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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Sports bettors who love college basketball will be parked in front of their TV sets tonight to watch ESPN’s doubleheader from Atlanta featuring Michigan State vs. Kansas at 7 p.m. ET followed by Kentucky at Duke at 9:30 p.m. ET. This event won’t just have a March Madness feel to it. Given the teams involved, and their storied histories…it’s going to have a FINAL FOUR feel to it!

Here are the Preseason AP rankings for tonight’s warriors…





14…Michigan State

It wouldn’t be a shock to see any of those teams in the Final Four this year, or to go the distance and cut down the nets. Kentucky, Kansas, and Duke are already on everyone’s short list. Michigan State often begins the season a bit off the radar like this in the years where they’re destined to make history. Even though college basketball has done a good job of creating November excitement in the past…we have to say that tonight’s twinbill may be one of the most exciting early-season TV events ever.

If you’re a sports bettor, you’re going to be betting on games involving these teams over the next four months. You need to be getting as good a read as you can NOW on their strengths and weaknesses. And, you also need to get a read on how sharps and the public are viewing these teams. Be sure you study the game day line moves!

All four teams played last Friday in games many of you were paying close attention to. Michigan State dropped a game to Connecticut that was played overseas in Germany. The other three won their openers. Only Kentucky had to sweat, as its new collection of great young talent went to the wire with Maryland in a game played in the new basketball arena in Brooklyn that you probably watched on ESPN.

To help sports bettors make intelligent predictions in tonight’s big games, let’s briefly crunch the numbers from those four season openers. We’ll go in the order that “the big four” appear Tuesday in the Nevada rotation schedule.


Shooting Percentage: Michigan State 38%, Connecticut 46%

Three-Pointers: Michigan State 4/17, Connecticut 6/13

Free Throws: Michigan State 10/13, Connecticut 10/13

Rebounds: Michigan State 43, Connecticut 29

Turnovers: Michigan State 15, Connecticut 12

Vegas Line: Michigan State by 8, total of 133

Michigan State almost made up for their poor shooting by grabbing 20 offensive rebounds. But, misses begat more misses, and the Spartans simply couldn’t outperform UCONN’s sharper play. You can see that turnovers were an issue for Michigan State. And, their defense didn’t do a good job by season opening standards of guarding the perimeter or the paint. A lot of college teams are rusty in their first games (as MSU was), but their defense didn’t disrupt Connecticut to the degree that was needed.

JIM HURLEY is paying a lot of attention to the jet lag angle here. It’s tough to play on a Tuesday in Atlanta when you played on a Friday in Europe! Early season schedules often involve a lot of crazy travel because of tournaments or “made for TV matchups.” Our Big Ten sources will play a big role in determining what we do in Michigan State-Kansas because of this special situation.


Shooting Percentage: SEMO 29%, Kansas 39%

Three-Pointers: SEMO 4/16, Kansas 2/21

Free Throws: SEMO 15/20, Kansas 24/28

Rebounds: SEMO 32, Kansas 46

Turnovers: SEMO 12, Kansas 13

Vegas Line: Kansas by 20, no total

It ended up being a comfortable win. But, this was just a six-point game midway through the second half! You can see that Kansas played great defense the whole way through, holding SEMO below 30% shooting. But, a horrible 2 of 21 performance on three-pointers kept the Jayhawks from putting this one out of reach early. You regulars know we emphasize defense and rebounding in our basketball handicapping. Kansas grades out very well in those areas. Ultimately though, they did only play to the Vegas expectation, and they didn’t show poise from the perimeter.


Shooting Percentage: Maryland 33%, Kentucky 43%

Three-Pointers: Maryland 3/19, Kentucky 6/13

Free Throws: Maryland 16/21, Kentucky 18/28

Rebounds: Maryland 54, Kentucky 38

Turnovers: Maryland 11, Kentucky 12

Vegas Line: Kentucky by 11, total of 135

If you watched this game, you marveled at Maryland’s incredible offensive rebounding! ESPN raved about it…and you know Kentucky coach John Calipari was frustrated that his team couldn’t control the boards. Maryland ended the night with 28 offensive rebounds! But, Kentucky ended the night with the win, which is what was most important. Strong defense from the Wildcats even if they allowed way too many second chance attempts. The Wildcats got to the line more often, but couldn’t take full advantage. It’s scary to think how good this team is going to be once the players know each other’s names. Calipari does a great job every year with new faces. These new faces have already learned the importance of defense.


Shooting Percentage: Georgia State 37%, Duke 51%

Three-Pointers: Georgia State 5/14, Duke 11/24

Free Throws: Georgia State 12/17, Duke 15/23

Rebounds: Georgia State 33, Duke 31

Turnovers: Georgia State 16, Duke 15

Vegas Line: Duke by 20, total of 132

Duke gave itself a tune-up game to get ready for Kentucky. They certainly got the job done here in traditional Duke fashion (at least for non-conference home games!). You see sharpness from behind the three-point line and solid defense. Coach K would have preferred better rebounding and fewer turnovers obviously (as would have anyone who bet Duke in Vegas!). The Blue Devils will be stepping up in class in Atlanta, and better take much better care of the ball against faster, more aggressive defenders.

JIM HURLEY’s focus in this game has been in the area of November results for these long established head coaches. Both Calipari and Coach K challenge their teams early in the season. Both have a track record for how those challenges turn out. Any official play in this game for clients will be strongly guided by the historical record.

You can purchase NETWORK’s basketball plays right here at this website every day. Of course, there’s wall-to-wall basketball running all day long on ESPN has teams around the country coordinated a 24-hour schedule that began late Monday. Hopefully you’ve gotten in the habit of visiting daily for the best picks on the board. In addition to college action tonight, we’re also looking at New York-Orlando, Cleveland-Brooklyn, and San Antonio-LA Lakers in the NBA. How will the Lakers react to the news of Mike Dantoni’s hiring? Are they ready to beat a Western power after coasting past Golden State and Sacramento?

If you have any questions about basketball or football service from NETWORK, call our office at 1-800-323-4453. This is a great day to take care of business because you can get locked in right before the big TV doubleheader and just in time for a holiday rampage on the hardwood that’s going to be something to behold.

Back with you Wednesday in the NOTEBOOK to discuss another big TV doubleheader. This time it will be in the NBA with Memphis visiting Oklahoma City in a Western War, followed by Miami at the LA Clippers in a matchup that all fans look forward to because of the stars on the floor for both teams. Coming up this weekend are several very important football matchups (like Stanford-Oregon in the colleges and Baltimore-Pittsburgh plus Chicago-San Francisco in the NFL!). Visit this website daily to stay on top of important developments, and link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!

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