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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|04-01-11||Atlanta Hawks v. Portland Trail Blazers -2.5||Top||91-98||Win||100||12 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. These teams have met three times this season, most recently at Oklahoma City on 3/27. The Thunder won that meeting by nine points and are 3-0 in the season series. (The first two games were decided by a combined three points.) I expect the revenge-minded Blazers to bounce back and avoid the season series sweep.
The Blazers find themselves in one of their best roles. They're a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS the last five times that they were listed as home favorites of -3 or fewer points.
The Blazers are fighting to try and improve their playoff positioning. They're currently tied with New Orleans for sixth place, one game ahead of Memphis.
On the other hand, although they've admittedly been playing well, the Thunder don't have much to play for, in terms of improving their playoff positioning. They're not going to catch either the Lakers or Spurs for the #1 or #2 seed - however, they're pretty much a lock to win their division - regardless of what happens tonight.
While the Thunder have been very solid on the road, the Blazers have been even better at home. They're 26-10 here this season and are now 89-35 here the past few years.
Even including the 1-point loss here back in November, the Blazers are still 6-2 the last eight times that they were a host in this series. All six victories came by a minimum of four points. Playing with "triple-revenge," I expect the Blazers to be at their best - as they cool off the Thunder and improve to 27-13 the last 40 times that they were off a SU loss when listed as a favorite. *10
|03-31-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Los Angeles Lakers -6||Top||82-110||Win||100||12 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. While the Spurs are still holding down the best record, these are arguably the top two teams in the West (and perhaps the league) right now. The Mavericks have admittedly been excellent on the road - however, with the schedule in their favor, I expect the red hot Lakers to have the advantage.
Among the (many) reasons that the Lakers fare so well in the playoffs is that they don't have to play back to back games and get two and sometimes three day's rest in between games. Give this well-coached and talented team the chance to prepare and to come in "fresh" and they typically dominate. Looking at the past few seasons and we find the Lakers at 19-4 SU the last 23 times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games, going a profitable 15-8 (65.2%) at the betting window. Having not played since 3/27, the champs will be testing that record tonight.
While the Lakers are very well rested, the same cannot be said for the Mavs. Dallas was tested by the Clippers last night. While they'd hoped to give their stars some rest, Terry, Kidd and Nowitzki were forced to play 32:05, 29:25 and 36:58 minutes, respectively.
In addition to playing the second of back to back games, the Mavs will now be playing their fourth road game in the last six nights. Looking back further and we find that this will be their 9th game since March 15th, six of those coming on the road. Conversely, this will be the Lakers 6th game since the middle of the month, all of those coming at home.
The teams have split the two meetings this season but both of those were at Dallas. The Lakers have gone 16-4 the last 20 times that they hosted the Mavs. The most recent meeting here (January, 2010) saw the Lakers win by 35 points, as -6.5 point favorites.
The Lakers have won seven straight overall and nine straight at home. They're also 9-4 ATS the last 13 times that they were listed as favorites of eight or fewer points. They should be the "fresher" team and I expect them to improve on those stats with another win and cover. *10
|03-30-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Los Angeles Clippers +5.5||Top||106-100||Loss||-108||12 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. The Mavericks are clearly a very good team, one which is capable of winning at any venue. A big part of beating the NBA pointspread, at least in my opinion, is taking advantage of situations though and grabbing value where it is offered. In this case, I believe the Mavs' overall record, along with the the reputations of the two teams, has created a generous line on the home underdog Clippers. Perhaps more importantly, I also feel that the Mavs are in a very difficult scheduling spot.
As they had the last two nights off, some might wonder why I'd refer to this as a difficult scheduling spot. The reason that I'm calling it that, is that the Mavs are off a big (and hard fought) road win over Phoenix, which essentially eliminated the Suns from the playoff race. More importantly, the Mavs have a huge showdown vs. the Lakers on deck, tomorrow night. The Mavs have been talking/thinking about that game for some time and I feel it will be easy for them to look past the lowly Clippers, a team they've dominated over the years.
Note that the Mavs are 3-4 ATS as road favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range, 3-5 ATS after allowing 85 or fewer points in their previous game and 3-6-1 ATS when playing with two day's rest in between games. They're also just 14-19-1 ATS against teams with a losing record.
The Clippers have dealt with a number of injuries again this season. However, they're far more healthy now. They're also well-rested and coming off a solid victory, where they closed out the game on a 20-8 run.
The Clippers played the Mavs very tough at Dallas in the most recent meeting. They were winning that 1/25 game by a score of 62-54 at halftime and eventually lost by seven, getting +6.5 points. We're getting nearly the same line to work with here, despite the game being at Staples Center. Again, that goes back to my original point about "value."
The Clippers, 5-3 SU/ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 195 to 199.5 range, have won three of their last five games. Both losses came by single-digits and both were in difficult scheduling spots for them. One was off a win and playing the second of back to back games vs. the Suns - the other was vs. the red hot Lakers, a game in which they covered the spread. I'll take all the points I can get. However, with the Mavs thinking about tomorrow night, I won't be surprised if the Clippers score the outright win. *10
|03-29-11||Houston Rockets v. New Jersey Nets +7.5||Top||112-87||Loss||-110||9 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. The Rockets are likely going to be a "popular" pick here. After all, they're battling for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West, while the Nets are "playing out the string" in the East. With the Nets also expected to be without Deron Williams, many will be all too happy to lay the points with the visiting Rockets. I believe that sentiment is providing us with excellent value on the Nets though and that this line will prove to be too high.
For starters, while many tend to focus strictly on overall numbers, let's not forget that New Jersey's "home" record (16-18) is actually better than Houston's road record of 16-21. Yet, here we're getting a "touchdown" or so extra on the home team. A closer look reveals that Houston is laying more points than the Bulls or Celtics were, in their recent visits here.
Also, just because a team is out of the playoff race doesn't mean that it can't "get up" for a home game against a team which is. This it the Nets chance to play a part in the playoff race and to do some serious damage to Houston's fading playoff hopes. (The Rockets are currently in 9th, 2.5 games back of Memphis and 3.5 back of New Orleans.)
Additional motivation should be provided for the Nets by the fact that the Rockets blew them out (123-108) at Houston just one month ago. Note that Houston was only -8 for that game - not much of a difference in pointspreads - despite the fact that New Jersey is horrible on the road, yet competitive at home.
The Nets may not have the playoffs to shoot for, but they haven't quit playing hard. They've covered the spread in two of three games. Last time out was a tough scheduling situation, as they were playing the second of back to back road games and their third road game (one of which to OT) in the previous four days. While they didn't cover, the Nets didn't quit either.
Coach Avery Johnson said of his team: "They never quit. Our second half was something to behold, to come from way back on the road. The guys were battling..."
Now, the Nets return home, where they've been very competitive. In fact, they've gone 5-2 SU when listed as the home team since the beginning of March. Only one of the two losses came by more than four points - and that was by 11 vs. the Bulls, the top team in the East. True that includes the Nets' results from London, where the Nets were listed as the home team - still, the point is that they've only lost by more than four points here once since mid-February. They even beat the Celtics outright here.
Note that the Nets have had a couple of day's off to recover from the road trip. They're a respectable 5-4 ATS when playing with two day's rest in between games and a profitable 5-1 ATS after playing three straight on the road.
The Nets are 18-10 ATS against teams from the West and they've quietly gone 22-12 ATS against teams with a winning record overall. I expect them to give the Rockets all they can handle here and won't be surprised if they score the outright upset. *10
|03-28-11||Orlando Magic v. New York Knicks +1.5||Top||106-113||Win||100||10 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW YORK. These teams just met here on Wednesday. You'll probably recall that the Magic won that game by a score of 111-99. I expect tonight's rematch to have a much different result though.
Yes, the Knicks are mired in a long losing streak. Yes, they've struggled since the big trade. Yes, they've had trouble with Orlando. All that said, this is still a team which is loaded with talent - and this is still a team which will be making the playoffs.
Stars like Stoudemire and Anthony have a lot of pride and they have to be sick to their stomachs about the current skid - and the fact that Orlando is almost acting "sorry" for them.
Dwight Howard's recent comments (after Wednesday's win) were well-meaning but I won't be surprised if they help to provide some added motivation in the Knicks' locker-room, particularly for Stoudemire. The Orlando center was quoted as saying: "Right now, I understand that team is under a lot of pressure, and sometimes a guy like Amare, he wants to do as much as he can to bring the team out. I encourage him to stay patient and stick with it."
One potentially big difference between tonight's game and Wednesday's game is that Jameer Nelson might not be available for Orlando. Nelson hurt his knee on Friday and didn't come back for the second half of that game. Howard had this to say about his teammate: "Hopefully he's OK because I saw what happened and it looked kind of bad..." As of this writing, he's listed as doubtful.
Note that Nelson played a big role in Wednesday's game. He had 19 points and was 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Overall, he's averaging 18.3 points and shooting 56.8% against New York this season. Naturally, if he can't play (or can't play at 100%) it should benefit New York.
While Orlando has been winning, the Magic are still only 4-9 ATS in the month of March. It should also be noted that Orlando is more or less locked into the 4th spot, which will likely mean a home date vs. Atlanta. Given that they play at Atlanta next, they may not be entirely "hungry" tonight.
The Knicks, on the other hand, should be highly motivated to get back on track. They've got a good coach (D'Antoni) and he's isn't about to panic. He was quoted as saying: "There is a little anxiety and there is a little 'oh my gosh,'
|03-27-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Phoenix Suns +2||Top||91-83||Loss||-104||12 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. The Mavericks are a very good team - capable of beating any team on any given night. That said, the Suns need this one more. Given that fact and given that they're also playing with "double-revenge," I expect them to be the "hungrier" team. More importantly, with the schedule and venue in their favor, I expect them to come away with the victory.
While the Suns had last night off, the Mavericks were busy playing at Utah. The final score of that game (94-77) makes it appear that Dallas coasted to an easy victory - the type of game where starters might get some extra rest. However, that wasn't the case, as the game was actually close right up until the fourth quarter. The mean Nowitzki, Kidd, Marion all saw at least 30 minutes of playing time, Kidd and Marion both topping the 33-minute mark. While the Mavs aren't generally bothered too much by playing the second of back to back games, this will also be their third game in the past four.
The Mavs could also be looking ahead to Thursday's game vs. LA. As Marion commented: "If we got a statement game, it's probably when we play the Lakers. We're 1-2 against them right now. They're the defending champions. That's the statement game."
The Suns stumbled in their last game - as the triple-OT game vs. the Lakers may have finally caught up with them. They had yesterday off though and they're still 5-1-1 ATS their last seven overall. It appears that they won't make the playoffs - but, at 3 games behind 8th place Memphis, they're not quite done yet - which makes this a "must win" game.
The Suns are also an outstanding 29-12 SU the past few seasons, when coming off an "upset" loss. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *10
|03-26-11||Chicago Bulls v. Milwaukee Bucks +6||Top||95-87||Loss||-109||10 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. Most know that the Bulls have been on a major roll. The Bucks have quietly started to play well too, though. Both teams won last night. The Bulls beat Memphis. The Bucks won at New York. I feel that Bucks, who should be extremely motivated, are again offering excellent value.
Note that the Bucks are an impressive 38-23-2 ATS the past few seasons, when playing the second of back to back games. That includes a 12-7 ATS mark this season. Most recently, on 3/16, the Bucks covered vs. the Magic. At the time, they were playing their second of b2b games (and also their 4th game in 5 days) and they lost by four, getting +6 points.
The last time that the Bulls played the second of back to back games was on 3/18. They were road favorites at Indiana but lost outright. They're a mediocre 9-8 ATS in that situation, for the season. Also, note that the Bulls are only 5-7 ATS the last 12 times that they were road favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
The Bucks have now won three of their last four. While last night's victory came on the road, they're generally a much better team at home. They're 6-1 ATS their last seven games here. They were 'only' 4-3 SU in those games but ALL three losses came by seven or fewer points.
Both teams should have plenty of motivation. The Bulls are trying to finish as the #1 seed. They've got a small cushion to work with (in the East) now though. The Bucks, on the other hand, have no margin for error. They're in 9th and are still two games back of Indiana, for the final spot in the East. Throw in the fact that they're playing with "triple revenge" and I expect them to be "hungrier" than their guests.
While they lost to the Bulls here exactly one month ago, the Bucks are still 3-2 the last five times that they were a host in this series. All five games were decided by single digits, two of them by three or fewer points. In each case, the line ranged from the Bucks being favored by as many as -4.5 to the Bulls being favored by up to -4. Now, we're getting even more points to work with. In a game that could easily come down to the wire once again, I'm grabbing all those generous points. *10
|03-26-11||Butler v. Florida -3.5||Top||74-71||Loss||-101||16 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on FLORIDA. I didn't play against Butler once during last year's magical tournament run. I did successfully play on the Bulldogs in each game that they covered thougzh, save for the final game against Duke, when I stayed off them and successfully played on the "under" instead. The Bulldogs only failed to cover one game in last year's tournament (3/20 vs. Murray State when they won by 2 as -4.5 point favorites) and that was the one I stayed off them for. This season, I've been correct on all three of their games, playing on them against Pittsburgh and on the "under" in each of their other two games. In other words, they've treated me quite well and I'm also well aware of what an excellent "tournament team" they've been. All good things must come to an end though and I feel that the Bulldogs 2011 will come to an end here.
Playing in a far more difficult conference, the Gators had more victories than the Bulldogs this season. They scored an identical number of points per game (72.1) and allowed even less (63.1 compared to 64.2) than the Bulldogs. The Gators hit a higher percentage of their shots (46.6% to 44.5%) while also holding opponents to a lower-shooting percentage. While the difference in the numbers isn't that great, the difference in level of competition was.
While Florida was facing the likes of Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas in the SEC, Butler was taking on teams like Cleveland State, Valparaiso, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Wright State in the Horizon.
The Bulldogs did play a few tough non-conference opponents, Duke, Louisville, Florida State and Xavier. Three of those resulted in losses though, two by double-digits.
While the Bulldogs lost at Xavier, the Gators went into Xavier and beat those same Musketeers. Both teams beat Florida State, but the Gators win came on the road while the Bulldogs beat them on a neutral court.
As good as the Bulldogs have been in recent weeks, I still don't believe that they're as talented as last year's team. I look for it to finally catch up to them here as the Gators prove to be the more complete team and improve to 5-0 SU/ATS the last five times that they were favored by four or fewer points. *10
|03-25-11||Virginia Commonwealth v. Florida State -4||Top||72-71||Loss||-103||11 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on FLORIDA STATE. *10 As you're probably aware, neither of these teams was expected to make it this far. The Rams have been the bigger surprise and have been arguably more impressive in the tournament thus far, at least on the offensive side of the ball. That said, I feel that the Seminoles are favored for good reason and that this will prove to be a good matchup for them.
As impressive as the Rams were last time out, keep in mind that they're still only 11-14 ATS against winning teams. They're also only 7-11 ATS against teams which allow 64 or fewer points per game.
Of course, the Seminoles boast one of the stingiest defenses in the country. They're allowing a mere 61.7 points per game. Additionally, opposing teams hit just 36.1% of their shots against the 'Noles.
Check out Florida State's last three games. The Seminoles held Notre Dame to 57 points on 31.7% shooting. Prior to that, they held Texas A&M to 50 points on 31.4% shooting. Before that, they limited Virginia Tech to 52 points on 31.5% shooting.
While the defense has been outstanding, the Florida State offense got a major boast last week when Chris Singleton recently returned from injury, after missing five weeks. He is the Seminoles best player, leading the team in both scoring and rebounding. While he didn't play/do much in the first two games, he's getting healthier by the day and he should be able to contribute more this evening.
The Seminoles are far more "battle-tested" than the Rams. Not only do they play all the very tough teams in the ACC (they beat teams like Duke, Clemson, Boston College and Miami and came within two points of beating UNC and V-Tech) but they also have faced the likes of non-conference teams like Florida, Butler and Ohio State, all of which are still in the tournament.
On the other hand, VCU plays in a much "softer" conference and their toughest non-conference games, prior to this tournament, were arguably vs. Richmond and Tennessee. Solid teams - but not in the class of Ohio State or Florida. Note that the Rams were 0-2 SU/ATS in those games.
In the end, I look for the Florida State's defense to again be the difference as the Seminoles advance to the next round and improve to 6-0 ATS along the way. *10
|03-25-11||Detroit Pistons v. Cleveland Cavaliers +4||Top||91-97||Win||100||9 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. As you're probably aware, wins have been few and far between for the Cavaliers this season. They've still been playing hard lately though, as evidenced by their recent 3-2 ATS record their last five. Last time out, they came up just short, losing by four, in OT. Looking at the remaining schedule and tonight's game offers one of their best chances at a victory. After this, they host the Hawks and Heat - both better teams than Detroit - before hitting the road. Knowing this and knowing that the Pistons already beat them in both this season's meetings, I expect a highly motivated effort from the revenge-minded Cavs.
While the Pistons have the better overall record, some might be surprised to learn that Cleveland's home record is actually (slightly) better than Detroit's road record. Yet, it was the Pistons who opened as favorites and the line has been going up since it came out. I feel that provides us with excellent value on the home underdog. Keep in mind that the Cavs were the favorite, when they hosted the Pistons last month.
The Pistons, who are off a disappointing loss vs. Miami, have lost seven straight on the road - and they haven't won away from Detroit since before the All Star Break, when they last played here. I expect the Cavs to do a much better job in tonight's rematch, as they bounce back and improve to 14-7 ATS the last 21 times that they were a host in this series. *10
|03-24-11||Connecticut v. San Diego St +1.5||Top||74-67||Loss||-110||57 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO STATE. The Huskies almost always have a strong team and that's been proven to be the case again this season. Off an impressive win vs. Cincinnati last round, many will probably expect them to have their way with San Diego State, a lesser known team from a lesser conference. These Aztecs are a lot better than many people realize though and I expect them to be the team which finds a way to advance.
The Aztecs only lost two games this entire season. Both losses came vs. BYU and they avenged those losses by crushing the Cougars in the Mountain West Tournament. In other words, this is a team which knows how to win and is used to doing so.
Naturally, the Aztecs' conference schedule wasn't as tough as U'Conn's schedule. However, they still did have to take on the likes of BYU and UNLV. They were also undefeated in non-conference play, earning victories over the likes of Gonzaga and St. Mary's.
While both teams are currently rolling, keep in mind that the Huskies have lost seven games since 1/29. In other words, they're hardly "undefeatable."
As for the "mighty" Big East, note that the Mountain West still has just as many teams playing in the Sweet 16 - and that the two Big East teams which are left, both beat other Big East teams last round to get here.
Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse all finished with better records than Uconn and all three are gone. Other teams like Louisville, West Virginia, St. John's, Villanova and Cincy have all been knocked out. In other words, the Big East may not be quite as "mighty" as most thought - certainly, not "undefeatable."
I like that the Aztecs "survived" a close game (OT) last round. Not only has it worked in our favor in terms of line value, but I feel the recent "close game experience" will serve them well here.
Additionally, I believe that the fact that the game is being played at the Honda Center, in Anaheim, figures to be provide the Aztecs with a solid edge. I look for them to show the nation that they're "the real deal" and that their 34-2 record was no fluke. *10
|03-23-11||Toronto Raptors +7.5 v. Phoenix Suns||Top||106-114||Loss||-110||11 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. I always pay extra close attention to NBA teams which are playing the second of back to back games. Depending on the team (some teams perform a lot better than others, when playing their second game in two days) and the "situation," (not all b2b spots are created equally) I often choose to play on or against the team, which is in the back to back spot. In this case, I believe that the situation calls for a play "against" the team, which is playing its second game in two nights.
As noted, not all back to back spots are "equal." In many cases, the first game will be a blowout - and the team which is winning (or, in some cases, the team which is getting blown out) gets to give its starters some extra rest. Also, in many cases, prior to playing the two games in two days, the team had an extra few day's worth of rest. None of that applies for Phoenix here though.
In this case, not only are the Suns playing the second of back to back games, they're also playing their third game in four days and their 7th game in the last 11 days. Making matters much worse, last night's game was a "triple-OT marathon," which saw all the starters log far more minutes than normal. Five Phoenix players logged at least 40 minutes, including Nash with 49 minutes, Gortat with 53 and Frye with 57.
The fact that the Suns had to fight so hard to get back in the game and then only to lose in the third overtime period, figures to make them that much more "exhausted."
Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry noted: "We had a chance to do something special, and we didn't quite get it done, so obviously it hurts."
Also, keep in mind that was a very emotional and nationally televised game vs. the defending champs, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season. Off that "heartbreaker" (and with a "revenge" game vs. the Hornets, a team that beat them last week, on deck) it should be easy to overlook lowly Toronto.
While the Suns were "leaving it all on the floor" last night, the Raptors had the day off. They did get blown out at Denver last time out - however, in that case, they were the team which was playing the second of back to back games. Prior to that, they'd won two straight, including an impressive 95-93 win at Oklahoma City.
