Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, March 21, 2016 at 10:08 AM
THE NCAA TOURNAMENT - JIM SEZ SWEET 16 TEAM PROFILES
So, the 68-team NCAA Tournament field has been whittled down to the Sweet 16 - but whatta ride to get here!
All four #1 seeds are still standing, there's only a pair of #2 seeds still left, a pair of #3's, two number 4's and there are two double-digit seeds around and they just happen to be playing one another.
And, in case nobody else told 'ya, NCAA Tournament Betting Favorites are a collective 28-23-0 ATS (against the spread) with one pick 'em game tossed into the mix ... and you thought all we had were first-weekend upsets, eh? Now, here's what is straight ahead on the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 menu with our team-by-team profiles below:
On Thursday, it's ...
SOUTH (at Louisville) - Maryland vs. Kansas; Miami vs. Villanova
WEST (at Anaheim) - Duke vs. Oregon; Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
On Friday, it's ...
EAST (at Philadelphia) - Indiana vs. North Carolina; Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame
MIDWEST (at Chicago) - Iowa State vs. Virginia; Gonzaga vs. Syracuse
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 ain't gonna stop anytime soon! There's time to still get with America's #1 Handicapper for The Network March Madness Package that features all of the remaining NCAA Tournament Games beginning with the Sweet 16 tilts and keep in mind the Jim Hurley Network also gets you the other post-season tournaments such as the NIT, CBI and CIT Tournies too.
Get it either right here online aor at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - plus don't forget we're banging out lots of NBA Winners too!
#1 KANSAS (32-4) - The Jayhawks covered 24.5- and 7.5-point spreads last week in easy tourney wins against Austin Peay and UConn ... but life's about to get more challenging here, one would think. Just know that when Bill Self's crew needed a jolt against UConn, it was Wayne Selden Jr. (game-high 22 points) that buried back-to-back big shots ... and there's more where that came from! Kansas G Devonte' Graham has yet to really put his stamp on the tournament, but he could do so this weekend.
#2 VILLANOVA (31-5) - Talk about coming off a "perfect game" (one of our top plays on a 4-0 Sunday!) as Jay Wright's crew smeared 6-point pup Iowa 87-68 in the Round of 32 and it wasn't never that close but the 'Cats about ready to discover that Miami plays stickier defense than those lazy Hawkeyes ... have to love fact 'Nova had 23 assists on 32 made FGs in that second-round win plus C Daniel Ochefu (11 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and 3 steals versus Iowa) all the way back from that recent ankle injury.
#3 MIAMI (27-7) - Hats off to the Hurricanes for showing major gumption after giving up every bit of that 21-point lead in last Saturday's 65-57 win against 1.5-point favorite Wichita State (we told you nobody's been respecting this mighty Miami team!) but everyone knows by now that C Tonye Jekiri must stay on the floor and be the back-line defensive stopper plus PG Angel Rodriguez (28 points but 7 turnovers versus the Shockers) can't shy away from the spotlight at any point here.
#5 MARYLAND (27-8) - The Terrapins reeled off a 14-0 scoring spritz to help down pesky Hawaii 73-60 last Sunday and who knew that Duke castoff Rasheed Sulaimon (14 big points) would be the "Robin" to Melo Trimble's "Batman (see 24 points) ... any "W's" from here on in qualifies as "gravy".
#1 OREGON (30-6) - Had to know whether or not the Ducks had the "stomach" for close tourney games and they showed us something by outscoring St. Joe's 18-6 at game's end to snag 69-64 non-cover win (a Jim Hurley Network winner on St. Joe's!) and must admit Dana Altman's guys didn't get a very favorable whistle. Forward Dillon Brooks (25 points) could wind up being the ultimate star out West.
#2 OKLAHOMA (27-7) - No chance in the world that anyone other than Buddy "Buckets" Hield will win this year's Wooden Award but that fall-off-your-seat 29-point second half en route to 36-point performance against VCU last Sunday started reminding us old folks of a 1988 Danny Manning ... right?
