GT, ND, and Syracuse)

Jay Bilas
  (4:01 PM)

I think it will be both. ND and Georgetown could get beat up mentally by it, and both have to really fight back coming up. February is a toughness check for each team. That league is an absolute bear. By far the best (one through twelve) in the country. By far.

Jason (Denver)

What has happened to Maryland? 6 years removed from a national championship to not even competing in the ACC. Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel?

Jay Bilas
  (4:03 PM)

I do. It has to do with players. Maryland does not have any real big guys this year, and that is killing the Terps. When Gary Williams gets some better players, he will be fine. And, he has a 6-10, 250 kid coming in next year that just got 53 in a game in high school. Help is on the way.

Kirk Cleveland Ohio

Jay - Big Ten is much improved this year - is that due to the influx of solid coaching the last few years?

Jay Bilas
  (4:04 PM)

Coaching and players. There is no coach that can win without good players. There are a lot of really good coaches in the Big Ten.

Robert (Bronx, NY)

Jay, an officiating question. Can someone do something to limit the number of games these guys work in a week/month/season? Last night was a certain officials 7th game in 8 nights. Thanks for your thoughts

Jay Bilas
  (4:06 PM)

No. Referees are independent contractors and can work as often as they like. I agree with you that they work too much. Several of them are also too heavy. But, with so many colleges, there are not enough good officials to go around. I n the NBA, there are only 30 teams and officials work for the league and can be better policed. That will never happen in college. Too many legal issues to tie them to one conference or to the NCAA.

Sal (Long Beach,Ca.)

Jay! what do you think about the Illinois turn around and what damage do you see them doing in the NCAA? if they make it of course. Thanks.

Jay Bilas
  (4:07 PM)

Great job by Bruce Weber. He is a really good coach, and I think that Illinois can be a potential Sweet 16 team, but are probably a year away from going beyond that. I think that Alex Legion can be a really good player, but he needs time.

Jon (DC)

Hi Jay, Watching the big east the player i'm the most impressed by is Terrence Williams. The guy is just a basketball player plain and simple and I think he can succeed at the NBA level. I know a lot of draft guru's aren't that high on him, but what do you think about his chances at the next level?

Jay Bilas
  (4:09 PM)

Terrence is a pro. He does everything but shoot it consistently. I think he can be a decent shooter, because he has a good stroke, but he has not been a really good shooter in college. I love the kid, and think he is one of the best players in the country. He can be a great defender, too.

Tim (Tempe, AZ)

Do you think ASU can win the Pac-10 this year?

Jay Bilas
  (4:10 PM)

I do. But, James Harden cannot have a bad game. He is really important to this team, and has to produce. I think that Jeff Pendergraph is really efficient and is one of the hardest working big men I have been around.

Pete (NC)

So you're saying a 10/11 loss ND or Georgetown makes the tournament? That is very generous.

Jay Bilas
  (4:12 PM)

Pete, they have to take 65 teams. With the schedules these teams have played, they should get good credit for playing well in a close loss. The standard is the 34 best teams, not the 34 teams with the best records. There is a difference. Plus, the mid-major level is not going to produce a ton of at-large teams this year.

Billy Gillispie (Lexington)

Jay, why does everyone keep saying the reason my Kentucky team lost because of Jodie Meeks? Wouldn't you say they lost because of their poor defense which is rarity?

Jay Bilas
  (4:13 PM)

If Jodie Meeks scores, and he has to for UK to win, then UK beats Mississippi. The Wildcats have two great players and very little else. I know Billy is protecting his team, but the reporter's question was a fair one. The defense was not all that poor, The offense was.

Scott (Cleveland, Oh)

Love the work you do! Love the details and analysis. Watched Washington the other day - solid attacking offense but that defense only looked fair. Will that mix last long run in March?

Jay Bilas
  (4:15 PM)

Washington is much improved on the defensive end. It is still not a great defensive team, but much better. The Huskies can score and have very solid guards in Thomas and Dentmon. I have been really impressed with the improvement in defense.

