Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 8:53 AM
THE “REAL” WINNERS AND LOSERS THIS PAST COLLEGE BASKETBALL WEEKEND (AND WE, OF COURSE, WEIGH IN ON THE MARCUS SMART SITUATION)
PLUS A LOOK AT TOP MONDAY/TUESDAY NIGHT TILTS INCLUDING #8 KANSAS AT KANSAS STATE AND#3 FLORIDA AT TENNESSEE
By Jim Hurley
Sometimes it takes a few moments (or longer) to really/truly sort through the rubble of a College Basketball weekend:
Okay, so everyone knows that the Big 10 likes of Iowa and Wisconsin scored had-to-have-it wins this past Saturday/Sunday, respectively, and it’s no secret that double-digit wins by SMU, Tennessee and Maryland helped to raise the profiles of those particular teams who have NCAA Tournament visions dancing in their heads these cold winter days/night.
Still – we’re sorting through the rubble, remember – there were some distinct “winners” and “losers” this past hoops weekend and so let’s take a few moments to analyze/dissect who they were …
THE WINNERS –
NORTH CAROLINA (16-7, 6-4 ACC) –
No doubt that the Tar Heels’ rollicking 73-62 win at 1 ½-point underdog Notre Dame wasn’t exactly “Game of the Year” material, but Roy Williams’ club needed to beat someone of note on the ACC road, and this helps the NCAA Tourney resume for the Chapel Hill kids who have their own fun week ahead with a Wednesday date with Duke the major headliner.
Keep in mind that in Saturday’s tilt in South Bend the Carolina kids trailed by nine points in the first half on a couple of occasions, but James Michael McAdoo (18 points) and Marcus Paige (16 points) powered the Heels to the winner’s circle, and so the team that once-upon-a-time was 0-3 in conference now is breathing a bit easier and, yes, it helped matters that Notre Dame committed an ungodly 17 turnovers in this matinee tilt.
JABARI PARKER, DUKE –
Hope you caught that fancy stat line for this Blue Devils’ freshman, who wowed all of New England with his 29-point, 16-rebound showing in Duke’s electric 89-68 win at 10-point underdog Boston College.
Much was made of the fact Parker “dipped” a bit a few weeks back as his play suffered from a little mental fatigue, a little physical fatigue and some old-fashioned good defense by Duke opponents, but in last Saturday night’s game in Chestnut Hill this stellar frosh drained 12-of-17 field-goal tries and Dookie head coach Mike Krzyzewski claimed Parker could have had an even bigger offensive game with a break here or there, but consider that the kid didn’t exactly help himself by missing five of his 10 free-throw tries … ugh.
No question the stat-sheet stuffing game was great highlight material, but now the $64,000 question is when (and not if) Parker comes out to declare for the NBA Draft this spring, will he wind up playing his home games right there in Boston where crafty Celtics GM Danny Ainge took in this glittering performance with a birds-eye view? Stay tuned!
THE LOSERS –
MARCUS SMART, Oklahoma State (and that loud-mouthed fan who’ll go unnamed here)
Gotta put something on the record right here and right now:
It doesn’t matter what that bulbous, big-mouth Texas Tech fan said to Oklahoma State G Marcus Smart late in Saturday night’s 65-61 Red Raiders’ win over the 6 ½-point favored Okie State Cowboys – you don’t lay a hand on any fan and so Smart deserves every bit of punishment – a three-game suspension that begins with Tuesday’s major tilt at Texas -- handed down by the Big 12, and we do believe this will not only hurt OSU’s tourney hopes (the Pokes are just 16-7 overall and 4-6 in conference play), but it figures to damage Smart’s draft status too even though the ESPN talking heads didn’t seem to think so late Saturday night.
As far as that loser fan goes – and we won’t repeat his name in this space ‘cause he sure got enough publicity on Sunday while being identified – but here’s hoping Texas Tech rebukes his tickets forthwith although we did hear he won’t be attending any more games in Lubbock this 2013-14 season … good!
CREIGHTON (19-4, 9-2 Big East) –
Gotta say that this has been a truly special season so far for the Creighton Bluejays, who have helped give the reshaped Big East a potent club after the likes of Syracuse, Connecticut and Pittsburgh said bye-bye, but you’re not gonna be able to ignore Sunday night’s70-65 loss at Madison Square Garden against two-point home dog St. John’s (which, by the way, we nailed right here on the site).
