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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, April 1, 2016 at 9:18 AM


Let us ask you the following three-pronged question: Is the best player in the land gonna win this year's college basketball national championship? Or the best team gonna win it all? Or neither?

Ahh, that's what everyone wants to know as we head into Saturday's epic Final Four in the great Lone Star State ...

The best player in the land - that's Oklahoma senior shiny star Buddy Hield -- is averaging a haughty 29.3 ppg in this year's NCAA Tournament and there's a growing belief that he can carry the Sooners over the threshold and hand the school its first-ever national title in men's hoops.

The best remaining team in the land - the North Carolina Tar Heels - have rampaged their way right through this tourney with double-digit wins right through their first four NCAA Tourney games thus far but do they play enough defense to get "mission accomplished" here?

Finally, there's Villanova - who perhaps has played better than anyone else in this tourney - and bad-boy Syracuse which escaped the NCAA's wrath and made it all the way here even though they were one of the last four or five teams to get a "Big Dance" invitation.

Here's the up-to-the-minute odds to win it all:

North Carolina

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers is ready to roar in this weekend's Final Four as the College Basketball season winds down with Saturday's doubleheader in Houston and then the NCAA Tournament Championship Game come Monday night. Get in now on the tourney's Final Four - just go online game-day morning or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and we'll send you straight into the winner's circle.

Hey, we're also 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. And come Sunday afternoon/night, Major-League Baseball is back (don't forget there's almost a full slate of games on Monday!) and so make sure you get out of the gate fast with America's #1 Handicapper as we zoom into the 2016 MLB Season.



#2 VILLANOVA (33-5) vs. #2 OKLAHOMA (29-7) - 6:09 p.m. ET, TBS
As noted in a prior edition of Jim Sez, it's funny how "the world" loved #2 seed Michigan State to cop this year's national championship and it wound up being two other No. 2 seeds that got this far ... so much for everyone being an "expert"!

No doubt the major reason Villanova is here in Space City is because Jay Wright's veteran-flavored team finally jelled at just the right time. Senior PG Ryan Arcidiacono (one turnover in 33 minutes of game time in last weekend's rousing 64-59 win against Kansas) has pulled this whole squad together and it helps that the Wildcats don't miss free throws (18-of-19 versus the Jayhawks) and play great perimeter defense.

Now, whether that souped-up "D" can contain the aforementioned Hield is another question: The soon-to-be-named Wooden Award winner poured in 37 points against Oregon in that 80-68 lopsided triumph in last week's Elite 8 and he's playing his best ball of the year.

If Lon Kruger's Big 12 team is gonna pull past 2-point favorite Villanova here, than Hield needs his backcourt mates Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard to shoot it better than 7-of-21 from the floor here (see versus Ducks).

Here's the road to the NCAA Tournament Final Four for both #2 Villanova and #2 Oklahoma:


3-18NC Asheville- 17.586-56
3-20Iowa- 687-68
3-24Miami- 492-69
3-26Kansas+ 264-59


3-18CS-Bakersfield- 1582-68
3-20VCU- 6.585-81
3-24Texas A&M- 2.577-63
3-26Oregon+ 180-68


#10 SYRACUSE (23-13) vs. #1 NORTH CAROLINA (32-6) - approximately 8:49 p.m. ET, TBS
There's already five NCAA Championship banners hanging inside the "Dean Dome" from 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009 ... should the folks in Chapel Hill be getting fitted for another one?
As you can see from the "odds to win it all" above, these UNC Tar Heels are prohibitive favorites to cut down the nets come Monday night and it's not as if anyone's been able to apply the brakes to an offense that is averaging 89.3 ppg during this tourney run.

Sure, Carolina head coach Roy Williams loves the run up-and-down aspect of this club that relies so much of second-chance shots - or didn't you notice the 12 offensive rebounds in last Sunday's 14-point win over Notre Dame? - but will this vaunted Syracuse zone defense be able to keep out the likes of Brice Johnson (12 rebounds to go along with 25 points vs. Notre Dame) who has made a living this tourney putting back chip shots off offensive boards?

Hey, everyone talks up this 'Cuse zone that did help calm things down again after the Orange pressed its way back into contention in last weekend's 68-62 comeback win against Virginia but ask us and we say Jim Boeheim's gang must score closer to 85 or 90 points if it's gonna KO North Carolina here.

Hard to believe that Syracuse beat the Cavaliers last week while shooting a rotten 21-of-57 from the floor ... gut feel is Michael Gbinije (just 4-of-13 FG shooting then) must go for 20-plus points here or else!

Here's the road to the NCAA Tournament Final Four for both #10 Syracuse and #1 North Carolina:


3-18Dayton- 170-51
3-20Middle Tenn- 675-50
3-25Gonzaga+ 463-60
3-27Virginia+ 868-62



3-17FGCU- 23.583-67
3-19Providence- 11.585-66
3-25Indiana- 5101-86
3-27Notre Dame- 9.588-74

NOTE: More NCAA Tournament & MLB goodies in tomorrow's Jim Sez.

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