Saturday NCAA Previews
THE NCAA TOURNAMENT - HERE'S THE SATURDAY ROUND OF 32 PREVIEWS
M-m-m-m-m-m-adness, indeed!The first full day of this year's NCAA Tournament brought us a whole lotta March Madness with those five one-point games, a bogus goaltending call that made one veteran head coach even sicker than he was at the start of the day and the demise of a pair of #3 seeds (yes, both from the vastly overrated Big 12 Conference) ... to say nothing of the fact Thursday's NCAA Tourney betting favorites failed miserably while going 4-12 ATS (against the spread). Ouch!
So, if your brackets weren't busted pretty good following the initial Thursday of this tourney in which four underdogs won outright, then you're one of the lucky ones! We'll get to the Saturday Round of 32 matchups in just a moment here but first this key reminder ...
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have been steamrolling their way through the month of March with loads of College Basketball winners and it's not gonna stop anytime soon! Get with America's #1 Handicapper for The Network March Madness Package (which started Thursday at 4-2) that features all of the NCAA Tournament Games and also get the other post-season tournaments such as the NIT, CBI and CIT Tournies too. Get it either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - plus don't forget we're banging out lots of NBA Winners too these days and so go ahead and join the fun and profits today with all the hardwood action this month. Lots of day-time action and so don't "sleep in" - make sure you're in the winner's circle for all the day and night games!
On Saturday, it's ...
At Jacksonville, FL
#14 GEORGIA STATE (25-9) vs. #6 XAVIER (22-13) - 6:10 p.m. ET, TNT
No doubt the signature moment of the first full day of this tourney was Georgia State's injured head coach Ron Hunter falling off his sideline stool following the clutch three-point bucket made by his son R.J. with 2.7 seconds left in that wild 57-57 win against 9.5-point favorite Baylor. Better yet was the elder Hunter chastising President Obama in the post-game locker room - as if the prez doesn't have enough problems on his plate these days! In any event, the younger Hunter (16 points) was MIA for much of that second-round win but wound up scoring 12 of his team's final 13 points as the Panthers overcame a late-game 12-point deficit and so let's see what momentum carries over here to this tilt against a real meat-and-potatoes Xavier team that absolutely dismantled a tired Ole Miss squad 76-57 the other day. The Musketeers' goggled F/C Matt Stainbrook (20 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists) was a beast in that tilt but if 6.5-point favorite Xavier is gonna be Sweet 16-bound than it will have to do a better job boxing out as Ole Miss collected 16 offensive rebs in that tilt.
#5 ARKANSAS (27-8) vs. #4 NORTH CAROLINA (25-11) - approximately 8:40 p.m. ET, TNT
Folks, this very easily could have been a Wofford versus Harvard showdown in Round of 32 action but the hoop gods swatted down the "little guys" in the end - hey we don't know why the Arkansas Razorbacks didn't foul late and instead allowed Wofford to hoist up a wide-open triple that could have tied that 56-53 non-cover win by the Hogs the other night and how about the UNC Tar Heels who slept-walked for much of the game's final seven or eight minutes after grabbing a 16-point lead en route to that hair-raising 67-65 non-cover win against 10-point pup Harvard? Even Carolina boss-man Roy Williams said he felt lucky to have survived that battle that included two last-minute hoops by Justin Jackson - not exactly a household name outside Chapel Hill. And that's one of the points to make here: The Tar Heels need all hands on deck against 4.5-point dog Arkansas and that means lefty PF Marcus Paige (12 points and 7 assists versus Harvard) must steer clear of making the bad pass while the North Carolina bench must be active after canning 8-of-12 FGs in that second-round victory. The Hogs might have real reason to worry here 'cause stars Bobby Portis (15 points and 13 rebounds) and Michael Qualls (game-high 20 points versus Wofford) combined to hit 13-of-21 FGs and still it was life-or-death action.
At Pittsburgh, PA
#8 N.C. STATE (21-13) vs. #1 VILLANOVA (33-2) - 7:10 p.m. ET, TBS
Forgive us for making this a little Jim Sez theme the past couple of weeks but this is - after all - the 30th anniversary of that wondrous Villanova national championship season and there's plenty happening with this year's Wildcats to make you think it might be a very happy anniversary. In Thursday's take-no-prisoners 93-52 win/cover against 22-point dog Lafayette, there were the Big East champs shooting a sizzling 63 percent from the field (that's 36-of-57 made FGs) and had to love the fact 'Nova bomber in 11-of-22 triple tries. Now, Jay Wright's club looks to work inside-out against this N.C. State team that has a wee bit of magic working on its side following Thursday's come-from-17-points-behind 66-65 win against LSU. True, the Wolfpack exhausted every bit of energy to squeeze out the win - even BeeJay Anya's game-winning shot barely had enough oomph to drop through the net at the buzzer - but the reality is Villanova ain't gonna shoot fouls the way sad-sack LSU did while making good on just 12-of-22 free throws.
