IT'S NOW MARCH AND SO IT'S TIME TO BLOW THE ROOF OFF THE SPORTS WORLD WITH COLLEGE BASKETBALL'S BEST MONTH FINALLY HERE
Blue Ribbon Club Wins Sunday!
Michigan State (+4) Purdue 53-44 OUTRIGHT
So Does Cashline!
Marquette (+2) Seton Hall 84-83 WON!
Special online Marquee Matchup special ends up close. Lakers (-6) beat Nuggets 95-89, but late line movement meant some clients came up a hair short at (-6.5).
And an exotic at Gulfstream Park makes it a great day!
R5: Saratoga Tango/D'Wild Ride EX $41.60
ATTENTION, ATTENTION, ONE AND ALL: IT'S NOW MARCH AND SO IT'S TIME TO BLOW THE ROOF OFF THE SPORTS WORLD WITH COLLEGE BASKETBALL'S BEST MONTH FINALLY HERE ...
PLUS OUR NBA NEWS/NOTES: LAKERS FINALLY BEAT THE NUGGETS (BUT NOT WITHOUT A REAL FIGHT)
By Jim Hurley:
Okay, so we know just what you were thinking this past weekend:
There was the College Basketball world (including us!) busy handing out #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament to the likes of Kansas and Kentucky and there were those hoop super-powers getting punched right smack in the nose.
The 85-77 win by 5 ½-point home underdog Oklahoma State over then-#1 Kansas wasn't a total shock to the system when you consider the mighty Jayhawks dodged some bullets in recent Big 12 games (or have you forgotten that overtime win at Colorado?) and may have been ripe for the plucking while then-#2 Kentucky was, after all, on the road in Tennessee less than 48 hours after a command revenge-game performance win against South Carolina and shooting 35 percent from the floor (including 2-of-22 from beyond the arc) will get you every time and thus the 'Cats come up 74-65 losers.
Still, while we remain "guilty as charged"for slapping an NCAA Tournament #1 seed on these two teams the fact of the matter is they won't get knocked off that #1 seed perch even if you decide to include Syracuse and Duke along that line following their respective weekend wins against Villanova and Virginia. Both Kansas (27-2) and Kentucky (also 27-2) could- to utilize the parlance of the NCAA Tournament Committee folks- "afford a loss"but both powerhouse teams better not pick right now as a team to slump or else those #1 seeds will be lifted faster than you can say John Wooden!
Maybe we should all look at the proverbial other side of the coin here:
The win by Okie State (20-8) over Kansas indeed pushes the Cowboys to the magical 20-win season and makes 'em a sure thing for this year's NCAA Tournament- you can forget about making these guys a "bubble team"after that big win in Stillwater last Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the win by Tennessee (21-7) means the Vols now have beaten both Kansas and Kentucky in the same hoops year- or didn't you catch that post-game video clip of Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl making that brag?- and now the Knoxville crew can feel comfortable that an NCAA Tournament seed no lower than a #4 will precede the team name come the night of the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on March 14th.
Okay, so the wins by Syracuse- a no-doubt-about-it 95-77 winner over 4-point underdog Villanova at the jam-packed Carrier Dome- and Duke (a 67-49 victor over 9 ½-point home dog Virginia on Sunday night) likely puts those two teams into the driver's seat for a top seed in the "Big Dance"but there's still plenty of fluidity when it comes to all the high seeds the rest of the way:
We heard the TV announcers claim New Mexico probably will get a #3 seed following last Saturday's electric 83-81 win at 8-point fav (we wish the Lobos the best with their NCAA seed but don't count on the Mountain West getting a team ranked among the top 12 when all these committee folks get down to their nitty-gritty work);
There also was talk that Michigan State's gritty 53-44 triumph at 4-point favorite Purdue on Sunday afternoon put the Spartans back into a "#2-type seed"but, again, the gang from East Lansing should not count those chickens just yet;
Finally, there's been much speculation as to where the likes of Butler and Gonzaga and Northern Iowa fit into the big picture and this is what we'd say as we make the turn into the merry month of March:
Butler (26-4) has played enough high-quality non-conference foes to push the Horizon League gang into the upper portion of the seeding as we would expect the Bulldogs to garner a #6 seed and maybe a #5 should things fall just right in the other upcoming mini-tournies;
Gonzaga (24-5) likely will find itself in one of those famed #8 versus #9 games in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as the West Coast Conference continues to suffer from some low self-esteem;
Northern Iowa (25-4) likely will get no higher than a #9 seed despite the fact the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season champs have been ranked for much of the last several weeks. In fact, if NIU loses a game between now and the end of their MVC Tournament, then look for a double-digit seed for the Panthers.
