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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 26, 2018 at 10:17 AM


Ladies and gents, sure we're getting ready to officially christen it "March Madness" time but first things first and that means it's the start of Oscars Week (okay, so the Oscars air on Sunday night but we've got a little movie theme going here, so bear with us!) and so play along while we put Oscar-nominated picture along with a college basketball item/team/player:

DARKEST HOUR - What else, the ongoing FBI probe is gonna crash the "Big Dance" party one way or the other this coming month of March and the only questions here will be what teams will be under the FBI microscope the most ... are the likes of Michigan State, Arizona and Duke gonna get harsh penalties even before we get into this 68-team bash? ... and what players are gonna be either suspended or temporarily sidelined by this FBI stuff. Good grief.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME - We've heard all kinds of chatter regarding who should be called college basketball's Player of the Year but we (like many other folks) have soured on Oklahoma G Trae Young and Duke's oft-injured freshman Marvin Bagley III and so we hereby nominate Villanova G Jalen Brunson (19.3 points per game and 4.9 assists per game) although our final choice will come in a couple of weeks.

THE POST - Maybe you've never heard of Marshall F Ajdin Penava but we'll shower 'em with some love here because this junior leads the nation in blocked shots at 4.5 per game and that's actually better than Texas C Mohamed Bamba who happens to be considered the best "post" player in the land.

GET OUT - It doesn't look like Arizona head coach Sean Miller is gonna survive this pay-for-play scandal as our projections say that at least three or four major-college head coaches will get shown the door in the coming weeks because of all this FBI stuff ... and Michigan State's Tom Izzo figures to have plenty to worry about.

Don't miss out as we continue to pile up the profits in both the NBA and College Basketball as Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep ripping it up on the hardwood - get all the daily winners right here online or 1-800-323-4453. The Conference Tournaments get underway tonight, so sign up for Jim's Conference Tournament and March Madness package here online.

On Monday, it's ...
#5 DUKE (24-5, 12-4 ACC) at VIRGINIA TECH (20-9, 9-7 ACC) - No telling how much dirt the FBI folks may have dug up on guys other than Duke's freshman star Wendell Carter Jr. but betcha there's a good chance we hear some more Blue Devil bad news and wonder if that will effect Mike Krzyzewski's squad that's fresh off Saturday's 60-44 home win/cover against "two-TD" underdog Syracuse. The highlight there was the above-mentioned Bagley poured in a game-best 19 points in his first showing after missing four games with a bad knee and here Bagley/Carter and mates and let's see how Virginia Tech handles this Duke zone that befuddled the Hokies back on Valentine's Day when the Dookies snagged a 74-52 win as 10.5-point favorites. The Techsters are assured a berth in the NCAA Tournament but if Buzz Williams' gang can steal this prime-timer and maybe win a game or two in next week's ACC Tournament, then they could wind up getting as high as a #4 seed ... really.
Spread Stat - Duke is 18-9 ATS (against the spread) overall this year while Virginia Tech is a heady 15-10 versus the vig this 2017-18 campaign.

On Tuesday, it's ...
#12 AUBURN (24-5, 12-4 SEC) at ARKANSAS (20-9, 9-7 SEC) - 9 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Here's a quickie question comin' your way ... are these Auburn Tigers good enough/deep enough to win this whole ball of wax this year? Keep in mind that Bruce Pearl's club has a snazzy #7 RPI and War Eagle ranks 15th in the nation in scoring (84.3 ppg) and they've already beaten these Hogs 88-77 back on Jan. 6th as Auburn started off that game draining 12 of its first 18 shots as Mustapha Horton scored 17 points to lead a balanced attack and note the Tigers' bench scored 24 points in that home win. Ask us now and we think Auburn's "second weekend" type team (as in Sweet 16 or even the Elite 8) but not convinced this club has Final Four mojo ... but you never know! Right now we'd say Auburn is a #3 seed in next month's NCAA Tournament while Arkansas looks like a decent bet to play in one of those famed #8 versus #9 games.
Spread Stat - Auburn is an electric 19-8 against the odds this year (though only 7-5 ATS away) while Arkansas is 15-14 vig-wise this '17-18 season.

Editor's Note ... College Basketball Conference Tournaments swing into action Monday with the Atlantic Sun Tourney, then kick into high gear on Wednesday with the Big 10 landing in - where else? - New York City while the Ohio Valley Conference, Missouri Valley Conference and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference all get into the fray by Thursday and we'll have plenty of previews/info/etc. on all the so-called mini-tournies all throughout the next two weeks here at Jim Sez.

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