|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|02-22-19||Spurs +7.5 v. Raptors||Top||117-120||Win||100||11 h 57 m||Show|
10* San Antonio (7:05 ET): The Spurs were expected to take a sizable step backwards this season, but as long as Greg Popovich is coaching this team, they're likely to do just fine. I think it's fair to say they surpassed 1st half expectations by winning 33 games and they find themselves tied for 6th in the Western Conference. Defensively, the Spurs may not be as sound as they used to be. But they've made up for that by being one of the most efficient offenses (3rd) in the league, largely on the back of the best three-point shooting percentage in the league (40.9%). I like them as underdogs tonight in Toronto.
With LeBron James taking his talents to the Western Conference, Toronto came into 2018-19 believing this might be "their year." They have Kawhi Leonard and also just traded for Marc Gasol. As expected, the Raptors are one of the Eastern Conference's best teams as only Milwaukee is ahead of them currently. They went into the All-Star Break on a six-game win streak. However, while emotions might very well be high tonight on ESPN as DeMar DeRozan plays his 1st game in Toronto as a visitor, the first game after the ASB is conducive to coming out "flat" and thus not a good idea to lay this many points against a quality foe.
DeRozan led the way w/ his 1st career triple double (21-14-11) the first time these teams met, which was a 125-107 San Antonio win. Despite the perception that this is a "down year," DeRozan leads the Spurs in scoring at 21.4 PPG and that's w/ a subpar January. LaMarcus Aldridge also scored 23 points in that first meeting w/ the Raptors. I know San Antonio has struggled on the road this year and they have failed to cover eight straight games overall. But I don't see them getting blown out on national TV Friday night. Take the points. 10* San Antonio
|02-21-19||UC-Davis v. CS-Fullerton -6.5||Top||58-62||Loss||-109||15 h 41 m||Show|
10* CS Fullerton (10:30 ET): The reality of the Big West is that UC Irvine is a lot better than everyone else. Only two other teams in the league (USCB, Hawaii) can claim to have a winning record overall. However, CS Fullerton (12-13 SU) can claim second place in the standings, thanks to an 8-3 SU conference record. The Titans come into Thursday having won eight of their last nine games, the lone loss coming at UC Irvine by a score of 60-53. While they were certainly held in check in that game, the Titans have scored at least 77 points in each of the last seven wins.
Cal Davis will also come into tonight riding a win streak as they've come out on top each of their L5 games. Three of those have been on the road, though the last two were both at home. Saturday saw them beat Long Beach State 77-73 as they rallied back from an eight-point halftime deficit. It should be pointed out that the entirety of the Aggies' win streak has come at the expense of the bottom half of the Big West. Not that Cal State Fullerton has downed any "world-beaters" either, but as you're about to read, home court advantage is going to play a significant role in this game.
CS Fullerton has only played nine home games so far. They're 7-2 SU outscoring opponents by 13.2 PPG. Given that they are just 12-13 SU overall, it should be pretty obvious that the Titans are simply a much better team here at home. Their scoring goes up substantially while the number of points allowed also drops noticeably. Cal Davis is just 3-10 SU on the road, averaging only 63.3 PPG. So, yes, coming into February, the Aggies were actually 0-10 SU on the road. This three-game win streak is pretty shocking then and unlikely to last. They are just 1-10 SU as a road underdog, getting outscored by double digits in those games. 10* CS Fullerton
|02-21-19||UL - Lafayette +3 v. Texas-Arlington||Top||76-64||Win||100||12 h 11 m||Show|
8* Louisiana (8:00 ET): UT Arlington's bid to win the Sun Belt hit a major "snag" last week as they lost twice, both times on the road. First, it was to Arkansas Little Rock by a score of 56-52. Leading scorer Edric Dennis scored only six points in that game (on 2 of 15 shooting), thus the Mavericks could not take advantage of the fact their opponents scored a season-low 30 pts in the 2nd half. On Saturday, it was a 4-point loss at Arkansas State (83-79). Dennis again struggled (only 8 pts), but it was more the Mavericks' defense betraying them than anything else.
Louisiana is coming off B2B wins. The latest was on Saturday, 83-76 over rival LA Monroe. The Rajin Cajuns had a nice long layoff going into that rivalry game (where they were also playing w/ revenge) as they had not played since the previous Friday when they beat Georgia State 76-72 as two-point underdogs. That, like the LA Monroe game, was at home. Against Georgia State, Louisiana had a double-digit lead at halftime and was able to hold on for the win.
It would be easy to simply look at where Louisiana's last two wins took place (at home!) and where UT Arlington's two losses took place (on the road!) and decide tonight will be different based on the changes in venue. But note that even though the Mavericks are still tied for third in the conference, they have a losing SU record overall (12-14) and have been beaten four times this year at home. Regardless of whether they are playing at home or on the road, Louisiana can score as they come in averaging 83.0 PPG, which is top 20 in the country. A high scoring underdog that's in better form than its opponent sounds like a "good deal" to me. 8* Louisiana
|02-20-19||Butler +6 v. Marquette||Top||69-79||Loss||-105||13 h 45 m||Show|
8* Butler (9:00 ET): Marquette is a team I've been "chasing" for much of this season. Quite frankly, I believe the Golden Eagles to be one of the more overrated teams in the country, at least in terms of ranking. Not that they don't deserve to be in the top 25 at this point, because they do. But #11 seems a little high to me. This is a team that has benefited from going an extremely fortunate 7-1 SU in games decided by five points or less. Their most recent "close" victory came two Saturday ago against Villanova, 70-69. That was followed by a much more convincing win @ DePaul.
So Marquette rolls into Wednesday having won 10 of 11 w/ the only loss coming by a single point to St. John's. They've been off for over a week and host a Butler team they already beat by 18 points - on the road - last month. Predictably, the line has shifted quite a bit for this rematch. But has it shifted TOO much? Marquette was actually an underdog when it won at Hinkle Fieldhouse. They may be playing tonight's game w/o the services of Sam Hauser, their second-leading scorer (15.3 PPG) and only one of two double digit scorers on the roster. Hauser is currently listed as questionable due to an eye injury suffered in the DePaul game. He is also the team's leading rebounder.
Butler has lost 10 straight games to Top 25 opponents. To win here, they're probably going to need to hold Marquette under 74 points. The Golden Eagles are a perfect 17-0 SU when hitting that benchmark this season, but just 4-4 SU when falling short. Butler is a team capable of having a big night from three-point range as there have been 11 games this season where they've made 10 or more shot from behind the arc. They are 9-2 SU in those 11 games. Something else to keep in mind here is that the Bulldogs' only loss in the last four games was in OT (at St. John's). They scored 91 pts against DePaul on Saturday and I like this revenge-minded dog. 8* Butler
|02-20-19||Arkansas v. Auburn -12||Top||56-79||Win||100||12 h 5 m||Show|
10* Auburn (8:30 ET): I understand why Auburn isn't currently ranked in the Top 25, but I've got them in them rated among the top 15 teams in America in my own personal power rankings and most objective rating systems (Vegas, BPI, KenPom) seem to agree. The Tigers did recently lose B2B games, to LSU and Ole Miss, but bounced back over the weekend w/ a 64-53 win at Vandy. Tonight, they return home to face an Arkansas squad that's on a three-game losing streak. The Razorbacks have pulled some upsets this year, most notably over LSU, but not tonight. Lay the points.
Auburn is 12-2 SU at home this season, generally blowing their visitors out. They've outscored the opposition by 23.6 PPG here. This is a strong offensive team, one that averages 86.3 PPG at home. They also play good defense, allowing just 62.7 PPG here. Arkansas can score too, but the big difference is the Hogs can't stop anybody, especially on the road where they are allowing 78.7 PPG. Look for that to be a major problem for them tonight. The Razorbacks have given up 77 or more points four times in the last five games. Auburn has held five of its last six opponents to 63 pts or less.
Arkansas' most recent loss was by 10, at home, to Mississippi State over the weekend. That came on the heels of two road losses to teams that were really struggling, South Carolina and Missouri. The Razorbacks did actually lead Miss St by six at halftime, but fell victim to a 23-1 run. That game is instructive b/c I have Auburn rated higher than Miss State (as would most). Right now, the Tigers would safely be in the NCAA Tournament, but a loss to a team like Arkansas could be potentially devastating. Look for them to show how "good they are" Wednesday night. 10* Auburn
|02-20-19||Florida +6.5 v. LSU||Top||82-77||Win||100||11 h 35 m||Show|
8* Florida (7:00 ET): LSU is 21-4 (SU) on the season and has climbed to #13 in the latest AP Poll (#15 in Coaches). The Tigers are a team I feel has been pretty lucky this year and that's pretty much confirmed by the fact they have gone 8-3 SU in games decided by six points or less this season. Three of their conference wins have required overtime and the last four have come by a total of 15 points (all by 4 pts or less). After beating Kentucky on a last second tip in last Tuesday, the Tigers were able to hold on against Georgia over the weekend, winning 83-79 as 7.5-point chalk. That win improved them to a perfect 7-0 SU on the SEC road.
Tonight, LSU returns to the Bayou to host Florida. The Gators have not enjoyed the same kind of luck as have the Tigers, especially at the betting window. They'd failed to cover seven in a row heading into the weekend, but then came a positive sign as they went to Tuscaloosa and upset Alabama 71-53 as 3.5-point dogs. That was one of the Gators' better efforts in recent memory as they held the Crimson Tide w/o a made basket for the first eight minutes en route to their largest MOV on the road this season. Something worth noting is that Florida has won its last two games (also beat Vandy, but did not cover) even w/ Noah Locke shooting 1 of 14 from the field.
