College Football Midweek Report - Wednesday Hoops Previews (November 9, 2011)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL MID-WEEK REPORT

WE HAVE A FEW THINGS TO SAY ABOUT MR. PATERNO AND PENN STATE PLUS WE TAKE SNEAK PEEKS AT TWO OF THIS WEEKEND'S UNDER-THE-RADAR BIG GAMES PLUS CATCH THE THURSDAY NIGHT TV TILT (THAT'S VIRGINIA TECH AT GEORGIA TECH)

By Jim Hurley:

Gee, wonder how game preparation is going for the Penn State Nittany Lions for their Saturday showdown against Nebraska?

Don't ask us how - or why - Penn State head coach Joe Paterno felt it important to get to his team's practice on Tuesday afternoon amidst all the wackiness surrounding his old buddy/defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and those very sick allegations but there was the 84-year-old JoePa shuttling off to campus for a light practice and more than a couple of personal bouts with reporters/camera folks.

Hey, and who knew that Paterno's son Scott could be one of the best bouncers in town - talk about a heavy-handed kid!

Naturally, football takes a back seat to all the alleged miscreant actions of Sandusky but here's one thing we wanted to get off our chests:

Isn't is ironic that Paterno has been the "conscience" of college football for nearly the past half-century - remember how he once uttered that he didn't want to retire 25 years ago and "leave the sport in the hands of the (Jackie) Sherrills and (Barry) Switzers of the world"?

Yeah, everyone's a whole lot better off now that we left it to you and your Penn State cronies!

We'll have much more to say on Paterno and this whole sordid saga in the days ahead but let's get back to the playing field and weigh in a couple of "under-the-radar" games this Saturday:

ARIZONA STATE at WASHINGTON STATE - The visiting Sun Devils (6-3, 4-2) are tied with UCLA atop the Pac-12 South (remember USC's not eligible to play in this year's first-ever conference champion game) and so Dennis Erickson's club has no wiggle room whatsoever after losing 29-28 at the Uclans last week. Everyone knows A-State can get sloppy at times but the Tempe team has beaten Wazzu seven straight times and the good folks in Las Vegas list 'em as 12-point chalk sides here.

CENTRAL FLORIDA at SOUTHERN MISS - You might have missed it but the USM Golden Eagles last weekend scored four non-offensive touchdowns in their 48-28 win at 9 ½-point underdog East Carolina. So, now Larry Fedora's squad enters this home tilt in Hattiesburg on a seven-game SU (straight-up) winning streak and Southern Miss also has covered seven in a row. Note that Southern Miss is listed as a 9-point betting fav for this clash and keep in mind last year UCF was a 10-point home favorite in this game and yet the Eagles won 31-21. Can revenge-minded Central Florida get its payback and possibly cost Southern Miss (8-1, 4-1) the Conference USA East Division?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL SPREAD UPDATE
It's our weekly look at College Football Betting Favorites and here's the update:

Week # FAVS VS SPREAD
#1 19-19-0 (2 no plays)
#2 24-21-0
#3 24-23-0 (1 Pick 'Em)
#4 22-24-0 (1 Pick 'Em)
#5 16-35-1 (1 Pick 'Em)
#6 32-20-0
#7 23-26-0 (1 Pick 'Em)
#8 24-26-0
#9 28-23-1
#10 21-31-0
Season Total 233-248-2
(4 Pick 'Em Games and 2 No Plays)

Note: College Football Betting Favorites are winning at a .484 rate thus far this 2011 campaign and check out the fact that we've had only four weeks where Favorites sported a better-than-.500 record, there's been five weeks where Betting Favs had a sub-.500 mark and one dead-even but vig-losing week right at season's start.

Extra, extra: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to win big-time all week and weekend long as we get deeper into the merry month of November with lots of great College Football action plus there's lots of winning straight ahead with NFL Week #10 action. Go ahead and make sure you're all aboard for all the action right through Super Bowl XLVI on February 5th. Just remember to call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here for the NFL, NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball winners!

