Thursday Hoops

 HURLEY'S PRIVATE LINE MAKES IT THREE STRAIGHT!
Wed: New Mexico (-1.5) BYU 76-72 WON!
Tue: Boston College (+3) Clemson 75-69 WON!
Mon: Hawks (+1) Rockets 102-95 WON!

THURSDAY HOOPS PREVIEWS

WISCONSIN (16-4, 6-2 Big 10) at #10 PURDUE (16-3, 4-3 Big 10) -- 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Maybe it will be a case of either Wisconsin or Purdue playing 'second fiddle' to mighty Michigan State (7-0 in Big 10 play so far) this year ... but is that so terrible?

What was so terrible for the 10th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers was that slumbering eight-day period early in Big 10 play as Matt Painter's crew lost back-to-back-to-back games against Wisconsin, Ohio State and Northwestern before finally righting the ship with recent wins against Illinois and Michigan: So now who shows up here, the 'good' or the 'bad' Boilers?

Note that in the aforementioned 73-66 loss at Wisky back on Jan. 9th, one-point favorite Purdue missed 11 of its 24 free throws and also clanged 7-of-10 triples and thus wasted a 24-point game from guard E'Twaun Moore.

Wisconsin's backup point guard Jordan Taylor (23 points in 29 minutes) was the Badgers' star in that first showdown this season versus Purdue but for Bo Ryan's gang to cop the clean sweep of this season series than Taylor must stay hot -- note that he boasts 69 assists and only 18 turnovers this year (a nearly 4-to-1 ratio).

#13 GONZAGA (16-3, 5-0 WCC) at SANTA CLARA (9-13, 1-4 WCC) -- 11 p.m. ET, espn2
The 'Zags haven't lost since that humbling 76-41 defeat at the hands of Duke way back on Dec. 19th (not a fun holiday time trip to New York City for Mark Few's crew!) but the possibility remains that Gonzaga may not lose again until the NCAA Tournament ... if then!
The winning streak stands at eight while heading into this clash at Santa Clara -- a club that's lost eight of its last 10 games dating back to Dec. 23rd.

The home underdog Broncos will look for guard Kevin Foster (19.8 ppg) to keep 'em in the hunt here but Gonzaga has a great blend of balanced scoring with veteran G Matt Bouldin (16.4 ppg) leading the way. In Gonzaga's 85-69 non-cover win against 20-point pup Loyola-Marymount last weekend, Bouldin poured in 19 points but it was forward Elias Harris (22 points and 8 boards) who stole the show for a Bulldogs club that shot nearly 52 percent from the floor and won the battle of the glass 39-to-28.

Note that the recent coach's poll has Gonzaga at #8 this week -- and its stock is still rising.

HURLEY'S PRIVATE LINE DIALS UP THE WINNERS

Hurley's Private Line won its third straight on Wednesday night. Our most recent play in the NBA was on Monday when we took Atlanta and laid the points against the Rockets.The Hawks -- one of the under-the-radar really good teams in the NBA -- had a slew of athletic advantages over short-handed Houston here and a 21-3 scoring spurt in a 32-point second quarter really sent Mike Woodson's club on its way. We knew that nobody on the Rockets could slow down Hawks scorer Joe Johnson -- and we were right as he scored 20 points plus. Atlanta's defense bogged down host Houston (just 39.8 percent shooting from the floor). Bang out another "W" for the Private Line Club! Now here on Thursday, and it's a big NBA night. We can't tell you what the Private Line play will be here--that information is for paying customers! But we CAN tell you that we are offering an explosive one-night offer on a big NBA doubleheader tonight...

 

TNT DYNAMITE!

Teams fighting to get to the top of their respective conference standings are on display in tonight's TNT doubleheader. The Celtics visit Orlando to battle the Magic as both teams try to outlast Cleveland and Atlanta for the top spot in the East. Our sources are tipping us off at Boston's readiness as they work Kevin Garnett back into the everyday lineup. And out West, the Nuggets have to win at Phoenix, if they are to catch Los Angeles. Our stat handicappers have uncovered a powerful trend on this matchup that will get the money. The Network has won 16 of its last 21 and is ready to tack on two more in this explosive TNT doubleheader! 