These teams may be separated by five games in the SEC standings, but that is not an accurate measure of how they match up. Florida has a superior defensive efficiency rating (top 10 in the country). Granted, LSU is the better offensive team. But College Basketball may be the one sport left where "defense wins championships." LSU has a losing ATS record as a favorite this season. Last week, when they faced Kentucky, the Tigers probably benefited from UK having a "lookahead" to Tennessee (which UK won). Now, it's LSU w/ the lookahead to Tennessee this weekend and they're laying points. Bad spot. 8* Florida
|02-20-19||Xavier +5 v. Seton Hall||Top||70-69||Win||100||11 h 35 m||Show|
8* Xavier (7:00 ET): A late surge gave Seton Hall an 81-75 road win over Creighton this past Sunday. It was the Pirates' third win in a row overall and fourth in five games. They scored 51 points in the 2nd half, which was a season-high. As a result, the Pirates are now tied for third place in the Big East (w/ St. John's) at 7-6 SU. Recent showings are a far cry from last month when they dropped four in a row at one point. Tonight, they play host to a Xavier team they've already beaten, on the road, 80-70 as 3.5-point dogs. But the line looks a bit inflated for the rematch. Take the points.
Xavier had gone through a terrible stretch, losing six in a row - both SU and ATS. But they've since won B2B games, beating Creighton and Providence in the last seven days. The latter win came on the road and saw the Musketeers prevail by 14 on the road. They actually trailed by six going into halftime, but totally dominated the 2H, outscoring the Friars 49-29. Tyrique Jones led the way w/ 19 pts and 12 rebounds. He made 9 of 11 shots from the field. It's not too often Xavier shoots as well as they did on Saturday. They were 59.2% from the floor overall including 8 of 14 from three-point range (season-best 57.1%).
Xavier probably won't shoot that well again tonight, but they do get a slight advantage right off the bat by having an extra day to prepare for this rematch. They did not shoot the ball well at all in the first game vs. Seton Hall and I do expect them to improve on those numbers here tonight. Seton Hall is just 5-10 ATS as a favorite this season and their overall margin of victory is less than three points per game. The Pirates are also just 3-9 ATS at home. I can't call Xavier a great defensive team, but they have held B2B opponents to just 61 points. 8* Xavier
|02-19-19||Nebraska +3.5 v. Penn State||Top||71-95||Loss||-109||11 h 41 m||Show|
8* Nebraska (7:00 ET): The Cornhuskers certainly fell victim to a monumental slide in January, not only losing seven straight games, but failing to cover the spread in all seven losses as well. Some of that can be tied to the loss of the team's second leading scorer, Isaac Copeland Jr. But the slide had actually begun prior to Copeland's season-ending ACL injury and was quite mystifying. This is a team I had ranked in the top 15 of my own power rankings at one point. Thankfully, they have stopped the bleeding some w/ B2B wins over Minnesota and Northwestern in the last week. They even covered the spread against N'western, winning 59-50 as a 5.5-point choice in Lincoln.
We may have FINALLY reached the point where the Cornhuskers are truly being undervalued. Tonight, they face a Penn State team they've already beaten, 70-64, back on January 10th. They did not cover the spread in that game (were -10.5), but I certainly think it's instructive to look at how far the line has shifted for this rematch. Nebraska has gone from a DD favorite to a slight underdog here and I don't think that's warranted, even after factoring in the Copeland injury and change of venue. Penn State has won only twice in Big 10 play and both times came as an underdog. The two times they were favored both resulted in outright losses here in Happy Valley.
Exactly one week ago, the Nittany Lions did pull off a big upset here at home as they beat Michigan 75-69 as seven-point dogs. But that was followed up w/ a double digit loss at Purdue on Saturday. I do feel that Penn State has fallen victim to some "bad luck" this season, but that's all water under the bridge now. They are only 6-6 SU at home and have suffered five outright losses here (SU loss when favored). Tonight marks just the 5th time Nebraska has been an underdog all season. So as said earlier, we finally may have reached the point where they can truly be considered "undervalued." I expect them to win tonight. Take the points. 8* Nebraska
|02-19-19||Toledo -2.5 v. Eastern Michigan||Top||69-76||Loss||-109||11 h 41 m||Show|
10* Toledo (7:00 ET): This will be the second straight game we're fading Eastern Michigan. The decision worked out quite well on Saturday as they lost at Kent State, 71-58, which was my top NCAAB play for all of last week. The Eagles were facing a revenge-minded Golden Flashes team there, one that they'd beaten by 34 (here in Ypslianti) earlier in the season. Now EMU does get a slight edge tonight by returning home, but that alone will not be enough against a superior Toledo side, which had won five in a row before losing to conference leader Buffalo in its last game. Lay the short number here.
Despite losing (at home) to Buffalo on Friday, Toledo is still out in front in the MAC's Western Division w/ an 8-4 SU conference record. Two of those four losses are to Buffalo, who is quite clearly the class of this league. The Rockets were certainly a lot more competitive the second time around, losing by only six after getting blown out by 30 up in Buffalo. One of their other two conference losses came by two against Kent State, an overtime game where they blew a 17-point lead. So a strong case could be made for the Rockets being called the MAC's 2nd best team. They are 20-5 SU overall and actually led Buffalo 17-4 out of the gate Friday night. This is a strong three-point shooting team (36.6% of total pts come from behind the arc), which likely spells trouble for an offensively-challenged EMU squad.
Eastern Michigan scored only 58 pts in the loss to Kent State on Saturday. That's not too out of the ordinary as they have averaged only 57.3 points the L4 games. It would be one thing if their struggles scoring were confined to the road. But in a recent home game vs. Northern Illinois, they were held to just 48 points. I'm not even going to get into an early season loss at Rutgers where they set a NCAA record for futility, scoring just FOUR points in the 1st half. For the year, the Eagles are shooting below 30% from three-point range, which is beyond reproach. The slow pace at which they play is hurt by the fact they are turning the ball over at a 21% rate in conference play. Toledo has won 15 of the 17 games it has been favored in this season. 10* Toledo
|02-18-19||Kansas State v. West Virginia +7.5||Top||65-51||Loss||-108||21 h 52 m||Show|
10* West Virginia (9:00 ET): Back on January 9th, a result took place that set both Kansas State and West Virginia on their respective paths in the Big 12. K-State rallied back from a 21-point deficit to defeat WVU, 71-69, as four-point favorites in Manhattan. The Wildcats, despite losing Saturday to Iowa State, still lead the conference w/ a 9-3 SU record. West Virginia, plagued by injuries all season, is having a down year and is just 2-10 SU in conference play. But the line for Monday's rematch looks like a classic "overlay" to me and I'm taking the points here.
I mentioned that WVU has been hit hard by injuries this season. Well, Kansas State just had a brutal week in that department itself. Already w/o sixth man Cartier Diarra, the Wildcats lost preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Dean Wade to a foot injury in the loss Saturday to Iowa State. Wade's absence was immediately felt as the from the time he went out of the game, KSU was outscored 23-14. They lost the game by a final score of 78-64. This isn't the first time this year that Wade has been injured. He missed several weeks earlier in the year and that played a big role in the team starting slow. The Wildcats lost two of the six games Wade missed previously. Also, three of their four wins without him were by four points or less. One was the aforementioned West Virginia game.
I think it's interesting that the Mountaineers were only four-point underdogs in Manhattan, but now are catching an even bigger number in Morgantown. Yes, it's been a down year here and yes the team is short-handed. But now so too is Kansas State, who is w/o two of their top six rotation players. Given that, I wouldn't want any part of laying this many points on the road, especially since this is just the 2nd time K-State will be a road favorite in Big 12 play. The Wildcats are just 1-5 SU/ATS all-time in Morgantown w/ that one win coming back in 2013. WVU is going to be highly motivated here, not just because of revenge, but also after being embarrassed at Kansas over the weekend. They are 6-1 ATS the L3 seasons when off 3+ ATS losses, including 3-0 ATS this season. 10* West Virginia
|02-17-19||Seton Hall v. Creighton -4||Top||81-75||Loss||-110||8 h 24 m||Show|
10* Creighton (3:00 ET): Revenge was a key theme to our success yday in College Hoops as two of our three winners had revenge for an earlier season loss. Creighton is in that same spot Sunday as they host Seton Hall. This is a pretty quick rematch as the teams just played last Saturday w/ the Pirates prevailing at home, 63-58, a game where neither side shot the ball well. Back in Omaha, Creighton should bounce back as it's getting to be desperation time for the Blue Jays, who have lost three in a row (all on the road). Once again, I'll lay the points w/ a revenge-minded short home favorite.
Creighton was competitive in each of its three losses over the L2 weeks. They lost at Villanova by seven, Seton Hall by five and Xavier by three (in OT). Note that they didn't score more than 61 pts in any of those three games, which is atypical for a side that averages almost 80 PPG for the year. The last two games in particular saw poor shooting, the one vs. Seton Hall in particular where they finished just 30.3% from the field. It was their worst shooting night of the season. Anyway, expect a lot more offensively from the Blue Jays here as they return home where they average over 80 PPG (83.7 to be exact) on 51.6% shooting. Recent results are simply not indicative of what this team is capable of here.
Seton Hall had lost five of six before beating Creighton eight days ago. After winning that first meeting, the Pirates were able to beat Georgetown earlier in the week, 90-75. That was also at home. The road has been unkind to Seton Hall in conference play as they've dropped five in a row away from home. Their last road win came at Xavier on 1/2. Now three of those five losses have been by four points or less. But I wouldn't trust them here as the Pirates are only 2-5 ATS this season after scoring 80+ points. Keep in mind that the majority of Creighton's Big East losses have been close games as well. Revenge and home court advantage are again key Sunday afternoon. 10* Creighton
|02-16-19||Tennessee v. Kentucky -3||Top||69-86||Win||100||22 h 35 m||Show|
8* Kentucky (8:00 ET): Tennessee's #1 ranking gets its stiffest test to date here as they must go to Lexington and face a UK team that is going to be quite angry after losing to LSU earlier this week. Coach Cal's Wildcats had won 10 in a row before losing Tuesday here at Rupp Arena. Perhaps they got caught looking ahead to this showdown as they blew an eight-point halftime lead and lost on a controversial put-back at the buzzer. I don't see them dropping B2B home games. With all due respect, I don't know many (other than the pollsters) that think the Vols are really the top team in America. Lay the short number.
