IT’S OUR NBA FIRST-HALF REPORT CARD GRADES – WE’RE CHECKING OUT THE EASTERN CONFERENCE
It’s been a real sweetheart season so far in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks (46-8, .852) and the defending champion Toronto Raptors (40-15, .727) – hey, the latter’s been an even bigger story with this 15-game winning streak in the “year-after-Kawhi Leonard” finally snapped this past Wednesday night in Brooklyn.
Now, we’re taking a few moments here to hand out NBA First-Half Report Card Grades to the 15 teams that play in the Eastern Conference. Tomorrow’s column gets you the grades from the NBA’s Western Conference and may we remind y’all that we’re not always so quick to hand out “A+” and “A” grades:
Here’s the pointspread standings for the NBA’s Eastern Conference teams (through Feb. 12) …
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NBA REPORT CARD GRADES – EASTERN CONFERENCE
TORONTO (40-15) – The single-biggest positive team story in this year’s NBA … and who would have “thunk” it after Mr. Leonard ditched Canada for LA cool! The Raptors have not missed a beat and you could make the case that this is the best-balanced team in the league what with five different players averaging 15.3 points per game or more and that’s starring All-Star Pascal Siakam (23.5 ppg). Three cheers for still-underrated head coach Nick Nurse.
BOSTON (37-16) – Gotta say that the positive “chemistry” is back in Beantown now that PG Kyrie Irving is gone and former Charlotte star PG Kemba Walker is running the show … but that was easy to spot. The fact is Brad Stevens’ crew is deep with three 20-ppg scorers including top gun Jayson Tatum (22.1 ppg).
MILWAUKEE (46-8) – No question there were high expectations for this year’s Bucks following that playoff meltdown versus Toronto last spring but so far, so good for MVP frontrunner Giannis Antetokounmpo (30.0 ppg) and Company. Hey, Milwaukee’s eight games above .500 spreadwise and that’s slick considering all the high price tags Mike Budenholzer’s club has been laying.
MIAMI (35-19) – Hats off to exec Pat Riley who has put together one of the league’s true overachieving teams as the offseason pick-up of G Jimmy Butler (20.6 ppg) was a brilliant stroke. True, the Heat’s a middle-of-the-road team in terms of scoring (15th in the NBA) and scoring defense (11th) but they squeeze out plenty from this roster.
INDIANA (32-23) – The recent six-game SU (straight-up) losing skid put a major dent into the Pacers’ grade and it’s odd how Indy’s actually regressed with star G Victor Oladipo back in the every-day lineup … hmmm.
PHILADELPHIA (34-21) – Go ahead and give the 76ers a round of applause for winning those close calls at home this year but the bottom line is Philly has not meshed well (playing .462 ball spreadwise) and the specter of trading away C Joel Embiid continues to loom over this “trust-the-process” franchise.
WASHINGTON (20-33) – The Wizards knew this one-man gang approach with G Bradley Beal averaging 29.1 ppg wasn’t gonna be easy and it doesn’t help matters being the worst defense in the sport!
CHARLOTTE (18-36) – Let’s face it, this Hornets’ team never was gonna be a playoff contender after parting ways with PG Walker but the worst offensive squad in the association? Geez … Malik Monk’s been a major three-point bust.
BROOKLYN (25-28) – We’re going on record to say the Nets should have left “well enough alone” last offseason … new import Irving has been in and out of the lineup at a dizzying pace and there’s been no real connection here. Bad job by GM Sean Marks and HC Kenny Atkinson. Have fun waiting for Kevin Durant to heal up!
ATLANTA (15-41) – Yes, second-year G Trae Young (29.7ppg) is already one of the league’s marquee players but this club plays next-to-zero defense (next-to-last in the league).
ORLANDO (24-31) – There’s simply too much talent on this Magic squad for ’em to be playing .436 ball SU and sub-.500 ball ATS (against the spread). We want more from jumping-jack Aaron Gordon.
NEW YORK (17-38) – The bar was set low-low-low for these Knicks who absolutely mish-mashed together a 2019-2020 roster and really hasn’t gotten much from third overall draftee R.J. Barrett (a mere 38.8 percent shooter).
CHICAGO (19-36) – We easily could have dropped the Bulls into the “D” grade category but toss ’em a bone because rookie C Wendell Carter, Jr. has missed some 18 games with injury.
CLEVELAND (14-40) – Not sure to this very day why former Michigan HC John Beilein exited the college scene for this mess and not much has gone good from “BelieveLand” the first 50-plus games.
DETROIT (19-38) – It’s become a real hoops “wasteland” in Motown as the Pistons are the worst pointspread side among Eastern Conference clubs (see chart above).
HERE’S THE NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST-HALF REPORT CARD GRADES
The annual NBA All-Star Game break is upon us and so that means it’s time for the 30 teams ’round the league to take a deep breath and re-charge those batteries. But there’s no time to rest here, nope. So, let’s go ahead and rock-n-roll through the remainder of the NBA First-Half Report Card Grades … we’ll get you the Western Conference teams right after this ATS (against the spread) chart:
NBA REPORT CARD GRADES – WESTERN CONFERENCE
OKLAHOMA CITY (33-22) – Make no mistake about it, this OKC Thunder crew has been the NBA’s “best bet” this year while playing .600 ball SU (straight-up) and .648 ball ATS and, of course, that’s following the off-season exodus of do-it-all PG Russell Westbrook. Head coach Billy Donovan has masterfully connected the dots on this 2019-2020 edition that spreads the wealth with three 19-plus ppg scorers in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroeder and Danilo Gallinari plus keep in mind Okie City sports a top 10-ranked defense too. The Thunder could be a major pain for the 2, 3 or 4 seeds in Round I of the Western Conference Playoffs this spring.
DALLAS (33-22) – Here’s your next-best bet from the West and hats off to the Mavericks for a snazzy 18-8 SU road record and the league’s third most productive attack featuring All-Star G Luka Doncic (28.9 ppg). Too bad Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis haven’t played together enough as both guys already have missed double-digit games.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (37-18) – The “other” Staples Center resident has four guys scoring 18 ppg-or-better and Doc Rivers’ squad entered the break having won 12 of their last 18 games SU; the Clips kick it with multi-NBA champ Kawhi Leonard (27.2 ppg) but he’s no one-man-band as Paul George (21.7 ppg), Lou Williams (19.5 ppg) and Montrezl Harrell (18.8 ppg) would be / could be numero uno options on most any other NBA squad.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (41-12) – True, the Lakers sport a healthy four-game lead over Denver in the West as we head into the break but we’re not tossing any purple-and-gold confetti into the air just yet when it comes to this year’s Lakers’ bunch. We’re wondering if the tragic death of five-time champion great Kobe Bryant will put “too much pressure” on LeBron James (25 points per game) and Anthony Davis (26.6 ppg) to snag a title this spring … fact is the Lakers’ won/loss mark is pretty much where we thought it would be at this time.
