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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 4:33 PM

Step right up to the greatest show on earth ...
"March Madness" is officially here with the NCAA Tournament's First-Round games on this Thursday/Friday always offering up great action - and great value with a slew of underdog sides that figure to make things very sticky for a bevy of high-profile teams in this year's tourney.

We'll preview a quartet of games here in today's edition of Jim Sez - that's one in four different time slots beginning in the noon hour in the East - and we'll scribble down other news/notes too, so grab that remote control, throw some more ice cubes into your favorite beverage and have some fun watching and winning!

WE CALL IT MARCH MADNESS BECAUSE IT'S TIME TO MAKE MONEY LIKE MAD
*Nobody Makes It Bigger, Faster Or Madder Than Jim Hurley's Network
*Last Year Of The 48 Games Played In NCAA Rounds 1 & 2 We Went 19-9 Or 67.9%
*Overall We Finished 38-20 Or 65.5%, Including The NIT, CBI And CIT

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MIDWEST REGION - at Pittsburgh, PA

#10 OKLAHOMA (18-13) vs. #7 RHODE ISLAND (25-7) - 12:15 p.m. ET, CBS
No doubt by now you've heard all the rants made by the Dick Vitale's of the world that these Oklahoma Sooners - losers of 11 of their last 15 games - didn't deserve an at-large bid to this year's "Big Dance" but it helped matters that Sooners' super-frosh G Trae Young (nation's-best 27.4 points per game and 8.8 assists per game) is a major TV attraction and so Oklahoma "beat out" the likes of USC, Oklahoma State and Saint Mary's for a tourney bid ... so there! Now, Young looks to shake free from a Rhode Island team that staggered itself to a 4-4 SU (straight-up) finish that included a loss in the Atlantic-10 Tournament Championship Game. Tell us right now whether the Rams can make their free throws (that's what cost 'em a late regular-season game at Davidson) and we'll let you know who survives-and-advances here.

WIN RIGHT FROM THE START - CASH EARLY GAMES THURSDAY...PLAY TONIGHT WITH HOUSE MONEY!
Jim Hurley Knows the Art of Betting the Right Games in the NCAA's. It's simple. Marquee matchups look good on paper. But if the idea is to build bankroll, who cares about BIG names and Big games? All you want is WINNERS and has the BEST EARLY ONES on tap that will absolutely get you the money Thursday afternoon!

#15 IONA (20-13) vs. #2 DUKE (26-7) - approximately 2:45 p.m. ET, CBS
Maybe you caught our "Odds to Win it All" chart in yesterday's Jim Sez - the Duke Blue Devils are the third overall pick at + 350 (to a $100 play) behind only Michigan State and Villanova) and yet we have not heard many in-the-know folks pick the Dookies to grab this year's national crown ... is it because Duke doesn't have a legit point guard or perhaps we've witnessed plenty of evidence that star freshman Marvin Bagley III (21.1 ppg) and senior G Grayson Allen (15.7 ppg) don't always jive when on the floor at the same time? Duke is a 19.5-point betting fav for this clash against run-run Iona and for the Gaels to hang tough here than the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champs must get an out-of-this-world scoring game from either/both Rickey McGill (13.5 ppg) and E.J. Crawford (12.9 ppg) ... got it, Gaels?


THE ONE GAME THAT DOES NOT LOSE - JIM HURLEY'S 8-0 SECOND ROUND UPSET SPECIAL
On the first big day of March Madness, Jim is ready with the one play that always gets the money…HIS SECOND ROUND UPSET SPECIAL…8-0 the last 8 seasons after winning with Northwestern (+2.5) over Vanderbilt 68-66 last year!


SOUTH - at Boise, ID

#12 DAVIDSON (21-11) vs. #5 KENTUCKY (24-10) - 7:10 p.m. ET, CBS
Are these Kentucky Wildcats a major bargain at 20-to-1 to win it all in this year's NCAA Tournament ... and are they a "cheap price" here at - 5.5 points against a Davidson squad that copped the A-10 Tournament but lost games this year to the likes of Hawaii and Appalachian State? The good news for Bob McKillop's Davidson Wildcats is that 6-foot-8 F Peyton Aldridge (team-best 21.5 ppg) has no fear in heading to the hoop and he may even catch Kentucky off guard with his quicker-than-you-think moves but gotta hand it to John Calipari's 'Cats who won last week's SEC Tournament and has covered seven of their last eight games. Will this be another coming-out party type of game for Kentucky Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who scored 29 points and snared 7 rebounds in last Sunday's 77-72 win against 1.5-point favorite Tennessee?