The Raptors gave the Suns all they could handle here last season, losing by only one point. Playing with "revenge" from last month's loss at Toronto and with the schedule in their favor, I expect at least another cover here. *10
|03-23-11||Orlando Magic v. New York Knicks +2||Top||111-99||Loss||-115||10 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW YORK. The Knicks have dropped three straight and six of their last seven. I haven't played on them once, during that slide. However, I've gone 2-0 by playing against, successfully doing so when they lost at Dallas and again when they lost at Milwaukee. Tonight, they're back home and playing with "double-revenge." With a chance to "get back on track" on National TV, I expect this talented team to "put it all together" tonight.
Yes, the Magic have won three straight. None of those were against teams with this type of talent though and Orlando was 0-3 ATS in those games. Looking back further and we find that the Magic are now an ugly 1-8 ATS their last nine games.
Van Gundy would like his team to play better. However, the fact is that they're likely locked into the fourth position. They're unlikely going to catch Miami and Atlanta won't be able to catch them. Therefore, winning tonight isn't entirely "urgent" for the Magic.
Note that Orlando, which beat Cleveland by 11 last time out, is just 12-15 ATS off a double-digit win and only 13-21 ATS on the road. That includes a money-burning 2-6 ATS mark as road favorites of three or fewer points.
Unlike their guests, the Knicks should be extremely motivated, mostly as they really need to snap their skid. They're also fighting for the 6th and 7th spot with Philadelphia - although its hard to say which is a more dangerous first round opponent, Chicago, Miami or Boston. In my opinion, they'd probably want to avoid Boston the most - (again, thats debatable) and sixth place would likely mean a date with the Heat - a team they're 2-0 against in 2011.
Additional motivation for the Knicks come from the fact that they blew a big lead in their last loss to the Magic and that they also did so in their most recent game, vs. Boston a couple of nights ago.
Recent struggles notwithstanding, keep in mind that New York's home record is nearly identical to Orlando's road record. The Knicks have still won six of nine here and 12 of 20.
The Knicks are also 29-16-2 ATS the past few seasons, when off three straight losses. That includes a 6-3-1 ATS mark their last 10 in that situation. They're 23-9-2 ATS as underdogs and I look for them to bounce back with an important victory tonight. *10
|03-21-11||Duquesne +1.5 v. Oregon||Top||75-77||Loss||-105||10 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on DUQUESNE. Playing at home and hailing from the "bigger name" conference, Oregon is a "popular" pick here. As a result, the Ducks are now slight favorites. However, I believe that the Dukes will prove to be the better team. Note that while the Dukes are now a respectable 19-12, the Ducks are still only 17-17 on the season. Note that Oregon is a terrible 22-41 ATS in lined games against teams with a winning record, the past few seasons.
The Dukes saw five players score in double-digits in their first round blowout of Montana, shooting an impressive 54% from the field. On the other hand, the Ducks only shot 41% from the field in their win over Weber State.
For the season, the Dukes outscored opponents by a 78 to 67.7 margin. Conversely, Oregon only outscored teams by a 69.5 to 69 count.
Yes, the Ducks have homecourt advantage. The Dukes were a profitable 8-4 ATS in road lined games though, while the Ducks were only 8-11 ATS in home lined games. The Dukes are 6-2 ATS in non-conf. lined games and 8-4 ATS after having scored 80 or more in their previous game.
The Dukes are a team that won 11 in a row earlier this year. They "got back on track" in the win vs. Montana and I look for them to build momentum from that win as they "shock" their hosts and make it two in a row here. *10
|03-21-11||Golden State Warriors +11 v. San Antonio Spurs||Top||96-111||Loss||-105||10 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. As you know, the Spurs are having a much better season than the Warriors. Duncan and co. have been particularly tough at home. That said, given the way they've been playing recently, I feel this line will prove too be too high.
The Spurs are off back to back victories. Those came by only six and 11 points though. The 6-point victory was impressive enough, as it came at Dallas. However, the 11-point win resulted in a (narrow) pointspread loss, a game they were laying -12.5 against Charlotte for. Now, they'll face a far more "offensively capable" opponent. (While the Bobcats are one of the weakest offensive teams in the league, the Warriors can score points with the best of them.)
Looking back further and we find that the Spurs are only 4-10 ATS their last 14 games. They haven't won a game by more than 11 points for 17 days. In fact, of their last 14 games, only one has resulted in a victory of greater than 11 points, the "statement" game vs. Miami on 3/4. Facing an opponent that they've dominated, one which isn't going to the playoffs, the Spurs aren't likely to be as "fired up" for this game, as they were for that one. In fact, they may give some additional rest to one or more of their stars. (Duncan got last game off, Ginobli played only 19 mins.)
Having lost four straight and playing with "triple revenge," the Warriors should have plenty of motivation. While they did get blown out at Dallas last time out, note that the previous three losses all came by 11 or fewer points. In fact, that loss vs. the Mavericks was the only time in the Warriors' last 13 games that they lost by greater than 11 points.
The Warriors were only +8.5 point underdogs for last night's game at Dallas - now, facing an opponent which is similar in talent level (and which hasn't been blowing teams out very often lately) the Warriors are getting extra points to work with. I believe that provides us with excellent value.
True, this is a back to back situation. The Warriors 2-2 SU the last four times that they played the second of back to back games though and the losses came by an average of only seven points, both by 10 or less. In fact, the Warriors are a profitable 30-19 ATS the past few seasons, when playing the second of back to back games.
Last night's 73 points was the second lowest scoring output the Warriors have had this season. Note that they won and covered after scoring 72 earlier.
Golden State forward Dorell Wright noted: "It was just an off night for guys. Guys couldn't find their shot. I feel like shots that we usually make were going in and out, and we were just missing it. It's like that at some times. So, we've just got to let this one go and get ready for tomorrow."
While they admittedly have had very little success at San Antonio over the years, I look for a highly motivated effort from the Warriors tonight. Even with the loss at Dallas, they're still 3-2 ATS in 2011, as underdogs of greater than eight points. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|03-20-11||Marquette +5 v. Syracuse||Top||66-62||Win||100||10 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on MARQUETTE. I had the Golden Eagles in their opening round "upset" of Xavier. I believe that they're more than capable of delivering another "shocker" here today.
Here's an excerpt from my opening play on on Marquette, as its still relevant today:
"Xavier hasn't had to contend with many teams with the offensive firepower that the Golden Eagles bring to the table. The Golden Eagles are athletic and can score with the best of them. They average better than 76 points per game and make a healthy 46.8% of their shots. Those offensive stats are superior to the Musketeers' offensive numbers.
Note that the Musketeers were destroyed by 20 points vs. Cincinnati, the lone Big East opponent they faced this season. That was their worst loss of the season - yet, that's the type of competition that Marquette sees regularly.
Marquette has beaten the likes of UConn, Notre Dame, Syracuse while sweeping West Virginia. With Marquette now "getting points," note that the Golden Eagles also had 1-point losses vs. Louisville and Vanderbilt.
The Golden Eagles are an outstanding 98-59 ATS the last 157 times that they were listed as underdogs. That includes a profitable 20-9 ATS mark the past few seasons..."
Of course, the Golden Eagles are now getting points again and now they're facing a familiar opponent, one which they're 1-0 against on the season.
True, Syracuse has plenty of talent - and is off an easy win in the first round. However, that was against a fairly 'easy' opponent and the Orange are far from unbeatable. In addition to having lost vs. UConn in the Big East tournament, note that the Orange lost six of seven at one point this season.
Even with the cover in the opening rd, the Orange were still 11-14 ATS when laying points.
Since 2009, all three meetings between these teams have been decided by seven or fewer points, with the Golden Eagles covering the spread in each of the last two. I expect another close one with Marquette earning at least another cover. *10
|03-20-11||Virginia Commonwealth v. Purdue -9||Top||94-76||Loss||-110||9 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on PURDUE. Give the Rams credit for making it this far. Not only did they beat USC but they followed it up by blowing out Georgetown. Clearly, they're a capable team, one which is currently playing with some confidence. That said, USC simply wasn't that good a team and Georgetown was struggling. (The Hoyas finished their season on a 1-6 SU and 0-7 ATS run.) Today, however, the Rams will be matched up against a powerful team, one which has been playing well for many weeks and which is off a confidence-building blowout win in the first round.
Also, keep in mind that the Rams were just 3-5 SU (2-6 ATS) their previous eight games, prior to this tournament. Note that a couple of those losses came by double-digits, too.
Yes, Purdue lost a couple before entering the tournament. The Boilermakers will still 26-7 on the season though, including 8-2 their last 10. Note that ALL eight of those victories came by a minimum of eight points, including a 22-point win in the first round and a 13-point win over Ohio State. Unlike Georgetown, this team should have plenty of confidence.
Having played the "play in game" may have given the Rams an early advantage over Georgetown. They had a win under their belts. In addition to being "warmed up," they were no longer "nervous." In addition to being on a losing streak, the Hoyas hadn't played in nine days. Now, however, the Rams will be playing their third game already and they'll face a Purdue team that is brimming with confidence and loaded with talent.
These teams have contrasting styles and the team that can dictate the tempo should have an advantage. I believe the well-coached Boilermakers will be fully ready. Coach Painter was quoted as saying: "Any time somebody presses you, you've got to be able to attack when it's there and be under control and take good shots. When it's not there, be able to run half-court offense. But that is the theme of a pressing team. They're trying to get you to get at a speed you're not used to. You've got to play fast but under control."
With the first round cover, the Boilermakers are now a profitable 9-4 ATS the last 13 times that they were favored by greater than eight points. With stars JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore leading the way, I expect another double-digit victory. *10
|03-20-11||Washington +5.5 v. North Carolina||Top||83-86||Win||100||2 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. The Tar Heels have the "bigger name" and they'll get to play this game in front of a "Tar Heel-friendly crowd" in Charlotte. I believe this Washington team is better than people realize though and I expect them to show it on Sunday afternoon.
The Huskies have played (and won) a number of close games lately. They beat rival Washington State by two points in the opening round of the Pac-10 Tournament. After blowing out Oregon in the next round, they beat Arizona in OT, at the buzzer. Then, in the first round of this tournament, they beat Georgia by three. I feel that recent "close game experience" will serve the Huskies well here.
The Tar Heels won big in the first round - yet, they still didn't cover. They're now 1-4-1 ATS their last six.
"Surviving" a close game in the first round can often be helpful in covering the spread in the second round against a team that won its first round game in blowout fashion. Butler comes to mind as a recent example. The Bulldogs won at the buzzer in the first round - Pittsburgh blew out its first round opponent. Yet, Butler beat them when the two faced off in the second round.
Including the win vs. Arizona, the Huskies are 3-1-1 ATS the last five times that they were listed as underdogs. I expect them to improve on those stats here and in a game that I expect to come down to the wire, I'm grabbing all the points that I can get. *10
|03-19-11||Philadelphia 76ers v. Portland Trail Blazers -5.5||Top||101-110||Win||100||12 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on Portland. I've backed the Blazers in each of their last two games. They've played very well in both games. After "upsetting" Dallas, they stepped down in class and blew out Cleveland. Normally, I don't continue to "ride" a team that I've been winning with. However, in this case, I feel the situation calls for another Portland win and cover.
While the Blazers had last night off (and the Thursday game against Cleveland was hardly "taxing" at all) the 76ers figure to be feeling some fatigue. Philadelphia is off a late win at Sacramento last night and will now be playing the final leg of a 5-game road trip. Note that the 76ers are an awful 19-40 SU the past few seasons, when playing the second of b2b games.
Its worse than just a regular "back to back" spot though. I played against the 76ers on 3/12, at Milwaukee, when the 76ers were playing the second of back to back games and fourth game in five days. (The Bucks crushed them.) They haven't had a chance to properly rest since. The 76ers will now be playing their 8th game in the past 12 nights. After tonight, they get a few days off - but that won't help them here.
While the 76ers will be playing their eighth game since 3/8, the Blazers are playing just their sixth game, during the same time period. That's a significant difference, particularly with the 76ers so far away from home.
Even when not dealing with such a brutal schedule, the 76ers have trouble winning away from Philly. They're still 14-22 on the road. The Blazers, on the other hand, are 23-10 at home.
With the schedule and venue in their favor and playing with "revenge" from an earlier loss at Philadelphia, I expect the Blazers to keep on rolling for another day, covering the relatively small number along the way. *10
|03-19-11||Gonzaga v. Brigham Young +1.5||Top||67-89||Win||100||9 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on BYU. Off an impressive win over a Big East opponent and with a recent tradition of success, Gonzaga is favored here. I expect BYU to "shock" the Bulldogs here though and for the Cougars to be the team which advances to the next round.
As you probably know, the Cougars have a "superstar" player in Jimmer Fredette. All Fredette did was lead the nation in scoring at 28.6 points per game, scoring more than 1000 of them on the season. ("The Jimmer" had 32 in the opening round.)
Teams led by a single superstar don't often win the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars are more than just Fredette though - and we're not asking them to win the entire title here - merely to beat Gonzaga and to advance to the next round. We've seen plenty of teams led by a single superstar advance to the Sweet 16 - Gonzaga's Adam Morrison led team being one of them.
BYU was outstanding away from home this season, winning 17 of 20 games. This is a team with wins over the likes of Arizona, UNLV and a pair of wins against San Diego State. When matched up against St. Mary's (a WCC team which finished with an equal 25-9 record as Gonzaga) the Cougars came away with the victory.
The Cougars are 15-1 SU their last 16 non-conference games. With Fredette "doing his thing," I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|03-19-11||Butler +8 v. Pittsburgh||Top||71-70||Win||100||9 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUTLER. The Bulldogs are at their best when every one is writing them off. They were (slight) underdogs in their opening game but "found a way" to get it done. With that result, they're now 15-5-1 ATS the last 21 times that they were listed as underdogs, including 5-0-1 ATS the last six. Eleven of those 15 ATS wins also resulted in outright victories. Today's opponent is certainly a powerful and talented one. However, I don't believe that Butler, which is "peaking" at the right time, will be intimidated.
While they didn't dominate during the regular season the way that they did last year, the Bulldogs are currently playing their best basketball. Indeed, they're now a perfect 10-0 their last 10 games.
They did lose a couple of keys from last year's team - but obviously the cupboard was hardly left bare. This is a very well-coached Butler team and last year's tournament and "big game" experience has served them well in recent weeks. They're now 6-0 SU/ATS in "tournament play."
With a #1 seed, Pittsburgh is clearly "loaded." That doesn't mean that the Panthers blow everyone out though. In fact, they've been playing a large number of close games for some time now. Prior to the their blowout win in round #1, the Panthers had seen 10 of their previous 11 games decided by 13 or fewer points. Seven of those games were decided by five or fewer points.
Unlike the Bulldogs, the Panthers haven't been that profitable in tournament play, these past few seasons. In fact, they're just 7-11 ATS their last 18 tournament games, 2-5 ATS in the NCAA tournament.
Butler has really been playing well defensively of late. The Bulldogs have allowed less than 70 points in all 10 games during the win streak. Over that stretch, opposing teams have averaged only 58 points. That type of defense makes every possession important and makes getting this many points very attractive. The Bulldogs were 14-5 ATS against teams with a winning record this season. I look for them to take the Panthers down to the wire and improve on those stats here. *10
|03-18-11||Marquette +2.5 v. Xavier||Top||66-55||Win||100||8 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on MARQUETTE. The Golden Eagles aren't getting a whole lot of respect here and most seem to expect an Xavier victory. While I respect Xavier, I feel Marquette will prove its the better team.
Xavier enters with 24 wins. Marquette has 20. Those win totals are among the biggest reasons that Xavier is favored. However, one could easily argue that Marquette's 20 wins were more impressive than the Musketeers' 24. Obviously, the Big East has far more quality and/or elite teams than the A-10. Also, Marquette played arguably the tougher non-conf. schedule. Both teams played Gonzaga - both lost. The Golden Eagles also played the likes of Duke, Wisconsin and Vanderbilt though - Xavier faced Florida, Iowa and Cincy.
Xavier hasn't had to contend with many teams with the offensive firepower that the Golden Eagles bring to the table. The Golden Eagles are athletic and can score with the best of them. They average better than 76 points per game and make a healthy 46.8% of their shots. Those offensive stats are superior to the Musketeers' offensive numbers.
Note that the Musketeers were destroyed by 20 points vs. Cincinnati, the lone Big East opponent they faced this season. That was their worst loss of the season - yet, that's the type of competition that Marquette sees regularly.
Marquette has beaten the likes of UConn, Notre Dame, Syracuse while sweeping West Virginia. With Marquette now "getting points," note that the Golden Eagles also had 1-point losses vs. Louisville and Vanderbilt.
The Golden Eagles are an outstanding 98-59 ATS the last 157 times that they were listed as underdogs. That includes a profitable 20-9 ATS mark the past few seasons. I expect them to improve on those stats, scoring the minor upset along the way. *10
|03-18-11||Denver Nuggets v. Orlando Magic -6||Top||82-85||Loss||-110||8 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on ORLANDO. I successfully played against the Magic last time out. Orlando won but didn't cover. That was on the road though and the Magic were facing a Milwaukee team which was desperately fighting to try and stay in the playoff race. Today's opponent is also in the playoff race, but may not be quite as "desperate." More importantly, the Magic are now back home and they've got a "score to settle."
I say that the Magic have a "score to settle" as they were blown out at Denver in mid-December. Note that they're 59-29 SU the past few seasons, when attempting to avenge an earlier loss. During that stretch, the Magic have also gone a profitable 13-7-1 ATS (17-4 SU) when listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
Since beating the Knicks here on 3/1, the Magic have only played two home games. The fact that they lost both (and knowing that they're back on the road again after this) should provide the Magic with even further motivation here.
Off four straight wins, the Nuggets may be patting themselves on the back a bit. They could also have tomorrow's showdown at Miami in the back of their heads. Note that the Nuggets are just 4-7-2 ATS, when on a winning streak of three or more games. Also, note that the Nuggets are only 2-8 ATS (1-9 SU) the last 10 times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 205 to 209.5 range.
The Magic are 19-3 all-time at home against Denver, including 15-1 (11-3-2 ATS) the last 16. Thirteen of those 15 wins, including each of the last five, have come by a minimum of six points. I expect another solid win and cover as the motivated Magic cool off their guests and avenge the earlier loss. *10
|03-18-11||Villanova -1.5 v. George Mason||Top||57-61||Loss||-105||7 h 41 m||Show|
I'm playing on VILLANOVA. The Wildcats struggled down the stretch and therefore aren't getting much respect. This is a dangerous and talented team though, one with something to prove. I expect them to rise to the occasion and to advance to the next round.
Yes, George Mason was a far more profitable team this season and comes in with a much better record. Obviously, there's a massive difference in the quality of opposition though. The Patriots "split" games with Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth, the two other top teams in their conference. Outside of those games, there next two toughest games were vs. Dayton and Duquesne. Clearly, the Patriots aren't "battle tested" in the way that Villanova is.
While they've got talent, the Patriots lack the type of dominant inside game that often gave the Wildcats problems in Big East play.
While a long layoff can sometimes cause some rust, I feel that it will be helpful for Villanova. The Wildcats were struggling and the time off should allow them to "get their heads right" while also becoming fully healthy. Note that Villanova is 18-5 SU the last 23 times that it played with seven or more day's rest in between games, including 4-0 its last four in that situation.
Note that the Wildcats are 16-6 SU and 14-8 ATS the last 22 times that played in a first round tournament game. During the same stretch, the Patriots were 3-6 SU and 4-5 ATS when playing in a first round tournament game.
Corey Fisher spoke of the Wildcats' mindset: "Stay positive. Can't get down on yourself. Things will turn. Just like our (2009) Final 4 team. We lost five games in a row. Not comparing us to that team, but we had doubters, too. If we go out and make a run, all the doubters will become fans. Just got to continue to play." I expect Fisher and co. to "win over some doubters" this afternoon. *10
|03-17-11||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Portland Trail Blazers -13.5||Top||70-111||Win||100||11 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. I won with the Blazers in their last game. Facing a talented Dallas team, that was playing well, Portland elevated its game and earned an important victory. It was particularly encouraging for Portland and its fans to see Brandon Roy playing like a "superstar" again. Taking a significant step down in class and with the schedule in their favor, I expect the Blazers to follow up Tuesday's win by delivering a "blowout" tonight.
While the Blazers had last night off, the Cavaliers are off a late game at Sacramento. Give them credit for winning that one - but don't expect them to do it twice in a row. The Cavs are still an ugly 5-28 on the road - and they've been outscored by an average score of 107.9 to 94.4 in those games. Obviously, they're no strangers to blowout losses.
Note that the Cavs are just 6-10-2 ATS the last 18 times that they played the second of b2b games. Also, note that they're still an ugly 9-18-1 ATS (4-24 SU) against teams from the West, including 0-8-1 ATS (0-9 SU) against teams from the Northwest.
While the line might seem high at first glance, note that the Blazers are 5-3-1 ATS (9-0 SU) the last nine times that they were listed as home favorites in the -12.5 to -15 range.
The Blazers are also 18-9-2 ATS (21-8 SU) the past few seasons, against teams from the Central. That includes a 7-2 SU and 5-2-2 ATS mark their last nine.