Kentucky had mostly been dominating before losing Tuesday to LSU. Maybe it was what they needed to refocus them for this Saturday night showdown. That was their first loss all year at home where they are now 14-1 SU and +17.4 PPG. Overall, they had won 17 straight at home. Defensively, I give UK a pretty significant edge in this matchup. They are top 8 in the country in defensive efficiency (per KenPom) while Tennessee is just 40th. The Vols are giving up an average of 76.9 PPG away from Knoxville this season. That simply won't cut it here as Kentucky is giving up just 62.2 PPG at home.
Tennessee is 23-1 SU, but like I already said, I'm not sure many outside the Volunteer State truly believe this to be the top team in America. They've held that spot for over a month, but that's mostly a byproduct of who they've played. Yes, they did beat Gonzaga in the non-conference portion of the schedule and won 19 in a row (school record) overall. But the schedule, particularly the SEC portion, hasn't been that challenging. Remember they needed OT to win at Vandy. The Vols definitely would NOT be a favorite on a neutral floor vs. the likes of Duke, Gonzaga or Virginia and they do not deserve to be favored here either. The time has come for them to lose. There's really no shame in it. 8* Kentucky
|02-16-19||Eastern Michigan v. Kent State -3.5||Top||58-71||Win||100||20 h 25 m||Show|
10* Kent State (7:00 ET): Massive revenge game for the Golden Flashes here. They owe Eastern Michigan a little payback due to an ugly 34-point loss up in Ypsilanti last month. Though they have won two straight coming into Saturday, Eastern Michigan rarely turns in a performance as strong as they one we saw vs. Kent last month. The Eagles shot a ridiculous 65.4% overall and were 12 of 19 from three-point range. Meanwhile, Kent State was an abysmal 35.5% from the field, including 9 of 28 from three-point range. Again, it's not like Eastern Michigan is some kind of offensive juggernaut. Earlier this year, they turned in a new record futility w/ just FOUR 1st half pts against Rutgers. I'll take the revenge-minded home chalk.
Since losing to EMU, Kent State has been a pretty good basketball team. Their record is 6-2 SU the L8 games w/ one of those losses coming to MAC-leader Buffalo. The other was to rival Akron in a rough spot last Friday. I actually faded the Golden Flashes there, noting two of their previous three wins had come in OT. The team is a perfect 8-0 SU in games decided by 4 pts or less this season, so they've been equally "lucky" as they have been good. At home though, they've been more the latter as they average 79.4 PPG here w/ an 11-3 SU record. They have won 10 of the 12 games where they've been favored this season, so the Flashes are definitely "taking care of business." Thursday, they beat Western Michigan by 19 on the road.
After its blowout win over Kent, Eastern Michigan immediately lost five of its next six w/ the lone win being another "outlier" performance (against Western Michigan). Over the last week though, the Eagles have turned in two strong defensive efforts in holding Northern Illinois to 49 and Ohio U 57 points. Such an effort here would surprise me in what is a second road game in three nights. Eastern Michigan is just 4-8 ATS (2-10 SU) as an underdog this season, so a second straight outright upset would definitely be "out of the ordinary." 10* Kent State
|02-16-19||Detroit v. Green Bay -4.5||Top||73-82||Win||100||14 h 25 m||Show|
10* Green Bay (1:00 ET): This is a massive revenge spot for the Phoenix, for they lost in Detroit last month. They didn't just lose mind you; they got blown out, 101-83, in a game the oddsmakers had listed as a pick 'em. At the time, Green Bay was the last remaining unbeaten in the Horizon League. But Detroit was red-hot from the field, shooting 53.6% overall and making 14 three-pointers. I know the oddsmakers have to make some adjustment for this rematch, but Green Bay is at home and should be favored by more than this. I'm laying the points.
To say the shooting we saw from Detroit the first time around was "irregular" would be quite the understatement. The Titans are not a team that typically shoots the ball well. In fact, their FG% for the year is below 40.0 on the road. Defensively, they have their issues as well, giving up 77.8 PPG overall and 81.3 PPG on the road. I should also mention that this will be the 4th consecutive road game for Detroit. They did win last time out (Thursday at Milwaukee), but still gave up 83+ pts for a third straight game. It should be noted that Milwaukee isn't exactly a good team either and Detroit was still listed as a slight underdog. The market hardly has much respect for the Titans and rightly so.
Green Bay is a much better team at home than on the road, which is all too common at this level. The Phoenix are 9-2 SU here on campus, thanks to averaging 89.6 PPG! Defensively, they're also a lot better at home as they allow only 74.9 PPG. That kind of point differential here at home, plus revenge, make the Phoenix a pretty easy call for me Saturday. Green Bay won here Thursday, 66-54 over Oakland, in arguably their finest defensive effort of the season. They likely won't be that stingy again, but I also expect them to shoot a lot better than they did Thursday (34.4%). Their 2nd leading scorer (JayQuan McCloud) didn't even make a shot! He's a 14 PPG scorer. The Phoenix are 6-1 ATS the L7 times laying 3.5 to 6 pts at home. 10* Green Bay
|02-15-19||Monmouth v. Rider -8||Top||72-81||Win||100||19 h 7 m||Show|
8* Rider (7:00 ET): Rider's shocking downfall hit a new low earlier this week when they lost 98-88 to Quinnipiac ... in overtime. That was the Broncs' fifth straight loss, a stunning turn of events for a team that started MAAC play a perfect 5-0. But even moreso than Rider fans, it's those who have bet on the team left scratching their heads. This team has failed to cover nine in a row, all as favorites, including six outright losses. You just don't see that very often. Friday finds the Broncs looking to avenge one of those losses as they host Monmouth. Enough is enough. They get the job done here.
Rider had already suffered four straight losses by seven points or less before losing to Quinnipiac in OT Tuesday. It was a close game most of the way, but w/ 49 seconds left in regulation, the Broncs led by nine. They led by seven w/ just 24 seconds remaining. Then came a real "comedy of errors" that saw them allow consecutive three point baskets. They were at least able to split a pair of free throws - twice - so they still led by three in the closing seconds. But then they fouled the shooter on a three-point attempt (w/ :01 left!). Three FT's later, we were going to overtime and by that point Rider was dispirited and done for. Bottom line is that they're NOT as bad as recent results suggest nor anywhere close, for that matter. Here at home, they still have an 8-2 SU record.
Monmouth has pulled out four consecutive wins as a pick 'em or underdog, one of them coming against Rider. That upset came on 2/2 and the Hawks were 4.5-pt dogs in a 75-71 outright win. Monmouth closed the game on a 12-2 run. At the time, Rider was still leading the MAAC, but that loss started their downfall and they haven't won since. Monmouth is now in 1st place (despite a 10-16 SU overall record). Five of the Hawks' nine league wins have come by four points or less. Last week, they beat the two bottom teams in the MAAC (Fairfield, St. Peter's) on the road, holding the latter to just 27.1% shooting. I think it's telling that Rider is still such a decisive favorite here. Lay the points. 8* Rider
|02-14-19||St. Mary's -10.5 v. Santa Clara||Top||66-55||Win||100||14 h 46 m||Show|
8* St. Mary's (11:00 ET): To me, this matchup shapes up similarly to the one I played last night w/ New Mexico whipping San Diego State. The favorite (in this case, St. Mary's) was just embarrassed by its conference heavyweight (in this case, Gonzaga) its last time out. The Gaels got beat 94-46 by the 'Zags. If you recall, last night we were unafraid to lay the points w/ New Mexico, who had just gotten blown out by Nevada. Same thing here w/ SMU, who already beat Santa Clara by 20 once this season and should have little difficulty doing the same again tonight. Lay the points.
Santa Clara may not be as bad as the team we faded last night (San Jose State), but the Broncos are still severely outclassed in this particular matchup. They have not fared well against St. Mary's the last three seasons, losing all five matchups while also failing to cover four times (pushed once). Over the L5 games, this team has shot just 40.4% from the field. That simply won't cut it against an opponent that ranks 12th in the country in offensive efficiency.
Santa Clara got little going offensively in the first matchup where it scored only 55 pts on 40.9% shooting. They were 2 of 12 from three-point range. Playing at home this time around can change their fortune only so much against an opponent that is simply much better at this point. St. Mary's shot just 25% from the field against Gonzaga after two straight games where they were 52.2% or better. I expect massive improvement on the offensive end from them tonight. The Gaels are 5-1 ATS off their previous six SU losses and they should roll here against an opponent that hasn't been able to do much in conference play except beat the bottom tier teams. 8* St. Mary's
|02-14-19||Pepperdine v. San Francisco -10.5||Top||77-89||Win||100||13 h 46 m||Show|
10* San Francisco (10:00 ET): Right off the bat, I spot some value on the favorite here as they were favored by eight on the road in the first meeting of the year. Granted, San Francisco did not cover that first matchup with Pepperdine (still won 72-69). But now they're at home where the only team to beat them here all season was Gonzaga. The Dons' home record currently stands at 13-1 SU w/ an avg MOV of 16.5 PPG. They're catching Pepperdine off an upset last weekend, so that's another reason the line opened so low. I look for the Dons to win in a blowout Thursday night.
San Francisco once looked like a potential at-large team for the NCAA Tournament (assuming Gonzaga wins the WCC Tournament). That's out the window now as the Dons dropped three in a row, all on the road. They stopped the bleeding on Saturday by beating Santa Clara 78-72, but did not cover the 13.5-pt spot. So that makes it a 4-game ATS losing skid entering tonight. Again, while you don't like to see streaks of that nature, they do have their way of creating value. The Dons are still a top 50 team in the country from where I sit and should have little difficulty covering this spread at home.
