Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 10:26 AM
It sure does look like a veritable "who's who" in College Basketball when you check out the #1-thru-#4 teams in the land while heading into this final weekend of January but will any/all/some of 'em still be standing when we do finally get to this year's Final Four in New Orleans?
Hey, there's an awful lot of hoops that must be played between now and then but let's take it one game at a time - isn't that what the coaches say? - and so let's take a few moments to delve into what's in store this very weekend for the top teams in the land:
#1 KENTUCKY (20-1, 6-0 SEC) - at LSU, Saturday at 4 p.m. ET
Had to love the line that LSU head coach Trent Johnson said on an SEC teleconference the other day when he told media folks, "I don't know if it's Kentucky or the Miami Heat we play Saturday."
Hey, the bad news for the Bayou Bengals is that it is Kentucky and not an NBA team as John Calipari's guys keep rollin' along and did you realize that the UK Wildcats have won 12 games in a row since that hiccup at Indiana and the 'Cats have won eight of these dozen games by 15-or-more points.
No doubt that qualifies as hot but Kentucky better sync things up on offense after registering a paltry 19 second-half points in last Tuesday's 57-44 win/cover at 12-point pup Georgia as senior G Darius Miller popped off the bench and poured in 19 points in Kentucky's lowest-scoring game of the year. How about the fact that Kentucky's starters that night combined to shoot just 12-of-36 from the floor (a 33 percent accuracy rate). Ugh!
#2 MISSOURI (18-2, 5-2 Big 12) - vs. Texas Tech, Saturday at 1:45 p.m. ET
Not likely that you'll see the Mizzou Tigers in the upper crust of next week's Associated Press Top 25 rankings following that 79-72 loss at 9 ½-point dog Oklahoma State this past Wednesday night and so that makes it two losses in the past six games for these Bengals who allowed Okie State to shoot a season-high 59.6 percent from the floor (see 31-of-52 FGs) and don't forget the fact Missouri had only eight assists on its 26 field goals in that Big 12 tilt.
Maybe first-year Missouri boss Frank Haith needs to send out a wake-up call to star G Marcus Denmon who drained just 4-of-16 FG attempts en route to a quiet 17-point game in Stillwater and so expect the energetic Denmon to come roaring out of the gates here ... think the Mizzou crowd will be loud at the start? Yikes.
#3 SYRACUSE (21-1, 8-1 Big East) - vs. West Virginia, Saturday at 1 p.m. ET
One aspect of this year's Syracuse Orange team that has not gotten enough "pub" is the unit's defense as Jim Boeheim's crew is holding fellow Big East crews to just 60.3 points per game (that's fourth-best in this bloated 16-team league) and here the game plan figures to center on stopping West Virginia F Kevin Jones who comes in averaging 20.6 points a game. If Jones finds creases in this famed 'Cuse zone, than he could light it up in a hurry for Bob Huggins' squad but look for an occasional gimmicky defense to be thrown in here by the clever Boeheim and than it'll all be about getting out on the break and beating the Mountaineers up the floor so they cannot play that air-tight half-court defense.
Let's see if Syracuse F Kris Joseph (13.7 ppg) is a factor early or will he need time to "warm up" as was the case in Monday's 60-53 win/cover at 5 ½-point home dog Cincinnati? Stay tuned.
#4 OHIO STATE (18-3, 6-2 Big 10) - vs. Michigan, Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
Here's a major-league battle for first place in the Big 10 (note that Michigan State also enters weekend play at 6-2 in league action) and do keep in mind these clubs will square off in Ann Arbor on February 18th - so let this year's bad blood begin right here.
The Buckeyes have bounced back from their January 10th loss against Illinois to win three in a row and the encouraging signs coming from Wednesday night's 78-54 triumph over 22-point underdog Penn State is that big man Jared Sullinger was his old stat-sheet stuffing way with 20 points and 13 rebounds in 27 minutes of play (and note only two fouls) and here you gotta wonder if the maize-and-blue have the size/strength to handle a healthy Sullinger in the low box for 30-plus minutes.
Want an X-factor here?
Let's see how Michigan shoots it from beyond the arc as Penn State managed to connect on just 5-of-16 triples the other night and the Wolverines likely want to attempt 20-plus trifectas in this matinee game on CBS.
MORE SUPER BOWL 46 COVERAGE
Let's hit the rewind button and see what's happened in the Super Bowl the past 10 years - here's our Super Bowl game-by-game look and note that NFC teams have covered the last four consecutive SB tilts (and seven of the last nine) while Betting Favorites are a crummy 3-7 ATS (against the spread) in the past 10 "big games". Hard to believe but the only chalk sides to win/cover at Super Bowl time since 2001 were last year's Green Bay Packers, the 2006 Indianapolis Colts and the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. Finally, note that the average margin of victory in the past 10 Super Bowls is 8.6 points a game although take note that four of thee past 10 Super tilts have been decided by exactly 3 points.
SUPER BOWLS, 2001-2010
|2010||Green Bay||- 2.5||Pittsburgh||31-25|
|2009||New Orleans||+ 4.5||Indianapolis||31-17|
|2007||New York Giants||+ 12||New England||17-14|
|2004||New England||- 7||Philadelphia||24-21|
|2003||New England||- 7||Carolina||32-29|
|2002||Tampa Bay||+ 4||Oakland||48-21|
|2001||New England||+ 14||St. Louis||20-17|
NOTE: There's more College B-Ball News & Notes in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez plus catch out Super Bowl XLVI coverage each/every day as we get closer to Sunday, February 5th and the 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff.