Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 10:20 AM
THERE'S "MADNESS" ALL AROUND:
WE CHECK OUT THURSDAY'S JAM-PACKED COLLEGE HOOPS MINI-TOURNAMENT MENU
Just how good is this?
The College Basketball Conference Tournaments will have their busiest day/night of 'em all here on Thursday, March 12th with a resounding 51 games on the docket as there are 14 different conferences/leagues in action ... now that qualifies as true "madness".
We've been saying for years that these "mini-tourney" games have their own special magic when you consider an ill-timed loss here or there could crush a team's NCAA Tournament hopes and rest assured there are plenty of "bubble teams" that need to win here on this Thursday in order to either cinch a "Big Dance" bid or at least feel a whole lot better about their chances.
We'll get to a conference-by-conference look at half the leagues in action on this day but first this important reminder ...
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 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 some of what we'll be watching on Thursday in Conference Tournament action ...
BIG 10 - at United Center, Chicago (IL)
There's differing opinions on just how many teams this conference is gonna get in next week's NCAA Tournament as it could be anywhere between six and eight squads gettin' in but be sure that Illinois and Indiana both need to win to stay alive in the NCAA Tourney hunt. The up-and-down Illini tip off the day's action with a noon ET tilt against underdog Michigan and may we remind you that Illinois (19-12, 9-9) has dropped four of its last six games while Indiana (also 19-12, 9-9) is skidding badly down the stretch with eight losses in its last dozen games. Hey, we realize the all-knowing NCAA Tournament Committee folks may not put as much stock into what a team's done in its final 10-or-12 games but we believe it should be a really big factor - and we say Indiana doesn't make it to the "Big Dance" without a win here against Northwestern (6:30 p.m. ET on espn2) and then a win or at least a really close loss to Maryland on Friday.
ACC - at Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro (NC)
We've already had six different teams win in this elaborate Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament but now we'll see if underdogs Florida State, N.C. State and Miami can string together back-to-back victories here while all eyes will be on the second matinee tilt that pits North Carolina against 2-point underdog Louisville - yes, the Tar Heels toyed with 12-point pup Boston College yesterday en route to an 81-63 win that starred G Marcus Paige (17 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds) and now we'll see if Roy Williams' squad can dunk an offensively-challenged 'Ville crew that might want to muck it up here ... hey, did you hear ESPN's Seth Greenberg "calling out" North Carolina in yesterday's studio chit-chats? Remember that Virginia - hosting Florida State at 12 noon ET - is eyeballing a #1 seed in next week's NCAA Tournament and ditto for Duke that battles N.C. State at 7 p.m. ET. Hope for Coach K's sake he has a defense mapped out to stop the Wolfpack's Anthony Barber who rattled home 34 points in last night's 81-70 win/cover versus 3-point dog Pittsburgh.
One last thing ...Can Miami KO a smooth-stroking Notre Dame team that could get as high as a #2 seed in the NCAAs if Mike Brey's crew could happen to win this ACC free-for-all?
The 'Canes (21-11 and very much a bubble bunch) zip into tonight's 9:30 p.m. ET tilt fresh off last night's 59-49 non-cover win against 11-point dog Virginia Tech as Sheldon McClellan's 16 points powered up a sneaky-good Miami squad. Something tells us we're in for at least one upset on this Thursday card in ACC action.
BIG EAST - at Madison Square Garden, New York (NY)
Word is the Big East is "back" at least according to some ticket buyer stories that claim the resurgence of NCAA Tournament-bound St. John's (21-10, 10-8) and the opportunity for super-power Villanova (29-2, 16-2) to possibly claim an NCAA Tourney numero uno seed has made this a hot ducat but on the floor the news is that we'll at least have a pair of dandy quarterfinal round games with the aforementioned Johnnies battling slight dog Providence and keep in mind Steve Lavin's squad swept the regular-season series with a commanding 83-70 triumph at Providence on Jan. 14th and a 75-66 home win on Jan. 31st. The Friars may need a 30-point game here from lefty LaDontae Henton to get "mission accomplished" here while the night-time session offers a toss-up tilt between Xavier (19-12, 9-9) against Butler. Hey, the X-men need to win here and maybe even snag a semifinal win too in order to feel good about the NCAAs but right now if we broke it down we'd say the following about NCAA Tourney seeds: Villanova's a #2; Georgetown's a #4; Butler's a #5; Providence and St. John's are both #8 seeds. Finally, sayonara to Seton Hall as the Pirates "mailed it in" in last night's 78-56 loss versus 1-point fav Marquette - time to gut that whole program!
