Looking for expert picks or help handicapping? Jim Hurley has been a sports handicapper for 26 years and in that time has built a huge network of insiders. Jim uses a team-approach to picking winners. First, there's his number-crunchers in his home office who work in tandem with computer programmers to create the sharpest simulations in the industry. Add to this his huge network of on-the-scene insider sources around the country, providing him with vital intangible information that may not be reflected in the statistical probabilities, things like who's got a nagging injury, what teams have chemistry problems, what horses are set to be turned loose. Jim's got access to the sharpest minds in the Strip. It's the kind of comprehensive approach any sports handicapper would dream of, and Jim Hurley has been doing it since 1985.
Sports Betting Notebook : 3/7/2011
JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK
TOURNAMENT WEEK BEGINS WITH PREVIEWS OF BIG EAST, ATLANTIC 10
From now through Thursday, we'll provide stat previews for all the board conferences who are in tournament action this week. We hope last week's analysis helped you in the Horizon, Missouri Valley, and other mid-major tournaments. This week, THE BIG BOYS come out to play.
The Big East and Atlantic 10 conferences begin their tournaments Tuesday. The first Big East game is at noon though, so we decided to deal with the Eastern-most conferences in this initial report. We'll move the MAC (starting Tuesday Night), the Big 12, and CUSA (the latter two starting very early Wednesday) in tomorrow's update.
The Big East starts first, so we'll lead with them. Step one, a look at the schedule. To make things as succinct as possible, we've broken things down in the four quadrants. Each will split a team in the Big East's Final Four. The first two teams you see listed play TUESDAY in Madison Square Garden. That winner will face the second team listed WEDNESDAY. Then, THAT winner will face a double-bye team THURSDAY in the quarterfinals. We've sent it up in bracket order...so that the winner of Pittsburgh's quadrant will face the winner of Syracuse's quadrant in the semifinals, and so on.
NOTRE DAME'S QUADRANT
Now, let's crunch some numbers...
BIG EAST MARGIN AVERAGES
We've noted in several game summaries the past couple of weeks that a few teams aren't playing to their full season form. St. John's is definitely playing A LOT better than +1.3 would suggest. Villanova and Georgetown are below their full season norms, as is Connecticut. Generally, teams play to recent form in a tournament. But, it's certainly not impossible for the slumpers to find their form again...or for St. John's to get cocky because they've been so hot and take their eye off the ball.
Probably the most important lesson from the margin averages is that this is a VERY competitive conference, and most of the logical contenders are all within a bucket of each other on a neutral court. Will this be the year St. John's actually shows some home court advantage at the Garden? That's long overdue. But, this isn't a league where "visitors"are easily intimidated.
You regulars know we place a lot of weight on two-point defense. Let's see how the Big East stacks up in this vital indicator stat.
BIG EAST TWO-POINT DEFENSE
There's just no way we can comment on all 16 teams. Our best advice is to print out today's article and keep the numbers handy all week. Frankly, you should do that with ALL of our tournament previews this week. And, do additional research at the fantastic college basketball site designed by Ken Pomeroy (kenpom.com). That's where were grabbing many of our category statistics (though, you have to get conference margin averages here in the NOTEBOOK!).
This is a league that emphasizes defense. Anyone at 45% or worse would have to be seen as vulnerable given the power and depth of the Big East. St. John's has been better than 48% for awhile, but they can't afford to slack off. Marquette and West Virginia look particularly vulnerable amongst the group of Dance-bound teams (Marquette still looks safe in the Bracketology stuff for now). Villanova and Georgetown have been slumping, and aren't in the true elite in terms of inside defense in the numbers above.
BIG EAST ADJUSTED PACE FACTORS (slowest to fastest)
We like looking at pace factors because playoff style basketball tends to slow down. Smart handicappers will emphasize teams who are already comfortable with that pace. It's also worth noting that it's very difficult for fast teams to stay fast in a series of back-to-backs. They wear themselves out. If somebody like Seton Hall or Providence gets some Cinderella notions, they may run out of gas before they can get to the ball.
Of the Dance-bound teams, Marquette and Louisville may have the most concerns with stringing together solid performances because of their faster paces.
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS FROM TREYS
Generally speaking, a focus on treys might help you score a big upset or have a great game (live by the three), but it's hard to stay hot over a series of games from long range (die by the three). It's best to be inside heavy, or at least balanced when you approach the challenge of a tournament. This makes St. John's a serious threat as long as they've fixed their defensive woes. This is already an inside league to begin with. Notre Dame, Louisville, and Georgetown look to be the teams who should be most concerned about finding a way to win when the treys aren't falling.
BEST CHAMPIONSHIP POTENTIAL
This week we'll provide the "in depth stat data for the major conferences. But, we'll only have room for margin averages and two-point defense for the mid majors. Today's mid major under discussion is the Atlantic 10. Let's post those numbers before calling it a day.
First, the schedule:
TUESDAY'S FIRST ROUND
Full conference margin averages...
ATLANTIC 10 MARGIN AVERAGES
Xavier was obviously the head of the class. But, Temple has a great history in tournaments and deserves a lot of respect as well. The top four are so far ahead of everyone else that it's very difficult to see a Cinderella story developing here. Tough to lift your game about eight points for a few games in a row.
ATLANTIC 10 TWO-POINT DEFENSE
Again, the top teams shine. The best defenses have owned this conference. Duquesne is most vulnerable of the final four based on this stat. The math says Xavier and Temple are best positioned to play in the finals and crank out a champion.
Conference previews still ahead this week:
Today we've outlined action that begins Tuesday (early Tuesday in the Big East!). There are, of course, big games TONIGHT in the colleges as the Colonial, West Coast, Metro-Atlantic, and Southern Conferences crown their champions. It's also a big night in the NBA as pro hoops has really heated up the past few weeks. You can get BIG JUICY WINNERS this afternoon from JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK here at the website. Or, sign up for the full season and get locked in all the way through March Madness. If you have any questions call 1-800-323-4453.
Who will be the BEASTS OF THE EAST this year? Hey, JIM HURLEY HAS BEEN THE BEST OF THE BEST FOR 25 YEARS! That's all you need to know!
Click here to send feedback