The Blazers know the importance of "taking care of business" against bad teams, at this time of the year. Indeed, they're a profitable 28-15-1 ATS (38-6 SU) the last 44 times that they faced a team with a losing record, during the second half of the season. With a number of much tougher games coming up, I expect the Blazers to make the most of the opportunity for an "easy win" by blowing out the hapless Cavs. *10
|03-17-11||Gonzaga v. St John's -1.5||Top||86-71||Loss||-110||11 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. John's. We don't normally find a West Coast Conference team getting "more respect" and having more NCAA tournament experience than a team from the Big East. Of course, Gonzaga isn't a "normal" West Coast Conference team - as the Bulldogs have made a habit of getting here. Meanwhile, St. John's still doesn't getting get much recognition, despite a truly outstanding season. I believe the Red Storm are (slight) favorites for good reason though and I look for them to step up and advance to the next round.
Gonzaga enters the tournament playing well and the Bulldogs should have an advantage in the paint. The Red Storm have been playing well for many weeks though and I believe they'll have the advantage in the backcourt. Guard Dwight Hardy is arguably the best player on the floor.
Yes, Gonzaga has been here often. The Bulldogs are also only 1-4 ATS their last five NCAA tournament games though and this year's team arguably isn't as good as some of their previous editions.
True, the Red Storm are missing DJ Kennedy. Admittedly, his loss is significant. However, its not something that can't be recovered from. Keep in mind that his replacement (Sean Evans) is a senior that started each of the last two seasons.
Many still don't want to believe but the Red Storm have been getting it done for weeks. Since 1/30, when it crushed Duke, St. John's has beaten the likes of UConn, Cincy, Marquette, Pittsburgh and Villanova - to name just a few. Earlier in the season, the Red Storm knocked off the likes of West Virginia, Georgetown and Notre Dame. In other words, they won't be "intimidated" by "big bad Gonzaga."
The Red Storm are 4-1 SU their last five games played on a neutral court, going 9-3 their last 12. I expect the rest of the Red Storm players to rally around Kennedy's injury and for their strong guard play to help lead them to the second round. *10
|03-17-11||Princeton +13.5 v. Kentucky||Top||57-59||Win||100||4 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on PRINCETON. Kentucky is a "big name" program and its just coming off a "high profile" blowout victory in the SEC tournament championship game. That's caused what would have already been a high line to be even a little higher. I believe that it will prove to be too high.
While always talented, keep in mind that this is still a relatively young Kentucky team. The recent success could easily have the young Wildcats "patting themselves on the back" a bit, while looking past their lightly regarded first round opponent.
That will prove costly though, as I believe Princeton is better than many realize. The Tigers are a far more experienced team and they're thrilled to be back in the tournament, after a 6-year absence.
As Princeton coach Sydney Johnson noted: "It's our moment against Kentucky and we're not going to spoil it. I can't tell you if we're going to be perfect out there ... but we're not going to waste this opportunity. I won't allow them to do that."
The Tigers, once "famous" for "scaring" elite teams, are 19-10-1 ATS the last 30 times that they were listed as underdogs, including 5-2 ATS their last seven. They're 16-9 ATS their last 25 lined games against teams with a winning record.
Once known for slowing down the pace, the Princeton offense can be difficult to prepare for. This team is far more athletic than Princeton teams of the past, prompting Kentucky coach Calipari to note: "It's Princeton on steroids..."
The Wildcats were only 12-13-1 ATS when laying points and that includes a 0-1 ATS mark as a neutral court favorite in the -12.5 to -15 range. They're 12-18 ATS the past few seasons, after allowing 60 or fewer points in their previous game. I expect them to have their hands full the entire way here. *10
|03-16-11||Orlando Magic v. Milwaukee Bucks +5.5||Top||93-89||Win||100||10 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. The Bucks sure didn't look too good their last two games. Those were both on the road though, each at difficult venues. Winning on the road has long been a problem for the Bucks. They're far more competitive at Milwaukee though and they're back home for tonight's very important game.
Some might be surprised to learn that the Bucks home record is very nearly as good as Orlando's road record. The Magic are 18-15 on the road. Milwaukee is 17-16 at home. Looking back further and we find that the Bucks are 69-49 here the past few seasons, while the Magic are 80-54 away from Orlando. This season, the Bucks are outscoring opponents by an average of 1.9 points per game (91.4 to 89.5) on this floor while the Magic are outscoring teams by 1.4 points (99.2 to 97.8) points on the road.
In other words, Orlando's road numbers are very similar to Milwaukee's home numbers. Yet, we're getting a fairly large number of points to work with. I feel that's providing us with excellent value.
Note that prior to the 2-game road trip, the Bucks were off three consecutive double-digit victories and had covered the spread in four straight games.
True, this is a rather difficult scheduling spot for the Bucks - however, no starter played more than 31 mins. last night and at Boston, nobody played more than 27 minutes. So, they haven't logged as many minutes as might normally be the case.
Also, note that the Bucks are a profitable 37-22-2 ATS the past few seasons, when playing the second of b2b games. That includes an 11-6 ATS mark their last 17 in that situation.
The fact this is is such a "big game" should help in keeping the Bucks energized. Even with the road losses, they're still in 10th place and only 2 1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They know they're running out of time and that they absolutely need to take care of business at home.
The Magic, who are playing the fifth leg of a 5-game road trip, haven't played well recently and they're only 1-5 ATS their last six games. Note that they're also now 1-5-1 ATS after playing their previous three on the road.
The Bucks beat the Magic here earlier this season and they were 2-0 ATS (one blowout win and one 2-point loss) against them here last season. I expect them to bounce back with their best effort and for them to earn at least another cover here. *10
|03-16-11||Nebraska v. Wichita State -4||Top||49-76||Win||100||8 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on WICHITA STATE. The Huskers are very capable on their home floor. They're not the same team away from Lincoln though. They were only 2-10 on the road this season, averaging a mere 62.6 points in those games. The Shockers, who finished at an impressive 24-8 overall, were 12-4 at home. They oustscored opponents by a 73.7 to 60.9 margin here.
Looking back further finds Nebraska at 6-25 its last 31 road games. During that stretch, Wichita State was 43-9 at home.
Both teams are off a loss in their conference tournament - the reason they're here. Note that Nebraska is only 11-21 the past few seasons, when coming off a conference loss. During that stretch, Wichita State was 16-6 when coming off a conference loss, going 4-0 (3-1 AT) in that situation this season.
Over the past few seasons, the Huskers have gone 4-6 ATS (3-7 SU) in their tournament games. During that stretch, the Shockers were 12-6 ATS in tourament play.
Yes, the Shockers are disappointed with themselves that they didn't make it to the NCAA Tournament. However, they're a team loaded with seniors and juniors and I don't expect them to hang their heads about it. They've had plenty of time to "get over" the fact that they're in the NIT and I look for them to respond with their very best effort. Playing at home against a Nebraska team that struggles on the road, I look for that to be enough to lead to the win and cover. *10
|03-15-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Portland Trail Blazers +1.5||Top||101-104||Win||100||12 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. I won with the Mavericks when they blew out the Knicks two games ago. In their most recent game, I came back and successfully played on the Mavs (vs the Lakers) to finish below the total. Tonight, I feel the value lies in going against the Mavs.
These teams have played twice this season. The Mavs won both games. Those were both at Dallas though. Tonight's game is at Portland, where the Blazers are a much stronger team.
While the Blazers are only 16-19 on the road, they're a much better 21-10 at home. They're now 84-35 here the past few seasons. That's significantly better than the Mavs' 70-53 road record, during the same stretch.
The Mavs, 3-5 ATS the last eight times they played with two day's rest, may still have the loss to the Lakers in the back of their minds. That was a big "statement" game for them and they failed to come through. Note that the Mavs are now just 1-5 ATS their last six games, including 0-2 ATS on the road.
The Blazers return home after four games on the road. The trip started very well with wins at both Orlando and Miami. They wore down a bit in the next two games though, losing at Charlotte and Atlanta. I wasn't surprised to see them lose those games though - I had a play on the Bobcats when the Blazers lost at Charlotte and the game vs. the Hawks was the second game of a back to back spot.
Still, the road trip was fairly respectable. As Portland guard Wes Matthews noted: "The road trip was not as good as we wanted, but we will take two wins over nothing any day, especially against high-caliber teams such as Miami and Orlando. Those wins give us confidence knowing we can play with everybody."
In addition to being better at home overall, the Blazers typically fair quite well when returning home from a road trip of three or more games. The last time (2/16) that they returned home from a trip of three or more games, they won and covered vs. New Orleans. Prior to that, the previous time (2/7) that they returned home from a trip of three or more games, they won and covered vs. the Chicago Bulls.
The Blazers are 8-4 SU/ATS the last dozen times that they played a home game with an O/U line of 184 to 189.5 range. Playing with double-revenge, I expect them to step up and improve on those stats this evening. *10
|03-15-11||Dayton v. College of Charleston -5.5||Top||84-94||Win||100||8 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLESTON. Dayton hails from the bigger conference and is arguably the "bigger name" in this contest. However, this is a tough spot for the Flyers and I believe that the Cougars are favored for good reason. Not only did the Flyers come up just short in their bid for the NCAA Tournament - but they're also fresh off three difficult games in three days. Even with a day off on Monday, they still figure to be rather exhausted here.
Like the Flyers, the Cougars also played three conference tournament games in three days. However, unlike the Flyers, they've had a full week off in between games.
In addition to having the schedule in their favor, the Cougars also have the venue in their favor. They're 12-1 SU at home - 7-3 ATS in home lined games. They outscored teams by a 80.5 to 64.5 point margin here.
The Cougars, 37-20 ATS the last 57 times they were off a conference loss, are 8-1 ATS their last nine first round tournament games. I expect them to be both "fresher" and "hungrier" and look for that to lead to a solid win and cover. *10
|03-14-11||Golden State Warriors v. Sacramento Kings -1||Top||119-129||Win||100||11 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing with SACRAMENTO. The Warriors won the first two meetings against the Kings this season. Both meetings were close most of the way (one was tied at halftime, the other was a 1-point game) but in each case, the Warriors pulled away. Tonight, I expect Sacramento to get some "payback."
The Warriors won big vs. Minnesota last night. That was an impressive victory and it wasn't all that "taxing." However, they still had to play. Now, in addition to playing the second of back to back games, the Warriors will be playing their fifth game in the past eight days, the first three of those coming in the East. Going back further and we find that this will already be their 9th game through the first 14 days of March, seven of those coming on the road. That's a fairly gruelling stretch.
By comparison, the Kings, who had yesterday off, are only playing their seventh game in March. Only three of their March games were on the road and all were against Western Conference opponents.
In other words, the Kings have done far less traveling/playing these last two weeks.
As for last night's big win, note that the Warriors are 0-4 SU ATS the last four times that they allowed 85 or fewer points in their previous game. They're also 2-7 ATS (3-6 SU) the last nine times that they were off a double-digit win. Looking back further finds them at 13-22-1 ATS (9-27 SU) in that situation, the past few seasons.
While the Kings have struggled to win at Oakland in recent seasons, they typically fare well as a host in this series. Even with this seasons' earlier loss, they're still 13-7 SU the last 20 times they faced the Warriors here, going 20-8 SU the last 28 meetings here. That includes a 2-0 sweep here last season. Playing with "double-revenge" and on "fresher legs," I expect them to improve on those stats tonight. *10
|03-14-11||Los Angeles Clippers v. Memphis Grizzlies -5.5||Top||82-105||Win||100||10 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. The Grizzlies won this season's earlier meeting, a 1-point win at LA. Playing at home and catching the Clippers playing the final leg of a road trip, I expect the Grizzlies to have the advantage once again.
The Clippers had yesterday off. However, this will still be their fifth road game in the past eight days. Having won three of the first four games, they've already had a successful road trip, regardless of what happens here. As a result, I don't expect them to be particularly "desperate" and I feel that it will be easy to get caught thinking ahead to the return trip home.
Off back to back losses and with a number of tougher games coming up in the second half of the month, the Grizzlies know they can't afford to lose this one. Not at home against a "non-playoff" team like the Clippers. Note that they're 8-4 ATS (10-2 SU) the last 12 times that they faced a team with a losing record.
The Grizzlies, 22-10 at home on the season, haven't lost three in a row in all of 2011. They weren't happy at all with their performance against the Heat and should be much more aggressive here.
The Grizzlies are also 6-2-1 ATS the last nine times that they were off a double-digit loss and 5-0-1 ATS the last six times that they scored 85 points or less in their previous game. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *10
|03-13-11||Penn State v. Ohio State -9.5||Top||60-71||Win||100||5 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing on OHIO STATE. These teams met twice during the regular season. The Nittany Lions managed to keep things close in the first meeting, losing by only three at Ohio State, easily covering the massive (+17.5) number. However, the Buckeyes "outclassed" them in the rematch. Laying -6.5 at Penn State, the Buckeyes won by 21. They were up 15 by the break and never looked back. I expect them to "flex their muscles" and for them to deliver another dominant effort here.
The Buckeyes' domination in this series extends a lot further back than this season. Indeed, Ohio State is 18-1 the last 19 meetings, including 15-0 the last 15. Five of the Buckeyes' last six victories in the series came by a minimum of eight points, four of those coming by double-digits.
One could argue that this game is more important to the Nittany Lions. They're still trying to guarantee a spot in the Big Dance, while Ohio State should have a #1 seed locked up. This is a championship game though - and the Buckeyes don't want to "back their way in" to the NCAA tournament. Rather, I believe that they'll want to make a statement. They've had their "wake-up calls" the last couple of days, now its time to deliver a blowout.
After a number of close games, note that the Buckeyes closed out the reg. season by earning four consecutive double-digit victories.
Coach Matta said of his team: "We're going to prepare like it's the next game on the schedule because it is and the thing that I love about this team, that's sort of how they want it. It's another opportunity to play a game. That's how I've seen their minds work all year."
Note that the Nittany Lions will be playing their fourth game in four days, the Buckeyes will be playing their third in three, but had that fourth day off. That can be significant.
In addition to getting dominated by the Buckeyes, the Nittany Lions are an ugly 0-12 all-time against #1 teams. I expect the "class difference" to be evident as the Buckeyes continue their domination in this series by delivering a double-digit victory. *10
|03-12-11||Philadelphia 76ers v. Milwaukee Bucks -2||Top||74-102||Win||100||10 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. These teams have met twice this season. The 76ers won both meetings. The first was back in November, a 90-79 Philly victory. The rematch in mid-January was far closer. The 76ers won that one, but by only one point. Both those games were at Philadelphia though.
Now, the Bucks get to face them at Milwaukee. Playing on their home floor, in front of their home fans, playing with "double-revenge" and with the schedule strongly in their favor, I expect them to have the advantage.
While the Bucks had the past two days off, the 76ers were playing a big game vs. the Celtics last night. This is more than a back to back spot though. It also represents their fourth game in the past five days. As they don't play five games in five days, that's as gruelling as it gets. Throw in the fact that last night's was a "huge win" and that their previous one (vs. OKC) went to OT, they should be ripe for a "letdown" here, mentally and/or physically.
The Bucks, who are off back to back double-digits wins, have dominated (at the betting window) vs. teams from the Atlantic. They're 31-13-2 ATS against Atlantic Division teams the past few seasons. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|03-11-11||Portland Trail Blazers v. Charlotte Bobcats +4.5||Top||92-97||Win||100||7 h 51 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. The Blazers come in on a red hot roll. They blew out these same Bobcats recently and followed it up by winning at Orlando and at Miami in their next two games. On the other hand, the Bobcats have been struggling. With that being the case and with former Bobcat Gerald Wallace returning to his "old stomping grounds," most bettors are likely going to back the visitors. However, I feel the value lies with the home underdog.
Yes, the Blazers crushed the Bobcats last week. However, that was at Portland. The Bobcats are MUCH better at home. Even with losses in their last two games here, the Bobcats have still won four of their last seven here. (Two of the three losses came by 5 pts or less.) In 2011 alone, they've defeated the likes of the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls here, to name a few. In other words, they're capable of beating any team on this floor.
Also, note that the Bobcats have been playing without Steven Jackson, their top scorer. They're hoping to have him back tonight. They could also get Tyrus Thomas and/or Matt Carroll back tonight.
While they lost vs. the Bulls last time out, coach Silas was still pleased with his team's effort. After the Chicago game, Silas was quoted as saying: "I told them if they play that way and we get our full complement of guys, then I like our chances..."
True, Portland's Gerald Wallace should be highly motivated to have a big game against his former team. After all, he felt snubbed by Charlotte and wasn't happy with the way he was traded. That said, he's only one player - and this game doesn't figure to be that "big" for the rest of the Blazers. In fact, off their huge wins at Orlando and Miami (both very "big" games) and with a "revenge" game vs. Atlanta (the Hawks recently beat them at Portland) on deck tomorrow, I feel it will be easy for the Blazers (not including Wallace) to look past this game and/or to take it for granted.
Also, keep in mind that Wallace's return could also fire up the Bobcats and their fans. They don't want to see a former player come here and dominate them. Note that Gerald Henderson, Wallace's replacement in the Charlotte lineup, is averaging a very solid 18.7 points on 56.5 percent shooting in his last three games.
Even with their recent struggles, note that the Bobcats are still very much alive in the Eastern Conf. playoff race. In fact, they're still just one game back of the Pacers for the final playoff berth. Given that their next four games are on the road, this one is extremely important.
The Bobcats are an extremely profitable 66-40-2 ATS the last 108 times that they were off a double-digit loss, including 29-20 ATS in that situation the past few seasons. Playing with recent revenge and with much on the line, I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|03-11-11||St. Joseph's v. Duquesne -9.5||Top||93-90||Loss||-110||5 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on DUQUESNE. While some may initially feel this line is too high, given the disparity in talent, I believe it could easily be higher.
St. Joseph's has had some strong teams in the past. This year's team hasn't been very good though. The Hawks are just 10-21, the second worst overall record in the A-10. They did close out the season with a victory over Charlotte (the last place team) which allowed them to sneak into this tournament. They also won their opening game in OT. However, their overall body of work was not impressive. They're still 5-13 in 2011.
On the other hand, the Dukes have enjoyed a very solid season, finishing with 18 victories. They failed to cover a few in a row to end the season, which has helped to keep this line lower than it could have been otherwise.
For the season, St. Joseph's was 10-13 ATS (4-19 SU) when listed as an underdog. Duquesne was 12-7 ATS (13-6 SU) as a favorite.
Looking at the regular season series and we find that Duquesne won by double-digits (75-63 on 1/5) in the only game - and that was at St. Joseph's.
Sure, St. Joseph's would love to avenge that loss. However, wanting to do something and actually doing it are two entirely different matters. Note that the Hawks are an ugly 5-10-1 ATS (2-14 SU!) the last 16 times that they attempted to avenge a home loss.
The Dukes have dominated "bad" teams all year. They're 9-1 SU (6-1 ATS in lined games) against teams with a losing record. They outscored teams by an average of greater than 10 points per game on the season and I expect another double-digit victory here. *10
|03-10-11||Washington State v. Washington -5.5||Top||87-89||Loss||-110||13 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. I had the Cougars in this season's first meeting. Playing at home and badly needing a victory, I felt that they would play their best game. That proved to be the case, as they stepped up and scored the upset. I'll have to admit, I thought the Huskies would likely win the rematch. However, I also felt that they were too heavily favored and that the "under" offered better value. That proved to be the case as the game stayed below the total. The fact that the Cougars also won that game has the Huskies playing with "double-revenge" here. I still believe that they're the superior team and I expect them to respond with their very best effort.
With Washington State having won the first two meetings, we're getting a very reasonable line on the Huskies. That puts them in one of their best roles. Indeed, they're 7-1 SU/ATS the last eight times that they were listed as neutral court favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
As impressive as the win at Washington was, keep in mind that the Cougars are still only 2-5 ATS their last seven games and that they managed only 54 points last time out. Also, note that they're only 8-19 ATS the past few seasons, after scoring 60 or fewer points in their previous game.
The Huskies average 84 points per game. They're 13-5 SU (10-6 ATS) the past few seasons when coming off a conference loss. I expect them to bring their "A Game" here and for that to result in a blowout victory. *10
|03-10-11||New York Knicks v. Dallas Mavericks -5.5||Top||109-127||Win||100||11 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. Both these teams could be feeling the effects of fatigue. Both were involved in a hard-fought game last night and both will now be playing their fourth game in the past five nights. I expect that to favor the home team. When feeling "worn down" during the game, they should be able to draw some energy from the home fans.
It should also be noted that the Knicks will be playing their 7th game already in March (its only March 10th!) and that the Mavs will be playing their sixth. Prior to tonight's game, both teams played on March 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 9th. However, the Knicks had an extra game in there, as they also played on March 2nd. In other words, while its a difficult scheduling situation for both teams, its even worse for the Knicks.
Note that the Mavs are 31-19 SU the last 50 times that they played the second of back to back games. During that stretch, the Knicks are 19-32 SU when doing so. This season, the Mavs are 10-4 SU (9-5 ATS) when playing the second of b2b games.
The Mavs already blew out the Knicks at New York last month, 113-97. That puts NY in the "revenge" role and will likely have many bettors backing the Knicks, who are suddenly a very "popular" team. That's helped to keep this line generously low.
