cnotes Posts:33125 Followers:38
On 03/02/2012 01:33 AM in NCAA Basketball

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Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33125 Followers:38
03/02/2012 01:35 AM

Butler Bulldogs Look For Another Miracle Run

The Butler Bulldogs have made a habit of making miracle runs in the NCAA Tournament. They look for some more divine intervention when they play the Milwaukee Panthers on Friday.

This is part of the Horizon League Tournament being played in Valparaiso, Indiana. Milwaukee is the No. 4 seed and Butler the No. 5. Tip-off is 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN3, following No. 3 Detroit vs. No. 6 Youngstown State at 6:00 p.m. (ET).

The Bulldogs (19-13 SU, 10-17-2 ATS) made the NCAA title game the last two years, but have to win this conference tourney to even make March Madness. The long-shot journey began well enough, a 70-52 win over Wright State on Tuesday as 10-point home favorites.

Center Andrew Smith had 25 points for coach Brad Stevens’ bunch. Butler is now 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS in its last seven games. Both scoring (65.1 PPG) and points allowed (55.1 PPG) have improved over that span. One big exception was the 71-59 loss at Valparaiso last Friday. The winner of Butler and Milwaukee gets top-seed Valpo in the semis on Saturday.

Milwaukee (20-12 SU, 13-12-2 ATS) had an 11-7 SU regular season conference record, finishing in a 3-way tie with Butler and Detroit. The Panthers have won and covered their last five games, all as favorites. That includes a 68-55 home win over Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday, just beating the 12 ½-point spread.

Milwaukee beat Butler at home this year (53-42) and lost on the road (54-50), going 1-0-1 ATS. Both contests went way ‘under’ the totals, 120½ and 117½ respectively.

First round underway in the CAA

The first round of the Colonial Athletic Conference tourney is Friday in Richmond, Virginia. The top four teams (Drexel, VCU, George Mason and Old Dominion) received a bye, leaving No. 8 James Madison vs. No. 9 North Carolina-Wilmington at noon (ET) as arguably the most intriguing opening game.

James Madison (12-19 SU, 11-17 ATS) has won just two of its last 10 games and both came against lowly Towson, winner of one total game in the conference. The team has allowed 69.3 PPG in conference play, with only North Carolina-Wilmington worse at 72.1 PPG.

North Carolina-Wilmington (9-20 SU, 13-14 ATS) started out conference play at 3-1 SU, but has proceeded to go 2-12 SU since. The team has a current 6-game losing streak and the ‘over’ is 4-1 in the last five.

Both teams finished 5-13 SU in the conference. The only head-to-head encounter was January 18 at North Carolina-Wilmington. James Madison won 69-61 as 3-point ‘dogs. That went ‘under’ the 140-point total, with the ‘under’ 5-0 in the last five meetings overall.

‘Arch Madness’ in Missouri Valley Conference

This conference has its tourney quarterfinals on Friday from St. Louis and thus the ‘Arch Madness’ moniker. Two of the matchups are set with No. 4 Illinois State battling No. 5 Northern Iowa at 3:35 p.m. (ET) and No. 3 Evansville vs. No. 6 Missouri State scheduled at 9:35 p.m. (ET).

Evansville (15-14 SU, 16-9-1 ATS) has played well down the stretch at 3-1 SU and 3-0-1 ATS. That includes a 75-70 OT home win over Missouri State as 3-point favorites last game on February 25. Evansville also won at Missouri State in OT in January (87-82) and is 5-0-1 ATS in the last six meetings between the teams.

Missouri State (16-15 SU, 11-16 ATS) is struggling and not just because of the recent Evansville defeat. The Bears are 0-4 SU and ATS in the last four overall, including home losses as favorites to Old Dominion (73-67) and Indiana State (59-46).

Scoring for Missouri State has been down the last seven games (59.7 PPG), with the ‘under’ 5-2. The ‘under’ would have been 6-1 if not for the Evansville game going into overtime.

Canisius, Niagara in Friday MAAC Madness

This conference tourney tips off Friday from Springfield, MA with two opening round games. No. 8 Marist plays No. 9 Saint Peter's at 7:30 p.m. (ET), with No. 7 Niagara against No. 10 Canisius directly after around 9:30 p.m. (ET).

Canisius (5-24 SU, 11-14-1 ATS) was just 1-17 SU in the conference, but did show signs of life down the stretch at 4-2 ATS in its last six contests. The team also got a home win over UMBC (73-66) from America East on February 18. Scoring has been up to 75 PPG the last three games versus just 65.3 PPG for the season.

Niagara (13-18 SU, 11-13-2 ATS) had a respectable 8-10 SU regular season MAAC mark, 4-2 down the stretch. However, covers were much scarcer at 0-6 ATS in the last six. The Purple Eagles ranked eighth out of 10 teams during conference play in points allowed (71.9 PPG), with Canisius dead-last (74.8 PPG).

Niagara has won both meetings (75-56, 60-57 OT) against Canisius this year, going 1-1 ATS. The latter was at Niagara on February 15 and each went significantly ‘under’ the total (both in the 140s).

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33125 Followers:38
03/02/2012 01:37 AM

Wounded Warriors Take On Philadelphia 76ers

We are only a few days into the second half of the NBA betting campaign, but already, we are seeing injuries mount, and some of the top players in the league are involved.

The Golden State Warriors are likely going to be without Stephen Curry for a third straight game on Friday when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers. Curry has been testing his right foot before every game, though he has yet to step on the court in the second half of the season.

In games in which Curry hasn't played this year, the Golden State offense has been terrible. This team has averaged just 96.0 PPG without Curry, a far cry from the 99.2 PPG average with him on the court.

The Warriors have their work cut out for them on Friday in the City of Brotherly Love, especially knowing that the 76ers have the top ranked defense in the league at 87.1 PPGA. Philly has dropped six out of seven SU and is just 1-6 ATS in that stretch, so it is definitely a team that can be had. In the first meeting of these two teams this year though, Golden State was clocked 107-79 at Oracle Arena.

