Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 12:09 PM
THE COLLEGE HOOPS UPDATE:
NOW WHAT'S THE ODDS THAT KENTUCKY DOESN'T WIN IT ALL THIS SPRING?
WE'LL CLUE YOU IN ON THE UP-TO-THE- MINUTE LAS VEGAS PRICES FOR A BATCH OF OTHER CONTENDING TEAMS...PLUS THERE'S NBA NEWS/NOTES/GOSSIP TOO
So, what's it exactly gonna take to make a buck or two on the still-unbeaten Kentucky Wildcats this year?
The 'Cats are 26-0 overall and 13-0 in the SEC while heading into Saturday night's home game against monstrous underdog Auburn and can we remind you that John Calipari's club is merely 13-13 ATS (against the spread) this 2014-15 campaign and the Las Vegas smart guys/gals right now has Kentucky as a 4-to-5 favorite to win it all in Indianapolis come the first Monday Night in April.
If this was a horse race the "cigar smokers" would be plunking down their serious moolah with great confidence that Kentucky can't - and won't - be beaten in this year's NCAA Tournament but how about we take a few moments in this weekend edition of Jim Sez to examine the prices set for now on many of the teams that hope to challenge Kentucky come tourney time.
So, here's the next half-dozen-or-so favorites and a few words on each along with their odds to win it all ...
#5 WISCONSIN - 15-to-2
The 24-2 Badgers have reeled off nine straight wins while heading into their Saturday matinee tilt against archrival Minnesota and most everyone agrees that Bo Ryan's meat-and-potatoes team could give Kentucky a major run for their money providing star guard Traevon Jackson can return from his foot injury that's sidelined him since mid-January. Remember that Wisconsin ranks eighth nationally in scoring defense and - with Kentucky ranked second nationally in scoring "D" while allowing just 51.7 ppg -- you could make the case that a slug-it-out 48-47 type game might just fall in Wisconsin's favor.
#4 DUKE -- 9-to-1
Obviously, the recent ankle injury suffered by superstar freshman C Jahlili Okafor (17.9 ppg and 9.4 rpg) could wind up putting a major damper on the Blue Devils' dreams of winning their first title since 2010 but there's plenty of time between now and mid-March for the ever-active Okafor to recover. The $64,000 question that many college basketball fans would like to know is could this depth-shy Duke team be a match for Kentucky in a head-to-head battle in either a Final Four showdown or even in the national championship game? Gotta say that Kentucky's 10-deep roster likely would wear down an even healthy Okafor and mates but do keep in mind that TV timeouts are longer in tourney games and thus there would be an extra couple of minutes break for the Dookies to catch their collective breaths.
Right now if they played at Lucas Oil Field, we'd rate Kentucky as a 5-point betting favorite.
#7 ARIZONA - 12-to-1
Gotta admit that we're intrigued by this 'Zona bunch that enters Saturday night's home game against UCLA with a spiffy 23-3 overall mark (and winners of nine of its last 10 games) and keep in mind that the Wildcats rank inside the top 20 in both scoring offense (76.3 ppg) and scoring defense (59.2 ppg). If Sean Miller's club had a shot at Kentucky in this man's tourney, he'd be inclined to step up the tempo and take his chances that his team could win a game played in the 80s. The problem for 'Zona is there's a major fall-off after the seventh man and so matching up for a full 40 minutes with talent-rich Kentucky could present some sticky issues.
#2 VIRGINIA - 14-to-1
Okay, so the Cavaliers still don't get a whole lot of respect here in the win-it-all odds category despite the splendid 24-1 overall mark while heading into Sunday night's home game versus Florida State.
The oddsmakers probably would put the Wahoos as a 6- or 7-point underdog in a potential head-to-head matchup with Kentucky and - think about this for a moment - what hoops fan out there wouldn't grab defensive-minded UVa plus more than a handful of points against anyone in the land - with or without injured star Justin Anderson?
#3 GONZAGA - 14-to-1
The beat goes on for the 'Zags (27-1) who have won all 15 of their West Coast Conference games this year while heading into Saturday's big road tilt at Saint Mary's ... but will this Mark Few-coached team have a longer NCAA Tournament "shelf life" than all his others? Hey, Gonzaga ranks 9th nationally in scoring offense while piling up 80 points a game and wouldn't it be a blast to see a 'Zags team peaking come Final Four time get a shot at Kentucky while grabbing 5 or 6 points along the way? In case you're wondering, the win-it-all price tags out there have Kansas at 25-to-1, Villanova and Louisville at 35-to-1 and Iowa State and Utah at 40-to-1.
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!
Let's get you some of our random thoughts on the NBA's goings-on ...
Wow - did San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich really have to prove some kind of point when he had Los Angeles Clippers' C DeAndre Jordan fouled a gazillion times in Thursday's 119-115 Clips win against the 2-point favored Spurs?
Yes, as TNT announcers Marv Albert and Reggie Miller pointed out there's nothing in the rule book preventing "Pops" from his "Hack-A-Jordan" technique that sent the Clips' seven-footer to the free-throw line some 28 times (he canned just 10 of 'em) but if that's the type of ball we're gonna see in the NBA in games where Jordan or some other rotten foul shooter plays in than we're gonna tune out! ...
The playoff-bound Milwaukee Bucks really shook things up on trade deadline day with the acquisitions of Philadelphia PGs Michael Carter-Williams and Phoenix's Tyler Ennis - no doubt both came to the Bucks with the blessing of first-year head coach Jason Kidd who knows just a little something about point guard play in this league but will the long-term move cost Milwaukee in the short term now that it's without Brandon Knight? ...
It's safe to say that the Brooklyn Nets (21-31) have been a colossal flop this year and you wonder now if there'll be another coach calling the shots next year.
Since the Nets landed in New York City's born-again borough, they've run through Avery Johnson, P.J. Carlesimo and Jason Kidd as head coaches and all the chatter you hear is that the players ain't thrilled with now-coach Lionel Hollins.
But it's GM Billy King that should get the axe after blowing it big-time with the trade two summers ago for Boston retreads Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and now that both are gone - Pierce is a key piece for the Washington Wizards while Garnett just "went home" with Thursday's trade to Minnesota - it's apparent that if this Eastern Conference franchise wishes to dig itself from the depths of despair than King must exit stage left and some other personnel honcho must take over.
How about a New York City hoops season where the Knicks and Nets are a combined 31-74 - that's a .295 winning rate! ...
Finally, let's end this column with the way we started it and that's a win-it-all odds report but this time as it pertains to the NBA.
One Las Vegas-related web site listed the following odds as we headed into this late February weekend:
CLEVELAND - 4-to-1
The Cavs are one big happy family these days but we'd be a bit squimish when it comes to how playoff novices G Kyrie Irving and F Kevin Love will perform come "money time". Is LeBron James gonna have to be a 25-point/10-assist/8-rebound dude on a nightly basis?
GOLDEN STATE - 9-to-2
The best in the West has been brilliant but dare we mention what might happen if either of the so-called "Splash Brothers" - Mr. Stephen Curry and Mr. Klay Thompson - hit a bit of a shooting slump in the post-season?
ATLANTA - 15-to-2
There's plenty of Hawk doubters out there but gotta say these are pretty generous odds for a team that isn't likely to lose its #1 Eastern Conference seed anytime soon. This will be the ultimate challenge to see if the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, right?
SAN ANTONIO - 8-to-1
Still the prettiest passing team in all of basketball but getting through the rigors of the loaded Western Conference with lots of 30-plus year-olds ain't gonna be easy. Plus, it appears key F Kawhi Leonard is a long way off from being "himself" as evidenced by his 1-of-11 shooting game against the Clips right out of the All-Star Game break.
CHICAGO - 9-to-1
Again, the odds appear "generous" but consider that the Bulls may have to beat Cleveland, Atlanta and, let's say, Golden State in order to win it all and that's a mighty chore for anyone - plus can you guarantee that PG Derrick Rose will play all of his team's playoff games?
OKLAHOMA CITY - 10-to-1
The odds went down a bit following the Thunder's bust trade day maneuvers but Kevin Durant remains far from 100 percent healthy and not sure what bench scorer can deliver in a key playoff road game.
NOTE: Catch our NCAA Basketball and NBA Weekend Wrap-up column in the next edition of Jim Sez and remember next week we will begin our position-by-position look at the NFL Draft, so don't miss out.