THURSDAY NIGHT NCAA TOURNAMENT DOUBLE DIGIT BLOWOUT MISMATCH IS A MUST PLAY!
Opening Round action in the NCAA's always gets people pumped up looking for the upsets…and there are always a bunch of them. But Jim Hurley also knows that there are favorites that are on a mission. Jim has found his NCAA BLOWOUT MISMATCH…that One Double-Digit Favorite that will name the score and you'll win this game, plus get the bonus action that Caps a great night

EAST - at Pittsburgh

#9 ALABAMA (19-15) vs. #8 VIRGINIA TECH (21-11) - approximately 9:20 p.m. ET, TNT
Here's one of the more evenly matched first-round games out there - the V-Tech Hokies are 2-point betting favs and that makes it one of six opening-round games where the price is 3 points or less (just thought you'd like to know that!) and the key to victory here figures to be Tech's balanced attack (five players average in double figures) against 'Bama wrecking crew do-it-all frosh G Collin Sexton (19 ppg) whose end-to-end drive-and-hoop beat Texas A&M last week in SEC Tournament play and basically leap-frogged the Crimson Tide past a handful of teams for one of the last available at-large NCAA Tourney bids. If Sexton is a 25-point/10-assist guy here, then Avery Johnson's club likely marches on to a second-round showdown against Villanova. Hey, for you pointspread fans, note that Virginia Tech's covered six of its last nine games and is a more-than-respectable 17-11 ATS (against the spread) this season while Alabama is a modest 17-15-1 versus the vig this hoops season.

LATE INFO AND LATE MONEY MOVED MEANS
JIM HURLEY AND YOU CASH THIS LATE THURSDAY NCAA WINNER!

More money changes hands in a shorter period of time during the opening days of the NCAA Tournament than on any other betting event.
Jim Hurley's INFORMATION TRACKERS have gotten the word that SERIOUS HIGH ROLLERS are moving on one of tonight's games. And that means Jim is PASSING IT ON TO YOU.


In other NCAA Tournament Opening-Round News/Notes ...

Lots of folks chatting up a whole slew of potential first-round upsets but little is being said about 13-point underdog Wright State who faces off with SEC power Tennessee in a 12:40 p.m. ET tipoff from Dallas on this Thursday afternoon. The Wright State Raiders allow just 65.7 ppg - 27th-best in the country - and if senior G Grant Benzinger and freshman C Loudon Love can pick-n-roll the Vols to death here, then this could be your major first-round upset. Winner gets the Miami vs. Loyola-Chicago winner and that one's a real toss-up with the Loyola Ramblers ranking fourth nationally in scoring defense (62.2 ppg) ...

St. Bonaventure's first NCAA Tournament win since 1970 - really - helped to jump-start this year's NCAA Tournament as the Bonnies snagged a 65-58 win against 3-point favorite UCLA. No doubt St. Bona G Courtney Stockard (26 points and 4 rebounds) was one of many stars here but shame on the Bruins for losing their cool late in the game and for haphazardly chucking up a bunch of triples while going 10-of-30 from beyond the arc. The Bonnies are 5.5-point underdogs now for a late Thursday night game against Florida and note St. Bonaventure has covered six of its last nine games ...

Finally, if you are looking for a possible barnburner on the Thursday night card, then #13 Buffalo vs. #4 Arizona (in Boise) could be a fun showdown: The U of A Wildcats nabbed the Pac-12 Tournament Championship last weekend - remember they had to go OT to beat UCLA in the semifinal round - and if Buffalo can speed up this game and make this in the 80s, it could be nail-biting time for Sean Miller's squad. You have been warned!
  
NOTE: Plenty more NCAA Tournament previews/goodies in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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