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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 12:00 AM


Folks, you can see it coming from a mile away … there’s gonna be a real battle royal for the top seeds in this year’s NCAA Tournament as non-power conference club Gonzaga (24-1) is making a season-long statement that it belongs on that all-important #1 seed line while a month from now the NCAA Tournament Committee folks will have to pick-and-choose which ACC powerhouses get a #1 or a #2 seed (or may even get dropped lower in the pecking order).

Yes, we know, last year’s Final Four only included a single #1 seed (see Florida) and teams that were otherwise seeded #2 (Wisconsin), #7 UConn (the eventual national champion) and #8 Kentucky (the national championship runner-up) and so maybe we’re making too big a deal about the top seed line.

But long-time college hoop fans know the history … it is indeed a very big deal to get a #1 seed and right now there’s genuinely seven or eight teams that could make the case right here and right now that they deserve to be a top seed at this year’s “Big Dance”.

Okay, so with this in mind, let’s track a couple of Wednesday night’s key games with teams looking to wind up with numero uno NCAA Tournament seeds:

On the Wednesday night card, it’s …
#2 VIRGINIA (21-1, 9-1 ACC) at N.C. STATE (14-10, 6=5-6 ACC) — 8 p.m. ET, ESPN Full Court
Life after Justin Anderson (broken finger on his left/shooting hand) begins here for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top team — note that everyone chasing the Wahoos these days have 3-or-more losses in league play — and so there’s major trepidation among Virginia fans.

Anderson’s stats — that’s 13.4 points per game and 4.3 rebounds-per-game — only scratch the proverbial surface with what the junior guard provides for this national powerhouse that just so happens to rank first nationally in points allowed per game at 50.7 ppg. Now, Tony Bennett’s team must overcome the Anderson absence that is expected to last somewhere between four and six weeks.

In this ACC road clash in Raleigh, the Cavs again look to put the clamps on yet another foe but someone’s gonna have to help Malcolm Brogdon (15 points in the weekend win against Louisville) and here look for key reserve Anthony Gill (10 points and 8 rebounds versus Louisville) to have his minutes increased (he figures to play 30-plus minutes here) and check out Virginia reserve F Evan Nolte whose 6-foot-8 frame should clog up the lane against N.C. State’s penetrating guards.

Note that Virginia owns a 61-51 win against then 14 ½-point underdog N.C. State back on Jan. 7th when Cav stars Brogdon and Anderson combined to shoot only 11-of-30 from the floor for a combined 30 points. In that loss-but-cover effort by the Wolfpack, Mark Gottfried’s crew hung in there despite shooting a collective 20-of-53 from the floor (that’s 37.7 percent).

#6 VILLANOVA (21-2, 8-2 Big East) at PROVIDENCE (17-7, 7-4 Big East) — 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
The good news for the Villanova Wildcats is that they’re steeped in veteran star players and are considered a real threat to getting to the Final Four this year — the flip side is that Jay Wright’s crew has experienced some potholes on the road with losses at Seton Hall and Georgetown by a combined 25 points and the immediate sked calls for road tilts at Butler, Marquette, Xavier and Creighton the rest of the way and so making y’all shouldn’t be so darn quick to pencil in the ‘Cats as a top line seed or even a #2 seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament.

No doubt the Wildcats — fresh off a payback 69-53 win against the Hoyas (yes, while wearing 1985 throwback uniforms, no less) — have a balanced attack as six players scored between 8 and 15 points in last weekend’s win but for ‘Nova to thrive on enemy hard wood here than lefty G Darrun Hilliard II (15 points, 6 rebs and 4 assists versus G-town) must bomb up some threes against a quick Providence team that’s won nine of its last 14 games and has fingers crossed that underrated head coach Ed Cooley will be on the sidelines here after some weekend health scares.
Keep an eye on PC’s lefty LaDontae Henton who needed 21 FG tries to register 24 points in last weekend’s 78-69 loss to 7-point fav Xavier.

