Friday Fun and Games

Another 2-0 Football night on Thursday with the 'Fins over the Bills and Cal covering vs. USC! NBA wins with the Bulls Outright over Toronto

WHAT COLLEGE TEAMS COULD MAKE MAJOR GROUND THIS WEEKEND IN THE PLAYOFF CHASE?

THE NFL WEEK 11 REPORT: DOLPHINS DUNK BILLS 22-9

PLUS HOW THE NFC WEST IS REALLY FARING THIS YEAR

COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS BACK AND WE “FORECAST” OUR FINAL FOUR

By Jim Hurley:

Ladies and gents, here’s a real quickie heads-up when it comes to the almighty Las Vegas numbers this year as it pertains to the College Football world:

We head into tonight’s American Athletic Conference tilt between Tulsa at UCF with College Football Betting Favorites for the year at 259-277-8 -- that’s a .483 winning rate for college chalk sides so far this 2014 season - and keep in mind that last week/weekend the NCAA Football Favs registered a 22-26 spread mark and last night all three betting favorites failed to cover the price tag as East Carolina, UT-San Antonio and USC all were pointspread losers in the chalk-eater role.

As we said a year ago at this very time in our Jim Sez column space, most years we’ve found that the Favorites vs. Underdogs battle has been right about a 50-50 dead-even split when we finish off a season - so right now the Betting Favorites have been below par ... will that mean the favs will growl a bit this coming weekend? Hmmm.

Meanwhile, we’ve all been hearing since Tuesday night about the “controversies” involving the teams ranked in the top five this week - to repeat, we give a “thumbs up” to the College Football Playoff (CFP) committee folks right now and love the fact TCU is at #4 while Alabama is on the outside looking in (for now) at #5 in the rankings but how about a closer examination of the teams that could make major leaps forward this weekend?

After all, last week UCLA shot up from #18 to #11 in the CFP rankings after banging out a 44-30 win/cover at 5-point underdog Washington (okay, so we couldn’t quite figure that one out as we would have elevated the Bruins only two or three spots at best!) while Arizona State zoomed up to #6 in the rankings following on the heels of that wacko 55-31 win/cover against 3-point pup Notre Dame. Note Arizona State was #14 in the original CFP rankings back on October 28th, so the Sun Devils have shot up the ranks big-time.

Now we wonder who - if anyone - is gonna make a major rankings leap this week and here’s the nominees:

#8 OHIO STATE (8-1, 5-0 Big 10) - Gotta believe that all the talk this week that the Buckeyes didn’t get enough “respect” in the rankings following last weekend’s 49-37 triumph at 4-point favorite Michigan State may give Urban Meyer’s team a little jump-start on things and now a three-TD or bigger win at 12 ½-point dog Minnesota could hurdle the ‘Eyes into the top four teams when you consider either #1 Miss State or #5 Alabama is gonna lose in their head-to-head battle, #3 Florida State could get picked off in Miami and a convincing win in Minny could hurdle O-State past idle #7 Baylor. True, home wins against Indiana and beleaguered Michigan probably won’t bolster the Buckeyes’ case but - for now - we could see a scenario where Ohio State’s at #4 in the rankings come 7:35 p.m. ET this Tuesday night.

#14 ARIZONA (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) - So maybe there is a “Pac-12 bias” in the CFP rankings these days what with aforementioned UCLA and Arizona State both quick to rise up and now here’s the U of A Wildcats’ shot as they host the now 9-point underdog Washington Huskies and a blowout win in the desert combined with some bad fortune to some top 10 teams could have ‘Zona slipping inside the top 10 and still alive at a playoff spot. Yes, we know time is dwindling and Arizona only has two regular-season games after this one - at Utah on Nov. 22nd and then home to Arizona State on Nov. 28th - but a run-the-table deal by Rich Rodriguez’s crew could get these ‘Cats into the “conversation”.

Here’s an important note ...
My handicappers and bloggers will have all the weekend winners and you can get NCAA Football, NFL Week 11 play and all the NBA/NCAA Basketball action when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online. Check is any time after 1 p.m. ET today and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday/Sunday.

THE NFL WEEK 11 REPORT

Last night’s 22-9 win by 3.5-point favorite Miami over the Buffalo Bills was all about bounce-back for Dolphins’ QB Ryan Tannehill - after all, he was sacked five times and yet still managed to air a couple of second-half touchdown passes and thus allow the Fish to get revenge for that 29-10 loss in Orchard Park back in Week 2.

