Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 10:33 AM
CHECKIN' OUT WEDNESDAY'S TOP TILTS INCLUDING NORTH CAROLINA AT DUKE PLUS SOME KEY POINTSPREAD NOTES
Okay, so it's not #1 versus #2 - we'll grant you that fact -- but go ahead and tell us that you won't be tuning in to watch #15 North Carolina at #4 Duke on this wintry Wednesday night and we won't believe 'ya!
Call it one of the best rivalries in sport - yes, still the best in the world of college basketball - and call it "must-see TV" here as the wounded Tar Heels and the frisky Blue Devils collide for the first of at least two and maybe even three meetings this year and we'll paint the picture in just a moment plus we'll bring you two other key mid-week tilts here but first this important reminder:
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 or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - so go ahead and win with all the hardwood action today!
Now, here's what is on the Wednesday night menu ...
#15 NORTH CAROLINA (18-7, 8-4 ACC) at #4 DUKE (22-3, 9-3 ACC) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
The arrow is most definitely pointing "up" for the Duke Blue Devils as Mike Krzyzewski's club enters this mind-week bash on a five-game winning streak - but the same can't be said about North Carolina.
Let's just say the Tar Heels have picked the wrong time to slump - three losses in their last four games and note all three of the defeats came by double digits including last Saturday's no-show 89-76 loss at 3.5-point home underdog Pittsburgh.
Has Roy Williams' club just hit a little wall here or could the many flaws on this Carolina club finally have become exposed for all to see?
In that loss to the Panthers, the Carolina effort on defense was awful as Pitt drained 37-of-57 FG attempts (that's 64.9 percent accuracy) but if you checked out the numbers you had to be impressed with the fact the Tar Heels registered 25 assists on their 29 made field goals - if G Marcus Paige (six assists versus Pitt) can spur the fast break here than the 6.5-point underdog Heels could be right there at the proverbial finish line in this one at always-noisy Cameron Indoor Stadium.
On the flip side, the arrow is indeed pointing "up" for a Duke squad that enters this clash on a five-game winning streak and take note the Blue Devils have won five of their last six games that have been decided by single-digit margins.
One major key for the Dookies here is making sure star C Jahlili Okafor gets close to 20 shots - he nailed 10-of-15 FG tries en route to a team-best 23 points in last Saturday's 80-72 win/cover at 7.5-point home pup Syracuse and did you notice how Duke kept feeding the frosh phenom even though he connected on just 3-of-8 first-half FG tries?
One other key for Duke in this home bash: The Devils must hit some early triples so they can "spread the floor" and make sure Okafor doesn't always received double coverage in the post - if you ask us the 15 trifecta tries (making 7 of 'em) against the Orange just wasn't enough. The Coach K game plan here should be as followed: Get 20 shots for Okafor and attempt at least 20 triples too - not sure nose-diving Carolina will be able to combat that particular strategy.
P.S., ask us right now and we say Duke's gonna get a #1 seed in next month's NCAA Tournament while North Carolina is looking at a #4 seed but a couple more regular-season losses and the Tar Heels will be on that #5 or #6 seed line.
Spread Notes - Duke is just 13-11-1 ATS (against the spread) this 2014-15 hoops season and the Blue Devils are a rotten 2-7 spreadwise in their last nine head-to-head meetings with North Carolina. Note the Tar Heels are 12-12-1 versus the vig this season and a swooning 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 overall games.
#5 WISCONSIN (23-2, 11-1 Big 10) at PENN STATE (15-11, 3-10 Big 10) - 7 p.m. ET, Big 10 Network
Just how good are these here-and-now Wisconsin Badgers? Well, Bo Ryan's gang pounded out a seven-game SU (straight-up) winning streak to start the season, won eight in a row following an early December 10-point loss to Duke, then reeled off eight straight wins before losing at Rutgers back on January 11th and now zoom into this Big 10 road bash on yet another eight-game winning streak - might the Badgers be the numero uno seed in the NCAA Tournament if Kentucky loses its footing along the way?
Could be and here keep in mind here that versatile seven-footer Frank Kaminsky - who missed that aforementioned loss at Rutgers last month with concussion issues - is turning up the heat on his Player of the Year candidacy following his 23-point, 11-rebound game in last Sunday's 68-49 win/cover against 14-point dog Illinois.
In fact, Kaminsky hit eight of his first nine field-goal attempts in that latest "W" and so expect smallish Penn State to throw some gimmick defenses his way while seeing if the likes of Wisky's Nigel Hayes and/or Bronson Koenig can beat them (the pair combined for 23 of their 29 points after intermission in the Illinois game).
Wisconsin already owns one win against the Nittany Lions this year - an 89-72-non-cover triumph as 19-point home favorites back on New Year's Eve when Kaminsky proved to be a stat-sheet stuffer with 18 points and 14 rebounds to go along with a pair of assists in 33 action-packed minutes.
Spread Notes - Wisconsin is 14-10-1 vig-wise overall this year while Penn State enters this affair having covered six of its last eight Big 10 games.
#12 LOUISVILLE (20-5, 8-4 ACC) at SYRACUSE (16-9, 7-5 ACC) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
So much for "peaking" at the right time of the year! The Louisville Cardinals - just 6-4 SU in their last 10 games - simply have not been able to get their traction ever since starting off this season at 11-and-oh and this team's serious shooting problems has Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino wondering if maybe the best strategy is to go full-court press and trust that his bench players will be able to contribute something of meaning.
The Cards have scored less than 70 points in each of their last four outings and last Saturday's 74-65 home loss against twin-figure dog N.C. State "featured" 20 made field goals in 61 tries ... can you say ugh!
Look for a much more aggressive stance her from Louisville's top scorers Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell who managed a meager 14 points combined against the Wolf Pack while the 'Cuse - ranked just 69th nationally in scoring and suffering through what's now become a post-season-less campaign - skids into this tilt having lost five of its last eight games and we can't wait to see who head coach Jim Boeheim yells at if/when his underdog club loses here!
HEy, did you know the Orange already has lost three games inside the once-upon-a-time friendly Carrier Dome (see St. John's, Miami and Duke).
Spread Notes - Louisville is a nifty 9-2-1 ATS in its last dozen head-to-head showdowns against Syracuse while the Orange is a lowly 7-14-1 ATS overall this season.
In other College Basketball News/Notes ...
Seton Hall G Sterling Gibbs can pile up all the tweeter apologies he likes but gotta believe he'll get handed a 5-game suspension (or longer) for his dopey punch to the head of classy Villanova G Ryan Arcidiacono in Monday's 80-54 runaway win by the sixth-ranked Wildcats. Hate to say it but it's become pretty typical behavior by Seton Hall players going back the past few years - just awful ...
Thought you might like to know that Kansas has played the country's toughest schedule so far but you might be surprised to discover that Georgetown (a .6063 SOS) has played the country's second-toughest sked and that's important because even at 16-8 while entering Tuesday's home game against surging St. John's, the Hoyas would get a "benefit of the doubt" call for one of those at-large invites to the NCAAs ...
Finally, in case you were wondering the "Power 5" conference team that's played the easiest sked this year is TCU. Okay, so it hasn't much helped the Horned Frogs (15-10) who have played a schedule ranked 117th in the land and still are next-to-last in the Big 12 ... yes, thank goodness for Texas Tech!
NOTE: Catch more NCAA Basketball News/Notes/Previews in tomorrow's jam-packed edition of Jim Sez.