Dixon (Salina, UT)

Does Utah State have a chance at an at-large bid if they don't win the conference tournament?

Jay Bilas
  (4:16 PM)

Of course. But, the Aggies will have to continue to play very well. The league does not provide quite as many big time games to bolster a tournament resume. I really like Stew Morrill. He is a really good coach.

Kevin (L.A.)

Jay, I completely agree with the "chill on the meltdown" talk. Villanova lost 5 straight in January last year but pulled it together and had a better-than-expected showing in the tourney. Anything can happen over the next 6 weeks.

Jay Bilas
  (4:18 PM)

And, if I might pat myself on the back, I spend most of last February saying Villanova was an NCAA team. I saw them a lot, and that was a good team. This year's Cats should be there as well. Still a lot of time left. Teams taking gas now will play better, and teams flying high will crash, too.

Steve (Tampa)

Jay, how come UCLA is still ranked so high even though their best win to date is against a mediocre Miami (OH)?

Jay Bilas
  (4:21 PM)

UCLA is a good team. They are not as good as last year, though. I'm not sure that Miami (OH) was the best win, though. USC and Arizona are both better, off the top of my head. So is Washington State. UCLA will be among the Top 25 all year.

Dan (Hartford)

How would Uconn fare against any of the top 3 ACC teams (wake, duke, unc), do their styles match up in favor of a huskies win?

Jay Bilas
  (4:23 PM)

UConn would fare very well in the ACC, and each of the teams you mentioned would fare well in the Big East. All can win, but I would put the teams in this order of "best teams by March": North Carolina, UConn, Wake, Duke. That would be one heckuva Final Four.

Eric (Tallahassee)

Tough loss for FSU last night, what do they need to do in the ACC to make the tournament? How much credit do they get for such a close loss to UNC?

Jay Bilas
  (4:25 PM)

If they have other good wins, some decent credit. I truly believe that FSU's past will follow them into the Committee room. I thought that FSU gave the game away at the end with the turnover and foul and the challenged shots near the end. But, what a defensive play by Green and Hansbrough did a great job guarding Toney Douglas on the last two plays.

Jose (Coral Gables)

Jay, Villanova finally won a game in the top 25 and appear to be a team on the rise. When is Daunte Cunningham going to get the national exposure he deserves?

Jay Bilas
  (4:26 PM)

As soon as people spell his name correctly. Just kidding. I think that Dante is one of the most improved players in the nation, and he is tough as nails.

Todd (Toledo Ohio)

Watched Butler the other day - they have no one that screams NBA but what a great team approach. Can they do damage in March?

Jay Bilas
  (4:28 PM)

Butler can beat you, and is very disciplined. Gordon Hayward is a terrific shooter and Matt Howard is a tough inside player. Brad Stevens has really done a nice job with that program (Collier, Matta, Lickliter and now Stevens have done great jobs).

Corey G (Pittsburgh PA)

Jay Bilas is crafty

Jay Bilas
  (4:29 PM)

You, sir, know the game.

Cedric (Baltimore, MD)

Talk a little bit about Sherron Collins. I think he's gotta mean more to his squad than almost any other point guard. Also, what do you think of his prospects as a pro?

Jay Bilas
  (4:30 PM)

Well said. Sherron is as tough as they come, and he is as valuable as any guard to his team. Collins can be a pro and probably will be one, but he is small. That is an issue for him. I love him as a college guard, though, and he has been at his best in his biggest games.

Trevor, Chicago

Jay, So far you've got every coach as "really good" or "outstanding". And I'm sure they are, or they wouldn't have jobs. But time to put you on the spot: best coach out of this carousel a few years back: Williams, Self or Weber?

Jay Bilas
  (4:32 PM)

In this order Roy, Bill and Bruce. Really good list, huh? And, if you want me to criticize somebody, ask me about somebody that isn't very good. I am happy to slam someone for you. Or, you can listen to the radio and hear people get slammed for doing really well. Your choice.