The fact that the Knicks won last night and the Mavs lost, should make Dallas a little extra hungry here. Even with a loss here last season, the Mavs are still 9-1 the last 10 times that they hosted NY, six of those victories coming by double-digits. I expect another win and cover here. *10
|03-10-11||Los Angeles Lakers v. Miami Heat +2.5||Top||88-94||Win||100||9 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Lakers come in as the much "hotter" team. The champs have been "on fire" while the Heat have been stuck in a slump. Given that they're also playing with "revenge," many will be quick to back the Lakers here. In my opinion, that's created excellent value with the Heat.
Looking at the line from the earlier meeting and we find that the Lakers were favored by -3.5 points. (The line went from -3 to -2 to -2.5 to -3 and to -3.5.) Once again, the Lakers are small favorites. Only this time, the game is being played at Miami. That means were getting nearly the same line on the Heat as we were at LA. Once again, the point that I'm trying to establish is that I feel we're getting very fair line value.
True, the Heat have been in a real funk. However, with the type of talent that they bring to the table, they're fully capable of breaking out at any time. A visit from the Lakers figures to provide plenty of motivation and I expect them to elevate their game. After all, there would be nothing like a victory over the defending champs to quiet the critics, if only temporarily.
While the Lakers have certainly been rolling, note that this isn't one of their better roles. In fact, they're only 9-14-1 ATS the past few seasons, when listed as a road favorite of -3 points or less.
The Heat "upset" the Lakers here in early March last season. I expect them to do it again tonight. *10
|03-08-11||Los Angeles Lakers v. Atlanta Hawks +5.5||Top||101-87||Loss||-110||9 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. I won with the Lakers on Sunday. The champs came through with one of their best performances of the season. Playing at San Antonio, where the Spurs were 29-2, they delivered a blowout victory. Scheduling situations play a big part in beating the NBA pointspread though and this one doesn't set up well for the Lakers. Off the blowout win at San Antonio, the champs could easily be ripe for a "letdown." After all, the Spurs had beaten them in both meetings and were the #1 team.
Additionally, the Lakers have a game vs. Miami on deck. Recent struggles notwithstanding, the Lakers know that the Heat are still a potential opponent that they'll see in the Finals. Also, the Heat hammered them (at LA) on Christmas Day. so, that makes that game a little extra "special." With this game "sandwiched" in between those two big ones, the Lakers may not be fully focused on the task at hand. (After Miami, they face Dallas and Orlando, two more "big" games.)
Off Sunday's dominant defensive effort, note that the Lakers are just 14-20 ATS the past few seasons, after allowing 85 or fewer points in their previous game.
The Hawks are off back to back losses and should be highly motivated to salvage a split of their current 4-game homestand. They did beat a good Chicago team here to begin the homestand, before losing the next two. Additional motivation should come from the fact that the Hawks were blown out at LA recently, a 104-80 victory for the Lakers on 2/22.
The Hawks are in a couple of their better roles here. They're an impressive 16-6 ATS (17-5 SU) the past few seasons, when having played their previous three games at home. During that stretch, they're also a profitable 5-1 ATS when listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range.
The Hawks are 3-0 ATS the last three seasons, when hosting the Lakers. (All three were outright wins.) With the "situation" in their favor, I expect them to rise to the occasion once again and earn at least another cover. *10
|03-07-11||Los Angeles Clippers v. Charlotte Bobcats +1.5||Top||92-87||Loss||-110||9 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. I won with the Clippers in their last game. They beat Denver by a score of 100-94 on Saturday. However, that was at home, where they're a much better team. They also started that game with leading scorer, Eric Gordon. At the time, I mentioned how important he was to the team. Gordon got re-injured in that game though and he's now out again. Additionally, the Clippers are now on the road. Also, on Saturday, they were facing a Denver team which may have been "patting itself on the back" a bit. Now, they'll face a "revenge-minded" Charlotte team which is desperate for a victory.
While they did manage to beat Denver without Gordon (he got injured in the 2nd quarter) the Clippers are an ugly 4-16 in games that Gordon doesn't start.
The Clippers' recent wins have both come at home. They've lost four in a row away from LA and are an awful 5-25 on the road for the season.
True, the Bobcats will also without their leading scorer, as Stephen Jackson is out. His absence is certainly significant. With much to play for and back on their home floor, I believe that his teammates can pick up the slack, at least for a game against a team as dismal on the road as the Clippers.
Like the Clippers, the Bobcats have struggled on the road recently. They're 4-1 SU/ATS their last five games here at Charlotte though, including a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS their last three here. All three victories came by double-digits. Two of their recent four wins here came against the likes of the Celtics and Lakers.
The Bobcats are 3-0 here against the Clippers the past few seasons, winning by 34 combined points. Last season, the Bobcats beat the Clippers by eight here, but were laying -10 points. With the line having fallen from its opener, we don't have to worry about having to cover a large number here.
While the Clippers have been "playing for pride" since practically the beginning of the year, the Bobcats are fighting for their playoff lives.
They're currently in 9th place in the East, one game behind 8th place Indiana. If they truly want to challenge the Pacers for that spot, they absolutely can't afford to squander an opportunity like the one they'll have tonight. I expect Silas to have them ready and look for them to bounce back with an important victory. *10
|03-06-11||Boston Celtics v. Milwaukee Bucks +7.5||Top||89-83||Win||100||10 h 9 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. I lost with the Bucks a couple of nights ago. They played the Suns tough for a half but fell apart in the second half. I'm going to give them another shot here though.
The Bucks are an excellent 11-5 ATS the last 16 times that they were off a double-digit loss. They're also 16-8 ATS the past few seasons, after having played three straight home games. That includes a 3-1 SU/ATS mark their last four in that situation.
While the Bucks are a somewhat respectable 4-3 ATS the last seven times that they were home underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range, during the same stretch, the Celtics are only 8-13 ATS as road underdogs in the -6.5 to -9 range.
The Bucks nearly won at Boston (lost by 3) in this season's only meeting. Including that cover, they're an impressive 30-13-2 ATS their last 45 games against teams from the Atlantic, going 8-1 ATS their last nine. Note that they've won 17 of the last 25 home meetings in this series and that they've gone 7-1 ATS the last eight games in the series overall.
If they want to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive, the Bucks desperately need victories. They know they play on the road after this and they know they play at Boston next week. That makes playing well here that much more important. I expect them to do just that, picking up the cover along the way. *10
|03-06-11||Los Angeles Lakers +3 v. San Antonio Spurs||Top||99-83||Win||100||5 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA. Beating the Spurs at San Antonio is no easy task. Indeed, the Spurs have been outstanding (29-2) here all season long. That said, the Lakers are still the champs and I feel that they're still the team to beat in the West. This afternoon's game offers them the chance to prove that to themselves, the Spurs and to the rest of the national audience.
The Lakers have the added motivation of playing with "double-revenge," having lost both previous meetings with the Spurs. The first game was here, back in December. The most recent was in February, a 1-point Spurs victory at the Staples Center. Note that the Lakers are 18-4 SU the last 22 times that they faced a team which defeated them at home in the last meeting. Overall, during that stretch, they're an outstanding 55-19 SU in the 'revenge' role.
The Lakers are currently playing some of their best basketball of the season. Since the 1-point loss to the Spurs, they've won 10 of their last 13. That includes a perfect 6-0 (5-1 ATS) record over their last six games.
Even with the loss here earlier, the Lakers are still 8-5 ATS their last 13 trips here, including 4-2 ATS their last six.
Looking back to last season and we find that the Lakers got blown out in their first trip to San Antonio, as they did this year. However, in their second trip here, listed as small underdogs, the Lakers won outright. I expect "more of the same" here. *10
|03-05-11||Denver Nuggets v. Los Angeles Clippers -1.5||Top||94-100||Win||100||11 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. These teams have met three times so far this season. In each case, the home team has come away victorious. I expect that to be the case again this evening.
While the Nuggets have fared very well since the Carmello trade, they're still only 11-19 on the road. That's not nearly as good as LA's 17-15 mark at home.
True, the Clippers had been really struggling for some time. Much of that had to do with the fact that leading scorer Eric Gordon had been out for the past 18 games. Gordon finally returned on Wednesday and the Clippers promptly snapped a 5-game losing streak by beating Houston 106-103. It was the first time they topped the 100 point mark in nine games. Gordon led the way, scoring 24 points.
Afterwards, he was quoted as saying: "I just started shooting the ball about a week ago, but I've been staying in shape. That's all I've been doing. I've been running every day. The toughest part was just sitting there, knowing that I could have been out there helping the team in some way. It was good to finally come back and help the guys get a win."
Note that Gordon hit four "3-pointers" and scored 28 points when the Clippers beat the Nuggets by 13 here in January.
True, the Nuggets seem like they can still score. The Clippers are a healthy 20-13 ATS against teams that score 99 or more points though. They're also 5-1 SU the last six times that they played a home game with an O/U line of 210 or greater. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|03-05-11||Nebraska v. Colorado -4.5||Top||57-67||Win||100||9 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on COLORADO. The Huskers won by double-digits when these teams faced each other earlier in the season. That was at Nebraska though, where the Huskers are very tough to beat. They're not nearly as good on the road. In fact, they're just 1-6 SU and 3-4 ATS in "true" road games, 2-8 away from home overall. They're now an ugly 6-24 on the road the past few seasons.
Like their guests, the Buffaloes have had real trouble winning on the road. They're 4-10 away from Colorado. However, they're excellent here at home. They've only played two home games since 2/12. Those resulted in victories over Kansas State and Texas. Both those teams are ahead of Nebraska in the standings, both are better on the road than the Huskers. They're now an impressive 14-2 at home, going 8-3 ATS in lined games.
While the Huskers are off a home win, the Buffaloes are off a road loss. That shouldn't stop us here though. Nebraska is 6-11 ATS (5-12 SU) the past few seasons, when off a conference win. During that stretch, Colorado is 20-12 ATS when coming off a conference loss, including 5-2 ATS its last seven in that situation.
The fact that the Huskers won the earlier game is significant, as Colorado is typically a very profitable team when playing in the "revenge" role. In fact, the Buffaloes are 18-8 ATS the last 26 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss. That includes a 6-2 SU/ATS mark their last eight in that role. Laying -2.5 points, the Buffaloes beat the Huskers by 12 points (72-60) here last season. I expect another win and cover here. *10
|03-05-11||Oklahoma State v. Oklahoma +1||Top||61-64||Win||100||5 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA. The Cowboys are slight favorites in this game, based largely on the fact that they've got the superior overall record. However, the Cowboys have built up their overall record up by winning at home. Winning on the road has been a different story. Likewise, the Sooners have struggled on the road but are far more respectable at home. In fact, despite a recent skid, Oklahoma's home record (11-5) remains far superior to Oklahoma State's poor 1-8 SU (2-7 ATS) mark on the road.
While the Cowboys' lone road win came at La Salle, way back on 12/4, the Sooners have earned home victories against the likes of Baylor, Texas Tech and Colorado.
While admittedly a young team, the Sooners should have plenty of motivation. Not only are they playing with "revenge" from a loss at Oklahoma City, but this is also their final regular season home game. Perhaps every bit as importantly, this game will be a "Salute to Bob Barry." The longtime voice of the Sooners has been involved in Oklahoma sports broadcasting for 50 years and this will be his final home radio broadcast. Naturally, the players would like to avenge the earlier loss and send Barry out with a victory.
More importantly, the Sooners just want a victory. They didn't play well at Texas Tech last time out and it didn't sit well with coach Capel. He was quoted as saying: "I'm really embarrassed about our performance. I really felt that we would have come out ready to fight, desperate for a win. We came out the opposite, and Texas Tech came out that way and knocked us back early. We were never in the game."
The Sooners are 2-0 ATS the last two times that they were listed as home underdogs in the pick'em to +3 range. They played the Cowboys tough at Oklahoma City (were winning at halftime and lost by 6) and they're 10-3 SU the last 13 times that they were a host in the series. They're also 5-2 ATS the last seven times that they attempted to avenge an earlier road loss. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|03-04-11||Phoenix Suns v. Milwaukee Bucks +3||Top||102-88||Loss||-110||11 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. Most bettors and fans are aware that the Suns are currently battling for their playoff lives. They're in 9th in the West, currently 1.5 games behind 8th place Memphis, two behind 7th place Portland and 2.5 behind 6th place New Orleans. They've also got both Utah and Houston breathing down their necks. That makes every game very important for them. Given the fact that the Suns have a much better overall record than the Bucks, many will likely be quick to lay the small number here.
However, many of those same fans and bettors don't seem to realize that the Bucks are right there in the playoff race, too. Outside of Wisconsin, the Bucks just don't seem to generate the type of interest that the Suns do. As a result, they tend to "fly under the radar" more than Phoenix. The fact is that the Bucks are arguably every bit as much of the Eastern playoff race as the Suns are in the West. At least, that sure would be the case if they could win tonight. They're currently 10th in the East but only 3.5 games behind the 8th place Pacers. Note that the Bucks have got "a game in hand" (they've played one less than Indiana) and that the Pacers play a difficult game (at Dallas) tonight. Also, the 9th place team (Charlotte) is in LA, to take on the Lakers. Given that the Pacers and Bobcats are +8 (or +8.5) and +12 (or +12.5) the Bucks have to figure that they've both got a solid chance of losing. That means that tonight offers an excellent opportunity to gain ground, potentially on both teams they are chasing.
True, the Suns have the better overall record. However, a closer look reveals that the Bucks have a (slightly) better home record than the Suns so on the road. The Bucks are 15-14 at home. The Suns are 14-15 on the road. The difference is even greater, if we look at the last few seasons. The Suns are 58-61 on the road. The Bucks are an impressive 67-47 at home. They're off a win here in their last game and are 6-4 their last 10 here. They've had the past two day's off.
The Suns had yesterday off. However, they still may be getting a little "road-weary." This is the 5th leg of a 6-game road trip. Note that they're now an ugly 1-6 SU/ATS the last seven times that they played their previous three or more games on the road. Also, the fact that they play the Thunder in their next game, could potentially cause a bit of "looking ahead." (Oklahoma City, a division leader, just beat the Suns, at Phoenix on 2/4.)
With a small number, most likely the "SU" winner of this game will also cover the spread. Still, that doesn't mean that an extra couple of points can't come in handy sometimes. In their last game, the Suns got blown out at Boston. I didn't play that game. However, I did play against the Suns in their previous game. In that game, which was at New Jersey, the suns were also listed as very small favorites. They ended up winning by 1-point in OT. (The Suns are now 0-3 ATS the last three times they were road favorites of -3 or less.)
Also, note that Milwaukee has a better record than NJ, has more to play for, and is arguably a better team. Yet, the line is very similar. I thought the Nets offered solid "value." Getting points with the Bucks is even more appealing to me. True, they'll be playing without Bogut. However, this is a team capable of winning without its "big man." Jennings came to life last game - he was a non-factor in the loss at Phoenix, having just returned from injury at the time. (Also, its possible that the Suns could be without Channing Frye.)
Not that they should need any added motivation, but the Bucks will be playing with "revenge" here, having lost at Phoenix last month. They also lost at Phoenix last season. However, when the teams met here at Milwaukee, the Bucks won and covered. They were small favorites in that game. Now, they're small underdogs. Given the situation and venue, I feel that's providing us with excellent value. I'll grab the points but expect the Bucks to rise to the occasion and earn an important victory. *10 GOM
|03-04-11||Georgia Southern v. Appalachian State -10.5||Top||57-65||Loss||-105||6 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on APPALACHIAN STATE. There's a major class difference between these teams. The Mountaineers finished with a winning record, thanks to an impressive 7-1 run to close the regular season. They're among the most dangerous teams from the Southern Conference's North division. Their last two games resulted in double-digit victories, one coming vs. College of Charleston. That's noteworthy as Charleston is a tough team and is first in the South Division. Now, they drop in class to take on a Georgia Southern team which finished last in that division and with a terrible 5-26 record overall.
The Eagles closed out the season with a 15-point home loss vs. Elon. Their last game away from home resulted in a 27-point loss. They're 1-17 SU since Christmas.
The Mountaineers beat the Eagles by 28 points in each of the last two meetings. They last met on a "neutral court" on 3/6, 2009. Laying -8, the Mountaineers won by 11. The way the two teams are currently playing, I expect an even more lopsided final score here. *10
|03-03-11||Denver Nuggets v. Utah Jazz -3.5||Top||103-101||Loss||-110||13 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH. As you know, both these teams recently made some major changes. So far, those changes have worked out a lot better for the Nuggets. While Denver has been rolling, Utah has been struggling. The schedule and venue favor the Jazz here though and I also expect them to be the "hungrier" team.
The Nuggets played last night and will now be playing their third game in four days. The Jazz had the last two nights off. A welcome "mini-break" for a team which has been struggling. Note that the Jazz are an impressive 27-10 SU the past few seasons, when playing with two day's off between games.
While last night's game wasn't exactly "gruelling," its still worth noting that the Nuggets are only 23-33-2 ATS the past few seasons, when playing the second of back to back games. Perhaps playing in the "thin air" of Denver has something to do with it, as the Nuggets are only 100-195 SU (118-168-11 ATS) their last 295 in that situation, which is very bad.
Despite their recent struggles, its not too late for the Jazz to turn things around and make the playoffs. The Jazz are currently tied with Phoenix for ninth place in the Western Conference, 1 1/2 games back of eighth-place Memphis for the final playoff spot. That said, if they want to have any hope of claiming that 8th spot, they desperately need to start winning immediately. That should give them an added sense of urgency here.
The fact that this game is on "National TV" figures to provide a boost for the Jazz too. This is their chance to show the world that they can win without Sloan and/or Williams. Note that the Jazz are 21-3 SU the last 24 times that they played a home game with an O/U line of 210 or greater.
While these teams already split a pair of games at Denver this season, the Jazz have dominated the Nuggets here at Salt Lake City. They're 8-1 the last nine series meetings here, including 4-0 the last four. All four of those victories came by a minimum of eight points and the Jazz went 3-0-1 ATS. I expect them to bounce back with a much needed win here, covering the small number along the way. *10
|03-03-11||Orlando Magic +5 v. Miami Heat||Top||99-96||Win||100||10 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on ORLANDO. The Heat have a better record than the Magic they get a far greater portion of the media's attention. The Magic are quietly playing very well right now though, arguably better than the Heat. Looking to make a "statement" that they're still here, I expect them to give their hosts all they can handle tonight.
The Magic have won seven of their last nine games, including double-digit victories over the likes of the Thunder and Lakers. They've gone 3-0 their last three games, winning by an average of greater than 14 points per game. Note that they're 19-5 SU and 17-7 ATS after having played their previous three games at home.
The Heat have lost two of their last three games, going 0-3 ATS. While this is obviously a very big game for them, its possible that they could allow thoughts of tomorrow's showdown with San Antonio to creep into their head. Note that they're only 4-8 ATS the last dozen times that they were off an upset loss, when listed as the favorite.
Also, note that the Heat are now just 2-5 SU/ATS their last seven games against teams with a winning record. For the season, they're only 10-17-1 ATS at home.
While Orlando has been blowing out a number of opponents, Miami has been involved in a number of close games recently. In fact, the Heat have seen six of their last seven games decided by eight or fewer points.
The last meeting between these teams was also "close," with Miami earning a 4-point win at Orlando one month ago. Looking to avenge that loss, looking for some "respect" and currently playing better basketball, I feel the Magic have an excellent shot at an outright upset. That said, in a game that could also come down to the wire, I'm grabbing the points. *10
|03-02-11||Charlotte Bobcats +6.5 v. Denver Nuggets||Top||80-120||Loss||-110||11 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. So far, the Nuggets have adjusted to their "big trade" very well. However, I expect them to have their hands full tonight.
While the Nuggets have played well since the trade, they may not get much help from their new players here. Recently acquired Danilo Gallinari is still out with a fractured big toe. The Nuggets won without Gallinari last time out. However, they got 16 points and seven assists from Raymond Felton, another new addition. Unfortunately, for Denver and its fans, Felton may not play tonight. He's currently listed as questionable, with a case of the flu. Even if he does play, he may be at less than 100%.
While they've been known as a team that performs better at home, the Bobcats have quietly been very profitable on the road in recent months. In fact, they're 10-4 ATS, away from Charlotte, in 2011. They're now 19-13 ATS as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range, the past few seasons.
The Bobcats did get blown out by the Magic last time out. They're 8-5 SU/ATS when coming off a double-digit loss though. Note that the Bobcats are also 7-2 ATS their last nine games against teams which allow 99 or more points per game - Denver allows 104.5 points per game.
While wins at Denver have admittedly been "few and far between," the Bobcats have played the Nuggets tougher than many might assume. In fact, they've gone 4-4 their last eight games vs. the Nuggets. Five of the last nine meetings in the series were decided by eight or fewer points and eight of those nine games were decided by 12 or less. The most recent meeting saw the Bobcats win by two points, at Charlotte on 12/7. I expect another close one and am grabbing all the points I can get. *10
|03-02-11||St Bonaventure v. Duquesne -12.5||Top||64-70||Loss||-110||8 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on DUQUESNE. At first glance, this line may seem a little high. However, the fact is that if Duquesne hadn't failed to cover (and lost) a few in a row, this line could easily be higher. Playing with 'revenge' from an upset loss (they were favored by -8.5 for that one) at St. Bonaventure last month and playing their final regular season home game, I expect the Dukes to bounce back with a convincing win and cover.
