– espn’s jay bilas gives his take on michigan basketball, big ten in general west la college catalog

ESPN’s jay bilas appeared on a conference call tuesday afternoon, and discussed the biggest topics in college basketball heading into next week’s NCAA tournament.

Unsurprisingly, michigan — who is arguably the hottest team in the entire country after winning the big ten tournament — was discussed at length during the call.

Here is what bilas said about the wolverines, while also giving his thoughts on the big ten in general: what makes john beilein’s michigan teams so tough to prepare for come march every year?

“I don’t know that they’re tough to prepare for in just march — every team is tough to prepare for in march. Offensively, michigan runs a lot of cutting where they spread the floor and shoot a lot of threes.

Opponents can get into a defensive mindset where they start chasing them around, which makes it difficult.This year

"As far as michigan’s scoring is concerned, it basically comes down to whether or not they’re hitting from three, because they’re not a team who gets to the free throw line very often. They’re also not a good offensive rebounding team.

"The difference this year isn’t their offense though — their offense actually isn’t as good as it has been in the past — but they’re a way better defensive team than they have been in a long time. One of the reasons is because they rebound — they don’t offensive rebound, but they defensive rebound well and limit you to just one shot. They’re very capable defensively because they’re a little more athletic than they’ve been, they do a great job staying in front of the ball and they don’t help quite as much as they have in the past.They don’t they also have good size.

"Michigan isn’t a shot blocking team, so they don’t protect the rim, but they protect the lane very well. It’s hard to get to the basket on them, and they do a good job of making teams take contested shots. They do all this without fouling — they’ll put you on the line a little bit, maybe more than john beilein wants — but for the most part, they make you take more difficult shots than you would normally take. That’s the sign of a good defense.” can you see michigan making a final four run?

“sure. They’re more than capable. Getting to the final four means you have to win four games — it’s essentially whether or not you can win two four-team tournaments. Michigan can clearly function in a tournament setting, because they’ve won their conference tournament the last two years.This year

"Last year’s NCAA tournament run was — I don’t want to say a surprise — but they ran into a great oregon team and only lost by one point. Like I said, oregon was outstanding last year.

"There are a number of teams capable of beating michigan this year, but there are very few — if any — that michigan isn’t capable of beating. That has to be a good feeling going into the tournament.” if the big ten has success in the NCAA tournament, will it change the overall perception that the league had a down year?

“leagues are usually judged by how well their best teams do in the postseason. Last year, for example, gonzaga went to the national championship game, but I don’t think anyone then started saying the west coast conference was one of the best conferences in the country.NCAA tournament

"I don’t have a problem with saying the big ten is down this year — top to bottom, it’s not as good as it has been. But the teams at the top are really good. If the top schools — michigan state, purdue and michigan — wind up in the final four, it doesn’t make the league any better than we thought it was during the year. Our eyes are not lying to us. We rank the top teams where they deserve to be ranked, and they’ve proven how good they are, but the rest of the league deserves to be where we’ve ranked them as well.

"This is where I’ve always laughed — those people saying the big ten is down aren’t idiots now, and they weren’t idiots when they were saying the big ten was great in years past. The league isn’t having its best year, but its best teams can still have a great tournament, go to the final four and win a national championship.NCAA tournament

"We’ve also had years where the ACC was the best league in the country and a number of their teams got knocked out in the first weekend. How you do in the tournament is not representative of how good your league was."