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ESPN Analyst Jay Bilas: “I Think Duke Is A Good Team, But They’re Not Final Four Caliber”

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(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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The Drive Thursday 2-14-13 -Jay Bilas from ESPN recaps the UNC vs Duke game with the guys.  They get into how the different line up for the Tar Heels affected this game, if he thinks Duke is a Final Four favorite, and they get into the 49ers chances of getting to the tournament with their win over Butler last night.

After another fantastic chapter in the Duke and North Carolina Rivalry, Jay Bilas first described the atmosphere present in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“I thought it was really good. The crowd was great and it was loud, but I thought it just a normal Duke Carolina game, in that regard.”

The Tar Heels have struggled for much of the season leading up to the Duke game, but fared pretty well against the #2 team in the nation. So we were anxious to see if he thought this was the real North Carolina team.

I don’t know, given the inconsistency of any team, but especially North Carolina this year, that they’re anything all the time. So I’m not there is a real North Carolina team… What I really liked was that small lineup they started with… I thought it was really effective… And I like the fight they had. They fought all game long and I thought was really impressive.”

He mentioned the change in lineup for UNC and we wondered, given the success, if it should be considered as a permanent change moving forward.

“If it were me, I would take a good, long, hard look to see if that was something that could be used all the time.”

The Tar Heels have been a frustrating team defensively, but Wednesday night they were able to keep one of the best perimeter shooting teams in check. So we asked Jay where this effort has been all year.

“I think North Carolina is an improving defensive team. They scored so easily over the last several years since Roy Williams has been there. I think you can be critical of their defense because it’s not as intense as some other teams, because they have fewer possessions. I think it’s harder to have the defensive intensity possession by possession when you have so many possessions in a game… I think their defense was really good because of how hard they played. The attitude they brought into the game, they played with a fearlessness.”

Switching over to the Blue Devils’ side of things, we asked Jay what was the most impressive aspect about the game for Duke.

“I think in the second half they came out and fought back a little bit. They could’ve folded up and didn’t. I think Duke is a good team… I don’t think we’re looking at a team that’s Final Four caliber… Even though it sounds like I’m not being respectful of their record, I’m really impressed that they’ve done this.”

If he doesn’t think Duke, one of the best teams in the ACC, is a Final Four contender, that could only speak to the real lack of quality that exists in the conference this season.

“I don’t think the ACC is good this year, to be honest with you. If you look at the talent across the board, and say let’s look at the all ACC team and then compare it to years passed, I don’t think this year’s all ACC team would compare favorably… One of the only teams you could say this team’s better than they’ve been in awhile is Miami. Outside of that, you’re talking about a league that is down, frankly… It’s a good league, but it’s not great.”

The local team here in Charlotte had a huge win on the road over 11th ranked Butler, but was that signature win enough to get them into the NCAA tournament?

“No, it’s not. It’s helpful… but when you look at some of the metrics, it’s to be difficult for Charlotte if they don’t continue to win at a high level… I think they’ve done an extraordinary job to win the games they’ve played… It’s a step in the direction. That’s a really good win for Charlotte, but they’ve lost 6 or 7 games and their wins are underwhelming.”

And finally, on his way out the door, he gave us his thoughts on who, in the collegiate game, might be a good fit for the Charlotte Bobcats.

“I think one of the guys that I would be really high on drafting, no matter where I could get him, would be Anthony Bennett, out of UNLV. I think Bennett’s the real thing… He’s the closest closest thing I’ve seen to Larry Johnson… I think that is just going to get better and better and better, and if it were me, I can’t think of very many players that I’d take ahead of him.”

You can follow Jay Bilas on Twitter here @JayBilas.

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