The recent loss to Rhode Island notwithstanding, the Dukes are very tough at home. They've outscored teams by a 82.2 to 66.1 margin here, going 7-3 ATS in home lined games. Note that they're a lucrative 12-6 ATS when laying points.
The Dukes figure to have a real "score to settle" here. Prior to the loss at St. Bonaventure, they'd won 11 straight games. That loss triggered a "tailspin" and now they get a chance to "right the ship" by blowout out the team that started their slide. With a tough game at Richmond on deck to close out the regular season, a big win here becomes more important than ever. Its payback time. *10
|03-01-11||Illinois-Chicago v. Cleveland State -15||Top||61-73||Loss||-110||9 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND STATE. At first glance, this line may seem a little on the high side. However, given the class/talent difference between these teams, I don't feel it will prove to be high enough. In fact, if the Vikings hadn't gone 0-3 ATS their last three games, the line could easily be even higher. I expect them to bounce back with a blowout victory.
While the Vikings are outscoring by double-digits at home, the Flames are being outscored by double-digits on the road. Last time out, the Flames lost by 14 at Valparaiso. This is arguably a more difficult venue.
While the Vikings are 24-7 overall and 13-5 in conference play, the Flames are 7-23 overall and an awful 2-16 in conference play. Not surprisingly, both this season's regular season meetings resulted in blowout victories. The game at Illinois Chicago saw the Vikings earn a 14-point victory. The game here at Cleveland State was even more lopsided. The Vikings were laying -16 points and they won by 24.
Looking back further finds the Vikings at 9-1 SU and 6-3-1 ATS the last 10 meetings in the series. In addition to their dominance in this series, note that the Vikings are 4-1 ATS the past few seasons, after failing to cover the spread in their previous three games.
The Vikings snapped a mini-two game slide with a dominant defensive effort last time out, holding Wright State to only 57 points. They're 11-1 SU (8-1 ATS in lined games) their last 12, after allowing 60 or fewer points in their previous game. I expect them to improve on those stats by delivering a one-sided beating here. *10
|02-28-11||Los Angeles Clippers v. Sacramento Kings -1.5||Top||99-105||Win||100||12 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. The Clippers have beaten the Kings in all three of this season's first three meetings. They haven't swept them in 25 years though and I don't expect it to happen here.
Yes, the Clippers won all three previous meetings. However, they were playing a lot better at the time. Right now, they're really struggling. They also got an average of 29.3 points from Eric Gordon in those games. Gordon has missed 17 straight games though and isn't expected to come back quite yet.
While the Kings have admittedly struggled, they're last seven games all came on the road. They did earn victories at a pair of tough venues (Orlando and Phoenix) on that trip though, so this is a team which is capable and which is still fighting.
With an O/U line currently at 206.5 or 207, note that the Clippers are an ugly 2-12 SU the last 14 times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 205 to 209.5 range. Looking back further finds them at 11-36 their last 47 times in that situation. During the same stretch, the Kings were 62-38 SU when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 205 to 209.5 range.
The Kings home record is (slightly) better than the Clippers road record. Even including the 1-point loss on 12/27, they're still 24-4 the last 28 times that they were a host in this series. Playing with "triple revenge," I expect them to be a little "hungrier" here and look for them to take out their frustrations by pulling away for a convincing victory. *10
|02-28-11||Phoenix Suns v. New Jersey Nets +2.5||Top||104-103||Win||100||9 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. This is a difficult scheduling spot for the Suns. They're off an overtime game yesterday and are now playing their third game in the past four days. Also, their next game is a "big game" vs. Boston. Playing with potentially tired legs, this is the kind of spot where it could be easy to look past a team like the Nets.
Note that the Suns are 0-2 SU/ATS the last two times that they were road favorites of three or fewer points. They're also just 4-6 SU when playing the second of back to back games.
The Nets have lost five straight games, likely making them unattractive to many bettors. However, in their defense, those were five fairly tough games. The first loss was a home game vs. New York. The Nets were off back to back road wins and had played the previous day. The next game was also at home - it came against the Spurs though and losing to this year's San Antonio team "isn't that bad," in terms of losses. The next three games were all on the road, at Boston, San Antonio and then a back to back spot at Houston. They lost all three.
So, while losing five games in a row is never a good thing, the "conditions" for getting victories haven't been ideal. Tonight's game sets up far more favorably. The Nets are back home. They've had a day off. They're facing an opponent which is typically mediocre away from home and which is off an Overtime game yesterday.
The Nets are still a solid 12-8 ATS the last 20 times that they were on a losing streak of three or more games. They're also a profitable 15-10 ATS their last 25 against Western Conference opponents. While they eventually lost by nine, they played the Suns very tough at Phoenix. They were winning at halftime and the game went to OT. In other words, that one was a lot closer than the final score indicates. That result should give the Nets the confidence to know they can play with the Suns. It also should provide them with some added motivation.
The Nets have both the schedule and venue in their favor. With Williams making his "home debut," playing with "revenge," I expect them to get it done tonight. *10
|02-27-11||Phoenix Suns v. Indiana Pacers -2||Top||110-108||Loss||-110||2 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANA. The Suns are off an impressive blowout win at Toronto and have been on quite a roll lately. However, Friday's game notwithstanding, most of their success has come at home. Keep in mind that they're still 12-14 on the road for the season. Also, note that their recent road wins came against teams that were struggling and/or ones which aren't as good as the one they'll face here.
The Pacers are off loss last time out. However, they've also been on a solid roll of late. They're still 2-1 their last three and 9-4 their last 13. Clearly, they've played better basketball since the coaching change. The Suns are also 9-4 their last 13, yet seem to be getting considerable more attention/recognition for having done so. That's kept this afternoon's line generously low.
The Pacers already lost by eight points at Phoenix. That was back on 12/3. Note that the Suns were only laying -1 point for that game, despite playing at home. In other words, had the teams played that game at Indiana that day, the Pacers would have been larger favorites than they are today. Yet, as noted, the Pacers are playing much better now than they were earlier. In fact, they were only 5-9 in December.
The Pacers also lost by eight points at Phoenix last season. However, when playing here on their home floor, the Pacers rallied from a big deficit and defeated the Suns by a score of 122-114.
The Pacers are 12-8 ATS the last 20 times that they were off an "upset" loss. That includes a 4-2 SU/ATS mark their last six in that situation. Note that prior to the disappointing loss last time out, the Pacers had won six of their previous seven home games. The lone loss during that stretch came against Miami.
While both teams could really use a victory, playing on their home floor, I expect the revenge-minded Pacers to have the advantage. *10
|02-26-11||Chicago Bulls v. Milwaukee Bucks +4||Top||83-75||Loss||-110||10 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. The Bulls have been playing well lately and enter with a much better overall record. However, a closer look reveals that the Bucks' home record is actually (slightly) better than the Bulls' road record. Also, this game is arguably more important for the Bucks. With this game being played at Milwaukee, I expect the home team to have the advantage.
Yes, Milwaukee's home record (14-13) is very similar to Chicago's (13-13) road record. Going back a bit further shows a much bigger difference. Over the past few seasons, the Bulls are just 44-71 on the road. Meanwhile, during the same stretch, the Bucks are 66-46 at home.
True, the Bulls have won both meetings so far this season. However, both of those were at Chicago, where the Bulls are very tough to beat. Looking at the series history here at Milwaukee and we find that the Bucks have dominated.
The Bucks won each of last year's two meetings here. They didn't cover the spread in either game though, as they were favored and won by only two and three points. Now, however, instead of "laying" points, they're "getting" points. I feel that provides us with excellent value.
Looking back further finds that the Bucks are 15-5 the last 20 times that they hosted the Bulls.
The Bucks are very stingy defensively here at home. In fact, they allow just 89.8 points per game here. That's tied (with the Bulls) for the fewest amount of points allowed by a team on its home floor.
As a result, we're seeing a very O/U line. Note that the Bulls are just 1-3 SU/ATS the past few seasons, when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 180 to 184.5 range. Looking back further finds than at 24-61 SU their last 85 in that situation.
The Bucks, on the other hand, have gone 10-5 ATS the past few seasons when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 180 to 184.5 range.
Give the Bulls credit for an impressive win over the Heat on Thursday. That was at home though. They lost their last road game, at Toronto. Off the big win over Miami, they may be "patting themselves on the back" a bit.
The Bucks should be fully focused on the task at hand. Not only are they playing with "double-revenge" against a division rival, they're also fighting for their playoff lives. I'll gladly grab whatever points they're offering, but I expect the Bucks to step up and score the outright win. *10
|02-26-11||St John's v. Villanova -6||Top||81-68||Loss||-110||11 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on VILLANOVA. While the Red Storm have been on a profitable run, The Wildcats have been on a "pointspread" losing streak. That's helped to keep this line a little lower than it could have easily been. I feel that provides us with very fair value on what should be an extremely motivated home team.
The Wildcats are off a loss vs. Syracuse. After this, they close out the regular season with road games at Notre Dame and Pittsburgh - both extremely difficult venues. Winning a team's final regular season home game is always a little extra important and with two potential losses to follow - this one takes on added importance. Keep in mind that the Wildcats are still a very strong team, one which entered the season with very high expectations.
While many are writing this Villanova team off, I don't think its time to push the panic button quite yet. Neither does coach Jay Wright. He was quoted as saying: "We're not as good as people would like us to be, but we're not far off..."
St. John's has certainly been on an impressive run. Its not going to last forever though and I expect it to come to a screeching halt here.
The O/U line for this game is in the low to mid 130s. That's noteworthy as St. John's is 0-2 SU/ATS this season when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 130 to 134.5 range. Looking back further finds the Red Storm at 3-7 ATS (1-9 SU) their last in that situation.
On the other hand, the Wildcats are 5-2 ATS (6-1 SU) the last seven times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 130 to 134.5 range, going 14-7 ATS and 18-3 SU their last 21 in that situation.
The Wildcats have dominated the Red Storm here, going 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS the last nine times that they were a host in the series. The most recent meeting resulted in a 76-57 destruction. I expect another convincing victory here. *10
|02-25-11||Phoenix Suns v. Toronto Raptors +4.5||Top||110-92||Loss||-110||9 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. The Suns have been playing well of late and they've dominated the Raptors over the years. Toronto's record in recent weeks is poor. No brainer on Phoenix, right? Not in my opinion.
Yes, the Suns have won eight of 11 games. Nine of those games came at home though. They haven't been on the road in two weeks. Now, they begin a 6-game road trip. Let's not forget that the Suns are below .500 on the road. They're 8-12 their last 20 road games. Note that five of those victories came by single-digits. In other words, this is not a team that "wins big" on the road, all that often.
Looking back further finds the Suns at 5-8-1 ATS the last 14 times that they were listed as road favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
This evening's line has already climbed from its opening number, providing us with excellent value.
True, the Raptors' overall record is pretty bad. They've been far more competitive at home than those numbers indicate though and contrary to popular opinion, they've been very tough here lately. After a number of home games where they were close but unable to quite get there, the Raptors have won two of their last three here, going 3-0 ATS in those games. The only SU loss came against Miami and they were "right there" in that one. I backed them in all three of those games, most recently they rewarded me with an outright win over a solid Chicago team.
The Raptors are 19-15-1 ATS (19-16 SU) the past few seasons, when coming off an "upset" victory. That includes a 5-3-1 ATS mark their last nine in that situation. They're quietly playing well here right now and would love to snap their losing streak in this series. Note that three of the last seven meetings between these teams have been decided by four or fewer points. I expect this one to also come down to the wire and am grabbing the generous points. *10
|02-24-11||Arizona v. USC +1||Top||57-65||Win||100||13 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on USC. The Wildcats are on a roll and have been playing well. I feel that this will prove to be a tough spot for them. Their recent winning streak may have them "patting themselves on the backs" a little here, particularly when the last one came by 1-point vs. Washington. They've also got a game against UCLA on deck. The Huskies and Bruins are the #2 and #3 teams (behind Arizona) which could cause the Wildcats a slight "letdown" and/or "look-ahead" reaction.
Even if fully "focused on the task at hand," I expect the Wildcats to have trouble vs. a revenge-minded USC team which is really starting to put it together recently. The Trojans followed up a win at California by going into Stanford and crushing the Cardinal, 69-53. Stanford hit just 33% of its shots.
Of course, that's what USC does - the Trojans hold opponents to only 63 points per game, the best mark in the conference. That number dips all the way down to 58.4 points per game at home.
Yes, Arizona comes in with a high ranking. The Trojans are 2-1 vs. "Top 25" teams though, and the only loss came at Kansas, ranked #3 at the time, by a score of 70-68.
The Trojans are 37-11 SU their last 48 on this floor and 12-7 SU the last 19 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier road loss. The Trojans have also won four of the last five meetings with Arizona here. I expect them to build off their recent victories, rise to the occasion and "shock" their highly rated guests. *10
|02-23-11||Notre Dame v. Providence +4||Top||94-93||Win||100||9 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on PROVIDENCE. I successfully played against the Irish on Saturday. At the time, I noted that they were an excellent team at home - but that the were beatable on the road. They ended up losing by double-digits, at West Virginia. Many will expect them to bounce right back with a big win. However, they're on the road again and I expect them to stumble for the second straight time.
Note that the Irish are playing their third straight road game. They did play three straight "neutral court" games earlier in the season. However, this is the first time all year they will have played three straight "true" road games. That can be tough, particularly for a team that thrives on its homecourt.
Also, note that Irish are a poor 8-14-1 ATS the last few seasons, when coming off a conference loss. During that stretch, they're now 9-18 SU on the road.
True, the Friars have had some trouble lately - they've failed to cover the spread each of their last three games and have now lost four in a row overall. This is still a team capable of beating top teams on its home floor. The Friars are still 3-2 their last five home games - both loses came by single-digits, one by only three points. That includes big wins over the likes of Villanova and Louisville.
Including the wins over the Cardinals and Wildcats, the Friars are 3-0 ATS as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range. They're also a profitable 7-2 ATS (8-2 SU) the past few seasons, after having failed to cover the spread in three consecutive games. I expect them to step up and improve on those stats here. *10
|02-22-11||Toronto Raptors +7 v. Charlotte Bobcats||Top||101-114||Loss||-110||19 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. The Raptors are playing with "double-revenge" here, having dropped each of this season's first two meetings. A closer look shows that both those games were very close though, each decided by six or fewer points. When the Raptors played here in December, the line was only +4.5. (Charlotte won by 5.) Now, we're getting a far more generous line to work with. I believe that provides us with excellent value.
This season's "close games" were nothing new for these teams. Last season's final two games were decided by two points (at Charlotte) and four points, at Toronto. Both Raptor victories. Overall, the Raptors are 7-4 SU/ATS their last 11 visits to Charlotte.
While I've played on the Bobcats a number of times, when they've been home underdogs vs. elite teams, note that they're only 9-13 ATS the last 22 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range.
Prior to the break, the Bobcats lost by 12 at Chicago. Before that, four of their previous five games were decided by five or fewer points. The Raptors closed things out, before the break, by going 2-0 ATS their last two games. They've been dealing with nagging injuries for some time and I believe that the break will benefit them.
Motivated by the earlier losses and by the fact that they're in danger of breaking the franchise's all-time road losing streak, I expect a big effort from the Raptors. Look for another "close" one that comes down to the wire with the Raptors earning AT LEAST the cover. *10
|02-21-11||Furman v. Chattanooga +4.5||Top||59-75||Win||100||9 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHATTANOOGA. The Mocs have only played one game over the last week and that came vs. a non-conference opponent - a "cover" at Georgia Tech. The break from "conference" play came at a good time, as the Mocs were dealing with a severe "flu bug," which had helped contribute to a 4-game losing streak. They've had a chance to recover now though and I expect them to deliver a "highly motivated" performance.
Not only are the Mocs badly in need of a victory, they're also playing with bigtime "revenge," having been absolutely destroyed at Furman earlier. A closer look reveals that all four of the Mocs recent losses came on the road. In fact, they're a perfect 5-0 SU (3-2 ATS) in 2011, when playing at home. For the season, they're 9-4 in home games, outscoring teams by a 81.1 to 72.6 margin in their home games.
The Paladins are also very tough at home, as the Mocs learned on 1/22. They're far more "beatable" on the road though, where they've gone 8-6 on the season. When playing away from home, they've been outscored by a 64.9 to 64.5 margin, on the season.
While the Mocs are "well-rested," the Paladins are playing their second road game in three days. While they've had some recent success in that situation, they're still only 9-16 SU the last 25 times that they played with one day's worth of rest in between games.
The Mocs are in one of their better roles here, as we find them at 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range. (All four ATS victories also resulted in outright wins.) They're also 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier road loss. That includes a 2-1 ATS mark if that loss came by 20 or more points.
The Mocs are 2-1 SU the last three times that they hosted the Paladins, going 9-4 SU the last 13 meetings here. The last three of those four losses were all quite "close," each coming by single digits. Playing with 'revenge,' I look for the well-rested Mocs to give their guests all they can handle once again, earning at least another cover. *10
|02-20-11||NC State v. Maryland Terrapins -10.5||Top||80-87||Loss||-110||7 h 0 m||Show|
I'm playing on MARYLAND. At first glance, given that NC State comes in as the "hotter" team, this line may seem a little on the high side. However, I feel it could easily be even higher. Off back to back losses, the Terrapins should be in an angry mood and they'll be looking to take out their frustration by delivering a beating on someone. The Wolfpack figure to be the perfect opponent, to provide them with that opportunity.
A closer look shows that each of the Terps' last two losses came on the road. Their last two home games both resulted in double-digit wins.
As for the Wolfpack, yes, they did win their last road game. However, that was at Wake Forest - the worst team in the ACC this season. Prior to that, the Wolfpack had lost five straight road games, by a minimum of nine points a piece. Note that they're an ugly 2-10 ATS the last 12 times that they were underdogs.
With their chances of getting invited to the "Big Dance" slipping away, the Terps figure to be extremely motivated. If nothing else, they badly need to get rolling and build momentum for the ACC Tournament.
Maryland coach Gary Williams recently had to say this of his team's seniors: "It has to be every day now. There is no time to be tired. There are no excuses to be made."
Williams would go on to say: "We have two home games coming up now and a chance to go over .500 (in the ACC), and that's our goal. To go over (.500) and go from there and see what happens."
Maryland senior forward Dino Gregory noted: "I don't think the NCAA Tournament is out of the picture right now. We've got a good team and we've got a couple of games left. We're all working hard to get these wins and get to the tournament."
Note that the Terps may gain some added inspiration by the fact that former ACC Player of the Year (and current Memphis Grizzly) Greivis Vasquez will have his jersey hung from the rafters in Comcast Center.
The Terps have dominated the Wolfpack here, going 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS the last 11 meetings. In fact, they've won seven straight in the series overall. They're 13-5 ATS the past few seasons when coming off a conference loss and 9-6-1 ATS the last 16 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -9.5 to -12 range. Laying -10 points, they destroyed NC State by a score of 88-64 here last season. They're the stronger and more experienced team and I expect another "blowout." *10
|02-19-11||Utah State v. St Mary's CA -4||Top||75-65||Loss||-110||11 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. Mary's. While some of the matchups aren't particularly exciting, this is arguably the most "interesting" of the Bracket Buster games. Both these teams are on top of their respective both conferences. Both teams would really like to win this game as a victory would help assure them an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament, if they don't win their conference tournaments.
While some might argue the opposite, based on the fact that St. Mary's has played a tougher schedule, the Gaels could arguably use a victory more than the Aggies. That's because winning their tournament figures to be more challenging than it will be for Utah State to win its tournament. That's because the Gaels face tougher opposition. Gonzaga is always dangerous and Portland, Santa Clara and San Francisco are also arguably better than the likes of Hawaii, Idaho, Boise etc from the WAC.
Having lost at San Diego last time out, this game figures to take on added importance for the Gaels.
While both teams have proven to be beatable on the road, both are undefeated at home. Utah State lost outright at Idaho the last time it played on the road. I played against the Gaels on the road when they got blown out at Vanderbilt. The Commodores jumped all over them and hammered them by a 89-70 score. That was on the road though and I feel that result will provide them with some extra incentive here. After all, that was only non-conference in 2011 and they got smoked. Now, they get a chance for some redemption. Keep in mind that the Gaels beat St. John's here earlier. Given some of St. John's recent victories, that win is starting to look more and more impressive. Certainly bigger than any of Utah State's non-conf. wins. Note that Utah State lost by six at BYU and by 17 at Georgetown.
Looking back a bit further finds that the Gaels have won 19 consecutive home games. They're 42-3 here since the 2008-09 season.
With an O/U line in the upper 130s, note that the Aggies are just 6-13 ATS the last 19 times that they played a road game with an O/U line ranging from 135 to 139.5.