Friday's tip on ESPN is at 8:00 p.m. (ET).

Curry isn't the only star battling an injury right now. The Dallas Mavericks might have to go into their showdown with the New Orleans Hornets without Dirk Nowitzki who is averaging 19.1 PPG. Nowitzki left Dallas' loss to the Memphis Grizzlies with a back problem on Wednesday night. His status is unknown for this 8:00 (ET) tip in the Crescent City.

The Los Angeles Lakers dodged a bit of a bullet when Kobe Bryant was able to start the second half of the season in the lineup in spite of the fact that he suffered a mild concussion and broke his nose in the All-Star Game over the weekend. Bryant is wearing a mask and certainly isn't the most attractive player in the league at the moment, but if he plays on Friday as well as he did on Wednesday when he put up 31 points, eight assists and seven boards in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, no one is going to care what he looks like.

Bryant and his Lakers are now a rock-solid 12-5 ATS at home this year, and they have a chance to improve upon that when they welcome the Sacramento Kings to Staples Center for a 10:30 p.m. (ET) tip.

The other boys from Tinseltown, the Los Angeles Clippers, are going to be in action in an ESPN broadcast on Friday night at 10:30 (ET) at the Phoenix Suns.

The Clippers started off their second half of the season in terrible form, getting crushed by the Timberwolves at home, 109-97. Now, they have to go on the road for their next six games, and they are going to have to win some of these in order to fend off the Lakers at the top of the Pacific Division.

The Clips have their own problems in this game. Phoenix, which finished out the first half of the season by winning two of its last three games both SU and ATS at home, has dominated this series. The Suns are 8-0 SU and 5-3 ATS in their last eight against the Clippers at home, and in those games, they are averaging a whopping 116.1 PPG.

Friday night starts off with the Memphis Grizzlies visiting the Toronto Raptors at 7:00 (ET) and continues with a three-pack of games that tip at 7:30 (ET). The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to look for a statement win at "The Q" against the Chicago Bulls, while the Boston Celtics try to put away the New Jersey Nets. The Atlanta Hawks, who started their second half of the season with a bad loss to Golden State, will try to make amends when the Milwaukee Bucks come to Phillips Arena.

The Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets get it on in a battle of potential playoff teams in the Western Conference at 8:00 (ET), and the Charlotte Bobcats and their woeful 4-29 record hit the road to take on the San Antonio Spurs at 8:30 (ET).

The Miami Heat open their second half of the season on the road at the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, and just one night later, they have to take on the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena in a Friday night fight at 9:00 (ET).

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33125 Followers:38
03/02/2012 01:39 AM

Detroit Red Wings Host Wild On Friday NHL Slate

After winning an NHL-record 23 straight games at home, the Detroit Red Wings have lost each of their last two games at the Joe Louis Arena. Detroit will try to start up a new home winning streak Friday night at 7:30 p.m. (ET) against the visiting Minnesota Wild.

Detroit (42-19-3) ended a three-game losing streak with a win over Columbus Tuesday, but the small skid saw the Red Wings fall from first in the conference to fourth as the Vancouver Canucks took over the conference’s top spot and the St. Louis Blues took over the Central Division lead with the same amount of points via tiebreaker. Detroit entered Thursday one win away from regaining their division and the top seed, so this should be a great three-team battle down the stretch.

Not many positive signs point to Minnesota (28-26-9) in this one; the Wild are just 3-7-2 (3-9 on the moneyline) in their last 12 games, are 13-15-5 on the road this season, and are playing Thursday night in Montreal.

Fans of offense and betting the ‘over’ should definitely tune in to the Chicago Blackhawks at Ottawa Senators game Friday night at 7:00 p.m. (ET). Both teams have been very streaky this season – with Ottawa currently on a hot streak of 7-1-1 in their last nine games and Chicago on a cold streak of 1-3 over its last four – and they are built very similarly; they both score and give up a lot of goals.

Ottawa (34-23-8) has scored 199 goals this season (sixth in the NHL) and given up 192 (26th in the NHL), ranking exactly one spot ahead of Chicago (34-24-7) in each category as the Blackhawks have scored 198 and given up 193. These nearly identical squads should both be comfortable playing fast-paced, exciting hockey, and it should be plenty of fun to watch (for everyone but the goaltenders).

Thanks in large part to the major collapse of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Washington Capitals have made their way into the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed, and will try to stay there with a win at home over the New Jersey Devils Friday night at 7:30 p.m. (ET). Washington (32-26-5) has won three straight after going 1-5-1 in the previous six games, and New Jersey (35-23-4) has lost three straight after going 9-1-1 in its previous 11 games.

While New Jersey has had the stronger season to this point, Washington is one of the best home teams in the Eastern Conference with a 21-8-2 record. New Jersey also has a tough game Thursday night in Boston against the Bruins. The Devils lead the season series over the Capitals 2-1.

Rounding out Friday’s NHL betting schedule are the New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. (ET), the Dallas Stars at Edmonton Oilers at 9:30 p.m. (ET) and the Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks at 10:00 p.m. (ET). Dallas has been red-hot of late with a 4-0-1 record in its last five games, and the Rangers continued their league-wide dominance with a 9-3-1 record in the month of February. New York plays Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33125 Followers:38
03/02/2012 01:42 AM

Bracketology Update

March 1, 2012

Conference tournaments have begun, and the process of whittling the NCAA Tourney field down to 68 teams is now proceeding at full speed.

As usual, the edge of the proverbial "bubble" is looking pretty soft, even more so in the second year of an expanded tourney and four more at-large bids than we had from 1985 thru 2010. Entries such as Mississippi State, West Virginia, UConn, Northwestern, and a few others swing wildly from "in" and "out" depending upon the projections of the certain Bracketologist.