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NFL NEWS & NOTES:
SUPER BOWL XLIV IS A WEEK-AND-A-HALF AWAY
AND SO WE'LL LOOK BACK AT THIS PLAYOFF SEASON
AND LOOK AHEAD AT WHAT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME LOSERS
NEED TO DO NEXT YEAR

One thing that former TV game analyst John Madden -- remember him? -- always said that struck a chord with us is that when NFL Playoff teams lose (and especially late in the post-season) the 'finality' of the situation hits 'em like a proverbial ton of bricks.

No doubt the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings are in a down-in-the-dumps state just days after their seasons ended in Indianapolis and New Orleans, respectively, and so we'll get into what each of these NFC Championship Game losers are looking at in terms of the 2010 NFL season in just a moment but first let's do an NFL Playoffs Re-wind here with the game-by-game action in chart form:

WILD CARD GAMES
 
New York Jets + 2.5 CINCINNATI 24-14
DALLAS - 3.5 Philadelphia 34-14
Baltimore + 3.5 NEW ENGLAND 33-14
ARIZONA + 3 Green Bay (ot) 51-45
DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAMES  
NEW ORLEANS - 7 Arizona 45-14
INDIANAPOLIS - 6.5 Baltimore 20-3
MINNESOTA - 2.5 Dallas 34-3
New York Jets + 8.5 SAN DIEGO 17-14
CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES  
INDIANAPOLIS - 8 NY Jets 30-17
NEW ORLEANS - 4 Minnesota (ot) 31-28

It's worth noting that the Indianapolis Colts are the only NFL team in this year's post-season not to have suffered a pointspread defeat -- the Colts covered Baltimore and the New York Jets the past two weeks and actually sport a tidy 6-2 ATS (against the spread) log in post-season action the past four years now. You might recall that last year's Arizona Cardinals cranked out a perfect 4-and-oh spread log in their great playoff run and that's exactly what the '06 Colts accomplished en route to their Super Bowl conquest.

Meanwhile, it's interesting to note that the Saints head into Super Bowl XLIV off a pointspread loss and there's been only two Super Bowl teams in this decade of the 2000s that entered the ultimate game off a spread loss: The 2001 St. Louis Rams failed to cover the bloated 10 1/2-point price in a 29-24 NFC Championship win against Philadelphia and the 2007 New England Patriots did not cover the 14-point price tag in that 21-12 win against San Diego.

P.S., both the '01 Rams and the '07 Patriots wound up losing their Super Bowl games and both flopped as prohibitive betting favorites (the Patriots lost that epic game to the 12-point dog New York Giants 17-14 while the Rams lost 20-17 versus 14-point pup New England).
Just thought you might like to know!

JETS, VIKINGS AND WHAT'S AHEAD

Okay, so there will be no Super Bowl this season for either the New York Jets or the Minnesota Vikings -- but can either/both of 'em get there next year?

Well, the Jets need to find themselves a pass rusher -- for all the blitzes that Rex Ryan's unit threw at opponents this season, the fact is there is nobody that's a high-quality pass rusher along the D-line -- plus the J-E-T-S could use another cornerback and some help at wide receiver should they let WR Braylon Edwards go in free agency. Remember that GM Mike Tannenbaum is always super-aggressive at draft time and he may find a way to trade up into the top five picks (again) while looking for the best available pass rushing end.

Meanwhile, the Vikings -- obviously -- face a much larger and daunting question as to whether 40-year-old QB Brett Favre comes back or not. The reality is all the other pieces are pretty much in place although Minny could be seeking some secondary help in this year's draft/free agency. If Favre tells the Vikes that he's a goner (and all signs point that way) then expect this NFC North crew to make a major play for a rare NFL trade. Cleveland's Derek Anderson and/or Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck could well be on the Vikings' so-called radar. Stay tuned.

NOTE: More College Basketball and Super Bowl XLIV goodies in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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