As the late, great Tom Petty used to sing, “Waiting is the hardest part”. He sure got that right!

No doubt most of you faithful Jim Sez readers – and Jim Hurley clients – have been champing at the proverbial bit to get to Selection Sunday and it’s now just a week away … it’s tick, tick, tick towards March 15th.

There’s a batch of College Basketball teams out there still unsure if they are gonna be part of the 68-team field.

Our up-to-the-minute “bubble teams” includes (at least) the following squads …

Cincinnati, Indiana, Marquette, N.C. State, Nevada, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Richmond, South Carolina, Tulsa and Xavier.

Gotta believe that each of these teams needs to win at least one upcoming mini-tourney game to stay in the hunt for those final “Big Dance” at-large bids and, some, of course, may have to do even more. 

And while the sport’s heavy-hitters – see Kansas and San Diego State and Dayton, among many others – know they’ll be landing on the #1, #2 or (at worst) #3 seed lines in NCAA Tournament play, they really can only venture an educated guess as to where they’ll be headed for first- and second-round action.

Here’s some thoughts based on geography and, oh yes, putting “fannies” in the seats as we list first-week/weekend sites and some of the high-profile / elite teams that figure to be playing there:

On Thursday, March 19th …

SITE                                         LIKELY TEAMS PLAYING THERE

Albany                                    Seton Hall, Villanova

Tampa                                    Florida State, Kentucky

St. Louis                                 Louisville, Northern Iowa

Spokane                                 Gonzaga, Oregon

On Friday, March 20th …

SITE                                         LIKELY TEAMS PLAYING THERE

Greensboro                           Duke, Virginia

Cleveland                               Dayton, Michigan State, Ohio State

Omaha                                   Kansas, Baylor

Sacramento                          San Diego State, UCLA

Remember that these teams will be priced a bit higher than they would have been on a true neutral court … it’s a fact, so we’ll keep that in mind when ‘capping their early-round tourney games.

And know hear this …

Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will keep beating the Las Vegas and offshore books with more College Basketball and NBA winners this month of March. So, let’s cash in big all this weekend right here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Just keep rollin’ in the profits with Jim Hurley – America’s #1 Handicapper – as this week alone we’ve cashed in big with: Valparaiso (+ 5.5) over Loyola-Chicago 74-73 in overtime in Friday’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament game; the Los Angeles Clippers (Pick ’Em) over the Houston Rockets 120-105 on Thursday night in NBA play; Villanova (+ 3.5) over Seton Hall 79-77 on Wednesday night; the Minnesota Timberwolves (+ 11) in outright upset fashion over Zion Williamson and New Orleans 139-134 in NBA play this past Tuesday; and we started off the week with a bang as we went “over” 153 points in Duke’s 88-69 win against N.C. State. Cha-ching!

In other Selection Sunday-related News & Notes …

There’s lots of folks talking about seeding but keep in mind – for the most part – there’s a sliding scale of sorts when the NCAA Tournament folks are deciding who to put on the #6-thru-#9 seed lines. The NCAA Tournament would rather not seek head-to-head conference matchups in the Saturday / Sunday games the first weekend so there’s the chance that, let’s say, Iowa would get a #7 seed and play a #10 seed in Stanford instead of putting Iowa on the #8 seed line and having ‘em play a #9 seed  in Rutgers. Got it? …

Also, the tourney folks would like to “spread out” same-conference teams: In a perfect world, for example, let’s say there are seven SEC teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament. The committee folks would like two SEC teams each in the East, two in the South, two in the Midwest and one SEC team out West. One handicapping note: Don’t just assume that, say, a couple of SEC teams don’t cover on the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament that the SEC teams will be “bad bets” on the first Friday of the “Big Dance”. Don’t judge a conference’s strength / weakness after one day of NCAA Tourney play …

Finally, anyone that’s been with us over the years here at Jim Sez knows there are certain specific “handicapping guides” we tend to go with in the first-round games:

Go against any power conference team – that’s ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — that had to win four games in four days to win its mini-tournament; they rarely have their legs for this first NCAA Tourney game. Even three mini-tourney wins in three straight days makes ‘em “iffy” in Round I of the big tournament.

Next, take any power conference team plus points that’s coming off an early-round mini-tourney loss; they have a “something-to-prove” attitude with a real focus;

And, lastly, check out the recent pointspread results: If we can grab a team — power conference or not – that rolls into the NCAA Tournament on a five-, six- or seven-game pointspread winning streak (or 6-of-7 spread covers, etc.) then we’ll give ‘em strong consideration.

 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