Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, February 20, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE NBA TRADE DEADLINE –
NO BLOCKBUSTERS BUT PLENTY OF MOVEMENT …
PLUS IT’S A BIG WEEKEND FOR
COLLEGE B-BALL’S “BUBBLE TEAMS”
INCLUDING THE LIKES OF TEXAS, GEORGIA,
ST. JOHN’S AND PITTSBURGH
If you were hoping for some monster trade deadline move in NBA-land on Thursday, well, we’re sorry.
Maybe in the once-upon-a-time days a trade of Kevin Garnett (back to Minnesota) or point guard Andre Miller (to Sacramento) would have caused a tremor or two but not anymore and so pro hoops fans had to settle for lots of swaps but little with any real bite:
The biggest deal of the day took place with Phoenix sending G Goran Dragic to Miami as part of a three-way deal also involving New Orleans and – while the lefty cutter/slasher should help the Heat in its pursuit of a playoff berth -- it’s not as if he’s a plug-in replacement for LeBron James, you know!
Expect Dragic to get his 20-or-so points per game in this small-ball Miami lineup but we claim the Suns benefitted from the trade day moves as Dragic was gonna leave anyway this summer via free agency and so the acquisition of Milwaukee G Brandon Knight was a major plus for a Phoenix team that needed a refresher. Hey, picking up a pair of Miami’s first-round draft picks don’t hurt either.
Meanwhile, the biggest winner on the day might well have been the Oklahoma City Thunder – they moved PG Reggie Jackson to Detroit as part of a three-way deal and wound up with Utah C Enes Kantner and key reserve pieces PG D.J. Augustin and swingman Kyle Singler … all of a sudden the Thunder’s depth problem is a problem no more.
One final question:
How come the Cleveland Cavaliers and/or the Chicago Bulls didn’t try to add a key piece here or there? Hmmm.
And 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 www.jimhurley.com or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 – so go ahead and win with all the hardwood action today!
THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT
You tell us …
Are there more “bubble teams” out there at this stage of the season than ever before?
There’s three-plus weeks before we hit Selection Sunday and all the geeky insiders claim that when all’s said and done the so-called power conferences – that’s the ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC – figure to garner approximately 60 percent of the field’s 68 teams and so that means there’s a real fight to the finish when it comes to snapping up the final few at-large bids.
In short, the power conference teams that are gonna wind up playing in the “First Four” games in Dayton and the ones that figure to be #11 (and maybe even #12) seeds in next month’s NCAA Tournament better kick it into overdrive and so let’s examine what’s ahead with a chart-like look at our Jim Sez biggest power conference bubble teams right now:
TEAM RECORD(S) RPI
Texas 17-9 (6-7) 34
St. John’s 17-9 (6-7) 42
Georgia 16-9 (7-6) 43
Pittsburgh 17-10 (6-7) 50
Stanford 16-9 (7-6) 51
Miami 17-9 (7-6) 64
Okay, so we’ll chime in with something to say about all six of these power conference teams that could teeter-totter onto either side of the NCAA Tournament fence right now, so here’s what is straight ahead this weekend/coming weeks and how we see ‘em faring with arguments “for” and “against” their inclusion into the NCAA Tourney:
TEXAS – The Longhorns currently sit in seventh place in the 10-team Big 12 but a top 40 RPI is key and Rick Barnes’ crew does own non-league wins against Iowa and Connecticut (okay, those are good-but-not-great wins, to be honest).
On the down side, Texas enters Saturday’s home game against #14 Iowa State having lost five of its last eight games but maybe the Big 12’s top-rated defense can save the day – let’s say the ‘Horns (17-9 overall) must win four more games including any action in the upcoming Big 12 Tourney and that should get ‘em in thanks mainly to the sterling RPI.
ST. JOHN’S – Okay, we’ve been watching this Big East club very closely in recent weeks and we’ve come to the following conclusion:
There’s great athleticism on this Red Storm squad (17-9 overall) – but just not enough quality wins to give Steve Lavin’s club an “admit one” ticket to next month’s NCAA Tournament.
Not yet, at least.
Consider that the Johnnies – coming off a brutal 79-57 loss at 7-point favorite Georgetown – played a real cupcake non-league sked that helped ‘em go 11-1 SU (straight-up) at season’s start and the only real raise-your-eyebrows wins are at Syracuse, at Xavier and at Providence.
The Saturday noon-time home tilt against the G Sterling Gibbs-less Seton Hall Pirates isn’t worth much but if SJU can win two-of-three at the end of regular-season play (home to Georgetown, home to Marquette and at #6 Villanova) and win a game in “The Garden” in the Big East mini-tourney than the Queens kids could have somethin’!
GEORGIA – Guess the biggest question that everyone’s asking is just how many teams from the Southeastern Conference will be headed to this year’s “Big Dance”?
If you’re prone to believe that the SEC hoops action is better than advertised and six or even seven teams will make the tourney field, than these Dawgs (16-9) are getting in but dig a bit deeper and you’ll see has just one key SEC road win (at Texas A&M) and neutral-floor losses to mighty Gonzaga and Big 10 member Minnesota (both at Madison Square Garden in November) were ideal shots for Georgia to prop up its resume.
Next up is Saturday’s game at Alabama plus there’s remaining SEC road games at Ole Miss and Auburn.
Gut feeling is Georgia must avoid a 13-loss (or worst) season – and if the SEC “rep” isn’t great than even that won’t be enough.
PITTSBURGH – The Panthers might be the pure definition of a “bubble team” when you consider that they have an RPI of 50, could wind up sporting a .500-or-better mark in the rough-and-tumble ACC and own “signature wins” against Notre Dame and North Carolina.
Still, Pitt’s in the lower half of the ACC standings and with a road games at Syracuse on Saturday and a home game versus Miami on March 4th it’s no cakewalk to the end of this 2014-15 regular season.
Right now Pittsburgh’s likely on the outside-looking-in but four wins in its final five regular-season games will change that and get the Panthers (17-10 overall) a likely spot on the #9 or #10 seed line.
STANFORD – The Cardinal owns two wins against Washington and a home triumph over Connecticut (right, big deal!) and so conventional thinking right now is that Johnny Dawkins’ crew is on the outside looking in at this NCAA Tournament field at this very moment but here’s the good news:
Stanford (16-9) plays its next three games at home including Saturday’s rivalry tilt against Cal and if the Cards can head into their Arizona State/Arizona trip with a 19-9 mark, than things will look that much brighter.
On the flip side, three losses in these final five regular-season games dooms ‘em unless there’s a long mini-tourney run.
MIAMI – Does the fact that Hurricanes’ head coach Jim Larranaga is one of the best in the land influence the NCAA Tournament Committee’s decision come Selection Sunday?
If not, than the ‘Canes (17-9) may have their work cut out for ‘em because the RPI (64) is relatively low and losses to Wisconsin-Green Bay, Eastern Kentucky, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest really hurts the cause.
Miami – which did flatten Duke 90-74 back on Jan. 13th – does own a winning record in ACC play while heading into Saturday’s game at Louisville but you could make the case that the ‘Canes could well lose their final five regular-season games (Florida State, North Carolina, at Pittsburgh and at Virginia Tech beginning Feb. 25th) and that would pop the bubble, eh?
NOTE: Catch more College Basketball News & Notes in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez and don’t forget next week we will begin our look at the NFL Draft with our position-by-position looks – so don ‘t miss out!