THE THURSDAY NITE TV PREVIEW
Note the numbers below reflect the current BCS Standings:

#10 VIRGINIA TECH (8-1, 4-1 ACC) at #21 GEORGIA TECH (7-2, 4-2 ACC) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Of course it's a battle for first place in the ACC's Coastal Division - but it's a lot more than that! It's an opportunity for Frank Beamer's here-and-now Virginia Tech Hokies to keep climbing up the BCS charts as they shoot for a fifth consecutive SU (straight-up) victory with RB David Wilson - the nation's leading rusher with 1,185 yards and 7 TDs - sure to get his mitts on the ball 30-or-so times here against a Georgia Tech defense that's surrendered more than 30 points juts once this year (see the 45-35 win/push against N.C. State back on Oct. 1st).

On the flip side, the GT Yellow Jackets zoom into this prime-time affair averaging a haughty 328 yards rushing per game and in the 31-17 upset win against 3 ½-point Clemson back on Oct. 29th (note both Techs had a bye last weekend) there was QB Tevin Washington reeling off a season-high 176 yards rushing on some 27 carries.

Keep a stopwatch on this game as it could be done in two-and-a-half hours if everything stays on thee ground.

Spread Notes - Virginia Tech is an ugly 2-7 ATS (against the spread) this year and the Hokies have failed to cover each of their last three head-to-head showdowns versus Georgia Tech. Note that the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are 5-3-1 vig-wise overall this season and keep in mind G-Tech's covered four-of-five home games this year.

NOTE: Lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez including the latest Heisman Trophy Watch plus the NFL Week 10 Thursday Night game between the Oakland Raiders at the San Diego Chargers.


JIM HURLEY'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL PREVIEWS

Started the season off with one play on Monday and won it with St. John's (-8) over William & Mary 74-59.

Wednesday, November 9th

Akron @ Mississippi State -7:00 PM (E) -(ESPNU) -2K Coaches Vs Cancer Classic
In their opener on Monday night Mississippi State was less than overwhelming as they dispatched Eastern Kentucky in a non-cover 10 point win. The Bulldogs return most of their scoring and rebounding from last year's 17-14 squad and add UTEP transfer Arnette Moultrie and freshman Rodney Hood. Both saw considerable action as HC Rick Stansbury went with only seven players due to injuries, ineligibility and personal reasons hindering four key members. Last year the Bulldogs opened in similar fashion, winning close games in November and one has to wonder if that will be the pattern again this year as they welcome the Akron Zips. Akron is in another rebuilding phase as six new players will don the blue and gold, but it is worth noting that HC Keith Dambrodt has been through this before and that the Zips have been in the MAC Conference title game the last five years and been to the NCAA in two of the last three. Akron lost both starting guards to graduation but returns a solid front line in forward Nikola Cvetinovic and center Zeke Marshall plus swing man Brett McClanahan. This gives them match up strength with Mississippi States front line power. And if UMBC transfer Chauncey Gilliam and freshman Nick Harney play the way they do during the summer five game trip through Canada, retooling or not, the Zips could be right back in their accustomed spot at season's end.

Lehigh @ St. Johns -7:00 PM (E) -(ESPN2) -2K Sports Coaches Vs Cancer Classic
Despite returning 4 of 5 starters from last year's edition, HC Dr. Brett Reed appears in the same position he was a year ago. He has arguably the best player in the Patriot in wing C.J. McCollum, who was conference player of the year two years ago as a freshmen and runner up last year, but beyond that has a number of wing players without a leadership type guard, only one on-the-blocks potential asset in 6-9 junior Gabe Knutson and a lack of proven depth. Even with McCollum's 21.8 points/7.8 rebounds and Knutson's 12.2 points/5.8 boards, the Mountain Hawks struggled to a 6-8 conference and 16-15 overall mark a year ago. With the newcomers still not established as to rotation and the defense appearing a step slow again this year, one has to wonder how they will matchup with the athletic ability of a much faster and bigger St. John's squad that has either taken a step forward as evidenced by their second half onslaught against William & Mary on Monday night...A WIN FOR JIM HURLEY CLIENTS...or is still in the maturing stage.

