NIT Championship and MLB Season Over Unders

TONIGHT'S NIT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEW

WE EXAMINE THE STANFORD VS. MINNESOTA SHOWDOWN IN NEW YORK CITY PLUS THERE'S MAJOR-LEAGUE BASEBALL OVER/UNDER WIN TOTALS FOR THIS 2012 CAMPAIGN

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By Jim Hurley:

If it's okay with you, we'll take a little breather here regarding this week's NCAA Tournament Final Four games - but there is still some college hoops action to tackle as tonight it's the NIT Championship Game with Pac-12 playing Big 10 for all the marbles and we haven't forgotten this 2012 Major-League Baseball season that got underway in the early morning hours on Wednesday with Seattle's 3-1 extra-innings win against Oakland in Japan ... what, you hit the snooze button and missed it?

Our Jim Sez MLB 2012 Preview comes your way next week and so make sure you stay tuned for that as we predict who wins what including all the individual awards and the like but we get things started here with a look at the aforementioned NIT Championship Game this evening from New York's Madison Square Garden:

STANFORD (25-11) vs. MINNESOTA (23-14) - 7 p.m. ET, espn2

The Minny Golden Gophers want to stamp their identity as true road warriors this spring - Tubby Smith's crew won three in a row in enemy backyards in this year's NIT (see LaSalle, Miami and Middle Tennessee State) and than somehow held off Washington in overtime the other night at MSG to gain entrance into this tourney final but besting Stanford in this pick 'em affair will require the Big 10 guys to nail a few triples (just 3-of-13 trifecta shooting in the 68-67 win against Washington) and this three-headed guard monster must take care of the ball a bit better after committing 19 turnovers against the Huskies. No doubt that frosh star 'Dre Hollins (20 points and 5 assists in the semis) was the go-to guy for Minnesota the other night but here expect heady Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins to put a "longer" defender on him here so that Hollins has a tough time seeing above the fray.

The Cardinal - 74-64 winners against gritty 2 ½-point underdog UMass the other night - did snag 15 offensive boards in that triumph and F/C Josh Owens (six offensive rebounds against the Minutemen) must be able to put back some of the "garbage" here as Stanford missed lots of in-close shots after getting second/third opportunities at the rim. If Stanford's bench becomes a negative factor here - and note the Cardinal reserves shot a collective 7-of-24 from the floor against Massachusetts and that included shoddy 1-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc - than Minny will be able to hang tough even if 'Dre Hollins gets shut down on some of his trips to the offensive end.

Remember that Stanford out-boarded UMass 45-to-35 in the semifinals and must own a decent board advantage here ... or else!

MAJOR-LEAGUE BASEBALL'S WIN TOTALS FOR 2012

It's always a lot of fun to check out the Las Vegas over/under wins totals for the 30 MLB teams and so here's what is on tap. Note that there are six teams expected to win 90-or-more games this year including Boston, Detroit, the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Yankees, Philadelphia (the only National League team here) and Texas. Conversely, there are two teams not even expected to win 70 games this season - that's Baltimore and Houston.

TEAM WINS TOTALS
Arizona Diamondbacks 86.5 over/under 115
Atlanta Braves 87 under 120
Baltimore Orioles 69 under 120
Boston Red Sox 90 under 120
Chicago Cubs 73.5 under 130
Chicago White Sox 74.5 over 125
Cincinnati Reds 87.5 over 125
Cleveland Indians 78.5 under 120
Colorado Rockies 81 over/under 115
Detroit Tigers 92.5 over/under 115
Houston Astros 62.5 over/under 115
Kansas City Royals 78.5 over/under 115
Los Angeles Angels 93 over/under 115
Los Angeles Dodgers 81.5 under 120
Miami Marlins 85 over/under 115
Milwaukee Brewers 84.5 over 130
Minnesota Twins 73 over/under 115
New York Mets 72 over 120
New York Yankees 94.5 over 125
Oakland A's 72.5 under 135
Philadelphia Phillies 93.5 under 125
Pittsburgh Pirates 73.5 under 120
San Diego Padres 73 over/under 115
San Francisco Giants 87.5 over/under 115
Seattle Mariners 72 over/under 115
St. Louis Cardinals 84.5 over 120
Tampa Bay Rays 87 under 120
Texas Rangers 92 over/under 115
Toronto Blue Jays 81.5 over 120
Washington Nationals 83.5 over 135

More MLB Over/Under Wins Total Notes ...
Just a few words regarding last year's Major-League Baseball wins totals as "over" the team win totals went 14-15-1 with the lone "push" being the Los Angeles Dodgers who won 82 games but whose backers were truly "jobbed" because the National League West club played only 161 games, thanks to an early September rainout in Washington that was never made up (the cancelled game did not effect the Nationals who won 80 games in all and easily went "over" their 72 wins totals price).

The biggest overachiever in the 2011 MLB season was the Arizona Diamondbacks who were slated to win 72.5 games and instead snagged a spiffy 94-68 regular-season record (a plus 21.5 difference) while the biggest loser was the Minnesota Twins who were forecast at 87 wins and instead finished the '11 season at 63-99 - a hard-to-believe minus 24-game difference.

In all, last year there were three teams that won 10-or-more games that the forecasted total including aforementioned Arizona, Detroit (+ 11.5) and Milwaukee (+ 10.5) while there were four teams that lost 10-or-more games than were forecast including the Chicago Cubs (- 10.5), Colorado (- 14), Houston (- 17.5) and aforementioned Minnesota.

NOTE: Get our NCAA Tournament Final Four extensive game previews in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez!

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Aug

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