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THE NBA ROUNDUP – ALL-STAR GAME IS “IN THE BOOKS” AND SO NOW’S THE TIME TO EXAMINE WHAT’S STRAIGHT AHEAD FOR SOME PLAYOFF HOPEFUL TEAMS …

THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT – HERE’S A COUPLE OF UBER-KEY GAMES FOR A PAIR OF “BUBBLE TEAMS”

Last night’s NBA All-Star Game – Team LeBron 157, Team Giannis 155 – actually was riveting in the new-formatted fourth quarter though we could have lived without all those replay reviews … ugh.
In any event, the show goes on and it promises to be a wild ride the rest of the way. Not everyone has locked down an NBA Playoff berth just yet and so let’s take a look around to see what’s straight ahead for a few post-season hopefuls that right now are on the outside lookin’ in …

WASHINGTON (20-33) – Maybe we all thought this year’s Wizards were in a tanking mode, but the bottom line is the D.C. crew enters the unofficial second half of this here-and-now season just three games back of #8th seed Orlando (24-31) in the Eastern Conference. True, the Wizards play the worst defense in the association – they are allowing 119.8 points per game! – but they are a more-than-respectable 28-25 ATS (against the spread) and pure scorer G Bradley Beal (29.1 ppg) has the faculties to take over a game at the proverbial snap of a finger. In our view, Washington must play plus-.500 ball the rest of the way if it’s gonna truly compete for a playoff berth and right out of the chute there’s four straight games against fellow Eastern Conference squads – win three-of-four against Cleveland / at Chicago / Milwaukee / Brooklyn before starting a four-game western swing and we’ll take you seriously, guys.

PORTLAND (25-31) – Out West, the top eight teams are all playing plus-.500 ball, the bottom seven squads are not. Just call ’em the “Haves” and the “Have Nots”, if you will. The guard-heavy Trail Blazers (25-31) don’t play much defense at all – they rank 26th in the 30-team NBA while yielding 115.3 ppg – and things are bound to get worse before they get better with G Dame Lilliard (29.5 ppg) still on the shelf with a groin injury. How is it that Portland’s eight games below .500 against the odds at 23-31-2 or that the Blazers are eight games below .500 SU (straight-up) when playing fellow conference opponents (see 15-23)?

NEW ORLEANS (23-32) – Just to let y’all know, the 5.5-game gap between the Pelicans (right now in 11th place)and the West’s #8 seed is far from insurmountable. Keep in mind N’Orleans won six of its last nine pre-All Star Game tilts SU and overall the Pels are a better-than-you-would-think 26-25-4 ATS … and that’s with super-rookie Zion Williamson on the floor for just 10 games! Williamson (22.1 ppg) surely has electrified the Crescent City hoops scene and a quick glance at the upcoming sked reveals road games at the Lilliard-less Trail Blazers and those wobbly Golden State Warriors and between now and March 11th there’s two games against Minnesota and a key tilt at Sacramento. Hmmm.

P.S., Don’t miss out as we continue to pile up the profits in College Basketball and the NBA as Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep ripping it up on the hardwood – get all the daily winners right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.

 

COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT

You better believe we’re getting down to crunch time in the world of College Basketball – we’re now less than a month out from the always-fun Selection Show on March 15th and so let’s check out the key games this Monday / Tuesday for a couple of “bubble teams”…

Tonight, it’s … XAVIER (16-9, 5-7) at ST. JOHN’S (14-11, 3-9) – 6:30 p.m.ET, Fox Sports 1
Here’s how we see it with the Xavier Musketeers: They need to finish at-or-above .500 in Big East Conference play this year and then would probably need at least one mini-conference win next month to cinch a berth in this year’s NCAA Tournament. And consider the “X-men” have six remaining regular-season games: Home to Villanova, DePaul and Butler and at St. John’s here, then at Georgetown and Providence too. Get to 21 wins – somehow and some way — overall in a Big East that’s either the best or second-best conference in the land and Travis Steele’s squad makes it but the “stretch run” begins here and that means F Naji Marshall must shoot it better than 30.7 pct from “3” here.
Spread Stat – Xavier is a weak 9-15-1 ATS this 2019-2020 season but the Musketeers have covered their last four in a row.

On Tuesday night, it’s … PURDUE (14-12, 7-9) at WISCONSIN (15-10, 8-6) – 7 p.m. ET., ESPN
This is a “double-bubble” game, right?
The visiting Purdue Boilermakers (NET 33) and host Wisky Badgers (NET 29) both have “more to do” if either / both are gonna land NCAA Tournament berths next month but let’s consider Purdue is coming off back-to-back double-digit losses to Penn State and Ohio State, so the arrow’s currently pointing downward. The ‘Makers copped a 70-51 home win against Wisconsin back on Jan. 24th and we say the black-and-gold needs minimum 19 wins to snag a spot. On the flip side, the Badgers come in here off back-to-back double-digit wins and likely need 20 wins or more to cash an NCAA ticket. Watch for Wisconsin to start fast after getting into a 45-17 hole the first time these clubs clashed this season.
Spread Stat – Wisconsin is just 11-13-1 spreadwise this year; Purdue is 11-15 against the numbers.
 

Want to know some other current bubble teams out there? Try Wichita State, Oklahoma, Loyola-Chicago, Stanford and Miss State.

NOTE: More College B-Ball News/Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.