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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 9:49 AM

Here's something Big East Conference basketball "haters" don't really want to hear...Five of the top 16 teams in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll hail from the Big East - including top-ranked Syracuse (10-0) and fourth-ranked Louisville (9-0) - and conventional wisdom says that #9 Connecticut (8-1) and #11 Marquette (9-0) are only gonna get better in the immediate days and weeks ahead.

Yes, it is early in this 2011-12 College Round-ball campaign but in one of those "if-the-season-ended-today" scenarios you would have to say that the Big East likely would slot in four or five teams in the high seeds (that's #1 thru #4 in each region) and you, of course, would have the possibility exist that a pair of Big East teams would be #1 regional seeds.

Obviously, we haven't yet even entered conference play inside the Big East where the likes of West Virginia (6-2) and fists-of-fury Cincinnati (5-3) could be major handfuls after having played some tough out-of-conference foes thus far - nobody's putting a crystal ball theory into play here but we could well be headed for another season of Big East-centric basketball and won't that just excite the folks out West, in the Midwest and along Tobacco Road, for that matter! Let's take a quickie peek at the here-and-now Big East teams in this week's AP Top 10:

#1 SYRACUSE (10-0) - The Orange have been the news of the nation off the court this year with the Bernie Fine mess really gobbling up the headlines but on the floor the 'Cuse (who earned 51 of the 65 first-place votes in the current AP poll) have been perfect albeit versus a less-than-challenging schedule. Jim Boehiem's crew gets a round of applause for wins against Stanford and Florida and this Saturday you can check out Syracuse as it heads to Raleigh for a big game against N.C. State (espn2 at 6:30 p.m. ET). One major key for this Syracuse squad: They share the rock as the Orange ranks 13th in the land in assists per game (at 17.2 dimes per) and veteran G Scoop Jardine just enjoyed back-to-back 7-assist outings in wins against Florida and Eastern Michigan.

#4 LOUISVILLE (9-0) - The U of L Cardinals snagged a pair of first-place votes in this week's AP poll and Rick Pitino's squad might earn more respect by beating the visiting Memphis Tigers this Saturday (4 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Channel). Note that the 'Ville is making plenty of hay with great offensive balance as the Redbirds currently boast five players averaging between 9.2 ppg and 12.9 ppg with senior swingman Kyle Kuric having nailed half of his 90 field-goal attempts including a team-high 14 triples. Could it be that Louisville attempts too many trifectas (see 51-of-161 and nearly 18 three-point tries per game)? Heck, if truth be told Pitino would like this club to take a minimum of 20 treys per outing ... trust us!

#9 CONNECTICUT (8-1) - No doubt the UConn Huskies have hardly faced a "who's who" of college basketball greats so far with wins against Columbia, Wagner, Maine and Coppin State all dotting the November/December schedule (and don't forget that day-after-Thanksgiving loss to Central Florida) but let's keep things in perspective here as Jim Calhoun's club did lose mega-star G Kemba Walker to the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats and so everyone on the court had to learn about the pros/cons of their teammate's games on the fly. The Huskies won't be challenged much now prior to the start of their Big East sked - there's home games versus Holy Cross and Fairfield slated for Dec. 18th and Dec. 22nd, respectively - but you might have another National Player of the Year candidate here in G/F Jeremy Lamb who's already averaging 20 ppg while stroking it at 51.2 percent from the floor - yep, the kid's absolutely electric.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to win big-time in College Basketball along with NFL Week 15 action and don't forget the College Football Bowl Games (yes, all 35 of 'em!) that get revved up this Saturday with three tilts all televised on ESPN: That's The New Mexico Bowl (2 p.m. ET), the Idaho Potato Bowl (5:30 p.m. ET) and the New Orleans Bowl (9 p.m. ET) and we'll have quick-hitter previews on all these games in an upcoming Jim Sez column. Plus the NBA gets tipped off on Christmas Day - so make sure you're part of all the winning action straight through New Year's! And make sure you get all the Football and Basketball winners at our toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or else get it online right here online as America's #1 Handicapper keeps up the winning beat!