By our calculations, there is still some maneuvering to be done at the periphery of the bubble, with teams in danger of being knocked off depending upon what happens in conference tourney action. This weekend, we would watch closely in the Missouri Valley (with two bids secure) and West Coast (probably three bids) and be on the lookout for any upsets that would effectively bump at at-large contender from the field. Stay tuned.

Following are our latest Big Dance projections for 2012; straight-up records and RPI numbers are thru February 29.


At Pittsburgh...

1 Syracuse (SUR 29-1, RPI-1) vs. 16 Long Island (19-7, 154)...Nothing has changed regarding Syracuse, which continues to cruise along with only the one slip at Notre Dame. At this stage, we think the Orange will get a spot on the top line even f Jim Boeheim's team doesn't win the Big East Tourney. The Northeast Tourney still looks like a battle between a Long Island side once renowned under legendary HC Claire Bee, plus the pride of Staten Island (Wagner) and the home team of the Pittsburgh airport (Robert Morris). Advantage to the Claire Bees, er, Blackbirds, however, as they have the home-court edge in the conference tourney.

8 New Mexico (23-6, 34) vs. 9 Iowa State (21-9, 32)...New Mexico cost itself a line or two with last week's losses at Colorado State and TCU. The Lobos can play themselves out of 8-9 range with a strong showing at next week's Mountain West Tournament. Iowa State could have made a case for an improved seed had it been able to pull the upset over Missouri at midweek, but the Cyclones should be in safe territory nonetheless with wins over Kansas and K-State (twice over the Wildcats).

At Portland...

4 Wisconsin (22-8, 8) vs. 13 Drexel (25-5, 66)...Wisconsin moved back into position for a protected seed with last Sunday's win at Ohio State, but we're still sending the Badgers out to Portland for sub-regional action. Don't worry, the Winnebagos will make the drive to Oregon. As for Bruiser Flint's Drexel, we're thinking the Dragons might be able to make it as an at-large just in case they can't win this weekend's CAA Tourney at Richmond. If Bruiser's team can't, we've still got two spots on the 13th line for Colonial reps.

5 Florida (22-8, 21) vs. 12 Colorado State (18-10, 26)/West Virginia (18-12, 56)...Florida's double-digit losses last week at Georgia (bad loss) and Vanderbilt (not so bad, but the result didn't help) might have pushed the Gators out of protected seed territory. A good showing in next week's SEC Tourney might be required to get Billy Donovan's team back into contention for the third or fourth line. CSU's strong RPI and Strength of Schedule numbers give the Rams a chance at their first bid in nearly a decade, and the Wednesday night win over UNLV gives Trim Miles' team wins over each of the MWC powers (New Mexico and San Diego State plus the Rebels) at Fort Collins. But nix all of that if CSU can't finally get a road Mountain West win on Saturday at Air Force. As for WVU, the Mounties needed that Tuesday win over DePaul to prevent from falling on the wrong side of the cut-line, but cannot afford an early exit at next week's Big East Tourney. Watch Bob Huggins' team win the whole thing at Madison Square Garden.

At Nashville...

2 Ohio State (24-6, 2) vs. 15 Bucknell (23-8, 109)...We're thinking that Ohio State might have missed its chance to get placed in the Columbus sub-regional thanks to recent losses vs. Michigan State, Michigan, and Wisconsin; remember, the Buckeyes are eligible for Columbus because those games are being played at the NHL Blue Jackets' Nationwide Arena, not the Bucks' on-campus Value City Arena. As for CBS head honcho Les Moonves' alma mater Bucknell, the Bison are favored in the just-commenced Patriot League tourney because of home-court edge; Lehigh and America U figure to provide the toughest hurdles.

7 Kansas State (21-9, 20) vs. 10 Alabama (20-9, 25)...Just when it looked like Kansas State could threaten protected seed territory after recent wins over Baylor and Missouri (beating the Tigers for the second time), Frank Martin's team loses to Iowa State and probably slips back into the 6-7 range. As for Alabama, it has straightened out its problems just in time to move away from the bubble with four straight wins to put itself in good position heading into next week's SEC Tourney at New Orleans.

At Omaha...

3 Wichita State (26-4, 11) vs. 14 Iona (24-6, 48)...With several protected seed candidates (such as Florida, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Florida State) suddenly dropping a few games, the door is wide open for red-hot Wichita State to grab a 3 or a 4 seed. The Shockers are no longer a secret, either; several are already tabbing Gregg Marshall's team as a potential Final Four candidate. Iona sent a warning shot with its recent BracketBuster win over Nevada that it could cause some trouble; the Scott Machado-Arizona transfer Momo Jones backcourt is one of the most explosive in the country.

6 Notre Dame (20-10, 43) vs. 11 Oregon (20-8, 46)...Notre Dame was on its way to protected seed territory before running into St. John's & Georgetown in the last week. The Irish could climb back up to the fourth line with a deep run in the Big East Tourney but look more likely to land in a 5 or 6 slot. Taking advantage of the weaker bottom of the Pac-12 is Oregon, now at 20 wins and looking for a couple of more this weekend vs. Utah and Colorado before next week's conference tourney at Staples Center. As we mentioned last weekend, we're seeing the Pac as at least a three-bid league in the Dance after looking as if it might not get more than one rep for much of the season


At Louisville...

1 Kentucky (25-1, 1) vs. 16 Mississippi Valley State (18-11, 219)/Stony Brook (20-8, 161)...As we've said for weeks, the Louisville sub-regional at the KFC Yum! Center looks to be a shoe-in for UK, as Coach Cal's Wildcats also appear on track for the number one seed for the entire Big Dance as long as things don't change much between now and Selection Sunday. Jerry Rice's alma mater, the Delta Devils of Mississippi Valley State, appear the best bet to emerge from abyss known as the SWAC, although that tourney has provided several shockers in recent years. MVSU enters this weekend undefeated in league play, but we'd still watch out for Southern U and perhaps Texas Southern in the conference tourney next week at Garland, TX. Stony Brook has secured its first-ever America East regular-season crown, and the Long Island-based side champ will be favored when the conference tourney commences this weekend at Hartford; the highest remaining seed will get to host the title game on March 10.