James (Durham, NC)

What are your thoughts on Xavier? That 4 RPI really jumps out for a team that I tend to forget about once conference play heats up.

Jay Bilas
  (4:34 PM)

Very solid. Excellent on the defensive end and they really get to the free throw line. CJ Anderson is a tough nut, and Derrick Brown is terrific. But, this is not a really good offensive team or shooting team. That is the one thing that could cost them.

Todd (Boston, MA)

How has Darrin Horn been able to get so much more out of virtually the same South Carolina team that performed so poorly for Dave Odom the year before?

Jay Bilas
  (4:35 PM)

The players are older and have a new system, and Darrin Horn is very good. Plus, the SEC is not nearly as good as it has been. I think Dave Odom would rather play against this league instead of the one he had to coach in.

Ralph Sampson

Perfect celebrity death match. Jay Bilas vs. Kirk Herbstreit. By the way, I still haunt you in your dreams at night.

Jay Bilas
  (4:37 PM)

Very true. You dunked on me so hard once that it still vibrates my skull. I would pin Herbie early because I do not fear getting my face all marked up. He is too pretty to get in the ring with me. He is also the best analyst in any sport.

Matt (Yo Philly)

Jay, AJ Price is the best point guard in the country, he is the floor leader and go to guy on the best team in the country. You cant disagree?

Jay Bilas
  (4:43 PM)

A.J. Price is among the best, along with Jonny Flynn, Darren Collison, Tyrese Rice, Ty Lawson, Nick Calathes, Sherron Collins, Kalin Lucas, Patrick Mills, Eric Maynor and Levance Fields. Although he would not be the best pro, I would take Collison to run the point for me. Tough call, isn't it?

yo momma

have you won "biggest stud annoucer" award yet?

Jay Bilas
  (4:43 PM)

Closet full of them.

robert (east lansing)

Michigan State when it is all said and done will be a __ seed in the tourny and will make it to the ___.

Jay Bilas
  (4:43 PM)

2 and Elite Eight

Adam (NYC)

Hey Jay, what is your take on Gonzaga. Is is unfortunate they don't get to play top 25 teams the way big conferences do on a regular basis to become more battle tested. Is this a final 4 capable team?

Jay Bilas
  (4:45 PM)

Very good team that has the chops to be in the Final Four mix. But, the team must get tougher, and Austin Daye must mature. He is really good, but needs to become much tougher. He has greatness in him.

Jason (Louisville)

Hey Jay future question for you. Tough to say Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson both stay next year, but if they do are they a legitamite top 5 team with their recruits coming in next year?

Jay Bilas
  (4:47 PM)

If they stay, UK will certainly be a Top 20 team or better. But, with a weak draft this year, what are the chances of that? It would be great if they stayed, though. I love watching them play. Patterson is such a tough kid, and Meeks is one of my favorite players. He never changes his expression or gets rattled.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

Can you believe that Cornley from PSU is only 6'4"? The kid plays much bigger than that, doesn't he?

Jay Bilas
  (4:48 PM)

He does. Long arms and athleticism are good things. Plus, he has good guards to play with. Talor Battle and Stanley Pringle are very good. That is a much improved team. Best PSU team since Crispin's.

Andy (San Jose)

Jay, could you share your thoughts on the job Johnny Dawkins is doing at Stanford right now? They are 13-4 overall, though not too many big wins (Cal, AZ). Do you think they have a shot at the tourney?

Jay Bilas
  (4:50 PM)

Johnny is doing an excellent job. Only two one-point losses at UW and WSU plus a bad performance against Oregon State is keeping this team out of the Top 25. Small team, but very tough. Kind of like Johnny.

Chris (Hartford, CT)

There's no way UConn stumbles against PC this weekend is there? They are facing the prospect of being #1 in the country, and are hungry for revenge from the 2 losses last year. With that motivation and superior size and quickness, it should be a blow out.

