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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 12:00 AM


Now, this is what these opening Thursday/Friday games in the NCAA Tournament should be all about:
There are 12 – count ‘em, 12 – games being played that pit a power conference team (Thursday’s NCAA Tournament menu had 11 such matchups) against a non-power conference team and you can rest assured that they’ll be at least a couple of “little guys” that snag wins here with (according to the public) the popular upset picks including #12 Buffalo against #5 West Virginia in Columbus and #10 Davidson against #7 Iowa in Seattle.

Okay, so who’s to say that Buffalo and/or Davidson will deliver a “second-round” KO but pore over all the NCAA Tournament results in recent years and there’s always a giant-killer or two among the crowd on this opening Thursday/Friday … should #2 Kansas be scared in its game against #15 New Mexico State or how about #4 Louisville (nearly beaten by Manhattan last year) in its game against #13 seed Cal-Irvine?

On this first day of spring, you can fully expect somebody from the mid-major or smaller conferences to spring a major upset – count on it!

And now hear this …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have been steamrolling their way through the month of March with loads of College Basketball winners and it’s not gonna stop anytime soon!

Get with America’s #1 Handicapper for The Network March Madness Package that features all of the NCAA Tournament Games and also get the other post-season tournaments such as the NIT, CBI and CIT Tournies too.

Get it either right here online at 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.
Lots of day-time action and so don’t “sleep in” – make sure you’re in the winner’s circle for all the day and night games!

Now let’s check out some Friday action in the NCAA Tournament with a site-by-site look:

At Time Warner Cable Arena – Charlotte, NC
Let’s focus for a moment here on two power conference underdogs at this site:
Georgia actually heads into this NCAA Tourney with five SU (straight-up) wins in its last seven games and the Bulldogs are a very solid 18-11-2 ATS (against the spread) overall this season. So, why does it seem that nobody’s giving Mark Fox’s squad a fighting chance here against 5 ½-point favorite Michigan State?

The Dawgs did reel off six- and five-game winning streaks this 2014-15 season and might catch Sparty with its chin down following that hard-to-believe overtime loss to Wisconsin last Sunday in the Big 10 Championship Game.
Meanwhile, there’s Big East member St. John’s:

The Red Storm staggered badly in its final two games – a 37-point loss at Villanova followed by a Big East Tournament loss by 17 points versus Providence -- and now more salt in the wound here with C Chris Opekpa suspended for two weeks because of a positive test for marijuana.

Either SJU head coach Steve Lavin’s club is gonna rise up and play an “A game” with its four key seniors starring Sir’ Dominic Pointer (13.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg) or it’s gonna be killed on the glass by a fierce San Diego State team with something to prove after losing last weekend’s Mountain West Conference Tournament championship game against 6-point underdog Wyoming.

In case you’re wondering, San Diego State is just 14-17-1 ATS this season – not as good as one might have thought, right?

Here’s the games in Charlotte in chronological order with regional seeds and team records included:
#10 Georgia (21-11) vs. #7 Michigan State (23-11), 12:40 p.m. ET
#15 Belmont (22-10) vs. #2 Virginia (29-3), approximately 3:10 p.m. ET
#16 Robert Morris (20-14) vs. #1 Duke (29-4), 7:10 p.m. ET
#9 St. John’s (21-11) vs. #8 San Diego State (26-8), approximately 9:40 p.m. ET

At Nationwide Arena – Columbus, OH
Gotta admit we had this one wrong – we thought the NCAA Tournament Committee folks were going to place a couple of Big 10 teams into this eight-team bracket field with the likes of Michigan State and/or Iowa making perfect sense but instead only first-year Big 10 member Maryland will be playing in “Buckeye-land” and so we’ll see if they generate any neutral-floor fan support here (we say no!).

One underlying theme here is “short numbers” when it comes to the games between West Virginia (- 4.5) against Buffalo and aforementioned Maryland (-4.5) against Valpo – are the smart folks in Las Vegas tempting you to lay the smallish prices here or might the Buffalo Bulls (they’ve covered six of their last eight outings) and the Valpo Crusaders (they’ve won 10 of their last 11 games SU) be as good as advertised in these prices?

