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Jim Sez : 2/10/2011
THURSDAY'S BIG GAME THREESOME GOES 2-1!
COLLEGE BASKETBALL NEWS & NOTES: DUKE DIGS DOWN DEEP AND TOPS THE UNC TAR HEELS 79-73 PLUS WE HAVE THREE UNDER-THE-RADAR HOOP TEAMS TO WATCH (RIGHT NOW AND THEN IN MARCH, TOO!) ...
FOLKS, THE FOOTBALL SEASON'S OVER BUT THAT DOESN'T STOP US FROM LOOKING AHEAD TO NFL '11 AS WE CHECK IN ON THE "ODDS TO WIN IT ALL"
By Jim Hurley:
Okay, so if you haven't yet been "into" this 2010-11 College Basketball Season than hopefully you had an awakening with Wednesday night's terrific Tobacco Road showdown - Duke's come-from-way-behind (as in 16 points) 79-73 non-cover win against 10-point underdog North Carolina was a real "beaut" for hoop geeks as the Blue Devils rode the 34-point performance by All-America guard Nolan Smith and 22 points from frosh G Seth Curry to strike up one of the best wins for any major-college team thus far this year.
Heck, if you read our North Carolina-Duke preview in Jim Sez than you know we stressed the fact that the Tar Heels had to hold off Duke surges at the start of both halves - mission accomplished to start the game but not the case after intermission when the Dookies ran off an 18-6 spurt (Curry's long-range jumpers were the key here) and so the young-and-talented Heels found out just how tough it is to win at Cameron Indoor Stadium and boy, was the pain etched on UNC head coach Roy Williams' face the whole second half!
Maybe the best thing about this Duke win was that the Devils prevailed despite an awful game by senior star Kyle Singler who nailed a mere 3-of-17 field-goal tries and scored only 10 points in 40 minutes - so do you think that Mike Krzyzewski fellow can coach ... or what!
And now hear this: One of the College Basketball questions that gets tossed out on an annual basis is this: Is there some under-the-radar club that can make a run in the NCAA Tournament?
Well, we all know that each/every year there is at least one team that comes from the proverbial woodwork and wins two or three games in the tourney - hey, last year the Butler Bulldogs wound up getting all the way to the Championship Game but it was the likes of Saint Mary's (two tournament wins last year) that really stole lots of hearts as most folks had the 2009-10 Gaels gone in the first round ... remember?
So, with this above-mentioned question in mind we check out a trio of teams that fall under the category of "most underrated" and than keep these clubs in mind when/if they make it into this year's field of 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL NEWS & NOTES: UNDER-THE-RADAR SQUADS
FLORIDA STATE (16-7, 6-3 ACC) - So how come nobody out there talks up the Seminoles? Here was ESPN's loud-mouth Dick Vitale claiming in Wednesday's broadcast of Carolina-Duke that "Florida State should make the (NCAA) Tournament". Say what! They'll make it easy, Dickie V. The 'Noles have wins over Duke and Baylor and currently reside in third place in the top-heavy Atlantic Coast Conference. Right now they're a major "underration" and could put the defensive vice grips on a few teams in next month's "Big Dance".
VCU (20-6, 12-2 Colonial Athletic) - How about some mental toughness coming from this year's Virginia Commonwealth Rams? The 84-74 double-overtime win at 7-point dog Delaware was the latest sampling of what kind of "ticker" this CAA team has and we're wondering why folks have not taken notice - after all, VCU is 11-1 SU (straightup) since early January and the pressure defense espoused by young head coach Shaka Smart usually causes opposing clubs to wilt by midway of the second half. Maybe this club is a so-called mid-major but we're wondering when the Rams are gonna be ranked!
SOUTHERN MISS (18-5, 7-3 C-USA) - It's been a back-to-basics approach that has sparked the USM Golden Eagles recent four-game winning streak as this Conference USA club has held those teams to an average of 65.5 points and fiery head coach Larry Eustachy loved the way his guys held Marshall to 33 percent shooting from the floor in last weekend's 67-60 win in Hattiesburg. The Birds - who have been off this week and play at Memphis (on ESPN) on Saturday evening - may not get a whole lot of national "pub" but remember they're in a second-place tie with UAB right now (and a full game back of 6-2 UTEP) and no question this league deserves a minimum three NCAA Tourney bids next month.
NFL '11 - ODDS TO WIN IT ALL
Okay, so everyone else in the media is making his/her own selections for who's going to pair off in Super Bowl XLVI next February at Lucas Oil Field and so here's our forecast (though keep in mind we likes Baltimore vs. New Orleans as the SB 45 matchup!) ... it's gonna be the Atlanta Falcons versus the Baltimore Ravens in Indy and we say the Falcs are gonna win it all.
Got it?NOTE: Catch our College Basketball top Saturday Game Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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