College Basketball Top 5 Disappointments

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UC-Northridge (+6.5) UC-Irvine 66-62 WON

NBA NEWS & NOTES

     The no-doubt-about-it #1 story of this NBA season has been the whole Carmelo Anthony Saga - where will he wind up and when will he be dealt?
It's a burning couple of queries that's involved a slew of NBA teams including the New York Knicks, the New Jersey Nets, the Houston Rockets, the Dallas Mavericks and others but the gut feeling here is there will be a "sleeper" team on the horizon and here's three destinations where he could wind up:

    WASHINGTON - The Wizards (13-31 at press time) may not be considered a real player in the Anthony Sweepstakes but the Baltimore native could be intrigued by the notion of hooking up with rookie PG John Wall for the next half-dozen or so years. Obviously, Washington needs to come up with multiple draft picks and perhaps a couple of warm bodies too to satisfy Denver's demands but don't discount the D.C. gang here.

     TORONTO - The Raptors (13-32) may not look like an appealing destination for Anthony but this is a franchise that could have their arrow pointed up in the very near future. The North-of-the-Border crew already has a 21.6 ppg scorer in Andrea Bargnani that the Raptors could "flip" as part of a package for Anthony and don't forget that Denver PG Chauncey Billups could be part of a deal here and that may interest Anthony too.

     MINNESOTA - Here's another last-place team (10-34 at press time and at the bottom of the Northwest Division) that has the goods in terms of draft picks and/or the rights to European PG Ricky Rubio and so don't sleep on the Timberwolves when it comes to possibly acquiring Anthony on or before this year's NBA Trade Deadline. The ability to team up with double-double specialist Kevin Love could have Anthony licking his chops - if he can't get to NYC than a fresh start with a young T-Wolves club could be the way to go.

 

COLLEGE BASKETBALL'S TOP 5 DISAPPOINTING TEAMS (SO FAR)

     #1 MICHIGAN STATE (12-7, 4-3 Big 10) - This is turning into a real nightmare season for veteran head coach Tom Izzo whose club has slunk into the middle of the Big 10 pack while choosing to become an ineffective jump-shooting team. The Spartans have reached seven losses faster than any M-State squad since the 2003-04 season and now the latest indignity is that junior G Korie Lucious has been chucked from the team for the remainder of the season for "conduct detrimental to the program".
No doubt that Michigan State's veered way off course while displaying way too much of a "soft" personality but now we'll see if Lucious' dismissal will serve to jump-start "Sparty" and do keep in mind that the East Lansing crew has only enjoyed one three-game winning streak this year and that was to open the season versus Eastern Michigan, South Carolina and Chaminade.

     #2 KANSAS STATE (14-7, 2-4 Big 12) - Last year's Wildcats romped all the way to the Elite 8 before getting eliminated in the NCAA Tournament but right now this K-State crew isn't even in the top eight in its conference!
No question that Frank Martin's club has missed former point guard Denis Clemente as G Jacob Pullen (17.9 ppg but only shooting 41.4 percent from the field) has struggled while attempting to fill the roles as either/both point guard and two-guard but why haven't the supporting cast members picked up the beat?

     #3 GEORGETOWN (14-5, 3-4 Big East) - The Hoyas may be sitting at #21 in the current Associated Press Top 25 poll but do they belong there?
Just consider that John Thompson III's team lost three straight league tilts prior to those back-to-back Garden State wins at Rutgers and at Seton Hall but there's something not quite right with this G-town crew and the in-the-paint defense - long a strength in this program's history - has been awful as even in victory the Hoyas allowed Rutgers to score 34 "paint points" while Seton Hall's Pirates poured in 44 points down low. Ugh!

     #4 NEVADA (7-13, 4-3 WAC) - The 2010-11 Wolf Pack knew that rebuilding a roster that brought back just one starter from last season's 21-win team (lost in the second round of the NIT to Rhode Island) was gonna be a challenge but who knew David Carter's club would struggle so badly although Nevada has won its last three games in a row. One major earlier-season problem was point guard play but the future's looking brighter for freshman Deonte Burton. Still, this was supposed to be a second- or third-place team inside the Western Athletic Conference and instead the Pack's looking up at a handful of teams.        