Now hear this:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the College Basketball and NBA Winners when you check in on Game Days anytime after 10 a.m. ET on the weekend and after 1 p.m. ET Monday-through-Friday right here online or else get us at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 – and do make sure to be with us all through this exciting and very profitable hoops ride right into June!
Folks, keep in mind that all the College Basketball Conference Tournaments- a/k/a the mini-tournies- begin this week and there will be lots of matinee weekday action coming soon and so make sure to check your schedules and check with us for all the day-time and night-time hoops winners. Got it?
Okay, so you've probably heard enough the past couple of days about Kansas and Kentucky and Syracuse. So, here are some of the other assorted weekend "winners"and "losers":
LOUISVILLE (19-10)- The Cardinals (now 10-6 in Big East play) needed at least one "signature win"to get the NCAA Tournament Committee folks in their corner and Sunday's heart-stopping 78-76 triumph at 4-point favorite Connecticut was just what the doctor ordered as Edgar Sosa's driving lay-up with eight seconds remaining won it for Rick Pitino's crew.
The Cards now have won six of their last eight games including a regular-season sweep over UConn and how about the fact the 'Ville won despite getting out-rebounded 49-to-21! P.S, there will be at least seven Big East teams in the NCAA Tournament and these Redbirds are in lock, stock and barrel.
Ask us right here and right now and we'd say the Cards are in and probably could go as high as a #6 seed.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (21-8)- No doubt the kids in Starkville heard all about public opinion that claimed the Bulldogs needed to "do more"in order to secure an NCAA Tournament bid and we'd say Rick Stansbury's club sealed the deal with that 76-63 win at 1 ½-point underdog South Carolina on Saturday night in Columbia.
For starters, the victory gave M-State five wins in its last six games with the team's lone loss since early February that 81-75 overtime defeat at the hands of Kentucky. The Dawgs really showed dominant form in this most recent win as active big man Jarvis Varnado was a veritable stat-sheet stuffer with 19 points and 12 rebounds
Mississippi State's 9-5 in Southeastern Conference play and could be en route to a #6 or #7 seed in the NCAA Tourney and keep in mind this is always a club that makes a run inside the SEC Tournament. Win that and the Bulldogs could be as high as a #4 seed in a couple of weeks.
ILLINOIS (18-11)- Anyone that believed the Fighting Illini (now 10-6 in the Big 10) was a lead-pipe cinch to snag an NCAA Tournament berth may want to re-evaluate things following last Saturday's 62-60 home loss against Minnesota.
Folks, we'll be the first to say that the Las Vegas price tag for that particular tilt- Illinois was favored by only 3 points- looked a tad suspicious (we thought the number should have been more like 5 ½ or 6 points) but now we all know why! Illinois dropped its third game since Valentine's Day as star guard Demetri McCarney missed 14 of his 18 field-goal attempts en route to a sour 9-point outing and don't look now but Bruce Weber's squad has two remaining regular-season games and they ain't gimmes by any means:
At Ohio State (on Tuesday) and then home to Wisconsin (this Sunday) and, folks, back-to-back losses here just about could put the Illini in that dreaded position of having to win out in the Big 10 Tourney in Indianapolis ... or else!