Note that Valpo is 17-10-1 ATS this year, good stuff!

Here’s the games in Columbus in chronological order with regional seeds and team records included:
#12 Buffalo (23-9) vs. #5 West Virginia (23-9), 2:10 p.m. ET
#13 Valparaiso (28-5) vs. #4 Maryland (27-6), approximately 4:40 p.m. ET
#14 Albany (24-8) vs. #3 Oklahoma (22-10), 7:25 p.m. ET
#11 Dayton (26-8) vs. #6 Providence (22-11), approximately 9:55 p.m. ET

At CenturyLink Arena – Omaha, NE
Is this going to be a case where everyone’s waiting for a Kansas vs. Wichita State matchup come Sunday … and then it never happens?
Okay, so second-seeded Kansas is not supposed to sweat in this opening-round game against New Mexico State but keep in mind the Jayhawks have failed to cover seven of their last nine games while often playing to the level of the competition and Bill Self’s crew is laying 10.5 points here (down from the opening price of 11.5).

Meanwhile, Wichita State – a 5.5-point betting favorite against Indiana – may be chomping at the bit to get at Rock/Chalk/Jayhawk but keep in mind the Shockers have not played a game since March 7th (the 65-62 loss to 8.5-point dog Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinal round) and so it might take ‘em a half or so to “get their legs”.
Two other quickie pointspread notes here:

Wisconsin is a near three-TD betting fav against a Coastal Carolina club that’s 10-3 ATS in its last 13 games;
And Oregon’s covered seven of its last eight games overall while heading into this opening-round tilt against Oklahoma State. Note the Ducks opened as a 1-point dog but now are listed as a 1 ½-point favorite for this Friday tilt.

Here’s the games in Omaha in chronological order with regional seeds and team records included:
#15 New Mexico State (23-10) vs. #2 Kansas (26-8), 12:15 p.m. ET
#10 Indiana (20-13) vs. #7 Wichita State (28-4), approximately 2:45 p.m. ET
#9 Oklahoma State (18-13) vs. #8 Oregon (25-9), 6:50 p.m. ET
#16 Coastal Carolina (24-9) vs. #1 Wisconsin (31-3), approximately 9:20 p.m. ET

At Key Arena – Seattle, WA
We’re about to find out whether the Northern Iowa Panthers – yes, a 30-win team this year – may have been “under-seeded” at #5 here in this tournament as NIU gets challenged by athletic Wyoming and then there could well be a Sunday game against Louisville. Note that Northern Iowa is an electric 19-9-3 against the odds this year and date back the past 19 games and you’ll find Ben Jacobsen’s crew is 13-3-3 ATS during this time frame.

On the other side of this bracket, all eyes are on another non-power conference team -- #2 Gonzaga.
Mark Few’s team is a whopping 18-point fav against North Dakota State and consider the ‘Zags rank 9th in Division 1 ball in scoring offense (79.1 ppg) and managed to go a decent 16-13-1 ATS even though they were laying hefty prices in several games. Note that North Dakota State’s covered its last three consecutive games while heading into NCAA Tourney play but the Bison rank just 115th nationally while averaging just 64.5 ppg.

In case you were wondering, Louisville – an 8-point favorite versus UC-Irvine – is a composite 72-41 SU all-time in NCAA Tournament games and that includes a snazzy 12-2 SU mark in its last 14 “Big Dance” games with both tourney losses – last year and in 2012 – against archrival Kentucky. Hmmm.

Here’s the games in Seattle in chronological order with regional seeds and team records included:
#12 Wyoming (25-9) vs. #5 Northern Iowa (30-3), 1:40 p.m. ET
#13 UC-Irvine (21-12) vs. #4 Louisville (24-8), approximately 4:10 p.m. ET
#10 Davidson (24-7) vs. #7 Iowa (21-11), 7:20 p.m. ET
#15 North Dakota State (23-9) vs. #2 Gonzaga (32-2), approximately 9:50 p.m. ET


Note: Get more NCAA Tournament Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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