     #5 ARIZONA STATE (9-10, 1-6 Pac-10) - The last three years in Tempe this squad won 22, 25 and 21 games but reaching those magic numbers won't be easy now for Herb Sendek's team. The Sun Devils have slumped into the Pac-10 basement - most preseason forecasters believed A-State would finish fourth or fifth in the league and be an NCAA Tournament "bubble team" at worst - but instead there's been bundles of problems including shoddy team defense, shabby 3-point shooting (under 30 percent for the year) and plenty of free-throw woes too (61 percent accuracy rate while heading into Thursday's home game against USC.

RECENT SUPER BOWL HISTORY, 2000-PRESENT

Let's do a quickie review here and show you the Super Bowl history during this decade of the 2000s.
As you see in our accompanying chart, Super Bowl Betting Favorites are only 3-7 against the odds dating back to the 2000 campaign.
Also, take note that Betting Favorites of 5-or-more points are a collective 1-5 spreadwise during this time frame - the lone exception was the 2006 Indy Colts who drummed the Chicago Bears in a very rainy Miami.

SEASON WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
         
2009 New Orleans +4½ Indianapolis 31-17
2008 Pittsburgh -7 Arizona 27-23
2007 New York Giants +12 New England 17-14
2006 Indianapolis -6½ Chicago 29-17
2005 Pittsburgh -4 Seattle 21-10
2004 New England -7 Philadelphia 24-21
2003 New England -7 Carolina 32-29
2002 Tampa Bay +4 Oakland 48-21
2001 New England +14 St. Louis 20-17
2000 Baltimore -3 New York Giants 34-7

Overall, note that Super Bowl Betting Favorites enter this year's game at 21-20-3 against the spread (ATS) for a winning rate of .512  As we pointed out above,  Super Bowl Betting Favorites are just 3-7 versus the vig this past decade with Baltimore (2000), Pittsburgh (2005) and Indianapolis (2006) the chalk sides that won/covered while New England (2001), Tampa Bay (2002), the New York Giants (2007) and New Orleans (2009) were underdog sides that won Super Bowl games in outright fashion.

Note that there have been three Super Bowl underdogs that covered the Las Vegas pointspread but didn't win the "whole game" and they include the 2003 Carolina Panthers, the 2004 Philadelphia Eagles and the 2008 Arizona Cardinals.

So, the next time somebody tells us that the pointspread "doesn't matter" at Super Bowl time, you let him/her know that three of the last seven Super Bowl straightup losers actually did cover the Las Vegas price tag.

One more thing: The NFC is 23-18-3 vig-wise in the previous 44 Super Bowl games - that's a decent .561 winning percentage - and note that the NFC has covered the last three in a row and six of the last eight Super Bowl tilts.

One last thing: Wanna know the Super Bowl spread records of any/all active NFL head coaches? Here goes...

COACH TEAM WON LOSS TIE PCT
           
Mike Shanahan Denver Broncos 2 0 0 1.000
Sean Payton New Orleans Saints 1 0 0 1.000
Tom Coughlin New York Giants 1 0 0 1.000
Ken Whisenhunt Arizona Cardinals 1 0 0 1.000
John Fox Carolina Panthers 1 0 0 1.000
Andy Reid Philadelphia Eagles 1 0 0 1.000
Jeff Fisher Tennessee Titans 0 0 1 .500
Bill Belichick New England Patriots 1 3 0 .250
Lovie Smith Chicago Bears 0 1 0 .000
Jim Caldwell Indianapolis Colts 0 1 0 .000
Mike Tomlin Pittsburgh Steelers 0 1 0 .000

Obviously, note that Shanahan - the current sideline boss of the Washington Redskins -- won/covered his two Super Bowl titles with Denver back in 1997-98 while Fox - the new Broncos coach -- copped his SB pointspread cover with Carolina.

And here's a strange-but-true factoid: Seven of the Super Bowl coaches the past 10 years (or 7 of 20) are no longer with those teams including Shanahan, Fox, Seattle's Mike Holmgren, Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden, Oakland's Bill Callahan. St. Louis' Mike Martz, Baltimore's Brian Billick and the 2000 New York Giants coach Jim Fassel.

