Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 10:23 AM
COLLEGE B-BALL'S MINI-TOURNIES ROCK-N-ROLL ON WITH MIZZ VALLEY AND METRO ATLANTIC STARTING UP ON THIS FIRST DAY OF MARCH
PLUS, A LOOK BACK AT DAY ONE OF BIG 10 TOURNEY AS IOWA, RUTGERS SNAG ROUND 1 WINS
HERE'S THREE NBA PLAYERS THAT WILL HAVE MAJOR END-OF-SEASON IMPACT ON THE PLAYOFF PICTURE AHEAD
Hope you like the College Basketball Conference Tournaments 'cause they'll be part of the everyday landscape between now and Selection Sunday (see March 11th).
Now as we enter the merry month of March, there's two other conferences/leagues getting their mini-tournies underway and we'll preview both the Missouri Valley Conference and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference but first this key reminder ...
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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. Make sure you're all aboard for these college basketball mini-tournies and then go right through March Madness with a bang!
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT ... Thursday-thru-Sunday
at Scottrade Center - St. Louis, MO
The Valley fans can moan-and-groan all they want, but this figures to be a one-bid league when all's said and done even though Loyola-Chicago (25-5) owns a very decent #32 RPI. No question that Loyola-Chi does it with "D" - the Ramblers rank 7th in the country in scoring defense while allowing just 63.4 points per game - but if they're gonna cop this mini-tourney crown than the likes of Ben Richardson and Clayton Custer must hit from key three-balls. Loyola zooms into this tourney on a seven-game winning streak but it just might have to beat Southern Illinois for a third time this year to grab this title.
THE FAVORITE: Loyola-Chicago
DARK HORSE: Bradley
PLAYER TO WATCH: Reed Timmer, G, Drake - This senior star averages 19.6 ppg and he's nailed 88 trifectas while scoring the "3" at better than 43 percent. If he heats up, the Bulldogs could be playing Sunday.
METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT ... Thursday-thru-Monday
At Times Union Center - Albany, NY
This figures to be a major free-for-all in upstate New York where Rider, Canisius, Niagara and Iona all finished regular-season play with 11-or-more conference wins. Note Rider clinched the #1 seed despite finishing in a first-place tie with Canisius (both were 15-3 in MAAC play) and this Broncs club loves to get up and down the floor (24th in the country in scoring / 305th nationally in scoring defense). Check out Rider's Dimenico Vaughn (team-leading 16.1 ppg) who could well make this a center stage event for himself and a New Jersey-based bunch with something to prove. Note that Iona has copped the last two consecutive MAAC Tournament titles.
THE FAVORITE: Rider
DARK HORSE: Manhattan
PLAYER TO WATCH: Isaiah Reese, G, Canisius - In the Golden Griffins' final four games, Reese averaged 23 ppg and he's drained 70-of-80 FTs this year.
BIG 10 WINNERS ON DAY ONE
It's a little strange having the Big 10 Tournament at Madison Square Garden but the pair of Round One games on Wednesday night were a real blast - one-point underdog Iowa started slowly but really cranked up the engines en route to its 96-87 victory against foul-plagued Illinois. Guard Jordan Bohannon piled up 25 points and 6 assists (and took a wild/inadvertent elbow to the face too) for the Hawkeyes who draw Michigan in a second-round game today while Rutgers held off short-handed Minnesota 65-54 in the nightcap. The Scarlet Knights rode the 23-point night from cocky G Corey Sanders plus some nail-scratching defense as Minnesota shot a wobbly 18-of-52 from the floor. The Golden Gophers - who were "overpriced" here at Pick 'Em - didn't hit a field goal for the game's first six-plus minutes and even a late rally wasn't enough. Now, Rutgers will see what kind of New York/New Jersey following it will get in tonight's second-round game against Indiana in the back half of the night-time twin-bill. P.S., the other second-round games slated for Madison Square Garden include Wisconsin versus 2-point favorite Maryland and Penn State versus 5.5-point pup Northwestern.
The chase is on - that's right, the chase for the #1 seeds in both the Eastern and Western Conference to say nothing of the chase for playoff berths/playoff positioning and so we thought it a good time to pick out three players (not named LeBron or Stephon or Russell) that will impact the late-season standings:
DWYANE WADE, Miami - Who knew at season's start that this future Hall of Famer would be gonzo from Cleveland and back in the middle of a post-season race with the Heat? Wade's 27-point showing in Tuesday's 102-101 win against Philadelphia was the latest show of magic for Wade who has Miami in the eight/final playoff spot in the East right now but Wade and Company could be climbing even higher.
EMEKA OKAFOR, New Orleans - Here's another real blast from the past as this former high draft pick has become a key supporting cast member to mega-star teammate Anthony Davis. Note Okafor scored a season-high 14 points in 19 minutes of action in an earlier-week 125-116 win against Phoenix and he's provided paint toughness to this team that misses "Boogie" Cousins but remains on the inside looking out at a Western Conference playoff berth.
MILOS TEODOSIC, Los Angeles Clippers - Hats off to Clips' coach Doc Rivers who somehow has held this group together and one of his key moves without Blake Griffin/Chris Paul is to give Teodosic major minutes. The 30-year-old Yugoslavian star has posted double-digit scoring totals in three of his last four game and he's generally filled up the stat sheet and given the Clippers major energy as they currently hang onto the final playoff berth in the West.
NOTE: Lots more College Basketball Mini-Tourney previews straight ahead here at Jim Sez.