PITTSBURGH (16-8, 5-5 ACC) at #9 LOUISVILLE (19-4, 7-3 ACC) — 8 p.m. ET, ESPN Full Court
How’s this for perspective?
The Louisville Cardinals are ranked ninth in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 — and yet they’re in fifth place in the ACC!

No doubt Rick Pitino’s crew — looking to sweep the regular-season series against Pittsburgh after cranking out an 80-68 road win as 6-point road favorites back on January 25th — needs a little bounce-back after last weekend’s 52-47 loss-but-cover at Virginia and all the ‘Ville needs to do is shoot it the way they did in that aforementioned 12-point win at Pitt last month:

The Redbirds nailed an amazing 30-of-46 FG tries (that’s 65.2 percent) as G Terry Rozier poured in a game-high 26 points on 10-of-16 FG shooting while F Montrezl Harrell chipped in 18 points and 7 boards and the key here is turning over the Pitt guards who committed 10 of the team’s 12 turnovers in that initial meeting.

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 at or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 — so go ahead and win with all the hardwood action today! There’s plenty of hoops games that’ll warm you up before we get to March, so cash in big this winter!

There’s been some truly upbeat stories in the NBA in the past few days what with legendary head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs banging out his 1,000 career win and with both the Atlanta Hawks (43-10) and the Golden State Warriors (41-9) showing no signs of slowing down while playing .800-plus ball.

Still, it’s not all peachy keen for some NBA teams that badly need to get to this weekend’s All-Star Game break to catch their breath and regroup … here’s who we’re talking about:

BROOKLYN (21-30) — The co-hosts of this weekend’s All-Star Game (yes, the All-Star Game itself will be played at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night) are really floundering these days with Monday night’s 103-97 loss to “old friend” Jason Kidd the latest black eye for a franchise that sports the highest payroll in the NBA and yet not a single All-Star on the roster.

Think know-nothing GM Billy King would like to have a “do-over” for that Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade to do all over again as the Nets won’t have a first-round draft pick this summer and won’t have Pierce (on Washington) or Garnett (likely headed to the Los Angeles Clippers in the near future) on their roster this summer either.

This Nets team hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with first-year head coach Lionel Hollins and so maybe the break this week/weekend will allow everyone in this rather dysfunctional organization to exhale — after all, Brooklyn’s just a game back of the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

PHOENIX (29-24) — True, the Suns are on the inside-looking-out at a playoff berth right at this very minute with the #8 seed in their proverbial pocket while heading into Tuesday night’s home game against Houston but consider that Phoenix lost a painful buzzer-beater to Sacramento this past Sunday night and were walloped by 21 points against Portland just a few nights after losing 102-101 at home against Memphis and you can see that Jeff Hornack’s crew could use a blow. The All-Star Game break’s coming at the right time for the Suns, but shouldn’t they be okay considering Hornacek’s gone eight- or nine-deep with this crew (see eight players averaging 20-plus minutes per game)?

Just the usual wear-and-tear of an NBA season has started to get to this Phoenix teams that — by the way — is just 14-18 SU (straight-up) against the mighty Western Conference. Better get that record turned around following the break or the Suns will be on the outside-looking-in at the upcoming playoffs.

Now, here’s a few spread stats when it comes to a batch of NBA teams (thru Feb. 10th):
Atlanta is 37-16 ATS (against the spread) this 2014-15 season
Cleveland is 8-1 ATS in its last nine home games
Denver is 19-30-3 ATS this year
Golden State is 31-18-1 ATS overall this season
Los Angeles Clippers are 21-32 ATS overall this season
Los Angeles Lakers are 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 games
Memphis is 7-2-2 ATS in its last nine home games
Phoenix is 3-7 ATS overall in its last 10 games
Sacramento is 2-9 ATS in its last 11 road games
Washington is 2-9 ATS in its last 11 overall games

NOTE: Keep in mind we’ll have our NBA All-Star Game break Report Cards later this week — we’ll get you the Eastern Conference grades in Friday’s Jim Sez column and the Western Conference grades on Saturday — so stay on top of all the NBA happenings right here.


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