Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 2:34 PM
OUR JIM SEZ MID-WEEK LOOK AT THIS SUNDAY’S AFC & NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES –CHECK OUT THE PAST 10-YEAR CHART PLUS MORE …
COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT –HERE’S THE BEST WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY GAMES ON THE JAM-PACKED HARD COURT MENU INCLUDING THURSDAY’S KEY ARIZONA STATE AT ARIZONA TILT
By Jim Hurley
You know the deal this week:
Football fans can’t flick on the TV set or read an internet/newspaper article without getting pounded over the head with Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning stories … and so why should we be any different here at Jim Sez?
But check this out:
When the New England Patriots play at the Denver Broncos this Sunday (3 p.m. ET kickoff) in the AFC Championship Game, it’ll mark the eighth time in the last dozen years that either (or both) Brady and Manning have participated in the conference championship game and it’s the third time these royal quarterbacks will square off in the title tilt although it hasn’t happened since 2006 when Manning’s Indianapolis Colts surged from way back to beat Brady’s Pats 38-34 as 3-point home favorites.
And did you realize that – save for the 2002 season – some combination of Brady/Manning/Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger/Baltimore’s Joe Flacco all played in the AFC Championship Game in 11 of the past 12 years. Wow!
Keep in mind that the last time New England won a conference championship road game – that was in the 2004 season with a stirring 41-27 triumph in Pittsburgh – the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl while the last time Denver hosted an AFC Championship Game (see 2005 season) the Broncos lost to the aforementioned Steelers.
Meanwhile, feast your orbs on the NFC Championship Game this Sunday between the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers at the Seattle Seahawks (6:30 p.m. ET kickoff) and you’ll note that the ‘Hawks are allowing just 13.9 points per game in nine home tilts this year yet somehow Pete Carroll’s club is just a modest 5-4 against the odds in these home games. San Fran, on the other hand, has been proven road warriors during this post-season with wins at frosty Green Bay and sunny Carolina and take out that 29-3 loss in Seattle back in Week 2 play and you’ll notice the Niners are yielding just 14.6 ppg in their other nine road games. Hmmm.
The last NFC team to win back-to-back-to-back playoff road games en route to a Super Bowl appearance was the 2010 Green Bay Packers and remember it was also done in 2007 by the New York Giants and – coincidentally or not – both the ’10 Packers and ’07 Giants went on to win that season’s Vince Lombardi Trophy. Just sayin’.
Your attention, please …
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Now here’s a look in chart form at the past 10 AFC and NFC Championship Games with a reminder that all home teams are in CAPS below:
THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES – PAST 10 YEARS
|2012||Baltimore||+ 8||NEW ENGLAND||28-13|
|2011||NEW ENGLAND||- 7||Baltimore||23-20|
|2010||PITTSBURGH||- 4||NY Jets||24-19|
|2007||NEW ENGLAND||- 14||San Diego||21-12|
|2006||INDIANAPOLIS||- 3||New England||38-34|
|2004||New England||- 3||PITTSBURGH||41-27|
|2003||NEW ENGLAND||- 3||Indianapolis||24-14|
Note that AFC Championship Game Betting Favorites are 6-4 ATS (against the spread) these past 10 years and that includes a 5-4 ATS mark for Home Betting Favs and a 1-0 ATS record for Road Betting Favs (see 2004 New England Patriots) and what may strike you here is that only once in the last 10 AFC title tilts did a Betting Favorite win but not cover (see 2007 Pats against twin-digit underdog San Diego) … might that happen here with the point-grabbing Patriots in the Mile High City?
Meanwhile, the best spread side in AFC Championship Games the past 10 years are the Pittsburgh Steelers who’ve covered four-of-five championship game appearances since 2003 while New England’s just 2-4 vig-wise in these games the past 10 years.
THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES – PAST 10 YEARS
|2012||San Francisco||- 4||ATLANTA||28-24|
|2011||NY Giants||+ 2||SAN FRANCISCO||20-17 (ot)|
|2010||Green Bay||- 3.5||CHICAGO||21-14|
|2009||NEW ORLEANS||- 4||Minnesota||31-28 (ot)|
|2007||NY Giants||+ 8||GREEN BAY||23-20 (ot)|
|2006||CHICAGO||- 2.5||New Orleans||39-14|
In the NFC Championship Games dating back to 2003, Betting Favorites are 4-5-1 against the odds and note Home Betting Favorites in these games are just 3-4 against the Las Vegas prices. There have been four outright upset winners in the last 10 NFC Championship Games (just two on the AFC side, you’ll note) and once there’s been an instance of a Home Betting Fav getting the straight-up win but not the cash (see 2009 New Orleans Saints).
