The Madness Rolls On

Hurley's Tournament Triple Crown Goes 2-1 Monday!
William & Mary/Old Dominion (Under 117.5) 53-60 WON
Fairfield (+7.5) Siena 65-72 WON
Gonzaga (-4.5) St. Mary's 62-81

Private Line Cashes In Too!
North Texas (+1) Denver 63-56 WON!
Blue Ribbon Goes 2-0; Cashline Splits At 1-1



Here's a hint that this thing called 'March Madness' is in full swing:

This past weekend we heard the words 'bubble teams', 'bracketology' and 'quality wins' spoken in record amounts ... and we admit that's even with turning the volume down on our flat-screen TV for some of the College Basketball action!

It's full steam ahead for the College Hoop world this week with conference tournaments (yes, the famed mini-tournies) sprouting up all over the land and as we alerted you at this very time a year ago, hope you've had your eyes checked because there's sure gonna be a lot of bouncing basketballs filling your television airwaves in the days ahead.

In fact, you could probably have ESPN or espn2 or one of the other sports-heavy channels on straight through the next several days and you would be able to get more than a mere taste of the Big East Tournament, the Big 10 Tournament, the ACC Tournament and a slew of other mid-major championship games.

We'll hoop it up this whole Jim Sez column with both a look at what's straight ahead in terms of a couple power conferences and their respective tournaments and what we just finished with this past weekend but first this key reminder here:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the College Basketball Conference Tournament play and all the NBA Winners too when you check in on Game Days anytime after 11 a.m. ET for these weekday afternoon games and then anytime after 1:30 p.m. ET Monday-through-Friday for all the night-time action.

Get it all right here online or else at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and make sure to be with us all through this business called 'March Madness'.


Let's go ahead and place things into two categories here while regarding the College Basketball Games of this past weekend.
There were the 'Gotta-Have-It' teams that won their all-important tilts and then there were the 'Had-to-Have-It' teams that were not quite as fortunate.
Here goes with some teams in each category:


WAKE FOREST (19-9, 8-8 ACC)
The Demon Deacons were dying a slow death until Sunday's 70-65 home win against 1-point underdog Clemson. Dino Gaudio's guys had dropped their last four games in a row and all that 'bubble talk' was simmering to the surface but suddenly there was forward Al-Farouq Aminu awaking from his personal late-season slumber to register 18 points and 12 rebounds as Wake seized the victory and a #5 seed in this week's ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

No doubt that the Deacs were aided-and-abetted by Clemson's usual shoddy free-throw shooting the Tigers connected on just 12-of-19 foul shots (that's 63.2 percent) -- and Clemson got clobbered on the boards too (44-to-33) and suddenly there's new life for the Winston Salem crew that still may need to beat Miami this Thursday to get to that magical 20-win mark and thereby secure an at-large berth.

OLE MISS (21-9, 9-7 SEC) There's been some real concern in Southeastern Conference circles that this league might only get three or possibly only four teams into the upcoming 'Big Dance' and if you believed the chatter than the Mississippi Rebels were in danger of missing the cut. Let's just say that talk has been short-circuited once-and-for-all following last Saturday's 68-66 come-from-behind win at 1 1/2-point home dog Arkansas.

Give Andy Kennedy's club credit for never folding the tent early here the Hogs sported a nine-point lead late in the afternoon affair but Ole Miss melted that down with a nifty 7-0 run and than star guard Chris Warren (game-high 31 points) drilled a critical three-point shot off a missed Ole Miss free throw to take the lead for good in the game's final minute.

The Rebs wrapped up a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament that begins Thursday in Nashville and don't look now but Ole Miss has won four in a row and that included a pair of conference road wins (also beat Alabama 76-73 on Feb. 27th).

ST. MARY'S (25-5, 12-3 WCC) If you happened to switch over from the Academy Awards to the West Coast Conference Tournament on Sunday evening, than you might have caught the espn2 announcers declaring that these Gaels were in a 'must-win' situation against Portland in one of the mini-tourney's semifinal games. No doubt that St. Mary's cleared that hurdle without breaking a sweat as the 69-55 win against the 4-point underdog Pilots turned into a rocking-chair game even if things got a little chippy between Gaels big man Omar Samhan (16 points and 13 rebounds) and most of Portland's front line.

Samhan connected on 7-of-11 FG attempts and really shined in all phases in his 31-minute performance that pushed St. Mary's into Monday's Championship Game of the WCC Tourney against Gonzaga maybe some know-it-alls now believe Randy Bennett's club still has to 'be competitive' here but that should not be the case for a Gaels crew that owns wins this 2009-10 season against the likes of San Diego State and Utah State.


RHODE ISLAND (21-8, 9-7 Atlantic-10) Again, depending on what media voices you may be listening to the Rhode Island Rams have lived 'on the bubble' for the past few weeks and Jim Baron's club needed every single 'W' it could get prior to the start of this week's A-10 Tournament in Atlantic City.

The URI Rams who are hoping to become one of four or five teams from this born-again league (you can forget about folks claiming that they'll get six teams into the NCAA Tournament that's really far-fetched stuff if you ask us) could not afford a loss at 8-point underdog UMass but that's just what happened as the Minutemen swiped a 69-67 verdict on Saturday thanks to Ricky Harris' layup with 3.5 remaining in the game.
It didn't help Rhode Island's cause that it picked this game to have its shooting touch go south the Rams drained only 26-of-69 field-goal tries (that's less than 38 percent) and blowing a nine-point lead with less than 12 minutes left in this tilt was a real bummer.
The Rams enter their A-10 Tourney game against St. Joe's this week having lost five of their last seven tilts overall the only thing that might possibly 'save' Rhode Island now is a run straight through to the mini-tourney title game.

