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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, March 16, 2018 at 1:00 PM

You longtime readers know that JIM HURLEY likes using a quick and easy stat called “Phantom Score” to help paint the picture of a game that’s just been played. It tells you at a glance which teams are performing well in the categories that matter most. Therefore, it gives you some hints about which teams are likely to thrive moving forward in a tournament.

If you’re not familiar with the term, “Phantom Score” is simply “two-point scoring PLUS total rebounds.” It takes out three-pointers, which blow hot and cold mostly due to luck. It takes out free throws, which can be influenced by the whims of referees. The stat focuses on which teams attack the basket successfully on offense, and which defend the rim with a passion. And, of course, rebounding is always huge in playoff style basketball.

Let’s run through the “Phantom Score” results in Thursday’s action. You can use the formula to tabulate Friday’s on your own s the boxscores come in.


In Pittsburgh

Oklahoma 104, Rhode Island 79

Duke 85, Iona 71

Villanova 75, Radford 55

Alabama 70, Virginia Tech 64

Rhode Island needed an 11-4 edge in made three-pointers to steal a win from Oklahoma. That’s a bad sign for the Rams moving forward because they aren’t likely to enjoy that kind of edge again. Duke often underachieves in this stat, helping to explain past dance woes. Though, their new zone defense might help alleviate prior defensive weaknesses. Alabama/Virginia Tech was artificially high scoring because both teams shot well on treys.


In Wichita

Kansas 81, Penn 55

Seton Hall 82, NC State 68

San Diego State 76, Houston 73

Michigan 68, Montana 63

Kansas played better than people realized. Penn had to make 11 treys just to lose by 16 points. The Jayhawks had big edges inside. San Diego State is our first “flipped” result. That dog easily could have won the game outright, which you know if you watched. Michigan advanced because it held Montana to just 15 two-point baskets.


In Dallas

Tennessee 88, Wright State 62

Miami 75, Loyola 63

Texas Tech 83, Stephen F. Austin 57

Florida 69, St. Bonaventure 67

Some interesting results there. Miami is another flipped result. Loyola had to win made treys 8-4 to steal that victory because it was the softer team inside. How about the “nailbiter” with Florida?! The Gators live and die by the trey. A huge 10-3 edge in made three-pointers triggered a blowout. You can see why Florida will eventually die by the missed trey in the game it loses.


In Boise

NC Greensboro 94, Gonzaga 79

Ohio State 77, South Dakota State 61

Kentucky 88, Davidson 54

Arizona 73, Buffalo 70

A lot to go over from Boise. Gonzaga was very lucky to advance, helped by eight extra made free throws and Greensboro going 3 of 22 on three-point attempts. Gonzaga will have to lift its game significantly to play to the expectations of many pundits moving forward. Kentucky didn’t make a single three-pointer vs. Davidson, but otherwise crushed. Over the last week-and-a-half, Kentucky is starting to look like a vintage Calipari team in the areas that matter most. JIM HURLEY would have liked them vs. Arizona. Too bad they won’t get Arizona! Buffalo won three-pointers 15-2 in a blowout that was largely an illusion. Yes, Buffalo was a value side. But, that underdog was lucky to win so big. Unlikely Buffalo will go 15 of 30 from long range against Kentucky’s speed and length.

We understand that many of you aren’t into the “math” of sports handicapping. Well, this barely counts as math. Just open the game boxscore on ESPN’s website or any other trusted source. Double the number of two-point field goals and add in total rebounds. You can do that in a finger snap. What you learn will help you make smarter picks this weekend and through the rest of the event.

As you longtime readers know, this “secondary score” invented by JIM HURLEY often tells the story much more accurately than the scoreboard. Less pollution. More focus on what’s predictable and can be repeated in future games. Glad we got a chance to remind you about this NOTEBOOK gem from past converage.

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There’s so much working against you during the frenzy of early NCAA Tournament action. TV announcers are hyping the big-name teams instead of telling you the truth about their weaknesses. Even the scoreboards are part illusion, and you have to do the work to see through the fog. With that working against you, sign up with a PROVEN WINNER who will be working for you. Jump on the basketball bandwagon being led down THE ROAD TO RICHES by JIM HURLEY!

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