ATLANTIC-10 - at Barclays Center, Brooklyn (NY)
Gotta believe that there will be more than a few sweaty palms this week in the great borough of Brooklyn 'cause the likes of Rhode Island (21 wins but an RPI rank of 71) and Richmond (19 wins but an RPI rank of 56) can't feel real secure just yet about an NCAA Tournament berth as both may need to win their Friday games to cinch a bid while today's card features an enigmatic VCU team that is 22-9 with an RPI rank of 21 but the Rams have lost six of their last 11 games and right now might wind up being a #9 or #10 seed in the NCAAs after looking like a #4 or #5 seed just weeks ago. VCU gets Fordham here in a 2:30 p.m. ET tilt after the Bronx gang kayoed 2.5-point fav George Mason last night behind Christian Sengfelder's season-high 27 points.
BIG 12 - at Sprint Center, Kansas City (Mo)
The Thursday card here is a real doozy with the matinee tilts featuring West Virginia vs. Baylor and TCU vs. Kansas and the night-time showdown pitting Iowa State vs. Texas and more "Bedlam" as Oklahoma battles Oklahoma State. Hey, don't be truly surprised if two or three of the lower seeds won! Kansas comes off winning the league title for a ridiculous 11th consecutive year but the Jayhawks are a tad short-handed these days with F Perry Ellis (knee) hurting and likely to sit out this mini-tourney while soph G Brannen Greene (just served one-game suspension) and Cliff Alexander (NCAA inquiry) could miss this tourney too. Last night Texas (20-12) improved its NCAA Tourney hopes with a 65-53 win/cover against 11 ½-point underdog Texas Tech but will we see more magic from Longhorns' guards Isaiah Taylor and Kendal Yancy who combined for 25 points, 12 assists and only 2 turnovers? Texas will absolutely wrap up a Big Dance berth with a win against favored Iowa State (the Cyclones beat Texas by 3 and 8 points in regular-season action).
SEC TOURNAMENT - at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville (TN)
Two major questions here ...Will Kentucky (31-0, 18-0) be overpriced items on their way to an inevitable mini-tourney crown here - keep in mind John Calipari's Wildcats have covered six of their last seven games after we "tweaked" them about not covering a batch of early February games - and what teams playing in these second-round Thursday games might make a run to be Kentucky's opponent in the SEC Championship Game? Vanderbilt (19-12, 9-9) is the hottest thing going in the SEC outside of the UK 'Cats and could it be that a win against Tennessee here in second-round action could propel the Commodores to even bigger/better things ahead? And who would have given you odds at season's start that Alabama vs. Florida would be a knockout game in 2nd-round action ... how the mighty have fallen!
PAC-12 TOURNAMENT - MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas (NV)
There's major questions here with Stanford (18-12, 9-9) and UCLA (19-12, 11-7) both considered "iffy" for the NCAA Tournament but we'll say this: The Bruins - who had a first-round bye into Thursday's game against cross-city rival USC - will be a cinch at-large squad in the NCAAs with a win here while Stanford went into Wednesday's late-night tilt against Washington needing at least two wins in this mini-tourney. Arizona is listed as a 17-point fav against lowly Cal but the other afternoon matchup - that's the aforementioned USC vs. UCLA tilt - could be a war as the Trojans lost by double digits in their two regular-season games against UCLA and they'll be playing with "house money" here. The night-time session includes Colorado versus Oregon and can we remind you the OU Ducks copped nine wins in their final 11 regular-season games including a 73-60 home triumph over these Buffs.
Hey, enough chatting ... let's play ball on this very busy Thursday!
NOTE: Stay with us for all the College Basketball Conference Tournament reports all week/weekend long right here at Jim Sez.