NCAA Coverage Rolls On

Thursday's Total Of The Day Wins, with Gonzaga St. John's (Over 135) 86-71, UC-Santa Barbara comes up short. Insiders Special cashes outright with Morehead State over Louisville! Pitt wins and covers, gets money for Hurley clients...Temple pushes.

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WEST -- at Charlotte, NC
#8 MICHIGAN (20-13) vs. #9 TENNESSEE (19-14) -- 12:40 p.m. ET

Here's one of a handful-plus Thursday/Friday games that pit power conference teams up against one another but you wonder if the arrow's pointing up for one of these clubs -- and pointing down for the other.
Simply put Michigan's hoop fortunes are back on the rise thanks to head coach John Beilein and the infusion of star freshmen talent that includes G Tim Hardaway, Jr. who may not own a 'killer crossover' move but this first-year star can do everything else.

On the flip side, Tennessee has an uncertain future at best with reports that under-siege head coach Bruce Pearl could get axed following this tourney after he lied to NCAA investigators last year and there's concern that star G Scotty Hopson just isn't the same player he was at this time last year -- it might be that freshman Tobias Harris will have to seize control of this game if the Vols wish to survive-and-advance -- and keep Pearl off the hot seat.

SOUTHWEST -- at Chicago, IL
#2 NOTRE DAME (26-6) vs. AKRON (23-12) -- 1:40 p.m. ET

Okay, so maybe everyone's just about sick-and-tired of talking Big East hoops after 11 teams from that bloated 16-team conference found their way into this year's NCAA Tournament but we'll go on record to state that Mike Brey's bunch played like a Top 10 team for the past three months -- the mini-tourney slip-up in OT versus Louisville last week washed away any/all hopes that the ND Fighting Irish would snatch up a #1 seed here but maybe it was good that Big East Player of the Year G Ben Hansbrough was humbled by his sorry showing in that tourney while UConn's Kemba Walker stole all the Broadway spotlights.

Expect Hansbrough to play with lots of vim-and-vigor here and he better 'cause gritty Akron won't ever quit (see a pair of overtime wins en route to copping the Mid-American Conference Tournament crown) and soph F Quincy Diggs can dazzle.

WEST -- at Tulsa, OK
#5 ARIZONA (27-7) vs. #12 MEMPHIS (25-9) -- approximately 2:45 p.m. ET

Looking for a dark horse -- to us that's anyone seeded lower than #4 -- to make a major run in this year's NCAA Tournament? Than feast your orbs on the Arizona Wildcats who sport an RPI of 20 and who own one of the nation's top five talents in 6-foot-8 F Derrick Williams (19.1 ppg). The 'Cats were hard-luck 77-75 overtime losers to Washington in last weekend's Pac-10 Tournament Championship Game but that sting is long gone and now look for head coach Sean Miller's top priority here to be separating Memphis PG Joe Jackson from the ball.


When the damage was done, as Jimmer Fredette walked off the court after BYU's 74-66 win over Wofford here, the bright beam of the hottest spotlight of the season having burned down upon him, he drew in a light breath and exhaled heavy.

Victory was written across his face, but somewhere in that expression was a mix of frustration and, maybe, fatigue.

Fredette looked like an Olympic swimmer who had just won the gold medal in his favorite event, but who failed to break the world record.

Not unlike the rest of his team, he was Fredette good in his first game in the NCAA Tournament, not Jimmer great. He made 10 of 25 shots, only 2 of 9 from beyond the arc, for 32 points, along with seven assists and four turnovers.

'[I was just satisfied that we won,' he said afterward. '[That's the whole point in this tournament. You win and you advance. I was excited we won the game ... excited we were able to live another day.'

It's a nod to Jimmer's prowess that anyone doubted his response, but almost everyone did.

Jimmermania, on some nights, can be a cruel mother.

by Gordon Monson


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