LEXINGTON, Ky. — If you haven’t listened to Episode 1 of Everybody’s Superpod, what are you waiting for? ESPN’s Jay Bilas was our first guest, and among the many Kentucky basketball topics covered, here’s a fun one: Against national title contenders Villanova, Kansas, Duke, UCLA and Louisville, who would Bilas pick (as of today) in a game against the Cats on a neutral court?
Here are his abbreviated answers, but be sure to listen to the full podcast, in which Bilas also talks (hilariously) about his early acting career, what impresses him so much about De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, why he loves John Calipari and how he’ll remember the 38-1 Wildcats.
VILLANOVA: “I would take Villanova, but just by a hair. Just because they’re older and they’ve got that sort of older leadership and they’ve been there before and they’re just so solid. But that’s an awfully close game we’re talking about.”
KANSAS: “Oh, I would take Kentucky in that one. Kansas, their big guys are not great, and that’s where they kind of fall down a little bit. Their guards are outstanding, and I think their record is actually better than their team has performed, if that makes sense. If it weren’t for those two guards, they would’ve suffered four or five losses by now.”
DUKE: “As of today, it would be Kentucky. I expected Duke to be great; they have not been that. They haven’t been healthy, they’ve had this whole Grayson Allen business, which is the oddest thing I’ve seen in all my years of basketball, and now Coach K is out for a period of time. So they’ve had one thing after another, but the other thing they don’t have, which maybe I discounted early, is they don’t have a true point guard, and I do think that affects them against the best competition that they’ve played.”
UCLA: “I would put UCLA ahead of Kentucky a little bit right now. Kentucky’s defense is starting to come on a little bit better, but I think if UCLA starts playing better defense, they score it so easily. I used to be one of those defense-wins-championships guys … but you better be able to score in today’s game … because you can’t expect to get stops and get shutouts and consecutive stops against great teams when the chips are down. You’re going to have to be able to score.”
LOUISVILLE: “Kentucky. Louisville beat Kentucky in that game in the Yum! Center and Louisville played great. They shot the ball really well, especially Quentin Snider, and Deng Adel had a really good game. That’s not been the way they’ve played throughout the course of the year. They’ve been fabulous defensively, but they’re one of those teams that scoring is a game-to-game thing as to how they’re going to shoot it. So I would favor Kentucky, especially on a neutral floor.”