Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 12:00 AM
THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT –CHECKING OUT WEDNESDAY’S TOP TILTS PLUS A LOOK AT A PAIR OF SLEEPER TEAMS TO WATCH …
AND WE LOOK AHEAD TO THE NFL ’14 SEASON WHILE EXAMINING THE WIN-IT-ALL ODDS PLUS MORE
By Jim Hurley
Don’t look now but two of the country’s top five teams in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 rankings hail from the so-called non-power conferences … so could we see either/both #4 Wichita State and/or #5 San Diego State at this year’s Final Four in the Lone Star State?
Hey, Wichita State made it to the Final Four last year after one of the great NCAA Tournament runs in recent memory as those Shockers beat Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, LaSalle and Ohio State before coughing up a 12-point lead en route to that 72-68 national semifinal loss to eventual national champion Louisville.
San Diego State?
Well, the Aztecs had high hopes to go deep into last year’s tourney, but a Round of 32 stunner loss to Florida Gulf Coast – remember those dudes? – short-circuited win-it-all dreams of SDSU but most hoop “experts” believe this Aztecs team is better than last year’s unit.
In today’s edition of "Jim Sez", we pay especially close attention to tonight’s games played by Wichita State and San Diego State plus we’ll offer up a couple of “sleeper teams” to watch come March but first this key reminder …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to pile up the profits all this week/month with loads of NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here online at www.jimhurley.com or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 – so go ahead and pound the books today!
Now, here’s a pair of key Wednesday night games …
#4 WICHITA STATE (23-0, 10-0 MVC) at INDIANA STATE (17-5, 8-2 MVC) – 8 p.m. ET
There’s just two major college b-ball unbeaten at this time -- #1 Syracuse is still sitting pretty at 22-0 while getting ready for Sunday’s home game against Clemson – and Wichita State these days is really picking up momentum in terms of a “perfect season” prior to heading into this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Okay, so head coach Gregg Marshall’s squad danced with danger in last Saturday’s home game against 19 ½-point underdog Evansville as the Shockers dug themselves a 15-point hole, but guards Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker scored 14 points apiece and Wichita State scored 24 points from the free-throw line (to Evansville’s 10) en route to an 81-67 non-cover victory.
Note that Wichita State ranks first in the Missouri Valley Conference in offense (74.7 ppg) and first in defense (allowing 59.5 ppg) while heading into this mid-week affair and also note that the Shockers already beat 11-point pup Indiana State 68-48 back on January 18th when Baker poured in a team-best 16 points but the real key in that game was W- State’s defense that held Indy State to just 16-of-51 shooting from the floor (that’s 31.4 percent).
If Marshall’s guys can get a grip here on Sycamore star Dawon Cummings (game-high 19 points in that first meeting) than this will be win #24 without a blemish – and more reason for the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to raise their collective eyebrows!
#5 SAN DIEGO STATE (19-1, 8-0 MWC) at BOISE STATE (15-7, 5-4 MWC) – 9:15 p.m. ET, CBSC
It’s true …
San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher just won his 300th game with the Aztecs as last Saturday’s 65-56 non-cover triumph over 11-point road underdog Colorado State put Fisher among a list of 18 coaches who’ve won 300-or-more games with the same school and following that “W” the 68-year-old said he may stick around and shoot for 400 … good for him!
The quest to get #301 tonight might be a bumpy ride providing the Aztecs shoot the ball poorly here – in that win against Colorado State they shot only 21-of-56 from the floor (that’s 37.5 percent) and superstar guard Xavier Thames missed 11-of-17 FG tries en route to a co-game-high 24 points.
Thames is the straw that stirs this San Diego State drink, but it may be that the Aztecs need “all hands on deck” here as note that win last weekend came without the respective services of leading rebounder Josh Davis (knee) and jumping jack F Dwayne Polee (illness) and SDSU’s hoping to have both back on the court here.
Keep in mind that San Diego State barely scraped by Boise State 69-66 back on January 8th (note the Aztecs were the 6 ½-point betting favorites) as Broncos’ stud Derrick Marks – who scored a game-high 21 points – missed the potential game-tying shot with four seconds left.
One major key to that Mountain West Conference win by San Diego State:
The ‘Tecs missed 11-of-32 free throws that nearly cost ‘em.
