Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 9:15 AM
If you listen to all the gobbly-gook from the TV talking heads during this year's NCAA Tournament, than you would think there's been a plethora of major upsets in this year's "Big Dance" through the first 52 games played but here's the reality:
There have been only six games in which an underdog of 5-or-more points won and they include the following:
Ole Miss (+ 6.5) over Wisconsin, LaSalle (+ 6) over Kansas State, Harvard (+ 10.5) over New Mexico and (of course) Florida Gulf Coast (+ 13.5) over Georgetown in second-round games along with Wichita State (+ 6.5) over Gonzaga and Florida Gulf Coast (+ 7.5) over San Diego State in the Round of 32 tilts.
Sure, there's a king-sized Cinderella still standing in this Sweet 16 field as the gang from Fort Myers- of, sorry, "Dunk City" -- has taken this tourney by storm but consider for a moment the fact that 11 of the teams still in action were either #1, #2, #3 or #4 seeds (that's nearly 69 percent of the Sweet 16 group, mind you) and save for the wacky West Region where #2, #6, #9 and #13 seeds still remain the rest of the Sweet 16 brackets went pretty much as forecast ... now wouldn't you agree?
Now, just in case you haven't seen the conference representation here in the Sweet 16, take note:
Big 10 (4)- Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan
Big East (3) - Louisville, Marquette and Syracuse
ACC (2) - Duke and Miami
Pac-12 (2) - Arizona and Oregon
Atlantic 10 (1)- LaSalle
Atlantic Sun (1)- Florida Gulf Coast
Big 12 (1) - Kansas
Missouri Valley (1)- Wichita State
SEC (1)- Florida
Remember there hasn't been a Big 10 team that's won the national championship since those Mateen Cleaves-led Michigan State Spartans back in 2000 but now we have the possibility- however slim you may think the odds are- that we could be headed to an all-Big 10 Final Four in Atlanta next weekend ... just sayin'!
We'll get to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Thursday Game Previews in just a moment but first a look at our annual NCAA Tournament Pointspread Chart through last Sunday's games:
NCAA TOURNAMENT CONFERENCE-BY-CONFERENCE
POINTSPREAD BREAKDOWN CHART
Editor's Note: The six so-called power conferences- the ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC- exited last Sunday's action a composite 27-24 for a respectable-at-best .529 winning rate but how about a round of applause for the gritty Atlantic 10 that covered 8-of-11 games in the first week of NCAA Tournament play and 3-and-oh LaSalle is still standing in the Sweet 16 field.
The biggest disappointment? It's gotta be the Mountain West Conference that placed five teams in the original 68-team NCAA Tourney field and managed just a pair of pointspread covers (see Colorado State over Missouri and San Diego State over Oklahoma) in some seven pointspread attempts. Overrated!
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to roar with the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 this week/weekend and so get all the post-season action with the NCAA Tournament, NIT, CBI and CIT winners plus there's plenty of NBA Winners on tap too when you sign up today and be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winning selections. Note that the special check-in times are anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the Monday-through-Friday tourney night action. Also, the winning selections are available after 10 a.m. ET this Saturday and Sunday as we win big this weekend with all the Elite-8 games in the NCAAs. Sign up now for the remainder of all the College Basketball and NBA campaigns.NCAA TOURNAMENT- THE SWEET 16
EAST REGIONAL SEMIFINALS - At Verizon Center -- Washington, D.C.
#3 MARQUETTE (25-8) vs. #2 MIAMI (29-6)- 7:15 p.m. ET
Now that the Miami 'Canes will be without C Reggie Johnson (knee) the question is who picks up the slack on the boards where the bulky Johnson averages seven boards a game- true, he went scoreless in 18 minutes of game action in last Sunday's 63-59 non-cover win against Illinois but he's a critical component to this ACC team that really looked out of sync for much of that Round of 32 game.
