On the eve of Pitt's huge game against Villanova (which will be televised as part of ESPN's Game Day), the good folks in ESPN's communications department reached out and offered up one of their personalities for an interview or Q&A.
Jay Bilas? No thanks, I'll take a pass.
Actually I couldn't say yes fast enough. I'm certainly not saying this just because Jay participated, but Bilas is probably my favorite analyst/commentator on ESPN in a dead heat with Bobby Knight. He's smart, informative, and (and we love this here) always has great things to say about Pitt. Plus, even though he played in the ACC, he's not biased.
With the game coming up, I was on a bit of a tight deadline and am in the midst of a crazy week, so I kept it short. But if I get to do this again, hopefully I can get some audio up or host a longer version.
That said, here's Cardiac Hill's brief exchange with Jay:
Cardiac Hill: Pitt has the best record in the Big East, but give me a couple of sleepers in the league who could do some damage in the NCAAs.
Jay Bilas: Because of guard play, Villanova could be a really tough out in the NCAA Tournament, and the Wildcats are defending better without fouling this season. Notre Dame is very skilled at every position, and has better length and versatility this season.
Cardiac Hill: Ashton Gibbs is seen as Pitt's leader, but because he doesn't put up huge numbers, he is often left off All-Big East first-team lists. Who is your All-Big East team (five players) to this point in the season? (Give him a pass, he didn't really answer this one)
Jay Bilas: It is surprising that Gibbs is not seen by more people as one of the top ten guards in the nation. Perhaps it is because Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is so understated, and so are his players. Gibbs is one of the most productive and efficient guards in the country, and his team has been incredibly successful.
Cardiac Hill: Jamie Dixon and Jay Wright are two of basketball's hottest coaches. Do you think either will become 'lifers' at their current job and retire with their respective school?
Jay Bilas: Every coach serves at the pleasure of his administration, but I believe that Jamie and Jay will be able to stay for as long as they choose at their respective schools. The problem is keeping them when so many others will covet their services. The good news is that other employers are interested because your programs are really good.
Cardiac Hill: The NCAA tournament is such a crap shoot, but give Pitt fans a reason to think this is the year they finally break out and get to a Final Four?
Jay Bilas: I thought that 2009 was the year, and I thought that Pitt team was better than this one. But, this Pitt team is deeper, better shooters, and is playing in a season without a truly great team. I think that Pitt has a great chance to reach Houston.
Cardiac Hill: In your eyes, what is the key matchup for the Pitt-Nova game?
Jay Bilas: I think the match-ups up front are really important. Pitt is one of the best rebounding teams in the country, and the Panthers have a distinct size and depth advantage. The team that controls the glass will have a great chance to win.
SB Nation's Villanova blog, aptly titled 'The Nova Blog', also has a Q&A with Bilas. Check out theirs here.