Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 1:21 PM
THE NCAA TOURNAMENT –WE INCH CLOSER AND CLOSER TO SATURDAY’S FINAL FOUR ACTION
By Jim Hurley
Want to know why getting hot at the right time means everything come NCAA Tournament play?
Well, if you checked out the Associated Press Top 25 rankings from a couple of weeks ago you’d see the Florida Gators sitting there at #1, but to find the other three teams in this weekend’s Final Four you’d go to Wisconsin at #12, Connecticut at #18 and Kentucky at – get this – not even in the Top 25!
It’s been an incredible two weeks of NCAA Tourney play and no doubt both UConn and Kentucky are the blueblood teams that didn’t expect to be here but they are and the current win-it-all odds read like this:
NCAA TOURNAMENT – ODDS TO WIN IT ALL
ODDS ($100 PER PLAY)
Now compare that to the pre-tourney odds where Florida was + 450, Kentucky was + 4000, Wisconsin was + 1800 and UConn was + 8000 (that’s 80-to-1) and you see that the folks holding “laundry tickets” for any of these clubs are in for a real nice pay day come Monday Night ‘round 11:45 p.m. Eastern time, eh?
Now, here’s an updated look at this year’s NCAA Tournament Pointspread Breakdown Chart with just the still-alive conferences/leagues left in the Final Four field:
NCAA TOURNAMENT POINTSPREADBREAKDOWN CHART
Note: It’s amazing that these three leagues – the Southeastern Conference, brand-new American Athletic Conference and the Big 10 — are a grandiose 21-11-4 ATS (against the spread) this tourney for a spiffy .656 winning rate and as we stated in our earlier-week edition of "Jim Sez" this quartet of teams actually is 14-1-1 against the odds for a dazzling .933 winning rate and we can’t even remember a Final Four where the participating teams were so amazingly profitable through the early stages of the “Big Dance” … do you?
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NCAA Tournament News & Notes …
Florida (36-2) owns a Final Four-best 30-game winning streak, but wouldn’t you know that the Gators’ only two losses this year came against Wisconsin and UConn? In fact, Billy Donovan’s team – which has won all four of its NCAA Tournament games by twin-figure margins and is averaging wins by 12.3 ppg this tourney – canned just three trifectas in that Dec. 2nd loss at UConn and made good on only 5-of-14 triple tries in the November loss at Wisconsin and so safe to say Michael Frazier II and mates must be downtown-conscious here or else…
Connecticut (30-8) has won its four NCAA Tournament games by 8, 12, 5 and 6 points including that 89-81 second-round OT triumph against St. Joseph’s and you can trace much of the Huskies’ success to the uncanny free-throw shooting that included 21-of-22 makes against Michigan State and that’s after going 20-of-22 from the charity stripe in the Sweet 16 win against Iowa State, 22-of-28 in the round-of-32 upset win against Villanova and 18-of-20 from the line against St. Joe’s.
Kentucky (28-10) already has knocked off an unbeaten Wichita State team plus both of last year’s NCAA Tournament Championship Game finalists Louisville and Michigan en route to this Final Four berth in Arlington and so John Calipari’s kids have become “the story” right now in this tourney and maybe the most underrated part of last Sunday’s 75-72 win against the Wolverines was the fact Kentucky – albeit with lots of in-close put-backs and dunks – shot 53.4 percent from the field (that’s 31-of-58 made FGs) and lefty G James Young (13 points with 3-of-4 made triples) may have been the biggest under-the-radar star there and might be the most important shooter come Saturday’s night game against Wisconsin.
Wisconsin (30-7) didn’t win the Big 10 regular-season title (that went to Michigan) and didn’t win the conference tourney title either (that went to Michigan State) and yet the Badgers are the last team standing from this venerable conference and one that knows how to win the close games as Bo Ryan’s club is 6-2 SU (straight-up) in games decided by five points-or-less this year – and that includes four wins in a row – and in last Saturday night’s epic 64-63 overtime win against 3 ½-point fav Arizona while Frank Kaminsky wowed folks with his 28-point, 11-rebound performance it’s wise not to have overlooked the defensive showing that limited ‘Zona stars Nick Johnson, T.J. McConnell and Aaron Gordon to 11-of-38 shooting from the floor. If the Badgers somehow manage to hold the likes of Julius Randle, Aaron Harrison and the aforementioned Young to less than 30 percent shooting, then the Big 10 will have a team in this year’s title game.
And now hear this …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have been steamrolling their way through the month of March with loads of College Basketball winners and it ain’t gonna stop yet now that we’ve hit April!
Get in now on the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four, the NIT Championship Game plus the remaining CBI and CIT Tournies too – go online here at www.vegassportsmasters.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-888-777-4155 and we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle.
Hey, we’re also banging out lots of NBA Winners too these days and so go ahead and join the fun and profits today with all the hardwood action this month.
Note: We’ll have the first of our Final Four Previews – that’s Florida vs. UConn – plus an NIT Championship Game Preview in the next edition of Jim Sez.