Jay Bilas
  (4:51 PM)

UConn can stumble against anyone if they don't come out and play their best. That is true of anyone. I think the Huskies are Final Four good, but still must defend and punch the ball inside more often.

Drew (Gainesville, FL)

After ripping out half my hair after losing to USC, Billy's really gotten the Gators to respond to that loss. If he guides this sometimes mentally fragile team to an SEC title does he finally win a Coach of the Year in the SEC?

Jay Bilas
  (4:54 PM)

Coach of the Year awards should be voted upon by coaches only. The media can't identify a good coach without seeing that coach in the NCAA Tournament. Billy Donovan used to get a lot of heat, then he won two titles and was a genius. How does that work? Billy is the real thing, and he is doing a good job brining along a young team. The Gators will be in the NCAA Tournament. Plus, how good would they be with Marreese Speights? He went a tad early.

Sean (The Main Line)

Jay, after last night's big win, do you think Villanova will be a team able to make a relatively deep run in the tourney?

Jay Bilas
  (4:55 PM)

What is relatively deep? I think this is a good team that can beat anyone. But, a lot depends upon match-ups. This team is going to get better before the end of the year. I like Jay Wright's team.

Kevin, Tempe

Jay, you're the most unbiased and informational person on ESPN. So I wanted to thank you for that. Also, Who do you like in the Zags/Gaels matchup tonight. And, how do you see the Zags finishing up the year?

Jay Bilas
  (4:58 PM)

Thanks, Dad. I think the Gaels will win fall a bucket short in this one, and if any team will be like Davidson, it will be Saint Mary's. But, I think that Gonzaga will be the best team in the league by March. These teams will split the home and home. Probably. Please, no wagering.

Wayne Ellington

Should I be concerned after North Carolina nearly blew the game vs Florida Sate. We were on a role now we are back where we started?

Jay Bilas
  (5:00 PM)

Remember, UNC had to go to overtime to beat FSU in Tallahassee last year, and things turned out okay. Plus, the Heels shot under 40% and won. Not all bad on that front, chief. I still think the Heels are the best bet to reach Detroit. No guarantees from there.

Chris (Providence)

Will Providence be dancing in march?

Jay Bilas
  (5:00 PM)

Wouldn't they rather be playing?

Mitchell (Guadalajara, Mexico)

Honest opinion - does Gary Williams deserve to keep his job?

Jay Bilas
  (5:02 PM)

Si. Gary WIlliams is a GREAT coach that will be in the Hall of Fame. Is he pleased that his team has not played well by his standards over the last three years? No. Can Maryland do better than Gary Williams? No way, Jose.

Andrew (Providence)

How about a real answer. Do you think that PC will make the NCAA tournament this year?

Jay Bilas
  (5:03 PM)

The win over Syracuse was a really good first step. Right now, Notre Dame would get in before PC. But, there is time. A lot of time.

Lawyer Brad, Milwaukee

Jay, who are you billing this time to? Better question, who am I billing this time to?

Jay Bilas
  (5:04 PM)

I sincerely hope you are in a very boring CLE course right now. I am not billing this time, as far as you know.

Sherron Collins

Me and my boys have now improved to 5-0 in the conference with an overall record of 16-4. Two of our losses have come to top 10 Mich St. as well as Syracuse, Why are we getting no love from the polls?

Jay Bilas
  (5:06 PM)

Dude, every pollster had you in the Top 5 all year last year. Do you think it is a bias against the Jayhawks? Did the pollsters get a bad burger at The Wheel (not possible, by the way)? Maybe people think that KU is just outside of the best 25 teams. They will be back in soon. Polls are meaningless. those are important!

Will (Indy)

Name 5 teams that you thoroughly enjoy watching whenever they play. Please list in alphabetical order(testing that Duke education).

Jay Bilas
  (5:11 PM)

I will leave out the truly obvious answers: Butler Kansas Louisville Michigan State Wake Forest Would you like best players in pig latin?

Jesse (Raleigh, NC)

I am a wake alum. Wake is not a #1 team yet, but their potential is scary if they work on offensive execution and energy down the stretch. Can they grow up enough by March to win?