As we said above, the College Football Bowl Season swings into action this Saturday and there's plenty of teams in action that have thrived spreadwise come bowl time the past 10 years - and others that have been serious money-burners. Here's our list of Best & Worst Bowl Bets since way back in 2001 ...


  • Boise State is 6-3 ATS (against the spread) in their post-season bowl games dating back the past 10 years and note the Broncos roll into the Las Vegas Bowl riding a three-bowl game spread winning streak.

  • Florida State is an electric 8-2 vig-wise in bowl games the past 10 years and - believe it or not - the Seminoles will enter their Champs Sports Bowl tilt against Notre Dame while riding a seven-game bowl spread winnin' streak.

  • Iowa is 7-2 odds-wise in all post-season bowl games the past 10 years - the Hawkeyes didn't go bowling back in 2007 - and note this Big 10 team has covered 6-of-8 bowl games when placed in the underdog role as is the case with this year's Insight Bowl against Oklahoma.

  • Iowa State is 3-1-1 versus the vig in bowl games dating back to 2001 and note that four of the five bowls have been decided by a grand total of 9 points.

  • LSU is a snazzy 7-3 against the Las Vegas price tags in its past 10 bowl tilts and - in case you were wondering - the Bayou Bengals are 5-1 ATS in its six bowls under head coach Les Miles.

  • N.C. State's covered five of its six bowl games the past 10 years and the last time the Wolfpack failed to cover at bowl time was in 2001 when State lost 34-19 to Pittsburgh in a pick 'em game in the Tangerine Bowl.

  • Northwestern is 4-1 spreadwise in its five bowl tilts dating back to 2001 and the Big 10 Wildcats have been underdogs in all five of these games (as will be the case versus Texas A&M in the Car Care Bowl).

  • Ohio State is 7-3 against the odds at bowl time the past 10 years and that includes a current three-game ATS bowl winning streak (versus Texas, Oregon and Arkansas).

  • Rutgers is 4-1 spreadwise in its five bowl games since 2001.

  • Utah's covered seven of its nine bowl games the past 10 years and note the Utes are 4-1 ATS as bowl dogs during this time.

  • Virginia is 4-1 ATS while bowling half the time these past 10 years. The Wahoos, however, have not gone bowling since 2007 (a 31-28 loss-but-cover against 6 ½-point fav Texas Tech in the Gator Bowl).

  • Wisconsin is 6-3 ATS in bowl action the past 10 years and believe it or not Wisky's been the underdog side in all nine of these bowl outings.


  • Arkansas is 2-5 ATS in bowl games the past 10 years and that includes a current four-game spread losing streak in these bowls dating back to 2006.

  • Cincinnati has failed to cover six of its seven bowl games the past 10 years and that includes the lopsided 51-24 loss to 13-point fav Florida in the Sugar Bowl game two years ago.

  • Clemson is just 3-6 versus the vig in all bowl games since 2001 and that includes a shabby 1-5 spread log as bowl betting favorites since 2005.

  • Kansas State is 0-5 ATS in all bowl games the past 10 years and that includes last year's 36-34 loss in the first-ever Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse (a pick 'em affair).

  • Nevada is just 1-5 against the odds in its bowl games the past 10 years.

  • Ohio U has failed to cover all three of its bowl games the past 10 years including last year's 48-21 setback against 2-point fav Troy in the New Orleans Bowl.

  • Oklahoma is a dreary 3-7 ATS in bowls the past 10 years and how about the fact the Sooners are 2-5 vig-wise as bowl betting favorites during this time span?

  • Texas is 3-6 ATS in bowl tilts the past 10 years (no bowl for the Longhorns last year, remember).

  • Texas A&M is just 1-5 against the prices in bowl bashes the past 10 years and the Aggies have not covered at bowl time since 2001 (a 28-9 win versus 6-point pup TCU in the Galleryfurniture Bowl).

  • Finally, West Virginia is 2-7 against the prices in bowl games played the past 10 years (no bowl for WVU in 2001).

NOTE: Get the NFL Week 15 Thursday Night Preview - that's Jacksonville at Atlanta - in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.

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