Even with the loss at Vanderbilt, the Gaels are still an extremely profitable 30-12 ATS (45-8 SU) the past few seasons, when facing opponents from outside the WCC. That includes a 6-2 ATS (8-0 SU) mark against teams from the WAC. They beat the Aggies by five at Utah State (snapping the Aggies' 37-game home winning streak) in the last meeting and they beat them by 11 (as -4 point favorites) here at St. Mary's before that. While the Aggies would obviously like some "payback," the Gaels aren't about to just roll over.
While the Aggies are admittedly very tough defensively, I like the fact that the Gaels recently put up big (86) points against a stingy San Francisco defense. After that game, St. Mary
|02-19-11||Texas A&M v. Oklahoma State -2||Top||67-66||Loss||-110||10 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on Oklahoma State. The Aggies come in with the better overall record and the higher ranking. However, the Cowboys come in as the (slight) favorites. That will likely cause many to back Texas A&M. However, I feel that the Cowboys are favored for good reason and I look for them to step up and earn an important victory here.
The Aggies have been very tough at home and they're coming off three straight wins. All of those were against mediocre opposition though, as Iowa State, Texas Tech and Colorado are all currently below Oklahoma State in the standings. Additionally, all three victories came by five or fewer points. Note that the Aggies, who had lost their previous three games, only covered the spread in one of those games - they're now 1-5 ATS their last six. They're also 1-5 ATS their last six, when coming off a conference victory.
While they did drop their last two games (both on the road) the Cowboys have been playing better in recent weeks. Oklahoma's State Jarred Shaw noted: It don't matter how you start. It matters how you finish, so I think we're going to finish strong," Shaw said. "We've finished strong in past years. This is nothing new to us or our coaching staff. They know what they're doing, so they're getting us ready to be successful."
The Cowboys won each of their last two home games, knocking off Oklahoma and Missouri. They've only lost one home game all year and that was vs. Texas. True, they're playing without suspended forward Darrell Williams. Admittedly, that hurts a little, as he'd started to play well. However, the Cowboys have had a couple of games to adjust now and as long as they can stay out of serious foul trouble - they're fully capable of winning without Williams.
Proving they can win without Williams and snapping their losing streak both figure to provide the Cowboys with plenty of motivation here. Added incentive comes from the fact that the Aggies hammered them (71-48) at College Station.
The Cowboys are an impressive 29-8-2 the last 39 times that they were favored and that includes a 3-1 ATS mark as home favorites of three or fewer points. They're 8-3-1 ATS (10-2 SU) their last 12 in that role. They're also 7-3 ATS (9-1 SU) the last 10 times that they attempted to avenge a loss of 20 or more points, going 3-0 SU/ATS their last three in that situation. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10 Big 12 GOW
|02-19-11||Santa Clara v. Portland -6||Top||68-78||Win||100||10 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. As is the case with most teams, these teams are both much better on their home floor. The Broncos are very good at Santa Clara. When facing the top teams in the conference, they played St. Mary's tough there and hammered Gonzaga. They're not nearly as good on the road though. They lost at Gonzaga on Thursday and got crushed at St. Mary's. The same is true of the Pilots. They're mediocre on the road but a 85-70 victory over St. Mary's here shows that they can beat any team in the conference, here on their home floor.
Not surprisingly, when the teams played at Santa Clara, the Broncos "held serve." In fact, they pounded the Pilots by double-digits. With tonight's rematch being played at Portland, I expect the Pilots to have their "revenge."
Portland has developed a dominant inside presence with senior forward Luke Sikma. Note that Sikma recently broke the record for most career rebounds at Portland, with over 900 in his career here. He had 29 points in the first meeting with the Broncos but didn't get any offensive help from his guards. That should change here at home, where the Pilots average greater than 74 points per game and shoot better than 46%. They're one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the country and their shooters tend to feed off the home crowd.
Both teams played on Thursday night, which figures to favor the home team. Note that the Broncos are 4-4 ATS when playing with one day's rest in between games. The Pilots are 6-1 ATS (7-1 SU) their last eight in that situation.
The Pilots have fared well as favorites. They're 31-18-2 ATS (43-8 SU) the past few seasons, when laying points. Off a disappointing 83-72 loss to San Francisco and looking to avenge the earlier loss, they should be highly motivated here. Note that the Pilots are also 8-4 ATS (9-4 SU) the past few seasons, after allowing 80 points in their previous game.
These teams also played here last February. The Pilots won that one by 13 points. While this season's team lost a few key players from last year, they're still more than capable of beating the Broncos here. I expect another double-digit victory. *10
|02-18-11||Kent State v. Drexel -5||Top||66-73||Win||100||11 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on DREXEL. The Dragons have failed to cover a few in a row. That's worked in our favor, as its helped to keep the line lower than it could have been. I believe that it will prove to be too low.
While only 7-7 on the road, Drexel is a solid 10-2 when listed as the home team. The Dragons have outscored opponents by a 66.4 to 54.3 margin in those games. Visiting teams are hitting a mere 38.2% of their shots when playing here.
The Dragons lost their last game, a 51-43 setback at NC-Wilmington. They're 4-2 SU/ATS the last six times they were off a conference loss though.
Additionally, they won their last home game, a 2-point victory vs. William & Mary. While that didn't result in a cover, it was the type of victory a team can build momentum from - as they hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to get the win.
Coach Bruiser Flint noted how important his team win one like that, stating: "We had been losing a lot of games where we needed to make a tough basket or get a tough rebound."
The Dragons are 8-2 SU and 6-2 ATS in non-conference games. They're 18-11 ATS in non-conference lined games the past few seasons.
The Golden Flashes are also very tough (13-1) at home. They're only 5-7 on the road though.
It should be noted that the Golden Flashes are a poor 11-18 ATS the past few seasons, when listed as underdogs. During that stretch, they've gone only 11-26 ATS in non-conference lined games.
In addition to playing at home, the Dragons have had an extra day's worth of rest in between games. They last played on 2/15. The Golden Flashes last played on 2/16. It should be also noted that their 2/16 game (a 86-80 loss at Miami Ohio) went to Overtime. Therefore, not only was a potentially "deflating" loss but they also really had to "leave it all on the floor." Note that the Golden Flashes are 1-4 ATS the last five times that they allowed 80 or more points in their previous game and 6-9 ATS their last 15 lined games, when playing with one day or less worth of rest in between games.
The Dragons are 28-11 at home the past few seasons. I expect them to improve on those stats, covering the relatively small number along the way. *10
|02-16-11||Miami Heat v. Toronto Raptors +9.5||Top||103-95||Win||100||9 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. *10 This one sets up nicely for the home team. The Raptors had each of the last two days off. The Heat are off a big game vs. Indiana. In addition to playing the second of back to back games, they're now playing their third game in the past four days.
Note that Toronto is 18-12 SU the past few seasons, when playing with two day's rest in between games. Considering their poor overall record during that stretch, they've clearly enjoyed playing with an extra day's rest. They're a respectable 4-3-1 ATS this season, when playing with two day's rest in between games.
The Raptors are starting to play better, having won a couple of games recently. Last time out, they defeated the Clippers. Note that they're also 4-3-1 ATS when coming off an "upset" victory. Playing with "double-revenge," they should be highly motivated here.
Its more than the two losses that will have the Raptors "fired up" here though. Both of those games were at Miami - that means that this is the first time that Chris Bosh will have returned to Toronto. That will ensure the Raptors have the full support of their fans, as they'll be out in full force to "boo" their former star.
As Toronto's Sonny Weems noted: "The fans think he
|02-14-11||Kansas v. Kansas State +5.5||Top||68-84||Win||100||11 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS STATE. I played against the Wildcats on the weekend. That was at Colorado though and one of my reasons for playing against them was that I felt that they could get caught "looking ahead" to their Big Monday showdown vs. rival Kansas. Well, there's no looking ahead this time - as the big game is finally here. Facing Kansas on National TV is always a big deal. Doing so in front of the home fans and doing so when attempting to avenge a blowout loss at Kansas, make this a huge game. I expect the home underdog Wildcats to respond with their very best effort.
True, the Wildcats lost some players - they've still got Jacob Pullen though and they're still very tough at home.
Kansas' Marcus Morris noted: "They have lost pieces. But they're still going to give it their best shot. They play hard just like we play hard. Their fans are going to be juiced. We're going to be No. 1 going in there. It's going to be a tough environment. Basically, it's going to be a man's game."
The Wildcats are 13-6 SU the past few seasons, when coming off a conference loss. That includes a 3-2 ATS mark this season. They gave the Jayhawks all they could handle in last year's regular season game here, eventually losing by two. I expect this one to also come down to the wire and am grabbing all the points I can get. *10
|02-14-11||Portland Trail Blazers v. Minnesota Timberwolves +3||Top||95-81||Loss||-110||10 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. I like how this one sets up for the home team. Not only are the T-Wolves playing at home, where they're a much better team, but they've also got the schedule in their favor. Playing with "triple-revenge," I also expect them to be the "hungrier" team.
While the T-Wolves had yesterday off, the Blazers were involved in a hard-fought win at Detroit, a game which was close the entire way. In addition to playing the second of back to back games, the Blazers are now playing their third road game in the past four days.
While the Blazers have a far better overall record, the difference between Portland's road record and Minnesota's home record, isn't as big as many might assume. The T-Wolves are 9-17 at home. With a win yesterday, the Blazers are now 12-17 on the road.
The Blazers, still dealing with numerous injuries, return home after this. They've got "bigger" games vs. the Hornets, Lakers and Nuggets on deck. It would be easy to overlook an opponent which they have long dominated.
On the other hand, having lost all three meetings with Portland this season, the young T-Wolves should view this as a "big game" and I expect them to give their very best effort. Note that they hope to get Beasley back in the lineup tonight - he's missed the last three games.
Tonight's O/U is currently in the low 200s. That's high for Portland but low for the T-Wolves. Note that the Blazers are 1-3 ATS this season when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 200 to 204.5 range. Meanwhile, Minnesota checks in at 5-3 ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in that range. They badly need a victory and I look for them to go all out to get one here. *10
|02-14-11||Atlanta Hawks -4.5 v. Detroit Pistons||Top||94-79||Win||100||10 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. If I'm "laying points," I'd typically prefer to be doing so on a home team. This one sets up very nicely for the road favorite though.
While the Hawks had yesterday off, the Pistons are playing the second of back to back games and their fifth game in the past seven days. Yesterday, they were involved in a hard fought game vs. Portland.
In addition to having the "fresher legs," there are a couple of important reasons why I expect the Hawks to be extremely motivated here.
For starters, this is the first game of an 8-game road trip. Its arguably the "easiest" of the eight cities which they'll visit and they know its important to take advantage of the winnable game and start the trip on the right foot.
Additionally, the Hawks are coming off back to back losses - each of them painful in a different way. Two games ago, they got completely embarrassed by the 76ers. Last game, they came out determined to bounce back and played a great first half, seemingly en route to blowing out Charlotte. The Bobcats rallied and beat them at the buzzer though. Those losses should provide the Hawks with some extra "urgency" here and Saturday's blown lead should ensure they "keep the pedal to the metal" the entire way here.
Also, even further motivation comes from the fact that the Pistons blew them out the last time that they played here. The Hawks view themselves as a far superior team than Detroit and should be determined to deliver a much better effort.
With yesterday's loss, the Pistons are now an awful 19-35-1 ATS (11-44 SU) the past few years, when facing a team with a winning record, during the second half of the season. I see those stats getting even worse after tonight's game. *10
|02-12-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Houston Rockets +1.5||Top||106-102||Loss||-110||9 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. The Mavericks have won both of this season's earlier meetings. Both of those games were at Dallas though. With this one being played at Houston, I expect the Rockets to return the favor.
The Mavericks have been a "streaky" team. In early January, they lost six straight. With Dirk back in the lineup, they closed out January and began February by winning 10 straight. The last four of those victories all came by single-digits though with three of them coming by four or fewer points. It finally caught up with them last time though, as they lost by one point at Denver. Having had their winning streak snapped, I expect them to stumble again here.
While the Mavs have fared well against winning teams, note that they're only 8-15-1 ATS when facing teams with a losing record.
Even though the Mavs had last night off, they're still playing their third game in four days here and their sixth game in the past nine. Only one of those games came at home - meaning they could easily be feeling a little "road weary" here.
The Rockets also lost their last game, getting upset by Minnesota, after having won three straight. That was their second game in two nights though and their third in the past four. They've now had three days off, as the loss vs. the T-Wolves was on 2/8. That should mean that they have the "fresher legs" here. Note that the Rockets are 8-5 SU the past few seasons, when playing with three or more day's rest in between games.
During that stretch, the Rockets are also an extremely solid 24-12 SU and 22-14 ATS when coming off an "upset" loss. Playing with "double-revenge," I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *10
|02-12-11||North Carolina v. Clemson||Top||64-62||Loss||-110||13 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEMSON. I won with the Tigers two Saturdays ago, part of a 5-0 card. As they are here, the Tigers were playing an "early" home game, while attempting to avenge an earlier loss. The Tigers rewarded me by destroying a solid Florida State team. While they're playing another quality team here, I expect the Tigers to again reward me with a victory.
Admittedly, the Tar Heels have been playing well lately. However, I believe this will be a tough spot for them. Not only is Clemson a very difficult venue to win at, but the Tar Heels are off an emotional game vs. arch-rival Duke. While all games vs. Duke are "big," this one figures to be particularly difficult to "bounce back" from. That's because the Tar Heels lost (79-73) in a game in which they held a 16-point lead and in which they appeared to be in complete control of.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams was quoted as saying: "To say it's extremely disappointing would be an understatement."
While the Tar Heels have the (slightly) better overall record, the Tigers' home record is far better than the Tar Heels' mark on the road. North Carolina is now 7-5 on the road. Clemson, on the other hand, is 13-1 at home. That includes a perfect mark in home conference games and a perfect mark in home games in 2011.
In fact, looking back further and we find that Clemson has won 13 of its last 14 ACC home games - the only loss came against eventual NCAA champion Duke, last season.
Looking at this season's earlier meeting and we find that, although they lost by 10, the Tigers were "right there." In fact, that game was tied with only about minutes left in the second half.
An even closer look reveals that Clemson seniors Jerai Grant and Demontez Stitt really struggled in that game. Grant hit only one of his 12 shots - the worst shooting performance of his career. Meanwhile, Stitt was an ugly 3-for-15. Playing at home, in what could be their final matchup against the Tar Heels, both figure to be highly motivated to make amends. Considering that both players average in double-digits in scoring - hitting 43.8% and 59.6% of their shots respectively, its fairly safe to expect them to be much better than a combined 4 of 27!
Note that the Tigers are a solid 7-5 SU/ATS the past dozen times that they attempted to avenge an earlier road loss, including 2-1 SU/ATS their last three in that situation.
While we know UNC can score, note that Clemson leads the ACC in scoring defense, allowing 60 points per game. That number dips all the way down to a mere 57.8 points per game allowed here at home. Visiting teams are averaging only 37.9% of their shots here.
Note that the Tar Heels are only 13-19 ATS the past few seasons when facing a team which allows 64 or fewer points per game. That includes a 7-11 ATS mark their last 18 games against teams which allow 64 or fewer points per game, after at least 15 games of the season have been played.
While they never win at Chapel Hill, (literally) the Tigers hammered the Tar Heels here last season. They led 50-32 by halftime in that game and cruised to a 83-64 victory. While it may not be quite that "easy" this afternoon, playing on their home floor, I expect another victory for the revenge-minded Tigers. *10
|02-09-11||San Antonio Spurs v. Toronto Raptors +7.5||Top||111-100||Loss||-110||8 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. These teams both played road games last night. The Raptors hung around for a while at Milwaukee, but eventually got blown out. The Spurs were challenged by the Pistons most of the way, but pulled away for a double-digit win, down the stretch. I expect the Spurs to have their hands full the entire way tonight though.
While the Raptors continue to struggle on the road, they're generally far more competitive at home. They won their last game here, snapping a losing streak in the process. While that only brought them to 8-12 their last 20 games here, a closer look reveals that five of those losses came by seven or fewer points. (In other words, they'd be 13-7 ATS in those games, if they were getting more than seven points to work with.)
Speaking of "close games," the Raptors already played the Spurs fairly tough at San Antonio. Listed as +12 point underdogs, they lost by nine. Note that they were up 53-42 at halftime of that game.
Including that result, the Raptors have seen six straight meetings with the Spurs decided by 10 or fewer points. Four of those were decided by seven or less. In fact, the last two meetings here at Toronto both resulted in outright Raptor wins. They beat the Spurs by a score of 91-86 here last season and by a score of 91-89 here in 2009.
Looking back further and we find that seven straight meetings here at Toronto were decided by single-digits, six of those by seven or less. The average score of those games was 96.1 to 94.3, in favor of the Spurs. With the Spurs right in the middle of their long "rodeo" trip, I expect this one to also come down to the wire. *10
|02-09-11||Memphis v. Central Florida -2||Top||63-62||Loss||-110||8 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on CENTRAL FLORIDA. With the Knights on a losing streak and with the Tigers off a big upset win over Gonzaga, many will likely be quick to back the visitors in this one. However, with the game being played at Central Florida, I expect the Knights to have the advantage.
Central Florida is 11-3 at home this season. The Knights are averaging 69.2 here while holding visiting teams to 57.2 points scored on defense.
On the other hand, the Tigers are 3-3 while on the road this season. While the Tigers are averaging a respectable 71.0 points on the road, they're also allowing a whopping 76.5 points in those games.
While the win at Gonzaga was certainly impressive, note that the Tigers are 2-10 ATS their last 12 lined games, when coming off a non-conference game. Also, note that they lost their last two conference games, each coming against teams with a worse overall record than the Knights. Their last CUSA road game resulted in a 15 point loss, at Marshall.
Admittedly, the Knights have really struggled in conference play. They're still 32-12 SU their last 44 home games though, going 58-17 their last 75 here, 34-17 SU their last 51 home lined games. (I mention the "SU" stats, as a SU victory should also result in an ATS victory here.)
The Knights have come close recently, losing each of their last two games by seven or fewer points. After a loss at ECU in their last game, UCF coach Donnie Jones was quoted as saying: "I thought we played hard in the first half. I thought we were right where we needed to be. I thought Marcus really did a good job of keeping us in the game. We needed somebody else at times tonight, and it was unfortunate we weren't able to get that."
Jordan would finish with 24 points on 6-of-14 shooting, going 10-of-14 from the free throw line.
Back at home and absolutely desperate to snap their skid, I expect the Knights to give Jordan more help this time and for them to bounce back with a badly needed victory. *10
|02-08-11||Creighton v. Drake +1.5||Top||64-67||Win||100||9 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on DRAKE. The Bluejays come in with the better overall record and they're already 1-0 in the season series. However, a closer look reveals that the earlier meeting was at Creighton and that the Bulldogs' home record is actually superior to the Bluejays' road record. With this evening's game being played at Drake, I expect the Bulldogs to have the advantage.
The Bulldogs are off back to back "upset" wins. They began the month by going on the road and destroying Southern Illinois by 21 points. Next, they returned home and knocked off Northern Iowa. That brings them to a a perfect 4-0 ATS their last four games.
The Bulldogs have outscored teams by an average margin of 67.2 to 62.1 here at home.
On the other hand, the Bluejays have lost four straight on the road. They've been outscored by a 67.1 to 65.6 margin when playing away from Creighton.
Note that the Bluejays are 13-18 ATS the past few seasons, when coming off a conference win. During the same stretch, the Bulldogs were 11-8 ATS when coming off a conference win.
As they did last season, the Bulldogs lost an early January game at Creighton. Last season, in a game which was essentially a "pick'em" (Drake was -1) the Bulldogs avenged that loss by earning a 79-74 victory at home. Playing at home, playing arguably their best basketball, and again playing with "revenge," I expect them to "shock" their "higher rated" guests once again. *10
|02-08-11||San Antonio Spurs v. Detroit Pistons +7||Top||100-89||Loss||-110||9 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. These teams split a pair of meetings last season. The Spurs won and covered at San Antonio. However, the Pistons scored an outright 109-101 "upset," as 5-point underdogs, when the teams met here at Detroit. While tonight's number is even more "generous," with tonight's game being played at The Palace of Auburn Hills, I expect the Pistons to have the edge once again.
As you're probably aware, the Spurs have been very good this season. You may also know that they're currently smack dab in the middle of their annual "rodeo" road trip. This will mark the fourth game of their 9-game trip. Note that prior to the current trip, they only played one home game and that was preceded by three on the road. That makes this their 8th straight game, which was played in a different city. That can start to wear on a team, even one as talented as the Spurs.
True, San Antonio has had a few day's off, having last played on 2/4. The extra rest probably came at a good time, as they'd played some tough games, as well as having played three in four nights. However, you might be surprised to learn that the Spurs are only 3-8 ATS (4-7 SU!) the last 11 times that they played with three day's rest in between games.
As for the Pistons, who have had the past two day's off, they've quietly been playing quite well. In fact, they won each of their last two games by double-digits, most recently a 89-78 win at Milwaukee - generally not an "easy" venue to win at. Looking back further and we find the Pistons at 8-5 ATS their last 13 games. That includes outright victories vs. the likes of Dallas, Orlando and Phoenix.
