College Basketball Saturday 6-Pack - Conference Tournament Alerts

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Are You Ready for March Madness NCAA/NIT Tournaments M.16 to A.5
including Conference Tournaments from now to March 14.
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THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL SATURDAY SIX-PACK CHECKS IN WITH #1 SYRACUSE PLUS THERE'S CAROLINA-DUKE AND A LOT MORE INCLUDING OUR CONFERENCE-BY-CONFERENCE MINI-TOURNEY ALERTS

By Jim Hurley:

What "Madness"?
   
Okay, so we're being just a tad tongue-in-cheek here as we all dig a little bit deeper into the month of March at a time when literally hundreds of College Basketball clubs teams are battling to get a seat in the 65-team NCAA Tournament that begins with annual #64-versus-#65 matchup on the night of Tuesday, March 16th.
    
If you've been paying close attention, than you no doubt have heard ESPN analyst Jay Bilas call this the "weakest field of at-large teams in history" - as in since the NCAA went to a 64-team field back in the mid-1980s - and you've also seen the likes of Notre Dame, Connecticut, Mississippi State, Saint Mary's and Rhode Island (among others) get shifted back-and-forth from "in" to "out" more times than Lady Ga-Ga changes here outfits!
    
The fact of the matter is there could be as many as a dozen at-large spots up for grabs right now and so these final regular-season games and then the various conference tournaments - or mini-tournies - will go a long way in determining who's in and who's out come the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Sunday, March 14th.
    
If you had to press us on the matter, here's how many teams per conference we'd say are getting in (but don't hold us to it!) from among the country's larger leagues:
    
ACC - 5; Atlantic-10 - 4; Big East - 7; Big 10 - 4; Big 12 - 7;  Conference USA - 2; Mountain West - 3; Pac-10 - 3; SEC - 5; and WAC - 2.

As far as the "Big Six" of College Basketball, here are their respective mini-tourney schedules just so you know what's straight ahead (and when) and who we would list as the mini-tourney favorite and who's the main "dark horse":

Big East Tournament - March 9-13, Madison Square Garden, New York City
     The Favorite: Syracuse .... The Dark Horse: Connecticut

Big 12 Tournament - March 10-13, Sprint Center, Kansas City
     The Favorite: Kansas ... The Dark Horse: Texas A&M

Pac-10 Tournament - March 10-13, Staples Center, Los Angeles
      The Favorite: California ... The Dark Horse: UCLA

Big 10 Tournament - March 11-14, Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
      The Favorite: Ohio State ... The Dark Horse: Michigan

ACC Tournament - March 11-14, Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro
     The Favorite: Duke ... The Dark Horse: Florida State

SEC Tournament - March 11-14, Sommet Center, Nashville
     The Favorite: Kentucky ... The Dark Horse: Ole Miss
 
Now, here's the "Favorite" and "Dark Horse" for all the other on-the-board conferences/leagues that are already or will be playing its mini-tournies in the days ahead:

Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament - March 9-14, Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City
     The Favorite: Xavier ... The Dark Horse: Rhode Island

Big West Conference Tournament - March 10-13, Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim
     The Favorite: USC-Santa Barbara ... The Dark Horse: Cal State Fullerton

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament - March 5-8, Richmond Coliseum, Richmond
     The Favorite: Old Dominion ... The Dark Horse: Drexel

Conference USA Tournament - March 10-13, BOK Center, Tulsa
      The Favorite: UTEP .... Dark Horse: Tulsa

Horizon League Tournament - March 2-9, Home Sites for Higher Seeds
     The Favorite: Butler ... The Dark Horse: UW-Milwaukee

Mid-American Conference Tournament - March 7-13, Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
     The Favorite: Kent State ... The Dark Horse: Buffalo

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament - March 4-7, Scott Trade Center, St. Louis
     The Favorite: Northern Iowa ... The Dark Horse: Illinois State

Mountain West Conference Tournament - March 10-13, Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas
     The Favorite: New Mexico ... The Dark Horse: Colorado State

Sun Belt Conference Tournament - March 6-9, Summit Arena, Hot Springs (AR)
     The Favorite: North Texas ... The Dark Horse: UL-Lafayette
  
Western Athletic Conference Tournament - March 11-13, Lawlor Events Center, Reno
     The Favorite: Utah State ... The Dark Horse: Louisiana Tech

West Coast Conference Tournament - March 5-8, Orleans Arena, Las Vegas
    The Favorite: Gonzaga ... The Dark Horse: Portland

And now hear this:
    
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the College Basketball and also the 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 have begun and there will be lots of matinee weekday action in the next week-plus and so make sure to check your daily hoop schedules and then check with us for all the day-time and night-time hoops winners.