8 Memphis (22-8, 18) vs. 9 Saint Louis (23-6, 17)...Memphis' move up the seeding ladder was slowed with a recent home upset loss vs. UTEP, but the Tigers can still move out of 8-9 range if they win the C-USA Tourney next week on their home court at the FedEx Forum. Rick Majerus' Saint Louis also took a bad loss last week at Rhode Island, and like Memphis could move out of 8-9 range by winning next week's A-10 Tourney in Atlantic City. Majerus could do some real damage in the buffet line at the hotels along the Boardwalk.

At Louisville....

4 Michigan (21-8, 16) vs. 13 Butler (19-13, 124)...Michigan is teetering on the edge of protected seed territory after last week's loss at home vs. Purdue. As long as the Wolverines don't slip again before the Big Ten Tourney, their solid profile, include good wins over Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State, should get them to a protected seed. We're doing a leap of faith by projecting Butler to win the Horizon Tourney, which has already begun. The advantage in the event belongs to Valparaiso, which will play at home as long as it stays alive, but the Bulldogs have been stirring in the past weeks, and remember how last year's team won at Milwaukee in the conference tourney finale. Don't bet against Brad Stevens in March.

5 Florida State (19-9, 29) vs. 12 South Florida (19-11, 49)...South Florida's Wednesday night win at Louisville was the marquee scalp the Bulls needed to get on the right side of the cut-line. That and a current 12-5 Big East mark should get Stan Heath a spot in the Dance and a meaty contract extension in Tampa. The Selection Committee occasionally puts together nearby foes who mostly avoid one another during the regular season, and we could see one of those regional battles on tap if Leonard Hamilton's Florida State draws USF.

At Albuquerque...

2 Missouri (26-4, 7) vs. 15 Davidson (22-7, 64)...Mizzou would have had a clear shot at a spot on the top line had it not blown that big second half lead at Kansas last week. The Tigers could still get a number one seed, but they'll have to win the Big XII Tourney to do it. As for Davidson, it will be favored in the SoCon Tourney, which gets going this weekend in Asheville. Remember, HC Bob McKillop has taken several Davidson sides to the Big Dance that didn't include Stephen Curry. In SoCon Toruney action, keep an eye on Wofford and College of Charleston, which has proceeded since midseason minus HC Bobby Cremins, out on a medical leave of absence.

7 Virginia (21-7, 22) vs. 10 BYU (24-7, 49)...The Cavs are safely into the field of 68 and will be spending the next week and a half trying to stay out of the 8-9 seed range; a quick exit in the ACC Tourney is the one thing Tony Bennett's team should try to avoid. BYU is still thinking that it has some work to do in this week's WCC Tourney before it can feel safe about a bid, but the Cougs are probably on the safe side of the cut line as long as avoid what would be a major upset against the winner of the San Diego-Pepperdine game on Friday night.

At Nashville...

3 Marquette (24-6, 14) vs. 14 Belmont (24-7, 60)...Tricky, tricky here, as the Selection Committee is not beyond setting up a quality mid-major with a de facto "home game" in the sub-regional despite a high-numbered seed; does anyone recall Davidson, as a 10th seed, getting dates at Charlotte four years ago when Stephen Curry was bombing away for the Wildcats? Don't be surprised if Rick Byrd's Belmont gets similar treatment with the sub-regional in hometown Nashville, but played at the NHL Predators' downtown Bridgestone Arena. Do you think Carrie Underwood shows up? Or what about those Dolly Parton look-alikes who clean up the ice during timeouts at the Preds games? (Just asking.) Marquette might have slipped to the third line with its Wednesday loss at Cincy, but we like the idea of the Golden Eagles playing in Nashville, and the possibility HC Buzz Williams breaks into another jig (like he did at West Virginia) when one of his favorite country tunes blares over the speakers.

6 Murray State (29-1, 43) vs. 11 Mississippi State (20-10, 63)...We suppose Murray State could still nab a protected seed, but we think that the Racers really want is a sub-regional assignment in either Louisville (don't sweat that one, Murray fans, there will be too many UK backers at the KFC Yum! Center), or Nashville. As for Mississippi State, the Maroon would have played itself to the wrong side of the cut line had it lost at South Carolina on Wednesday night. Now Rick Stansbury has to make sure his Bulldogs avoid an early exit in next week's SEC Tourney at New Orleans.


At Omaha...

1 Kansas (25-5, 3) vs. 16 Savannah State (20-108, 187)/UNC-Asheville (21-9, 146)...To keep this spot on the top line, Kansas is probably going to have to win the Big XII Tourney next week at the Sprint Center in nearby Kansas City, where the Jayhawks are always a de facto home team. KU doesn't figure to fall further than a two seed after last week's dramatic comeback win over Missouri. KU likely gets a 16 vs. 16 play-in winner; look out for Shannon Sharpe's alma mater, the Savannah State Tigers, who are about to win the MEAC regular-season crown over favored Norfolk State. Look out, however for Bon Dandridge's alma mater Spartans in the MEAC Tourney at Winston-Salem next week, along with perhaps Bethune-Cookman.

8 Purdue (20-10, 40) vs. 9 California (23-7, 26)...We have been keeping our eyes on Purdue in the past couple of weeks since the Boilermakers bottomed out following the suspensions of D.J. Byrd (since returned) and Kelsey Barlow; since then, Matt Painter's squad is one of the hottest in the Big Ten, one we would watch in next week's Big Ten Tourney at nearby Indianapolis, and beyond. Cal is still looking good to get a spot in the field out of the Pac-12, although the Golden Bears have relinquished the top spot in the conference table to Washington.

