The Jim Sez NCAA Final Four Previews
THE FINAL FOUR PREVIEWS ARE HERE ...WE GET YOU SATURDAY'S MONSTER MATCHUPS!
Let us ask you the following three-pronged question: Is the best player in the land gonna win this year's college basketball national championship? Or the best team gonna win it all? Or neither?
Ahh, that's what everyone wants to know as we head into Saturday's epic Final Four in the great Lone Star State ...
The best player in the land - that's Oklahoma senior shiny star Buddy Hield -- is averaging a haughty 29.3 ppg in this year's NCAA Tournament and there's a growing belief that he can carry the Sooners over the threshold and hand the school its first-ever national title in men's hoops.
The best remaining team in the land - the North Carolina Tar Heels - have rampaged their way right through this tourney with double-digit wins right through their first four NCAA Tourney games thus far but do they play enough defense to get "mission accomplished" here?
Finally, there's Villanova - who perhaps has played better than anyone else in this tourney - and bad-boy Syracuse which escaped the NCAA's wrath and made it all the way here even though they were one of the last four or five teams to get a "Big Dance" invitation.
Here's the up-to-the-minute odds to win it all:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers is ready to roar in this weekend's Final Four as the College Basketball season winds down with Saturday's doubleheader in Houston and then the NCAA Tournament Championship Game come Monday night. Get in now on the tourney's Final Four - just go online game-day morning or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and we'll send you straight into the winner's circle.
Hey, we're also 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. And come Sunday afternoon/night, Major-League Baseball is back (don't forget there's almost a full slate of games on Monday!) and so make sure you get out of the gate fast with America's #1 Handicapper as we zoom into the 2016 MLB Season.
THE FINAL FOUR: NRG STADIUM - Houston, TX
#2 VILLANOVA (33-5) vs. #2 OKLAHOMA (29-7) - 6:09 p.m. ET, TBS
As noted in a prior edition of Jim Sez, it's funny how "the world" loved #2 seed Michigan State to cop this year's national championship and it wound up being two other No. 2 seeds that got this far ... so much for everyone being an "expert"!
No doubt the major reason Villanova is here in Space City is because Jay Wright's veteran-flavored team finally jelled at just the right time. Senior PG Ryan Arcidiacono (one turnover in 33 minutes of game time in last weekend's rousing 64-59 win against Kansas) has pulled this whole squad together and it helps that the Wildcats don't miss free throws (18-of-19 versus the Jayhawks) and play great perimeter defense.
Now, whether that souped-up "D" can contain the aforementioned Hield is another question: The soon-to-be-named Wooden Award winner poured in 37 points against Oregon in that 80-68 lopsided triumph in last week's Elite 8 and he's playing his best ball of the year.
If Lon Kruger's Big 12 team is gonna pull past 2-point favorite Villanova here, than Hield needs his backcourt mates Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard to shoot it better than 7-of-21 from the floor here (see versus Ducks).
Here's the road to the NCAA Tournament Final Four for both #2 Villanova and #2 Oklahoma:
|3-18||NC Asheville||- 17.5||86-56|
|3-24||Texas A&M||- 2.5||77-63|
#10 SYRACUSE (23-13) vs. #1 NORTH CAROLINA (32-6) - approximately 8:49 p.m. ET, TBS
There's already five NCAA Championship banners hanging inside the "Dean Dome" from 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009 ... should the folks in Chapel Hill be getting fitted for another one?
As you can see from the "odds to win it all" above, these UNC Tar Heels are prohibitive favorites to cut down the nets come Monday night and it's not as if anyone's been able to apply the brakes to an offense that is averaging 89.3 ppg during this tourney run.
Sure, Carolina head coach Roy Williams loves the run up-and-down aspect of this club that relies so much of second-chance shots - or didn't you notice the 12 offensive rebounds in last Sunday's 14-point win over Notre Dame? - but will this vaunted Syracuse zone defense be able to keep out the likes of Brice Johnson (12 rebounds to go along with 25 points vs. Notre Dame) who has made a living this tourney putting back chip shots off offensive boards?
Hey, everyone talks up this 'Cuse zone that did help calm things down again after the Orange pressed its way back into contention in last weekend's 68-62 comeback win against Virginia but ask us and we say Jim Boeheim's gang must score closer to 85 or 90 points if it's gonna KO North Carolina here.
