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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Okay…you’ve had heard the first music from the 2014 Big Dance…and now it’s time to start thinking about night two of action from Dayton. We have another play-in doubleheader to handicap. But, this one features a pair of teams that the computers are actually in love with. The bad seeding job this year by the selection committee has created the best play-in game ever!

We’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s start in chronological order with the battle of #16 seeds hoping to advance to face Wichita State Friday in St. Louis.


6:40 p.m. ET: Cal-Poly-SLO vs. Texas Southern

Vegas Line: Cal-Poly by 4, total of 130

By all accounts, Texas Southern is the worst team in the tournament this year. That’s why they’re an underdog of this size against another #16 entry. And, Cal Poly had a losing record this year!


Computer Rankings

Cal-Poly-SLO: #173 in Pomeroy, #174 in Sagarin

TX Southern: #237 in Pomeroy, #253 in Sagarin

College basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin are in agreement here. They almost have CPSLO in the same exact place…and both have Texas Southern as worst in the brackets. The Vegas price is in line with those rankings.


Pomeroy’s Offensive and Defensive Ranks (Adjusted for Pace/Schedule)

Cal-Poly-SLO: #197 on offense, #164 on defense

TX Southern: #135 on offense, #316 on defense

Texas Southern is similar to many of the really bad teams nationally in that they’re okay at scoring but are absolutely horrible on defense. Note that Texas Southern played one of the worst schedules in the country, but still couldn’t stop their opponents from scoring. If you believe that defense matters most in playoff-style basketball, Pomeroy’s category breakdowns also favor CPSLO. Pace may help them too. Pomeroy’s numbers show Texas Southern as fast at #116 in tempo, while CPSLO is a tortoise, ranking way down at #347. Pressurized playoff basketball usually slows down, which plays right into the favorite’s wheelhouse and takes the dog way out of its comfort zone.  


9:10 p.m. ET: Iowa vs. Tennessee

Vegas Line: Iowa by 2, total of 143

Here we go, the greatest play-in game ever. The computers have this as a “Round of 32” caliber matchup. And, you could cherry-pick the best rating from each team to make a case for “Sweet 16.” Let’s go to those numbers first before further discussion.


Computer Rankings

Iowa: #27 in Pomeroy, #17 in Sagarin

Tennessee: #13 in Pomeroy, #25 in Sagarin

There you go. Both teams are in the top 28 in the computers…and one sees Tennessee as high as #13 while the other has Iowa as high as #17. What’s very interesting here though is that there’s obvious disagreement as who the better team is! That was expressed also in early betting. Oddsmakers opened with Tennessee as the favorite. Early betting has driven the line all the way to Iowa -2 as we write up this preview. Everyone agrees it should be a competitive game…and that the eventual winner will have a great chance to take out #6 Massachusetts Friday in Raleigh. There’s NOT agreement on who’s superior.


Pomeroy’s Offensive and Defensive Ranks (Adjusted for Pace/Schedule)

Iowa: #4 on offense, #126 on defense

Tennessee: #29 on offense, #16 on defense

If you believe that slow, defensive style basketball rules the day in the Dance…then that would favor new underdog Tennessee. They grade out much better defensively in Pomeroy’s methodology. And, their tempo rank was way down at #312. Iowa was lightning fast this year, grading out at #19. Both Wednesday games in Dayton will feature a tug-of-war in tempo. Teams able to impose their preferred tempo on festivities will be best positioned to win and cover.

There’s also a busy schedule of NIT action Wednesday (featuring Cal-Irvine/SMU, Illinois/Boston, Iona/Louisiana Tech, and Vermont/Georgia)…which means JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK will be firing away at the best positions on the board! You can purchase daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call our handicapping office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. You’ll get the most bang for your buck this month if you sign up for the full postseason package Wednesday afternoon.

We’ll feature MARCH MADNESS big game previews for you through the weekend here in the NOTEBOOK. We’re still deciding Thursday’s showcase game. Friday is very likely to be Kentucky/Kansas State…a great matchup that will launch the winner into an upset possibility against Wichita State. Of course, Saturday and Sunday matchups will be determined by Thursday and Friday action. Saturday, we might be looking at Syracuse/Ohio State, Florida/Pittsburgh, or Louisville/Saint Louis (if those games take place!). Sunday’s possibilities include Iowa State/North Carolina, Kansas/New Mexico, Arizona/Oklahoma State, and the upset watch game with Wichita.

The buzz is building…which means you’re about to enjoy a CASH EXPLOSION thanks to JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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