Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, February 14, 2014 at 9:55 AM
Here's a quickie question to come your way: Just how far can a buzzer-beating win really carry your team?
The Syracuse Orange - still the numero uno team in the land following Wednesday's thrilling 58-56 win at 1 ½-point favorite Pittsburgh - would like to know after freshman point guard Tyler Ennis drilled that 35-plus foot running jumper with no ticks left on the clock to keep the 'Cuse perfect at 24-and-oh.
Hey, we still want to know why Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon - never one to be confused with John Wooden, you know! - called a time out with Syracuse down to no timeouts in the bag and needing to go the length of the floor with just 4.4 seconds left in the game.
Dixon's brain cramp saved the Orange who set up the winning play as Jim Boeheim's crew managed to get Ennis the ball cleanly off the inbounds pass and the kid did the rest while hurling up the winning shot despite getting double-teamed at/around half court.
Let's just say we believe this buzzer-beating loss will stick with the Pitt kids for quite some time (next up is Saturday's date at now well-rested North Carolina) while it could even further fuel the Orange's attempt to be the nation's first unbeaten team since the 195-76 Indiana Hoosiers.
Okay, we know there's a long way to go for that sort of chit-chat but when you win on a wing-and-a-prayer in a game you trailed by nine points in the second half (and by a 54-48 margin with less than two minutes left) then you do begin to think there's some "divine intervention" at work.
We'll get to Syracuse's next game plus more NCAA Basketball Previews in just a moment but first this key reminder as we swing into an all-hoops weekend
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will keep on piling up the profits all this week/month with lots of NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - so go ahead and win with all the hardwood action today!
Now, here's what is on the weekend menu. On Saturday, it's ...
N.C. STATE (16-8, 6-5 ACC) at #1 SYRACUSE (24-0, 11-0 ACC) - 3 p.m. ET
Now that Mr. Ennis has been the toast of the town for the past two-plus days, think he'll be ready to rock-n-roll here against an N.C. State squad that ranks 12th in the ACC in team defense (allowing 69.5 points per game?
No doubt that Ennis - who finished that road win in Pittsburgh with 13 points and 5 assists while playing some really heady ball - would love to set up his teammates for more three-point chucks here as note the 'Cuse attempted just 14 of 'em (making 6 in all) in the Wednesday win and G Trevor Cooney was responsible for half of those triples.
Look for Cooney to try and bury some three-balls behind long/tall screens here while the Wolfpack game plan is to get T.J. Warren heated up after he registered a wicked 34-point game in last Tuesday's 82-67 home win/cover against 6-point dog Wake Forest.
The Orange has led a charmed life thus far in this 2013-14 hoops season - take note that four of Syracuse's last seven wins have come by six points or less - and hard to see Warren getting lots of open jumpers here against this famed zone defense.
Might Syracuse finally have a "breathing room" game on this winter weekend? Stay tuned to the happenings in the dome.
#3 FLORIDA (22-2, 11-0 SEC) at #14 KENTUCKY (19-5, 9-2 SEC) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
The glamor game for Dicky V. and the rest of the ESPN announcing crew comes from always-raucous Rupp Arena where the Kentucky Wildcats have yet to lose this year but the flip side is this: The mighty Florida Gators - who play defense like it's nobody's damn business - zips into town riding a fancy 16-game winning streak and did you know Billy Donovan's Gators held Tennessee to just 24 second-half points this past Tuesday night after the Volunteers had shot nearly 63 percent in the opening half of play in that comfy 67-58 win?
If Florida's sticky man-to-man, pressing/trapping defense is gonna get "mission accomplished" here than PG Scottie Wilbekin must be at the center of the storm against a Kentucky team that averages 78.8 points a game (second-best in the SEC) and likes to move the ball quickly on the break with brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison the keys here - but will freshman big man Julius Randle (12 points and 12 rebounds in Kentucky's 64-56 win/cover at 7 ½-point dog Auburn this past Wednesday night) get off enough shots when this game starts to be played at a frenetic pace?
On Sunday, it's ...
#4 WICHITA STATE (26-0, 13-0 MVC) at EVANSVILLE (11-15, 4-9 MVC) - 5 p.m. ET
Gee, wonder who's gonna stay unbeaten longer ... the aforementioned Syracuse Orange or these Wichita State Shockers who exited Tuesday's 78-67 non-cover home win against 15 ½-point dog Southern Illinois.
The Shockers - or maybe you still like to call 'em the Wheatshockers - were extra-sloppy in that win but were rescued by Ron Baker's 19 points and Cleanthony Early's 18-point performance but one key here is Evansville has a stat-sheet stuffer on its side that could make this one scary as D.J. Balentine (averaging 23.2 ppg) comes off a 38-point showing in Wednesday's 104-98 overtime win against 1-point road fav Illinois State.
Will a Balentine blast - or two - knock Wichita State out of the ranks of the unbeaten here?
NOTE: Catch our NBA First-Half Report Card Grades in tomorrow's special weekend edition of Jim Sez.