DENVER (38-17) – Okay, so the Nuggets were “our pick” to win the West this year and a near .700 winning percentage features a nifty 17-10 road record but gotta admit we thought Denver would be more explosive (just 18th in the NBA in scoring at 110.4 ppg). Center Nikola Jovic (team-leading 20.6 ppg) needs to be a better paint defender and we like but don’t love this bench.
MEMPHIS (28-26) – The arrival of rookie PG Ja Morant (17.6 ppg and 7.1 assists per game) has been an absolute godsend for this franchise that floundered for years. Love the fact the Grizzlies entered the break having won eight of their last 10 games SU.
UTAH (36-18) – In a league in which scoring’s way up, the Jazz still do it with “D” (sixth in the NBA) though we must point out that one-two punch Donovan Mitchell (24.3 ppg) and Bojan Bogdanovich (21 ppg) have been spectacular at times with the latter shooting 42.5 from 3-land.
GOLDEN STATE (12-43) – The state of affairs has never been good in “Dub Nation” this year but don’t blame savvy head coach Steve Kerr who has G-State playing hard most of the time (just two games below .500 spreadwise) without starry injured cast members Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
HOUSTON (34-20) – So, James Harden (35.3ppg) can go off for 40-plus point games all he wants but count us among the folks that believe the Rockets have regressed (see .500 record spreadwise).
SACRAMENTO (21-33) – Excuse us for saying, but it’s taking these Kings a loooong time to mature: There’s a batch of high draft picks on this squad including top scorers G Buddy Hield (20.4 ppg) and lefty PGG DeAaron Fox (19.7 ppg) but progress has been uber-slow. Out of the playoff chase weeks ago … ugh!
PHOENIX (22-33) – The pieces are starting to fit nicely in the Valley of the Sun with All-Star add-on G Devin Booker (26.4 ppg) the lead character here but would have liked to see PHX win a few more close ones (lost seven games by four points or less including a couple toughies in overtime).
SAN ANTONIO (23-31) – It’s not so easy without world champion-type players, huh Gregg Popovich? No question the Spurs have lost some real tough games but blowing a 27-point lead at 6.5-point fav Denver this past Monday night was an utter disaster!
PORTLAND (25-31) – Injured all-star Dame Lilliard has been nothing short of magnificent (see 29.5 ppg) and backcourt partner CJ McCollum (21.3 ppg) has been no slouch either but this has been a bad year so far for the T-Blazers who rank 26th league-wide in defense. Maybe it’s finally time to dump HC Terry Stotts.
MINNESOTA (16-37) – The worst spread side in the whole NBA has been a bitter disappointment and losing nine of their last 10 games SU has Minny in a major tank mode. Shame on them!
NEW ORLEANS (23-32) – Simply not fair to apply a grade to this Pelicans team that was forced to play some 45 games without stud rookie Zion Williamson.
NOTE: Get all the latest in the college hoops world in the next column.
THE COLLEGE B-BALL ROUNDUP –
HOW WE SEE THE TOP 8 SEEDS IN EACH REGION OF NEXT MONTH’S NCAA TOURNAMENT MADNESS …
PLUS, THE UPCOMING NFL DRAFT: HERE’S OUR PROJECTED PICKS #11 THRU #20
We know, we know: It’s not yet mid-February and so, granted, the start of this year’s NCAA Tournament remains a few weeks away but thought you might like an update on the “win-it-all” odds for this year’s so-called “Big Dance”. See what you think (prices below all based on $100 play):
TEAM – ODDS
Gonzaga + 850
Kansas + 900
“The Field” + 950
Baylor + 1000
Duke + 1000
Louisville + 1100
Michigan State + 1200
Oregon + 1600
San Diego State + 1600
Butler + 2000
Florida State + 2000
Kentucky + 2000
Ohio State + 2000
Seton Hall + 2500
Villanova + 2500
COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT
Let’s expand our NCAA Tournament look now that we’re digging deeper into the month of February – we’re getting you our top eight (8) seeds in each of the NCAA Tournament’s four regions (all subject to change, of course) –
EAST – Louisville, Maryland, Villanova, West Virginia, Butler, Penn State, Northern Iowa and Texas Tech
MIDWEST – Baylor, Duke, Auburn, Oregon, Iowa, Houston, Arizona and Ohio State
SOUTH – Kansas, Florida State, Dayton, Michigan State, Creighton, LSU, Marquette and Stanford
WEST – Gonzaga, San Diego State, Seton Hall, Kentucky, Illinois, Colorado, Wichita State and Oklahoma
If you’re trying to slip onto the #1 or #2 NCAA Tournament seeds, then we’d say a West Virginia title in the upcoming Big 12 Conference mini-tourney could get the Mountaineers there and ditto for a potential Big East regular season / conference mini-tourney one-two punch for Seton Hall or Villanova …
And – we know you’re wondering – our aforementioned “First Four” games in Dayton that annually tipoff the NCAA Tournament could include tilts such as VCU vs. Western Kentucky and Wisconsin vs Texas …
Finally, from the pointspread files we’ll let you know that Arkansas State (17-7 against the spread), Hofstra (17-7 ATS), North Texas (16-6-1 ATS), South Dakota State (17-7 ATS) and Yale (15-5 ATS) are the only Division 1 teams that are playing 10 (or more) games above the .500 mark versus the vig.
NFL DRAFT TALK 2020
Okay, so we’re just a little bit more than a full week removed from the conclusion of the NFL season but already there’s plenty of bubbling talk about the upcoming NFL Draft. Here’s some of what may happen as we head towards April 23rd as we deliver our projected picks #11 thru #20, but first we repeat our top 10 selections:
1. CINCINNATI – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
2. WASHINGTON – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
3. DETROIT – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
4. NY GIANTS – Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia
5. MIAMI – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
6. LA CHARGERS -Jedrick Willis, OL, Alabama
7. CAROLINA – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
8. ARIZONA – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
9. JACKSONVILLE, Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa
10.CLEVELAND – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
11. NEW YORK JETS (7-9) – Mekhi Becton, OL, Louisville: Let’s get this straight … The J-E-T-S will be snagging an offensive lineman with this first-round pick though insiders say they like Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs better than this ‘Ville blocker. Tough luck!
12. LAS VEGAS (7-9) — Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama: Now that Raiders Nation is moving out of the Bay Area, this Jon Gruden-coached squad will emphasize more deep shots downfield (no matter who’s the quarterback).
13. INDIANAPOLIS (7-9) – Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina: The Colts’ faithful will be screaming for a quarterback but gotta believe Indy will sign someone in free agency and possibly make QB Jacoby Brissett a second-stringer that way once again.
14. TAMPA BAY (7-9) – A.J. Epenesa, Edge Rusher, Iowa: Whether or not QB Jameis Winston comes back to the Bucs, gotta say T-Bay won’t grab at a quarterback here. Just watch.
15. DENVER (7-9) – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma: Truth is we don’t believe Broncos’ boss John Elway is looking for a wide-out here with this draft choice but this explosive pass-catcher fell in his lap and so a top 10 talent gives WR Courtland Sutton major help for QB Drew Lock.
16. ATLANTA (7-9) – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU: Pass-happy NFC South means the Falcons better shore up the back end on “D” and here’s a start.
17. DALLAS (8-8) – Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado: Why do we get a feeling that the Cowboys would like to make a big splash here? This Buff speed-burner – if he can just stay healthy – could be a Pro Bowl-type in his second or third year on the job.
18. MIAMI (5-11) – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama: Remember the Dolphins have the fifth overall pick (we say they go with QB Tua Tagovailoa) and so they’ll go defense here and grab Tua’s teammate from Tuscaloosa.
19. LAS VEGAS (7-9) – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama: Most draft boards believe he’s a legit top 15 talent and so Mr. Gruden won’t pass up this stud who will hit anything that moves. P.S., this would make six Alabama Crimson Tide selections before we even get to pick #20.
20. JACKSONVILLE (6-10) – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon: Is the Nick Foles Experiment already doomed? And what about Gardner Minshew? Now, Jaguars take another bite out of the QB apple and take best available slinger here after we say AFC South squad nabs an offensive lineman (see Iowa’s Wirfs) with #9 overall pick.
NOTE: Catch our College Hoop updates plus lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez. And this weekend it’s our annual NBA Report Card Grades.
THE COLLEGE HOOPS NOTEBOOK – RANKING THE TOP CONFERENCES (THAT’S 1-THRU-10)
Hey, who’s counting … but we’re now just 34 days away from “Selection Sunday” and there’s already lots of debate regarding who’s the best conference / league of them all. So, we’ll spend a few moments on getting you the answer but first this quickie reminder: Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging out plenty of NBA and College Basketball winners right here online or at 1-800-323-4453. Just keep rollin’ in the profits with America’s #1 Handicapper!
COLLEGE BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK
Okay, so let’s go right ahead and rank for you our top 10 College Basketball Conferences / Leagues following an exciting hoops weekend that featured Duke’s hard-to-explain 98-96 overtime non-cover win at 7.5-point underdog North Carolina (an easy “over” winner for Jim Hurley!) on Saturday night along with Sunday’s winners with Notre Dame (- 1) over Clemson 61-57 and Iona’s rocking-chair 78-54 win at 2.5-point fav Fairfield. So there!
1. BIG EAST – Hey, we have great respect for USA Today numbers-cruncher Jeff Sagarin but we’re gonna respectfully disagree with the top of his conference chart here as the 10-team Big East could (or should) have as many as seven teams in the NCAA Tournament mix and the likes of Seton Hall, Creighton, Marquette and free-falling Villanova all could find themselves somewhere on the #1-thru-#4 seed lines. In fact, toss Butler into the mix and the Big East boasts five teams with a “Net” of 25-or-below. Good stuff.
2. BIG 12 – Admittedly, it’s a tight 1-2-3 fit among the Big 10, Big East and Big 12 but the fact that mighty Kansas – Sagarin’s top-ranked team in all the land – spearheads this 10-team conference gives ’em the slightest of edges over “third-place” Big 10 here. Right now, we’d probably only put either five or six teams from this conference into the “Big Dance” with Baylor, Kansas and West Virginia likely garnering #1-thru-3 seeds.
3. BIG 10 – Here’s our honest-to-goodness take on this 14-team conference: There’s a very good chance that we’ll get as many as nine teams into the NCAA Tourney field but, except for the eventual conference tournament champ, the remainder of the Big 10 teams that snag a tourney berth will wind up on the #4-thru-10 seed lines. In short, lots of Big 10 volume, but maybe only one or teams that have legit shots to win it all. So, that hurts the ranking a tad here.
4. ACC – The fact that North Carolina (heroic as it was against the Dookies the other night) is having the program’s worst season in decades truly hurts the league’s reputation this 2019-2020 season plus we feel that there’s only three teams here that can win it all (that’s Duke, Louisville and Florida State) and we’re actually not all that keen on this Duke bunch. The bottom part of the ACC is bad, so this Tobacco Road conference drops more than a couple of lengths back behind the Big East, Big 12 and Big 10.
5. SEC – Okay, so there’s not a single SEC team with a “Net” of 14-or-better and so that hurts the overall power ranking of the SEC but Auburn, Kentucky and LSU all could land along the #3-4 seed line in next month’s NCAA’s. Gotta admit we’ve been waiting for a Miss State or South Carolina to take off and become a real-life top 25 team on a weekly basis.
6. PAC-12 – The last of the so-called power conferences slips into sixth place in our conference rankings but now here this: Don’t be surprised if more than half of the Pac-12 teams climb their way into the big tourney as we could see the likes of double-digit loss teams UCLA and Washington State sneaking in as part of “last four in” or maybe even one of ’em gets to play in the “First Four” tilts in Dayton on March 17 or 18.
7. AMERICAN ATHLETIC – Some of the “Net” numbers may not show it but we most definitely count Houston, Cincinnati and Wichita State as legitimate top 40 teams (these AAC teams should occupy some of the #7, #8 and #9 seeds).
8. MOUNTAIN WEST – Mr. Sagarin has this MWC in tenth place overall while ranking the 33 conferences / leagues in all the land but we like what we see from Utah State and Nevada and let’s not “bury the lead” as unbeaten (as in 24-and-oh) San Diego State has convinced us that it’s one of the top five teams in the country.
9. ATLANTIC 10 – No ifs, ands or buts about it as the Dayton Flyers have elevated the rep of this whole 14-team league all by their lonesome. Still, we’re wondering if the A-10 gets more than three teams into this year’s tourney field.
