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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 16, 2015 at 12:00 AM


Hey, let’s not “bury the lead” and that is the #1 Kentucky Wildcats – now 25-0 overall – are the top story in the land but last Saturday’s rollicking 77-43 win/cover against 18 ½-point underdog South Carolina was far from a fair fight and so the question now is who (if anyone) is gonna challenge up-for-the-Hall-of-Fame head coach John Calipari’s kids?

The remaining SEC schedule includes six games in all before we get to the SEC Tournament to be held in Nashville – the sked features home tilts against Auburn, Arkansas and Florida and road affairs at Tennessee (see Tuesday night on ESPN with Dickie V. in the house in Knoxville), at Miss State and at Georgia and so where – if anyplace – will the ‘Cats finally lose a game?

If you answered they won’t, well, join the growing list of folks at the various TV networks and the print/electronic media folks too that believe this will be a “perfect” Kentucky team at 31-0 before the Wildcats set foot in “Music City” for that conference mini-tourney and, heck, we even heard one over-the-top radio voice that said Kentucky could lose three games between now and the end of SEC Tournament play and the ‘Cats still would get a #1 seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament!
Hey, might be right!

In any event, Kentucky’s quest for perfection rolls on and you best believe the pressure gets turned up with every “W” and so we’ll let you count up all the guys and gals that say it’s “better if Kentucky loses a game before the NCAA Tournament” … we’re not quite sure we agree with that particular sentiment, okay?

Still, not everyone enjoyed their Valentine’s Day weekend as #9 Louisville and #12 North Carolina both were plunked in league games they were “supposed to win” …
Here’s the game re-caps:

N.C. State 74, #9 Louisville 65 – The U of L Cardinals were haughty 11-point home betting favorites in this ACC clash but Rick Pitino’s crew once again shot the ball miserably here as State’s harassing defense held the Redbirds to 32.8 percent shooting from the floor (that’s 20-of-61 from the field) and so Louisville (20-5, 8-4 ACC) landed hard and you must ask what exactly happened with high-scoring Terry Rozier – the ACC’s leading per-game scorer at 18.5 ppg finished with 7 points – while the all-too-erratic Montrezl Harrell nailed just 1-of-5 FG tries and registered 7 points in 39 minutes of action while the Wolfpack’s Cat Barber scored 21 points to lead the upset surge.

Pitino’s troops have been bogged down by a bunch of bad-shooting games this 2014-15 campaign – if the ‘Ville can’t carve you up and turn you over it simply doesn’t win as it’s half-court game rots – and so maybe the shock was less that the Cards shot poorly again but that State out-boarded Louisville 46-to-36 and marched to the free-throw line some 28 times.

Next up for the Cards is a date with Syracuse at the Carrier Dome come Wednesday night – and don’t dare think for a moment that Pitino’s “good friend” Jim Boeheim will be in a good mood after that meltdown 80-72 home loss versus 7 ½-point fav Duke this past Saturday night.

Pittsburgh 89, #12 North Carolina 76 – No doubt there were heavy hearts all ‘round the Carolina campus last week following the death of long-time iconic head coach Dean Smith but, boy, even the staunchest Tar Heel fan had to be surprised that Roy Williams’ team put up zero fight in this Saturday matinee.

The Pittsburgh Panthers scored the game’s first 10 points, led 48-34 at the halftime break and shot a sizzling 37-of-57 from the floor (that’s nearly 65 percent, gang) in this romp against the 3 ½-point favored Heels and let’s just say for the second time the past three weekends the “smart money” really poured in on Pitt as this Las Vegas price tag dropped from 5 ½-to 3 ½ points – much like it did a couple of weekends back when Pittsburgh went from a game-day 5 ½-point dog to a game-time 3-point home dog prior to that 76-72 win against Notre Dame.
Well, maybe it’s those noon-time starts where the “Oakland Zoo” crowd gets into a yappy mood by brunch time!

