Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 22, 2016 at 9:11 AM
HEY, COLLEGE HOOPS FANS - READY FOR SOME "PRE"-MARCH MADNESS? ...
THE NBA NOTEBOOK - TAKING THE POST-TRADE DEADLINE TEMPERATURES OF THE CELTICS & THUNDER
The consensus feeling 'round the College Basketball universe is that there is no "superpower" in the sport anymore.
Heck, we've said it once and we'll say it again that no one in the upper crust of the most recent Associated Press Top 25 poll really scares you although we do take "hats off" to #2 Kansas and #3 Oklahoma for delivering weekend road wins/covers at Kansas State and West Virginia, respectively.
Three cheers, guys!
Still, gotta strong feeling that "March Madness" will really arrive early this year as this final week in February could go out like a proverbial lion - and here' why as we delve into the first three nights this week while checking out the college hardwood:
MONDAY -- #7 Virginia surely has designs on snagging either a #1 or #2 seed in next month's NCAA Tournament but a loss at #11 Miami could dampen those plans and there's folks convinced the Wahoos have yet to get over that recent loss at Duke. Keep in mind the Cavs (21-5, 10-4 ACC) have the country's second-stingiest defense (allowing only 59.5 ppg) but just a few lapses on "D" could cost 'em here, and thus also likely cost 'em a #1 seed for good! This one's a biggie for Tony Bennett's team and remember Virginia bested the 5-point road underdog 'Canes 66-58 back on Jan. 12th as versatile G Malcolm Brogdon led the way with 20 points and C Mike Tobery came off the bench to get 12 points and 7 boards.
TUESDAY - No doubt about it, there's gonna be a real free-for-all for NCAA Tourney berths when it comes to the SEC where we believe we could get as many as eight clubs from this 14-team league and that's why the Vanderbilt at Florida game reeks of a "March Madness" feel. Note that Vandy (16-11, 8-6 SEC) has an unimpressive RPI of 65; Florida (17-10, 8-6 SEC) has a terrific RPI of 30 but the Commodores already beat the Gators once (see 60-59 on Jan. 26th) and so a clean sweep could be a major plus for Vandy, a major bummer for "Go Gator". In case you're wondering, our SEC teams that figure to make the NCAAs include Kentucky, South Carolina and Texas A&M with LSU, Vandy and Florida right now on the inside-looking-out and "bubble teams" Ole Miss, Alabama and Georgia.
Again, we say the most they take is eight!
WEDNESDAY -- Check out #12 Arizona as the Wildcats have streaked their way to a six-game winning streak while entering this mid-week bash at Colorado. Keep in mind Sean Miller's gang (22-5, 10-4 Pac-12) is averaging a hefty 83.7 ppg during this streak that started back on Jan. 30th and there's rumblings now if U of A keeps this up and runs the table through next month's Pac-12 Tournament (that would be seven straight wins added to the current streak) then the Tucson team could be entertaining thoughts about a #1 "Big Dance" seed. Critics, of course, will point out Arizona is just 4-3 SU (straight-up) in conference road games this year but conquer Colorado here and then win the roadie this Saturday at Utah and the 'Cats could go into March with a major buzz.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep rockin'-n-rollin' through this College Basketball and NBA season with loads of winners right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - so go ahead and join the fun and profits today with all the hardwood action and remember the conference tournaments or so-called mini-tournies heat up next week with day-time action all throughout the month of March! We will keep you posted.
THE NBA NOTEBOOK
Know what was really interesting about this past weekend's NBA games? We wanted to see which teams that either made some Trade Deadline swaps - or didn't make any - fared out of the post-All-Star Game starting gate.
BOSTON (33-24) - The fact that Celtics' GM Danny Ainge never did pull the proverbial trigger on a deal despite holding those three 2016 draft choices from other teams (see Brooklyn, Dallas and Minnesota) probably upset this young club which staggered out of the break with last Friday's 111-93 loss at Utah (a pick 'em game) but solid head coach Brad Stevens got the C's back on track with Sunday's resounding 121-101 triumph - a Jim Hurley Network Winner! Now that Boston knows this is the team it is "going to war with" the Celtics should settle in fine and playing near-.600 ball versus fellow Eastern Conference clubs is a plus while trying to secure home-floor advantage in Round I.
OKLAHOMA CITY (40-16) - The Thunder went into the All-Star Game having won 13-of-15 games but faster that you can say Billy Donovan this club is reeling. Go figure ... Okie City's trade deadline pickup of Denver G Randy Foye was supposed to be a strong addition (we gave our Jim Sez blessing to this deal last week when discussing "winners" and "losers") but instead this crew has crashed lately with a 101-98 loss as 8-point home favorites against Indiana last Friday followed by Sunday's ugly 115-92 home loss as 3-point favs against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Note that Foye sported a DNP (did not play) in the loss to the Pacers and then had just two points in 13 game minutes against the Cavs as OKC fell into a 22-point hole after three quarters.
Did the Thunder players - a/k/a F Kevin Durant (26 points in Sunday's lopsided loss) and PG Russell Westbrook (20 points and 11 assists on Sunday) - believe management would give 'em a bigger boost with a better player than Foye? Perhaps, but right now Okie City has some soul-searching to do before playing at Dallas come Wednesday night.
NOTE: Catch our Jim Sez Mid-Week Update in the next column and be reminded that we'll have NFL Draft coverage this week too.