Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 9:21 AM
Okay, so there's some dozen days or so till we get to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis and so that means clear the decks here and let the College Basketball kiddies get their place at the "big people's table" - and so this Jim Sez Mid-Week Report rolls out the proverbial red carpet for the college hoopsters with special emphasis on three big games 'round the land with #2 Missouri and #10 Michigan State featured in these Wednesday night hoop affairs.
We'll get to that soon enough but first - in case you happen to be into such things - note that the current Associated Press Top 25 poll includes 20 power conference teams in the mix and some 5 non-power conference teams that include the likes of #11 (and still unbeaten) Murray State, #12 UNLV, #13 San Diego State, #15 Creighton and #21 Saint Mary's and our question-of-the-day here is do you think any of these non-power teams can "make a run" during the NCAA Tournament in March?
Sure, there is still lots of College Basketball season to go here in 2012 but it's always worth keeping an eye on these so-called non-power conference clubs while speculating long range on where they might possibly be seeded come "The Big Dance" ...yes, it's early but we could see Murray State getting a #8 or #9 seed in the NCAAs should the Racers finish with only a couple of losses and no double-digit NCAA Tourney seed for either UNLV or San Diego State should they both be part of the AP's Top 15 by year's end.
Meanwhile, the breakdown for the current Top 25 looks like this:
There are 5 teams from the Big 10 including #4 Ohio State;
There are 4 teams from the Big 12 headlined by #2 Missouri;
There are 4 Big East teams starring once-beaten #3 Syracuse;
There are 4 teams from the ACC, most notably #7 North Carolina and #8 Duke;
There are 3 teams from the SEC including current #1 Kentucky in this week's Top 25;
And there are 0 teams from the Pac-12 in this week's AP Top 25 poll.
If you happened to watch ESPN's "Big Monday" game between Syracuse and Cincinnati than you heard the three-headed broadcast team of Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery (and more than once) refer to the fact the 'Cuse fell to #4 in the current Coaches Poll following the Orange's loss last weekend at Notre Dame - as you can see the fall from grace was not quite as bad in terms of the AP poll - and that might have seemed an extreme drop but the fact Kentucky, Mizzou and Ohio State all won big games gave those monster hoop schools the proper momentum to overtake Syracuse. No big deal.
Hey, one last thing here: Would you settle - right here and right now - for that as your Final Four this year: That's Kentucky vs. Ohio State in one national championship semifinal game and Missouri vs. Syracuse in the other semifinal clash. Wow-ie!
Now, let's take a quick-hitter look at three big games on the Wednesday night College B-Ball sked:
#2 MISSOURI (18-1, 5-1 Big 12) at OKLAHOMA STATE (9-10, 2-4 Big 12) - 7:30 p.m. ET, espn2
It's been awhile since someone other than Kansas or Texas was getting all the glory inside the Big 12 but what's not to like about the Mizzou Tigers who are fresh off last Saturday's hang-on-for-dear-life 89-88 win at 5-point favorite Baylor and that marked Missouri's first road win against a Top 5 club since 1994, not to mention the fact this represents the best Tigers start to a season since way, way back in the 1981-82 season.
If Frank Haith's club is gonna keep its foot on the gas pedal here than senior Ricardo Ratliffe (career-best 27 points with 8 rebounds versus Baylor) must be a major force plus snazzy point guard Phil Pressey must continue to be a stat-sheet stuffer as his box score line against Baylor was downright silly: 16 points, 7 assists, 6 steals and 5 rebounds.
Let's see here if Oklahoma State G Keiton Page - who is shooting it at less than 40 percent from the field this season - can perk up his game after shooting a miserable 4-of-17 from the floor in that 66-58 home loss against 4 ½-point fav Kansas State last Saturday. Note that Page drained just one triple in nine trifecta attempts. Ugh! The Stillwater fans have been positive despite the play of Travis Ford's club - do they stay so positive-minded here?
NOTRE DAME (12-8, 4-3 Big East) at SETON HALL (15-4, 4-3 Big East) - 8 p.m. ET
Okay, so neither of these Big East teams is part of the Top 25 these days but let's just say the Seton Hall Pirates were making their case to being among the nation's elite with 12 wins in 13 games prior to this current two-game losing skid.
