Sweet 16 Team Capsules

Hurley's Horses Go 2-for-2 At Gulfstream & Santa Anita!

THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: A WILD FIRST WEEK IS IN THE BOOKS AS THE MID-MAJORS FLEX THEIR MUSCLES (BUT THERE'S STILL THREE #1 SEEDS ALIVE TOO!) AND WE OFFER UP OUR SWEET 16 TEAM CAPSULES

By Jim Hurley:

It's safe to say that folks who love the NCAA Tournament had it their way in the first week of play - there were a slew of upset winners that have planted five so-called mid-major teams into the Round of 16 and yet three of the four #1 seeds also survived with mighty-might Kansas taking the biggest fall of them all.

In short, the 2010 NCAA Tournament - arguably the best single opening week of play in memory (no exaggeration here folks!) - wound up giving us a double-overtime affair between Florida and BYU to start things off and then a single OT adventure between Purdue and Texas A&M to wrap up the Sunday action and so that means four different games went "extra time" and a total of 13 games either were decided by 13 points or else went into OT (a staggering 26.5 percent of the games in all).

The first-week's biggest winners?

That's easy - the mid-major likes of Northern Iowa, Cornell, Butler and Saint Mary's gobbled up the big/bold headlines - while Kentucky, Syracuse and Duke (all #1 seeds) went a composite 6-and-oh ATS (against the spread) and so don't believe any of that hype saying the big boys are dead.

In fact, you'd have to say that these three #1 seeds all are favored to reach the Final Four and so Indianapolis could wind up being a slam-bang national semifinals and finals, after all!

The first-week's biggest losers?

The Big East takes the cake with six of the eight "Big Dance" teams gonesville from this year's tourney and shame on Villanova, Georgetown and Pittsburgh for taking up such high seeds - they all were awful in their elimination games.

And now hear this: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the NCAA Tournament, NIT, CBI and College Insider Tournament Winners along with the NBA when you check in with us every day right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - remember that check-in times are after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight games and after 10 a.m. this Saturday and Sunday. And so don't miss out on all the fun-and-profits as "March Madness" rolls on and remember that the 2010 Major-League Baseball Season is right around the corner (Opening Night is Sunday, April 4th when the New York Yankees play at the Boston Red Sox)!

 

NCAA TOURNAMENT POINTSPREAD BREAKDOWN CHART

Here's our annual Jim Sez NCAA Tournament Pointspread Breakdown Chart through the first two rounds of this year's action. The Conferences (or Leagues) are listed on the far left - note the next time we will bring you this chart it will contain only the conferences/leagues that have remaining teams in the tourney:

CONF/LG.

WON

LOST

TIED

PCT.

Ivy League

2

0

0

1.000

Missouri Valley 2 0 0 1.000

Ohio Valley

2

0

0

1.000

Big Sky

1

0

0

1.000

Northeast

1

0

0

1.000

Patriot

1

0

0

1.000

Southern

1

0

0

1.000

Southland

1

0

0

1.000

Pac-10

3

1

0

.750

West Coast

3

1

0

.750

ACC

5

5

0

.500

Big 10

4

4

1

.500

SEC

3

3

0

.500

Atlantic-10

2

2

0

.500

Colonial

1

1

0

.500

Horizon

1

1

0

.500

Mid-American

1

1

0

.500

SWAC

1

1

0

.500

WAC

1

1

0

.500

Big West

0

0

1

.500

Big East

5

7

0

.417

Big 12

5

7

0

.417

Mountain West

2

4

0

.333

America East

0

1

0

.000

Atlantic Sun

0

1

0

.000

Big South

0

1

0

.000

Metro Atlantic

0

1

0

.000

MEAC

0

1

0

.000

Sun Belt

0

1

0

.000

Conference USA

0

2

0

.000

It's interesting that the so-called power conference combined for a shabby 25-27-1 ATS mark (that's a .481 winning rate) while the mid-majors likes of Cornell (Ivy League) and Murray State (Ohio Valley Conference) each cashed a couple of bets apiece.  

NCAA TOURNAMENT SWEET 16 TEAM CAPSULES

MIDWEST - at St. Louis, MO (Friday & Sunday):

#2 OHIO STATE (24-7) - It's no secret that Buckeyes' megastar Evan Turner hasn't been his usual dominating self so far in this year's NCAA Tournament although he did pad the stat sheet with 24 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists in Sunday's gritty 75-66 win/cover against 6 ½-point pup Georgia Tech. So far both UC-Santa Barbara and G-Tech have made Turner (just 8-of-19 FG shooting on Sunday) sweat as they pressured him from end line-to-end line but there's a lot of weapons on this Big 10 team and G Jon Diebler (20 points versus the Yellow Jackets) and David Lighty (18 points) came to the rescue when they had to - and shot-blocker Dallas Lauderdale was king in that Round I win against the Gauchos. Now that Kansas has been extinguished from this tourney, the 'Eyes are the class of this bracket but Turner may have to step up his shooting stats to get to the Final Four.