In any event, the Tar Heels’ loss was significant as it dropped UNC to 18-7 overall and 8-4 in ACC play and -- despite the recent RPI of 10 -- the Carolina kids could be working their way out of a top four seed at this stage and that’s dangerous.

Time for G Marcus Paige (3-of-11 FG shooting and just 8 points in 32 minutes – may need a major wake-up call before UNC’s next game that just so happens to be Wednesday night at archrival Duke – and we’ll have plenty more to say about that tilt in the next Jim Sez, okay?

Meanwhile, let’s throw some bouquets in the general direction of #13 Northern Iowa and #24 Arkansas – both secured weekend wins and both did so in completely opposite manners – but let’s just say the Panthers and Hogs are on our “watch-me-know” list:

Northern Iowa topped 10 ½-point home dog Missouri State 68-57 on Sunday as star F Seth Tuttle scored a game-high 22 points as NIU (24-2, 13-1 Missouri Valley Conference) drained 12 trifectas – matching a season high in that category – and don’t look now but the second-best team in the Valley owns a 13-game winning streak among hoots that Tuttle and Company deserve major consideration for a #4 or #5 seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament.

Right, don’t hold your breath but consider that Northern Iowa already owns one win against aforementioned Wichita State and could conceivably beat ‘em twice more (see Feb. 28th regular-season finale and a likely third showdown in the MVC Tournament) and so wouldn’t that have to put the Panthers into the mix among the country’s top 16 seeds?

Meanwhile, among the power conference teams a “watch-me-now” team is Arkansas – sure, we’re a bit pro-Razorbacks right now after Jim Hurley’s Network cashed with the Hogs in last Saturday’s thrilling 71-70 win at 2 ½-point fav Ole Miss but the reality of the situation is that Mike Anderson’s squad is now 20-5 and 9-3 in SEC play and the Hogs have won seven of their last eight games since a Jan. 17th home loss to – you got it – Ole Miss.

The Razorbacks are the SEC’s highest-scoring team (and ranked 10th nationally at last check averaging 79.9 ppg) and gotta love all the scoring options as Bobby Portis (17.7 ppg) and Michael Qualls (15.3 ppg) may be the far-and-away scoring leaders but everyone can pitch in here as proven last weekend when Manuale Watkins slipped between a Rebels’ defender to grab a baseline pass and score with just 6.4 seconds remaining and then the Hogs held on when Mississippi’s Jarvis Summers missed a jumper at the end.

Arkansas is streaking at precisely the right time – are the Hogs the guys that will KO Kentucky from the ranks of the unbeaten? – and will it have magic on its side come March?

Now hear this …
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!

Congratulations if you happened to cash a play with guard Russell Westbrook at 10-to-1 odds to win the NBA All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player – his scintillating 41-point game in the West’s 163-158 win/cover over the 4-point underdog East was almost Wilt Chamberlain-like (see an All-Star Game-best 42 points in 1962).

And, in a no-defense game, how about the fact Westbrook – who provided the “cover” with two free throws in the game’s final 1.6 seconds – drilled 16-of-28 shots from the floor but what exactly happened to the respective shooting touches of Golden State’s Klay Thompson (2-of-11 from the floor), Toronto’s Kyle Lowry (4-of-13 FG shooting) and “host” New York’s Carmelo Anthony who missed 14-of-20 FG tries while playing 30 minutes … guess the knee didn’t hurt too much, right Carmelo?

Okay, so Commish Adam Silver isn’t asking us but maybe it’s time the league stopped hyping this silly All-Star Game and its weekend – this was truly over-the-top nonsense and you got the feeling in the game itself that Westbrook or LeBron James (30 points) could have scored 50 each if they really wanted it.

Maybe next year they’ll play the All-Star Game with a 10-second shot clock … why not?
All we need now is the NFL Pro Bowl and NBA All-Star Game to be played the same day … so we’ll know to miss at least one of em!


NOTE: Catch our NCAA Basketball Mid-Week Update in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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