Hard to believe that Syracuse beat the Cavaliers last week while shooting a rotten 21-of-57 from the floor ... gut feel is Michael Gbinije (just 4-of-13 FG shooting then) must go for 20-plus points here or else!
Here's the road to the NCAA Tournament Final Four for both #10 Syracuse and #1 North Carolina:
|3-20||Middle Tenn||- 6||75-50|
|3-27||Notre Dame||- 9.5||88-74|
THE JIM SEZ UPDATE: IT'S A MONSTER SPORTS WEEKEND (AS IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW!)
As we like to say here at Jim Sez, it doesn't get a whole lot better than this! The first weekend in April is loaded with great sports action including - of course - this NCAA Tournament's Final Four on Saturday and Championship Game come Monday Night plus it's the opening of the 2016 Major-League Baseball season too.
NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES
Lots of folks wondering if this is gonna be the swan song for North Carolina head coach Roy Williams providing he's cutting down the nets in Houston on Monday night and the speculation as to whom would replace Williams runs rampant along Tobacco Road.
Ask us and we say that if - and only if - the UNC Tar Heels win it all this year than Williams will wave bye-bye and the great hoops school would bypass long-time assistants C.B. McGrath and Steve Robinson (the on-going investigations would wipe the cupboard clean) and name either Gonzaga head coach Mark Few or Wichita State's Gregg Williams as the next Carolina boss ...
Okay, so we've all had time to look back now on this year's NCAA Tournament and here's a couple of ironies that played itself out:
The NCAA Tourney folks "punished" Villanova with a #2 seed and by not allowing the Wildcats to host Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games in Philadelphia after Jay Wright's club lost in the conference championship game versus Seton Hall and yet moving the Big East team to play in Louisville likely helped while lessening the in-city pressures they would have felt;
And, what about the pure fact that #1 seed Kansas was forced to play in the toughest bracket of them all - the South Regional - while Big 12 runner-up Oklahoma snagged a #2 seed in the easiest bracket of them all, the West Regional? Think about it for a second: If Kansas and Oklahoma would have "switched places" than we most likely would be sitting here speculating on the KU Jayhawks being in the Final Four. Unfair? Hmmm.
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Okay, so there's really two different "Opening Day" spectacles in MLB (see Sunday/Monday) but let's concentrate right now on the three games Sunday that officially kick off the 2016 season:
ST. LOUIS at PITTSBURGH - 1:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
No doubt the Cardinals and Pirates are the afterthoughts in the National League Central behind the headline-grabbing Chicago Cubs but remember last year the Redbirds won 100 games (they had been projected back then to win 87.5) and the Buccos won 98 games (projected to win 83.5 last season) so don't necessarily sleep on either team this year. Biggest story here is Cards' ace RHP Adam Wainwright who last year threw just 28 innings in regular-season play (2-1, 1.61 ERA and no HRs allowed) because of an Achilles Heel injury.
TORONTO at TAMPA BAY - 4:05 p.m. ET, espn2
Our Jim Sez MLB Predictions posted here the other day called for Tampa Bay Rays RHP Chris Archer to cop this year's American League Cy Young Award ... and he sure deserved a better fate than a year ago when he registered a 12-13 mark with a 3.23 ERA while allowing only 175 hits in 212 innings. Now, right out of the box he deals with baseball's highest-scoring team from a year ago (891 runs) and the Blue Jays' lineup - starring reigning MVP 3B Josh Donaldson (41 HR, 123 RBI, .568 slugging percentage) - will be a major handful again.
NEW YORK METS at KANSAS CITY - 8:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
The long-awaited rematch of last year's World Series has plenty of sub-plots right out of the gate including how is Mets' RHP Matt Harvey (recent bladder ills) gonna handle this Opening Night assignment and will any NYM batters hit the dirt for some brushback stuff in last year's Fall Classic ... or might that wait till RHP Noah Syndergaard's start come Tuesday afternoon in KC? The Royals finished next-to-last in the AL in home runs last year (139) but that didn't seem to faze 'em!
NOTE: Catch our NCAA Tournament Championship Game preview in this next edition of Jim Sez.
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