#3 TEXAS A&M (28-8) - Loved the fact Aggies boss Billy Kennedy couldn't remember a darn thing about that epic last-minute comeback against Northern Iowa last Sunday in that 92-88 2-OT classic as SEC's lone survivor made up 12 points in final 44 seconds of regulation but bottom line is red-hot pressure on the ball worked wonders and now it might not be a bad idea to press/trap Oklahoma's guards in an effort to keep the ball from a standstill shooting Hield.
#4 DUKE (25-10) - Okay, so it's no secret that the Blue Devils struggled at times in those early-round wins against UNC-Wilmington and Yale but whether it's G Grayson Allen (game-best 29 points versus the Yalies) hitting a jumper or frosh F Brandon Ingram (25 points vs. Yale) laying up a finger roll or C Marshall Plumlee (big second half vs. Wilmington) taking charge inside the huddle and out, the key is Mike Krzyzewski's squad must get something from the supporting cast (just to bench points against Yale ... ugh!).
#1 NORTH CAROLINA (30-6) - Three cheers for the Tar Heels who enter the Sweet 16 off back-to-back covers as twin-digit betting favorites against Florida Gulf Coast and Providence, respectively, and 'ya never know when that scoring surge is gonna come as it hit the PC Friars a few minutes into the second half of last Saturday's 85-66 win. Brice Johnson (21 points, 10 rebs against Providence) still must attempt more than nine FGs in a full game though.
#5 INDIANA (27-7) - Nothing like having to beat Kentucky and North Carolina back-to-back in an NCAA Tournament ... and then you're still not even in the Final Four! Okay, so Tom Crean's club is great at stemming the momentum of the other guy with PG Yogi Ferrell (18 points and just one turnover in 37 minutes in 73-67 win against the 'Cats) the unabashed leader but is Indy's size its detriment here against the Heels?
#6 NOTRE DAME (23-11) - One thing about the ND Irish is they thoroughly entertain come tourney time as those first-weekend wins against Michigan and Stephen F. Austin were doozies and don't sleep on board-banger Zach Auguste (16 points and 15 boards versus SFA) who was the guy that kept last-second shot alive in the first place!
#7 WISCONSIN (22-12) - Now that Badgers' G Bronson Koenig is the state's biggest star (move over Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers), you wonder what he and Greg Gard's gang will do for an encore after stunning 66-63 last-second win against Xavier. Hey, it's time for F Nigel Hayes (2-of-10 versus X-men) to shake a leg.
#1 VIRGINIA (28-7) - Okay, so maybe the Wahoos do have enough "O" to get to the Final Four as snazzy 29-of-52 FG game against Butler was sweet as G Malcolm Brogdon (22 points and just 2 turnovers in 39 minutes of play) shined and Tony Bennett's team will be rather prohibitive favorites all weekend long.
#4 IOWA STATE (23-11) - Folks, we always keep a close eye on those power conference teams that have seniors and may have underachieved a bit in regular-season play and so watch out for these Cyclones who pounded out wins/covers against Iona and Little Rock in the tourney and have man-among-boys F Georges Niang (28 points/6 rebs against The Rock).
#10 SYRACUSE (21-13) - Okay, so no real reason to sit here after the fact and tell you we STILL didn't think the Orange deserved an at-large bid into this tourney but major scoring runs in the wins against Dayton and an exposed Middle Tennessee team showed Jim Boehim can still coach. Glad to see streaky Michael Gbinije (23 points vs. MTSU) finally got a wake-up call!
#11 GONZAGA (28-7) - We'll go out on a limb and say nobody played better ball in the first weekend of this tourney than these Zags who wound up beating Seton Hall and Utah by a combined 39 points and that one-two front-line punch of Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis (36 combined points vs. Utah) got some major aid from G Eric McClellan (22 points last Saturday night).
NOTE: Catch our NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Game Previews in the next couple of editions of Jim Sez and don't forget we'll also include our NCAA Tournament Pointspread Breakdown Chart in Wednesday's column, so don't miss out!