Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 12:01 PM
THE NBA IS BACK - WE WEIGH IN ON THE "VALUES" OUT THERE AND THE "OVERPRICED" TEAMS TOO
COLLEGE BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: THURSDAY'S MARQUEE MATCHUP
Welcome back, NBA!
The All-Star Game break is in everyone's rear-view mirror by now and so we immediately hit the hoops ground runnin' with Trade Deadline talk - what teams are really gonna be beefing up their roster by 3 p.m. ET today? - and chatter about what's gonna happen in these final seven weeks or so of regular-season play.
One thing we've always liked to do is examine what NBA teams may or may not present good "value" from here on out and what teams will be "overpriced" ... so let's tackle those queries here with a couple of teams in each category (note their straight-up records are listed in parentheses below:
NBA TEAMS WITH "VALUE"
CHARLOTTE (24-32) - No matter how you slice it, the Hornets were first-half failures in more ways than one and that included in their ATS (against the spread) department with a shoddy 23-31-2 pointspread mark prior to the break. Now, we'll be eyeballing pro-Charlotte plays - we promise! - the rest of the way and especially when gobbling up points as G Kemba Walker is fresh and this team's a bit deeper than shown in its first 56 games.
MINNESOTA (22-35) - Still scratching our heads as to why the Timberwolves were such dregs the first three-plus months of this current campaign (see 24-33 ATS mark) with new coach Tom Thibodeau seemingly unable to get across his defensive theories/strategies but quite sure Minny's gonna be a pointspread demon these next few weeks whether it acquires PG Derek Rose or not.
NBA TEAMS THAT ARE "OVERPRICED"
NEW ORLEANS (23-34) - Surprise, surprise ... right! The Pelicans are now everyone's proverbial "flavor of the month" following the post-All Star Game acquisition of C DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins from Sacramento but does anyone with any real hoops sense think this is gonna work out just fine right from the get-go? Both Cousins and N'Orleans mega-star Anthony Davis (All-Star record 52 points, remember) must learn to play nice with one another while the good folks in Las Vegas will over-price the Pels immediately - or didn't you notice that Houston is only a 3.5-point road favorite for tonight's game in the Crescent City? In case you were wondering, New Orleans was a better-than-you-might-think 27-29-1 ATS in the unofficial first half of this 2016-17 campaign, but that's about to get worse before it gets better.
CLEVELAND (39-16) - Hey, what do we mean that the defending NBA champs and two-time defending Eastern Conference champs are gonna be "overpriced" items the rest of this regular season? Well, start off with the fact that the Cavaliers might actually be a tad "bored" with the final 27 games prior to the playoffs and so going against a team with a less-than-100 percent-focus while laying big-time numbers is incentive enough but then consider that many of the Eastern Conference teams that will play Cleveland from this point on will be going gung-ho/all-out for "W's" and there will be no great sense of urgency in many of these games for the Cavs. Note Cleveland rolls into tonight's home game against the New York Knick with a sluggish 26-27-2 ATS mark, so maybe that in itself proves our Jim Sez argument.
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 - America's #1 Handicapper has banged out a batch of winners this week including Ole Miss (+ 2.5) over Mississippi State on Tuesday night and Syracuse (+ 3.5) in its buzzer-beating win against Duke last night and there's lots more where that came from, okay? Extra, extra: Remember that 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 right here at Jim Sez, okay?
COLLEGE BASKETBALL'S TOP THURSDAY NIGHT MATCHUP
USC (21-6, 8-6) at #4 ARIZONA (25-3, 14-1) - 10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
Here's a fact: The Arizona Wildcats are a sizzling 19-and-1 SU (straight-up) since Dec. 6th and yet we barely hear a peep from the national media regarding Sean Miller's squad. Why is that? Okay, maybe there is indeed some East Coast bias at work here but the reality is this 'Zona crew has won all seven of its Pac-12 home games thus far (the 'Cats host UCLA on Saturday) and already dunked than 4-point underdog USC 73-66 back on Jan. 19th as Lauri Markkanen poured in a game-high 23 points that featured a rainbow triple with 33 seconds left that really was a critical shot.
Now, here's the revenge match for USC which probably is sitting there as a #5 or #6 seed for next month's NCAA Tournament. Remember that Arizona enters this tilt a half-game ahead of Oregon for first place in the Pac-12 standings and anyone that watched the Ducks steal the 68-65 win at Cal last night knows they ain't gonna be easy to hold off for the regular-season crown.
NOTE: More College Hoops and NBA Notes in the next Jim Sez.