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COLLEGE B-BALL SLEEPER TEAMS
Just sayin’ … keep an eye on these two teams that haven’t received much “love” nationally but could be Cinderellas come March:
LOUISIANA TECH (18-5, 6-2 Conference USA) – The Bulldogs are one high-flying operation as they rank fifth nationally in scoring offense (84.7 ppg) and pretty much go 10-deep led by guards Raheem Appleby (16.1 ppg) and Alex Hamilton (15.6 ppg).
If head coach Michael White allows the Techsters to wing it, then this club could get into the “Big Dance” and do some damage a la aforementioned Florida Gulf Coast.
TENNESSEE (14-7, 5-3 SEC) – There figures to be a mad scramble on for the Southeastern Conference’s expected five or six NCAA Tournament bids next month, but count us among the folks that believe these Tennessee Volunteers will be part of the tourney mix.
Cuonzo Martin’s squad – currently third in the SEC in scoring defense (63.6 ppg) -- enters this Wednesday night game at Vanderbilt fresh off a major 76-59 beatdown of Alabama last weekend, and note the Vols have won three of their last four games with that lone loss against mighty Florida.
THE NFL REPORT –
Okay, so recent NFL history suggests don’t necessarily expect a Super Bowl repeat from the Seattle Seahawks, who will look to become the first team since the 2004 New England Patriots to win back-to-back seasons.
Still, the Seahawks – who happened to finish off this championship season with a glitzy 13-6 ATS (against the spread) mark to go along with a fancy 16-3 SU (straight-up) record – have rightfully been installed as the favorites to win it all next year in Super Bowl XLIX at a 7-to-1 price.
Here’s a look at the top favorites for the NFL ’14 season:
ODDS TO WIN IT ALL –
Seattle (7-1): Can the L.O.B. defense get any better?
Denver (8-1): Gotta believe it’ll be Manning’s swan song
San Francisco (8-1): 49ers need to finish off games better
New England (12-1): Trust the Pats will pick up a top WR
Green Bay (20-1): Improved ground game a real plus
New Orleans (20-1): Gotta like these odds with upgraded “D”
Atlanta (25-1): If O-line stays healthy, watch out!
Cincinnati (25-1): Will HC Lewis ever win a playoff game?
Carolina (25-1): Heat’s on QB Newton to have MVP year
Indianpolis (30-1): Ditto for Colts’ slinger Mr. Luck
Kansas City (30-1): Love the KC pass rush if everyone’s healthy
Philadelphia (30-1): Year 2 of the Kelly regime = more points
Chicago (30-1): Bears lost four games by 5-or-less points
Arizona (30-1): Four games vs. Sea/SF makes it tough
Here’s some final thoughts on Super Bowl XLVIII …
It comes as no major surprise that the Seattle Seahawks – at least some of them – claim they “knew” what was coming from Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos offense.
Whether it was the hand signals that Manning used or his call-outs, the fact of the matter is the Seahawks’ top-ranked defense had inside information and used it well in that 43-8 blowout win at MetLife Stadium …
Now that a cold-weather site worked out well, everyone’s stampeding to try and get on the front of the line for the next possible opening. Keep in mind the next three Super Bowls are set for Glendale (Az), Santa Clara and Houston but we’ve already heard from the folks in Washington D.C., Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago but – ask us – and we think only one of them is gonna get one before it returns to New York/New Jersey in another seven or eight years. One dark horse site the league should consider … Seattle. Those fans swarmed the New York City/tri-state area and should be rewarded sometime in the next six or seven years …
Finally, here’s the list the Seahawks hope to join next year as Super Bowl repeat winners:
Green Bay Packers (I and II)
Miami Dolphins (VII and VIII)
Pittsburgh Steelers (IX and X; XIII and XIV)
San Francisco 49ers (XXIII and XXIV)
Dallas Cowboys (XXVII and XXVIII)
Denver Broncos (XXXII and XXXIII)
New England Patriots (XXXVIII and XXXIX)
In case you were wondering, we’ve now had six different NFL teams win the last six Super Bowls (Seattle, Baltimore, New York Giants, Green Bay, New Orleans and Pittsburgh) and we’ve also had six different teams lose the last six Super Bowls (that’s Denver, San Francisco, New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Arizona) and we have not had a team lose back-to-back Super Bowls since the Buffalo Bills lost four of ‘em in a row from 1990- through-1993.
NOTE: Get more NCAA Basketball Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.