We’ll be paying special attention to what teams have revenge in their second meetings the rest of this 2014 NFL season and take note there’s only one “same season revenge game” on this week’s docket as the Oakland Raiders try to get payback for a 31-28 loss-but-cover versus San Diego in Week 6 play. The Raiders and Chargers have split their spread verdicts each of the past three years - so maybe it’s the Bolts who get pointspread payback here. Stay tuned.

Hey, remember back in August when the football “experts” out there were telling you just how great the NFC West was ... well, we won’t deny that the Arizona Cardinals (8-1), Seattle Seahawks (6-3) and even the San Francisco 49ers (5-4) all remain serious Super Bowl contenders but we decided to dig a little deeper and this is what we uncovered while heading into Sunday’s Week 11 action.

In all, the NFC West is a composite 18-17-0 ATS (against the spread) for a .514 winning rate and - as you can see by our accompanying chart - only the Arizona Cardinals have turned a profit thus far while $100 per-play wagers on San Francisco/Seattle/St. Louis would have you down some $550.
Cha-ching, my you-know-what!

NFC WEST SPREAD STANDINGS

TEAM

W-L-T

PCT

Arizona

7-2-0

.778

San Francisco

4-4-0

.500

Seattle

4-5-0

.444

St. Louis

3-6-0

.333

The fact of the matter is last year the NFC West had a Super Bowl winner in Seattle - the first in the division since San Fran’s crown back in 1994 - and both participants in the NFC Championship Game (see Seattle 23, San Francisco 17) and overall the NFC West finished 2013 with a pointspread mark (including the post-season) of 42-26-2 for a sizzling .618 winning rate.

Okay, so we could get one, two or even three NFC West teams to “heat up” spreadwise in these final seven weeks of regular-season play and right into the post-season where another all-NFC West Championship Game could well happen, but we just wanted to point out that nobody’s getting rich betting on this division so far in the 2014 season.

THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT: It's opening Night! Click here to get my Opening Night Tipoff Triple Play

Hey, College Basketball is back and you don’t need to plow through another gazillion pages of blah-blah-blah reports on all the teams ... we’ll give you our “Final Four” right here/right now.
Okay, wise guys, we know the season has not yet started, there’s no brackets, etc. but let’s go out on a proverbial limb and give you the matchups we see happening at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis next April:

The Final Four teams will be:

DUKE - Okay, so the Blue Devils are ranked #4 in the land to start off this 2014-15 season and we see ‘em getting to the Final Four while the our crystal ball says #1 Kentucky, #2 Arizona and #3 Wisconsin all will get beaten in NCAA Tournament play before the national semis.
You all know plenty about Duke First-Team All-America seven-foot C Jahlil Okafor but PG Tyus Jones - another frosh dandy - will be the key come March.

LOUISVILLE - The current rankings have the Cardinals eighth in the land but Rick Pitino’s crew will wear teams down with their grind-‘em-defense and something tells us Montrezl Harrell will be a mega-star this season and G Terry Rozier already is being hyped to the hilt. This makes two ACC teams in the Final Four.

SMU - Last year’s NIT Finals runner-up (lost to Minnesota) will make a rapid ascent in the hoops world behind 70-plus-year old head coach Larry Brown. Right now the rankings have the Mustangs at #22 but we see a bust-out season for G Nic Moore (expect 23 or 24 ppg) and a couple of March wins at tourney time against big-name foes.

COLORADO - Right now if you check out the season-opening Associated Press Top 25 rankings you’ll see the Buffaloes listed as “Others Receiving Votes” but they’ll receive our vote to stun the hoops world and make it to this year’s Final Four. Head coach Tad Boyle might be the best sideline boss you don’t ever hear about but he’s a gem and C Josh Scott is ready to make that leap into stardom.

Hey, when does a Final Four just include all the top-ranked teams ... you almost always get a “dark horse” type into the mix and we’re really not sure either SMU or Colorado will be considered dark horses by year’s end. So how’s a Final Four day that looks like this - with no Kentucky, no Arizona, no Wisconsin, no Kansas and no defending national champ UConn: We say it’s gonna be Duke vs. Colorado and Louisville vs. SMU. We’ll see, right?

NOTE: There’s NFL Week 11 Previews/Forecasts in tomorrow’s Jim Sez including the monster matchup on Sunday Night between the New England Patriots at the Indianapolis Colts ... so don’t dare miss out!

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