Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 12:00 AM
COLLEGE BASKETBALL’S MINI-TOURNIES
ROCK-N-ROLL ON AND TODAY WE HAVE QUICKIE
PREVIEWS OF THE BIG 12, BIG EAST & SEC TOURNAMENTS
… AND A WHOLE LOT MORE!
Nope, this is no time to exhale!
The College Basketball Conference Tournaments – we like to call them the mini-tournies – are in full-speed mode these days and in today’s jam-packed edition of Jim Sez we’ll deliver some quickie previews on Eight (8) different conferences/leagues that tip off this week including power conference guys the Big 12, the Big East, the Southeastern
Conference and the American Athletic Conference to go along with the Atlantic-10, the Big West, the Sun Belt and the Big Sky Tournaments.
But first …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will keep steamrolling their way through March with loads of College Basketball winners and take special note that The Network March Madness Package includes all of the Conference Tournament Games along with all the upcoming NCAA Tournament Games plus all the other post-season tournaments such as the NIT, CBI and CIT Tournies too.
Get it either right here online at www.jimhurley.com or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 – plus don’t forget we’re banging out lots of NBA Winners too these days and so go ahead and join the fun and profits today with all the hardwood action this month.
Now, here’s more mini-tourney previews and beginning Wednesday, it’s …
BIG 12 TOURNAMENT – Much of America believes this is the best college hoop league in the land (we’ll still take the ACC) and so expect quarterfinal-thru-finals action to be hot and heavy with five or even six teams with a legit shot at winning the automatic bid after Kansas (24-7, 13-5) won the regular-season crown for the umpteenth year in a row though it’s worth noting that Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor and West Virginia each finished with 11 or 12 conference victories and all sported RPI ranks of 21 or better.
P.S., all five of these above-mentioned squads should wind up with #4 seeds or better in next week’s NCAA Tournament (although none of ‘em have a shot at a #1 seed) and there’s a good chance a mini-tourney title win by Oklahoma or Iowa State could get ‘em as high as a #2 seed in the NCAA Tourney.
Best guess-estimate here is that Kansas has a #2 NCAA Tourney seed in its “back pocket” but failure to get to this mini-tourney championship game could cost Bill Self’s squad dearly and the fact is this isn’t a vintage Jayhawks bunch and take note Kansas has won just five of its last nine games down the stretch plus F Perry Ellis (sprained knee) is no better than 50-50 for this tourney.
Texas (19-12, 8-10) has been busy patting itself on the back the past few days but we firmly believe the Longhorns (with an RPI rank of 43) needs to win at least one game here and maybe more!
The Favorite: Kansas
The Dark Horse: Baylor
ATLANTIC-10 TOURNAMENT – Safe to say the 14-team A-10 didn’t go as scripted as Davidson (23-6, 14-4) won the regular-season crown despite being predicted to finish dead-last by the “experts” while preseason fav VCU (22-9, 12-6) stumbled/bumbled its way for much of the 2014-15 campaign and finished with a #5 seed. Now, Shaka Smart’s bunch hopes it is out of a recent funk that produced the coach’s first-ever three-game losing streak.
It appears that five teams will make it to the “Big Dance” even if they’re one-and-done here – Davidson, Dayton, Rhode Island, VCU and Richmond appear “safe” for the NCAA’s although some folks might believe the Richmond Spiders may need a single “W” but the underlying theme here is Dayton (23-7, 13-5) was an Elite 8 team a year ago and could be ready for a major run behind Jordan Sibert (16.6 ppg and a team-best 71 triples) while frisky Rhode Island (21-8, 13-5) is the conference’s top defensive team while yielding a mere 59.4 points a game.
The tourney tips off with a pair of so-what out-bracket games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn but there figures to be some wild action from the quarters (Thursday) on – and don’t sleep on lower seeds UMass and St. Bonaventure as they’re both well-coached units.
The Favorite: Dayton
The Dark Horse: UMass
BIG EAST TOURNAMENT – Truth is there isn’t all that much drama to this year’s Big East mini-tourney from Madison Square Garden unless you’re of the mind that top seed Villanova (29-2, 16-2) could cash in big with a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament although it may be tough to unseat the likes of Kentucky, Duke, Virginia and either Wisconsin/Arizona.
Jay Wright’s crew has major ammo and a veteran-laden team starring lefty G Darrun Hilliard II (14.2 ppg and a team-best 66 trifectas) but this team’s at its best when F Daniel Ochefu is gobbling up rebounds and garbage points in the paint.
Both Georgetown and Butler finished regular-season play at 12-and-6 and both can get super-hot from deep although the Hoyas’ D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (63 triples and a 40 percent three-ball shooter) could explode and make John Thompson III’s team ultra-dangerous here.