THE SATURDAY SIX-PACK

#10 WEST VIRGINIA (23-6, 12-5 Big East) at #9 VILLANOVA (24-5, 13-4 Big East) - 12 p.m. ET, CBS
The 'Nova Wildcats already have bagged a double-bye in next week's Big East Tournament in New York City - and now Jay Wright's gang is gunning for the regular-season sweep against the WVU Mountaineers.
    
Villanova copped an 82-75 upset win at 6-point favorite West Virginia back on Feb. 8th as megastar senior guard Scottie Reynolds scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the final 13 minutes of play and now expect Senior Day to be a blow-the-roof off the house deal inside the Wachovia Center once Reynolds is introduced prior to the start of this clash.
    
If Reynolds can get 'Nova to shoot anywhere near the 57 percent from the floor that the 'Cats shot in that game in Morgantown (see 29-of-51 FG makes) then it figures to be lights-out time once again with Bob Huggins' crew looking to amp up the tempo here.
    
Note that West Virginia - fresh off an 81-68 triumph over 6 ½-point dog Georgetown last Monday night - is only 4-4 SU (straightup) against ranked opponents this season and so Da'Sean Butler (22 points versus the Hoyas) will need some teammates to step it up after they combined to shoot only 17-of-40 (that's 42.5 percent) from the floor in that last game.
    
Could this be Part II of a three-part series this year between these teams? Stay tuned.

    
#2 KANSAS (28-2, 14-1 Big 12) at MISSOURI (22-8, 10-5 Big 12) - 2 p.m. ET, CBS
Now that the Kansas Jayhawks have locked up a sixth consecutive Big 12 regular-season championship, will this be "letdown city" at Mizzou?
    
The experts have weighed in and they all say that the J-hawks will be a #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament no matter what happens here or in next week's Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City but don't expect Bill Self's crew to "mail it in" here - after all, senior guard Sherron Collins would love to wash away the bad taste of shooting just 5-of-15 from the floor in Wednesday's title-clinching 82-65 win/cover against 8 ½-point pup Kansas State.
    
Collins - who missed on 6-of-7 shots from beyond the arc against the K-State Wildcats - knows one of his roles here is to keep feeding hot freshman Xavier Henry (team-high 19 points against KSU) who just might be that X-factor in the NCAA Tourney.
    
In fact, when Kansas delivered an 84-65 win/cover against 12-point underdog Missouri back on Jan. 25th in Lawrence, Henry was in the throes of his quiet time (he scored just 9 points on 3-of-8 shooting then) but this is a different lefty frosh altogether now.
    
Missouri shot a weak 19-of-68 from the floor (that's 28 percent) back in that first duel with Kansas but now Mike Anderson's guys have some steam going in here with six wins in its last eight games and fresh off a 69-67 overtime win at Iowa State on Tuesday night as guard Zaire Taylor drove the length of the floor and scored at the buzzer - did it remind you Tiger fans of anything you might have seen happen to you in an NCAA Tournament game some 15 years ago?
 
#1 SYRACUSE (28-2, 15-2 Big East) at LOUISVILLE (19-11, 10-7 Big East) - 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
Here's something to consider when you start to talk up Syracuse's "body of work":

The Orange owns Big East road wins at West Virginia, at Notre Dame and at Georgetown and home wins versus the likes of Villanova and Georgetown -- but one of the two losses suffered by the upstate New York team was that 66-60 setback on Valentine's Day at the Carrier Dome against this Louisville crew and so now Jim Boeheim's bunch has a rare case of revenge on its side here.

No doubt the move up the charts to #1 didn't phase the 'Cuse at all this past Tuesday night when the 13 ½-point favored Orange dismantled hapless St. John's 85-66 as outgoing seniors Arinze Onuaku (season-high 21 points and 8 rebounds) and Andy Rautins (14 points and 7 assists) went out with a bang in front of the Carrier Dome faithful. If this dynamic duo stays active here and if F Wesley Johnson (15.6 ppg) can score at or above his average, then these U of L Cards could get shuffled a really bad hand.

Consider that Louisville has been terribly erratic in recent weeks - the Cards have split their last 14 games overall and that 69-48 loss at 1 ½-point fav Marquette last Tuesday night was a real stink-bomb - and now Rick Pitino's team could face the prospect of a loss here and then a loss in its first game at next week's Big East Tourney that could kayo the Freedom Hall guys from the "Big Dance" once and for all.
 