For years, Pepperdine has been terrible on the road. We're talking a 3-34 SU record the L3 seasons w/ two of those wins coming this year. As mentioned above, the Waves did pull an upset in their last game, winning outright as three-point home dogs over San Diego. That was their second win of the season over the Toreros. They're just 3-6 SU vs. the rest of the WCC w/ one of those wins coming against an atrocious Portland team. The Waves did not shoot well the first go around vs. USF, making only 4 of 19 three-pointers. Somehow they were able to stay in the game, but I don't envision them shooting much better here and San Fran should play a lot better at home. 10* San Francisco
|02-14-19||Thunder v. Pelicans +5.5||Top||122-131||Win||100||11 h 46 m||Show|
10* New Orleans (8:05 ET): Few are going to want to "touch" the Pelicans here after their putrid performance Tuesday night here at home vs. Orlando. "We sucked," Anthony Davis said. "Nobody was interested in playing, is what it looked like." We know Davis has made his future intentions clear, but he's right that it appeared none of his teammates appeared interested in playing for the Pelicans either. They lost 118-88 as the score was 36-9 out of the game and it was basically over from there. As bad as that performance was, it's just one game. I believe it creates an excellent "buy low" opportunity for the next game.
That next game is tonight against surging Oklahoma City. The Thunder have won 11 of 12, including four straight. They're 10-2 ATS in that span. But going into the All-Star Break, one has to wonder how they'll perform as a road favorite in a game where everyone expects them to win. Even with virtuoso performances from both Paul George and Russell Westbrook in the last game, OKC still only won 120-11 at home over Portland. They are just 1-7 ATS coming off a division game this season. Three weeks ago, they played New Orleans w/o Davis and won by only six points at home. As good as the Thunder have looked lately, this "feels" like a trap game.
New Orleans is 8-4 ATS this season following a SU loss as a favorite. As difficult as it may be to navigate this Davis situation moving forward, these are professionals and pride should kick in for tonight. Davis had arguably the worst game of his career Tuesday night w/ just three points on 1 of 9 shooting in 24 minutes. It was also the team's worst loss, in terms of margin, all season and a season-low in points scored. Even though they're 0-3 ATS since Davis returned, I'm going to call for a "circle the wagons" type performance as they won't want to get embarrassed at home on national television (TNT). 10* New Orleans
|02-13-19||San Jose State v. New Mexico -16.5||Top||60-92||Win||100||13 h 13 m||Show|
10* New Mexico (9:00 ET): Think the Lobos might be a little "surly" Wednesday night at "The Pit?" They just got embarrassed over the weekend, losing to Nevada 92-61. Sometimes the worst thing for an underdog is overconfidence. New Mexico had drilled Nevada (a top 10 team) earlier in the season (85-58 as 14.5-pt dogs) here in Albuquerque. Fortunately for the Lobos, they have the perfect opponent for a bounce back game. San Jose State is about as bad as it gets, not just in the Mountain West, but in the entire country. The Spartans come in w/ a 3-19 overall record and are 0-11 on the road. I know it's a big number (and New Mexico is 0 for 4 ATS its last four tries as home chalk of 12.5 or more points), but lay it.
San Jose State just got beat by 48 points over the weekend, so that's something that can make New Mexico feel good by proxy. It was the second straight road game for the Spartans where they allowed 100+ points and it's not as if Boise State (team that beat them) is some kind of world-beater. On the flip side, SJSU has scored more than 57 pts in only one of its previous five road games and that was still a 30-point loss. This team enters Wednesday having lost 13 in a row overall w/ 10 of the last 11 defeats coming by double digits. Seven have been by at least 20 points.
New Mexico may have been overconfident heading into the rematch w/ Nevada, but they aren't likely to overlook this game. The Lobos have lost seven of nine since beating Nevada on Jan 5th and desperately need a win here. Their last home game was an 83-70 upset of San Diego State as 2.5-pt dogs. They already score plenty here (76.8 PPG) and should take full advantage of an opponent that surrenders 84.4 PPG on the road. 10* New Mexico
|02-13-19||Heat v. Mavs -2.5||Top||112-101||Loss||-109||13 h 50 m||Show|
8* Dallas (8:35 ET): So, I'll be playing side AND total in this one. Let's start by analyzing the pointspread. Miami has lost three in a row. They'll be playing for a fifth consecutive time in the road w/ this being their third game in four nights. The trip started well enough w/ an upset in Portland, 118-108 as 7.5-pt dogs. I'm proud to report that I had the Heat in that one. But subsequent games haven't gone nearly as well. After blowing double digit leads in both Sacramento and Golden State, the Heat were blown out Monday night in Denver, losing 103-87 (were +9.5).
Like Miami, Dallas is trying to remain relevant the playoff hunt. The Mavs probably have a tougher "hill to climb" than the Heat due to playing in the Western Conference, but they've also been the better team. While their SU record might only be 26-30 (one-half game better than Miami), the Mavs have actually outscored their opposition over the course of this season. They may be coming off a double digit loss in Houston, but before that Dallas had covered 9 of 10 w/ its lone failure coming against Milwaukee. At home, the team is both 20-8 SU and ATS this season.
The home court advantage is key here and the respective point differentials are instructive. Dallas, to me, is clearly the better team. Yet they're not being priced accordingly. They're 11-2 ATS following a DD loss as well this season and 40-17 ATS in that role the L3 seasons. They've also handled their business against Eastern Conference teams this year, going 16-6 ATS. Miami's current three-game losing streak matches a season-high and while they're 4-0 SU/ATS off three consecutive SU losses so far, they won't be so lucky this time. Lay the short number. 8* Dallas
|02-12-19||Air Force v. UNLV -8.5||Top||72-77||Loss||-107||14 h 59 m||Show|
10* UNLV (10:30 ET): Neither Air Force nor UNLV is playing particularly well heading into this matchup. The Flyboys have failed to cover four in a row. But admittedly that has a lot to do w/ the fact they've been favored three times in that stretch, which is a rarity. They did beat Wyoming last Wednesday, 81-76 (as 9.5-pt chalk) for their fifth conference win (against six losses). UNLV is a game better in MWC play (6-5), but has lost four of five, including an embarrassing setback Saturday where they fell by 18 here in Las Vegas to Fresno State. As I'll get into a minute, the Rebels have some serious revenge to exact Tuesday night. I'll lay the points.
Last month in Colorado Springs, UNLV got absolutely hammered by Air Force. It was a 106-88 final, which at the time was the first MWC loss for the Rebels. They were four-point road favorites in that game, but couldn't stop the Falcons from topping 100 pts for the first time since February of last season. The AFA shot nearly 60% for the game, which was shocking as they came in ranked 320th in the country in points per game at the time. They still only average 67.4 PPG for the year and that number drops down to 61.5 away from home where they are just 2-9 SU. So don't expect anything close to the same offensive numbers from the Falcons this time around.
UNLV is actually 0-6 ATS the L6 meetings w/ Air Force. But based on what happened last time and on Saturday, the Rebels aren't going to be taking their opponents lightly. Note that they have been a dog in every game during this 1-4 SU stretch. The Rebels are still the significantly better team in this matchup and we're getting a little bit of value here based on the surprising result in the first meeting. Right now, we're getting them at an ultimate "buy low" price as this should be a double digit spread from where I sit. Defense has been an issue for the Rebels lately, but shouldn't be here. 10* UNLV
|02-12-19||Lakers v. Hawks +5.5||Top||113-117||Win||100||11 h 5 m||Show|
8* Atlanta (7:35 ET): LeBron James is back, but the Lakers are still struggling. A 3-7 SU stretch does predate the King's official return, but twice in the last three games (both w/ James), they've lost by 23 or more points. If not for a Rajon Rondo buzzer beater in Boston, they'd be on a four-game losing streak entering tonight. The expectation here is that the Lakers will bounce back in Atlanta, but laying points with this team - especially on the road - remains a dicey proposition at best. They are 14-19 ATS overall in the chalk role this season, including 5-8 ATS as the road team.
This is the end of a six-game road trip for LA. They're 2-3 SU so far, but those two wins have come by a grand total of four points. All three losses were by double digits. Exactly one week ago, LeBron was dealt the worst regular season loss of his career (42 point margin) by Indiana. Sunday wasn't much better as they went down in Philly by a score of 143-120. As you can telll, defense has been an issue. Eight times in the last 10 games, the Lakers have given up at least 120 points. Also, while James is back, he is without several members of his supporting cast. Both Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart are out tonight.
Atlanta comes into this game having lost three straight, all here at home. They played poorly Sunday vs. Orlando. I'm anticipating better effort tonight w/ a more marquee opponent in town. Note the Hawks only lost by one to the Lakers in the season's first meeting and that was played w/o leading scorer John Collins, who averages 19.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. In fact, if not for a last second shot by LeBron, Atlanta would have won that 1st meeting. The Lakers remain highly overrated by the marketplace as they're a below average team. So I'll take the points. 8* Atlanta
|02-11-19||Nets +10.5 v. Raptors||Top||125-127||Win||100||19 h 7 m||Show|
10* Brooklyn (7:35 ET): The Raptors return home Monday following a highly successful road trip where they won all three games. They've won four in a row overall and are now just one game behind idle Milwaukee for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. But despite sweeping said road trip, the two games which you would have expected to be easy were anything but. They actually trailed Atlanta by as many as 17 before pouring it on late there. Then, in Marc Gasol's debut Saturday, they were only able to beat the sorry Knicks by five points. I think the Raptors are laying too many points here as Brooklyn has Caris LeVert back in the lineup and will be a tough out.
Plus, the Nets are going to be extra motivated here after suffering an outright loss to Chicago at home Friday night. That was just the second time all season that Brooklyn lost a game it was favored to win. Given it was also LeVert's return after missing three months, the team's effort defensively was especially disappointing. There's just no way they should be losing to a team like the Bulls at home (by 19 no less!) or letting them shoot as well as they did. On the bright side, LeVert did score 11 pts in 15 minutes and looked good. Despite the setback, the Nets are still 21-10 SU their L31 games. They are 6-1 ATS this season when playing with exactly two days rest.
