Jim Hurley Professional Handicapper




Oh, it’s “Madness” alright when you’re handicapping all these College Basketball Conference Tournament (see mini-tournies) but we’re gonna set aside a few moments here to explain some of our Jim Sez wagering strategies when it comes to these games / tournaments … come along for the ride for Three (3) Rules of Play, if you will!

No. 1 … Look at these conference tournaments as an opportunity for certain teams to hit the “reset button”: Much like the college football bowl games, these mini-tournies serve as a “new season” where teams can right themselves and maybe play with a real chip on their shoulders. Don’t necessarily assume all the #1 and #2 seeds in these conference tournaments are gonna dominate play, as there’s some good teams out there with a something-to-prove attitude. Off the top of our head, we’re thinking UConn in the American Athletic, Notre Dame in the ACC and Arizona in the Pac-12. Hey, don’t be shocked if these three teams are major money-makers in mini-tourney action. There’s a “freebie” for you all!

No. 2 … Go ahead and “ride” a team that wins you an opening-round mini-tourney game: Folks, gotta admit that this has been a pretty successful formula in recent years as Jim Hurley’s grabbed a Round I side (normally an underdog or a near pick ‘em game) and then played ‘em as long as they stayed alive in these conference tournaments. Momentum is a funny thing and sometimes an above-average-to-good team catches fire at this time of the season and just cashes play-after-play. We can’t “give away the store” here and suggest any actual plays but teams with good talent and a great coach have a way of storming into mini-tourney title games while cashing two, three or even four games along the way. Ride the hot hand.

No. 3 … Go against betting favorites that feel real pressure to win a game or two in these mini tournies: You know the old adage as Las Vegas prices tend to rise the more a team “needs to win” and we’ve made a bundle of greenbacks over the years going against “bubble teams” that hear the noise that they need to win “a couple of games” to get into the NCAA Tournament. It’s often simply just too much pressure to cash in these so-called must-win games. Just because a team faces a “must win” game doesn’t mean they must cover.

Now, hear this …

Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers / Bloggers will keep beating the Las Vegas and offshore books with more College Basketball and NBA winners each and every day and so let’s cash in big all this week right here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.

On Saturday, it’s …

#1 KANSAS (27-3, 16-1) at TEXAS TECH (18-12, 9-8) – 2 p.m. ET, ESPN

If you’re keeping track, the Kansas Jayhawks have won or shared the Big 12 regular-season crown in 15 of the last 16 seasons and Bill Self’s crew will nail down the outright title here with a road win in Lubbock (or a Baylor loss at West Virginia). Kansas center Udoka Azubuike scored 31 points against TCU on Wednesday night but a sore ankle could limit his minutes here (he played 35 minutes in the 75-66 non-cover vs. TCU).

Spread Note – Kansas is 18-11 ATS (against the spread) and that includes six-of-seven covers since early February.

#4 BAYLOR (26-3, 15-2) at WEST VIRGINIA (20-10, 8-9) – 1 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Most prognosticators still believe the Baylor Bears can snag a #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tourney – but a loss here or coming up shy of the championship game in next week’s Big 12 Tournament likely will doom those hopes and so this is a biggie for Scott Drew’s team: Keep in mind Baylor sports the sixth-best defense in Division 1 (allowing just 59.6 ppg) while West Virginia hunkers down with the country’s 17th-best defense (yielding 62.4 ppg).

Spread Note – Baylor’s also 18-11 versus the vig this 2019-2020 hoops season but did you know the Bears are a rock-solid 11-6 spreadwise when playing against fellow Big 12 teams?

#6 KENTUCKY (24-6, 14-3) at FLORIDA (18-11, 10-6) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS

We’ve seen where there are some folks that believe this Kentucky squad is operating “below the radar” but not sure that can ever happen for one of the sport’s true bluebloods. The ‘Cats do come off an 81-73 home loss against 8.5-point pup Tennessee this past Tuesday night and so UK coach John Calipari will be in a “rare mood” here after watching his guys blow a 17-point lead. Yikes!

Spread Note – Kentucky has covered seven of its last nine games but the ‘Cats are a modest 16-14 vig-wise this season

NORTH CAROLINA (13-17, 6-13) at #12 DUKE (24-6, 14-5) – 6 p.m. ET, ESPN

Okay, so when is the last time the Tar Heels vs. Blue Devils matchup featured two teams outside the top 10? Good question but here there’s no question that Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke team needs a better start than last time these rivals clashed as the Dookies were forced to overcome a 13-point deficit with four-plus minutes remaining to snag a 98-96 overtime non-cover win at Chapel Hill.

Spread Note – Go figure as Duke / North Carolina are a combined 28-32 against the Las Vegas prices this season (note Duke’s just 15-15 ATS)

STANFORD (20-10, 9-8) at #13 OREGON (23-7, 12-5) – 11 p.m. ET, Fox 1

There’s still a shot for the Oregon Ducks to pull the one-two okey-doke: Win (or share) the Pac-12 regular-season crown and then cop next week’s Pac-12 Tournament and that would likely get the Duckies a #2 seed … but first things first and that means G Payton Pritchard (20.2 ppg and 81 triples / 40.4 pct shooter from “3”) must dominate against a Stanford that comes off Thursday night’s 68-65 loss at 1.5-point fav Oregon State (the Cardinal shot just 3-of-15 from deep in that doozy).

Spread Note – Oregon’s a so-so 13-11 spreadwise when in the betting favorite’s role and that includes a 70-60 loss at two-point pup Stanford back on Feb. 1st.

UCLA (19-11, 12-5) at USC (21-9, 10-7) – 3:15 p.m. ET, CBS

So, what’s gotten into these UCLA Bruins? They’ve bagged seven consecutive SU wins and now Mick Cronin’s crew is in revenge mode against in-city rival USC (see Trojans 74-63 back on Jan. 12th as senior Nick Rakocevic was a stat-sheet stuffer with 17 points and 14 rebounds). Now, UCLA looks to get the season split here and we’ll be keeping a close eye on Tyger Campbell who drained a late-game tie-breaker jump shot to help beat Arizona last Saturday.

Spread Note – USC is a better-than-you-think 19-11 against the odds this year while UCLA’s 4-0-1 against the numbers since mid-February

NOTE: We’ve got NBA and NCAA Basketball coverage all this weekend right here with these jam-packed Jim Sez columns — so don’t miss out and make sure you’re rollin’ up all the winners at 1-800-323-4453 or online at www.jimhurley.com

Jim Hurley Professional Handicapper