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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 4:51 PM


If it's "marquee names" that get you all juiced up in this year's NCAA Tournament, then Friday's 16-game card is just for you:
How about looking down the list of games and seeing the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, Michigan and Michigan State all in hard-court action?
No wonder it feels like a hoops party of sorts here with a great array of first-round tourney games.
Go ahead ... now get dancin'!

Remember that Jim Hurley has all the NCAA Tournament winners right through the championship game on the night of April 3rd and you can get it either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - plus don't forget we're banging out lots of winners in the other college tournies such as the NIT, CIT and CBI and there's lots of daily NBA Winners too these days. Join the fun and profits with all the hardwood action - win big starting today!

On Friday, it's ...

Bok Center - Tulsa, OK
(3) BAYLOR (25-7) vs. (14) NEW MEXICO STATE (28-5) - 12:40 p.m. ET
Once upon a time in this here-and-now 2016-17 campaign the Baylor Bears were 15-and-oh and sitting there with the #1 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll but now - just two months hence - this Big 12 team is a forgotten bunch when folks discuss potential national champions. Baylor banks on F Johnathan Motley (17.3 ppg and 9.9 rpg) and three-point specialist G Manu Lecomte (a 43 percent career triple shooter with 68 trifectas this year) to lead the way but NCAA Tournament historians know the Bears have been beaten by twin-digit seeds each of the past two seasons (see #14 Georgia State in 2015 and then #12 Yale last year) and this New Mexico State squad is uber-dangerous with G Ian Baker (16.6 ppg) a real "player to watch" in this first-round bash.

In other East Region action, it's ...
Bon Secours Arena - Greenville, SC
(2) DUKE (27-8) vs. (15) TROY (22-14) - 7:20 p.m. ET
Think about it for a moment: Duke's legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski owns 90 wins in the NCAA Tournament and he's copped five national championships but even he gets the "willies" when it comes to opening-round tourney games. Hey, the Dookies come off an emotionally-charged ACC Tournament title last weekend in Brooklyn and so they needed a few days to catch their breath and we won't necessarily be shocked if Coach K's club is sluggish out of the gate against 19-point dog Troy. Still, freshman F Jayson Tatum (16.9 ppg and 7.3 rpg) is improving his NBA draft stock with every passing day and could be nearly unstoppable in this game for the Devils.

Bok Center - Tulsa, OK
(8) MIAMI (21-11) vs. (9) MICHIGAN STATE (19-14) - approximately 9:20 p.m. ET
Now, folks, this is what #8 vs. #9 games are all about ... a pair of power conference squads that need a "feel-good" win in this year's tournament to awaken fans/alums. It's hard to believe Michigan State lost 14 times this year with a young team that didn't always show up in big games while Miami had a helter-skelter season despite some brilliant showings by G Davon Reed (15 ppg average). If M-State boss Tom Izzo wishes to avoid a second consecutive opening-round NCAA Tournament loss, than scoring some quick hoops off Miami's at-times slow transition defense is key.

In other Midwest Region action, it's ...
Golden 1 Center - Sacramento, CA
(3) OREGON (29-5) vs. (14) IONA (22-12) - 2 p.m. ET
The "Quack Atack" is minus big man Chris Boucher but that doesn't seem to matter so much to the Las Vegas number-crunchers as Oregon's up to a 15-point favorite at last check. This Pac-10 team is a well-balanced machine - F Dillon Brooks (16.3 ppg) remains one of our favorite clutch players in the land - but if you're wondering how the Iona Gaels can stay close here than an ultra-hot game from trey-land is key as frosh guard E.J. Crawford and mates scored 90-or-more points in nine different games this year.

Bankers Life Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, IN
(7) MICHIGAN (24-11) vs. (10) OKLAHOMA STATE (20-12) - 12:15 p.m. ET
No team in this man's tourney had the drama 'round them quite like Michigan last week as the well-documented plane slide almost short-circuited the Wolverines before it ever did get to D.C. and then all John Beilein's crew did was win four games in four days to cop the Big 10 Tournament crown.
Encore, anyone?
The Wolves enter this "Big Dance" as a 2.5-point betting favorite against Oklahoma State and maybe it's time the Cowboys grabbed some national "pub" considering this Big 12 team started off conference play 0-for-6 before finishing with a .500 league record - if do-everything G Jawun Underwood (19 ppg and 6.2 apg) is on the top of his glitzy game, then Michigan's stay in this tourney could be short-and-not-so-sweet. Count on Beilein's bunch getting 55-to-60 points from its four double-digit scorers but we say it'll take a 25-point game from star Derrick Walton Jr. and some key bench scoring to advance the maize-and-blue here.

Bon Secours Arena - Greenville, SC
(8) ARKANSAS (25-9) vs. (9) SETON HALL (21-11) - 1:30 p.m. ET
Let's start with a pointspread ditty and that is the Arkansas Razorbacks are just 2-8 ATS (against the spread) in their last 10 games played against Big East competition - and now Seton Hall comes into this "8-9" game with a chip on its shoulder after getting trounced out of last year's tourney by Gonzaga in Round I. Still, it's the Hogs that are the tiniest of betting favorites for this game with the winner moving on to likely play #1 seed North Carolina. And it's Arkansas that must get an all-hands-on-deck rebounding performance here while dealing with Seton Hall board-banger deluxe F Angel Delgado (13.1 rpg) who hopes his "bunny" miss at the end of last week's Big East Tournament semifinal round loss to Villanova is far back in his rear-view mirror now.

In other South Region action, it's ...
Bankers Life Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, IN
(7) DAYTON (24-7) vs. (10) WICHITA STATE (30-4) - 7:10 p.m. ET
Let's get past this whole bit ... everyone knows the Wichita State Shockers were woefully under-seeded but the time to complain about that is past and Gregg Marshall's crew must stay focused on a Dayton team that is dangerous (an electric 19-10 against-the-odds mark this season) and has senior PG Scoochie Smith (13.5 ppg and 4.5 apg) ready/willing/able to wreak havoc in the open floor. Note that Wichita State's average margin of victory in Missouri Valley Conference games was 19.6 ppg but this ain't the Valley anymore though State's Markis McDuffie can be a real stat-sheet stuffer.

Note: More NCAA Tournament News/Notes/Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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