Jim Sez - Weekend Preview
It’s a Jam-Packed College B-Ball Weekend – and We Have Saturday Game Previews and More Mini-Tourney Notes Too!
You might recall that earlier this week right here in these Jim Sez web pages we alerted y’all to the top games of the week for the power conferences.
Well, three of those marquee games are set for Saturday’s College Basketball menu and so we’ll dish on them shortly but first this important reminder as we dig deeper into the month of March:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are rollin’ through the early part of March with lots of College Basketball and NBA winners – get all the games online here at www.jimhurley.com or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Remember the conference tournaments or so-called mini-tournies are really heating up this weekend and all next week with lots of day-time action – so don’t miss out!
On Saturday, it’s…
LSU (18-12, 11-6 SEC) at #22 KENTUCKY (22-8, 12-5 SEC) – 2 p.m. ET, CBS
The SEC’s “best game of the week” is this Senior Day tilt in Lexington and – by the way – have you noticed how the Wildcats are really jelling these days with six wins in their last eight games including that dominant 88-79 triumph at 4.5-point home dog Florida this past Tuesday night?
John Calipari’s crew was super-unselfish in that road “W” at Gainesville (see 19 assists on 29 made field goals) and you can’t deny the fact that guards Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis – they combined for 40 points and 15 assists against the overmatched Gators – are peaking at the right time.
If bubble bunch LSU – an 85-67 winner against Kentucky back on Jan. 5th – gets another 49.2 percent FG shooting game here than frosh stud Ben Simmons (14 points and 10 rebounds in that first matchup) and Company could hang tough … but Kentucky’s hunting for revenge and on a major roll to boot.
Pointspread Note – Kentucky has covered five of its last six home games including lopsided triumphs over Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
#21 IOWA STATE (21-9, 10-7 Big 12) at #1 KANSAS (26-4, 14-3 Big 12) – 4 p.m. ET, ESPN
Hate to sound like that proverbial broken record, but a Kansas win here followed by a Big 12 Tournament title next week in Kansas City will surely give Bill Self’s squad the numero uno seed in the NCAA Tournament and thus, presumably, an overall easier path to the national championship as compared to the other “Big Dance” top seeds.
But this one’s not gonna be a walk in the park because – remember – Iowa State clubbed 1.5-point underdog Kansas 85-72 back on Jan. 25th as Cyclones’ stars Monte Morris scored 21 points and Georges Niang chipped in 15 of his 19 points in an electric second half when I-State outscored the Jayhawks 49-to-29 … yowie!
Best guess here is that Kansas – winners of 10 in a row following that aforementioned loss to Iowa State – will come out breathing fire in this tilt. The club’s four double-digit-per-game scorers – that’s Perry Ellis, Frank Mason III, Wayne Selden, Jr. and Devonte’ Graham – registered a grand total of 57 points in that first meeting with the ‘Clones but keep a very close eye on Graham (just seven points in that Jan. 25th game) to be a central cog as he’s been Kansas’ team MVP for the better part of the last four/five weeks.
Pointspread Note – Kansas has scorched its way to nine spread wins in its last 10 games since that above-mentioned loss to Iowa State.
#8 NORTH CAROLINA (24-6, 13-4 ACC) at #17 DUKE (22-8, 11-6) – 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Ask a handful of college hoop experts where they see North Carolina’s NCAA Tournament seed and, well, you’ll get a handful of different answers:
Well, here’s our viewpoint … If the UNC Tar Heels win this game at what’s gonna be an uber-loud Cameron-Indoor Stadium and then cop next week’s ACC Tournament in D.C. then Roy Williams’ club will snare a #1 seed over the likes of Virginia, Xavier and Miami … trust us!
Still, first things first and that means North Carolina must show better ball movement here – remember in that 74-73 home loss against 8.5-point underdog Duke back on Feb. 17th the Carolina big men barely touched the ball down the stretch – and Tar Heels’ PG Marcus Paige 12.1 ppg and 3.7 assists per game) thus becomes the single-most important player on the floor here against a Duke team that secured 43 points in all from G Grayson Allen (23) and F Brandon Ingram in that first duel.
Pointspread Note – The Tar Heels have failed to cover six of their last nine games and they’ve gone a wobbly 1-5 ATS (against the spread) away since Jan. 24th.
Gotcha a handful of College B-Ball Conference Tournaments – a/k/a mini-tourneys – in yesterday’s edition of Jim Sez (see Missouri Valley, MAAC, Ohio Valley, Colonial and West Coast) and so today let’s keep you up to speed with a couple of other leagues that are in action this weekend:
SOUTHERN CONFERENCE – Friday-thru-Monday
US Cellular Center – Asheville, NC
One-bid league here where Chattanooga (26-5, 15-3) remains the class and keep in mind the Moccasins have a neat RPI of 63 … not bad for a small conference squad.
- The Favorite: Chattanooga
- The Dark Horse: Furman
- The Longshot: Mercer
HORIZON LEAGUE – Saturday-thru-Tuesday
Joe Louis Arena – Detroit, MI
This 10-team league won’t be shy about going “hat-in-hand” and looking for a second bid and the truth is if Valparaiso (26-5, 16-2) loses in the mini-tourney title game, it may have an at-large shot but we’d give that about a 25 percent chance … no more.
- The Favorite: Valparaiso
- The Dark Horse: Green Bay
- The Longshot: Detroit
SUMMITT LEAGUE – Saturday-thru-Tuesday
Sanford Premier Center – Sioux Falls, SD
Hey, this league gets zero mention of the basketball shows we watch every night on ESPN, Fox, CBS, etc. and yet co-champ South Dakota State (23-7, 12-4) has a 39 RPI rank and that’s better than a whole bunch of those middle-of-the-ladder power conference teams. P.S., IPFW also sported a 12-4 regular-season mark in Summitt League action this year.
- The Favorite: South Dakota State
- The Dark Horse: IUPUI
- The Longshot: Oral Roberts