10. WEST COAST – It’s quite likely that we have underrated this WCC that stars 25-and-1 Gonzaga along with better-than-you-think BYU and Saint Mary’s but the bottom feeders here are among the worst teams in the country.
NOTE – Catch our next Jim Sez as we get you more College B-Ball News/Notes plus NBA goodies too and remember we’ll have NBA Report Cards later this week. And, yes, there’s NFL Draft notes comin’ too!
NFL DRAFT – HERE’S A “FIRST PEEK” AT HOW WE SEE TOP 10 PICKS …
COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT – THE BEST & WORST COACHING JOBS (SO FAR) OF THIS 2019-2020 SEASON
Alas, the National Football League season is in the books with the Kansas City Chiefs snapping a 50-year title-less drought … but there’s not too much time to celebrate ’cause KC and all the other 31 teams in NFL-land already are bracing for the Draft come April 23-25. We’ll venture out to getcha our top10 selections (for now)
NFL DRAFT TALK 2020
Okay, so we’re not even a full week removed from the conclusion of the NFL season – yes, three cheers for the Chiefs once again! — but already there’s plenty of bubbling talk about the upcoming NFL Draft. Here’s some of what may – or may not – happen as we head towards April 23rd:
1, CINCINNATI (2-14) – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU: Folks, the Bengals want / need to change the whole losing mind-set in Cincy but we believe there’s a decent chance that they select the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner and then trade ’em to Carolina for the #7 overall pick plus bodies and/or future draft choices.
2. WASHINGTON (3-13) – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State: If the ‘Skins don’t select the top overall talent in this man’s draft then we’d be truly shocked. Young didn’t have a great Fiesta Bowl / national semifinal playoff game against Clemson but his overall “body of work” is brilliant.
3. DETROIT (3-12-1) – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State: Our sources say the Lions are trying their hardest to pry that second overall pick away from Washington but no dice. So, the woe-be-gone Motowners will grab the next-best defensive player from the O-State Buckeyes. And he’s not a bad “consolation prize”.
4. NEW YORK GIANTS (4-12) – Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia: It’s no secret that this NFC East squad must patch some major holes along the offensive line and so, to help keep second-year QB Daniel Jones in the “upright position”, the G-men snag this 320-plus pounder.
5. MIAMI (5-11) – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: Okay, so we’re gonna buy this prevailing notion that the Dolphins are indeed gonna grab this lefty slinger with mucho past injury problems and maybe let Ryan Fitzpatrick be first-string this year while Tagovailoa gets his body rested and all healed up for the 2021 campaign.
6. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (5-11) – Jedrick Willis, Jr., OL, Alabama: The opinion ’round Chargers country is that this AFC West gang will snatch up a quarterback now that Philip Rivers is gonesville but we say the Bolts go elsewhere for a signal-caller (maybe Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston, we’ll see) and so O-line becomes the top priority here.
7. CAROLINA (5-11) – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn: Again, we say there’s a solid shot that QB Burrow will be headed to Charlotte when all the dust settles, so this pick could wind up in Cincinnati. In any event, Brown’s a game-buster type from the interior D-line and he plays his best in the big games.
8. ARIZONA (5-10-1) – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama: This one’s gonna be a controversial pick because Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray would like to pair up with former Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb (who is actually rated higher than Jeudy) but second-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury prefers this ‘Bama burner.
9. JACKSONVILLE (6-10) – Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa: If the Jaguars want to dangle this pick, then be sure the likes of some 2019 playoff teams (see Green Bay, Minnesota and Houston) would love to move up for skilled position help. P.S., most draft boards have Wirfs going in the 15-to-20 range.
10. CLEVELAND (6-10) – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson: The Browns’ new management team will “play it safe” and take the best available talent here but the caveat is if Cleveland can trade WR Odell Beckham, Jr. then aforementioned WR Lamb will be the apple of this team’s proverbial eye.
THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT – BEST & WORST COACHING JOBS (SO FAR)
Let’s get you out top three choices for Best & Worst Coaching Jobs so far here in 2019-2020:
Here’s the Best Coaching Jobs through the first full week of February …
Anthony Grant, Dayton … Always been one of our sideline favorites and his 20-and-2 Flyers could be snatching up a #3 or #4 seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament.
Brian Dutcher, San Diego State … How ‘ya going to ignore this Aztecs head coach who has his Mountain West Conference club sitting there at 23-and-oh?
Mark Pope, BYU … The Coogs have covered 11 of their last 15 games and find ways to win late with great out-of-bound plays.
Here’s the Worst Coaching Jobs through the first full week of February …
Danny Hurley, UConn … The Huskies are just 12-10 SU (straight-up) and have regressed badly despite that Thursday night upset win at 2.5-point fav Tulsa.
Mike Anderson, St. John’s … Heck, we applauded this out-of-left-field choice for this Big East team but blowing a 17-point lead against Georgetown last week was typical.
Steve Prohm, Iowa State … The Cyclones entered the weekend 2-7 SU in Big 12 play and they find different ways to lose every night. I-State should be better than this.
NOTE: Catch our College Hoop daily updates plus lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez – and make sure to stay tuned for next week’s NBA Report Card Grades.
THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT – HERE ARE A BATCH OF TOP SATURDAY MATCHUPS PLUS, SOME POTENTIAL “SLEEPERS” IN MARCH
Let’s set the table for a big Saturday of College Basketball hoops – and it even includes the first Duke vs. North Carolina duel of the year (okay, so it ain’t like the good old days, we know) and a behemoth battle in the Big East.
Time to rock-n-roll but first this key reminder … Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers beat the Las Vegas and offshore books all throughout the NFL Playoffs / Super Bowl LIV and so it’s time to move on to the hardwood – make sure to cash in big with NBA and College Basketball Winners all week and all month long right here online or 1-800-323-4453. Cha-ching!
On Saturday, it’s …
#2 GONZAGA (23-1, 9-0) at SAINT MARY’S (19-5, 6-3) – 10 p.m. ET, ESPN
It’s looking more and more as if Gonzaga is gonna nail down the #1 NCAA Tournament seed in the West but this one’s a real test in Moraga – the visiting Zags average a Division 1-best 88.6 points per game but Saint Mary’s has some serious star power … can G Jordan Ford (21.1 ppg) get hot and steal this West Coast Conference clash?
Spread Notes – Gonzaga has banged out pointspread winners in five of its last seven games but note the Zags are only 12-10 ATS (against the spread) overall this year.