Keep in mind the duo of G Durand Scott (2-of-9 made FGs for 8 points) and G Trey McKinney Jones combined for a mere 11 points against the Illini as Dion Brown rescued the Hurricanes with his 21-point off the pine. If Jim Larranaga's team doesn't get an All-America performance here from star PG Shane Larkin, than gritty Marquette- a 5 .5-point dog at press time- could swipe this one late.
No doubt the Golden Eagles have been living on the edge this NCAA Tournament with a one-point win against Davidson and a 2-point triumph over Butler and G Vander Blue remains a Mr. Clutch-type who never shies away from taking the big shot.
Play it again, here, Buzz?
#4 SYRACUSE (28-9) vs. #1 INDIANA (29-6)- approximately 9:45 p.m. ET
The late/great Al McGuire always said that if you were gonna win a national championship, than you had to win at least one "white knuckler" along the way and the Indiana Hoosiers hope that "white knuckler" was last Sunday's 58-52 triumph over Temple. Okay, so do-it-all G Victor Oladipo drained the ultra-important top-of-the-key triple in that tilt as he finished with 16 big points but- we ask- can Tom Crean's club continue to survive-and-advance while making only four trifectas in a game?
The well-documented Syracuse zone defense will pay special attention to the aforementioned Oladipo but count us among the folks who believe that getting in the grill of three-point gunner Jordan Hulls will be a top priority. If Indiana can get this to be a track meet game- and that means a score in the 80s- than an oft-sloppy 'Cuse crew could be in major danger.
Still, Orange PG Michael Carter-Williams is capable of big things even though his stat line in the Round of 32 win against Cal included just 3 assists. Ugh!
WEST REGIONAL SEMIFINALS- At Staples Center- Los Angeles, CA
#6 ARIZONA (27-7) vs. #2 OHIO STATE (28-7)- 7:45 p.m. ET
Much is being made of the fact that 'Zona boss-man Sean Miller is a protege of Ohio State's Thad Matta from their days together at Xavier- but what's not getting enough pre-game attention here is the fact is Miller's Pac-12 team is playing as well or better than anyone in this tourney so far and it's defense that's leading the way.
Perhaps you noticed that the Wildcats held Harvard to 16-of-58 shooting in that Round of 32 affair in Salt Lake City last weekend (some of it was Harvard nerves but most of it was Arizona's length/strength that bothered the Ivy Leaguers).
So, the $64,000 question is will Arizona's ball-hawks keep a lid on either/both Buckeyes' PG Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas- both Big 10 mega-stars can beat you down with their respective games but odds are if underdog Arizona keeps one of 'em truly silent than it could be "Miller Time" in this tournament ... again.
Want an X-factor to watch in this Sweet 16 tilt?
Let's see how Matta's guys defend the triple as Arizona shot an efficient 9-of-15 from beyond the arc against Harvard with G Mark Lyons (27 points) part of the shot-happy gang from Tucson.
#13 LA SALLE (24-9) vs. #9 WICHITA STATE (28-8)- approximately 10:15 p.m. ET
Betcha the kids from Wichita State never thought they'd be wearing the "home whites" in this NCAA Tournament!
Gregg Marshalll's guys upset both 4 .5-point fav Pittsburgh and 6 .5-point chalkie Gonzaga last week in the "Big Dance" but now the roles have switched and it's the Shockers who are "expected" to win here against a LaSalle squad that- despite the often up-tempo style of play- has held tourney foes Boise State, Kansas State and Ole Miss to a modest 68.7 points a game.
LaSalle needs its three- and four-guard offense to stay on the attack at all times although even head coach Dr. John Giannini can't expect another 27-of-55 type FG performance as was the case against Ole Miss last Sunday evening.
If G Ramon Galloway (game-high 24 points against the Rebels) gets that set-shot three-ball to go down early, Wichita State will be forced to come way out on the perimeter and thus play into the Explorers' hands.
Could this be cheesesteak heaven for the Philly kids again?
NOTE: Get Friday's Sweet 16 Game Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez!