Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 10:04 AM
Lots to get to in this mid-week edition of Jim Sez but first we pose this rather interesting query: Which NCAA Sweet 16 team has looked the best so far through the first full week of the tourney - and which Sweet 16 squad isn't exactly on the top of its game?
Well, we give the slight nod to Florida over Marquette as the best of the bunch so far in this year's tourney while the Sweet 16 team that's been a tad shaky is Syracuse - one of six teams left in Sweet 16 play that's split its first two pointspread verdicts (see chart below).
The Orange kayoed Kansas State in the second half of that Round of 32 game last Saturday afternoon but Jim Boeheim's crew has not been real sharp and the loss of C Fab Melo has indeed been felt by the Big East gang.
Plenty more to say about the 'Cuse and everyone else that'll be in action with Thursday's NCAA Sweet 16 round when we bring you tomorrow's Jim Sez but let's get this Mid-Week Report started with our annual NCAA Tournament Pointspread Breakdown chart as we bring you each/every conference or league that has participated in this year's tourney. Here's the lowdown from a pointspread perspective:
NCAA TOURNAMENT POINTSPREAD BREAKDOWN CHART
Take note that the "power conferences" - of course, that's the ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC - are a combined 30-23-2 ATS (against the spread) in this year's tourney for a .566 winning rate while the non-power conferences are a collective 20-27-2 spreadwise for a .425 winning rate but did you notice that the Atlamtic-10 starring Xavier and Saint Louis has covered five-of-six tourney games this year. Good for them!
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have roared into this 2012 College Basketball post-season with NCAA Tournament, NIT, CBI and CIT winners already plus there's plenty of NBA Winners on tap too when you sign up today and be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winning selections. Sign up now for the remainder of all the College Basketball and NBA campaigns.
SWEET 16 SPREAD STANDINGS
Here's a look at how the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 pointspread standings sit through the first week of this year's "Big Dance":
THE NIT QUARTERFINALS - TONIGHT'S QUICK-HITTER GAME PREVIEWS
MINNESOTA (21-14) at MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (27-6) -- 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Now that the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders have established themselves as the Volunteer State hoops team that's lasted the longest this post-season (bye-bye Vanderbilt and Tennessee), the heat's on coach Kermit Davis' squad to now get the "W" here and land a berth in next week's NIT semifinals in New York City - and one major key to this affair could well be how does MTSU fare when holding the lead?
In Monday's 71-64 back-and-forth win at 4-point favorite Tennessee, the Raiders blew a 12-point first-half lead and yet rallied back from an 8-point deficit in the second half as stat-sheet stuffer Bruce Massey keyed the win with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
No doubt the home folks want to get out and go here while visiting Minnesota - fresh off back-to-back NIT road wins at LaSalle and at Miami - will be content to limit possessions and let's see if Tubby Smith's squad can play stifling three-point defense once again as the U of M Hurricanes shot a rotten 4-of-25 from beyond the arc this past Monday night and many of those chucks were contested by the Golden Gophers.
In that 78-60 Minny win in South Beach, the Big 10 guys dashed out of the starting gate with a 12-zip lead and here check out Minnesota G Dre Hollins who drained back-to-back key triples the other night to get one mid-game rally going.
NEVADA (28-6) at STANFORD (23-11) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Quick turnaround here for a Stanford Cardinal club that needed every ounce of energy to skate past 8 ½-point pup Illinois State 92-88 in overtime two nights ago and let's just say G Aaron Bright saved Stanford's proverbial bacon by nailing six three-pointers en route to his snazzy career-best 29-point performance.
Coach Johnny Dawkins' crew roared back from an 11-point deficit to swipe that tilt and now the Pac-12 guys must get a handle on Wolf Pack guard Deonte Burton - the WAC Player of the Year - who wasn't sharp in Sunday's 75-67 win/cover versus 3 ½-point dog Bucknell.
Burton scored just 10 points in that home win (he averages 15 ppg) and let's see if Stanford is able to clamp down on him once he gets across half-court and let's also see if Nevada gets as many trips to the foul line after going 24-of-32 from the charity stripe against gritty Bucknell.
Is Madison Square Garden gonna get a distinct Pac-12 flavor for next Tuesday's semis? Do stay tuned.
NOTE: Get Thursday's NCAA Sweet 16 Game Previews - that's Syracuse-Wisconsin and Cincinnati-Ohio State in the East and Florida-Marquette, Louisville-Michigan State in the West -- and lots more in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.