Brooklyn did lose by 17 here in Toronto last month w/o LeVert. They didn't shoot well, but the key was that the Raptors had 17 more field goal attempts in the game, which is highly irregular given that rebounding was basically even. Expect this to be a much closer game. Not just because the Nets have LeVert back, but also b/c they have gone 6-1 ATS the L7 times off a SU loss. Just don't think Toronto should be laying double digits to what is a slightly above average team. Take the points. 10* Brooklyn
|02-10-19||Heat +14.5 v. Warriors||Top||118-120||Win||100||12 h 32 m||Show|
10* Miami (8:35 ET): The Heat absolutely gagged one away Friday night at Sacramento. Up 11 in the 4Q, they ended up losing 102-96 and not even covering as underdogs. That can't happen. Not when you're trying to be a playoff team. Now they really look to be "up against it" Sunday as they have to play at Golden State. But remember this Miami team was an outright winner in Portland Tuesday night when I took them plus the points. I sense we'll be getting a desperate and motivated team tonight, thus taking the big number is the way to go in this one.
For a fourth consecutive game, Golden State will be a double digit favorite. It's a role they've become pretty accustomed to over the past several seasons. Not surprisingly, they've won each of those last three games, all pretty comfortably. They've won 14 of 15 overall and are now back to their usual perch atop the Western Conference. But keep in mind they started poorly Friday in Phoenix, falling behind by as many as 17 in the first quarter. That deficit ultimately cost them the cover. Unless properly motivated, it's hard to cover large spreads like this on a regular basis.
Given what happened to them Friday in Sacramento, Miami should be the more motivated side tonight. I don't think they'll win, mind you, but a close game is definitely reasonable. It's not often you're going to find the Heat getting this many points (most they've gotten in any game this season) and they're already 15-9 ATS as a dog this season. They also do have a winning record on the road (14-12 SU). Golden State may be looking more forward to their next two games (Utah, Portland) than this one. Take the points. 10* Miami
|02-10-19||Siena v. Rider -6.5||Top||59-57||Loss||-103||5 h 16 m||Show|
10* Rider (2:00 ET): Since not many people are intently following the MAAC, I wouldn't expect an answer to the question of "what has gone wrong" with Rider? But something definitely has gone awry here as the Broncs started conference play w/ five straight wins, only to lose four of their last six games, including three straight. Every loss has come as a favorite, the role they again find themselves in Sunday afternoon. But the good news here is they're facing an underdog that won't put up much resistance at all. Rider is undervalued here. Lay the points.
Siena has actually fought its way to the same conference record as Rider (both 7-4 SU) as the Saints have won six of their last seven games. However, I think it's critical to note how little scoring this team typically does. They average only 62.6 PPG and haven't even topped that number in six straight games. Obviously then, Siena has been playing some great defense as conference foes are averaging just 57.1 PPG against them. But I don't see the Saints being as fortunate here. Rider averages 76.2 PPG on the year. Despite how few points Siena has been giving up recently, they're still only 287th in efficiency (per KenPom) for the season.
Two of Siena's last three wins were by two points. Meanwhile, Rider has been on the wrong end of some close decisions recently, including a one-point loss to Canisius on Friday. That loss snapped the Broncs' 17-game home win streak. I certainly don't see them losing two straight. Nor can I see Siena winning two road games in just a three-day span. The loss Rider took on Friday saw Canisius make a last second three-pointer. It was their seventh straight ATS loss as well. That streak comes to an end here as the favorite is still the much better team here. 10* Rider
|02-10-19||La Salle v. George Mason -6.5||Top||76-84||Win||100||5 h 57 m||Show|
8* George Mason (2:00 ET): It's been more than a decade since the Patriots made their epic run to the Final Four, which in turn put the program on the map. They're now in the Atlantic 10, a move which hasn't necessarily treated them all that well, aside from the obvious financial upgrade of bolting from the Colonial. Sunday finds them simply looking for a win. January was a very good month for GMU as they went 7-1 SU overall. But February has started w/ B2B road losses to VCU (old CAA rival) and Richmond. They're back home this afternoon though and that should be the difference in this one as they're facing a bad LaSalle team.
While I think it's still fair to call LaSalle "bad," it should be pointed out that the Explorers have won four straight, three of those wins coming as underdogs. The most recent was as a 1.5-point favorite over St. Joe's on Wednesday. That win also doubled as their largest margin of victory in conference play (14 points). It was also their second largest MOV for the entire season, a 23-point win over a bad Alabama A&M team being the largest. I think it has to be pointed out that prior to this four-game win streak, LaSalle's record was 3-14 SU overall. They're barely even shooting 40% from the field for the season and are not a good defensive team either.
George Mason has gotten to play only four of its 10 conference games at home. They have won three of those four home games. They're 7-3 SU overall vs. the rest of the A-10 and remember they are off B2B losses. So it was a really strong start for the Patriots and I expect them to get back on track here. Defense failed them in the last two games as they allowed an average of 80 PPG to VCU and Richmond. The latter shot 56.6% against them, including 10 of 21 from three-point range, which was the difference as GMU was only 4 of 15 from behind the arc. The Patriots were three-point road favorites in that game, so by comparison this line is low as I actually have LaSalle rated lower than Richmond. Lay the points. 8* George Mason
|02-09-19||Clippers +12 v. Celtics||Top||123-112||Win||100||22 h 56 m||Show|
8* LA Clippers (8:05 ET): Boston is better than its record and will probably end up playing in the Eastern Conference Finals. But that doesn't mean they aren't overvalued for tonight's home game vs. the Clippers. It was a very tough loss the Celtics took Thursday night against the Lakers as they fell 129-128 on a Rajon Rondo buzzer beater. That was a game where they outscored LA in three of the four quarters, yet still lost. Even as winners of 10 of their previous 12, I don't see the Celtics winning this game by any kind of significant margin as the Clippers come in as a desperate underdog. Take the points.
The Clippers come into tonight holding the coveted 8th spot in the Western Conference, but you know the Lakers are close behind and now surprising Sacramento is just one-half game back. Even though trading Tobias Harris seemed to signal the future is more important than the present here, do not look for this group to roll over. A bunch of new faces are expected to debut tonight, not just the ones that came over from the Harris trade, but also those who came over in exchange from Avery Bradley going to Memphis. Remember that the Clippers are one of the league's deepest teams and lead the league in bench scoring. Their top scorer (Lou Williams) is a reserve.
Boston is only 2-4-1 ATS its last seven games and one of the covers came by a single point in a close win over OKC. I was actually stunned to see the Clippers are only 11-17 ATS this season as underdogs, given that they have been better than expected. I think that this line is the oddsmakers anticipating the public will give up on LA due to the moves at the trade deadline, but I expect them to remain competitive. This will only be the 2nd time all year that LA is going to be a double digit dog. The first was back on 12/23 at Golden State and they lost that game by only two points. They were +9.5 last month in San Antonio and won the game outright. 8* LA Clippers
|02-09-19||Texas v. West Virginia +5||Top||75-53||Loss||-110||22 h 50 m||Show|
10* West Virginia (8:00 ET): It's a down year in Morgantown, WV as the Mountaineers are 10-13 SU overall and 2-8 in Big 12 play. But those two conference wins have both been notable. Both were also here at home. One was against Kansas. The other was last Saturday vs. Oklahoma. Tonight, they host a Texas team that has covered three straight, including an 84-72 win over Baylor Wednesday. But the Longhorns have been very inconsistent this year as they haven't won B2B games in over a month and have lost six of nine overall. I'll be taking the points Saturday night.
It was a real ugly loss for WVU their last time out as they fell by 31 at Texas Tech. But that Red Raiders team is one of the nation's best defensively. One reason you can expect a bounce back performance from Bob Huggins squad in this spot is that they are a perfect 4-0 ATS this season after being held to 60 pts or less the previous game. Also, now they are back home (loss to Texas Tech was in Lubbock). The Mountaineers are still a respectable 8-4 SU in Morgantown this season. They've also had a couple extra days to prepare as the Texas Tech game was Monday night.
Ironically, the last time Texas won B2B games was when they beat West Virginia, 61-54 in Austin. That was back on January 5th and the Longhorns were eight-point home favorites. Comparing numbers, it sure looks as if we're getting some nice value on the home dog for this rematch. Texas has lost five straight on the road. While four of those losses have come by five points or less, I still don't believe they deserve to be favored by more than a bucket here as they're 0-2 straight up as a road favorite. The last two trips here to Morgantown have resulted in double digit defeats and last year was an ugly 35-point loss. Texas is just 8-21 ATS the L29 times it has been a road favorite of 3.5 to 6 points. 10* West Virginia
|02-09-19||Villanova +1.5 v. Marquette||Top||65-66||Win||100||16 h 25 m||Show|
8* Villanova (2:30 ET): It finally happened to Marquette Wednesday night, "it" being they lost a close game. Previously 6-0 SU in games decided by 5 pts or less this season, the Golden Eagles were dealt a "taste of their own medicine" by St. John's in a 70-69 loss. The loss was disappointing not only in that it snapped an eight-game win streak, but Marquette's only other Big East loss came at the hands of the Johnnies. Now comes Villanova, who almost never loses a Big East game. The Wildcats come in on an 11-game win streak and are a perfect 10-0 SU in Big East play. I look for them to keep that perfect record intact Saturday afternoon. Take the points.
I've been fairly outspoken this year regarding Marquette and its national ranking. I only wish I'd faded them Wednesday as this was a team due to fall from a top 10 national ranking. I'm not sure anyone outside of Wisconsin believes this to be a top 10 team in America. They've had the extremely good fortune in close games and numerous come from behind victories to boot. I just don't see them as the favorite here.
Villanova started the season slow, due to losing its top four scorers from LY's National Championship Game. Losses to Furman and Penn were downright embarrassing and they were blown out in a Nat'l Title Game rematch by Michigan. But all that's in the past now. Granted, the Wildcats needed OT to get by Creighton earlier this week, but credit them for winning a game where they shot only 37.5% from the floor (at home!). If you're wondering about how 'Nova performs as an underdog, well, they're a perfect 4-0 ATS this season - winning three of thre games outright. They've won 15 straight Big East games overall and haven't lost one in regulation since Valentine's Day of last season. 8* Villanova
|02-09-19||Minnesota v. Michigan State -12.5||Top||55-79||Win||100||16 h 51 m||Show|
10* Michigan State (2:00 ET): For the first time in two seasons, Michigan State has lost three in a row. Those losses have come in a variety of uncharacteristic ways, but HC Tom Izzo sounded confident when called Thursday's practice "probably the best I've seen in a while." The bottom line is the Spartans still belong on the short list of Final Four contenders as they are one of only three teams in country (Duke & Virginia are the others) to rank top 10 in both offensive & defensive efficiency. I expect a strong showing from the home team Saturday in East Lansing. Lay the points.
