THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT:

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THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT:

WE CHECK IN ON SATURDAY’S TOP 5 HEAD-TO-HEAD SHOWDOWNS
WITH THE BIG 10, ACC, BIG 12, BIG EAST & MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCES
ALL UNDER OUR JIM SEZ HOOPS MICROSCOPE
 

 So maybe you’ve noticed:

     For all the talk in the College Basketball world about where exactly the “balance of power” is these days, the fact of the matter is seven of the right-here and right-now Associated Press Top 10 teams hail from different conferences ‘round the land as the Big 10 has three top 10 teams these days (see #1 Indiana, #3 Michigan and #10 Ohio State), the ACC has two (see #4 Duke and #8 Miami) and than the likes of the SEC (#2 Florida), the Big 12 (#5 Kansas), the West Coast (#6 Gonzaga), the Pac-12 (#7 Arizona) and the Big East #9 Syracuse) all are represented somewhere inside the top 10 as we delve deeper into the month of February.

     The reality of the hoops world situation is that the 2012-13 season has been all about the “big boys” taking there occasional lumps when least expected – how about TCU’s wire-to-wire 62-55 win against 16 ½-point favorite Kansas! – and who’s to say that won’t be the case next month in the NCAA Tournament where the one-and-done format has all of the above top 10 teams a bit skittish when you consider none of ‘em are exactly powerhouse squads?

     We’ll get to know a little more about a slew of top 10 teams – and we have our Jim Sez focus on some other folks too this non-football weekend with #15 New Mexico really peaking out interests these days – on this second Saturday of the month and so let’s get to the Top 5 Showdowns on this Feb. 9, 2013 …

     The b-ball day begins with  

#3 MICHIGAN (21-2, 8-2 Big 10) at WISCONSIN (16-7, 7-3 Big 10) – 12 p.m. ET, espn2

     Yet another monster test for John Beilein’s Michigan Wolverines who must show mental fortitude here following on the heels of last weekend’s 81-73 loss at Indiana and this past Tuesday’s 76-74 non-cover overtime home win against 7-point pup Ohio State.

     The truth is the maize-and-blue has been a tad scatter-shot lately – in the aforementioned OT win against the Buckeyes it was Tim Hardaway Jr. who saved the day with five consecutive made triples and a key last-second blocked shot on OSU’s Aaron Craft but how about the fact Michigan connected on just 6-of-11 free throws and allowed the ‘Eyes to drain nearly 51 percent of their FG tries?

     In this clash at always-noisy Madison, the visiting Wolves – who have won at Big 10 sites Northwestern, Minnesota and Illinois and lost at Ohio State and Indiana – need to move Badgers big man Jared Berggren (averaging 11.8 ppg and 6.8 rpg) away from the hoop and get both Hardaway and G Trey Burke (16 points and 8 assists the other night against Ohio State) to get out and go ASAP on all fast breaks.

      If this one is played in the 50’s or even the low 60s, then the Michigan men could get beat for the second consecutive Saturday.

     NORTH CAROLINA (16-6, 6-3 ACC) at #8 MIAMI (18-3, 9-0 ACC) – 2 p.m. ET

     Here’s a factoid that’ll blow your mind:

     The scorching-hot Miami Hurricanes – who have won their last 10 consecutive ball games -- have not lost since Christmas Day (see the 57-55 loss to Indiana State in the third-place game of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu) and what do you think the odds are that the ‘Canes lose their first game of this calendar year here?

     No question that Miami head coach Jim Larranaga – who gets ranked in our top five of “game” coaches in the country – has this veteran team on a major roll as the ‘Canes have won half of these 10-in-a-row wins by twin-figure prices and that includes the 72-50 maul-job of 13 ½-point road dog Boston College this past Tuesday evening.

     Junior reserve G Rion Brown claimed the starring role in that latest tilt with a 22-point, 3-rebound game in just 26 game minutes as Miami held BC to just 37 percent FG shooting and out-boarded the smaller/less-athletic Eagles 39-to-27.

     Now, here comes a still wet-behind-the-ears Carolina club that isn’t great on the glass and tends to shy away from physical play but Miami best get a body or two on UNC’s James Michael McAdoo (team-leading 15.3 ppg average) or else this one could be closer than “they” think!

     #5 KANSAS (19-3, 7-2 Big 12) at OKLAHOMA (14-7, 5-4 Big 12) – 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

     If you tuned into Kansas sports talk radio the past couple of days, here’s just about all you would have heard …

     What’s wrong with the Jayhawks?