Add ‘em all up and you’ll see that in the NFL’s last 20 Conference Championship Games the Betting Favorites are a collective 10-9-1 with the average margin of victory in these games at 9.95 points per game … although each of the past six NFC Championship Games have been decided by 7-or-fewer points with three of ‘em actually going into overtime.
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COLLEGE BASKETBALL’S MID-WEEK TOP GAMES
On Wednesday night, it’s …
#4 MICHIGAN STATE (15-1, 4-0 Big 10) at NORTHWESTERN (8-9, 1-3 Big 10) – 7 p.m. ET, Big 10 Network
The nation’s highest-ranked team in action tonight are the Michigan State Spartans who – surprise, surprise – come into this conference road game with the league’s second-best scoring offense (82.2 ppg) but keep in mind F Adreian Payne (16.2 ppg) is not expected to play as he continues to battle plantar fasciitis issues that also caused him to miss last weekend’s 87-75 come-from-behind overtime win/cover against 10 ½-point underdog Minnesota.
If Tom Izzo’s crew wanted to “hang its hat” on anything in that last game against the Golden Gophers, it’s that Sparty won by a dozen points even though it shot a wobbly 40.7 percent from the floor (that’s 24-of-59 FG makes) and despite the fact the State reserves only went to the free-throw line for two attempts in 65 man-minutes of action.
If State PG Keith Appling – who drilled 15-of-16 free throws en route to a team-high 24-point showing against Minny – can thrive here against a Northwestern team that ranks dead-last in the Big 10 in scoring offense, than this will mark the best 17-game record in Izzo’s 19 years in East Lansing.
On Thursday, it’s …
CONNECTICUT (13-3, 1-2 AAC) at #17 MEMPHIS (12-3, 3-1 AAC) – 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
No doubt the newfangled American Athletic Conference will sport a slew of fun league matchups this year and here’s one of ‘em as nationally-ranked Memphis looks to Shaq Goodwin (23 points and 11 rebounds in the Tigers’ 79-69 win/cover at 7-point dog Temple last Saturday) to spearhead this tilt against a UConn team that’s managed to win just four of its last seven games.
Losses to Stanford, Houston and SMU (the latter two on the AAC road) have Kevin Ollie’s club scratching its head a bit these days but maybe the tide turned a bit last weekend with that dominant 84-61 win against 10 ½-point dog UCF as freshman C Amida Brimah scored 20 points and nabbed 8 rebounds plus he blocked 5 shots too for a Huskies team that wasn’t getting much from its front-court players.
Keep any eye also on G Shabazz Napier (14 points, 11 assists and 5 steals against UCF) who is one of the country’s top 10 individual talents – if UConn can spring the upset here than Ollie’s gang may be headed back to a Top 25 ranking and a potential first-ever AAC crown.
ARIZONA STATE (13-4, 2-2 Pac-12) at #1 ARIZONA (17-0, 4-0 Pac-12) – 9 p.m. ET, Fox 1
Go ahead and try to find a weakness on this Arizona Wildcats team … we dare you!
Sean Miller’s club – off to the best start in U of A hoops history following Sunday’s 73-53 runaway win at 14-point dog USC – lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense (56 ppg) while ranking third nationally in that key category plus six key players on this team are shooting the ball at 46 percent or better from the floor and leading scorer Nick Johnson (16.3 ppg) is the definition of consistency for a team that’s won the rebounding battle in each/every game this year save for that most recent win when ‘Zona and USC snagged 30 boards apiece.
Now, here comes an Arizona State into Tucson that needs one-two punch Jahii Carson (18.1 ppg) and Jermaine Marshall (15.6 ppg) to light it up and both must be shadowed from beyond the three-point arc where they’ve combined for 69 triples already this year.
Just when are the Arizona Wildcats gonna lose a game this year … or aren’t they?
NOTE: Get our AFC Championship Game Preview in the next edition of Jim Sez.