Key Saturday Matchups
Executive Key Club on a 15-5-1 Run Last 10 Days
Hurley Gets the Money winning 4-1 on Friday
Ivy League Game of the Month Wins!
Yale (-5) Dartmouth 70-61
Executive Key Club
Bobcats (+7) Raptors 98-91 Outright Win
VCU (-6) Northern Iowa 77-68 Win
Blue Ribbon Crunchtime
Pistons (-3) Kings 114-108 Win
Valparaiso (+5½) Loyola Marymount 53-61 Lost
COLLEGE BASKETBALL’S KEY SATURDAY MATCHUPS INCLUDE A PAIR OF BRACKET-BUSTER BASHES
(FEATURING #21 SAINT MARY’S AT #16 MURRAY STATE)
PLUS #1 KENTUCKY, #6 OHIO STATE AND #8 NORTH CAROLINA ALL TAKE TO THE HARDCOURT AS PART OF OUR SPECIAL “SIX-PACK”
By Jim Hurley:
Well, it’s not exactly the calm before the storm – you know!
“March Madness” is comin’ fast and yet don’t be fooled into thinking that the remainder of February is merely tune-up time for many teams ‘round the land hoping to make a big splash in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
The fact of the matter is this next-to-last February weekend is chock full of monster matchups including some real dandies when it comes to the annual Bracket Buster games and we’ll get you over little version of the College B-Ball Saturday “Six-Pack” in just a moment but first keep a couple of things in mind.
First of all, Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers remain absolutely red-hot these days providing WINNERS wall-to-wall in College Basketball and NBA Winners each and every day this President's Day weekend when you check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Today's College Basketball Dog of the Week featuring a play, from a source that is so strong... a source that is currently 11-3 in the last 14, that we know this dog winning outright... Check-in times are after 1 p.m. ET for the weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays/Sundays/Holidays... get 'em while they're red-hot!
Stop messing around with all these round-ball selections and let America’s #1 Handicapper point you in the right direction.
The next – and final – order of business here before we get you the “Six-Pack” Game Previews is to present you with our first official listing of “bubble teams” – hey, it has to start sometime! – and here’s five teams that sit squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble as we head into this winter weekend:
Here’s another thing about Lin who became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer among players making their first five starts – his 129 points over the span of his first five starts (that’s a sizzling 25.8 points per game average) is fabulous stuff and tops the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Dominique Wilkins and Jerry Stackhouse:
He has embraced his role as a New York City folk hero – in a big town with a major Asian population, Lin’s been more than happy to serve as a role model. The guy’s been great.
Yet, here’s the underlying lowdown on Lin from a national perspective with plenty of NYC folks thinking along the same lines:
The roll call includes:
KANSAS STATE (17-8, 6-7 Big 12) – Does Frank Martin’s guys have a little late-season run in ‘em or not? …
NEW MEXICO STATE (19-8, 7-3 WAC) – This high-scoring team has hops and could bring some major entertainment value to the “Big Dance”...
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (17-10, 10-4 West Coast) – The resounding 75-60 win at 14-point favorite Saint Mary’s was special but getting into the WCC title game might be the clincher ...
OREGON (18-7, 9-4 Pac-12) – For all the folks claiming that this will be a two-bid league at most, we present to you a team that’s won seven of its last nine games …
and CINCINNATI (18-8, 8-5 Big East) – Maybe the Bearcats consider themselves on the inside-looking-out right now in terms of the NCAAs (careful guys!) and they could drop four of their final five regular-season tilts when you check out the upcoming sked.
THE SATURDAY SIX-PACK
Okay, much more “bubble talk” in the days/weeks ahead but now here’s College Basketball’s Saturday “Six-Pack” games in chronological order (and note the current Associated Press Top 25 rankings are listed below) …
#11 UNLV (22-5, 6-3 MWC) at NEW MEXICO (21-4, 7-2 MWC) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS regional
Don’t you just know that New Mexico head coach Steve Alford – one of the country’s top five coaches (if you ask us!) – has a smile on his face while looking at the Mountain West Conference standings and now seeing both 11th-ranked UNLV and #13 San Diego State below his Lobos.
Just thought you would like to know that New Mexico entered this week on the famed “Others Receiving Votes” category in the AP poll but that should change providing Los Lobos can complete their one-two punch here after besting the 1 ½-point home dog Runnin’ Rebels 77-67 this past Wednesday night. New Mexico fended off a couple of furious runs by SDSU in that mid-week clash mainly by drilling key triples – UNM shot 10-of-19 from beyond the three-point stripe and worked a great inside/outside game on offense – and now Alford and Company are counting on Kendall Williams (21 points versus San Diego State) to hit some high notes here while UNLV is looking to recover from that maddening 102-97 overtime loss at TCU this past Tuesday night.
The Rebs rank ninth nationally in scoring at 90.1 points a game and here F Mike Moser (team-leading 15 ppg) could get green-lighted for 25-plus field-goal attempts providing this stays a high-octane, foot-on-the-floor affair – and remember that Round I went to UNLV 80-63 back on January 21st when Moser’s 14-point, 10-rebound game powered the Rebels past the then 7-point underdog Lobos.
OLE MISS (15-9, 5-5 SEC) at #1 KENTUCKY (25-1, 11-0 SEC) – 4 p.m. ET
We might put it an “even money” that the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats won’t lose another game until we get to the NCAA Tournament – and than who’s to say they’re gonna lose there?
John Calipari’s team has been so dominant that the Lexington gang has won four of its last five games by 20-or-more points and now in comes an Ole Miss squad that needs a couple of “signature wins” itself just to get into the NCAA Tournament conversation.
If Kentucky sees a zone defense here – again – than look for Doron Lamb (50 triples this season) and Darius Miller (35 treys) to let it fly plenty with frosh star F/C Anthony Davis (14 ppg and 9.9 rpg) picking up some scraps but what will truly be interesting to watch here is how Andy Kennedy’s Ole Miss gang attacks the 6-foor-10 Davis in the paint.
Note that the Rebels have been held below the 70-point mark in each of their last five games and Ole Miss drained just 4-of-14 trifecta tries in that 61-54 non-cover win against Auburn last Saturday when Murphy Holloway scored 14 straight points at one stage of the second to lead a charge from down 11 points with 15 minutes to go
CLEMSON (13-12, 5-6 ACC) at #8 NORTH CAROLINA (22-4, 9-2 ACC) – 4 p.m. ET, ESPN
Think about this for a solitary moment: If not for that Austin Rivers three-point jumper back on February 8th, these UNC Tar Heels would be riding a eight-game winning streak into this Atlantic Coast Conference tilt against Clemson – and keep in mind the Tigers have never – ever -- won a game in Chapel Hill and the streak’s at 55 in a row while heading into this late matinee affair at the “Dean Dome”.
No doubt the Heels won a battle-tested tough game at Miami this past Wednesday night as Roy Williams’ crew swallowed up a 73-64 win as 5-point road favorites with do-it-all sophomore Harrison Barnes torching the twine for a game-high 23 points while long-armed F John Henson proved to be a real stat-sheet stuffer with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Heels would like to get out and go here off Henson/ Tyler Zeller rebounds while Clemson would love to favor a slower-paced affair – did you realize that the Tigers rank 237th nationally with their 65.1 points per game average?
If we’re gonna see history here with a first-ever Clemson win at North Carolina than shutting down Barnes is key and bodying Zeller in the post is a must – are you listening coach Brad Brownell?
#21 SAINT MARY’S (23-4, 12-2 WCC) at #16 MURRAY STATE (25-1, 13-1 OVC) – 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
Here’s the first of two “Bracket Busters” we’re highlighting in this edition of Jim Sez (the Long Beach State at Creighton tilt rounds out our Six-Pack below) and we know the ESPN folks were hoping that the Murray State Racers would be unbeaten at this point (Tennessee State ruined those plans on February 9th) but at least the Ohio Valley Conference champs come into this clash on a two-game winning streak that includes the 75-66 triumph at 4 ½-point dog SE Missouri State that cinched a third consecutive OVC crown.
Here, star-of-stars Isaiah Canann (who is averaging 19.6 ppg but was held to just 2-of-11 FG shooting in the clincher) must step up against an ornery Saint Mary’s squad that comes off Wednesday’s no-heart 75-60 home loss against “two-TD” underdog Loyola Marymount
Right now odds are Saint Mary’s would be about a #6 or #7 seed (probably down two seed lines after that brutal mid-week loss) while we believe Murray State could catapult its way to a #5 seed with a win here and maybe even a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament should Murray go ahead and capture its mini-tourney.
Hey, tell us right now if Gaels G Matthew Dellavedova ((15.5 ppg) is gonna be left open for a handful of triples and than you may know the winner!
#6 OHIO STATE (22-4, 10-3 Big 10) at #17 MICHIGAN (19-7, 9-4 Big 10) – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Now here’s a hoops rivalry that would have Woody and Bo proud:
After all, both of these teams are fighting it out (along with Michigan State) for the right to finish number one in the Big 10 regular-season standings and this is a revenge game for the host maize-and-blue following Ohio State’s 64-49 win/cover as 14-point favorites back on January 29th in Columbus.
You might recall in that initial showdown of the season between Wolverines and Buckeyes that relative unknown Lenzelle Smith Jr. carried O-State with his 17-point, 12-rebound game while soph star Jared Sullinger (13 points) was bogged down with foul woes and that’s gonna be a key here as Michigan boss-man John Beilein wants his guys to go right at Sullinger in the paint and draw some quick fouls on ‘em here and than that would also get Sullinger off the floor and open up the court for the likes of Tim Hardaway Jr. who scored 15 points in that first game but didn’t really ever take over matters at crunch time.
Key stat here: Michigan attempted just four free throws in that first game (making three) and must get to the line at least a dozen times here or the Wolverines’ potential failure beyond the three-poitn arc could stagger them as happened with a shaky 8-of-25 trifecta game last month.
LONG BEACH STATE (19-6, 12-0 Big West) at CREIGHTON (22-5, 12-4 MVC) – 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Both of these clubs are in that “Others Receiving Votes” category but a win could jump one of these guys back into the Top 25 fray – and maybe have ‘em looking ahead to a possible #8 or #9 NCAA Tourney seed.
The fact of the matter is host Creighton – right now sitting two games back of first-place Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference – has not been playing its best ball of the year as the Bluejays have lost three of their last four games although Tuesday’s 88-69 trouncing of 6 ½-point home dog Southern Illinois could have Creighton back on track as G Doug McDermott scored 18 points in a game in which Creighton shot an eye-popping 31-of-40 from the field.
NOTE: Get our College Basketball Key Weekend Previews in the weekend next edition of Jim Sez as we bring you the likes of Clemson at North Carolina and Ohio State-Michigan. Got it? Get enrolled right now in Jim Hurley's Network's® The Executive Key Basketball Club... currently 9-1-1 in the last 5 days... Don't miss another day of these outstanding winning palys.
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