#16 TENNESSEE (22-7, 10-5 SEC) at MISSISSIPPI STATE (21-9, 9-6 SEC) - 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
Don't look now but the Tennessee Volunteers have turned the beat around with four wins in their last five games following on the heels of back-to-back February losses at Vandy and at Kentucky. In short, Bruce Pearl's crew is playing some of its very best basketball right here/right now but we'd be remiss not to report all the facts and one is Tennessee's just 3-4 SU away inside the SEC this 2009-10 season.

Okay, so that gives the host - and rather desperate - Mississippi State Bulldogs extra hope here as Rick Stansbury's gang as only split its last dozen games and wobbles into this clash off Wednesday's 89-80 loss at 2-point underdog Auburn. The Dawgs chopped a 10-point deficit in half in the game's final three minutes but guard Don Bost's game-high 25 points (all of 'em scored in the second half) wasn't enough and so lots of those bracketology dudes were quick to put M-State back on the "Last Four Out" category - although we must disagree especially because State's already clinched at least a share of the SEC West and that has to count for something, right?

IOWA STATE (14-16, 3-12 Big 12) at #5 KANSAS STATE (24-5, 11-4 Big 12) - 6 p.m. ET
Forgive us if we've allowed Kansas State to get "lost in the shuffle" of all the bigger-name teams this year but here sits the Wildcats - albeit off that aforementioned 17-point loss at Kansas - still with a solid shot at landing a #2 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament and so don't anyone dare tell you that "margin of victory" doesn't matter here.

K-State coach Frank Martin's squad had won seven games in a row prior to that visit to "The Phog" and so there is still plenty of positive momentum on the Wildcats' side and it's not likely that the home folks will take the Cyclones for granted after KSU squeezed past 'em 79-75 as 6-point road favorites back on Feb. 6th. Guard Denis Clemente pumped in 30 points in that league game in Ames (he went 6-of-8 from beyond the three-point arc) and no doubt he'll come out shooting here with the purple-clad crowd in its usual game-day frenzy.

NORTH CAROLINA (16-14, 5-10 ACC) at #4 DUKE (25-5, 12-3 ACC) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's not your typical regular-season-ending Carolina-Duke game simply because the UNC Tar Heels are awful - maybe coach Roy Williams should have tagged this as a "rebuilding year" after all! - while Duke really hasn't missed a beat.

Okay, so the Blue Devils came up second-best in Wednesday's highly-emotional 79-72 loss at 1-point underdog Maryland but that game could have had a very different outcome had not a couple of wild Greivis Vasquez shots not rolled around the rim and gone in and so now Mike Krzyzewski's squad guns for no worse than a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference crown with the Terps (note that 12-3 Maryland is at Virginia in a matinee tilt on this day).

If the Dookies want to "get it right" here than they should continue to pound the offensive glass - the Devils snagged 14 offensive boards in that game at College Park and were absolutely relentless in a couple of second-half stretches - and so that means 7-foot-1 center Brian Zoubek (six offensive rebounds against Maryland) must stay active and free of foul woes and the tandem of Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer must connect from downtown after going a combined 5-of-17 from tripleville earlier this week.

How can the Tar Heels spring the monumental upset here in Cameron Indoor Stadium?

Get point guard Larry Drew III (6 assists per game) to make quicker decisions on the fast break and make sure the Blue Devils shoot 33 percent or less from beyond the trey line ... hey, it won't be easy!

 

OUR WEEKEND EDITION OF JIM SEZ HAS IT ALL COVERED: THERE'S TWO SUNDAY COLLEGE HOOP PREVIEWS PLUS THERE'S THE LAKERS-MAGIC TILT IN NBA-LAND ...

BASEBALL'S 2010 SEASON IS STILL WEEKS AWAY BUT WE WEIGH IN WITH THE "ODDS-TO-WIN-IT-ALL"

By Jim Hurley:

No doubt that you've been looking things over and wondering what everyone else in the land is wondering these days ...

Who's gonna win it all in the upcoming NCAA Tournament?

Maybe you like Kansas or Kentucky or Syracuse as these College Basketball heavyweights have proven they will be a "tough out" at tourney time or maybe you're inclined to think a rock-solid team from one of the so-called power conferences will rise up in March and then win it all in April:

You might think Villanova or Tennessee or Maryland or maybe even Oklahoma State or West Virginia has the goods - or maybe you think this might be a "George Mason-type" year and so maybe Butler or Northern Iowa can make it all the way to the Final Four.