At one point, the Big 10 was thought to have as many as 10 potential NCAA Tournament teams. But conference play has really started to sort out the "pretenders" from the "contenders." One team that I feel belongs in the "pretender" group is Minnesota. Sure, the Gophers are a respectable 6-6 SU vs. Big 10 opposition, but I still wouldn't consider them among the top 50 teams in America. They too are on a losing streak, having dropped two in a row. The officiating didn't seem to do the Golden Gophers any favors (only 13 FT attempts), but the bottom line is they still lost a home game in which they held the opponent to 34.5% from the field (season low for Wisconsin). This was due to Minnesota's own inept shooting (incl 1 of 13 from three-point range) on the heels of blowing a 13-point lead and losing by 10 at Purdue.
Michigan State lost to Purdue on 1/27 in what was their third game in seven nights. That was a 10* ULTIMATE POWER release on Purdue. I also played against them vs. Indiana, an overtime loss (were 8 of 22 from FT line) as 16.5-pt chalk). Then on Tuesday, they were outrebounded badly in a four-point loss to Purdue. Luckily, all of these issues can be corrected and Izzo seems to think they have been. Sparty was due for a "market correction" there, but they are still 16-5 ATS as a favorite this season and 14-3 ATS the L17 times hosting Minnesota. 10* Michigan State
|02-08-19||Wolves +6.5 v. Pelicans||Top||117-122||Win||100||11 h 8 m||Show|
8* Minnesota (8:05 ET): The Big Easy is no stranger to an "awkward" situation or two, but this one involving Anthony Davis and the Pelicans will be unusual, even by this city's standard. Davis has made it clear that New Orleans is not part of his long-term future. But he was not moved at the trade deadline and thus you now have a situation where a team is basically playing out the string w/ a star player that clearly doesn't want to be there. Without Davis, the Pelicans did win Wednesday night, but that was against Chicago. Davis is set to return tonight, which has in turn inflated the line, and I'll be taking the points w/ Minnesota in a battle of "fringe" playoff contenders.
Before beating Chicago, the Pelicans had played four straight games w/o five of their top six scorers. They'd also lost six of seven overall. Now they have not only Davis back, but also Julius Randle, who led the way vs. Chicago w/ 31 points. But I'm not convinced Davis' return is going to be the boon the team is hoping for. Under contract until the end of NEXT season, it's going to be odd watching a player perform for a team he clearly doesn't want to be a part of. Might there be an issue of motivation? Regardless, an issue New Orleans has had all season is defense as they are bottom five in the league in PPG allowed.
The T'wolves, like the Pelicans, have been dealing w/ many injuries of late. They're also playing in the second night of back to back here. Last night saw them lose for a third consecutive time and fifth time in six games. They fell 122-112 down in Orlando, which was also the team's fifth straight ATS loss. Interesting though is that Minnesota's previous two losses had been by a total of three points. I expect this game to go down to the wire and at the very worst, Minnesota snaps its ATS losing streak. Given New Orleans' obvious issues, an outright victory is a distinct possibility as well. 8* Minnesota
|02-08-19||Kent State v. Akron -4||Top||53-72||Win||100||24 h 22 m||Show|
8* Akron (9:00 ET): Since the calendar turned to 2019, clear trends have emerged when it comes to betting both the side and total of Akron games: fade 'em & bet the Under. The Zips have covered only one of their last nine games plus the Under is 8-1 during that same time. But while the team may be "offensively challenged," I'm going to call for them to break out of their slump Friday by doing what they do best - play defense. They're at home and facing their main rival (Kent State). If ever there was a time for John Groce's team to "circle the wagons," it would be here. Lay the points.
Akron has taken a huge step defensively this year under Groce. They are 14th in the country in PPG allowed (62.4) and 30th in efficiency (per KenPom). They're especially good at home where they give up only 57.1 PPG! For the record, the Zips "struggles" are mainly confined to the pointspread. They are off a SU here as it was an ugly offensive showing (only 52 pts) earlier in the week at Toledo. But here at home, thanks largely to the MAC's 2nd best defense, they are 10-1 SU for the year. In addition to the defense, I'm going to call for a breakout game offensively here. Certainly, they can't shoot any worse than they did Tuesday when they had a 28.1 FG%.
To me, the Zips should certainly be able to keep in check a Kent team that has been more "lucky" than "good" this season. The Golden Flashes are a pretty shocking 17-5 SU on the year as they are an incredible 8-0 SU in games decided by 4 pts or less. Their last three wins have been by a total of eight points w/ two of them coming in OT. This is how Akron, despite an inferior 13-9 SU record, actually has a better point differential. The Zips only loss this year at James A. Rhodes Arena came by a single point (Marshall) and they have held every MAC foe under its season average in scoring. They come up big again at home in this big rivalry matchup. 8* Akron
|02-08-19||Bulls v. Nets -8.5||Top||125-106||Loss||-109||23 h 58 m||Show|
10* Brooklyn (7:35 ET): I think we're going to need to get used to seeing the Nets in this price range, at least when paired against the league's bottom feeders. As they showed in a 135-130 win over Denver Wednesday night, this team is for real. Now let's temper enthusiasm just a bit for a second. When I say "for real," I mean "legit playoff contender." They are now two games above .500, but in the Eastern Conference, that means a very real shot at finishing as high as sixth.
The Bulls are not good, nor were they expected to be. In my own personal power rankings, only the Cavs are rated worse. No one is rated worse when it comes to offensive efficiency as Chicago is barely averaging a point per possession. In the last two games though, defense has been the problem as they've surrendered 125 pts in B2B losses to Charlotte and New Orleans (no Anthony Davis). This is a team w/ only two wins in its last 18 games. One of them was against Cleveland. Wednesday was their 2nd highest scoring 1st half of the season (65 pts) and it still didn't matter.
When these teams met two weeks ago, Brooklyn won 122-117, but did not cover the 6.5-point spread here at home. The pointspread is slightly larger for this rematch, but for good reason. One is leading scorer Caris LeVert is finally returning for the Nets. Really, it's pretty amazing that the Nets not only stayed afloat, but exceeded expectations (went 23-19 SU) while LeVert was out three months. They are 21-9 SU the L30 games. They are 14-2 SU the L16 home games. Now they add a player that was shooting 47.5% from the field while scoring 20+ in half of his games played. Meanwhile, Chicago's leading scorer from that last meeting w/ Brooklyn - Jabari Parker - was just dealt away along w/ Bobby Portis. Zach LaVine scored 28 pts Wednesday, but missed practice the following day w/ ankle soreness. The Nets have beaten the Bulls six straight times and are 11-3 ATS this season coming off a SU win as a dog (were +3 vs. Denver). 10* Brooklyn
|02-08-19||Cornell v. Dartmouth -3||Top||83-80||Loss||-115||22 h 22 m||Show|
10* Dartmouth (7:00 ET): We're just four games into the Ivy League season, but already both Cornell and Dartmouth can use some work. They'll each come into Friday sporting identical 10-10 SU records, though the former has fared slightly better in league play w/ a 2-2 mark as opposed to the latter's 1-3. Thus Dartmouth was already the side more likely to approach this game w/ a greater sense of urgency. Then you have the "small matter" of them trying to exact some revenge here. The Big Green have been swept by the Big Red each of the last two seasons, failing to cover in all but one of the four chances. This time the rivalry turns up green instead of red. Lay the points.
Dartmouth had an impressive performance in the Ivy League opener as they upset Harvard - as six point underdogs - here at home. They actually dominated, winning 81-63. But since X-Mas, they've lost three in a row, two of them coming by five points or less. Their most recent setback was the weakest performance to date in Ivy League play as they lost by 21 to Yale last Saturday, also at home. As you might have guessed by the 89-68 final score, it was not a banner day for the Dartmouth defense. It was the 2nd highest number of points they allowed in a game all season as Yale made 11 of 23 three-pointers.
I wouldn't look for such sharpshooting here from Cornell. The Big Red aren't exactly a great shooting team (43.7 FG% for the year) and only totaled 61 pts in their own home loss to Princeton last Saturday. That was an overtime game as well, so the offensive numbers are actually worse than they appear. Plus, Dartmouth is usually a stingy team at home as they allow just 63.0 PPG for the year at Edward Leede Arena. If that's not enough, they also average 79.4 PPG themselves. I think home court and revenge are the key angles here in what should be a comfortable win for the Big Green! 10* Dartmouth
|02-07-19||Iowa v. Indiana -2||Top||77-72||Loss||-105||11 h 5 m||Show|
8* Indiana (8:00 ET): I think that it would be premature to call Indiana's 79-75 upset of Michigan State last Saturday "season changing." After all, the Hoosiers still have a lot of work to do. Prior to beating Sparty, they'd lost seven in a row. Their record in the Big 10 is still only 4-7. But what happened Saturday in East Lansing could certainly be the start of a turnaround. I had IU Saturday and will come back with them again tonight at home. I think they're undervalued right now.
The Hoosiers aren't the only team in this matchup coming off a notable upset. Iowa beat Michigan on Friday, doing so as 5.5-pt home underdogs. The Hawkeyes desperately needed that one as they were off B2B themselves at the time. They're 5-3 SU in Big 10 play and thus in better position than Indiana. But history is really not on Iowa's side here as they are just 6-18 ATS their last 24 road games and 3-7 ATS the last 10 times taking the court w/ five or more days rest (0-2 ATS this season).
