Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 10:37 AM
HO-HO-HO ... WE’RE STUFFIN’ YOUR STOCKING WITH LOTS OF HOLIDAY GOODIES
THERE’S NBA HOOPS ON CHRISTMAS DAY PLUS WE CHECK OUT THE DEC. 26TH BOWLS TOO!
AND THERE’S NFL WEEK 17 NEWS/NOTES
A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our devoted Jim Sez fans ... now let’s go ahead and rock your day with plenty of great NBA/NCAA Football/NFL action. Hey, what would Christmas Day be without a full slate of NBA action and so let’s check in on the Five (5) games on the hardwood scheduled for Dec. 25th (note all records below are thru Monday’s games):
WASHINGTON (19-7) at NEW YORK (5-25) - 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
Interesting to note that when the New York Knicks lost their 25th game under former head coach Mike Woodson two years ago it occurred on Apri14th - so these pathetic Knicks beat it to that “pace” by nearly four months ... ouch!
If Carmelo Anthony and Company wish to spread some holiday cheer to New York City, then slowing down Wizards’ electric PG John Wall is key but did you know Wall (21 points and 17 assists in recent win against Minnesota) is averaging 17.8 ppg and 10.4 assists-per-game and that sure looks like an All-Star Game starter to us!
OKLAHOMA CITY (13-15) at SAN ANTONIO (18-11) - 2:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Hey, generally don’t get the San Ant Spurs on Christmas Day and so this is a “treat” although we’re hearing Gregg Popovich’s squad ain’t all that pleased about having to play this holiday.
Gotta believe the league (re: Commish Adam Silver) has told “Pops” he must play regulars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili here but fact of matter is Spurs have played a pair of triple-OT games in the past eight days and so maybe these three wise men will get 20-or-so minutes of action and that’s it!
We’ll check on game-day status of Okie City’s Kevin Durant (ankle) who remains far from 100 percent these days.
CLEVELAND (15-10) at MIAMI (13-15) - 5 p.m. ET, ABC
The return of LeBron James to South Beach probably isn’t going to be the absolute love-fest that you might think considering this wobbly Heat team is below .500 by the Christmas break and somebody (see King James) has to get blamed, right?
No question that James (25.2 ppg and 7.8 apg) and mates just have not jelled yet this 2014-15 season and the bench production’s been shoddy for Cleveland - tell us right now that Miami’s Dwayne Wade will play 30-plus minutes here and we’ll tell you if Heat cashes against the James gang here.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (8-19) at CHICAGO (18-9) - 8:05 p.m. ET, TNT
Here’s a little switcheroo as the Lakers won’t be hosting a Christmas Day game for the first time in eons (the Clippers are getting the Staples Center court for their night game instead) and the other news is the “fatigue factor” involving LA megastar Kobe Bryant who is becoming a “game-time decision” more and more often in this lost year for the Lakers.
The Bulls, meanwhile, strut into this prime-timer at just 6-5 SU (straight-up) at home although Jimmy Butler is starting to generate some - dare we say - early-year MVP votes.
GOLDEN STATE (23-3) at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (19-9) - 10:35 p.m. ET, TNT
Don’t expect these Western Conference foes to be swapping Christmas gifts here - it was last Dec. 25th when these clubs really started their not-so-little rivalry with major body work done on both sides and so let’s see if we get “quick whistles” in this clash or whether the zebras let ‘em play - if Clips’ F Blake Griffin is wise he may not wish to take off from the foul line for one of his circus-like dunks because there could be Warriors’ big men looking to take ‘em out.
Memo on the G-State Warriors: The tandem of “splash brothers” Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson not only are averaging 45 ppg between ‘em but they’re shooting it at 48.3 and 45.8 percent, respectively ... yowser!
Get all the College Football Bowl Games continuing on with Friday’s three tilts (see previews below) plus all the NFL Week 17 games too when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network.
And, of course, make sure you’re all aboard for those NBA Christmas Day/Night games plus all the NBA and College Basketball hardwood action this week/weekend action either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
THE COLLEGE BOWL REPORT
Here’s a look at the three bowl games slated for Friday, Dec. 26th:
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL - at Dallas, TX
ILLINOIS (6-6) vs. LOUISIANA TECH (8-5) - 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
It’s not often that a non-power conference team will be laying a fistful (or more) points against a so-called “Power 5” team but that’s the case here in the Lone Star State where - dare we say - one of the many undeserving 76 bowl teams out there (see Illinois) gets a shot at having a happy ending to its season.