At Pittsburgh...

4 Georgetown (22-6, 9) vs. 13 Harvard 24-4, 37)...Facing an important test to stay in protected seed territory on Monday night, Georgetown dumped Notre Dame convincingly, and with other potential 3-4 seeds losing within the last week, we think the Hoyas at least hang on to a four spot, perhaps moving to the third line with a good showing in the Big East Tourney. Meanwhile, Tommy Amaker's Harvard has played itself into some trouble in the Ivies with last week's loss to Penn. The possibility of another Ivy playoff like a year ago (when Princeton beat the Crimson on a last-second Doug Davis basket) is real, with the Quakers the likely opponent, which begs the question if Harvard has enough at-large credentials to make the field of 68 should it get KO'd again in the playoff. We think Harvard does, and Penn might give us a chance to find out.

5 Creighton (25-5, 30) vs. 12 Texas (19-11, 53)...Creighton has hit a few bumps in the last month but the Bluejays still have a cleaner-looking resume' than a lot of reps from major conferences. We're not sure Greg McDermott's team can get into protected seed territory but a spot on the fifth line looks very possible. As for Texas, it avoided potential big problems on Wednesday night when avoiding an upset bid by Lon Kruger's Oklahoma. The young Longhorns still don't have a lot of wiggle room, but their strong strength of schedule numbers should help them fall on the safe side of the cut line.

At Greensboro...

2 North Carolina (26-4, 6) vs. 15 Oral Roberts (26-5, 71)...North Carolina can still get to the top line, but it is going to have to likely beat Duke twice in the next week (or hope someone else beats the Blue Devils) and win the ACC Tourney to do so. Either way, expect the Tar Heels to find their way to the nearby Greensboro sub-regional. Meanwhile, oral Roberts is going to have its hands full in next week's Summit League Tourney at Sioux Falls, SD, which is about a 45-minute drive from top contender South Dakota State, so the Jackrabbits will be very well- represented. Note that ORU moves to the Southland Conference next season.

7 San Diego State (23-6, 49) vs. 10 Cincinnati (21-9, 42)...There are some who believe that Steve Fisher has done one of the best coaching jobs of his career with the current San Diego State edition. We don't disagree, although some losses in recent weeks have probably pushed the Aztecs down a line or two on the seeding scale. Cincinnati looks to be safely into the field after its Wednesday win over Marquette, which was preceded by a win last week over Louisville. With several good road wins and 11 wins already in the Big East, the Bearcats will be dancing again with Mick "The Ghost" Cronin.

At Columbus...

3 Indiana (23-7, 9) vs. 14 Middle Tennessee State (25-5, 47)...Not many teams have the collection of scalps owned by Indiana, which includes Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State. The Hoosiers, dancing for the first time since 2008, will be doing it as a protected seed, too. Many regional observers also believe that Kermit Davis' MTSU could be the most-dangerous Sun Belt rep in years. The Blue Raiders might even have an at-large case if they blow next week's conference tourney in Hot Springs, but we don't think they'll need to explore that route.

6 Gonzaga (24-5, 31) vs. 11 Seton Hall (19-10, 45)...With good non-conference wins over Notre Dame, Arizona, Oral Roberts, and Xavier, and a 2nd-place finish behind Saint Mary's in the well-respected WCC, the Zags make it into the field with plenty of room to spare. That's not necessarily the case with Seton Hall, which needs to do a little more work to feel comfy after losing two of its last three games (including a potentially-damaging loss to Rutgers). The Pirates can take some pressure off themselves by getting to 20 wins and 9-9 in the Big East by taking care of business at DePaul this Saturday.


at Greensboro...

1 Duke (26-4, 10) vs. 16 UT-Arlington (22-6, 93)...Duke's margin for a number one seed has to do with Tyler Zeller's clumsiness and a dramatic triple by frosh Austin Rivers a few weeks ago at Chapel Hill. Now there's a chance the Blue Devils will look at the Tar Heels twice within the next week, although the one that would sew up a top regional seed for Duke will be at the ACC Tourney in Atlanta. The Movin' Mavs of UTA, the home team of Six Flags over Texas, enter next week's Southland Tourney in the Houston suburb of Katy as the favored team, although we're going to want to listen in to Lamar HC Pat Knight's press conferences. A chip off the old block, that Pat Knight!

8 Saint Mary's (25-5, 36) vs. 9 Washington (20-8, 59)...The Galloping Gaels from Moraga look safely into the field of 68 after winning the WCC regular-season crown, but SMC lost a rung or two on the seeding latter with recent losses to Loyola-Marymount and at Murray State in the Bracket Buster. Randy Bennett's team might have to win the WCC Tourney to escape the dreaded 8-9 seed range. Lorenzo Romar looks to have U-Dub peaking at the right time again, and we suggest the Huskies are going to be into the field regardless of results in the Pac-12 Tourney as long as they hold on to the top spot in the regular-season race this weekend at USC and UCLA.

At Portland...

4 Vanderbilt (21-9, 25) vs. 13 Virginia Commonwealth 25-6, 61)/Northwestern (17-12, 44)...The whole protected seed thing loses some meaning this season because there don't appear to be any western teams in line for one thru four seeds. Thus, we send Vandy out to Portland as a four seed, not as far-fetched an idea as it seems with the Dores having just dusted off Florida to give themselves another quality win, along with a heavyweight schedule that will impress the Selection Committee. We think it would be a crime if the CAA is limited to only one rep this season and believe Drexel and Shaka Smart's VCU can both make it, providing one or the other wins the Colonial Tourney this weekend at Richmond. And we remember what the Rams did when they started in this same First Four game at Dayton vs. Southern Cal a year ago. We still think Northwestern has a shot at its first-ever bid with good RPI and strength of schedule number. But Bill "Conan O'Brien" Carmody must make sure his Wildcats don't lose at Iowa this weekend, which would probably then require NU to make a deep run at next week's Big Ten Tourney to keep in the frame.

