Elite 8 Stat Summaries

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

VCU OR BUTLER WILL PLAY FOR
THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!

It was an amazing Elite 8 weekend...coming on the heels of an amazing NCAA Tournament.

*None of the #1 seeds made it to the Final Four. Only one made it to the Elite 8.

*Few of the top 16 seeds looked like they deserved to be seeded that high. Even teams who were WINNING were doing it in unimpressive fashion much of the time (excluding Connecticut, who's been impressive several games in a row now).

*Vegas oddsmakers may have had their worst tournament ever in terms of properly assessing the differences between teams. They did a good enough job of splitting the money, because the public was far too enamored of big name programs that were getting TV hype. But, the oddsmakers themselves were just as surprised at the results as anyone else. They were fortunate that the media did such a bad job this year of presenting REALITY.

*The media? Don't get us started. You can basically take a few thousand hours of ESPN program and flush it down the toilet. The games...the previews...the predictions...the constant hype about the Big East...and Duke...and Ohio State. Butler and VCU made it on TV a few times.

Butler and VCU will play each other Saturday for the right to play for a national championship. It's guaranteed. A mid major will be in the finals. The team that dispatched Pittsburgh (and Florida, Wisconsin and Old Dominion)...or the team that dispatched Kansas (and Purdue, Georgetown, Florida State, and USC) will have a chance to cut down the nets Monday Night. Butler came oh so close last year. Could this be the breakthrough season?

We'll run expanded previews for the Final Four next Saturday. Today, let's see what we can learn by crunching the key numbers from this past weekend's action. Games are presented in the order they were played...

BUTLER 74, FLORIDA 71 (in overtime)
Shooting Percentage: Butler 40%, Florida 44%
Three-Pointers: Butler 9/33, Florida 3/14
Free Throws: Butler 17/27, Florida 18/22
Rebounds: Butler 36, Florida 33
Turnovers: Butler 10, Florida 7
Phantom Score: Butler 66, Florida 77
Vegas Line: Florida by 3.5, total of 134
Notebook: It was an ugly game to watch, with the teams combining to go 12 of 47 on three-pointers. Yet, the coaches kept setting up plays to try more three-pointers! Florida won Phantom Score as expected (two-point scoring plus rebounding). You get the sense they could have won in regulation if they attacked the basket in the final minutes rather than running out the clock and launching a prayer. Hustling Butler took advantage of their opening (like they always do), and out-executed the Gators down the stretch.

Can Butler take it the distance this year? They got so close in 2010. But, that was a better team...a team that really did outplay quality opposition on a game-by-game basis. This year's squad is grinding, and can't keep hoping the coin flip games will fall their way. If they lose the turnover battle in their next game...and miss 10 free throws...and miss 24 three-pointers...and allow better than 50% shooting on 2-point shots (22 of 43 for Florida inside the arc)...they aren't likely to be in position to steal anything in the end.

CONNECTICUT 65, ARIZONA 63
Shooting Percentage: Arizona 39%, Connecticut 41%
Three-Pointers: Arizona 4/21, Connecticut 5/18
Free Throws: Arizona 11/16, Connecticut 14/18
Rebounds: Arizona 38, Connecticut 27
Turnovers: Arizona 9, Connecticut 4
Phantom Score: Arizona 78, Connecticut 63
Vegas Line: Connecticut by 3, total of 146
Notebook: Similar to Connecticut's game with San Diego State on Thursday...UCONN would move out to a lead...only to give it back...only to surge out to a lead again...only to give it back again. Versus San Diego State, the game ended with UCONN up seven. This time, at the 40-minute mark, the result was still up in the air. Arizona couldn't make the bucket they needed to steal the victory. UCONN survived to carry the Big East banner into the final weekend.

Both teams struggled from long range, making it a very ugly day in terms of pure offense. Arizona outhustled Connecticut on the boards to a surprising degree. All it got them was more missed shots though, so Phantom Score didn't correlate to the scoreboard.