During that stretch, the Pistons also lost by only four points at Boston and by only a single point at Miami. For the season, they're a very solid 15-10 ATS when facing a team with a winning record.
While SU victories have been hard to come by on the road, the Pistons are a respectable 13-11 SU at home, going 14-10 ATS. That includes a 4-1 ATS mark when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 190 to 194.5 range. They're an outstanding 14-7 SU/ATS in that situation the past few seasons.
Including last season's victory, the Pistons are 7-3 SU/ATS their last 10 home games vs. the Spurs, going 12-7 SU/ATS the last 19.
A look at last year's meetings shows that both were very "close," each closer than the final score indicates. The Spurs ended up winning "big" at San Antonio. However, that game was close right up until the final frame. The Pistons were winning after the first quarter and were still tied in the fourth. The Spurs pulled away late, making the score seem far more lopsided than it really was.
Meanwhile, the game here was tied after the first quarter, tied after the second quarter and tied after regulation. (The Pistons pulled away in OT.) I feel that this one will also "come down to the wire" and am grabbing all those generous points. *10
|02-07-11||Boston Celtics v. Charlotte Bobcats +5||Top||89-94||Win||100||9 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. After wrapping up a successful 4-2 road trip, the Bobcats had high hopes for their 3-game homestand vs. three of the top teams (Miami, Dallas, Boston) in the league. They viewed those three games as a "test" about how well they measured up against the best in the NBA and really wanted to score a couple of "upsets." Things haven't gotten as planned though, as they've already dropped the first two games. With the schedule strongly in their favor, I expect them to bounce back with their best effort here.
While the Bobcats had yesterday off, the Celtics were busy hosting the Magic. Naturally, given that they are two of the top teams in the East and given that the Magic beat them on Christmas Day (Boston did avenge that loss with a close 3-point home win on 1/17) that was a big game for the Celtics. The Celtics were also off a game vs. Dallas (another big game) on Friday. That makes this their third game in four days. Additionally, they've got a huge showdown vs. the Lakers on deck. Having played all those "big games" and with LA on deck, it should be easy for them to overlook the "lowly" Bobcats.
On the other hand, the Bobcats should be extremely "hungry" and focused on the task at hand. Not only do they badly want to earn a victory against an elite team and to avoid going winless in the 3-game homestand, but they're also playing with "double-revenge." The Celtics absolutely embarrassed them here earlier in the season (93-62) and then beat them again when the teams met at Boston. That one was much closer (89-84) with the Bobcats earning the cover.
While its been some time since they beat them outright, including the pointspread win at Boston, the Bobcats are 13-6 ATS the last 19 meetings in the series. I expect them to deliver a highly motivated effort and look for them to improve on those stats here. *10
|02-07-11||Youngstown State v. Wright State -12.5||Top||70-74||Loss||-110||9 h 51 m||Show|
I'm playing on WRIGHT STATE. The Raiders may have lost a couple of key players from last year's team. However, I believe that they're still more than capable of beating up on the Penguins, particularly when playing here at Wright State.
These teams already faced each other once this season. The Raiders won that one by four points (66-62) but failed to cover by a bucket. That was at Youngstown State though, where the Penguins have proven that they can compete. (The Penguins recently even beat Butler there and lost their last one in OT.) Playing on the road has been a different story for the Penguins though.
The Penguins are 0-10 on the road and that includes a dismal 2-7 (22%) ATS mark in road lined games. Their last road game came at Illinois Chicago, facing a team which is just 6-18 overall. The Penguins still lost by 22 points, 83-61. (They were outrebounded by a 53-26 margin in that game!) Prior to that, their previous road game came at Loyola-Illinois. While the Ramblers are only 4-9 in Horizon League play, they still crushed the Penguins by 13 points.
Overall, the Penguins are getting outscored by an average score of 79.9 to 64.4 when playing on the road. They've shot 39% in those games while their hosts have shot 48%. In fact, they haven't won a
On the other hand, the Raiders are 11-1 at home. They average nearly 70 points per game here and allow less than 59. With a couple of tough road games coming up, they'd love to build some confidence and momentum by earning a convining "blowout" victory.
A look at the earlier meeting shows that the Raiders won despite hitting a mere 32.2% from the field and committing 14 turnovers. In fact, they were losing that one by 10 points with less than seven minutes remaining. If Youngstown State couldn't win that one, with the Raiders practically "handing it to them on silver platter," I feel that they'll have little hope here.
Indeed, the Raiders are a perfect 10-0 the last 10 times that they were a host in this series. They've beaten the Penguins by double-digits in seven of the last eight meetings here.
The Raiders had their "wake up call" in the earlier meeting and needed an 18-4 run to close things out. This time, playing at home, I expect them to bring that type of intensity from the opening tipoff and look for that to lead to another one-sided victory. *10
|02-06-11||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Green Bay Packers -2.5||Top||25-31||Win||100||320 h 9 m||Show|
I'm playing on GREEN BAY. Last year, I rode Drew Brees and the Saints to the Superbowl. This year, I'm riding Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Everyone knew the Packers were a really good team. However, given the path that they had to take to get here, most didn't expect them to get this far. I wasn't one of them - as I've believed in this team from the beginning.
In the "Wildcard Round," the Packers had to play at Philadelphia. With the Eagles having enjoyed such a strong year and given Michael Vick's popularity and exceptional season, the Eagles were a popular choice. In my writeup for that game, one of my many comments was that "I'll take Aaron Rodgers over Michael Vick." Of course, Green Bay would go on to earn the victory.
I've continued to rave about Rodgers - although by now, he's no longer exactly "flying under the radar." The Packers' QB is currently "in a major zone." He gets the ball out quickly and accurately, makes great decisions and is willing to take off and beat opposing defenses with his feet.
When Rodgers does make a mistake, which hasn't happened often in these playoffs, he's generally quick to redeem himself and/or to do everything in his power to help fix the problem. Last week's interception against the Bears was an excellent example of that. After being picked, Rodgers didn't even hang his head for a second. Rather, he tracked down Brian Urlacher and tackled him in the open field - very likely saving a touchdown.
Rodgers is also extremely "tough." Time after time again, he picks himself up and shakes off a big hit.
Rodgers has now clearly established himself among the top quarterbacks in the game. Yet, he knows that until he wins the Superbowl, there will still always be Packer fans who rank him below Brett Favre. He knows that this is his chance to fully emerge from Favre's long shadow, once and for all.
Of course, the Packers are about a lot more than Aaron Rodgers and the offense. The defense is also outstanding. In fact, the Packers allowed the fewest points in the entire NFC. They were completely dominant on that side of the ball at Chicago two weeks ago - a game that easily could have been more one-sided. It was only fitting that the defense "sealed the deal" scoring the winning touchdown on an interception return and then closing things out with another INT to snuff out the Bears' final drive.
I'll admit, I didn't play on the Packers in their second playoff game at Atlanta. I didn't go against them either though. Rather, I easily won a big play with the 'over' in that game. (I had also won with the 'under' when the same teams met in the reg. season.) I didn't want to play against the Packers - but I also felt the 'over' offered even better value.
As many of you know, I came back with a big play on Green Bay again in the Championship game. The Packers jumped all over the Bears and never looked back. (Ok, it got a little tense at the end!) Once again, winning away from Green Bay proved to be no problem. That's victories at Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago, the three top division winners (Seattle was the other) in the NFC.
One of the big reasons that I rode the Saints in last year's playoffs is because I had a great deal of respect for their coaching staff. That's one of the reasons why I've been riding the Packers this year. I really like BOTH their offensive and defensive play-calling and feel the tandem of McCarthey and Capers is among the very best in the game.
Of course, the Steelers possess many of the same characteristics that the Packers do and I also have a ton of respect for them. (I also won with them in the Championship Rd.) They've got an extremely tough quarterback. Rothlisberger is an excellent leader and, like Rodgers, can beat teams with both his arm and his legs. Obviously, "Big Ben" knows how to win. The Steelers also have a terrific defense and they're also well-coached.
Pittsburgh backers are likely argue that the Steelers' "big game" experience will give them an advantage. After all, they've been here before, winning in both 2006 and 2009. I don't expect that to be as "big a deal" as many will make it out to be though. In fact, one could argue that the Packers will be "hungrier," as they haven't won one in the "Rodgers era."
Rothlisberger didn't seem to be bothered by it too much against the Jets and I've already acknowledged he's an extremely tough QB. However, one thing I noticed was that he took a hard knee to the thigh. That isn't likely to get much notice, however those type of things can take a long time to recover properly and tend to tighten up more after the game, particularly as it was so cold. While I don't expect this to be a major issue, if if it even slows down Rothlisberger slightly and/or makes him think twice about running for a split second, it could have an effect.
Despite playing at home, the Steelers were somewhat fortunate to beat Baltimore, as they were on the verge of defeat and had to rally back. Then, in control against the Jets, they let New York come back and make things interesting. While the Packers allowed the Bears to do the same, they destroyed the Falcons - at the Georgia Dome - where visiting teams nearly never win.
While I respect the Steelers, I feel the Packers are currently playing at an even higher level and peaking at the perfect time. Rodgers steps out of Favre's shadow permanently and the Pack cover the small number along the way. *10
|02-05-11||Indiana St v. Missouri State -10||Top||66-73||Loss||-110||4 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on MISSOURI STATE. The Bears are fairly heavy favorites for this afternoon's game against Indiana State. However, given the venue, situation, disparity in talent and history here, I feel the line could easily be higher.
The Bears have been in first in the Missouri Valley Conference standings most of the year. Off back to back losses, that's no longer the case. That should provide some added motivation here. Of course, the fact that Indiana State already beat them should also give Missouri State plenty of incentive to "bring their A-Game."
A look at Missouri State's three conference losses shows that two of them came on the road, including the 1-point loss at Indiana State. While they also dropped their most recent home game, a 1-point loss vs. Northern Iowa, the Bears remain an outstanding 19-1 their last 20 games here. That included an 11-1 mark here this season. They've outscored opponents by an average of 74.5 to 59.2 here. While they've hit nearly 51% of their shots here, visiting teams are hitting less than 44% of theirs.
Indiana State, on the other hand, has won only four of 13 road games. The Sycamores hit only 40.1% of their shots away from home. Note that the Sycamores have lost four straight games and that three of those losses came by double-digits. Last time out, they were beaten by 16 vs. Wichita State. Their most recent road game (at Creighton on 1/29) resulted in a 14 point loss.
While the Sycamores started out well, lately they've been bad on both sides of the ball. Their last two opponents have both hit better than 46% of their shots, each scoring a minimum of 70 points.
Coach Greg Lansing recently told the Omaha World-Herald: "We've gotten away from having more of a defensive identity, and we need to continue to work on that."
On offense, one of the Sycamores' big problems is that swingman Aaron Carter has been really struggling. Carter took only two shots and scored two points against Wichita State on Feb. 1. He was also 0-for-6 against Creighton on Jan. 29. With Carter "off his game," the Sycamores have become far easier to defend.
Missouri State's Kyle Weems is a candidate for Missouri Valley Player of the Year and is a true "star." He leads the team in points, rebounds and blocks. He's only one of five Bears averaging greater than nine points per game though.
The Bears are 8-0 when senior center Will Creekmore, their second leading scorer, scores 13 or more points. Missouri State coach Cuonzo Martin said this of Creekmore: "He got big blocks, made big baskets, got big rebounds. But he's a guy that has a passion for success and just wants to win." --
While they failed to cover against them here last season, winning by "only" seven points, the Bears are still an outstanding 11-5 ATS (15-1 SU!) the last 16 times that they were a host in this series. Four of the last six meetings here have seen the Bears win by a minimum of 19 points. Playing with "revenge" and angry that their home winning streak was recently snapped, I expect another double-digit victory for the Bears this afternoon. *10
|02-04-11||Minnesota Timberwolves v. Toronto Raptors -3.5||Top||100-111||Win||100||9 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. The Raptors have now lost 12 in a row. That losing streak will keep many bettors from backing them here. However, I believe that they'll rise to the occasion and snap their skid this evening.
These same two teams met last week, at Minnesota. I had the T-Wolves for that 1/29 game and they simply crushed the Raptors. At the time, both teams were coming off a game the previous night. Given that the Raptors' game the previous night (vs. Milwaukee) had gone to OT and with the game being played at Minnesota, I felt the T-Wolves would have the edge. That proved to be the case. Minnesota jumped out to a double-digit halftime lead and pulled away even further in the second half.
The Raptors shot horribly, making only 34 of their 101 (33.7%) shots. Toronto coach Jay Triano wasn't at all happy with his team. He was quoted as saying: "I've never been in a game where you've missed 67 shots..."
The Raptors are back home now though. Having had yesterday off and not having played back to back games all week, they're also far better rested than they were for the game at Minnesota. That's important for a team which is still less than 100% healthy.
While the losing streak has now gone on for a long time, the Raptors are still playing hard. In their two games since playing at Minnesota, they battled against both Indiana and Atlanta. While they failed to cover the spread in either, it wasn't due to a lack of effort. (They would have covered at Indiana, if not for a Pacers' 3-pointer at the buzzer.)
Note that the Raptors are a respectable 14-10-1 ATS (16-9 SU) the last 25 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range, including 4-2 ATS in that situation this season. On the other hand, during the same stretch, the T-Wolves are 6-9 ATS (4-11 SU) when listed as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range, including 0-2 SU/ATS in that role this season.
Last week's result notwithstanding, the Raptors have dominated this series. In fact, even including last week's loss, they're still a commanding 12-1 SU and 11-2 ATS their last 13 meetings with Minnesota. That includes a perfect 6-0 SU (5-1 ATS) mark the last six meetings here at Toronto. The Raptors won those six games by an average of 10.8 points per game.
Keep in mind that Minnesota has won only one road game since early November and is 2-22 on the road for the season.
After this, the Raptors play at Milwaukee (not an easy place to win) and then host a pair of quality Western Conference opponents, San Antonio and Portland. In other words, if they don't take advantage of this "winnable" game, they may have to wait some time before snapping their skid. They know that this offers their best opportunity for a victory and I look for them to go all out and get it, covering the relatively small number along the way. *10
|02-03-11||San Antonio Spurs v. Los Angeles Lakers -3||Top||89-88||Loss||-110||11 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA. The Spurs may have the best overall record in the West. However, the Lakers are still the champs and their home record is still (slightly) superior to the Spurs' road record. With this game being played at LA, I expect the champs to have the advantage.
While the Spurs are a very solid 15-6 (71.4%) on the road, at 19-7, the Lakers' home winning percentage (73%) is even better. Note that the Spurs are only 5-4 on the road in 2011 while the Lakers are 8-2 their last 10 at home.
Naturally, this is a very big game for both teams. Both are comfortably on top of their divisions. However, they also both know that this game could well play a pivotal role in determining which team has homecourt advantage, if/when they meet each other in the playoffs.
While that should ensure that both teams are "highly motivated," I expect the Lakers to be even "hungrier" than their guests. That's because they're the ones chasing the Spurs in the overall race AND because they already lost at San Antonio this season. Additionally, the fact that they just recently lost on National TV (vs. the Celtics) figures to provide some added incentive. This is their chance to show the world that "they're still here" and that they're still the team to beat in the West.
Note that the Lakers are 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they were a host in this series. All eight of those victories came by a minimum of four points and they came by an average of 12.6 points.
It should also be noted that the Lakers were favored by a minimum of -5 points in seven of their last eight home meeting with the Spurs. The only time that they were favored by less (they were -2.5 point home favorites vs. the Spurs last Feb. 8th) was a game in which Kobe didn't play. Tonight's line is considerably lower, which I feel provides us with excellent line value.
While the Lakers may be without Bynum, they've gotten used to playing without him and are fully capable of winning even if he's not in the lineup. Bynum was out last game and Odom stepped into the starting lineup and scored 20 points while adding 20 rebounds.
As Kobe noted: "People forget how well he was playing when Drew was down. He's capable of doing that and stepping in and having huge games like this."
The Lakers are 50-16 SU the last 66 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss. I expect them to improve on those stats, covering the small number along the way. *10
|02-03-11||Miami Heat v. Orlando Magic -1||Top||104-100||Loss||-115||10 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on ORLANDO. These teams have faced each other twice so far this season. Both games came back in the fall. In each case, the home team earned a convincing victory. The Heat won the first meeting, at Miami, by a score of 96-70. A few weeks later, playing at Orlando, the Magic returned the favor. Laying -3.5 points, they won that 11/24 meeting by a score of 104-95. With this game being played at Orlando, I expect the Magic to have the advantage once again.
I successfully played against the Magic in their last game. That was on the road (at Memphis) though and they were playing the second of back to back games. Therefore, given that situation and with this "big game" on deck, I wasn't surprised that they lost.
The Magic are back home now though and they're also well-rested, having last played on 1/31. In addition to having won nine of their last 10 here at Orlando, note that the Magic are also an impressive 29-10 SU and 23-15-1 ATS the past few seasons, when playing with two day's rest in between games.
Like their hosts, the Heat have also been off since 1/31. Unlike their hosts, playing with two day's rest in between games has not been kind to them. In fact, the Heat are only 19-20 SU and 15-24 ATS the past few seasons, when playing with two day's rest in between games. That includes an ugly 1-7 ATS mark their last eight in that situation.
The Heat have gone 3-5 ATS in divisional games this season and 22-24 ATS the past few. During that stretch, the Magic are 29-19 ATS (37-11 SU) when facing a divisional opponent.
With an O/U line in the high 190s, its also worth noting that the Magic are 18-2 SU and 13-7 ATS the last 20 times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 195 to 199.5 range.
Including this season's victory here, the Magic are 8-1 SU and 7-1-1 ATS the last nine times that they were a host in this series. Obviously, its a very big game for both teams - and we know Lebron wants to beat the Magic. However, with the game here at Orlando and with the Magic trailing the Heat in the division standings, I feel that winning this game is even more important to the Magic. I expect them to rise to the occasion and look for them to come away with the important victory. *10
|02-02-11||Rutgers v. St. Johns -8.5||Top||56-58||Loss||-110||10 h 51 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST JOHN'S. The important question here is how will St. John's respond to its impressive upset victory over Duke. will the Red Storm suffer a "letdown" or will they build positive momentum and confidence from the victory? Playing at home and facing a Rutgers team which tends to struggle on the road, I expect the answer to prove to be the latter.
Including the 93-78 win over Duke, St. John's has topped the 80 point mark five times this season. The Red Storm have followed up the first four by going 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in their next four games.
Note that St. John's is 2-1 ATS (3-0 SU) the past few seasons, when listed as a home favorite in the -6.5 to -9 range.
The Scarlet Knights gave everything they had last time out and very nearly upset Pittsburgh. They still lost though - the type of defeat that can be "deflating." They're 1-3 on the road in 2011. All three losses came by double-digits.
These teams met twice last season. In each case, the home team won by double-digits. The loss at Rutgers was a very costly one for the Red Storm though. They haven't forgotten and I expect another win and cover for the home team here. *10
|02-02-11||Indiana Pacers v. Cleveland Cavaliers +6||Top||117-112||Win||100||9 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. As you know, the Cavaliers have not been a good team this season. In fact, at 8-40, they've got the worst record in the entire league. Everyone else knows they "stink" too though - and as a result many are reluctant to back them. Even "bad" teams can be in good spots for pointspread success though. In this case, I believe the Cavs are offering excellent value.
While everyone knows that the Cavs have been "brutal," many probably don't realize that their home record is actually very nearly identical to Indiana's road record. The Cavs are 5-15 at home. The Pacers are 6-16 on the road. The Cavs have been outscored by 7.3 points at home, an average score of 101 to 93.7. Meanwhile, the Pacers have been outscored by 6.7 points on the road, 101.9 to 95.2.
Yet, despite those nearly identical records, the Pacers are fairly heavy road favorites. In my opinion, that's based more on perception than reality.
True, the Pacers are off a big win and cover. However, that was at home against a depleted Toronto team which has a losing streak almost as long as Cleveland's. Now the Pacers are on the road, where they've gone just 1-7 SU in 2011.
Also, in regards to Indiana's big win over Toronto, note that the Pacers were energized by the coaching change and jumped all over the Raptors - yet they blew a large (48-28) lead and nearly didn't cover. In fact, if the Pacers didn't make a meaningless 3-pointer (teams almost never shoot in that situation, when leading!) with one second left, they wouldn't have covered.
In other words, Pacer backers were very fortunate to win that one by 11. Note that Indiana is an ugly 1-8 SU (2-6-1 ATS) the last nine times it was off a double-digit victory.
Even with the win over Toronto, the Pacers are still 2-7 overall since mid-January. Both wins came at home. The other was against the Nets, a team which is 3-23 on the road.
While Indiana has been fortunate to face a couple of teams which are a combined 8-44 on the road, the Cavs have faced nothing but top tier opponents recently. Five of their last six games have come on the road and their lone home game was vs. a solid Denver squad. Their last four opponents overall have been Miami, Orlando, Denver and Boston. In other words, a home game against the Pacers offers them their best shot at a win in quite some time. That's particularly true with two of their next three again on the road.
Knowing that this should offer their best shot at a victory in some time, the Cavs should be highly motivated to play their best here. Additional motivation comes from the fact that they're already 0-3 against the Pacers this season and will be looking to avoid the series sweep.
