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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, March 16, 2015 at 7:00 PM

A pair of bubble teams square off Tuesday night in Dayton to see who’s NCAA tournament hopes get popped even before the Round of 64 begins. BYU of the West Coast Conference takes on Mississippi of the SEC with a berth Thursday against #6 seed Xavier at stake.

In the recent past, these #11 seed play-in games have launched some Cinderella stories on their own by helping borderline teams get their bearings and confidence. Is either of these teams capable of going deep in a section of the bracket that would also include Baylor before national power Arizona throws up a brick wall in the Sweet 16? Hey, BYU won at Gonzaga…so they’re not afraid of giants.

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about the most appealing of Tuesday’s First Four matchups (game two of a TV doubleheader after Manhattan plays Hampton for the right to lose to Kentucky).


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

BYU: 116.7 per 100 possessions (#9 in the nation)

Ole Miss: 112.9 per 100 possessions (#22 in the nation)

The offensive numbers posted at the website of college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy show these teams relatively even in terms of per-possession offense. BYU is slightly better. It’s the strength of both teams. You never know for sure if Pomeroy is properly adjusting for schedule strength in the slew of non-conference matchups that make up the Big Dance. If you assume a difference in class from the West Coast Conference to the SEC, this category is a wash.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

BYU: 101.1 per 100 possessions (#39 in the nation)

Ole Miss: 100.1 per 100 possessions (#125 in the nation)

But, THIS category isn’t a wash! A huge edge on the defensive side of the ball to BYU. That’s why they’re the betting favorites in Las Vegas right now. And, it’s why most computers had the Cougars well above the Rebels heading into Selection Sunday. BYU was “probably in” by most accounts, why Ole Miss was “probably out,” at least according to the closest followers of the sport. The market has been pricing BYU like a team more representative of a 7-8-9-10 seed, while Ole Miss has been playing at an NIT level.


Pace Ranking

BYU: #6

Ole Miss: #94

Ole Miss is faster than average, while BYU is super-fast. This creates problems for the underdog. Ole Miss likes pushing pace…but that only plays into BYU’s hands. If Ole Miss has to slow things down to thwart BYU, it only takes themselves out of a comfort zone. No mystery at all why the sharps have been betting BYU at the early numbers. They have the better defense, have been in better form lately, and will likely get to play at their preferred pace.


Against the Spread

BYU: 16-17 (16-11 to the Over)

Ole Miss: 16-14-1 (15-12 to the Over)

We included the Over tendencies because both teams will come in with very fresh legs in a game where tempo is going to be likely. The market has mostly been in synch with where these teams perform generally in the big picture.

Early Line: BYU by 3, total of 157

The opener of BYU -1.5 was hit pretty hard right out of the gate. Maybe it will go even higher by tip-off. There’s not much in the recent Ole Miss resume to inspire any takers. They couldn’t get out of the quarterfinals of the SEC tourney.

JIM HURLEY will double and triple-check with his sources before making any final side and/or total recommendations to NETWORK clients. You know he wants to make a splash on Night One of the 2015 Big Dance! You can purchase the final word for Tuesday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. It’s time to get on board!

Back with you Wednesday for another night from Dayton. So unfair that Boise State has to be a ROAD team in a play-in game!

Wednesday: Boise State at Dayton in a battle of #11 seeds

Thursday: Harvard vs. North Carolina in a prime time showcase

Friday: Oklahoma State vs. Oregon in the most exciting evening matchup

Saturday: Best of the later tips in the Round of 32, which could be (barring upsets) Notre Dame vs. the Texas/Butler survivor, Villanova vs. NC State, or Arizona vs. Ohio State!

Sunday: Best of the later tips in Day Two of the Round of 32, which could be Virginia vs. Michigan State, Kansas vs. Wichita State, or Northern Iowa vs. Louisville.

Wow…there’s no way upsets are going to take out ALL of the great possibilities. Be sure you’re with us every day!

Of course, we can really only touch the tip of the iceberg here in the NOTEBOOK. We’ll preview the games you’ll be watching most intently on television. But, the BEST information is going to come directly from the service selections. Get those online or in the office so you can make the most of the 2015 tournament.



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