Connecticut showed great composure under fire, losing the ball only four times on the night. Kemba Walker gets the majority of credit. But, this is a team that does a lot of the right things very well. Their run through the Big East tournament was amazing. What they've done in the Big Dance is a continuation of that excellent form. They've been playing the best ball in the nation for a few weeks. We wouldn't argue with anyone who says they're the current favorite to win the trophy. Being a favorite is a curse this year though, so Jim Calhoun probably doesn't want to hear it!

VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH 71, KANSAS 61
Shooting Percentage: VCU 40%, Kansas 36%
Three-Pointers: VCU 12/25, Kansas 2/21
Free Throws: VCU 17/22, Kansas 15/28
Rebounds: VCU 32, Kansas 42
Turnovers: VCU 12, Kansas 14
Phantom Score: VCU 50, Kansas 82
Vegas Line: Kansas by 11, total of 146
Notebook: Wow...Kansas losing to a mid major can't be considered the stunner of the century since Northern Iowa knocked them out last year...and it wasn't that long ago that Bucknell made a name for itself at the expense of the Jayhawks. But, tired VCU jumping out quickly to an early 18-point lead was surely one of the most amazing things that's happened in recent Dances. Kansas spent the rest of the day trying to come back. But, if you're 2 of 21 on three-pointers...you're not coming back from anything!

Phantom Score shows a slaughter for Kansas. That's to be expected. They had a big advantage on the boards. They should have picked up a bunch of free points at the charity stripe. But, a 15-28 disaster there doomed them. VCU has a lot to be proud of. But, Kansas will be home next weekend because of the 2-21 debacle from long range...and the pathetic 15-28 mark from the free throw line. This was one of the best four teams in the country?

We're still concerned about VCU's reliance on three-pointers in terms of their hopes for the weekend. You can't count on owning that stat every round. If they were 8 of 25 instead of 12 of 25 they lose here. If Kansas was 6 of 21 instead of 2 of 21, same deal. Pencil in BOTH, and Kansas wins by double digits. Treys loom over the modern game like a blimp blocking the sun. Vegas and the public still haven't quite figured out how to deal with that. You saw again with this year's releases that JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK is ahead of the curve!

KENTUCKY 76, NORTH CAROLINA 69
Shooting Percentage: Kentucky 48%, N. Carolina 44%
Three-Pointers: Kentucky 12/22, N. Carolina 3/16
Free Throws: Kentucky 10/16, N. Carolina 12/15
Rebounds: Kentucky 30, N. Carolina 35
Turnovers: Kentucky 14, N. Carolina 13
Phantom Score: Kentucky 60, N. Carolina 83
Vegas Line: Kentucky by 1, total of 145
Notebook: It's not surprising that Kentucky won. They were a small favorite after all. But, we're surprised they were crushed in Phantom Score but won with a bunch of three-pointers! Kentucky was plus 27 points from long range in a game they only won by seven. They were better than 50%, while Carolina couldn't throw it in the ocean. If you're an old-timer, you're probably not happy that college basketball has turned into roulette! But, NETWORK has shown that you can pick winners anyway if you have the right information, the right sources, and the right handicappers studying the games for you. The man in the middle of the information hurricane, JIM HURLEY has always been a few steps ahead of the market as college basketball continues to evolve. That's why you should link up with him for the Final Four this weekend!

That wraps up our look at this past weekend's Elite 8 action. Our next Big Dance report will be Saturday when we run expanded previews for the Final Four. Tuesday brings expanded previews for the Final Four of the NIT at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Wichita State vs. Washington State
Alabama vs. Colorado

Thursday we'll preview the championship game and look at key stats from the Tuesday Night boxscores. Some time this week we'll squeeze in some NBA...and touch on Major League Baseball, which starts Thursday with a six game schedule.

Don't sleep on tonight's card. JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK has BIG JUICY WINNERS in the NBA, where highlighted games include Orlando/New York (in a make-up from an earlier postponement), Boston/Indiana, Philadelphia/Chicago, and Portland/San Antonio. We've targeted an East-West Parlay on two of these games. Click here to get on board.  It's also night one of the best of 3 championship series in the CBI Tournament. Oregon visits Creighton. You can purchase tonight's Game 1 here at the website, or call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

SO MANY GAMES...
SO MANY WINNERS...
SO, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

Link up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.

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