5 Louisville (22-8, 22) vs. 12 Southern Miss (24-6, 51)...Rick Pitino's Louisville has probably played its way out of a protected seed with losses in the last week vs. Cincy and at home vs. South Florida. Larry Eustachy's Southern Miss, meanwhile, almost played its way out of the field altogether before pulling out wins over Rice and SMU, losses either of which likely to have sent the Golden Eagles to the wrong side of the cut line after a shaky few weeks. We'd still suggest avoiding the banana peel this Saturday at Marshall for USM.

At Columbus...

2 Michigan State (24-6, 4) vs. 15 Montana (23-6, 82)...The Spartans' midweek loss at Indiana might have temporarily knocked MSU off of the top line, but Tom Izzo's bunch can likely climb back to a number one seed in a region by winning next week's Big Ten Tourney at Indianapolis. Out in the Big Sky, Montana has won the regular-season title and the right to host the conference tourney is Missoula. A quick rematch with high-scoring Damien Lillard and runner-up Weber State, a 66-51 loser to the Grizzlies on Tuesday, probably on deck next week. Remember when Larry Krystowiak's Montana upset Nevada in the first round back in 2006.

7 Temple (23-6, 34) vs. 10 Long Beach State (22-7, 40)...Of all of the mid-majors, we suspect the one the "big boys" want to see least in their region is go-go Long Beach. Drawing the short straw could be Temple, which looks to be only one of a few survivors of the annual cannibalization that occurs in the A-10, which we believe send only two reps to the field of 68 (Temple at Saint Louis). Time to start asking when Fran Dunphy is going to win an NCAA Tourney game with the Owls after being bounced in the first sub-regional game each of the past four seasons.

At Albuquerque....

3 Baylor (25-5, 15) vs. 14 Nevada (23-5, 101)...Baylor has probably taken too many hits in the past few weeks to get back to the top line, even if the Bears win the Big XII Tourney next week in Kansas City, but they're definitely a protected seed and likely on the 2nd or 3rd line. After losing its featured BracketBuster game at Iona, Nevada's only route to the Big Dance is likely by winning next week's WAC Tourney at the Orleans Hotel Arena in Las Vegas.

6 UNLV (24-7, 21) vs. 11 UConn (17-12, 35)...UNLV was looking good for a protected seed a few weeks ago, but problems on the Mountain West road have cost the Rebels a couple of lines on the seeding scale. Note that UNLV didn't cover a point-spread in its seven MWC trail this season. UConn is hardly in safe territory yet but we somehow expect the Huskies to make it into the field, especially with the news that HC Jim Calhoun is likely to return to the sidelines soon. Remember, we were hardly thinking about UConn as a title contender at this time last year, either.

Last four in: Colorado State, West Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth, Northwestern.
Last four out: Arizona, Xavier, Miami-Florida, NC State.
Next four out: George Mason, Illinois, Dayton, Wyoming.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33125 Followers:38
03/02/2012 01:46 AM

Preview: Grizzlies (20-15) at Raptors (11-24)

Date: March 02, 2012 7:00 PM EDT

The Memphis Grizzlies picked up where they left off before the All-Star break by beating the defending NBA champions.

The Grizzlies will try to avoid a letdown when they visit the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

Memphis closed the first half of the season with an 89-76 win over Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia on Feb. 21, then came back from the All-Star break and defeated Dallas 96-85 on Wednesday.

Taking advantage of Dirk Nowitzki's absence for much of the game, Marc Gasol had 22 points and 11 rebounds while Mike Conley added 20 points and 10 assists as the Grizzlies (20-15) won for the eighth time in 10 games.

"We all told each other before the break that when we came back, it was a sprint to the finish line," Conley said. "Each game is going to be big, especially starting off against the defending champions. I thought we showed we were hungry and wanted to get off to a good start."

After taking advantage of a stretch of nine of 11 at home, Memphis will play four of five on the road. The Grizzlies have lost six of eight while averaging 90.9 points away from FedEx Forum.

Gasol will try to help Memphis turn things around on the road. He has four double-doubles in his last five games overall, averaging 16.2 points and 11.8 rebounds.

Gasol may be in line for another big effort with Raptors big man Andrea Bargnani likely missing his 17th straight game with a calf injury. The Grizzlies aren't about to offer up any sympathy to a team without its top scorer.

"This season is so condensed that every game means as much as the last," Conley said. "Believe it or not, but the Toronto game is bigger than the Dallas win. Each game gets bigger and bigger, so we have to take it one game at a time."

The Grizzlies have won five straight over the Raptors by an average of 7.2 points. Rudy Gay, who missed the first victory in that stretch, has averaged 21.4 points in his last five games against Toronto.

The Raptors (11-24) have won two of three since a four-game losing streak and are coming off a 95-84 victory at New Orleans on Wednesday.

After scoring a season-low 11 points in the third quarter, Toronto responded with 33 in the fourth to rally from a seven-point deficit. Leandro Barbosa scored 11 of his 15 points in the final period while Linas Kleiza hit three of his five 3-pointers and finished with a game high-tying 21 points.

"We made shots down the stretch and executed and that's what I'm most proud of our guys," coach Dwane Casey said. "Everyone came in, contributed and did a good job."

Kleiza, who missed the final three games heading into the break with a sore left ankle, has provided a lift off the bench. He averaged 15.7 points in February, more than double his average prior to that point.

DeMar DeRozan, meanwhile, averaged 22.8 points in his final five games of the month.

