NCAA Tournament Sketches/Forecasts
Are your brackets all filled out … or are you still working on ‘em?
Well today it’s all NCAA Tournament/all the time as we break down the East, West, Midwest and South Regions and so maybe we can help, but first this important reminder …
Jim Hurley has all the NCAA Tournament winners right through the championship game on the night of April 3rd and you can get it either right here at www.JimHurley.com or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 – plus don’t forget we’re banging out lots of winners in the other college tournies such as the NIT, CIT and CBI and there’s lots of daily NBA Winners too these days. Join the fun and profits with all the hardwood action – win big starting today!
We opened up March Madness by going 3-0 in the NIT on Tuesday, winning our top play with Georgia Tech (+2.5) over Indiana 75-63, and getting the money with Richmond (+7.5) over Alabama 71-64, and Colorado State (-4.5) over Charleston 81-74. The only loss was in the NCAA First Four as New Orleans just missed covering against Mt. St. Mary's.
NCAA TOURNAMENT –
Here’s some quick-hitter notes on all four NCAA Tournament regions and take note that our “Dark Horse” teams are anyone lower than #4 seeds:
Everyone’s clamoring for a #1 seed Villanova vs. #2 seed Duke super showdown at Madison Square Garden in the Elite 8 but just hold your horses: There are sneaky-good teams on both sides of this East bracket with #5 seed Virginia having hit the reset button on its sometimes-slumbering season and #6 seed SMU athletic enough (if not deep enough) to take out any/all comers and that might include a Sweet 16 showdown against the Dookies. Meanwhile, it’s entirely possible that #3 Baylor and/or #4 Florida could scratch their ways to the second weekend and make things sticky for those aforementioned top two seeds.
- Best Team: Duke
- Dark Horse: SMU
- Most Underrated Tourney In-Game Coach: Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech
- Best Per-Game Wagering Value: Virginia Tech
- Best Player Country Does Not Know: Andrew Rowsey, G, Marquette … A slick 45 percent three-point shooter could doom Marquette and maybe scare Duke too.
- Opening-Round Matchup to Watch: #4 Florida vs. #13 East Tennessee State – The Gators are rated a top 10 team in some metrics but folks are wondering if they score enough (78.3 ppg) to cover this bloated 10-point price.
We’ve heard some of the TV hoop “experts” claim that this is the softest region of the four but should anyone really be surprised if either #1 seed Gonzaga or #2 seed Arizona cuts down the nets in Glendale on the first Monday in April? Plus, toss into the mix the fact that #5 seed Notre Dame and #6 seed Maryland are part of this region and we dare say that’s the best #5-#6 seed combo of ‘em all – go ahead and look for yourself. The fun part of the West Region is that #4 West Virginia (force loads of enemy turnovers), #7 Saint Mary’s (country’s second-best scoring defense at 56.5 ppg) and #11 Xavier (G Trevon Bluiett can win a game by himself with his 18.1 ppg scoring average) all should be considered “live” plays in any/all short-priced games.
- Best Team: Arizona
- Dark Horse: Notre Dame
- Most Underrated Tourney In-Game Coach: Mike Brey, Notre Dame
- Best Per-Game Wagering Value: Xavier
- Best Player Country Does Not Know: Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State … This unsung 6-foot-10 shot-blocker/board-banger could impose his will for three or four games here.
- Opening-Round Matchup to Watch: #8 Northwestern vs. #9 Vanderbilt – Just the fact the N’western Wildcats have finally garnered an NCAA Tournament berth is a story in itself but this “smarty pants” matchup is a real toss-up according to the really smart guys/gals in Las Vegas.
The way things are set the Elite 8 game is “supposed” to pair #1 seed Kansas versus #2 seed Louisville but there’s plenty of really hot sides that are helping to fill out this region (see Big 12 Tournament champion Iowa State, Big 10 champ Michigan and Atlantic-10 Tourney winner Rhode Island) and you wonder if one or more of these “hot sides” will sizzle in this tourney or will they fizzle out? If there’s an under-the-radar story here than maybe a double-digit seed can make some noise – is #12 Nevada a real threat to get to the Sweet 16 or maybe #14 Iona can take out the Oregon Ducks without shot-blocker Chris Boucher? And we shall see if Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo can avoid a first-round loss for a second consecutive season as Sparty gets a major rock-‘em, sock-‘em deal versus Miami.
- Best Team: Kansas
- Dark Horse: Michigan
- Most Underrated Tourney In-Game Coach: Jim Larranaga, Miami
- Best Per-Game Wagering Value: Oklahoma State
- Best Player Country Does Not Know: Purdue’s Player of the Year candidate Caleb Swanigan (18.5 ppg) is sensational but keep your eye on 7-foot-2 brute Isaac Haas who averages 13 ppg and 5 rebounds a game and sets a mean pick.
- Opening-Round Matchup to Watch: #8 Miami vs. #9 Michigan State – All the experts tell us this is not your typical physical Michigan State squad but can a Miami team that finished 13th (among 15 teams) in the ACC in offense pump up enough points in a game where 65 points may be enough to win.
The blueblood programs that highlight the upper crust of this field (#1 North Carolina, #2 Kentucky and #3 UCLA) are getting all the buzz – and rightfully so – but it’s quite possible someone from the #4 seed down could steal the show. Gotta believe the aforementioned Tar Heels, UK Wildcats and Bruins all will be around for a while but look at what they are all laying in opening-round games … a composite total of 64 points! If you believe in “destiny” teams than maybe #12 Middle Tennessee State or perhaps #10 Wichita State is your proverbial cup of tea but don’t sleep on some of the teams that played their best ball at year’s end such as #9 Seton Hall and #14 Kent State.
- Best Team: UCLA
- Dark Horse: Seton Hall
- Most Underrated Tourney In-Game Coach: Archie Miller, Dayton
- Best Per-Game Wagering Value: Dayton
- Best Player Country Does Not Know: Giddy Potts, G, Middle Tennessee State … Everyone-and-his-brother loves the MTSU Blue Raiders in this man’s tourney (remember Jim Hurley’s Network cashed with ‘em twice in last week’s Conference USA Tournament!) and this dynamic junior brings his snazzy 15.8 ppg average into play against #5 seed Minnesota on Thursday.
- Opening-Round Matchup to Watch: #7 Dayton vs. #10 Wichita State – The Vegas folks have the Shockers as 6-point betting favorites here but might the Dayton Flyers be sick-and-tired of hearing about Wichita State’s lousy seed and flip the script on the Missouri Valley Conference guys here?
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