The Buccos' back-to-back losses at South Florida and Villanova caused Kevin Willard's club to take a little two-step backwards while dropping out of the AP Top 25 and if you wanted to find a true culprit in that latest loss than point your finger at Seton Hall's first-half three-point shooting: The Pirates canned just 3-of-17 triples in the opening 20 minutes of that 84-76 loss last Thursday night in Philadelphia and overall "The Hall" shot a wobbly 36.6 percent from the field (that's 26-of-71 made FGs) at 'Nova.
Maybe the fact Notre Dame is fresh off its monumental 67-58 home win against then-unbeaten 8 ½-point fav Syracuse will cause Mike Brey's club to be in letdown mode here but this game is truly important to the ND Fighting Irish as it hopes banger F Jack Cooley (10.7 ppg and 8.4 rpg) can remain a force here against a more athletic Pirates squad.
MINNESOTA (15-5, 3-4 Big 10) at #10 MICHIGAN STATE (16-4, 5-2 Big 10) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Finally, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo and Company had reason to smile last weekend in that overwhelming 83-58 win against 8-point road underdog Purdue (although we're not real sure the Boilermakers were happy to see the game highlights with Izzo yucking it up on the bench with star Draymond Green!) following a recent two-game losing skid by the Spartans.
Hey, Michigan State caught a major break in that Saturday afternoon tilt as Purdue's travel plans went all haywire and the team didn't arrive in East Lansing till shortly before tip-off and star Robbie Hummel (0-for-11 FG shooting) never did get his wake-up call but now here "Sparty" looks to give the home folks something to shout about and all eyes will be on frosh Branden Dawson who registered a season-high 14 points versus Purdue and don't forget thee aforementioned Green hauled down a game-high dozen boards in that tilt.
Check out the sked and you will see M-State could get a little winning streak going here into that road tilt against Ohio State on February 11th (home to Minny here and than at Illinois and than a revenge game at home against archrival Michigan and another home game against Penn State).
OUR JIM SEZ SUPER BOWL XLVI COVERAGE: THE COUGHLIN VS. BELICHICK POINTSPREAD BATTLE
Lots to dig into when it comes to Super Bowl XLVI on the evening of February 5th but let's get it all started here at Jim Sez with a pointspread perspective look at both New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin and New England Patriots' boss-man Bill Belichick:
Note that Coughlin's led the Giants to an 11-8 ATS (against the spread) overall mark this year including three consecutive post-season pointspread wins against Atlanta, Green Bay and San Francisco. Folks, that makes Coughlin - who is capping off his eighth year on the job for "Big Blue" -- a collective 8-2 versus the vig in all post-season games as a Giants head coach and that's a snazzy .800 winning rate - but did you know overall Coughlin's 77-60-1 against the odds as a Giants head coach (that's a rock-solid .562 winning rate)? Good stuff.
In case you might have been wondering, Coughlin-coached Giants teams are a composite 34-21-1 against the Las Vegas prices when placed in the underdog role (a stupendous .618 winning rate).
On the flip side, Belichick is capping off his 12th year on the job in New England and his club this 2011 season rolls into SB 46 with a 10-8 ATS mark including a playoff split so far with a cover against Denver and a non-cover win against Baltimore in last Sunday's AFC Championship Game.
Belichick is 9-11-1 vig-wise in post-season games during his career with the Pats (a .450 winning percentage) but overall he is 121-87-5 against the odds in all games (a delicious .582 winning percentage) but note Belichick's failed to cover three of his team's four Super Bowl appearances with pointspread setbacks in "the Big Game" against Carolina, Philadelphia and the New York Giants in 2003, '04 and '07, respectively, to go along with that outright upset against 14-point favorite St. Louis in 2001.
Finally, as a betting favorite with the NE England Patriots, note that Belichick-coached teams are 83-59-4 (a .585 winning rate).
Let's just say Coughlin and Belichick are truly two of the NFL's pointspread monster coaches although there are a couple of chinks in Belichick's armor at this time of the year, wouldn't you say?
And now hear this: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will get you the Super Bowl XLVI Sides & Totals Winners on game-day plus there's loads of College Basketball and NBA Winners each and every day when you check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.