 

COLLEGE BASKETBALL'S KEY SATURDAY PREVIEWS - WE CHECK IN ON #1 OHIO STATE AT NORTHWESTERN PLUS BIG 12 TUG-OF-WAR BETWEEN #11 MIZZOU AT #7 TEXAS ...

THERE'S MORE SUPER BOWL XLV NEWS & NOTES: KEY POINTSPREAD FACTS & FIGURES INCLUDING UP-TO-DATE SPREAD STUFF ON GREEN BAY'S McCARTHY AND PITTSBURGH'S TOMLIN

By Jim Hurley:

And you thought the NBA's San Antonio Spurs were off to a "good start"!

The fact of the matter is there is one - and only one - undefeated team in the world of College Basketball right now and the Ohio State Buckeyes (21-0) will be favored to stay perfect right through the end of January as Thad Matta's gang plays at Northwestern on Saturday evening and then we flip the calendar page to February and those back-to-back road hurdles at Minnesota (Feb. 6th) and at Minnesota (Feb. 12th) lie ahead.

Could the Buckeyes really run the table on this whole 2010-11 schedule?

The knee-jerk reaction is to say no but keep this in mind:

Ohio State's won 16 of its first 20 games by double-digit margins and remember that the 'Eyes just won recent back-to-back games at Illinois and then home to Purdue by a combined 28 points ... not bad at all!

We'll preview Ohio State's upcoming weekend bash in Evanston plus get to some other Key Saturday Previews plus there's more Super Bowl XLV News/Notes including important coaching pointspread info but first this important reminder:

And now hear this:

Jim Hurley and his Handicappers and Bloggers will release the Side & Totals Winners for Super Bowl XLV on game-day morning and so that means for the next several days and then deep into the spring too you can get all the 2010-11 College Basketball Winners and the NBA too as the hoops season remains in full swing. Just go ahead and join Jim as he crushes the Las Vegas and the off-shore books in these coming days/weeks with nothing but hoop winners  and you can go ahead and cash in when you give us game-day calls at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else when you just log online right here.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL KEY SATURDAY PREVIEWS

#1 OHIO STATE (21-0, 8-0 Big 10) at NORTHWESTERN (13-7, 3-6 Big 10) - 6 p.m. ET, espn2
What's been the best part of this special season so far for the top-ranked O-State Buckeyes? Well, everyone knew freshman forward Jared Sullinger (17.8 ppg and 10.0 rpg) would be a monster the minute he walked on campus in Columbus but who knew that frosh point guard Aaron Craft (4.9 apg and a 47 percent shooter from the floor with a flair for the dramatic) would be this good or that this club would be so good on offense (79.3 ppg) and defense (57.5 ppg)?

In this Big 10 road clash the 'Eyes must get out quick on the Northwestern three-point shooters John Shurna, Michael Thompson and Drew Crawford who enter this game with a combined 131 trifectas on the season - look for Ohio State to pick up Northwestern's guards at half court and stick with 'em all throughout the Wildcats' offensive sets.

One key here: Ohio State G Jon Diebler (62 triples and averaging 12 points a game) remains a streak shooter and so even a three- or four-minute spurt of Diebler treys could swing the balance of this game faster than you can say Jerry Lucas!

    
 #9 BYU (20-1, 6-0 MWC) at NEW MEXICO (14-7, 2-4 MWC) - 4 p.m. ET, Versus
Now that the BYU Cougars have officially declared themselves the new monster of the Mountain West Conference following Wednesday's 71-58 win against 5-point underdog (and previously unbeaten San Diego State) you do have to wonder if this year's Coogs have a little magic working 'em.

Okay, so scoring machine G Jimmer Fredette (27.4 ppg) - the nation's at-the-moment leader in National Player of the Year category ahead of Ohio State's Sullinger - simply went silly with that 43-point game against the SDSU Aztecs and he certainly received plenty of assistance from reserve center James Anderson (5 blocked shots in just 14 minutes of play) but here Dave Rose's club must show the "no letdown" mode and that means the BYU defense must be up to snuff one game after limiting San Diego State to 35 percent shooting from the floor.

