Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 10:56 AM
SUPER BOWL 50 NOW JUST DAYS AWAY - WE BRING YOU GAME-DAY "X FACTOR" PLAYERS/CONDITIONS AND MORE
THE COLLEGE B-BALL MID-WEEK UPDATE HERE'S OUR #1 AND #2 NCAA TOURNEY SEEDS IF THE "BIG DANCE" WAS STARTING TODAY
If you didn't know any better, you might believe there's only a handful of "important players" in Sunday's Super Bowl 50 showdown in scenic Santa Clara between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos but - egads - there's more to this season-ending monster tilt than just Carolina QB Cam Newton, Denver slinger Peyton Manning and a couple of other dudes!
In fact, you can pick-and-choose who are the most important players in this SB 50 game aside from Newton and Manning and we've been saying for the past 10 days that this still-underrated Panthers' offensive line may be the single-biggest unit here as this blocking wall may well tell the tale of who wins ... and so may we officially introduce to you LT Michael Oher, LG Andrew Norvell, C Ryan Kalil, RG Trai Turner and RT Mike Remmers.
On the flip side, the Broncos' pass rushing OLBs Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware are getting plenty of ink but may we "nominate" the likes of SS T.J. Ward and FS Darian Stewart as two guys who must lay the wood to Carolina's no-name receiving corps - if Carolina gets a few flip-the-field plays from WRs Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey "Philly" Brown and aren't forced to "pay for it" than it could be really a long day/night for the AFC champion Broncos.
Meanwhile, you might want to ask, what are some of the real "X Factors" here while heading into Super Bowl 50?
Let's give you a player from each team:
Carolina's X-Factor will be DT Star Lotulelei who is the jam-the-works player along the defensive line for the NFC champion Panthers - hey, if Manning wants/needs an extra second to set-and-throw, than the Broncos' O-line better keep Lotulelei at bay and same holds true if the smallish Denver running backs wish to make any hay rushing between the guards;
Denver's X-Factor is RB Ronnie Hillman who has been on the silent side this post-season but he needs to catch a few Manning swing passes and make something happen - as we suggested in the early stages of forecasting this game, Hillman could be a real stat-sheet stuffer if he can catch some dink-and-dunk passes away from the likes of star LBs Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis.
Finally, don't discount the weather: Okay, so reports are we're looking at 70 degrees and sunny but in case the winds pick up - and when these teams landed last Sunday night there were 25-to-30 mph winds - than Manning could be impacted in a more negative manner. Those Newton "fastballs" are not gonna be deterred by any double-digit wind currents.
Jim Hurley will have the Sides & Totals Winners of Super Bowl 50 when you check with us on game-day morning this Sunday plus go ahead and continue to pile up the profits all this week with loads of NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - go ahead and score big today!
THE COLLEGE B-BALL MID-WEEK REPORT
Maybe you've been hearing the "conventional wisdom" out there that claims there is no "superpower" in College Basketball this year ... we'd agree especially when watching annual national championship contenders Duke, Arizona and Kentucky all having taken some steps back during the course of this 2015-16 season.
And, as you would expect, none of the above would be getting fitted with NCAA Tournament #1 or #2 seeds anytime soon but we will take some time in today's Jim Sez column to show some love - and maybe create a bit of controversy too (we love doing that!) - when it comes to naming the top seeds if the NCAA Tournament was to begin today ... see if y'all agree:
THE #1 SEEDS
OKLAHOMA (18-2, 6-2 Big 12) - It's not a bad combination, if you give it some thought: The OU Sooners have the best player in the land in G Buddy Hield (26.2 ppg) and one of the top three- or four-best sideline coaches around in Lon Kruger. Throw in the fact Oklahoma's sharpening its fangs by playing night-in and night-out in the best league in the land and - presto - you've got the numero uno seed in the country as things fall now.
OREGON (18-4, 7-2 Pac-12) - The RPI ranking says the Ducks are #3 in the land behind only Oklahoma and Villanova but we've only put the "Boomer Sooners" ahead of the green-and-gold in these early February own seedings. Classy coach Dana Altman has Oregon flying high with seven wins in its last eight games and - check it out - the Ducks enter Thursday's home game against Colorado with four different players averaging 13 ppg or more including three-point threat Tyler Dorsey (he's shooting nearly 44 percent from beyond the arc). Why do the polls generally place Oregon at #16 or #17 ... we don't get it!
MARYLAND (19-3, 8-2 Big 10) - Go ahead and argue all you want regarding who's the best team in the Big 10 but right now our money is on these Terrapins who sport a top 20 national defense (allowing 64.1 ppg) and have won seven of their last nine games since New Year's Day (with the two setbacks happening at Michigan and then at Michigan State). It doesn't hurt that the league's top marquee player - Melo Trimble (14.5 ppg) - plays for this Maryland gang.
VILLANOVA (18-3, 8-1 Big East) - Gonna admit that we've had a slight change-of-heart when it comes to these 'Nova Wildcats ... at first we didn't want to give 'em much love just because they were chewing up a watered-down Big East but Jay Wright's guys are for real and there may be enough "supporting cast" characters on hand here to allow this Philly school a long run in this year's tourney. Raise your hand if you think frosh Mikal Bridges could be a scene-stealer in March!
THE #2 SEEDS
LOUISVILLE (18-4, 7-2 ACC) - The 71-65 win this past Monday Night over North Carolina elevated the U of L Cardinals to the top of the #2 seeds here even though most RPI rankings have the 'Ville somewhere in the #25 range. There's better depth on hand than in recent years for head coach Rick Pitino and we're going to make the assumption that Louisville will get better throughout the rest of February and into March ... they usually do!
KANSAS (17-4, 5-3 Big 12) - No doubt that triple-OT win against Oklahoma back in early January stands out as the top game in this here-and-now campaign and what about saying Kansas' 90-84 OT win against Kentucky last weekend might well be the second-best game played this year. The war zone that is the Big 12 - in our opinion - pushes the Jayhawks to the #2 seed line and ahead of a North Carolina team with a better record.
NORTH CAROLINA (19-3, 8-1 ACC) - The Tar Heels have all the components to make it to this year's Final Four in Houston but there are times the ball-handling could be better and everyone knows the 3-point shooting (just 30 percent from beyond the arc) is wobbly. Head coach Roy Williams' team runs the floor well but sometimes finding the "right" shooter is an issue.
IOWA (17-4, 8-1 Big 10) - Let's face it, those back-to-back November losses to Dayton and Notre Dame are a long time ago (and both the Flyers and Fighting Irish are rock-solid teams) and the lone Big 10 loss happened at Maryland just last week and we have the Terps up above as one of our Jim Sez #1 seeds. In other words, the Hawkeyes get high marks for losing just once so far in league play and Fran McCaffery's club always puts the pressure on opponents with this high-scoring attack.
Note right outside the #1 and #2 seed lines is ...
TEXAS A&M (18-3, 7-1 SEC) - Maybe there are folks in/around the Southeastern Conference waiting for the other shoe to drop with this Aggies team ... but while they're waiting for the rest of the league to catch up to 'em we'll place A&M as the best of the non-#1 and #2 seeds here and we remind you the Aggies rank first in the SEC in defense (allowing 64.1 ppg) while heading into Thursday's game at Vanderbilt.
NOTE: Catch more Super Bowl 50 News/Notes in the next Jim Sez and don't forget we'll bring you our in-depth and very comprehensive Super Bowl 50 Preview later this week plus there's lots of NCAA Basketball and NBA Updates every day from this point forward here in these web pages, so don't dare miss out!