Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 5:00 PM
People were already thinking “here we go again,” when Villanova was upset by Seton Hall Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. That was a #1 seed in an important conference…and a potential #1 seed in next week’s Big Dance…that couldn’t manage to win straight up as a double digit favorite against a team who had played the night before.
Conference tournaments have become notorious for disappointing efforts from Dance-bound favorites. And, lately, those powers have even disappointed in the Dance! Don’t forget that Indiana was a #1 seed last year that should have lost to Temple and did lose to Syracuse…Gonzaga was a #1 seed last year that struggled through a poor 1-16 game against Southern before getting waxed by Wichita State…and Kansas was a #1 seed that couldn’t make it past the Sweet 16 because they ran into red hot Michigan.
Was Villanova’s loss to Seton Hall just the first sign that March of 2014 is going to be wild and crazy again?
The answer is very probably YES!
*Too many high profile teams still rely on the three-pointer to do much of their scoring. Those teams are vulnerable (or worse) when the treys aren’t falling. Thursday afternoon, Villanova started 1 of 12 on treys while falling way behind, then rallied for 4 of 19 in the final boxscore as they battled to survive. Seton Hall was 8 of 19, meaning 12 additional points on the same number of attempts. That’s the difference between the Las Vegas spread and the final margin right there. Villanova was -11 in Vegas, dropped three-point scoring by 12 points, and lost the game by 1.
In the Dance, Villanova, and all the other powers, will be playing teams a lot better than Seton Hall. That means even 5 of 19 or 6 of 19 puts them in trouble in early rounds…and 7 of 19 may not be enough vs. Sweet 16 caliber teams in the second week.
*Too many high profile teams are prone to get overconfident at just the wrong time. Hey, a lot of these teams have great records. Indiana and Gonzaga had great records last year! We’ll probably see a few more surprises this week in the conference tournaments. Teams who “delay” that overconfident lemon until the Dance are prone to get taken out early. It happens every year. There used to be a theory that smart coaches would invite conference tournament losses just to get their players attention. It’s probably not a bad thing for Villanova that their players got a wake-up call right before enjoying a couple extra days of rest. Just keep in mind for handicapping purposes that some powers may not get their wake-up call until later this month. That phone is going to ring though…at least creating a nailbiter win if not an outright upset.
*Many “second-rung” teams are just as good as the so-called powers in the areas that matter most. You regular readers over the years know that JIM HURLEY often emphasizes the “defense and rebounding wins championships” theme in the postseason. That plus smart ball-handling rules the day in the conference tournaments and the Dance. Some powers will be inferior to their opponents in those key categories in certain matchups. Be sure you know what those matchups are!
Thursday was a lot of fun with the huge schedule. Friday’s going to be great because we have higher quality matchups with bigger stakes. You can purchase BEST BETS throughout the day at this website. Remember to take care of business early because we have DAY action in the ACC (Virginia and North Carolina), in the Big 10 (featuring regular season champion Michigan) the Atlantic 10 (where Saint Louis takes the floor for the first time) and the SEC (with potential #1 overall Dance seed Florida in action).
If you have any questions, call us in the handicapping office at 1-888-777-4155 to speak to one of our representatives. Now that you’ve remembered how exciting postseason basketball is, you can lock in for the rest of college hoops (and the NBA) at a great price.
Back with you tomorrow with what will likely be a big-game preview in the ACC or Big 10 depending on how the brackets play out. We’ll look at the most appealing championship matchup in our Sunday report. Then, we’ll spend next week getting you ready for the NIT and the NCAA’s. THE WINNING IS JUST BEGINNING here at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!