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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, February 9, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Whether you’re watching Duke/North Carolina on a Thursday night, Purdue/Michigan State on a Saturday, or some other matchup of ranked teams later in February, the question is going to arise in your mind “are these REALLY two of the best teams in the country?”

There are no true superpowers this season. Even teams with gaudy won-lost records have weaknesses that are exposed by other quality opponents, or whenever their treys aren’t falling. Villanova can dominate one night, then lose as a 16-point favorite to St. John’s the next. Purdue/Michigan State this weekend matches #3 vs. #4 in the polls…but #3 will already drop because of a loss to Ohio State this week. Number two Virginia almost lost to Florida State, and barely beat a Duke team that has looked awful in the second half of recent losses to North Carolina and St. John’s.

Maybe St. John’s is the best team in the country right now!

That would be something for a team that started 0-11 in the Big East. That’s just the nature of college basketball. You can’t use a word like “parity” because there are still demarcations between good, average, and disappointing. But, there’s more parity than in the past because talent is spread out so widely. Anybody can beat anybody. Heck, a team with almost no shot at even the NIT can beat Duke and Villanova in back-to-back games.

So, you can’t assume that Auburn is going to keep rolling after a hot start in the SEC. Texas A&M didn’t make that assumption and scored an upset win. You can’t assume Arizona is as good as its won-lost record in the disappointing Pac 12. You may recall that the Wildcats fell from #2 in the country to out of the rankings after an 0-3 weekend in the Bahamas a few months ago. Thursday, they stumbled around as a pricey home favorite in a loss to UCLA. Wichita State was supposed to crush this year…but looks very mortal against decent threats.

Kansas? Don’t get us started on Kansas! Great for a couple of games, then a lemon (usually at home for some reason).

How do you handicap when teams are so inconsistent? JIM HURLEY has these thoughts.

*First, accept that you’re not going to win every game. Professional blackjack players don’t win every hand even when dealt an early advantage. Pocket aces don’t always win in Texas hold-em. You may have a bet that’s truly in a pocket aces situation, but your team shoots 5 of 25 from three-point range that night and you lose. You’re aiming for 55-60% overall (pro bettors make do with 54% on high volume). Build your nightly slate with an aim toward finding advantages that will pay off over time. True “virtual locks” are rare anyway…and may be really rare in this current college basketball season. The sport has dealt you a “grinding” environment, and you have to accept it.

*Second, think about the “rock-paper-scissors” dynamic of picking NCAA Tournament games…and apply that to current regular season action. Team A might match up great against Team B, but horribly against Team C. They all go 1-1 against each other because one can break the press but another can’t, or because one can make free throws and the other can’t. Many conference games right now are basically “round of 32” type games in the NCAA’s. It’s just that there are 60 teams good enough to play that level of basketball at the moment. If you don’t know the teams’ strengths and weaknesses well enough to make rock-paper-scissors interpretations of their strengths and weaknesses, pass until you’re better informed (or sign up with a PROVEN WINNER!).

*Finally today, pay close attention to recent form. Many computer assessments treat something that happened back in November or December equally with what’s going on in recent days. That makes no sense because teams evolve so much through the course of a season. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Las Vegas pointspreads are strongly influenced by computer analytics these days. This creates great opportunities for you to attack weak spots. Back teams who are much better now than they were in late 2017. Fade teams who are heading in the wrong direction because of bad chemistry or tiring starters. (Hint…teams who play at a fast pace but don’t have quality depth are in for some bad February surprises.)

JIM HURLEY is 10-4 so far this week in college basketball. You may have watched a couple of those winners on TV. West Virginia won outright at Oklahoma back on Big Monday. Ohio State upset Purdue two nights later. NETWORK has big plans for this weekend…the first non-football weekend for months. Are YOU ready to focus exclusively on basketball?!

You can purchase our daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, please call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 to take care of business. We have great packages that take you through March Madness or the NBA Playoffs. You get the most bang for your buck on long term purchases.

We proved it through the NFL playoffs with a historic rampage that ended with a big-game release on Philadelphia over New England outright. We’re proving it again this week in college hoops with that 10-4 sprint. You’re going to GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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