No matter the thought process - and keep in mind we will all be filling out our NCAA Tournament brackets a week from now - the fact of the matter is picking a winner in the NCAA Tournament is tougher than you think even though last year (in retrospect) the North Carolina Tar Heels made it look oh-so-easy with a series of blowout wins en route to capturing the crown with a rocking-chair win against Michigan State.

Two years ago Memphis appeared to have it "in the bag" but missed free throws and a dramatic shot by Kansas guard Sherron Collins foiled the Conference USA club and who can forget the fact that this marks the 25th anniversary of the Villanova Wildcats stunning the sports world with their incredible upset win against Georgetown? 

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the College Basketball and also the NBA Winners when you check in on Game Days anytime after 10 a.m. ET on the weekend and after 11 a.m. ET for weekday College Hoops Games and then anytime after 1 p.m. ET Monday-through-Friday for all the night games 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!

Remember that College Basketball's Conference Tournaments are in full swing now and we'll have Winners for you every day with a reminder that there's lots of matinee action these days during weekdays.

Now, let's really get heated up with College B-Ball up first on the agenda:

Here are Sunday's Top College Hoop tilts ...

FLORIDA (20-10, 9-6 SEC) at KENTUCKY (28-2, 13-2 SEC) - 12 p.m. ET, CBS
It's one of the great moments in College B-Ball:

Watching the Kentucky seniors run through the hoops with their pictures on it and it will have special meaning here 'cause the Wildcats - while ultra-young - are enjoying their best season in eons.

Okay, so freshman guard John Wall (17 ppg and 6.2 apg) and frosh center DeMarcus Cousins (15.9 ppg and 10.1 rbg) remain the major stalwarts of John Calipari's club but the "role players" here will have a major impact on this matinee tilt with fellow freshman guard Eric Bledsoe (10.3 ppg) quite capable of hitting big shots and he might be able to slip between the cracks here against a Florida team that rarely plays a full 40 minutes this year - don't ask why!

The visiting Gators remain an ultra-streaky team - they come into this tilt on a two-game losing skid after winning the prior three games - and here Billy Donovan's gang has revenge in mind following an 89-77 loss in Gainesville back on Jan. 12th when the aforementioned Bledsoe poured in 25 points for the 'Cats and Florida shot a ghastly 38 percent from the floor (that's 26-of-68).

If the Gators want to stay close here or even pull the road upset, then they must take away two of the three frosh mentioned here ... or else they'll be hearing more "bubble talk" in the days ahead.

 

CLEMSON (21-8, 9-6 ACC) at WAKE FOREST (18-9, 8-7 ACC) - 6 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Network
If you're of the mind that the Atlantic Coast Conference gets six teams into this year's NCAA Tournament, then both Clemson and Wake Forest probably are "safe" -- but that may be a leap of faith in a league that's seen everyone but frontrunners Duke and Maryland stumble and bumble through a large part of their 2009-2010 conference schedule.

So, neither of these teams should take a contented mental state into this affair in Winston Salem and consider the fact this is the one-and-only regular-season game being played by these teams against one another with Clemson sporting five wins in its last six games heading in while Wake Forest's in a major freefall these days with four successive setbacks while coming into this game.

The WF Demon Deacons were 51-47 losers at 7 ½-point favorite Florida State last Tuesday night in Tallahassee as Al-Farouq Aminu - the league's leading rebounder and his team's leading scorer - didn't score a single point in 28 minutes of play in one of the most baffling individual outings of the whole College Basketball Season.

If Aminu - who had just four boards and fouled out at Florida State - is a total non-factor here than Wale Forest indeed may have reason to fret when it comes to what was once an almost automatic NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

Who would have thought it?

On Sunday's NBA card, the marquee matchup is ...

LOS ANGELES LAKERS (46-17) at ORLANDO (43-20) - 2:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Are the road woes of the defending champion Lakers gonna continue here?

Believe it or not, when Phil Jackson's crew fell 98-83 at 3 ½-point underdog Charlotte on Friday night, it marked LA's 12th road loss of the 2009-10 season thus matching last year's total of road setbacks.

No wonder megastar Kobe Bryant (26 points versus the Bobcats) told assembled media members after that loss than he planned to "speak with his teammates" and somehow you got the sense that this wasn't going to be some grand dialogue:

Kobe was going to lay down the law but what to say to a champion team that now has lost its last three in a row on the road (at Dallas, at Miami and at Charlotte)?

