JackSmack: Issue #34

Well Larry, I am back again after another (0-2) week in conference play for the Tigers. We did lose a close one at Maryland behind Scott, Stockman, and McKnight, but then we lost a winnable game in Tallahassee behind Stockman's brilliant 3-point shooting.

As it stands now we are 11-9 and 2-5, and the NIT is looking farther and farther away. This week, we host UNC on Sunday.

We can't lose this game.

This could be the year to break the streak of losing @ UNC, so we have to handle the ‘Heels at home.

Nationally last week, there were some good games. I told you Gonzaga would have a test @ Pepperdine, and they can beat whoever they want, but when you only play a couple of decent teams a year, you have to beat them. Duke won @ Wake Forest in a good showing by the Deacons, just not enough. Georgia ended Florida's win streak by winning in Gainesville, and Kansas won a good one over Oklahoma, before the Sooners rebounded to beat Missouri.

UCLA had a tough week, losing a 20 pt. lead to Arizona, and then losing at home to Stanford last night. The Pac-10 was wacky all over, though, as Arizona turned around and lost to Arizona State, Oregon lost to Washington, and Southern Cal lost to Cal. This is how bad it's gotten for the Michigan State Spartans. Iowa loses to Northwestern and then turns around and handles Michigan State. They shouldn't make the tournament this year.

I've got to rip the Big East again. I said to just quit ranking these teams, and then a top-10 Syracuse team gets ripped by Tennessee, a middle of the road club at best in the SEC, who turned around and got pummelled by South Carolina last night.

Lots of good matchups this next week:

Florida @ Arkansas (Gator's 1st game since Georgia loss.)

Oklahoma @ Texas Tech (Will Bobby Knight make me shut up already? No.)

Illinois @ Indiana (A great game. The Hoosiers should be ranked easy.)

Alabama @ Kentucky (The ‘Cats at home vs. the best in the SEC West.)

Stanford @ USC (The weird Pac-10 sends the Cardinal to a tough place to play.)

UConn @ Arizona (Could be a good one, but the ‘Cats should roll.)

UVA @ Duke (Could be a test, but the Dukies are peaking right now.)

Missouri @ Kansas (Can Mizzou win a big game?)

Illinois @ Ohio State (The conclusion of 2 big road tests for the Illini this week.)

Kentucky @ Florida (Always a good one.)

WF @ NC State (The surprising Wolfpack bring in a team in need of a big win.)

Maryland @ UVA (Should be great. We'll see how strong the Terps are again.)

Duke @ UNC (Just ‘cause it's gonna be fun to watch the ‘Heels get routed.)

On to the NFL, where after my (1-3) week of picks in the wildcard round, I was flawless last week. (3-0-1) was nice with the pick of the week being easy money. Favre throws 6 picks, and although the Rams didn't do that much on offense, it was still a rout.

The Raiders can cry me a river, because you know what? They beat Arizona, Tennessee, Denver, Seattle, or a handful of non-playoff teams and you're not playing in the snow, and you know that call doesn't get reversed in Oakland. Plus, Brady shredded you in the second half before and after the ‘fumble', so suck it up. By the way, if you haven't heard, the Raiders have already announced that Gruden will not be the coach after next season. Notre Dame must be looking pretty good right now.

The Steelers were dominant on both sides of the ball, and we're not gonna hear any yapping for a while from the Ravens who have serious salary cap issues. You can't run on Pittsburgh, and they get you in 2nd and 3rd and long, and with their speed and aggressiveness, you have no shot. And can you believe Billick has already named Grbac the starter for next season?

As did the Bears as they named Jim Miller the starter already for next season. They got ripped by Philly. They had no offense, no matter the QB, and fining Hugh Douglas is a joke. Miller made a move to block, and Douglas didn't even plant him, he just put him on the ground. Gene Washington is starting to get close to the likes of Bud Selig with his judgements. Ridiculous.

So, no Parcells in Tampa. Who wants to coach these brats anyway? Dungy goes to the Colts and Rick Fox goes to Carolina. Both should be good fits.

Here are my breakdowns and picks for this weekend's conference championship games:

New England @ Pittsburgh
The line started at (-7) and is now at (-8 ½). That usually scares me off, but not with this game. The fairy tale ends here for the Patriots. What their offense hopes to do this weekend is beyond me and probably every coach on New England. They're also gonna have problems controlling the Steeler offense. They control the clock and wear down your defense. Take Pittsburgh to cover (-8 ½).

Philadelphia @ St. Louis
This line has also jumped from (-10) to (-12 ½). I was taking the Eagles either way. The Rams find themselves in close games more than most think. The offense is not clicking and Warner is definitely not 100%. The Eagles have talent on defense in the line, the backers, and the DB's. They're gonna be aggressive. My real question mark is how many points can McNabb and co. put up on the Ram's defense. If they can, they could pull the upset. Either way, I'll take the points and run. Take Philadelphia (+12 ½).

There you have it. A great week of football and basketball and I'll talk at you next week before the Super Bowl.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to e-mail Jack at: jacksmackcu01@yahoo.com.

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