   
#11 MISSOURI (17-3, 3-2 Big 12) at #7 TEXAS (17-3, 5-0 Big 12) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Here's some prime-time action from the Lone Star State where the host Texas Longhorns look to follow up those high-profile back-to-back conference road wins - first the 69-game home winning streak of the Kansas Jayhawks was snapped and then Oklahoma State was slugged 61-46 last Wednesday night - and the key to this tilt is the Texas defense:

Note that in the win at Stillwater, the O-State Cowboys shot just 26 percent from the field after intermission and made only six FGs in the game's final 20 minutes and now Rick Barnes' bunch must play superb transition defense against a run-run Mizzou crew that's averaging an eye-popping 85 points a game behind classy G Marcus Denmon (17.3 ppg) whose 53 made triples this season leads Mike Anderson's team by a whole lot.

Can Texas swingman Jordan Hamilton (19.2 ppg and a 47 percent FG shooter) rise to the occasion here and keep the 'Horns thinking about a #1 NCAA Tournament seed come March? Stay tuned.

 

SUPER BOWL XLV NEWS & NOTES

Let's get you some pointspread-related facts and figures as it pertains to the teams and the coaches soon to participate in Super Bowl XLV on Sunday, February 6th from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington (TX):

The Green Bay Packers are 12-7 against the odds overall this 2010 season and that includes three consecutive spread "W's" here in the post-season. Overall, the Pack is 8-6 ATS whenever in the favorite's role and the NFC's #6 playoff seed is an electric 4-1 ATS whenever taking points.

Note that Green Bay's covered 7 of its 11 away games this year (including that 3-and-oh spread mark away in the playoffs) while the Packers sport a 3-1 ATS log against AFC teams as Mike McCarthy's gang cashed against AFC East squads Buffalo, the New York Jets and New England and failed to cover the price tag in an OT home loss to Miami.

One final note: Green Bay is a dead-even but vig-losing 6-6 against the Las Vegas price tags in all post-season games since 2000 but this is - as you all know - the Packers first trip back to a Super Bowl since the 1997 season.

On the flip side, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 12-6 spreadwise this year and that includes playoff home spread triumphs against both Baltimore and the New York Jets. Note that the Steelers have covered 3-of-4 games this season when in the underdog role (covered tilts against Atlanta, Tennessee and Baltimore and failed to cover the 1-point price at New Orleans back on Halloween Night) and the AFC's #2 playoff seed is solid 9-5 ATS whenever placed in the favorite's role.

Pittsburgh is 5-3 vig-wise away this year (and 7-3 ATS as hosts) and Mike Tomlin's team covered three-of-four games against the NFC South with spread wins against Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Carolina and that aforementioned 20-10 loss at the Louisiana Superdome.

A final note: Pittsburgh's 11-5 against Las Vegas prices in all post-season games since the start of the 2000 season (that's a .688 winning rate) and now this marks Tomlin's second trip to the Super Bowl in just four years on the job.
  
And how about these coaches from a pointspread perspective?

Well, Green Bay's McCarthy has been "on the job" since 2006 and his overall pointspread mark to date is 51-33-2 - good for a dazzling .607 win percentage. Keep in mind that McCarthy-led Packers teams are a collective 29-15 against the odds when playing away from Lambeau Field (an even-better .659 winning rate) and the Packers are 29-20-2 ATS whenever installed as the betting favorite (a .592 winning percentage).

Note that the Packers are 4-2 vig-wise in all post-season affairs since McCarthy arrived on the scene five years ago.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's Tomlin has been in charge since 2007 and his overall pointspread mark to date is 37-31-1 and that's good for a decent .544 winning rate. Note that Tomlin-led Steelers teams are 16-17 ATS away from Heinz Field the past four seasons (a .485 winning rate) and overall Pittsburgh is a dashing 9-3 versus the vig whenever in the underdog role since the start of '07 (that's a sweet .750 winning rate) and keep in mind the one-and-only time the AFC North champs took points in a post-season game coached by Tomlin the Steelers lost but covered 31-29 as 3-point home pups against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 2007 AFC Wild Card Game ... remember?

The Steelers are a vibrant (and profitable) 5-1 against the odds in all post-season games during the Tomlin Era.

Finally, just remember that NFL Playoff Favorites and Underdogs have split the 10 post-season games played this winter and that includes a 3-3 spread log for NFL Playoff Betting Favorites of 3-points-or-less.

NOTE: Catch more College Hoops Notes - and more - in the next edition of Jim Sez.

24
Sep

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