The Lakers did snag a "W" the first and only time these clubs met in regular-season play this year after going six games in last year's NBA Finals:

Los Angeles was a 98-92 winner as 6-point home favorites on Martin Luther King Day as guard Shannon Brown dumped in 22 points and Pau Gasol chipped in 17 points and 10 rebounds while Orlando's bench was a culprit here with only 15 points on 6-of-21 FG shooting.

If the Lakers can't do a better job containing Dwight Howard here (see 24 points and 12 rebounds in that first game against the Lakers) then LA could be headed for yet another road loss ... and maybe even another post-game dressing-down from Mr. Bryant.

THE WIN-IT-ALL ODDS FOR THE 2010 MAJOR-LEAGUE BASEBALL SEASON

TEAM

ODDS

COMMENT

 

 

 

NY Yankees

+ 300

Pitching-rich and deep everywhere - the real question is how do they not win it all again?

Philadelphia

+ 300

Halladay-for-Lee is a virtual "wash" and Phillies still will find plenty of ways to win close to 100 games

Boston

+ 500

Nobody's asking us but Bosox better get another power bat just in case Big Papi falters

St. Louis

+ 800

Count us among the folks surprised to see the Rebdirds at such a short price - but note 1B Pujols wins MVP again

Atlanta

+ 1000

Will Bobby Cox's Farewell Tour include some shiny goodbye jewelry in the end?

LA Angels

+ 1200

New-look Angels (no RHP Lackey and no DH Guerrero) will run more than ever

Tampa Bay

+ 1200

The Rays have super talent and if bullpen clicks they'll be challenging the Yanks right down to the wire

Chicago Cubs

+ 1500

The Cubbies will challenge archrival Cards if they get some major pop from oft-AWOL outfielders

LA Dodgers

+ 1500

Joe Torre's final go-around could have splashy finish if RHP Billingsley has born-again season

Minnesota

+ 1600

The Twinkies go outdoors for their home games - will that hurt 'em after all that Metrodome magic?

Seattle

+ 1600

The M's are "all in" with LHP Lee the key but can the rest of the starters chew up innings?

Arizona

+ 1800

The Diamondbacks need 30-plus starts from RHP Webb and 35-plus homers from 3B Reynolds ... or else!

Chicago White Sox

+ 1800

The Pale Hose are a whole lot different than '05 World Series champs but Ozzie's still in charge

Colorado

+ 1800

If the second half of last year in any indication, than Rockies will be making some noise under boss-man Tracy

San Francisco

+ 1800

Can RHP Tim Lincecum make it three Cy Youngs in a row?

Detroit

+ 1800

Something tells us the Tigers are ready to roar with born-again 1B/DH Miguel Cabrera and new LF Johnny Damon

Texas

+ 1800

Now that the Rangers' pitchers are not "getting babied" we'll see if they can hold up thru the long, hot summer

Florida

+ 2400

The Marlins' payroll has gone up a tad but team needs some pen help if they're gonna challenge Philly

New York Mets

+ 2400

The Mets were M*A*S*H-like last year and so far they're off to rough start again with CF Beltran hurtin'

Houston

+ 3500

It's an annual event that the Astros get hot late but will an August/September run this year mean anything?

Milwaukee

+ 3500

The Jim Sez crystal ball says 1B Prince Fileder hits 40-plus dingers and runs second to Pujols in the MVP chase

Cincinnati

+ 4000

Can you believe it's already 25 years since they called these guys "The Big Red Machine"?

Cleveland

+ 4500

The Indians need to send their long-suffering fans a note that says "we're sorry" - what a disaster!

Oakland

+ 4500

Let's face it: The A's stopped being relevant in the AL West about five or six years ago, right?

Baltimore

+ 6500

The big question is will the O's ever win a series against the Yanks, Red Sox and/or Rays?

Kansas City

+ 6500

The Royals appeared to be turning the corner two years ago but now it's back to square one

Pittsburgh

+ 7000

Go ahead and wave the white flag if you've got one 'cause Pirates headed for umpteenth losing year in a row

San Diego

+ 7000

Let's just say the Padres may be the most nameless/faceless team in the bigs this year

Toronto

+ 7000

Oh, Canada! The only North-of-the-Border baseball team might just lose 100 games this year

Washington

+ 7000

The Nationals did add RHPs Marquis and Wang but starting eight is just awful ... again

NOTE: More College Basketball goodies in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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