After Bargnani was seemingly working toward a return earlier this week, it's unclear if he'll be back at any point during the Raptors' four-game homestand.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33125 Followers:38
03/02/2012 01:48 AM

Preview: Nets (11-25) at Celtics (17-17)

Date: March 02, 2012 7:30 PM EDT

The Boston Celtics used games against two of the Eastern Conference's worst teams to get to .500 and have another such opponent to try to get over that mark.

The New Jersey Nets, however, have won three straight on the road and will resemble an entirely different team that the one that visited the TD Garden nearly two months ago.

The Celtics have won eight of the last nine home matchups against the Nets heading into Friday night's meeting.

Boston (17-17) entered the All-Star break with five straight losses before winning 86-83 at Cleveland on Tuesday and 102-96 at home over Milwaukee one night later.

"I'm just glad we're back to .500,' coach Doc Rivers said.

Rajon Rondo, who failed to score but had 11 assists against the Cavaliers, notched his third triple-double of the season Wednesday with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He's second in the league with 9.6 assists per game.

"The second half, he called 12 different sets and we got to the first option and the second option and it just looked organized and good," Rivers said. "And that's who we were and that's what we have to be. And I thought it was Rondo's doing."

Paul Pierce scored 24 points and Rondo had 12 assists in an 89-70 home win over New Jersey (11-25) on Jan. 4 as the Nets matched their lowest point total of the season.

New Jersey, however, didn't have Deron Williams, Brook Lopez or Kris Humphries in that contest. All three are back now with the Nets in search of their first four-game road win streak since Nov. 26-Dec. 6, 2008.

"We always do good on the road, we gotta do better at home," guard DeShawn Stevenson said. "I keep saying that, but we're a good road team."

Lopez's third game back since missing the first half of the season recovering from foot surgery was his best effort. The 7-footer made 17 of 28 shots for 38 points - one shy of his career high - in Tuesday's 93-92 win at Dallas.

"We kind of took the handcuffs off him. We weren't putting him on a minute restriction,' coach Avery Johnson said. "He got a pretty good rest over the break, and we kept feeding him.'

Williams had a subpar effort with 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting, although he handed out 12 assists. He averaged 28.3 points over his final seven games before the All-Star break.

Boston's Kevin Garnett will likely be tasked with defending Lopez. Garnett has averaged 22.0 points and 10.3 boards in three games since missing two due to a personal issue.

"I'm going through some personal problems as of late but I'm good and I'm back and I'm looking at life a little different and just beat up and all that, just giving everything I have," Garnett said.

The Nets average 21.6 first-quarter points for the NBA's third-worst mark, but have averaged 26.7 during this road win streak.

"If we get off to a good start and we have a decent first quarter, we got a chance to win," Johnson said. "But when we're down by 14-16 points in the first quarter, which has been our M.O. from time to time, we're not very good."

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33125 Followers:38
03/02/2012 01:49 AM

Preview: Bucks (14-21) at Hawks (20-15)

Date: March 02, 2012 7:30 PM EDT

The Atlanta Hawks' recent lack of offensive punch has contributed to their current slump, though they seemingly have a solid chance to snap out of their funk against a Milwaukee Bucks team that's struggling to defend lately.

Atlanta seeks its 11th win in the last 13 home meetings with Milwaukee when the teams meet Friday night.

The return of leading scorer Joe Johnson did little for the Hawks' struggling offense as they shot a season-worst 33.7 percent in an 85-82 loss to Golden State on Wednesday.

Johnson, who missed the previous two games with tendinitis in his left knee, finished with a team-high 18 points but hit only 6 of 17 shots.

Atlanta (20-15) has lost six of eight, shooting 39.2 percent and averaging 83.6 points. Another sub-40 percent performance Friday would mark the first time it's done that in four straight games since Dec. 23-31, 2006.

"I thought we missed a lot of point-black shots with nobody around,' said Johnson, who added he isn't completely recovered from his injury. "I'm sure we'll bounce back and have to get the next one, but it was definitely a tough loss for us.'

Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and Zaza Pachulia all had double-doubles, but those rebound totals were aided by a lot of their own misses. The trio shot a combined 15 for 49.

"I thought we settled for way too many jump shots," coach Larry Drew said. "We've got to be smarter and understand the flow of the game. It's one thing if you're making shots, but if you're not making shots from the perimeter you can't just settle for jump shots.'

The Hawks hit 45.8 percent of their field-goal attempts in a 97-92 win in Milwaukee on Jan. 23, as Johnson scored a game-high 26 points and Smith added 19 points and 13 rebounds.

It marked the fifth win in the last seven meetings - including the playoffs - over the Bucks (14-21), who have lost seven of nine after falling 102-96 at Boston on Wednesday.

Ersan Ilyasova had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Drew Gooden added 23 points, but Brandon Jennings shot 2 for 11 and finish with six points.

Milwaukee has allowed 100-plus points in three straight games for the first time all season. It hasn't allowed four consecutive opponents to hit triple digits since Nov. 26-Dec. 1, 2010.

Despite these recent struggles, only two of the Bucks' losses during this difficult stretch have come by double digits.

"We have to get it done,' Gooden said. "You know, it's funny. We never get blown out. We fight to the end, and it just kind of (upsets) us that we come up short every time, almost.'

Jennings had 19 points and 12 assists in the first meeting with the Hawks, though he had only four points and shot 1 for 8 in a 110-85 loss March 15 in the most recent matchup in Atlanta. Johnson scored 36 points in that contest.

Jennings has shot 31.0 percent while averaging 8.7 points in three career regular-season games at Philips Arena.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33125 Followers:38
03/02/2012 01:51 AM

Preview: Bulls (29-8) at Cavaliers (13-20)

Date: March 02, 2012 7:30 PM EDT

The Chicago Bulls had a serious scare as Derrick Rose was involved in a knee-on-knee collision in their latest win, but the All-Star point guard appears to be fine.

The Cleveland Cavaliers can't fare much worse with Rose in Chicago's lineup than they did when he wasn't.