The Illini finished dead-last in the below-average Big 10 in both scoring defense (33.9 ppg) and total defense (464.3 yards per game) and now must contend with L-Tech RB Kenneth Dixon who scored a whopping 26 TDs this year and enters this bowl tilt with 1,236 ground yards.
Hey, Illinois WR Mike Dudek (69 receptions for 965 yards) might be the best freshman to play for the Champaign kids in 20 years.
Spread Notes - Louisiana Tech is a sizzling 10-3 ATS (against the spread) this year with the Bulldogs sporting a 13-4-1 spread mark in non-conference games the past four years. Note that Illinois enters this affair at just 5-7 versus the vig this year and a rotten 18-28 ATS overall the past four seasons.
QUICK LANE BOWL - at Detroit, MI
RUTGERS (7-5) vs. NORTH CAROLINA (6-6) - 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Okay, so it doesn’t seem like it but this is Big 10 vs. ACC which makes this bowl bash in Motown the first of the holiday season involving a showdown between “Power 5” conferences - year one in the Big 10 for Rutgers included four non-league wins and QB Gary Nova (2,667 yards passing with 20 TDs) looks to put a capper on his college career with a bowl win and note Rutgers hasn’t won a bowl game since 2011 (see Pinstripe Bowl triumph over Iowa State).
Meanwhile, high-octane North Carolina might need 50 points scored here to win ‘cause this Tar Heels defense is among the worst in the land while yielding 39 points and nearly 500 yards per game. If Carolina QB Marquise Williams (2,870 yards passing and another 737 yards rushing) cuts it loose here than Larry Ferdora’s club (a 3-point betting favorite at press time) could rough up these Jersey boys here.
Spread Notes - North Carolina’s snapped back from its 0-5 spread start to be 5-7 vig-wise while entering its sixth bowl game the past seven years and note the Tar Heels are just 9-14 ATS away since the start of the 2011 season. On the flip side, Rutgers is 6-5-1 ATS overall this season and a solid 10-6-1 spreadwise as underdogs with third-year head coach Kyle Flood.
ST. PETERSBURG BOWL - at St. Petersburg, FL
N.C. STATE (7-5) vs. UCF (9-3) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
It’s worth noting that half of UCF’s games this year were one-score affairs as the American Athletic Conference crew won games by 5, 7, 7 and 2 points with that regular-season finale a 32-30 Hail Mary job against East Carolina - even head coach George O’Leary couldn’t believe what we was seeing when QB Justin Holman aired a 51-yard TD strike on the game’s last play.
Now, Holman (2,661 yards passing with 20 TDs and 13 INTs) looks to cap a strenuous month of practices against an N.C. State squad that surrendered 30-or-more points in six different games this season.
Watch for State RB Shadrach Thompson who became the Pack’s first 100-yard rusher in the next-to-last game of the year against Wake Forest.
Spread Notes - N.C. State has covered seven of its last 10 games this year after that 0-2 ATS start and did you know the Wolfpack’s 4-1 spreadwise away this year after going a collective 4-12-1 odds-wise away the prior three seasons? UCF enters this tilt in the Sunshine State at 8-4 ATS overall this year and the Knights are 10-4 versus non-league foes the past three years.
NFL WEEK 17 NEWS/NOTES
Okay, so not everyone is hotter-than-a-pistol while heading into NFL Week 17 play ...
The Kansas City Chiefs - who host San Diego this Sunday needing to win and get lots of help for a playoff berth - have failed to cover four of their last five games down the stretch here and head coach Andy Reid and staff deserve plenty of blame for the multiple red-zone woes ...
The Miami Dolphins just announced that head coach Joe Philbin will return for the 2015 campaign but his Fish stink lately with four consecutive pointspread losses while heading into Sunday’s home game against the New York Jets. Did you realize that Miami has not lost five in a row to Mr. Vig since early in the 2011 season (a/k/a the Tony Sparano Era) ...
The San Francisco 49ers won’t be playoff-bound this year for birthday boy Jim Harbaugh as the Niners are 0-5 vig-wise since Nov. 23rd. Now, San Fran’s laying a price at home against QB-needy Arizona and did you know the 49ers are now 6-12 ATS against divisional foes these past three years? ...
Finally, the woe-be-gone Tennessee Titans have lost five straight to the Las Vegas price tags and now are listed as a full TD home dog against Indianapolis this Sunday afternoon -- the Titans are an awful 22-37-4 ATS overall since the start of the 2011 season.
NOTE: There’s more College Bowl action in the next Jim Sez plus a couple of NFL Week 17 quick-hitter previews too!