MONDAY NIGHT -ST. JOHN'S (-8) OVER WILLIAM & MARY WINS 74-59

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Liberty @ Texas A&M -8:00 PM (E) -2K Sports Coaches Vs Cancer Classic
Last season came as quite a surprise to opponents in the Big South as Liberty, picked sixth in the pre-season finished second in conference play with a 13-5 mark...and 2010-2011 conference Coach of the Year Dale Layer does have a number of key performers back from a squad that faced a rather tough non-conference schedule in 2010...they faced Notre Dame, UNC-Wilmington, Texas Tech and South Florida all on the road in a 10 day stretch in November...which probably went a long way towards getting the Flames prepared. Liberty was a tenacious team a year ago that won many close contests in large part because of their defense, but it also helped to have the Big South Player of the Year in PG Jesse Sanders (11.3 points/6.5 rebounds/5.7 assists) who is back to run the 2011-2012 show. However, Layer will also have to find replacements for forward John Brown (11.2 points/10.8 rebounds) who will red shirt due to a knee injury and second-team all conference Evan Gordon who transferred to Arizona State. It is worth noting during this early phase that in those four tough November games a year ago the Flames were 0-4 SU and ATS. Once again the lessons should be learned hard as Liberty faces a pre-season nationally ranked Aggie squad that will likely be looking to prove from the start that they are worthy of the accolades. First off is new HC Billy Kennedy, who parlayed his success at Murray State into this position as he takes over for the departed Mark Turgeon. And Kennedy has to be beaming to look out and see that Texas A&M returns the essence of last year's 26-9 squad which was as tough nosed a defensive unit and as precise an offensive sets group as a coach could want. And Kennedy will probably have even more depth this year with a few very strong transfers, and will use that depth as he moves towards the more up tempo style he utilized with his aptly nicknamed Racers. If Kennedy decides to spread the minutes while he discovers rotation possibilities and introduces his up tempo play, Liberty could hang for a while. But if the cohesiveness that defined last year's retuning Aggie core expands further. Liberty could be getting another of those tough lessons.

Duquesne @ Arizona -9:00 PM (E) -ESPN2 -2K Coaches Vs Cancer Classic
Although undermanned and rebuilding Valparaiso might not have been an ultimate test in their opener Monday night, one thing is for certain...HC Sean Miller should get plenty of effort every night given the depth of this year's Arizona squad. With Derrick Williams gone to the NBA and Mercurial PG “Momo” Jones having transferred to Iona, there are plenty of established role players and incoming studs that will vie to put their stamp on the program and that showed as more rusty than polished in their opening two exhibition games and Monday night. But beyond the early struggles and spotty defense in the open court, there was a definite step forward as the game unfolded. Nine guys saw 15 or more minutes and six scored between 7 and 16 points (3 in double digits.) Miller says “we are definitely not the #16 team in the country, and he is right at this point. The question on Wednesday night is...do the Wildcats move further a bit more as they attempt to harness the apparent talent of freshmen Turner and Johnson under the leadership of veteran guard Josh Fogg? Miller should know much more about his backcourt after this meeting with the Dukes, who have a deep and talented guard corps led by last year's A-10 Rookie of the Year T.J. McConnell, fellow sophomore Mike Tally, junior Sean Johnson and senior B.J. Montiero. Duquesne HC Ron Everhart will have to answer questions on the front line, but he is enthused about his influx of big youngsters. This is an interesting matchup given that Duquesne is experienced enough in the backcourt to handle the developing Wildcat Wonderkids but will have to find out up front if they can deal with the Arizona edge in that department. 

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