Network Bulletin 3-2-13 to 3-3-13

THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL WEEKEND REPORT

TRACKING THE WEEKEND'S TOP TILTS
FEATURING #5 MIAMI VS. #3 DUKE DUEL IN DURHAM

Plus Sunday's showdown between big 10 monsters #9 Michigan State at #4 Michigan and "Hot Coaches" What three young sideline generals could really stir the pot this month of March in the college b-ball world?

No doubt you have heard all the jokes about being the numero uno team in the land when it comes College Basketball ... as in, no thanks, let someone else be #1 for now!

In case you've lost track, there have been seven different occasions this 2012-13 season where the team ranked No. 1 lost.

The latest being this past Tuesday night when Indiana flopped face-first 77-73 at 4-point underdog Minnesota (and surely you noticed the late Las Vegas line move in that particular Big 10 game as Indiana was a 6-point betting fav game day but had that price tag shaved down in the hours/minutes before that 7 p.m. ET tip-off) and so forgive all those wild fans that have been in storm-the-court mode after their teams have beaten visiting #1 squads!

Naturally, there is no jinx attached to being the No. 1 team in the land but the reality is hoop squads will be scrambling like heck in the next couple of weeks to secure a #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament that officially tips off Tuesday, March 19th in Dayton - you've "saved the date"haven't you? - because the sheer math tells you that #1 seeds have the best shot at getting to the Final Four than any of the other seed lines.

End of the College Season Bank Play of the Day

P.S., the way we see it from here, there are about eight teams really/truly battling for the right to finish along that #1 seed line and - in no particular order - they would be: Indiana, Gonzaga, Duke, Michigan, Miami, Kansas, Florida and Michigan State.

Okay -- you ask - how come we left out #7 Georgetown? We believe the Hoyas have to win the Big East regular-season crown and the conference tourney too in order to latch onto an NCAA Tournament #1 seed ... okay?

College Basketball Previews - Saturday

#10 LOUISVILLE (23-5, 11-4 Big East) at #12 SYRACUSE (22-6, 10-5 Big East) - 12 p.m. ET, CBS
The Big East's best game on this hot hoops weekend comes from the Carrier Dome where the host Orange has won six-of-seven conference games this year - but the last time Jim Boeheim's crew played here it lost a gut-wrenching 57-46 decision to aforementioned Georgetown and that set off a little two-game losing skid.

Hey, don't look now but Syracuse is just 4-5 SU (straight-up) in its last nine games overall and maybe that re-instatement of super-sub James Southerland isn't working out quite as good as originally planned, eh?

If Syracuse is gonna gain the clean sweep over Louisville this 2012-13 regular season (see 'Cuse 70, Louisville 68 back on January 19th) than Southerland must light it up from deep and lefty swingman C.J. Fair (20 points in Monday's tough-to-stomach 74-71 loss at Marquette) must get his points in transition but do keep in mind the "Cuse nailed seven trifectas in that first go-around with oft-forgotten G Brandon Triche netting five triples en route to his team-best 23 points.

The 'Ville is considered - by many in-the-know folks - to still be the best all-around team in the Big East and so this showcase game is ultra-important for G Russ Smith who poured in a game-high 25 points in that first game against Syracuse and PG Peyton Siva must give Rick Pitino's team some points here too after going a dismal 1-of-9 from the floor in that first game versus the Orange.

Blue Ribbon Basketball Mismatch Game of the Year

#5 MIAMI (23-4, 14-1 ACC) at #3 DUKE (24-4, 11-4 ACC) - 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
Okay, Duke, you want your revenge ... go get it! Plenty has been made of the fact the Dookies were shellacked in South Beach 90-63 back on January 23rd when Mike Kryzewski's squad missed 19-of-23 triples and shot a sorry 29.7 overall from the floor (that would be 22-of-74) - maybe the Blue Devils didn't particularly care for the post-game celebration by the Hurricanes or their jubilant fans but now here's time to do something about it - and wouldn't you know that Duke's also coming off a stinging loss last night in Virginia when the Wahoos handed 'em a 73-68 defeat (not an upset, gang!).

Miami had major "mojo"going in that first matchup with Duke: Jim Larranaga's crew shot a wicked 33-of-58 from the floor and G Durand Scott poured in 25 points but now look for Duke's sticky man-to-man defense to get into the grill of active PG Shane Larkin (18 points, 10 rebs and 5 assists in that first Duke game) and make him face end-to-end pressure even if it means Coach K keeping his guards fresh for defense-first duty.