#6 BUTLER (23-10) vs. #3 NOTRE DAME (30-5) - approximately 9:40 p.m. ET, TBS
Wonder what ND Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey must be thinking 'cause his guys shot "lights out" - 27-of-47 from the floor for 57.4 percent -- and they were still life-and-death in a 69-65 non-cover win against 12-point pup Northeastern in "second-round" play. Forward/center Zack Auguste poured in 25 points in just 27 foul-plagued minutes but the generator here was underrated G Demetrius Jackson who kicked in 8 assists and just one turnover. If Jackson's careful with the ball here and long-range bomber Pat Connaughton (just one triple against N'eastern) can get heated up, then Notre Dame should be Sweet 16-bound but 5-point underdog Butler doesn't figure to flinch: The better-than-you-think Bulldogs bested 2.5-point favored Texas (a wrong favorite if there was one!) 56-48 despite some injury woes to stocky Roosevelt Jones (just 6 points) as the Big East gang committed just five turnovers and held the 'Horns to 17-of-50 FG shooting.
At Louisville, KY
#14 UAB (20-15) vs. #11 UCLA (21-13) - 12:10 p.m. ET, CBS
It seemed to be a "split decision" on the TV airwaves regarding that aforementioned goaltending call against SMU that propelled UCLA to the 60-59 winner's circle against 4-point favorite SMU - no doubt under-the-weather Mustangs' head coach Larry Brown was floored by the call that simply didn't make sense because Bryce Alford's triple try was clearly wide of the hoop ... oh well. Now Alford - who canned 9-of-11 triple tries en route to a spiffy 27-point game - must show the quick trigger here against a nothing-to-lose UAB bunch that swept through last week's Conference USA Tournament and then shot just 3-of-18 from beyond the arc and still managed to shock 14.5-point fav Iowa State 60-59 on Thursday past. Hey, the Blazers - who outscored I-State 9-4 down the stretch - are the third-youngest team in this tourney field and play loosey-goosey behind scoring star Robert Brown (21 points versus ISU) who figures to face some gimmicky defenses in this one.
#8 CINCINNATI (23-10) vs. #1 KENTUCKY (35-0) - approximately 2:40 p.m. ET, CBS
We'll know in a couple of weeks whether or not this whole NCAA Tournament really should have been re-named the "Kentucky Invitational" but know this: John Calipari's UK Wildcats may have to reach down deep to KO frisky Cincinnati here - yes, we know Kentucky's a bloated 17-point betting favorite at press time - as early-game lack of focus against Hampton had "Coach Cal" fuming before the 'Cats pulled away in a 79-56 non-cover win and while C Karl-Anthony Towns was brilliant with 21 points and 11 rebounds (and 3 blocks) the rest of the top-seeded gang didn't always put pedal to the floor ... we're expecting reserve G Devin Booker (just 1-of-6 FG shooting for 2 points against Hampton) to get a wake-up call while the Cincy kids need more magic from Troy Caupain whose game-tying hoop saved the day in that wild 66-65 overtime win against Purdue on Thursday night.
At Portland, OR
#10 OHIO STATE (24-10) vs. #2 ARIZONA (32-3) - 5:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Funny how things worked out but on a day/night in which nine of the 16 games were decided by 5-or-fewer points, the all-business Arizona Wildcats steamrolled (but didn't cover) lowly 24-point pup Texas Southern 93-72 as all five of Sean Miller's starters scored in double figures led by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's 23 points and 10 rebounds. The Wildcats whisked the ball around and played "efficiently" on offense but the head coach didn't think the defensive effort was great - Miller wants better effort and concentration here - and so let's see if the 9-point underdog OSU Buckeyes get all that much room to operate here. Thad Matta's club rode the sterling performance of frosh D'Angelo Russell (28 points) who suffered a bad gash over his eye late in the 75-72 overtime non-cover win against 3.5-point dog VCU but it was a pair of timely triples by reserve F Keita Bates-Diop that truly saved the day - now can the 'Eyes somehow muster more than six made trifectas here 'cause they'll need it against a focused Arizona crew.
#5 UTAH (25-8) vs. #4 GEORGETOWN (22-10) - approximately 7:45 p.m. ET, CBS
Okay, so we're a bit surprised that Utah's a 4-point betting fav here (we thought the Utes would be just laying a point-or-so) but maybe the Pac-12 team is as good as advertised even though they needed everything in their collective power to shake off 6.5-point dog Stephen F. Austin 57-50 a couple of nights ago - who would have thought the most impactful player on Utah's team would have been freshman Jakob Poeltl who registered 18 points and 8 rebounds in the win but now Utah's not going anywhere further in this man's tourney unless G Delon Wright (just two made FGs and 11 points against Austin) is a star. Georgetown's 84-74 win/cover - and only a cover 'cause of a last-second dunk that steamed the Eastern Washington kids - should have been so much easier but as was the case in many of Thursday's games there were teams easing off the pedal and allowing for major comebacks. Still, the Hoyas - up 23 points at one stage - have the might to stage the mild upset here but G D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (25 points against EWU) has to be a stat-sheet stuffer against a staunch Utah defense.
Note: Get more NCAA Tournament Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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