VIRGINIA (15-6, 7-4) at #5 LOUISVILLE (20-3, 11-1) – 4 p.m.ET, ESPN
The defending champion Virginia Cavaliers are merely “bubble-worthy” right now while there’s plenty of in-the-know folks claiming this ‘Ville bunch might well be the best team in the land as the Cardinals have won nine in a row SU (straight-up) and note the last four straight have been by twin-digit margins.
Spread Notes – One of the really big betting stories in college hoops this year is that the defending champ UVa Cavaliers are a rotten 6-15 ATS and that includes 2-9 spread log when playing outside the ACC.
#7 DUKE (19-3, 9-2) at NORTH CAROLINA (10-12, 3-8) – 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
Can you imagine an NCAA Tourney without the UNC Tar Heels? Safe to say unless Roy Williams’ club gets healthy real fast and gets its act together in a nano-second, the Chapel Hill crew will be out of the hunt altogether for any post-season berth. The Dookies need the inside / outside force of C Vernon Carey, Jr. (17.8 ppg) and G Tre Jones (15.2 ppg) to take 40+plus shots from the field …okay?
Spread Notes – The Carolina Tar Heels are 8-14 versus the vig this hoops season but truth is UNC’s covered four of its last five games. On the flip side, Duke is just 6-5 spreadwise in games against ACC competition.
#12 SETON HALL (17-5, 9-1) at #10 VILLANOVA (17-5, 7-3) – 2:30 p.m. ET, Fox
No doubt both Seton Hall and ‘Nova have been struggling in recent days but both are quite capable of getting onto the NCAA Tournament’s No. 2 seed line – and keep in mind this is just the first of what could be three head-to-head showdowns in the next 35 days. Villanova’s lost back-to-back against Butler and Creighton this past week; The Hall has lost just once since mid-December (a 74-62 home setback against Xavier last Saturday) but the Pirates have not been sharp for a few games now …maybe G Myles Powell (22 ppg) has his own coming-out party in Philly here.
Spread Notes – Despite some recent stumbles (1-3-1 ATS in last five games), Seton Hall is a rock-solid 14-7-1 spreadwise this year.
In other NCAA Basketball News & Notes … Okay, so we’re still weeks away from “March Madness” but gotta go on record to state we see these teams as potential “sleepers” next month:
RHODE ISLAND (17-5, 9-1) – This Atlantic-10 squad is hot-hot-hot these with a nine-game SU winning streak these days and star Fatts Russell (and don’t you just love that name!) leads the league in scoring (20.1 ppg) and ranks third nationally in steals per game (3.0). Don’t be shocked if the Rams are Sweet 16-bound in late March.
MISS STATE (14-8, 5-4) – The way we see things right now, the SEC’s gonna get seven or maybe even eight teams into this year’s “Big Dance” and one of ’em is gonna be this Bulldogs bunch that sports high-quality head coach Ben Howland (see past Final Fours with UCLA) and a balanced attack headed up by F Reggie Perry (17.1 ppg). Could see these Dawgs getting a #7 or #8 NCAA Tourney seed and popping a Round II upset. So, stay tuned.
YALE (16-4, 4-0) – Okay, so we really haven’t seen an Ivy League take off and make serious hay in the NCAA Tournament in 40-plus years (see 1979 Penn Quakers that made it to the Final Four and got mashed by Magic Johnson and Michigan State) but this could well be a special season for the Yalies and boss man James Jones who has been on the job since the 1999-2000 campaign. P.S., Yale lost to LSU by just five points in last year’s first round of tourney play – maybe that experience springboards ’em here.
NOTE: More College Hoop updates plus lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez as we get into the NFL Draft, NBA News & Notes and more!
Sunday Web Ads
For January 26, 2020
Set To Win Three Showdown College Games Today
Two Of Today’s Best Bets Contests Are Battles
For First Place In Their Conferences, The 3rd
Game A Major Grudge Matchup
My Best Bets Basketball Club finally had a losing day Saturday but is primed to bounce right back today with the winners of three nationally televised games. Two of the contests are for teams battling for first place in their conferences, and the third a grudge match involving teams that definitely do not like one another.
The games will be released as 15-unit plays, and you can win them for just $10 on this 3-0 Sunday. And, yes, I am confident I will bounce right back and win them all.
An even better bet would be to sign up for the entire Best Bets Club college and NBA seasons for just $195. If it better fits your needs, you also can play for a week (7 days) for just $40, or for two weeks (14 days) for just $60.
Best Bets Club 13-6-1 Last 7 Days
1/25…15 Units…Clemson (+9.5) 62, Louisville 80 (Lost)
1/25…15 Units…BYU (-2.5) 82, San Francisco 83 (Lost)
1/12…Florida (-2) 61, Baylor 72 (Lost)
1/24…15 Units…Marquette (+6) 85, Butler 89 (Won)
1/24…10 Units…Yale (-5.5) 73, Brown 62 (Won)
1/23…15 Units…Minnesota (+7.5) 62, Ohio State 59 (Won)
1/23…15 Units…Indiana (+3.5) 67, Michigan State 63 (Won)
1/23…15 Units…USC (+10) 70, Oregon 79 (Won)
1/22…15 Units…Bradley (-9.5) 75, Illinois State 63 (Won)
1/22…15 Units…Mississippi State (-4) 77, Arkansas 70 (Won)
1/22…15 Units…South Carolina (+11) 67, Auburn 80 (Lost)
1/21…15 Units…New Mexico (-11.5) 86, San Jose State 59 (Won)
1/21…15 Units…Kent State (-9.5) 69, Northern Illinois 76 (Lost)
1/20…15 Units…N.C. State (+4.5) 52, Virginia 61 (Won)
1/20…15 Units…Oklahoma (+10) 57, Baylor 61 (Won)
1/19…15 Units…Rutgers (-5.5) 64, Minnesota 56 (Won)
1/19…10 Units…North Dakota State (-8) 83, North Dakota 74 (Won)
1/18…15 Units…Northern Iowa (+1) 86, Bradley 71 (Won)
1/18…15…San Diego State (-13) 68, Nevada 55 (Push)
1/18…15 Units…Murray State (-10) 96, SE Missouri State 91 (Lost)
Another College Blowout Gets It Done Today
South Carolina Was Released As A Blowout
Winner Yesterday And Came Through With
90-64 Win…Right Back Today With Another One
We are at the point of the basketball season where the good teams get better and the lesser teams fall deeper by the wayside. My Chairman’s Basketball Club proved that again yesterday as the South Carolina Gamecocks (-12) crushed a terrible Vanderbilt team, 90-64. The Gamecocks are at their best and four games back had beaten Kentucky while Vanderbilt had lost six straight.