The Bulls handed Cleveland the most lopsided home loss in franchise history six weeks ago with Rose in street clothes, but they'll have the MVP on Friday night as they return to Quicken Loans Arena looking for a fifth consecutive victory.

Rose's health has been just about the only concern for Chicago (29-8) in the season's first half, but the team has won all four games since he returned after missing five with a strained lower back.

The latest victory was easily the most impressive of that bunch, 96-89 in San Antonio on Wednesday, but it didn't come without a few anxious moments. Rose banged knees with Spurs guard Tony Parker in the first quarter and was down for several minutes, but he never came out and finished with a game-high 29 points.

Rose, who said the initial pain from the hit quickly subsided, was simply happy to have three more quarters against Parker.

"Playing every point guard on the planet is fun, where I love the challenge," said Rose, averaging 25.0 points since his return.

This will be Rose's first chance to face Cavaliers rookie Kyrie Irving, who, like him, was the top overall pick of an NBA draft.

A toe injury kept Rose on the sidelines when Chicago visited Cleveland on Jan. 20, but the Bulls certainly didn't miss him. Luol Deng had 21 points and Carlos Boozer finished with 19 and 14 rebounds in Chicago's 114-75 rout.

That effort led Cavaliers coach Byron Scott to rip into his team.

"Chicago was aggressive and physical and the more (shots) they hit, the more we took steps back," he said. "We didn't react to their physical play whatsoever - besides the whining. You can not let a good team like they are come in and play harder, be more physical, more aggressive and expect to win or even be in the game."

Scott shared some similar frustration after his team's latest performance. Cleveland (13-20) led New York by as many as 17 in the second quarter Wednesday night and took a 12-point lead into halftime, but collapsed with 16 second-half turnovers in a 120-103 loss.

"They came out more aggressive and we melted," Scott said. "... We didn't do a good job taking care of the ball and we didn't do a good job of attacking. If they're going to be aggressive like that, we need to be aggressive back and I don't think we were."

The Cavaliers hit triple digits for just the third time in 21 games, but sniffing 100 again won't be easy. The Bulls have given up an average of 82.0 points in their last six away from the United Center.

That's the same average they've allowed in the five meetings with Cleveland since LeBron James left, winning each one to extend their regular-season series winning streak to six.

Irving had 22 on Wednesday, just the third time in nine games Cleveland has lost when he's scored that many. He had 13 in the first meeting with Chicago, and the Cavaliers are 6-15 when he scores 21 or fewer.

Including the playoffs, Rose has averaged 24.4 points in his last five games in Cleveland. Boozer, meanwhile, has scored at least 19 while posting four straight double-doubles against his former team.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33125 Followers:38
03/02/2012 01:53 AM

Preview: Warriors (14-18) at 76ers (21-15)

Date: March 02, 2012 8:00 PM EDT

On a night commemorating Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points, an entire team might not even reach that mark in his hometown of Philadelphia.

The 76ers rarely give up 100 and haven't scored that many in nearly six weeks, and they'll face a struggling Golden State Warriors offense Friday night in a matchup of Chamberlain's former teams on the 50th anniversary of his historic performance.

In nearby Hershey, Pa., Chamberlain scored 100 points to lead the Philadelphia Warriors to a win over the New York Knicks, setting a record that many believe will never be broken. The closest anyone has come was Kobe Bryant with 81 in a January 2006 game.

Besides all fans in Philadelphia receiving a piece of the court from that 1962 game, the late Chamberlain's family will be honored in a halftime ceremony which will include many friends, former teammates and others connected to that memorable night.

"It's going to be all Wilt, all night long," 76ers CEO Adam Aron said.

The Warriors scored 169 points in the game, and it seems possible both teams won't even combine for that total Friday.

The 76ers (21-15) haven't scored 100 in 19 consecutive games, their longest such stretch since the 2003-04 season. They've given up 100 twice in that span and lead the NBA in scoring defense, allowing 87.1 per game.

Golden State has not scored 90 in either of its games since the All-Star break, failing to do so in back-to-back contests for the first time this season.

Stephen Curry (foot) might be out again after missing most of those two games as the Warriors shot 4 of 34 from 3-point range and 37.5 percent overall.

Philadelphia went 9 of 39 from beyond the arc in its final three games of February. The Sixers have failed to score 90 five times during their current 1-6 slump.

They've been tied or led in the fourth quarter in three of those defeats, including a blown seven-point advantage in a 92-88 loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

"I think it's a trend late in games that we're struggling, we gotta get out of that," said Andre Iguodala, whose 3-pointer was Philadelphia's only scoring in the final four minutes.

It was the 76ers' fourth straight home loss, though all of those defeats came to top-tier Western Conference foes - San Antonio, the Clippers, Dallas and Oklahoma City. They were 13-3 at home before this skid.

"When you look at the teams here we've played at home, it's just been one after the other of cream of the crop teams," coach Doug Collins said. "We're growing, we're learning. It's frustrating, but we're gonna keep fighting and hopefully we're gonna find a way to start winning some of these games."

Golden State (14-18) is far from being elite but has won three of four, including an 85-82 victory at Atlanta on Wednesday. Curry missed all but the final 3 seconds due to a strained tendon in his right foot.

Dominic McGuire took his place in the starting lineup and went scoreless, but grabbed 15 rebounds while helping hold Hawks leading scorer Joe Johnson to 6 of 17 from the field.

"He embodies everything we've preached about since Day 1, and I thought the important thing is to make a statement and to start the guy that has done everything we've asked him to do," coach Mark Jackson said.

McGuire's job Friday will likely involve trying to extend Lou Williams' struggles. The 76ers' top scorer has averaged 12.3 points and 31.6 percent shooting in the past six games, including 4 of 16 from 3-point range.

Williams scored 23 points in a 107-79 road victory over Golden State on New Year's Eve, the Sixers' fourth win in five meetings.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: