By Jim Hurley:

Go ahead and ask yourself the following question:
In a College Basketball season in which the super-powers of the sport - that's Kansas, Kentucky, Villanova, Syracuse and Duke (in no particular order) - appear headed to a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, is there any off-the-radar club that could wind up in Indianapolis in this year's Final Four?
Maybe there's some sentiment for a Kansas State or a West Virginia to get there from one of the so-called power conferences or maybe you think this will be a little like 2005 when George Mason - remember them? - busted into the Final Four party:
Could Butler or maybe Xavier win four rounds of NCAA Tourney play and make it into this year's Final Four?
One thing that always must be considered when you're making long-range projections is teams normally cannot rely on one player to carry the torch - save for the 1988 Kansas Jayhawks with Danny Manning - as that sort of stuff just doesn't happen much anymore as recent back-to-back championship teams at Florida and last year's title winner North Carolina proved that you need three or four legit scorers to get you far into March and/or early April.
No doubt that the likes of Kansas and Kentucky and Villanova and Syracuse and Duke all have that in common:
There's a few go-getter guys on each of those teams and so nobody can be shocked if, let's say, three of these five teams make it into the final group (obviously, brackets allowing).
But in these final few weeks before the Selection Show on March 14th, it'll be interesting to sort out a few ultra-interesting questions:
What teams play their best ball against the toughest competition?
What teams thrive away from home (after all, the NCAA Tournament is truly a road show for all 65 teams)?
And what teams are really meshing as we head into March?
Now, hear this:
Jim Hurley's exclusive Private Line Club is a blistering 25-10 since Jan. 1, 2010 (that's a .714 winning percentage) and there's lots more Winners coming your way straight ahead. Jim's latest big conquest on this phone line was Monday's Big 12 game between Kansas at Texas A&M.
We grabbed the 6 ½-point price and snagged the cover with the A&M Aggies in that 59-54 straightup win by Kansas but anyone who watched knew we were in good shape most of the way. The Aggies led for much of the second half before a late 7-2 scoring run by #1 Kansas but the real keys to victory here was three-point defense (the Jayhawks connected on just 1-of-10 triple tries) while our handicapping belief that Texas A&M would out-hustle Kansas came true via the offensive rebounding stats: The Aggies owned an 18-to-8 advantage on the offensive glass.
Chalk up another "W"for Jim Hurley's red-hot Private Line Club.
And just remember that Jim and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the College Basketball and NBA Winners this winter week when you check in on Game Days anytime after 1 p.m. ET on Mondays-through-Fridays and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays right here online or else at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
Make sure to be with America's #1 Handicapper all through this thrilling and profitable b-ball ride that lasts till June!



There are lots of high-quality mid-week matchups on the College Basketball schedule and here's a couple of key tilts on each night:

On Wednesday, it's ...
#4 PURDUE (20-3, 8-3 Big 10) at #9 OHIO STATE (20-6, 10-3 Big 10) - 6:30 p.m. ET, Big 10 Network
No doubt our Big 10 fans out there in Jim Sez-land didn't like the fact we omitted both of these teams from our NCAA Tournament discussion above but this conference has to "prove it"when it comes to making a national statement.
True, both of these teams are in the Associated Press Top 10 at this minute and you could make the case that both Purdue (seven wins in a row) and Ohio State (six wins in a row and nine triumphs in its last 10 games) are playing their best ball of the 2009-10 campaign.
Keep in mind this is a revenge game for the visiting Boilermakers who coughed up a 41-29 halftime lead (and an even-bigger 13-point lead) en route to a 70-66 loss to the 9 ½-point underdog Buckeyes back on Jan. 12 in West Lafayette. Thad Matta's O-State crew rode the hot hand of swingman Evan Turner who scored 14 of his team's final 18 points while pouring in a career-high 32 points in the shocking comeback.
The other crazy part of that game is that Purdue's Robbie Hummel scored 29 of his career-best 35 points in the opening half but went major stretches without touching the ball after intermission - a fact not lost on Boilermakers' boss-man Matt Painter.
Here, if you consider the Turner vs. Hummel matchup to be a "wash"then the key to victory here might well be how Buckeyes' triple threat Jon Diebler holds up: If he stays hot from beyond the arc, then the 'Eyes will have it!
#15 TEXAS (20-5, 6-4 Big 12) at MISSOURI (18-7, 6-4 Big 12) - 9 p.m. ET, espn2
The numbers don't lie and they say that the Texas Longhorns have lost five of their last eight games and so Rick Barnes' club continues to search for all the eight answers even while coming off a lopsided 91-51 win against 14-point pup Nebraska last Saturday.
The 'Horns recorded their 11th consecutive 20-win season with that Big 12 home triumph and Barnes hopes the promotion of guard J'Covan Brown to the starting lineup will continue to pay dividends as Texas plays three of its next four games on the road.
In last weekend's win against the Cornhuskers, Brown scored 12 points and dished out 6 assists in 30 minutes of game action and here he must be able to withstand the rigors of a full-court game - Mizzou doesn't plan on throttling things down here and you know Tigers coach Mike Anderson isn't happy with his club scoring just 62 and 65 points in its last two games (first a win against Iowa State and then last Saturday's 64-62 loss at Baylor)/
The Mizzou key here is guard J.T. Tiller who must harass the Texas ball-handlers and score too (see 17 points at Baylor).

On Thursday, it's ...
#5 SYRACUSE (24-2, 11-2 Big East) at #10 GEORGETOWN (18-6, 8-5 Big East) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Big East Conference has spent plenty of time taking hearty back-slaps this hoops season - and rightfully so - but last Sunday these two super-powers both swallowed the kryptonite.
Syracuse was kayoed at home 66-60 by 7-point underdog Louisville; Georgetown was bopped 71-68 at 10-point pup Rutgers - now they both look to recover from their Valentine's Day setbacks but the $64,000 question remains:
Who's gonna show a little more zip to their game?
Jim Boeheim's Orange club shot just 41 percent from the field in that disaster in the dome - Wes Johnson missed 15 of his 20 field-goal tries - and there was little end-to-end fast-break action to speak of and you can expect the 'Cuse to hit the gas pedal here and look for more flash-and-dash.
On the flip side, the Hoyas were haunted in that latest loss by the following:
Georgetown attempted only 10 free throws (and made good on six of 'em);
The defense held down Rutgers G Mike Rosario (3-of-16 FGs) but let the rest of the Knights shoot 23-of-42 from the field;
And G-town managed to make just four three-pointers in all - and that's been a strong part of the Hoya game plan for much of the 2009-10 season.
Here's the stat breakdown to watch in this conference clash of old rivals:
Does Syracuse get more points via the fast break than Georgetown gets from beyond the three-point line (and against that pesky 2-3 zone)? Stay tuned.

#14 WISCONSIN (19-6, 9-4 Big 10) at MINNESOTA (14-10, 5-7 Big 10) - 9 p.m. ET, espn2
Are the Wisky Badgers a lying-in-the-weeds type team out there?
Bo Ryan's bunch doesn't get all that much national respect even though the mad men from Madison have beaten the likes of Maryland, Duke and Marquette from outside the Big 10 and the likes of Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan State from inside the Big 10.
Now, Wisconsin finds itself in a tricky spot here in a game it is expected to win against a rival that's in a truly foul mood - Minny's 77-74 overtime loss at Northwestern last Sunday was a real gut-wrenching game for Tubby Smith's squad as they blew a late-game double-digit lead (13 points, to be exact) - and so the Badgers probably have to hold the fort early here in case there is an early-game eruption by the hosts.
Keep in mind that Wisky's won seven of its last 10 overall games with the latest an 83-55 blitzing of 17 ½-point underdog Indiana last Saturday afternoon: Guard Jason Bohannon went wild in that game by connecting on 7-of-11 trifectas en route to a 30-point performance. Suffice to say, the Golden Gophers will be shadowing him from downtown and Minny better bring its lunch pail after Wisconsin collected 14 offensive boards in that clash.


It all depends on whom you ask: Some in-the-know NBA folks believe this will be an extremely busy NBA Trade Deadline while others think last weekend's Dallas-Washington trade - the one that will be known for shipping Caron Butler to the Mavericks where he might prove to be the missing puzzle piece for this franchise - will be the biggest bombshell of 'em all.
Naturally, the rumors run rampant that Phoenix will ship All-Star C Amar'e Stoudemire - the make-sense destiny here would be Cleveland - but Miami and/or Philadelphia may get into the Stoudemire mix too and than there's always the chance that contracts don or won't match up and the goggled one will stay put in the Valley of the Sun.
Still, here's some names that we believe have good chances of having a change of address by week's end:
TRACY McGRADY - No doubt the Houston Rockets wish to end this nightmare and send "T-Mac"packing as he has played all of six games for Rick Adelman's crew and these days gets paid top dollars for simply staying out of sight. The New York Knicks have been in an on-again, off-again pursuit for McGrady the past week-plus and look for Knicks GM Donnie Walsh to get this thing doen and bring McGrady to NYC where he immediately will step in as coach Mike D'Antoni's numero uno point guard.

MONTA ELLIS - The Golden State Warriors are going nowhere fast and so shipping out this shot-happy guard (averaging 26.2 ppg) for a couple of bodies makes complete sense when you take into account the Pacific Division basement dwellers (see 14-37 coming out of the All-Star Game break) would like to make this rookie guard Stephen Curry's team from this point on. The Warriors might deal Ellis to Detroit or Philadelphia depending on who's more willing to part with non-lottery draft choice.

RICHARD "RIP"HAMILTON - The Detroit Pistons' glory days are a thing of the past and now GM Joe Dumars is gonna try to salvage this season and get some younger bodies in exchange for this 17.6 ppg scorer. Hamilton could wind up being a key piece in either San Antonio or Houston (both those Texas teams are trying to counteract the Mavs' aforementioned deal) and no doubt the former NBA champion still has some life left in those tireless legs.
Two names that we don't expect to get moved are Washington forward Antawn Jamison (20.5 ppg) and Sacramento shooting guard Kevin Martin (20.8 ppg) - both of these players have been drawing interest on the trade market but the Wizards and Kings, respectively, need to keep these key cogs right where they are for public relations sake, if nothing else.

NOTE: Get more College Basketball News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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