This is the nature of every basketball season. The good teams are at this point prepared to continue while the bad teams, for whatever the reasons, are disgusted, down-hearted and worn out.
This situation has opened the door for blowout winners, and we have another such game today that should do exactly that. I am releasing the winner of this game as a 25-unit bet and you can win it for just $15, charged to your major credit card or to Pay Pal.
Break The Bank Tonight With 50-Unit NBA Parlay
There Are Two Teams On Tonight’s 8-Game
NBA Schedule That Are Standout Plays
And I Am Releasing Them In A 50-Unit Parlay
There is a time and a place in all sports for all kinds of different wagers and tonight the NBA is front and center for a 50-unit 2-team parlay bet that should bury your bookmaker as it delivers a load of money to you. My figures say both teams of the parlay are in the perfect spots to win in dominating fashion.
I have had an excellent NBA season and intend to keep right on cashing tickets tonight. The bet will be 20-units on both winners and a 10-unit parlay. You can get the money on this 3-0 night for just $15, charged to your major credit card or to Pay Pal.
OKAY, SO SUPER BOWL LIV MAY STILL BE MORE THAN A WEEK AWAY BUT WE’VE GOT PLENTY TO SAY ABOUT NINERS, CHIEFS …
OUR COLLEGE ROUND-BALL NOTEBOOK FEATURES MID-MAJOR TALK: IT’S MORE THAN JUST GONZAGA, SAN DIEGO STATE & DAYTON, YOU KNOW!
Super Bowl LIV really will be here before you know it!
P.S., did you know that the Kansas City Chiefs entered this here-and-now season priced at + 650 to “win it all” while the San Francisco 49ers were priced at + 2800?
Bless ‘ya if you happen to be holding tickets on either / both of them.
In the meantime, there’s plenty to say about both the 49ers and the Chiefs and we’ll spend a few moments here in today’s Jim Sez discussing the two head coaches and their respective records ATS (against the spread):
KYLE SHANAHAN, San Francisco 49ers … Here’s the pointspread lowdown on this third-year head coach:
Shanahan’s squad has cranked out a 12-6-1 spread mark this season and note overall he’s 26-24-1 against the odds as an NFL head coach (a .520 winning percentage).
Under Shanahan, the Niners are a collective 7-6 spreadwise this year as betting favorites and 4-0 ATS as underdogs (and 1-0 ATS in a Pick ‘Em game against Cincinnati in Week 2) and so that makes Mike Shanahan’s son a composite 8-11 spreadwise as a favorite and 17-13 ATS as a dog in his brief career.
Finally, San Francisco is 9-3 versus the vig in games this year outside the NFC West – that includes these back-to-back playoff wins / covers against Minnesota and Green Bay – and overall the Niners are 18-14 ATS (a .563 winning rate) in non-division games during Shanahan’s three-year reign.
ANDY REID, Kansas City Chiefs … The best NFL head coach “not to win a Super Bowl” has his shot here in SB 54.
And you shouldn’t necessarily be surprised that Reid is a collective 69-50-2 ATS (a .580 wining rate) overall as the seventh-year boss-man of the Chiefs and that includes a snazzy 12-5-1 against-the-odds mark this year. Note that Reid’s KC club is 10-4-1 spreadwise as a betting favorite this year and the AFC champs are 48-38-1 vig-wise as chalk sides since the start of the 2013 campaign. The Chiefs are 7-5 ATS in non-divisional games this season and a combined 15-9 ATS the past two years when going outside the AFC West.
Dig a bit deeper and you’ll see that the Chiefs are sub-.500 in post-season play under Reid – they’re 4-5 ATS and that does include this year’s playoff wins / covers against Houston and Tennessee – but whatta way to enter Supe 54 as Kansas City’s a rollicking 7-0-1 against the odds ever since losing that Week 10 game in Tennessee.
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will finish off this NFL Season with a real bang come Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, Feb. 2nd as we get you the Side & Totals winners of the San Francisco 49ers versus the Kansas City Chiefs. No doubt you know that Jim’s had a monster playoff season in the NFL this year and so go ahead and keep on piling up the profits when we get to Super Bowl 54 … and all this week with NBA and NCAA Basketball action. Just call us on game days at the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here
COLLEGE BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK
Why, of course, we’ve all noticed!
Right this minute there are three non-power conference teams residing in the Associated Press’ top seven squads – that’s #2 Gonzaga, #4 San Diego State and #7 Dayton and then scan down a bit and there’s #20 Memphis and #25 Houston … and wouldn’t it be an absolute pip if one or two of these squads crashed the Final Four party this year?
Gotta say we – and the rest of the hoops world – don’t really look at either Gonzaga nor San Diego State as so-called “mid-majors” anymore as they’ve long since found themselves at the “adult’s table” when it comes to NCAA Tournaments past and naturally Dayton, Memphis and Houston all have enjoyed shiny pasts in the big tourney at one time or another over the years.
No, the mid-majors we’ve looking at right here / right now includes a couple of teams that should make it to this year’s “Big Dance” and could thrive when they get there:
WRIGHT STATE (17-4,7-1 Horizon League) – Say this for the Raiders: They can “score the ball” as the Horizon League leaders average 80.9 points per game (that’s 17th-best in Division 1 ball) while heading into Friday night’s game versus Northern Kentucky. True, there may be no “signature wins” outside the conference but Wright State losses thus far have come by 1, 2, 7 (in OT) and 4 points and so this club has been a model of consistency.
The NCAA Tournament Forecast: We say Wright State’s a #14 seed and could give some #3 seed out there a major run for the money.
NORTHERN IOWA (16-3, 5-2 Missouri Valley Conference) – The NIU Panthers exited Wednesday night’s 68-66 loss at Southern Illinois having won 10 of their last 12 games and note the five-game winning streak heading into the SIU game came by an average of 12.2 ppg. In other words, Northern Iowa’s hitting its proverbial stride (and don’t forget that NIU defeated power conference South Carolina earlier this season).
The NCAA Tournament Forecast: Gotta say Northern Iowa’s either a #10 or #11 seed right now and wouldn’t it be a blast if we got a first-round tourney game between, let’s say, a #7 Virginia vs. a #10 Northern Iowa. Hmmm.
NOTE: Folks, there’s more Super Bowl LIV News / Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.