WAKE FOREST (18-8)- Maybe folks inside the Atlantic Coast Conference don't believe it's humanly possible for these Demon Deacons to be excluded from the "dance card"but hear us out here, ladies and gents:
Dino Gaudio's crew has lost its last three games in a row and you know how the NCAA loves teams that are hot down the stretch and conversely doesn't love teams that are staggering at/near the finish line. Then throw into the mix that the last two losses suffered by the WF Deacs were to lowly N.C. State and North Carolina (a combined 8-20 in conference play this season).
Note that Wake's at Florida State on Wednesday and then wraps up the regular season at home against Clemson this coming Sunday- if the Winston Salem kids lose both of these games and don't win at least two ACC Tourney games than how on earth do you select 'em as an at-large team?
The answer: You don't!
As long as we're chewing on big wins and losses, note that Seton Hall's 84-83 overtime home loss to Marquette dropped the Pirates to 16-11 overall (and 7-9 inside the Big East Conference) and you can kiss any NCAA Tournament hopes goodbye if you hadn't already while how about a tip of the cap to the Washington Huskies (19-9, 9-7 in the Pac-10) who outlasted rival Washington State 59-52 on Saturday night in Pullman. The Huskies nearly blew a 14-point halftime lead but star guard Isaiah Thomas drained two key triples en route to a 22-point game and so the Pac-10 can breathe easier as the league will get no worse than three teams into the 65-team field- trust us!
BIG MONDAY PARLAY
It's the last Big Monday of the college season. Next week will be conference tournament time and this great Big East-Big 12 doubleheader will be finished for the year. It's been another lucrative and profitable run through Monday nights for the Jim Hurley Network and our sources in these two great conferences are anxious and hungry to close it with a 2-0 sweep. And they've given us the information to do it with! We're close to the scene in Georgetown and West Virginia, getting a read on how these teams--out of the conference championship race, but locked into the NCAA field--are going to approach the end of the regular season. In the Big 12, we've got the info on whether Oklahoma has it in them to pull another upset of Texas, or if the revenge factor will be paramount. The Network's won 14 of 19, and we're set to add two more to the total on Big Monday's finale!
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NBA NEWS & NOTES: THE LAKERS GET SWEET REVENGE
If you listen to some members of the Los Angeles Lakers, they will tell you that Sunday's 95-89 come-from-behind win against 6-point underdog Denver was a "back-to-normal"type affair. The Lakers had lost their first two regular-season games this year against the Nuggets including a humbling 126-113 loss back on Feb. 5th when Denver's sharpshooter guard Chauncey Billups poured in 39 points as he starred while then-injured All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony missed the game.
Still, it was far from vintage Lakers on this last-Sunday-in-the-month tilt as Kobe Bryant never could get his jumper working- Bryant finished with only 14 points on 3-of-17 FG shooting- but reality TV star Lamar Odom was in prime form with nine of his team-high 20 points coming in the final frame when LA outscored the Nuggets 28-19. Odom also hauled down a dozen rebounds and helped the defending NBA champs overcome an 11-point third-quarter deficit and it's interesting here that the aforementioned Billups shot mostly blanks: He finished 4-of-12 from the floor for 17 points but was the only Denver player to have any success from beyond the three-point are as Billups nailed 3-of-7 trifectas while his teammates combined to make 4-of-18 triples.
So, was it merely revenge that drove the Lakers (45-15) to this key matinee win or was there something else?
Well, the Lakers surely want to hang onto that best record in the West- the Nuggets exited Staples Center at 39-20 and still with the conference's second-best winning percentage- and no doubt Phil Jackson's crew noted the fact that the Boston Celtics were beaten on Saturday by the so-lowly New Jersey Nets- and the last thing these upper-echelon clubs want to do is blow a home-court setting because they became sloppy/lazy against a team they should have beat.
The Lakers should have beaten the Nuggets here- and they did- but Bryant's shaky shooting and the seeming inability to kick things into gear until there was approximately 15 minutes of game clock left may be setting off alarms for LA ... and giving some other NBA powers reason to believe they can steal the crown this year.
NOTE: Catch our College Basketball Mid-Week TV Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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