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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, March 5, 2018 at 10:54 AM


Any shot you can skip out of work this week? After all, it's Mini Tourney Week in the wonderful (and often wacky) world of College Basketball where the likes of Murray State, Loyola and Michigan all snagged automatic bids in their respective conference tournaments this past Saturday/Sunday and there's a whole boatload of teams that soon will get rewarded with automatic bids - just remember that from Monday thru Friday there's a bevy of leagues getting into the action with mini-tourney play as the Mid-American Conference tips off tonight, the Atlantic Coast Conference zooms into play on Tuesday an then the real flood of tournies gets going from the Sun Belt to the Mountain West to the Pac-12 to the Big East ...Awww, you get the idea!

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!

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE ... Monday (four home games), Thursday-thru-Saturday
at Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, OH
There's a dozen teams in this mini-tourney that taps off with four separate home game sites on this first Monday in March (see Bowling Green at Central Michigan, Northern Illinois at Kent State, Ohio at Miami-Ohio and Akron at Western Michigan) but keep in mind that only one team from the not-so-mighty-MAC will be making it to the "Big Dance" and this opening-night eight-pack figures to be long gone by the time we get to the championship game. Buffalo (23-8, 14-3) is one of the country's most explosive teams while averaging a haughty 85.2 points per game (sixth-best in the country) with three players averaging 15-or-more points a game including CJ Massinburg (17.4 ppg). Still, don't sleep on run-run Toledo (21-10, 13-4) which is averaging 80.2 ppg with Tre-Shaun Fletcher (18.7 ppg) the lead dog here.

DARK HORSE: Ball State

PLAYER TO WATCH: Generally speaking, Eastern Michigan does it with "D" and so that's why junior F Elijah Minnie (16.8 ppg) is so important to this here-and-now Eagles' crew.

On Tuesday, it's ...
ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE ... Tuesday-thru-Saturday
at Barclays Center - Brooklyn, NY
The ACC invades New York City - what, first the Big 10 and now these guys? - and we could be headed to a real donnybrook with five or six teams quite capable of winning this whole shebang (that means Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Miami, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Clemson) but the real key to copping this mini-tourney is making sure your team plays at its pace, so if Virginia gets into a run-run game it's in trouble and if Duke has to play one of those 25-point halves (see last Saturday's come-from-behind win against North Carolina) by playing slower than Coach K's club is in trouble. In all, six ACC teams won 11-or-more league games this year but no one has the overall scoring balance that Duke and North Carolina has and yet no one plays defense like Virginia and Clemson ... gut feeling is some off-the-board team (maybe Notre Dame) might make things sticky for the elite. Okay, if you're looking for keys to winning this mini-tourney in Brooklyn, then check out how Duke G Grayson Allen does when teammate Marvin Bagley II is on the floor at the same time plus let's how Carolina fares if Joel Berry II, Luke Maye and Kenny Williams go cold from beyond the three-point stripe.

DARK HORSE: Virginia Tech

PLAYER TO WATCH: Joel Berry II, PG, North Carolina ... One of the Tar Heels' two first-team ACC selections (also F Luke Maye) and this is the veteran guy who makes the UNC motor run (see an underrated 17.8 ppg). Berry's been to back-to-back national championship games and a mini-tourney title (or a long run here) could catapult Roy Williams' squad to a prime-time showing in April.

In Sunday's mini-tourney play ...

The Michigan Wolverines just wanted to show everyone that last year's mini-tourney title in D.C. was no fluke - this time fifth-seeded Michigan smacked down four opponents in four days in this year's Big 10 Tournament capped off with a resounding 75-66 win against 4-point fav Purdue as John Beilein's crew held the tag-team duo of Carsen Edwards and Vincent Edwards to a combined 16 points on 6-of-22 FG shooting and did you notice that the maize-and-blue nailed 50 percent of its field goals with big man Moritz Wagner drilling 7-of-11 shots - watch Michigan (28-7) have a real shot at a #2 seed should we get some power conferences upsets in the remaining mini tournies ...

And the Missouri Valley Conference crowned a new champ with #1 seed Loyola-Chicago bopping 9-point underdog Illinois State 65-49 behind Donte Ingram's 18 points - and now the Ramblers are headed back for their first NCAA Tournament berth in 33 years and you better believe Loyola (28-5) is a real potential pain in the neck from what should be a #12 or #13 seed. P.S., Loyola will enter the NCAA Tournament on a 10-game winning streak and so maybe it can get on a run and make it back to the Sweet 16 as was the case back in 1985 ...

Finally, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship Game goes down here on this Monday night with #4 seed Iona playing #6 Fairfield - what exactly happened to #1, #2 and #3 seeds Rider/Canisius/Niagara which happened to go 0-3 SU (straight-up) and 0-3 ATS (against the spread) in their quarterfinal round games. Note that Fairfield roars into the title tilt on a seven-game winning streak and how many #6 seeds can say that?

NOTE: More mini-tourney talk in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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