#5 MICHIGAN STATE (26-8) - Forget the M*A*S*H unit, this Spartans team has more ball to play! Tom Izzo - who was more emotional than we've ever seen 'em following Sunday's last-second 85-83 second-round win against 1 ½-point favorite Maryland - likely will go without star PG Kalin Lucas in this week's Sweet 16 game but it may take the Big 10 guys a few days to get over that draining win that not only featured the three-point, top-of-the-key last-second winner by G Korie Lucious but also a blistering (if somewhat forgotten) 26-point performance by Durrell Summers who nailed 10-of-14 FGs.

#6 TENNESSEE (27-8) - Do you get the feeling that the Vols have been a "lost-in-the-shuffle" team in this year's tourney? No doubt that Bruce Pearl's team clearly outclassed 8 ½-point dog Ohio 83-68 last Saturday as J.P. Prince's 18 points led the way but the SEC club also didn't let the Bobcats get going from three-land till it was way too late and board-bangers Wayne Chism and Brian Williams (12 rebounds apiece against Ohio) showed a toughness that not all power conference clubs exhibited this past weekend (are you listening, Kansas?).

#9 NORTHERN IOWA (30-4) - The kings of the college hoops world is getting all the glory ... and why not! The NIU Panthers showed some cracks in the armor late in that stunning 69-67 win against 11 ½-point fav Kansas on Saturday but the gutsy three-pointer by G Ali Farokhmanesh (16 points) will live in TV highlights history from here to eternity. Don't forget that Northern Iowa deserves some credit for Kansas' starting guards going 0-for-11 from beyond the three-point arc!

 

WEST - at Salt Lake City, UT (Thursday & Saturday)

#1 SYRACUSE (30-4) - Memo to those hoops fans who thought the Orange would be hurt by the absence of C Arinze Onuaku (knee) ... think again! In fact, the 'Cuse really played their best ball when there was no big man in the lineup for Sunday's surgical 87-65 win/cover against 6 ½-point underdog Gonzaga as once Rick Jackson went down with first-half foul problems the Big East crew took off to a higher stratosphere. Let's just say that it took Jim Boeheim's crew a few minutes to figure out what the Zags were doing on offense (sending in a body on/near the baseline for some easy hoops) and then Syracuse took off with silky-smooth F Wesley Johnson (31 points and 14 rebounds) simply playing one of the best games (if not the best) of any player in the land this week.

#2 KANSAS STATE (28-7) - If there is a Most Outstanding Player for this year's tourney after two rounds, it might well be K-State guard Jacob Pullen who poured in 34 points in that 84-72 win/cover against 4 ½-point pup BYU. Pullen has proven to be cat-quick and quite savvy while getting off his shots (okay, he did go 11-for-11 from the foul line against the Cougars) but hats off to Frank Martin's team for never letting its foot off the pedal and for holding usually accurate BYU to just 21-of-53 FG shooting ... dee-fense!

#5 BUTLER (30-4) - Let's be quite honest here: The Bulldogs could have let Saturday's 54-52 non-cover win against 4 ½-point pup Murray State slip-slide right out of their collective fingers but the Racers had no clue how to attack the hoop with 10 seconds left and so Brad Stevens' club escaped big-time. Throw in the fact that Butler only connected on 18-of-50 FGs in that tilt and you get the sense that the Horizon League champs won a game they didn't necessarily deserve to win and they won on a day when star Matt Howard scored just 3 points.

#6 XAVIER (26-8) - The Musketeers got their revenge for last year's Sweet 16 loss to Pitt and it was Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford (27 points including a late-game breakaway dunk) who did the most damage but did you take note that the Panthers' three-guard staring offense combined to shoot a woeful 12-of-38 (or 31.6 percent)? It's that skin-under-the-fingernails defense that makes the X-men tick  but even this Atlantic-10 team would admit the task is daunting when it comes to getting to this year's Final Four - beat Kansas State and then (most likely) Syracuse.

NIT TV TWOSOME

It was a strong and profitable four-day run through the opening of the NCAA Tournament and we have every intention of keeping that going into next week. But we have no intention of waiting around until Thursday when the Sweet 16 starts. Not when there's a great NIT doubleheader tonight on ESPN! It starts with UConn-Virginia Tech. You have one national power against the team many feel was robbed of an NCAA invite, and our on-scene sources have monitored this situation closely and come up with the intangible information that gives us the edge. And the same goes for Dayton-Cincinnati in the nightcap, a true battle for the heart of western Ohio. Go 2-0 on TV for Monday night!
 
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EAST - at Syracuse, NY (Thursday & Saturday)

#1 KENTUCKY (34-2) - Enough of those TV shots of actress Ashley Judd ... we know she's at all these Kentucky games and we're tired of her "Go 'Cats" mantra every time the camera comes on! Now, onto the real business: John Calipari's team has shown zero nerves en route to pummeling lowly East Tennessee State and out-of-sync Wake Forest and how about a round of applause for Kentucky G Darius Miller who sported a 20-point, 9-rebound game against the Demon Deacons? If freshmen studs John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins have to make a play, they do so (see Wall's 7 assists versus WF and Cousins' 9-of-10 FG shooting) and right now this is the best team in the country that's playing the best ball in the country - and in recent years that usually spells who's gonna win it all!