Don't hold your breath!

ILLINOIS (18-13, 10-8 Big 10) The internet bloggers were having a real field day after Sunday's game: The Fighting Illini's 72-57 home loss against 3-point favorite Wisconsin had all the elements of a team whose NCAA Tourney hopes had sunk and they knew it.
There was junior guard Demetri McCamey having a hissy-fit with head coach Bruce Weber on the sidelines and there were all those missed shots too the Illini only made 16-of-45 FG attempts and probably could have shot it better blindfolded and one of the cutest blogs posted on one site offered congratulations to Illinois ... for a more-than-likely NIT bid! Yikes.

The fact of the matter is Illinois probably entered this Sunday matinee on the outside looking in at an NCAA Tournament at-large bid following in the wake of four losses in its last five games but a 'W' against the Badgers and maybe a first-round Big 10 Tournament win yes, it's the Badgers again this Friday in Indianapolis would have given Weber's guys 20 wins and a better leg to stand on for the committee folks' viewing pleasure.


The Jim Hurley Network is based in the East, in New York City. While our 24 years of handicapping success have turned us into a far-flung Network with sources everywhere from Storrs to Palo Alto, we get special satisfaction about settling down right here in our roots in the Big Apple. And nowhere is it bigger than the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden that starts Tuesday. There's four games on tap, featuring storylines like UConn's tournament push and elite talents like South Florida's Dominque Jones. And it will also feature a strong play by New York's own Jim Hurley! Win this Big East Blastoff with us, plus two bonus games!

or call the office at 1-800-323-4453


Editor's Note: Our goal this week is to get you overviews on most/all of the bigger name conference tournaments. Note that when the 65-team NCAA Tournament field is selected come Sunday night, we'll have plenty to offer regarding all the teams that get into this year's Big Dance'. Now, here's some of what's ahead this week in terms of the mini-tournies as we concentrate on power conference leagues playing Tuesday/Wednesday games:

Madison Square Garden -- New York, NY

The country's best league takes over midtown Manhattan this week there's action at 'The World's Most Famous Arena' on five consecutive days/nights and there will be a grand total of 15 games played in this not-so-mini-tourney that could have some seeding significance: Put it this way, the only way Syracuse (28-3, 15-3) blows a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament is with a loss in the quarterfinals (note that the Orange has a double-bye the first two rounds here).

However, both Villanova (24-6, 13-5) and West Virginia (24-6, 13-5) have golden opportunities here to land up in a #2 seed in the NCAAs but these clubs must get to Saturday night's championship game for that to happen and Pittsburgh (24-7, 13-5) could finish with a #2 seed in the NCAAs if only the Panthers can find a way to win this whole shindig.

No question that Marquette and Louisville are 'in' when it comes to the NCAA Tournament but both could really upgrade their middling big tourney seeds here with a run in the Big East Tournament and than there's Georgetown (20-9, 10-8) and Notre Dame (21-10, 10-8) who both feel good about their chances right about now but shouldn't take a darn thing for granted.

The ND Irish if you ask us have the leg up on the Hoyas right now and so there's more pressure on John Thompson's team that will have the services of Austin Freeman (diabetes) here. Note that Freeman was a DNP in Georgetown's loss last week at West Virginia but returned to pour in 24 points in a 74-47 win against Cincinnati last Saturday.

Tuesday's Opening-Round Matchups: South Florida vs. DePaul; Connecticut vs. St. John's; Seton Hall vs. Providence; and Cincinnati vs. Rutgers.

Wednesday's Second-Round Matchups: USF/DePaul vs. Georgetown; UConn/SJU vs. Marquette; SH/Providence vs. Notre Dame; and Cincy/Rutgers vs. Louisville.

Sprint Center Kansas City, MO

Few teams if any enter their conference tournament a bigger favorite than Kansas (29-2, 15-1) does this year. Still, that doesn't mean this is a slam-dunk when you consider the Jayhawks may not play with as much fire as you think considering everyone's anointed Bill Self's team a #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament ... and who can argue with that?

Still, there's plenty of drama on other fronts here in the plains as there remains a debate as to whether or not more than half of this conference's member teams will get a shot to play in the 'Big Dance' Kansas State, Baylor and Texas A&M (the other teams along with Kansas that will be drawing a first-round bye here) are all lead-pipe cinches to play in the big tourney and Missouri's 10 wins in regular-season conference play means the Tigers will be bringing their dancing shoes again but should Texas (23-8, 9-7) and Oklahoma State (21-9, 9-7) the #6 and #7 seeds, respectively, in this Big 12 Tourney -- be absolutely sure that they're in?

It's been well documented how Texas has hits the skids the Longhorns are an ugly 6-8 SU (straightup) since Jan. 17th and we've all heard how the NCAA Tournament Committee folks likes teams that are hot at year's end. Hmmm.
Oklahoma State, meanwhile, does own that late-season home win against Kansas but don't lose sight of the fact the Cowboys only have split their last 10 games since Jan. 28th and their only road win during this time was a so-what victory at Iowa State.
Wednesday's Opening-Round Matchups: Texas Tech vs. Colorado; Nebraska vs. Missouri; Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State; and Iowa State vs. Texas.

Thursday's Quarterfinal-Round Matchups: TT/Colorado vs. Kansas; Nebraska/Missouri vs. Texas A&M; Oklahoma/OSU vs. Kansas State; and ISU/Texas vs. Baylor.

NOTE: More College Basketball action including Conference Tournament action in the next edition of Jim Sez.



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