COLLEGE B-BALL’S BIG WINTER WEEKEND – WE CHECK OUT THE SATURDAY / SUNDAY LANDSCAPE FOR A BATCH OF RANKED TEAMS …
SUPER BOWL 54 QUICK-HITTERS
As we said at this very time a year ago on these Jim Sez web pages … It’s the weekend before Super Bowl LIV – so that means it is time to hunker down with a whole lot of college hoops. So, let’s check out what a batch of ranked teams are up to this weekend:
THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL WEEKEND REPORT
On Saturday, it’s …
#1 BAYLOR (16-1) at FLORIDA (12-6) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Big 12 / SEC Challenge has some hot-hot-hot matchups on tap this weekend but let’s concentrate here on the top team in the land … the Baylor Bears are the seventh different team to sit atop the Associated Press Top 25 poll this year and now Scott Drew’s squad heads into Gainesville for a monster hoops matchup. True, the Gators historically are only 2-16 SU (straight-up) all time against No. 1 teams but 6-foot-10 Kerry Blackshear, Jr. – who is averaging 14.8 ppg and 8.7 rebs a game – is quite capable of taking over a game but will he be effective when going up against Baylor’s unique four-guard attack? The Bears’ Jared Butler (16.1 ppg) is the main spark to this offense, one that’s helped Baylor go 11-6 against the odds so far in 2019-20. The Gators are 8-10 vig-wise this season so far.
TENNESSEE (12-6) at #3 KANSAS (15-3) – 4 p.m. ET, ESPN
This one’s also part of the SEC vs. Big 12 challenge but the looming question here is what will this Kansas Jayhawks team look like following the suspensions laid down following that ugly win against Kansas State the other night? Reserve F Silvio DeSousa (12 game-suspension) and starting F David McCormack (two-game suspension) are both out here and so coach Bill Self’s counting on frosh G Christian Braun (game-high 20 points against K-State). The Jayhawks – who have covered 10 of their last 13 games overall — are 11-7 against the odds this year and that includes a current three-game spread winning streak; Tennessee’s covered just five of its last 14 games since late November.
#9 VILLANOVA (15-3, 5-1) at PROVIDENCE (11-9, 4-3) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
The recent two-time NCAA champion ‘Nova Wildcats (see 2016 and ’18) – who happen to be just 8-10 ATS (against the spread) this year – have been a bit too up-and-down for head coach Jay Wright’s liking despite the current five-game SU winning streak. Note the ‘Cats are a money-toasting 5-9 versus the vig since mid-November and they’ve been bogged down by slow starts in many of their games this year. The flip side is a Providence club that’s a shaky 7-11-1 ATS this year and note the Friars are dead-last in the Big East in shooting percentage at just 40.5 pct … ugh!
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will finish off this NFL Season with a real bang come Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, Feb. 2nd as we get you the Side & Totals winners of the San Francisco 49ers versus the Kansas City Chiefs. No doubt you know that Jim’s had a monster playoff season in the NFL this year and so go ahead and keep on piling up the profits when we get to Super Bowl 54 … and all this weekend with NBA and NCAA Basketball action. Just call us on game days at 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here
On Sunday, it’s …
#4 SAN DIEGO STATE (20-0, 9-0) at UNLV (11-10, 6-2) – 4 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Everything’s clicking for the SDSU Aztecs these days: Head coach Brian Dutcher’s squad is trying to impress upon voters they deserve a #1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, thanks in large part to the fourth-best scoring defense in Division 1 (allowing just 56.7 ppg). Now, the Mountain West Conference leaders – a snazzy 12-5-1 ATS this hoops season – goes into Las Vegas for a showdown against the league’s second-best team and gotta believe State guards Malachi Flynn and Jordan Schakel (a combined 85 triples made) are gonna have to heat up from deep to cover this road bash.
#11 MICHIGAN STATE (14-5, 6-2) at MINNESOTA (11-8, 5-4) – 3 p.m. ET, Fox
This Big 10 battle in the Twin Cities is a key clash for the visiting Spartans who are just 9-10 against the odds and comin’ off that 67-63 loss at Indiana on Thursday night. If Tom Izzo’s team has any designs on getting a top four seed in this year’s NCAA Tourney, then winning conference road games is a must. P.S., Minnesota is 12-7 ATS this hoops season.
SUPER BOWL LIV QUICK HITTERS
Here’s a few numbers / stats you might not have been aware of as we head towards Super Bowl 54 in Miami on Sunday, February 2nd:
The Kansas City Chiefs are 11-1-1 ATS when holding opponents below 30 points a game this year and KC’s averaged 32.7 ppg ever since that Week 12 bye;
The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, covered three of their four games against the AFC North this year and overall the Niners are 8-3 ATS against AFC foes since midway of the 2017 season.
NOTE: There’s more Super Bowl LIV News / Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.
I’ve enjoyed my 5th consecutive
successful football season as a
public handicapper. Now I’m ready to Slam the Boards in Basketball and build bankroll for Super Bowl Sunday, February 2 in Miami
After winning in the regular season and Bowls…after sweeping 3-0 in the College Playoffs, topped by LSU (-5) over Clemson 42-25 in the Championship…
I Turned the NFL Playoffs into Payoffs!!
WON BOTH CONFERNCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
J19 #1 49ers (-7½) over Packers 37-20 W
#2 Chiefs (-7) over Titans 35-24 W
WENT 3-1 IN THE DIVISIONAL ROUND
J12 #2 Chiefs (-9½) over Texans 51-31 W
#3 Packers (-4½) over Seahawks 28-23 W
J11 #1 Ravens (-9½) over Titans 12-28 L
#4 49ers (-7) over Vikings 27-10 W
WON MY TOP TWO WILD CARDS
J5 #2 Seahawks (+1) over Eagles 17-9 W
J4 #1 Titans (+5) over Patriots 20-13 W
Now It Is On To the Super Bowl on Sunday,
Chiefs (-1, 52) vs. 49ers
WIN THE SIDE – WIN THE TOTAL – WIN MY TOP PROPS
I’m confident of another Super Bowl winner, I’ve gone 22-9 for 71% in the last 31!
Besides the normal every-game
handicapping queries that we must answer like…
Who wins the battle of the trenches, the turnover margin, and special teams play: The Chiefs and 49ers pose some serious handicapping questions to consider.
- Can Coach Andy Reid finally win the Big One and bring a title to KC after 50 years?
- Can the Chiefs come back from a double-digit deficit like they’ve done the past 2 games, or do they need to win it wire-to-wire?