Jay Bilas
  (5:14 PM)

Good question. Wake has everything except experience. That was one heck of an effort against Duke after the Tech loss. Not many young teams would bounce back like that, and not many young teams would respond so well after losing a big lead down the stretch. The sky is the limit for this team. It can be the best in the nation, or it can be just in the Top Ten. This is an outstanding group, and Dino Gaudio is doing a GREAT job with them.

Drew (Detroit)

Jay, I don't get it: what are the "truly obvious answers"? Was that a knock on the teams you listed?

Jay Bilas
  (5:14 PM)

Duke and North Carolina, the most televised teams. Nothing other than that was meant.


Would you be in favor of adding the NBA restricted area rule into college ball? I think it would be great for players and make it easier on the the zebras.

Jay Bilas
  (5:15 PM)

YES. Too many charges are being called, and it is ridiculous. It is not the officials fault because they are being told to do it. But, there is no excuse for a charge to be given under the basket. What a joke.

Mike (Colby, KS)

Have you considered going back into coaching seriously? I think you would be a great coach somewhere!

Jay Bilas
  (5:16 PM)

I still get offers from time to time, but the only team I would be qualified to coach right now would be the Washington Generals. That is the team that plays the Harlem Globetrotters, and the coach gets fired if he wins a game.


Do you see a feed of everyone's questions and then pick which ones you want to answer or how does that work?? Just curious why you answer some and skip others - I don't see any pattern?

Jay Bilas
  (5:19 PM)

I do. There are some great questions that are too long, some profane questions, some questions that take shots at people that are over the top, and some downright stupid ones. Most are very good. So far, I have culled through over 900 questions. The only thing I won't do is take a question that is disrespectful of someone or a question that is asked over and over and over again. A few times, okay. Over and over again bums me out. And, there is no pattern, I answer what catches my attention.

Todd (Cincinnati)

To add to the post about rule changes, what other rules in NCAA would you like to see changed?

Jay Bilas
  (5:21 PM)

I hate lane violations. If the FTA goes in, who cares whether a player stepped in early? That should be called only on a miss. I also would like to see the intentional foul gone. A foul should be flagrant or not, based on whether contact is excessive. Who cares if someone fouls without making a play on the ball? They foul that way at the end of games and we call it strategy? Why do we make that distinction?

Brian (Jersey)

Why do you say that Speights went a tad early. Hollinger has him as one of the most efficient rookies this year. He isnt quite getting the minutes of some of the other rookies, but he is developing very nicely this year.

Jay Bilas
  (5:24 PM)

Good call on the question. I believe that if he had stayed, he would be a much higher pick and a much better pro because of it. If you recall, I had Speights listed much higher on my Best Available List than he was drafted, and thought he was a real value at 16. He did not make a bad decision. I just feel that he could have done better by staying in school. He took a risk. That is all I was saying. Thanks for asking me to clear that up. Good call.

Ivan (Philadelphia)

Everyone talks about Stephen Curry. He's obviously an excellent player from a small school. What about Lester Hudson from Tennessee-Martin? If he can lead his team to an Ohio Valley Championship, could he possibly be third team All-American?

Jay Bilas
  (5:25 PM)

Very good player and can be a pro. I think that Curry is better, though. It is not disrespectful to Hudson to say that.

Katy (DC)

Jay, Saturday is my birthday, and I just want Georgetown to win. What are the chances that the Hoyas get back on a winning streak by beating Marquette?

Jay Bilas
  (5:26 PM)

Yes. Confidence is a mysterious thing. So is being "hot". It is hard to explain how Georgetown can lose four in a row after beating UConn like they did. You have to stay on top of your game constantly.

Heffe (Chicago, IL)

Who are your favorite coaches to watch?

Jay Bilas
  (5:28 PM)

There is not a coach I don't enjoy watching. I always learn something from the coaches I am with. Thanks for the chat! See you next week!!