     Okay, so Kansas enters the weekend knotted with archrival Kansas State atop a Big 12 Conference that is clearly having a “down year” but it’s those back-to-back KU losses to Oklahoma State and TCU the past seven days that has Jayhawk Nation up in arms but let’s take a moment to digest everything:

     Bill Self’s squad – which trailed TCU 8-0 out of the starting gate and never got any closer than 44-40 with 6:49 remaining in the game – just has not had their legs the past couple of weeks and the team’s obvious offensive shortcomings have come to light with Kansas connecting on a measly 18-of-61 from the field in Fort Worth …

     Did you see where reserve Naaadir Tharpe drained just 2-of-15 FG attempts in that loss? Whoa, Nellie!

     Okay, so one would expect Self to deliver a stern “wake-up” call here but consider that the starters seem tired (note that four starters played in excess of 30 minutes in that loss at TCU) and the head coach doesn’t exactly trust in his bench these days and so maybe Kansas is headed for a third consecutive loss here.

     Heck, the back-to-back losses marked the first time in seven years that Kansas hoopsters have lost consecutive games and the road folks won’t win here unless frosh G Ben McLemore (6-of-16 FG shooting versus TCU) heats up and unless seven-foot C Jeff Withey rejects a batch of Oklahoma shots in the paint.

     It’s almost push-the-panic-button-time in Lawrence!

     #11 LOUISVILLE (19-4, 7-3 Big East) at #25 NOTRE DAME (18-5, 6-4 Big East) – 6 p.m. ET, ESPN

     Hey, here’s a nationally-ranked team that did suffer through a three-game losing streak recently as the Louisville Cardinals have bounced back big-time since those back-to-back-to-back losses to Syracuse/Villanova/Georgetown – and no doubt Rick Pitino’s crew is playing at a very high level again.

     The Redbirds now gun for their fourth straight win here following Wednesday’s walk-in-the-park 68-48 triumph at 11 ½-point dog Rutgers and the keys-to-victory in that one included a major energy jolt off the bench as soph F Wayne Blackshear scored a career-best 19 points while Russ Smith chipped in 14 points and 5 rebounds for Louisville despite his 3-of-11 shabby shooting from the floor.

     If the ‘Ville is gonna bang out another “W” here than stepping up the pace/tempo of this game is vital – Notre Dame just doesn’t care to run and play a game in the 80s and so we all should know soon enough the path of this Big East game some 5-to-10 minutes into this clash.

     An X-factor here?

     Notre Dame’s three-point marksmen – including Eric Atkins (30-of-67 triples) and Scott Martin (31-of-67 made treys) – could gum up the works for the ‘Ville providing they are left alone. Note the Irish sport five players with 29-or-more threes this year. Just sayin’!

     #15 NEW MEXICO (20-3, 7-1 MWC) at UNLV (17-6, 4-4 MWC) – 9 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

     Hey, don’t sleep on the New Mexico Lobos when you’re discussing possible dark horse teams to win it all.

     Steve Alford’s club – winners of three in a row and seven of its last eight games overall – make their bones with defense but if do-it-all G Kendall Williams is a stat-sheet stuffer here who needs to give Los Lobos another offensive boost following his work this past Wednesday in UNM’s 81-58 win against 11 ½-point dog Air Force.

     Williams registered 11 points, 7 assists, 6 assists and 4 steals against the Fly Boys and was – according to Alford – the heart-and-soul of that effort and here he needs to keep his foot on the pedal against a UNLV Rebels crew that averages nearly 75 ppg (that’s second-best in the Mountain West Conference).

     P.S., these clubs played back on January 9th in Albuquerque and here’s the skinny from that one:

    New Mexico copped a 65-60 win in that earlier tilt as seven-footer Alex Kirk poured in 23 points with 9 rebounds for the Lobos and one key there was UNLV’s starting five shot a dreary 19-of-45 from the floor but New Mex shot a putrid 15-of-29 from the foul line … yuck!

     Extra, extra:

     Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you wall-to-wall College Basketball and NBA Winners each and every day when you check in with us either right here online at www.jimhurley.com or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.

    Note that the check-in times are after 1 p.m. ET for all the Monday-through-Friday weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays/Sundays/Holidays.

     NOTE: More College Basketball goodies comin’ your way this weekend right here in Jim Sez plus we’ll have some NBA News/Notes too!

 

 

 

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