- Can the Chiefs run the ball effectively enough to take some of the pressure off Pat Mahomes?
- Will Mahomes be able to pass successfully against the Niners with their powerful pass rush and All-Pro secondary
- Who will the 49ers double-team? Kelce, Hill, both? That may open up lanes like vs. Titans
- Can the Chiefs defense slow down or stop the 49ers powerful ground game?
- Will Jimmy Garoppolo be forced to throw more often and will he be effective if he does?
- What skill players match up best and will be good prop plays while over-performing?
- Which players will under-perform, and be solid go-against prop plays?
- Which team will win avoid costly penalties, and turnovers?
I’ll have answers to all…
And to make sure you win even bigger, I’m going to give you FREE, Two Weeks of my basketball plays. Sure most people know me as a football guy, chatting and analyzing with my good friend Chris Berman on ESPNs SportsCenter, but my followers will tell you I Know Basketball. After all, my Basketball Players are winning at a solid 63.9% clip, and I’ve won my top NBA Play 20 of the last 24 and 7 of 11 in college!
Football Bettors! Take my advice…Bet Basketball!
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What the media says about Hank:
- “Hank knows how to pick
winners, he makes people money, and keeps their wallets fat.”
Rich Eisen: NFL Network and CBS Sportsline.
- “On SportsCenter, viewers understood it wasn’t a question of WHO Hammerin Hank liked but WHY and for HOW MUCH!” GameDay
IT’S NFL WEEK 15 AND WE
KICK THINGS OFF WITH A JETS-RAVENS
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW
PLUS, A WHOLE LOT MORE! …
TIME TO HAND OUT OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Go ahead and raise your hand if you thought at the very start of this 2019 NFL season the Baltimore Ravens were gonna be the #1 seed in the upcoming AFC Playoffs.
C’mon, nobody saw this 11-and-2 SU (straight-up) start coming and – get this – the AFC North-leading Ravens could wind up regular-season play riding a 12-game winning streak when you consider these final three weeks includes games against the woeful New York Jets, at the underachieving Cleveland Browns in Week 16 and then home in Week 17 against the always short-handed Pittsburgh Steelers.
We’ll get to the Jets vs. Ravens preview in a moment but now hear this …
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be banging out lots of College Football Bowl Game winners straight ahead (the 41 Bowl Games kick off Friday, Dec. 20th) and NFL Week 15 gets all revved up beginning with this Thursday Night Football bash between the New York Jets at the Baltimore Ravens. Go ahead and sign up now for our special Bowl Bonanza Package — and get in on the special early-bird price, to boot! — and get all the NFL, NBA and College Basketball winners too. Call us at the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here at www.jimhurley.com.
On Thursday Night Football, it’s …
NEW YORK JETS (5-8) at BALTIMORE (11-2) – 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox and NFL Network
Here’s the basic facts, Jack:
The host Ravens – a 14.5-point betting favorite at this writing – have not lost a game since late September and zoom into this prime-time clash with the NFL’s numero uno ground game (200.9 yards per game) and the runaway choice for this year’s MVP as second-year megastar QB Lamar Jackson may be slowed a tad (see quad injury) but the $64,000 question is how’s this one ever gonna stay close?
The Jets say bowler, err, one-time Pro Bowl star RB Le’Veon Bell (a major bust in Year One of his $52.5 million contract) will be playing here after sitting out last Sunday’s one-point non-cover win against Miami with the flu but if NYJ’s gonna hang around at all here it’ll be because QB Sam Darnold and WR Robby Anderson (18 catches for 303 yards and 2 TDs in last three games) make some magic on deep pass plays here. Got it?
Spread Note – Baltimore is just 14-17-1 spreadwise at home since the start of the 2017 season but overall the Ravens are 13-7 ATS in their last 20 games against non-divisional foes.
TOP 5 NFL SPREAD SIDES
TEAM WON LOSS TIE PCT
LA Rams 9 4 0 .692
San Francisco 9 4 0 .692
Buffalo 8 4 1 .667
Pittsburgh 7 4 2 .636
(tie) Denver 8 5 0 .615
Green Bay 8 5 0 .615
Kansas City 8 5 0 .615
New Orleans 8 5 0 .615
BOTTOM 5 NFL SPREAD SIDES
TEAM WON LOSS TIE PCT
Chicago 4 9 0 .308
Philadelphia 4 9 0 .308
LA Chargers 4 8 1 .333
Tampa Bay 4 8 1 .333
NY Jets 5 8 0 .385
COLLEGE FOOTBALL YEAR-END AWARDS
Obviously, we’ll weigh in for a final time in the next Jim Sez column when it comes to this year’s Heisman Trophy – we think you know by now LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is a lead-pipe cinch and it should be a landslide vote – but let’s spend a few moments here on a batch of year-ending College Football Awards:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU … The dude is as cool as ice and that win at Alabama last month was the singular most special “W” of the season. Burrow’s 4,715 yards passing with 48 TDs and just 6 INTs (along with a completion percentage of 78 percent) has him nailing down this award hands-down.
COACH OF THE YEAR – Ed Orgeron, LSU … Could give it to Baylor’s Matt Rhule or even Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck but the gravelly-voiced “Coach O” gets the nod and don’t overlook the fact that his Bayou Bengals wound up with an 8-4-1 ATS mark even though LSU was a double-digit betting favorite 10 times.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State … The sackmaster general (see 16.5 quarterback sacks) will be part of the quartet of players in NYC for this weekend’s Heisman Trophy and probably will be the top pick in the next NFL Draft. Honorable mention goes to Cal LB Evan Weaver who led the country with 172 total tackles.
GAME OF THE YEAR – Yup, it was that above-mentioned LSU 46, Alabama 41 shootout back on Nov. 9th in Tuscaloosa but let’s give honorable mention to four-TD favorite Clemson 21, North Carolina 20 back on Sept.28th. Whatta doozy!
PLAY OF THE YEAR – Auburn LB Zakoby McClain returned an INT 100 yards when he basically snagged the ball off the back of unknowing Alabama RB Najee Harris in War Eagle’s wild 48-45 win against the two-loss Crimson Tide.
DISAPPOINTING TEAM OF THE YEAR – Nebraska. Hey, we thought the ‘Huskers would win double-digit games and play on New Year’s Day but alas another losing season under Scott Frost (to say nothing of a 3-9 spread season).
NOTE: Catch more NFL Week 15 game previews plus Army-Navy and the final Heisman Trophy Watch List in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez.