Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, December 24, 2015 at 12:00 AM
HO-HO-HO ...WE'RE AT IT AGAIN DURING THE HOLIDAYS AS IT'S TIME TO REALLY STUFF YOUR STOCKING WITH LOTS OF GOODIES
THERE'S NBA ACTION ON CHRISTMAS DAY PLUS WE CHECK OUT THREE OF SATURDAY'S BIG BOWL GAMES TOO!
A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our devoted Jim Sez fans ... now let's go ahead and rock your day with plenty of great NBA/NCAA Football.
Hey, what would Christmas Day be without a full slate of NBA action and so let's check in on the Five (5) games on the hardwood scheduled for Dec. 25th (note all records below are thru Tuesday's games):
NEW ORLEANS (8-19) at MIAMI (16-11) - 12:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let's face it ... the Heat has scratched-and-clawed its way to second place in the NBA's Eastern Conference with the 22nd-ranked scoring offense but the league's second-best defense and so the key here is lots of bodies on New Orleans stud F Anthony Davis with C Hassan Whiteside looking for his share of rejects in the paint. Miami G Dwyane Wade (team-leading 18.5 ppg) will be the most unafraid dude on the floor here and if this one is tight (the early-bird line has Miami favored by just 2 points) than Mr. Wade will decide matters in South Beach.
CHICAGO (15-11) at OKLAHOMA CITY (19-9) - 2:35 p.m. ET, ABC
Could it be that the Okie City Thunder might be the class of the NBA's Western Conference come the spring of 2016? Don't laugh, we all know Golden State is ruling the roost again one year after copping their first championship in 40 years but this OKC gang entered Wednesday's game at the Los Angeles Lakers having won eight of its last 10 games with the one-two punch of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook averaging 52 points between 'em ... and please no talk about the Bulls players saying first-year head coach Fred Hoiberg needs to be "tougher" after they all bellyached when Tom Thibodeaux was "too tough".
CLEVELAND (18-7) at GOLDEN STATE (26-1) -- 5:05 p.m. ET, ABC
The Game of the Year is finally here - yes, it's a shame that G-State couldn't be unbeaten while heading in (we're still mad at you, Milwaukee Bucks!) - but the $64,000 question is can guards Stephen Curry (31.8 ppg) and Klay Thompson carry the holiday mail mainly on their own with role players Harrison Barnes (ankle) and Andrew Bogut (back) both hurting at last check? Let's see if the Cavs have "learned" anything after losing last year's NBA Finals in six games as LeBron James (26.5 ppg and 6.4 apg) may need to take 30 shots here or we could see "The King" dishing off plenty for three-point tries by G Matthew Dellavedova (46.1 percent 3-point shooter) ... perhaps match fire-with-fire here, if you will. One X-factor we'll be watching: Can Cleveland PG Kyrie Irving - who just made his return from kneecap surgery last weekend - give 'em 25-or-so minutes or will the Cavs merely use 'em in spurts? Note that the early-bird price tag for this clash is the Warriors minus 6 points.
SAN ANTONIO (24-5) at HOUSTON (15-14) - 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
Can you imagine playing .828 ball and yet hardly anyone's taking notice? The San Antonio Spurs - never exactly the people's choice or even the media's favorite franchise - have been rolling along this year in the shadows of the above-mentioned GS Warriors but Gregg Popovich's gang sported a six-game winning streak upon entering Wednesday's game with Minnesota and don't look now but F Kawhi Leonard (21 ppg) is a full-fledged superstar and one of the league's top-10 players. If Leonard is given room to maneuver in/around the medium-range jump-shot area, than he could have a Christmas feast against the defensively-challenged Rockets.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (16-13) at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (5-23) - 10:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
The tinsel-town hoop wars are nothing to write home about anymore - Kobe Bryant is playing out the string (when he is playing) for the woeful Lakers while the 11.5-point favored Clippers are sure to flex their muscles here with the tag-team of PG Chris Paul (9 apg)-to-F Blake Griffin (23.9 ppg) ready/willing/able to throw down in the holiday's final game of the night. Billy Crystal will be watching, will you?
Get all the NBA Christmas Day/Night games plus all the College Football Bowl Games and the NFL Week 16 games too when you check with us every day right here at Jim Hurley's Network. And, of course, make sure you're all aboard for all the NBA and College Basketball hardwood action this week/weekend action either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
THE COLLEGE BOWL REPORT
Here's a look at three bowl games slated for Saturday, Dec. 26th (we'll preview the other three Saturday bowls in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez):
ST. PETERSBURG BOWL - at St. Petersburg, FL
CONNECTICUT (6-6) vs. MARSHALL (9-3) - 11 a.m. ET, ESPN
So far this bowl season there's been lots and lots of points - but conventional wisdom says that won't necessarily be the case here as the totals price is a mere 44 points and the simple combination of UConn having a solid defense and a shabby offense (ranked 115th in FBS play) could steer this one into a 20-17 type affair. No doubt that the Connecticut kids are psyched to be here - it is the school's first bowl berth since that 2010 Fiesta Bowl - and second-year coach Bob Diaco is counting on CB Jamar Summers (7 INTs this year) to gum up the passing works of Marshall's freshman slinger Chase Litton (2,387 yards passing with 22 TDs and 7 INTs). Hey, rise and shine as this one - as you can see - has a morning start time. Pass the corn flakes, bub!
Current Line: Marshall (- 4.5) and 44.5 points
Spread Notes - Connecticut is 5-7 ATS (against the spread) overall this year and the Huskies are a dreadful 8-18-1 vig-wise as underdog sides since the start of the 2011 season. Meanwhile, Marshall is 7-5 against the odds this '15 season and a sizzling 4-and-oh spreadwise in bowls since 2009.
SUN BOWL - at El Paso, TX
MIAMI (8-4) vs. WASHINGTON STATE (8-4) - 2 p.m. ET, CBS
Talk about your winning bowl droughts! The Miami Hurricanes have - believe it or not - lost their last five consecutive bowl games with the last win coming in 2006 (beat Nevada 21-20 in the MPC Computers Bowl) while the Washington State Cougars have not won a bowl bash since a 28-20 triumph over Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl. If the slightly-favored Coogs are gonna cash here, than they need star QB Luke Falk (4,266 yards passing with 36 TDs and 8 INTs) to stay in one piece after he was kayoed in a late-year game against Colorado with a head injury and then forced to miss the following week's Apple Cup Game against Washington. Falk leads the nation's numero uno passing offense while averaging a haughty 387.8 yards a game but top targets WRs Gabe Marks (99 catches and 14 TDs) and Dom Williams (73 catches and 11 scores) must shake free against a speedy Miami secondary that needs a fierce pass rush here. Miami QB Brad Kaaya (3,019 yards passing with 15 TDs and 4 INTs) had his own share of injury woes this year - now Kaaya figures to throw off Wazzau with lots of help from dynamite RB Joe Yearby (939 yards rushing and 6 TDs).
The Mark Richt Era will begin in Miami once this game's over - but can the 'Canes finally win one of these bowl games?
Current Line: Washington State (- 2.5) and 62 points
Spread Notes - Washington State's 9-3 ATS this year and overall the Cougars are 6-1 spreadwise against the seven bowl-bound teams they faced this season. Miami is a better-than-you-think 7-5 against the Las Vegas price tags but the Hurricanes enter this bash having failed to cover five of their last six bowls dating back to 2005.
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL - at Dallas, TX
WASHINGTON (6-6) vs. SOUTHERN MISS (9-4) - 2:20 p.m. ET, ESPN
The 2015 Washington Huskies were a real start-and-stop show this year - now Chris Petersen's squad has a shot here to win three straight games for the first time this season and to get "mission accomplished" gotta expect freshmen QB Jake Browning (2,671 yards passing with 16 TDs and 10 INTs) and RB Myles Gaskin (1,121 yards rushing with 10 TDs) to pile up the yards/points against a Southern Miss stop unit that surrendered a grand total of 100 points in its final three games. Maybe USM Golden Eagles' boss Todd Monken was right when he claimed his team ran out of gas in the second half of that 45-28 Conference USA Championship Game loss at 7-point fav Western Kentucky - now the TD-plus pups must get RBs Jalen Richard (1,098 yards rushing and 14 TDs) and Ito Smith (1,088 yards rushing and 8 scores) to be pumping out big gainers against a Washington defense that has held seven opponents to 17 points or less. Note Southern Miss is back in the bowl wars after going 4-32 SU (straight-up) between 2012-14 - let's see if QB Nick Mullens (3 INTs vs. Western Kentucky) can lead the nation's 12th-best passing attack to the day-after-Christmas shocker in this Lone Star State duel.
Current Line: Washington (- 9) and 55 points
Spread Notes - Washington is 7-5 ATS this season and that includes pointspread covers against bowl teams Boise State, Utah State, USC, Arizona and rival Washington State. Take note that the UW Huskies are 10-5 ATS as betting favorites since late 2013. Southern Miss is a tantalizingly good 10-3 against the odds this year and that features a perfect 4-0 spread log against non-conference foes.
NOTE: There's more College Bowl action in the next Jim Sez plus a couple of NFL Week 16 previews too!