Folks, you might have been fooled here when you saw Creighton superstar Doug McDermott – the unabashed frontrunner for this year’s Wooden Award – finished with 25 points and 5 assists, but the fact of the matter is the Johnnies didn’t allow him very many touches in the game’s final 10-or-so minutes as defense ruled the roost for Steve Lavin’s club with Jakarr Sampson the main defensive stopper.
Still, Creighton may not have “needed” the game, but for a Bluejays bunch that had won 14 of their last 15 games including a conference road win at Villanova this game in the “Big Apple”, had plenty of meaning and could have catapulted Creighton a couple of spots up the seedings ladder.
But count Creighton among the weekend’s “losers” as this is one that got away on a night when the Jays missed 11-of-25 free throws and made good on just 5-of-21 triecta attempts.
And now hear this …
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 win with all the hardwood action today!
Now, here’s a peek at key games tonight and tomorrow evening …
#8 KANSAS (18-5, 9-1 Big 12) at KANSAS STATE (16-7, 6-4 Big 12) – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let’s see …
The Kansas Jayhawks have lost just once since that Jan. 5th home game against San Diego State and each of KU’s last five wins (while winning five of its last six games) has come by twin-figure margins – so what possibly could be wrong?
Well, Bill Self’s club does have to face a revenge-minded Kansas State squad here: You’ll recall that back on January 11th the Jayhawks swamped K-State 86-60 as Andrew Wiggins poured in 22 points, Wayne Selden chipped in with 20 points and fellow freshman C Joel Embiid added 11 points and 9 rebounds, but the Wildcats didn’t play any great defense on that night while allowing Kansas to connect on 32-of-57 field goals (that’s a 56.1 percent accuracy rate).
Now, those three star freshmen will look to have the answers against a K-State crew that ranks first in the Big 12 in scoring defense while surrendering just 61.8 points per game, and here the ‘Cats look to piggyback onto Saturday’s 74-57 home win against Texas – a game the Wildcats led 39-18 at the halftime break – as G Marcus Foster easily could have been found on our short list of weekend “winners” following his 34-point showing that featured 13-of-16 FG shooting in just a mere 29 minutes of game action.
If Foster – yet another freshman playing in this TV tilt -- can get a hot hand going here and Kansas State’s defense can slow down one or two of Kansas’ frosh trio than this could be major revenge on tap (take note that Kansas is just a 3 ½-point road favorite and that Kansas State has won its last 12 in a row at home in Bramlage Coliseum).
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On Tuesday, it’s …
#3 FLORIDA (21-2, 10-0 SEC) at TENNESSEE (15-8, 6-4 SEC) – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Are these Florida Gators good enough to resemble the 2006 and 2007 squads that copped national crowns for head coach Billy Donovan?
Could be and this here-and-now Gators gang has won 15 games in a row but this might be the fiercest test of ‘em all in SEC play where – as you can see – Florida’s yet to lose a league game.
The latest conquest came over the past weekend with Saturday’s 78-69 non-cover win against 14 ½-point underdog Alabama – all five starters registered double-digit scoring led by fiery guard Scottie Wilbekin – and it’s amazing that both teams shot better than 50 percent from the field here with ‘Bama stroking it at a 55 percent accuracy rate (22-of-40) while Florida shot 31-of-50 from the floor for a sizzling 62 percent shooting rate, and tell us right here/right now that Donovan’s gang will hit more than half of its field-goal tries in Tennessee and we’ll tell you Florida will win in a walk.
But beware of these Vols, who have won three of their last four games including that spiffy 72-53 win/cover against “two-touchdown” underdog South Carolina this past Saturday as Jordan McRae nailed six treys en route to a 24-point game for Cuonzo Martin’s coming-on-fast kids. The Volunteers also held the SC Gamecocks to just 3-of-14 shooting from beyond the three-point arc and so keep an eye on Florida’s downtown chucks here – a 33 percent or less shooting rate from deep by the Gators could signal “upset alert” calls.
Take note there’s a slew of big games all this week on the College Hoops circuit including some of the following that we’ll get to with mid-week previews:
- On Wednesday, there’s Duke at North Carolina, Syracuse at Pittsburgh and LSU at Texas A&M
- On Thursday, check out Northwestern at Michigan State and Colorado at UCLA
- And Friday’s card features Arizona at Arizona State …
So there’s plenty of “alternative viewing” to the Olympics and all the other silly TV shows on, just in case you were wonderin’!
NOTE: Catch more NCAA Previews plus NBA News/Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.