Two X-factors to watch for here in this key ACC clash: Miami will do its best to get Duke big man Mason Plumlee into foul trouble and so reserve C Reggie Johnson - a real-life wide-body - is a key figure here as he could gobble up minutes and room in the lane while the other X factor involves Miami's better-than-you-think defense that yields just 59.1 ppg (that's third-best among ACC teams) and Larranaga knows keeping Duke's triple tries to an absolute minimum is key. If the Blue Devils attempt less than 20 three-balls here, than it's already a victory of sorts for the U of M 'Canes.

For more Saturday College Basketball Previews - Click Here

College Basketball Preview - Sunday

Catch Saturday Night Fever

#9 MICHIGAN STATE (22-6, 11-4 Big 10) at #4 MICHIGAN (23-5, 10-5 Big 10) - 12 p.m. ET, CBS
It's one thing for the upper-crust teams inside the mighty Big 10 to "beat each other up"as has been the case history in recent weeks: But when Penn State bonked 12 ½-point road fav Michigan 84-78 this past Wednesday night you could say it sent some shock waves up-and-down the Michigan campus.

After all, John Beilein's squad - which enters this matinee tilt having lost four of its last seven games overall - somehow lost to Penn State while shooting 30-of-58 from the floor (that's 51.7 percent) and despite winning the all-important board battle 37-to-27 ... so what's wrong right now with the maize-and-blue who've already been beaten once this year by archrival Michigan State (see M-State 75-52 back on February 12th)?

Michigan's intensity level has dropped - even in last Sunday's 71-58 win/cover against Illinois the Wolverines played only 10-to-12 minutes of really sound basketball - and so we shall see what the team's "mood' is here against a Spartans squad that ranks third in the 12-team Big 10 with 59.9 points per game allowed but needs veteran PG Keith Appling to get his game in gear.

Okay, so Appling's stats include a decent 13.4 ppg average but he's not been a big factor in close-and-late situations and here must cut off Trey Burke's path to the hoop ... or else.

CHECKING OUT THESE "HOT COACHES"

Sunday Money Maker

It's an annual rite of early spring: You check out the smaller or mid-major teams that have a shot to make some noise in the hoops-crazy merry month of March and you focus on the head coaches making it happen:

RICK BYRD, BELMONT - The Bruins have lost all five of their NCAA Tournament games while dating back to the 2006 season (two opening-round losses to Georgetown including last year) but if this Ohio Valley Conference club (23-6, 13-2) gets the "right matchup"in this year's tourney than maybe Byrd can stuff off his stuff and become one of those "hot coaches". Byrd sports an athletic club at Belmont and getting into a race-horse game will serve 'em well - and just a single NCAA Tournament win could catapult Byrd into a prime position in a major league. Did anyone say Georgia might be eyeballing a new ball coach?

MICHAEL WHITE, LOUISIANA TECH - Talk about generating a real buzz back in a once-proud hoops program! The second-year head coach of the L-Tech Bulldogs has really lit the fuse on a big season in Ruston where the Techsters remain perfect in Western Athletic Conference play (26-3 overall and 16-0 inside the WAC) and there's rumblings that White could be exit stage left soon after this 2012-13 season ends and we'll say this: If Tech wins a game or two in the NCAAs, he could be writing his own ticket somewhere in the SEC (again, Georgia could have an opening or perhaps Auburn will be a landing spot for White).

NBS Sunday Night Shocker

BRYCE DREW, VALPARAISO - Okay, so no question once you hear the word "Valpo"you think of this one-time star player and his all-American family that's been such a big part of the school's hoops history but might this be the perfect time for the class of 1998 grad to grab the big bucks at a power conference school or perhaps move up a peg or two and get a better mid-major position? Drew could be one of these "hot coaches"in March - his Valparaiso team exited Tuesday's 73-64 win against Youngstown State with a snazzy 23-7 overall mark (and with a 12-3 first-place mark inside the Horizon League) but we could see a move to one of the Missouri Valley Conference's potentially vacant positions at Wichita State or Indiana State should those coaches move on or maybe he'll be in the mix at Iowa State should Fred Hoiberg get tempted by some NBA offer as was hinted at the other night by ESPN's Brent Musberger.

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