Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 9:08 AM
You know the deal: It takes six wins in this NCAA Tournament to hang a championship banner in your gym and - believe it or not - it's not always the superstar players or superstar-made plays that get your team a national title and so with that in mind we'll look ahead to Saturday's Final Four games in Atlanta with some "under-the-radar" keys.
Note that we'll have our extensive Final Four Game Previews with key charts later this week right here at Jim Sez:
THE FINAL FOUR - Georgia Dome; Atlanta, GA
Saturday at 6:08 p.m. and 8:49 p.m. ET
LOUISVILLE (33-5) vs. WICHITA STATE (30-8) - No question the heavy-duty favored U of L Cardinals (a 10-point choice here at last glance) have dusted off their tourney foes with major dispatch as G Russ Smith (26 points per game) clearly has been the best player in this year's "Big Dance" but the $64,000 question here with Rick Pitino's crew is who comes up and scores should Smith be held in relative check? Gut feeling is swingman Chane Behanan (12-of-22 FG shooting in this year's NCAA Tournament) could be a major stud and wouldn't that be a tad ironic considering his best friend Kevin Ware just suffered that gruesome broken leg in last Sunday's decisive 85-63 win against Duke.
One other under-the-radar key here for the 'Ville is will the Redbirds get their share of second-chance shots?
Note that the Cards have 39 offensive rebounds in the first four games of this year's tourney (or nearly 10 a game) with C Gorgui Dieng (nine offensive rebs this tourney) leading the way but if a blue-collar Wichita State team can keep Louisville off those offensive boards than this could be a whole lot closer than "they" think!
Meanwhile, perhaps you have noticed that Wichita State has held their tourney foes to 55, 70, 58 and 66 points in this man's tournament - or 62.25 points a game -- and while holding Louisville in this points "neighborhood" here might qualify as pie-in-the-sky thinking, the fact is the Shockers will concentrate more of their efforts on "doubling" the aforementioned Smith and allowing the likes of G Peyton Siva to shoot the open jumpers.
Yes, Wichita State's Carl Hall has a dozen blocked shots in this tourney and could be a solid weak-side defender who swats away some Smith running chucks here ... so stay tuned!
MICHIGAN (30-7) vs. SYRACUSE (30-9) - Gotta believe that the Big 10 Wolverines will be as prepared to challenge this famed 2-3 'Cuse zone as anyone around this year considering that Michigan has five full days to prep for what's ahead but hear us out for a moment:
John Beilein's crew enters this Final Four nightcap tilt with four different players having already registered 20-or-more made field goals in this year's NCAA Tournament plus G Nik Stauskas (with 16 made FGs this tourney) just came out of his little funk last Sunday to light up Florida in that never-in-doubt 79-59 Elite 8 win and counter that against the fact the Orange has beaten up an array of teams that don't have multiple scoring threats unless you wish to count the Indiana Hoosiers as the exception to that rule.
So, what we're saying here is the 'Cuse simply can't leave alone someone on the perimeter or at the foul line (see Marquette's short-lived success with the foul-line jumpers by Davante Gardner) and hope they miss because Michigan's a more polished and more-rounded shooting team than anyone Jim Boeheim's club has faced in this tourney.
Now, if the 'Cuse has an under-the-radar key here it's taking - and making - more treys:
The Orange is a composite 18-of-49 from beyond the arc in this year's tourney (a decent 36.7 percent accuracy rate) but in this day-and-age that's simply not taking enough triples. The Orange must unleash F James Southerland (he's 7-of-19 shooting 3's in this tourney) for more triple tries and odds are he'll be open on the wing when Syracuse fast breaks.
Let's say Syracuse should be content attempting 20 trifectas here after averaging just a dozen per game in the four other NCAA Tournament affairs.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have roared through this 2013 College Basketball post-season with NCAA Tournament, NIT, CBI and CIT winners and there's more to come in all of these post-season tournies plenty there's plenty of NBA and Major-League Baseball Winners (6-0 on this young season!) 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 check-in times are anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the NBA and College Basketball weeknight action and after 12 noon ET for all the weekday Baseball. We'll have Final Four Side & Totals Winners this Saturday after 10 a.m. ET and get all weekend winners after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday/Sundays.
BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES - THE WIN-IT-ALL PRICES
If you're like us, than there's still time to make a little wager (or two) on this year's Major-League Baseball "Win-It-All" prices even if the 2013 MLB season is already a couple of days old. Here's some thoughts and comments on the shortest-priced sides (note the prices below are based on $100 per-play wagers) ...
|Los Angeles Angels||+ 500||The Halos' defense has to be stepped-up from a year ago but would believe 1B Albert Pujols is destined for 30-HR, 120-RBI type season|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+ 500||Lefty Clayton Kershaw's debut on the mound and at the plate was true Hollywood stuff but Dodgers' rotation could be solid gold all year long|
|Washington Nationals||+ 500||If Opening Day is any indication, than OF Bryce Harper is the NL MVP - hands down - but the team's #3-4-5 starting pitchers look iffy to us!|
|Detroit Tigers||+ 600||Odds are the Tigers will be a 100-win team this year as long as RHP Justin Verlander is his old self (that's 25 wins) and the closer spot isn't a major problem|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+ 700||Is this really the best team that money can buy or is North-of-the-Border crew simply the 2013 version of last year's Miami Marlins?|
|Cincinnati Reds||+ 800||Our Jim Sez pick to win it all this year has better-than-you-think pitching and the infield defense is stellar and trust RF Jay Bruce will have a monster year|
|New York Yankees||+ 800||The beat-up Bronx Bombers may not be "whole" till June (or later) but getting SS Derek Jeter back in a month or less is ultra-critical|
|San Francisco Giants||+ 800||The 2010 and '12 World Series champs still have superb pitching but gotta wonder if tiny closer Sergio Romo can stay in one piece for the whole year|
|Texas Rangers||+ 800||Safe to say that if the Rangers don't win a World Series one of these years than this era for the AL West franchise will be considered a Texas-sized flop|
|Atlanta Braves||+ 950||The Upton Brothers makes this outfield/lineup ultra-potent but will the Braves bullpen get overused by manager Freddi Gonzalez?|
|Philadelphia Phillies||+ 1000||Has that famous "window of opportunity" finally closed on this old-and-getting-older Phils bunch? It could be that Philly is a mere .500 bunch these days|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+ 1250||Not quite sure the Redbirds' rotation is "grade A" stuff but flip side is 3B David Freese and 1B Allen Craig are both ready for the next step up the ladder|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+ 1250||Tell us right now that lefty starters David Price and Matt Moore will win 40 games between 'em this year and we say the Rays win the AL East|
|Boston Red Sox||+ 2000||Sawx may be more athletic than in years past but bottom line is 2B Dustin Pedroia and DH David Ortiz must pile up the stats - or else|
|Oakland A's||+ 2000||No doubt the "Moneyballers" don't wow you with everyday lineup or starting rotation but RF Josh Reddick could be ready for the next step up|
NOTE: Lots more NCAA Tournament Final Four coverage all week long right here at Jim Sez.