“Host” St. John’s likely isn’t deep enough to win three games in three days and quarterfinal round foe Providence needs both LaDontae Henton (20.1 ppg) and Kris Dunn (15.5 ppg) to stay hot in order to make hay here.
In case you’re wondering, we don’t think Xavier (19-12, 9-9 and an RPI rank of 37) will make the NCAA Tourney cut unless it wins two games here.
The Favorite: Villanova
The Dark Horse: Providence
THE SEC TOURNAMENT – The beat goes on for Kentucky (31-0, 18-0) as it strives for perfection and be sure that the Wildcats have wrapped up the #1 overall seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament even if John Calipari’s club loses a quarterfinal round game here in Nashville … as if that’s gonna happen!
Okay, so while the UK ‘Cats go for the SEC Tourney crown the race is on to fill out the league’s “dance card” with Arkansas, LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M and Ole Miss all good-to-go for a big tourney bid but can scorching-hot Vanderbilt (19-12, 9-9) deliver up a couple of wins here and make the grade?
Hey, there’s plenty to play for here in “Music City” as Arkansas (RPI rank of 22) could wind up being a top four seed in the NCAAs with a strong showing while both LSU and Georgia gave Kentucky fits in home games this year – the Bayou Bengals lost 71-69 back on Feb. 10th while Georgia blew a nine-point lead with six minutes left in a 72-65 loss to the ‘Cats on March 3rd.
P.S., if there’s any life at all with Florida, Tennessee and/or Alabama then it’s now or never that combined for just 23 SEC Conference wins this year.
The Favorite: Kentucky
The Dark Horse: Vanderbilt
Beginning on Thursday, it’s …
BIG WEST TOURNAMENT – An eight-team field (bottom-feeder Cal-Fullerton didn’t make the cut here) battles it out in sunny Anaheim where UC-Davis (24-5, 14-2 with an RPI rank of 62) looks to star Corey Hawkins (20.6 ppg) to lead the way but keep in mind three other Big West teams won double-digit games in the league including UC-Irvine (11-5) and UCSB (11-5) and the Irvine Anteaters finished second in the conference in scoring defense (62.7 ppg).
Cal-Santa Barbara has its own star in Alan Williams who registered 26 points and 19 boards in last week’s regular-season finale win against Cal Poly.
The Favorite: UC-Davis
The Dark Horse: Long Beach State
AMERICAN ATHLETIC TOURNAMENT – Opening-round action begins in Hartford with the six lowest-seeded teams bucking heads but who would have ever believed defending national champ UConn would be among the AAC’s dregs?
The Huskies (17-13, 10-8) just never did play consistent ball and G Ryan Boatright was asked to do way too much for this 2014-15 team … yes, we know lots of folks believe Kevin Ollie’s club will get on some electric roll here but don’t count us among the believers!
Meanwhile, regular-season champ SMU (24-6, 15-3) did cop last year’s NIT Championship and that was good tourney experience with G Nic Moore (14.4 ppg and a 43 percent shooter from “downtown”) ready/willing/able to lead the Ponies to this mini-tourney title while Tulsa, Cincinnati and Temple all won at least 13 conference games this year and if you believe the “experts” than Tulsa better win at least one game here to cement an NCAA Tourney berth while we believe sagging Memphis (18-13, 10-8 and an RPI rank of 81) needs to get to the championship game here in order to lodge an at-large bid argument.
The Favorite: SMU
The Dark Horse: Temple
SUN BELT TOURNAMENT – This one-bid league never seems to go as planned and so don’t be so quick to pencil in a Georgia State vs. Georgia Southern matchup for this year’s championship game. True, Georgia State (22-9, 15-5) is the lone Sun Belt team with a double-digit RPI rank (70) and Georgia Southern (21-8, 14-6) has a star scorer in G Jelani Hewitt (18.2 ppg) but UL-Monroe (20-11, 14-6) sports the league’s second-best defense (60.2 ppg) and there’s some other folks here who could spoil the all-state-of-Georgia party.
The Favorite: Georgia State
The Dark Horse: UT-Arlington
BIG SKY TOURNAMENT – Eastern Washington and Montana were co-champs with identical 14-and-4 league marks but don’t sleep on those pair of 13-5 teams as both Sacramento State and Northern Arizona are live with Sac State starring the Big Sky’s Player of the Year in G Mikh McKinney (19 ppg and a 43 percent shooter from “3”).
The Favorite: Montana
The Dark Horse: Weber State
NOTE: Stay with us for all the College Basketball Conference Tournament reports all week/weekend long right here at Jim Sez.