#2 WEST VIRGINIA (29-6) - It's been ugly-as-usual for the Mountaineers who really caught lots of breaks in Sunday's 68-59 win/cover against 6-point underdog Missouri: Not only did the Tigers shoot a miserable 12-of-20 from the charity stripe but they had a slew of in-close shots bounce in and out of the basket while WVU leaned on star Da'Sean Butler for 28 points and 8 rebounds. If Bob Huggins' crew was out of character at all in the Round II win it was the fact the 'Neers drained 25-of-33 FTs.

#11 WASHINGTON (26-9) - Don't dish any more dirt on the Pac-10 as the mini-tourney champ Huskies are still alive after simply battering New Mexico 82-64 in Round II play as Lorenzo Romar's guys held Los Lobos to 26-of-66 FG shooting and really rubbed it in when (allegedly) some UNM players talked trash. If the Dawgs keep getting all-around play from star Quincy Pondexter (18 points against New Mex) then the sky's the limit for this crew that's now won its last nine in a row.

#12 CORNELL (29-4) - Here's the lowest remaining seed in this year's NCAA Tournament but you could make the case that nobody's played better in their first two tourney games than the Big Red from Ithaca. The Ivy Leaguers have beaten Temple and Wisconsin by a combined 31 points (yes, Cornell was an underdog in both games!) and the precision at which this offense is operating right now is scary and G Louis Dale (26 points versus Wisky in Sunday's painfully easy 87-69 victory) is showing the country he's one of the best players nobody knew about prior to the start of this "Big Dance". Okay, so a rock-'em, sock-'em game against Kentucky is on tap this week in the Carrier Dome but who's to question a team that just shot 61 percent against the defensive-minded Badgers?

 

SOUTH - at Houston, TX (Friday & Sunday)

#1 DUKE (31-5) - If the Blue Devils had any worries about how this group would handle the first weekend of the NCAAs following their ACC Tournament title last weekend, they can put 'em to rest as Mike Krzyzewski's club really pounded the offensive glass (11 O-rebounds in the 68-53 win/cover against the 6 ½-point underdog Cal Golden Bears) and do-everything G Nolan Smith proved he's a prime-time player with 20 points and only one turnover in 40 minutes of play against the Pac-10 team. Plus, Duke survived-and-advanced on a day when sharpshooter G Jon Scheyer drained only 1-of-8 triples and the Dookies received a late-day present when athletic Texas A&M lost to Purdue ... now you don't think the Devils would have been 8-point favorites against A&M in Houston, now do you?
 
#3 BAYLOR (27-7) - One thing about these Bears it's that the sum is greater than all its parts as proven in Saturday's gritty 76-68 win/cover against 4-point dog Old Dominion: There was little-know center Josh Lomers scoring 12 of his 14 points in the second half of that tug-of-war win and so now Scott Drew's club will have that much-discussed home-state advantage in the Sweet 16 (hey, Cornell has the same deal in New York!). If Baylor has anything to fret right now it's that the Big 12 team has puttered around when holding big leads and so maybe that will catch up with 'em but G LaceDarius Dunn (26 points against Old Dom) is proving to be one of America's 10-best players even if the CBS folks barely say a peep!
 
#4 PURDUE (29-5) - Give the Boilermakers the weekend award for "most heart" as Matt Painter's team could have quit a bunch of times but didn't en route to that thrilling 63-61 OT triumph over Texas A&M. Okay, so the Big Ten team still misses star forward Robbie Hummel but did anyone notice that pain-in-the-neck guard Chris Kramer produced Hummel-like numbers (see 17 points and 7 rebounds) against the Aggies plus his game-winning drive to the hoop at the end of OT was classic stuff as he totally tied up a taller opponent. Purdue's big man JaJuan Johnson didn't quite match his Round One showing (25 points and 15 rebs against Siena) but he did block three A&M shots and was a big reason why the Aggies shot just 35.4 percent from the floor.

#10 SAINT MARY'S (28-5) - Talk about a team on a magic carpet ride! This West Coast Conference club beat Richmond and Villanova - and beat 'em on the East Coast (see Providence) -- and really opened up some eyes this past week while big man Omar Samhan (32 points and 7 rebounds in the 75-68 win against 4 ½-point favorite 'Nova) dominated matters while steering clear of foul trouble. Hey, if anyone out there (save for Cornell, of course) plays a more beautiful style of ball than this here-and-now Gaels bunch, we want to see 'em as Randy Bennett's crew hits the open man (see seven triples against Villanova and lots of wide-open jumpers) and isn't at all afraid to dive on the floor and get dirty.
 

NOTE: Catch our Sweet 16 Thursday Nite Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.

 

20
Nov

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