Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE COLLEGE ROUND-BALL REPORT:
QUICK-HITTER LOOKS AT SATURDAY’S
KEY TOP 25 GAME MATCHUPS INCLUDING
#18 ARKANSAS AT #1 KENTUCKY,
#10 NORTHERN IOWA AT #11 WICHITA STATE
… PLUS MORE!
No doubt about it:
The month of February is “going out like a lion” with a slew of fun matchups on tap Saturday and so let’s zip ‘round the land and check in on all the Associated Press Top 25 head-to-head tilts and also weigh in on what NCAA Tournament seeds these ranked teams figure to have next month:
#18 ARKANSAS (23-5, 12-3 SEC) at #1 KENTUCKY (28-0, 15-0 SEC) – 4 p.m. ET, CBS
Okay, so excuse us for blabbering on so much regarding the high-and-mighty Kentucky Wildcats these past few weeks here at Jim Sez but when you have history in your apparent midst, it does make for some compelling copy, eh?
In this Southeastern Conference showdown at Rupp Arena, it’s the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks who actually interest us with their snazzy RPI (19) and current seven-game winning streak that includes road wins at Auburn, Ole Miss and Miss State.
In fact, the Hogs have won five of their seven SEC road games this year (and also sport triumphs at Missouri and Georgia) and even a close-call loss here in Lexington could help to leap-frog Arkansas to a better-than-you-think seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Right now we’d have to say Mike Anderson’s squad is looking at a #5 seed for the NCAA Tourney but four or five more wins between now and the March 15th Selection Sunday show could have “Pig Sooey” inching onto the #3 or #4 seed lines, so stay tuned.
Best bet here is that Anderson will give the green light to the SEC’s top-ranked offense (79.5 ppg) and keep fingers crossed the likes of Bobby Portis (17.6 ppg) and Michael Qualls (15.1 ppg) can get some unchallenged hoops against one of the best defensive teams in recent college hoops history.
#7 ARIZONA (25-3, 13-2 Pac-12) at #13 UTAH (22-5, 12-3 Pac-12) – 9 p.m. ET
The beat goes on for the Arizona Wildcats, now winners of five in a row and 11 of their last 12 games following Thursday night’s easy 82-54 win/cover at 9 ½-point dog Colorado – and so the question remains as to whether or not a ‘Zona bunch quite capable of winning straight through the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament will be good enough to land a No. 1 seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament … if you know our feeling on the matter we’ve been saying all along that Sean Miller’s crew has every bit as much a right to be a top seed as does Duke and Gonzaga.
Meanwhile, note this is a revenge game for the host Utes who lost 69-51 as five-point underdogs in Tucson back on Jan. 17th when the U of A Wildcats bagged 49 percent of their FG tries (that’s 26-of-53 makes) as starters F Stanley Johnson (18 points), point guard T.J. McConnell (16 points) and F Brandon Ashley (14 points) powered up a team that killed it on the boards (see 38-to-17 advantage) … but will Round II be any different here?
The Utes come off last night’s rollicking 83-41 win against 12 ½-point pup Arizona State – hey, the Sun Devils shot just 14-of-49 from the floor in that tilt and Utah banged home 31-of-47 FG makes for 66 percent … yowie!
#10 NORTHERN IOWA (27-2, 16-1 MVC) at #11 WICHITA STATE (26-3, 16-1 MVC) – 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
It’s been billed as the Missouri Valley Conference “Game of the Year” for weeks now … and they ain’t wrong!
The winner here captures the Valley regular-season title and thus a numero uno seed in next week’s “Arch Madness” Tournament in St. Louis and there’s chatter that if either of these teams wins here and then cops the mini-tourney crown too they could get as high as a #2 seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament.
We believe that’s somewhat lofty thinking although it won’t at all surprise us if Northern Iowa and Wichita State snatch up #3 and/or #4 seeds in one form or the other in the “Big Dance” but consider that the #4 seeds in the NCAA Tourney will be playing the likes of Kentucky or Virginia or Duke in Sweet 16 action should favored parties get there … so don’t you want to land a #2 or #3 seed instead?
The visiting NIU Panthers copped Round I in this showdown series back on Jan. 31st with a commanding 70-54 home win as 1 ½-point underdogs as star F Seth Tuttle poured in a career-best 29 points while reserve G F Wes Washpun rattled home 16 big points for a Northern Iowa team that led 37-24 at the halftime break.
One major killer for the Shockers back then:
Wichita State connected on only 5-of-24 shots from beyond the three-point stripe and star F Ron Baker managed to drill just 4-of-12 field-goal attempts en route to a below-par 12-point game.
Baker and Company have won seven games in a row since that Super Bowl weekend setback but the Panthers are operating on a 16-game winning streak at press time and in order to derail Tuttle and friends here the Shockers’ 8th-ranked defense (allowing just 55.7 ppg) must batten down the proverbial hatches and may we remind you that Wichita State’s not allowed any foe to score more than 62 points in the seven games since that last tilt with Northern Iowa?
#20 WEST VIRGINIA (22-6, 10-5 Big 12) at #19 BAYLOR (21-7, 9-6 Big 12) – 4 p.m. ET, ESPNU
There’s great debate as to whether or not the Big 12 is gonna get five, six or even seven teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament – but rest assured both the WVU Mountaineers and BU Bears have spots secured but let’s break down where they stand while heading into this late matinee tilt:
West Virginia – the Big 12’s second-best offensive team (averaging 74.3 ppg) – rolls into this road tilt on a three-game winning streak following Tuesday’s 71-64 victory against Texas – and now this is a revenge game for Bog Huggins’ squad that lost 87-69 in Morgantown back on Feb. 7th. In that game, West Virginia did a whole lot wrong including just 24-of-66 from the floor (36.4 percent) and 15-of-25 free-throw makes but maybe the biggest sin was shooting itself out of the game by nailing only 6-of-23 triple tries and that included the starters going 1-of-10 from beyond the three-point stripe.
Baylor bounces into this game fresh off Wednesday’s fantastic, gut-check 79-70 win at 7 ½-point home fav Iowa State – the Bears drained seven consecutive triples at one stage during their second-half comeback that featured reserve F Taurean Prince’s team-high 20 points on 7-of-16 FG shooting to along with his 6 rebounds.
And now hear this …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep rockin’-n-rollin’ through March with this College Basketball and NBA season as there are gonna be loads of winners right here online at www.jimhurley.com or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 – so go ahead and join the fun and profits today with all the hardwood action this month and remember the conference tournaments or so-called mini-tournies heat up next week with day-time action all throughout the month – we’ll keep you posted for all the important conference tourney news and notes!
In other College Basketball News …
The 2014-15 regular-season college hoops campaign is quickly winding down and straight from the believe-it-or-not department is this:
The following “name” teams each have only one conference win at this very late stage of the season and they are …
HOUSTON (1-14 AAC) – Kelvin Sampson’s first year with the Coogs hasn’t been a blast at all as this American Athletic Conference crew (9-18 overall) dropped its 14th league game in 15 attempts with last night’s 66-54 defeat at 14 ½-point favorite Temple. Can it really have been 30-plus years ago that Houston was going to back-to-back-to-back Final Fours in the early 1980s?
BOSTON COLLEGE (1-14 ACC) – The Eagles have been a close-but-no-cigar bunch for much of this season with six losses coming by 6 points-or-less and now there are only three more opportunities to get a second league “W” (versus N.C. State, at Virginia Tech and home to Wake Forest) – gotta feel a bit sorry for first-year head coach Jim Christian who has a star scorer in G Olivier Hanlan (19.4 ppg) and a real solid second fiddle in G Aaron Brown (15.3 ppg) but little else.
Note: Get our weekend edition of Jim Sez next!
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