Considering that they were favored when they hosted the Pacers earlier in the season (and only getting +5 their first trip to Indiana) I feel that the line is much too high. I'll grab all those generous points but look for the Cavs to step up and finally win one. *10
|02-02-11||Philadelphia 76ers v. New Jersey Nets +2||Top||106-92||Loss||-110||9 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. These teams are both off big wins over Denver. The 76ers beat the Nuggets by a score of 110-99 on Sunday. The following night, the Nets knocked off the Nuggets by a 115-99 score. While those victories were both impressive, with tonight's game being played at New Jersey, I expect the Nets to have the advantage.
Homecourt advantage is important for almost all teams in the league. That's particularly true for these two teams though. The 76ers are a very solid 15-8 at home. However, they're an ugly 6-18 on the road. On the other hand, the Nets are an awful 3-23 on the road but a respectable 12-11 here at New Jersey.
Yet, despite the Nets' home record being far superior to the 76ers' road record, the 76ers are favored. I feel that provides us with excellent value on what should be a highly motivated home underdog.
True, the 76ers did beat the Nets here earlier. New Jersey is currently playing a lot better now than it was when these teams met here in mid December, at least here at home. In fact, since that 12/14 meeting, the Nets have gone an impressive 8-3 SU/ATS in 11 games here. That includes a 3-0 SU mark their last three games here and a 5-1 SU/ATS mark their last six here. During those six homes, which date back to 1/19, the Nets only loss came by a single point, vs. Dallas on 1/22. Clearly, this is an improved team from the one that hosted the 76ers six weeks ago. Yet, the line is pretty much identical.
Even with the earlier 76ers victory here, the Nets are still 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were a host in this series. Playing with "double-revenge" and playing arguably their best basketball in recent memory, I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|01-31-11||Texas v. Texas A&M +1.5||Top||69-49||Loss||-110||10 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS [email protected] Ranked #7 in the country, the Longhorns come in with the higher ranking. They've already beaten the Aggies at home. However, the Aggies are also ranked (#13) and now its their turn to be the host. They've dominated the Longhorns here in recent seasons and I look for them to score the minor upset here this evening.
Including the 81-60 beatdown on Jan. 19th, the Aggies have now lost nine straight games at Texas. However, including a 74-58 victory here last February, they're also a perfect 6-0 the last six times that they faced the Longhorns here at College Station. They dropped 43 on the Longhorns in the second half of last year's game here and have outscored Texas by a 75.8 to 62.2 margin during the 6-game winning streak here.
True, the Longhorns are off a big blowout win while the Aggies are off a loss. However, the Aggies loss came on the road while the Longhorns' win came at home. More importantly, note that the Longhorns are an awful 7-18 ATS the last 25 times that they were off a conference win AND that the Aggies are 11-3 ATS, when off a conference loss, during the same stretch.
The Aggies are also a perfect 8-0 ATS in lined games the past few seasons, after scoring 60 or fewer points in their previous game.
The Aggies are 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times that they were home underdogs of three or fewer points. In fact, they've won 14 straight here overall.
The Aggies haven't forgotten the blowout loss at Texas. As Texas A&M forward Nathan Walkup noted: "We got punked."
The Aggies are 3-1 ATS the last four times that they attempted to avenge a blowout loss of 20 or more points and 9-4 SU the last 13 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier road loss, overall. Its payback time. *10
|01-31-11||Orlando Magic v. Memphis Grizzlies +2||Top||97-100||Win||100||10 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. Everyone knows that the Magic are a good team. Many still aren't aware that the Grizzlies are actually also a very solid team. As a result, even though the Magic have the better overall record, the Grizzlies have been a far better team at the betting window. Indeed, the Magic are a money-burning 21-25-1 (45.6%) ATS on the season. On the other hand, the Grizzlies are a profitable 29-18-1 (61.7%) ATS. That includes an excellent 5-1 ATS mark their last six. Given the schedule, situation and venue, I feel the Grizzlies have an excellent shot at improving on those stats this evening. (In fact, I feel they should be the team which is favored here.)
While the Magic may have the better overall record, a closer look reveals that the Grizzlies' home record is actually superior to Orlando's road record. The Magic are an impressive 18-6 at home but they're only a mediocre 13-11 when playing outside of Orlando. That includes an ugly 1-5 SU/ATS mark as road favorites of three or fewer points. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are a poor 10-17 on the road but a very solid 14-7 (13-7-1 ATS) here at Memphis.
Given those home/road records, its no surprise that the Magic won when these teams faced each other at Orlando. That 89-72 Orlando victory occurred way back on 11/15 though and the Grizzlies are in the midst of a 5-game losing streak. Now, as already noted, they're playing much better. Last time out, they erased a large 21-point deficit to beat the 76ers. That should give the Grizzlies both positive momentum and the confidence. Note that they had yesterday off.
The Grizzlies should be extremely motivated here. In addition to the fact that they're playing with "revenge," they have a chance to move above .500 for the first time in months. With a victory tonight, they also know that they can also make Lionel Hollins become the franchise
|01-30-11||Washington v. Washington State +4||Top||80-87||Win||100||11 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON STATE. Naturally, as meetings between these two rivals always are, this is a very big game for both these teams. This one is particularly important as both teams are very close to each other, in terms of overall records. The Huskies are 15-4. The Cougars are 14-6. Therefore, both teams should be extremely motivated to earn a victory. The game is arguably more important for the Cougars though. Playing in Pullman, I expect them to have the advantage.
Washington State's coach Ken Bone knows the importance of winning tonight's game and how much it would mean to his program. He was quoted as saying: "I don't think they're going to drop out of the Top 25 or the Top 20 this season. So I think it would be a huge win for our program."
His players also understand how critical this is. Washington State's Klay Thompson commented: "We need this one on our resume." Thompson, who leads the Cougars with 22.2 points per game, should be extremely motivated for a big game - and its good to see him acknowledging the importance of this game. He's struggled against the Huskies in the past and I expect an improved performance from him to help put them over the top.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar knows Thompson has a better supporting cast this season though, which should help to get him more looks than he had in last season's 7-point loss against the Huskies here. Romar was quoted as saying: "They have more weapons. You could kind of key in on Klay Thompson and Reggie Moore last year. Now DeAngelo is playing well on the post and Faisal Aden is scoring - he can go out and score 20, 25 points."
The Cougars did lose their most recent game here. However, that loss came by only two points and their three previous home games ALL resulted in double-digit victories. Note that they're 2-0 SU/ATS in 2011, when off a conference loss.
While Washington is on a roll and is admittedly a very good team, I believe that the Cougars, who have beaten up on some relatively solid non-conference teams like Gonzaga, Portland, Baylor and Mississippi State, are also quite a lot stronger than many realize.
The Cougars, who allow only 58.7 points per game here, are 12-8 ATS the last 20 times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range. I expect them to deliver a highly motivated effort here and look for them to improve on those stats with a strong shot at the outright upset. *10
|01-30-11||New Orleans Hornets v. Phoenix Suns -1.5||Top||102-104||Win||100||9 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. The Suns are a team which has always been able to put up points. Lately, they've started to show that they can also get it done on the other side of the ball. I won with the Suns in their last game. Listed as underdogs, they destroyed Boston by double-digits. The really impressive part was that they held the Celtics to a mere 71 points. That was the fewest points which the Suns had allowed since 2001. Off that superb performance, I expect the Suns to bring both positive momentum and confidence into today's game.
Michael Pietrus, one of five Suns to score in double-digits against the Celtics said this of his new team's defensive play against Boston: "I've heard about how the Suns are soft. That's not going to happen this year. We're not going to be soft. I'm going to make sure when we come out on the floor, we're going to come out hard."
Even with Friday's great defensive effort, the Suns are still allowing 107 points per game, 104.9 here in the desert. However, note that the Hornets are only 7-13 ATS their last 20 games against teams which allow 99 or more points per game. Looking back further finds the Hornets at a money-burning 44-72-1 ATS against teams which allow 99 or more points over the past few seasons.
In addition to having both "confidence" and "momentum," the Suns have the advantage of playing on their home floor. Additionally, they've got the schedule in their favor. While Phoenix had yesterday off, New Orleans played at Sacramento, less than 24 hours ago.
The Suns are 4-1 SU/ATS the last five meetings in this series. They won the last two games here by scores of 120-106 and 124-104. I expect another victory here. *10
|01-29-11||Brigham Young v. New Mexico +3.5||Top||77-86||Win||100||5 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW MEXICO. BYU comes in on a roll and with an impressive record. Off their biggest win of the season, the Cougars may be ripe for a "letdown" though. Even if they are fully "up" for the game, I expect them to have their hands full.
Admittedly, the Lobos (14-7) haven't yet looked much like the team that had 30 wins last season. They "got back on track" in a big way last time out though, destroying TCU by a score of 71-46. That's the type of victory a team can build positive momentum from and I look for them to do just that.
The fact that the Lobos delivered a "dominant defensive performance" (TCU shot 33.9% and scored 46 points) against the Horned Frogs is noteworthy. The Lobos are 6-1 SU (5-1 ATS) the last seven times that they held their previous opponent to 60 or fewer points.
True, the Lobos did lose their only other game against a ranked team this season, as they lost 87-77 vs. San Diego State a couple of weeks ago. However, keep in mind that they'd previously won five straight against the Associated Press Top 25. They enter this afternoon's game with more confidence and feel that they've got something to prove.
As Drew Gordon, who's coming off a "double-double" noted: "We have a big top-ten team coming in. It's a good chance to test where we are again."
Yes, the Cougars have a bigtime star player in Jimmer Fredette. While he'll surely put up some big numbers, the Lobos should do a better job against him than other teams have recently. He's averaging only 11.8 points in six meetings against the Lobos, although he did score 27 here last January.
Note that even with the win over SD. St. the Cougars are still only 6-9 ATS against winning teams this season. Its also worth mentioning that they're 5-9 ATS the last few seasons when playing a game with an O/U line in the 150s.
While they may not have a (potential) future NBA star like Fredette, the Lobos have some weapons of their own. New Mexico's Dairese Gary averaged 24 points while shooting 59.1 percent in the two game against BYU last season. He's one of four Lobos averaging greater
Speaking of those two games, the Lobos won both of them. Just like this season, BYU had a 20-1 record when it came here last season. The Lobos came away with the upset. Note that both games last season were decided by four or fewer points. With the support of their home crowd and catching BYU off the big win over Sd. State, I look for the Lobos to stun the Cougars once again. *10 MWC GOY
|01-28-11||New York Knicks v. Atlanta Hawks -6.5||Top||102-111||Win||100||9 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. Give the Knicks some credit for beating Miami last night. They fought hard and "gutted" out a victory. That said, they were playing at home and they were catching Miami without Bosh and with Lebron playing at less than 100%. They were also extremely "motivated" for that game and had talking about how important it was etc. (If you watched, you would have noticed a number of "stars" in attendance and seen that there was some extra excitement in the air.)
Off such a "big" win, I feel that it will be easy for this relatively young team to have an emotional "letdown." However, even if they do manage to put last night's game out of their heads and fully focus on the task at hand, I expect them to be in trouble tonight.
While the Knicks were "leaving everything on the floor," the Hawks had last night off. That should give them a significant advantage. Again, keep in mind that not all "back to back situations" should be viewed equally - and I feel that last night's game will take more out of the Knicks than some other games would have.
Admittedly, the Hawks been a somewhat inconsistent team recently. Some nights, they look like a team capable of beating anyone. Other nights, they seemingly don't show the same kind of intensity. Last time out, they lost by eight at Milwaukee. In their previous game, they won by 16 at Charlotte. Those were both on the road - in their previous road game, they won outright at Miami. However, its the Hawks' last home game which I believe will have a real motivating effect here. That came exactly one week ago, on 1/21. The Hawks were coming off their big win over Miami (sound familiar NY?) and were hosting the Hornets. The had a major letdown and were beaten by a score of 100-59. For a team that prides itself in being tough to beat on this floor, that was an extremely embarrassing loss.
Keep in mind that the Hawks are still a highly impressive 85-30 here in Atlanta, the past few seasons. Indeed, this is not a team which loses by 40+ here very often!
They already beat the Knicks by nine (at NY) in this season's only previous meeting. They jumped all over them in that game and were leading by 10 at the end of the first quarter and by 18 at halftime. Looking to erase last Friday's loss from their home fans' memory, I expect the Hawks to be "ready to go" from the opening tip, once again. *10
|01-27-11||Vanderbilt v. Mississippi State +7||Top||81-74||Push||0||9 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on MISSISSIPPI STATE. I won a big play on the Commodores in their last game. Playing at home and playing their final "non-conference" game of the season, they took care of a good St Mary's team, with relative ease. Clearly, this is a very capable team. However, while the Commodores have proven to be extremely tough at home, they've been vulnerable on the road. That said, I expect them to have their hands full the entire way this evening.
All four of Vanderbilt's losses have come on the road. In the Commodores' last road game, they were beaten by three at Tennessee. Prior to that, they lost by eight at South Carolina. (The blew big leads in each of those games.) In fact, they have yet to win an SEC road game. (They also lost at Missouri and lost a neutral court game vs. West Virginia, at Peurto Rico.)
In addition to their "road woes," it should also be noted the Commodores are dealing with some injury issues. Andre Walker has missed 10 of the last 11 with first mononeucleosis and now a sprained ankle. Center Festus Ezeli was limited to 18 minutes with tendinitis in a knee against Saint Mary's. Additionally, Steve Tchiengang played only 13 against St. Mary's due to a sore ankle.
On top of that, starter Brad Tinsley missed practice Tuesday due to an illness that had him at the student health center overnight.
Like their guests, the Bulldogs have had some issues on the road. Last time out, they were thumped at Georgia. They've been much better at home though. In their last game here, they crushed Auburn by 19 points. (Prior to that, they won at Ole Miss.)
After that victory, coach Stansbury said this of his team: "These guys have fought through a lot of things to get themselves just to this point now. Naturally, you learn some things through it, and it's brought some guys together."
While the Commodores have shown that they can put up plenty of points (they're averaging 78.7 per game) the Bulldogs are an outstanding 17-5 ATS the past few seasons, when facing a team which scores 77 or more points per game.
The Bulldogs are also 3-0 ATS the last three times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range. Even with the loss at Georgia, they've got a renewed sense of confidence from the two previous wins. I expect Stansbury to his team ready to go and look for them to improve on their stats as home underdogs of this size. *10
|01-26-11||Orlando Magic v. Indiana Pacers +6||Top||111-96||Loss||-115||9 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANA. The Pacers narrowly earned the cover, when these teams met here in November. Getting +4.5 or +5 points, Indiana lost by four. Much has changed since that 11/20 meeting. However, I feel that value lies with the Pacers once again.
Its true that the Pacers have struggled lately - they've lost five in a row. Those struggles have helped to drive this line higher, providing us with some extra value.
However, a closer look reveals that the Pacers' recent problems have come primarily on the road, as have each of their last four losses. While they haven't been "spectacular" here, they have been relatively solid - at least much better than they've been on the road. They've alternated home wins and losses in 2011 and have won six of their 11 home games, since the beginning of December. They're 8-6-1 ATS their last 15 games here, including 3-1 ATS the last four.
While the Pacers are 8-7 SU and 8-6-1 ATS here since mid-November, a closer look shows that three of the losses (incl. the one vs. Orlando) came by four or fewer points. In other words, they would have been 11-4 ATS, if getting at least +5 to work with in those games.
While they went on a great run through the holidays, the Magic haven't been all that impressive the past couple of weeks. They're 4-4 SU (3-4-1 ATS) since 1/12 and three of the four victories were by single-digits, two by six or fewer points. Note that six of their last eight games have been decided by seven or fewer points.
In their last game, laying -12 points, the Magic were defeated by Detroit. Many might automatically assume that an "elite" team like Orlando would respond well to that type of "embarrassment." However, that's not the case. The last 10 times that they were coming off an "upset," loss, the Magic have gone an ugly 2-8 ATS, winning only three of those games SU.
Including the earlier cover, the Pacers are 6-2-2 ATS the last 10 times that they were a host in this series. Desperate to get back in track, I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|01-26-11||Villanova v. Providence +6||Top||68-83||Win||100||7 h 57 m||Show|
I'm playing on PROVIDENCE. The Wildcats have on a terrific roll and they were very impressive on Saturday. After a rare loss (at UConn) they bounced back and destroyed the Orange, at Syracuse. That has everyone talking about how good the Wildcats are. In fact, after that game, my assistant even got an email asking if Ben thought the Wildcats were a good "futures" bet. While I do really respect Villanova, I also feel that all that recent "hype" has caused this evening's line to become inflated.
Perhaps more importantly, I also feel that this will prove to be a very difficult scheduling spot. Not only are they off the huge win at Syracuse, potentially cause for a "letdown" all by itself, but they're also now playing their third straight road game - the first time that they have done so all season. Additionally, they've got a huge showdown vs. Georgetown on deck. Having just played UConn and Syracuse and with Georgetown (followed by Marquette and WVU) on deck, it should be easy to get caught looking past Providence.
That will prove costly though, as the Friars are very capable at home. Just ask Louisville. Last game here, getting five points, the Friars knocked off Louisville. In their previous game here, getting +5.5 points, the Friars lost by four vs. Pittsburgh.
Overall, the Friars are 6-3 ATS in home lined games and they're 4-2 ATS as underdogs. The last meeting between these teams on this floor was decided by three points, a 94-91 Villanova victory. I won't be surprised if this one also comes down to the wire and am grabbing all those generous points. *10
|01-25-11||Auburn v. Arkansas -14.5||Top||64-73||Loss||-110||10 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARKANSAS. At first glance this spread seems quite high. However, given the talent difference between the teams, I feel that it could easily be higher.
While Auburn checks in at 7-12, Arkansas is 12-6. The Tigers are 0-3 on the road, 0-4 if counting neutral court games. They were outscored by a 71.7 to 55.7 margin in those games. They're 0-5 in conference play, getting outscored by a 67.6 to 54.6 margin.
Like its guests, Arkansas is also winless in its "true" road games. However, they're an outstanding 12-2 in home/neutral court games. They've outscored opponents by a 77.8 to 61.4 margin here.
While the Razorbacks haven't always been a great favorite, they've been solid as home favorites of size. They're 6-3-2 ATS (11-0 SU) the last 11 times that they were home favorites in the -12.5 to -15 range.
With an O/U line in the high 120s, its also worth noting that the Razorbacks are a profitable 6-1 ATS (7-0 SU) the last seven times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 120s.
Off an ugly performance at Florida on Saturday, which saw them score a season-low 49 points, the Razorbacks should be extremely motivated to lay a beating on someone. That's particularly true with another tough road game (Vanderbilt) on deck. The Razorbacks are already 2-0 SU/ATS this season, after scoring 60 or fewer points in their last game, defeating the likes of Tennessee and Alabama in those games. I expect them to bounce back with another win and cover here. *10
|01-24-11||Washington Wizards +7.5 v. New York Knicks||Top||106-115||Loss||-110||9 h 35 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. I won with the Wizards in their last game, an impressive upset victory over Boston. I've won with them a few times this season, while also winning by going against them. In each case, I played on them at home while playing against them on the road. With the Wizards on the road this evening, many will probably assume that I'll be going against them here. That's not the case though.
By now, its no secret that the Wizards have been pretty bad (ok, terrible) on the road. In fact, most know that they still haven't even won a game away from Washington. As a result, very few will be willing to back them away from Washington. The oddsmakers know this and are forced to make the number extra high, to try and balance things out. Given the current play of the two teams, even given the venue, I feel that's providing us with excellent value on the underdogs.
The Wizards have now won three of their last five and five of their last eight. While that success has come at home, it eventually has to be "contagious" and make its way on to the road. Note that the Wizards have been close in a number of road games and that they've faded in the second half or fourth quarter. (I played against them in their last road game and that was the case.) Saturday's victory over Boston was the type of win that a young team can really build momentum from though.
The veteran Celtics jumped all over the Wizards right out of the gate. Off a loss vs. the Suns the previous night, the Wizards could have easily folded. They didn't though. Rather, they took the Celtics' "initial flurry of punches," fought back and scored the "upset." The Celts are an elite team and I expect that comeback win to give the Wizards plenty of confidence tonight, even if they're not in their own building.
Unlike their guests, the Knicks aren't currently playing well. In fact, they've lost six straight games. Yet, here they are laying a very big number, due to Washington's road record. Given the Knicks' current level of play, I feel that's asking far too much.
Note that New York is only 5-11 ATS the last 16 times it was a home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range. That includes a money-burning 1-5 ATS mark its last six in that role.
The Wizards play with "double-revenge," as the Knicks have beaten them in both this season's meetings, most recently a 6-point NY win at Washington on 12/10. Note that the Wizards, who led that game in the second half, are 6-2 ATS the last eight times that they attempted to avenge a home loss.
Even as I've played against them on the road over the season, I've noted things like "the Wizards will eventually win one on the road, it just won't be tonight." Well, tonight's the night that I think they just might break the goose egg. At the very least, I expect a highly motivated effort, leading to at least another cover. *10
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