Indiana hasn't gotten to play much at home in conference play, which may help explain their slide. This and Sunday's game vs. Ohio State mark the 1st time the Hoosiers have had B2B home games since conference play began! They're 10-2 SU in Bloomington and allow just 61.6 PPG. Iowa might be ranked and off a win over Michigan, but I'm not sold on them. They give up 76.0 PPG outside of Iowa City. 8* Indiana
|02-07-19||Old Dominion -1.5 v. UAB||Top||70-59||Win||100||11 h 35 m||Show|
8* Old Dominion (8:00 ET): While Old Dominion hasn't been a profitable team to bet on, they do lead C-USA entering Thursday night's action. The Monarchs are 8-3 SU in conference play, which gives them a half-game edge on both UTSA and North Texas. They recently beat North Texas at home, 72-61 as four-point favorites, and then followed that up with an 80-76 win over Rice where they obviously did not cover the 12-point number. ODU is just 2-9 ATS in conference play, but we've finally got a short number to work with here as they visit UAB. Lay the points.
UAB is coming off B2B losses to the same team, Middle Tennessee. I was on the second game, which took place Saturday, and had the right side. After losing 71-65 as six-point road favorites last Wednesday, the Blazers fell to MTSU 79-78 as 11-point home favorites Saturday. Those two losses really sting considering how close the race in C-USA is. Keep in mind MTSU had lost nine in a row on the road before pulling the upset Saturday. UAB blew a 10-point halftime lead.
Old Dominion's strength lies on the defensive end where they are 11th in the country, giving up just 61.6 PPG. That would serve them well if they were able to get into the NCAA Tournament. They've won seven of eight overall w/ the one loss coming by a single point at UTSA. I realize that the Monarchs are not nearly as dominant on the road as they are at home, but they still should be able to win at UAB. Essentially a SU win is all we need here. UAB is 2-5 ATS as an underdog. 8* Old Dominion
|02-07-19||Florida International +8 v. Texas-San Antonio||Top||67-100||Loss||-105||10 h 16 m||Show|
8* Florida International (8:00 ET): Here's another C-USA game for Thursday. As stated in the other writeup, UTSA is near the top of the league, just one-half game out of first place. They are coming off a wild, 116-106 win at Marshall on Saturday. As you might have guessed from that final score, the game went to overtime. The Roadrunners got 45 points (career-high) from Keaton Wallace and 30 more from Jhivvan Jackson as they came back from an 18-point deficit in the second half. Coming off such a big win, I think it's only natural for a letdown to be in order here.
FIU pulled an upset of its own on Saturday, beating La Tech at home, 75-69 as three-point dogs. The win enabled the Panthers to avoid an 0-3 homestand as they'd previously lost to FAU and Southern Miss. Those two losses were uncharacteristic in that FIU wasn't that competitive in either (lost both by double digits). For the most part, their games have been close this season. Seven of the eight games prior to those two losses were single digit affairs. They're no stranger to the underdog role and have cashed seven of the nine times they've been getting points this year.
What makes FIU such a dangerous dog is that they can score. They average 85.9 PPG, which is the seventh highest average in the country. Four of the six teams ahead of them are Gonzaga, North Carolina, Duke and Tennessee. So that's some pretty exclusive company. Obviously, defense is a bit of an issue, but I don't see any reason why they shouldn't score enough to stay within the number here. UTSA just gave up 92 pts in regulation in their last game. Take the points. 8* Florida International
|02-07-19||William & Mary v. Northeastern -8.5||Top||60-72||Win||100||10 h 4 m||Show|
8* Northeastern (7:00 ET): This line has shot down and I don't understand why. N'eastern is off arguably its biggest win of the season, certainly in conference play, as they ended Hofstra's 16-game win streak on Saturday. The Huskies are now 7-3 in the Colonial and have won five of their last six games, the only loss being an upset at the hands of Towson (on the road). That loss to Towson is also their only ATS defeat in 2018 as they've gone 7-1 ATS the L8 games. This is a pretty good team and I expect them to roll William & Mary Thursday. Lay the points.
William & Mary has won B2B games for the 1st time in 2019, but before that the Tribe were really struggling. They'd lost five in a row, some of them close, but the bottom line is they were also 0-5 ATS during that same stretch. One of those losses was to Northeastern - by 20 points - at home. While they may not lose by that many this go around, this still should be a double digit game. Northeastern is averaging almost 80 PPG at home and W&M is a poor defensive team. The Tribe have just two road wins all season.
While Northeastern's 13-9 SU record may not seem like much, note all three losses in conference play have been by three points or less. They easily could be 10-0 SU and unbeaten in the Colonial. They really dominated Hofstra on Saturday, leading by double digits most of the way. If they can do that to a team that had the nation's longest win streak, then just think what they can do to a team that is only 5-14 ATS this season, including 2-8 ATS as a dog. 8* Northeastern
|02-07-19||Wisc-Milwaukee +4 v. Youngstown State||Top||71-72||Win||100||10 h 46 m||Show|
8* WI-Milwaukee (7:00 ET): These are two of the bottom teams in the Horizon League, but to me Milwaukee is actually substantially better and certainly due for a win. The Panthers will also have revenge on their mind from an embarrassing 25-point loss they took at home at the hands of Youngstown State. Now that would seem to indicate that Milwaukee is NOT the better team, but that game is in no way indicative of where these two squads are truly at. Yes, this is a 4th straight road game for the Panthers, but they've had five days off and will be ready. Take the points.
Youngstown State is off B2B wins. This is a rarity. It's just the second time all season that such a thing has happened and the first was back in November and included a win over a non-DI school. The two wins were by a combined three points. They were 7.5-pt dogs at Oakland (won 75-74) and 5.5-pt dogs at Detroit (won 72-70). So I'm not sure about this team being favored. It'll be just the second time ALL SEASON that the Penguins have been asked to lay points. The other was 12/28 vs. Detroit (-1.5) and they lost that game by a score of 78-66. They have just one win by more than six points in Horizon League play.
When these teams played the first time, Milwaukee scored only 14 pts in the 1st half. Clearly, that's not going to happen again. Youngstown State is not noted as any kind of defensive powerhouse, in fact, they give up over 80 PPG at home, which is why they only have two home wins this season. Milwaukee has lost three in a row, but they'd covered the spread in four straight games before losing to rival Green Bay last Friday. The Phoenix shot the lights out in that game in a way Youngstown State simply isn't capable of doing. 8* WI-Milwaukee
|02-06-19||Spurs +11 v. Warriors||Top||102-141||Loss||-109||15 h 7 m||Show|
10* San Antonio (10:35 ET): Rumors of the Spurs' demise were greatly exaggerated. While they did lose in Sacramento Monday night, the team has performed far better than preseason expectations, especially on the offensive end. They are second in the league in offensive efficiency (trailing only tonight's opponent), mainly due to leading the league in three-point shooting percentage. Tonight, they will be short-handed with LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan both sitting. But how many times have we seen a team, seemingly overmatched, come up "big" in this situation? This is too many points to pass up.
Golden State has lost just once since January 3rd and that was last week at home to Philadelphia. They rebounded with a 14-point win over the Lakers Saturday, but that was a Lakers team that didn't have LeBron in the lineup and they just did fail to cover (were -15). Having had three days off and a favorable upcoming stretch, this just reeks of a letdown.
San Antonio is 7-2 ATS off a SU Loss as a favorite this season. They are 6-3 ATS off a double digit loss. Those who do suit up here will play hard for HC Popovich. 10* San Antonio
|02-06-19||Wizards +12 v. Bucks||Top||129-148||Loss||-105||13 h 48 m||Show|
8* Washington (8:05 ET): The Wizards would appear "up against it" here as they will be facing the league-leading Bucks, on the road no less. Certainly, they don't come into this primetime showdown in top form. Monday saw them lose outright at home to the lowly Hawks. They gave up 137 points to one of the worst offensive teams in the league. That would make it B2B times allowing more than 130 points, the other coming against these very same Bucks last weekend. That too was in D.C. I know it may not look good, but the last time Washington was a DD dog, they beat OKC outright. Not saying they'll do the same to Milwaukee, but they will cover. Take the points.
For the Bucks, this game is a quick stop home following a five-game trip. They'll be back on the road Friday in Dallas. Your Eastern Conference leaders were successful - both SU and ATS - in the final four games of the just completed trip, winning every game by double digits. So there is a chance they could come in overconfident tonight. Obviously, they are playing well. Statistically speaking, they have been the top team in the league this season. But remember they did lose to the Wizards last month. Yes, that was on the road. But the road team is still 6-1 ATS the L7 head to head meetings between these two.
I understand that, on paper, there seems little reason to put your faith - or money - on the Wizards here. But this number is too high. This will be the most points that they have gotten in any game all season. Against Eastern Conference teams, they've been competitive, getting outscored only by one point per game. Defensively, they can't play any worse than they have the last two games. Milwaukee is due for a letdown. 8* Washington
|02-06-19||Maryland v. Nebraska -1.5||Top||60-45||Loss||-101||12 h 32 m||Show|
10* Nebraska (7:00 ET): What on Earth has happened to the Cornhuskers? There is no singular answer to that question. Second leading scorer Isaac Copeland Jr is out for the season, but that injury only occurred two games ago. They've lost five in a row. Generally speaking, every loss has been close. They've also been favored to win each of their last four times out. Tonight, they'll host the team that started them on this downward slide. Even before the current five-game losing streak, Nebraska dropped a game at Maryland 74-72 on January 2nd. They're just 2-6 SU since. I do believe that the Huskers are a far better team than what they've shown recently. I'll call for them to gain a measure of revenge for what happened out in College Park a month ago. Lay the points.
Maryland hasn't exactly been trending in a positive direction itself. The Terrapins have lost three of four, a streak which has them barely still in the polls. They were as high as 13th on January 21st after beating Ohio State in Columbus. But since then they are 0-3 SU when playing away from home. Under HC Turgeon, the Terps are 0-18 SU against ranked teams on the road. That streak continued Friday w/ a 69-61 loss at Wisconsin. While Nebraska may not be a ranked team, they were at one point and in my eyes are still on the fringes of being considered one of the top 25 teams in America even w/ the slide. The Cornhuskers are 9-3 SU at home. They allow only 56.6 PPG in Lincoln.
In College Park last month, Nebraska had a slight lead at halftime. The game was decided in the closing seconds on a driving layup by Maryland's Jalen Smith. The Cornhuskers missed 8 of 23 FT attempts and were outrebounded 38-28. Defensively though, this team remains a force. Only one time in the last 47 games have they let the opponent shoot 50% from the floor. Now if only they could shoot well themselves. The L3 games has seen dismal shooting as they've gone 63 of 188, or 33.5%. At home, that number HAS to go up. This team has covered five out of the last six times it has been a home favorite of three points or less. 10* Nebraska
|02-05-19||Heat +7.5 v. Blazers||Top||118-108||Win||100||14 h 15 m||Show|
8* Miami (10:35 ET): The Heat are limping into this matchup, having lost three in a row. Two of those three losses were pretty embarrassing. What started the skid was them losing at home to Chicago, as 10.5-pt favorites. Then on Saturday they lost at home to an Indiana team that had previously not won since the Victor Oladipo injury. Now Miami hits the road to play a Portland team that has won and covered three straight. But two of those wins were against Phoenix and Atlanta. The Blazers have actually been off for almost a whole week as the last time we saw them they delivered a very impressive 132-105 win over Utah. But let's not let recency bias cloud our judgement here. I expect a close game. Take the points.
All that time off could be good or bad for Portland. There's no guarantee. It's the old "rest vs. rust" debate. What we do know is that it's the most time off they've had between games at any point this season. It came at a point where they probably wanted to keep playing as they are 6-1 SU/ATS the L7 games. During the time off, the front office made a trade, acquiring Rodney Hood from Cleveland. While Portland is a good home team (22-7 SU) and there's plenty to like about them going into tonight's game, I expect this to be more of a "rust" than "rest" situation tonight.
Miami is simply going to be desperate going into tonight. They're 8th in the East, just 1.5 games ahead of Detroit. Injuries have been a hindrance all season, but the Heat have been able to hover around .500. Interestingly, they play better on the road than at home. They've won three of their last four road games and have a higher offensive output away from home. They're 15-9 ATS on the road as well. Furthermore, they are a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS when on a three-game losing streak this season. This is a good "buy low" situation on the road dog. 8* Miami
|02-05-19||St. Joe's +1.5 v. La Salle||Top||69-83||Loss||-110||11 h 35 m||Show|
8* St. Joseph's (7:00 ET): Not sure what's gotten into LaSalle, but out of nowhere the Explorers have won three in a row - all as underdogs. They were just 3-14 SU before the streak began, so let's not make the mistake of confusing this for a good team. Tonight, while the line is short, they are favored. This would be just the sixth time that has happened all year and only the second in A-10 play. The first saw them lose outright, here at home, to GW. The Explorers are just 2-8 SU at home this year and I see the "good times" being rather short-lived.
St. Joe's snapped a two-game losing streak on Saturday by beating UMass 64-62. But they failed to cover the 3.5-pt number. The Hawks are playing short-handed right now as only seven players suited up for the UMass game. But leading scorer Charlie Brown Jr continues to carry the load. He has delivered four straight games of 19+ pts and led the way w/ 20 on Saturday. Overall, offense has been the primary issue for St. Joe's in conference play, but curiously they are averaging more PPG on the road this season.
This is the first meeting of the year between these two teams. Last year, the home team won both times. But I look for a different result this go around. This is a good "sell high" point for LaSalle, which has pulled off an improbable three straight upsets. One of them saw the opponent shoot just 22% from the field. Saturday night saw them rally back from a nine-point deficit on three separate occasions against Richmond for a 66-58 road win. Note who the Explorers have beaten during this three-game win streak: Fordham, UMass and Richmond. Those are the bottom three teams in the A-10. St. Joe's happens to be fourth from the bottom, but they are demonstrably better than the aforementioned trio. Take the points. 8* St. Joseph's
|02-05-19||South Carolina +16 v. Kentucky||Top||48-76||Loss||-110||11 h 35 m||Show|
8* South Carolina (7:00 ET): The Gamecocks got off to a great start in SEC play as they won their first four league games, three of those coming as underdogs. But things have definitely slowed down since then as they've gone just 2-3 SU the L5 games. Still, it would seem to me that this team deserves a bit more respect than it is getting. They were an underdog in each of those last five games and pulled upsets over both Auburn and Georgia. Saturday saw them shoot 56.9% from the field in Athens, upsetting UGA 86-80 as 2.5-pts dogs. This is a team that took on a challenging non-conference schedule (Michigan, Virginia, Clemson), so I don't see them being intimidated tonight in Lexington.
Coach Cal seems to have Kentucky peaking right now as the Wildcats have won eight in a row. They've covered the spread in each of the last six games and are coming off a 65-54 win at Florida over the weekend. But that game was not as easy as the final score indicates. UK was actually down 11 w/ 13 minutes left to play. The defense then came up huge as Florida missed 24 of its final 33 shots, including 1 of 9 from three-point range. The Gators scored only 12 points in the final 13:53 and a 14-0 Kentucky run totally changed the complexion of the game.
As hot as UK might be right now, this is too many points to lay against a team that has gone 6-2 SU in SEC play. The Wildcats are now 5th in the country, so they have a large target on their backs. Also, might they be looking ahead to a stretch where they'll play Miss State, LSU and top-ranked Tennessee. To me, South Carolina is going to be the more motivated side Tuesday night. Frank Martin's team basically led the entire way vs. Georgia and has scored at least 70 pts in all but one SEC game. They'll find a way to stay within this generous number. 8* South Carolina
|02-05-19||Drake v. Loyola-Chicago -6.5||Top||64-86||Win||100||11 h 35 m||Show|
8* Loyola Chicago (7:00 ET): The Ramblers came into the year w/ massive shoes to fill after LY's squad made that improbable run to the Final Four. This year's team simply isn't as good, but they still come into tonight tied for the lead in the Missouri Valley w/ Illinois State (both have 7-3 SU records). The Ramblers have won just twice away from home this season, but fortunately for them, tonight's big showdown w/ Drake is at home. Considering they already beat Drake earlier in the year, 85-74 as 4.5-pt road chalk, this line seems a bit curious by comparison. Lay the points.
Drake has done a decent job at staying afloat despite losing leading scorer Nick Norton (ACL) for the rest of the season. Before Norton went down, the Bulldogs were looking like a serious threat to Loyola's reign as kings of the MVC. They're still just a game back in the standings, mind you, after going to Indiana State and winning 68-62 over the weekend. That was Drake's fifth win in the last six games. But the one loss did come to a co-leader in the conference, Illinois State, and it was by double digits at home. Drake has had little to no success vs. Loyola through the years, dropping four of the last five matchups - both SU and ATS. They have not won here in Chicago in a very long time.
That first meeting saw Loyola shoot the lights out (63.3 FG%). They probably won't be that hot again tonight, but they won't have to be. This team has been "money" coming off a SU loss in conference play, going 3-0 in that role this season. Last time they were in the situation, they responded w/ a 25-point blowout of Southern Illinois. Saturday saw them lose at Illinois State, a game the Redbirds "had to have." But Loyola has still won seven in a row at home plus I just can't see Drake continuing a 16-5 ATS run. The Ramblers are allowing just 57.9 PPG at home this season. 8* Loyola Chicago
|02-04-19||Hawks v. Wizards -6||Top||137-129||Loss||-105||12 h 19 m||Show|
|02-04-19||Louisville v. Virginia Tech -3.5||Top||72-64||Loss||-109||12 h 14 m||Show|
8* Virginia Tech (7:00 ET): A tough turnaround here for Louisville, who hosted North Carolina in a big game Saturday and lost 79-69. For me, that result was exactly what I was looking for, as I released UNC as a signature *10* ULTIMATE POWER release! That was a huge revenge game for the Tar Heels and snapped L'ville's seven-game win streak. The Cardinals were largely dominated on the interior and trailed big (by 16) at the half. "We didn't come out with much fire," Louisville coach Chris Mack said. "It was a great environment, and to essentially end the half with no offensive rebounds, let Carolina dismantle us on the glass, I can't tell you how disappointed I am in that effort alone." Unfortunately for L'ville, they don't have much time to figure things out.
While that was going, Virginia Tech was dominating NC State in a manner rarely seen. The Hokies made history by holding the Wolfpack to 24 pts Saturday (yes, for the full game), the fewest scored by a ranked team in the shot clock era (goes back to 1985). Va Tech held NC State to 16.7% shooting for the game, including 2 of 28 on three-point attempts. Keep in mind this was on the road. While there's almost no way the Hokies can be that stingy again, note that this team is known for its offense. It ranks 7th nationally in offensive efficiency (per KenPom), so expect them to score far more points tonight. They're also 11-0 SU in Blacksburg, winning by an average of 28.1 PPG.
Va Tech is 18-3 SU overall w/ two of its losses coming at North Carolina and Virginia. This is a legit top 10 team in my eyes, one that won't be lacking for motivation Monday as they've gone 0-5 vs. Louisville as ACC rivals. The Hokies have also gone 5-0 ATS the last five times they've been off a win by 20 or more points. They've won three in a row overall, all by double digits. They are one of just seven teams in the country to rank in the top 20 nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Take the better team laying a short number at home. 8* Virginia Tech
|02-03-19||Patriots v. Rams +3||Top||13-3||Loss||-110||100 h 7 m||Show|
10* LA Rams (6:30 ET): I view these teams as pretty much even. One can only assume that the early line movement we saw on the Patriots was a byproduct of their vaunted reputation. The Rams, by comparison, are "new kids on the block" in this situation. For what it's worth, however, the Rams have produced a better point differential than the Patriots each of the last two seasons. Neither team had been an underdog all season before the respective Conference Championship Games when the Rams upset the Saints and the Pats did the same to the Chiefs. I only played one of those two games and it was against New England. That doesn't necessarily have a direct correlation to how I'm playing the Super Bowl, but it bears mentioning. I will be taking the points come Super Sunday w/ the Rams.
Obviously, a great deal of attention has been paid to just how the Rams got here. They were an obvious beneficiary of a terrible blown call (should have been pass interference) vs. the Saints. But let's not use that singular play to discredit an entire body of work. They did end up outgaining the Saints 378-290 for the game and outscored 26-10 after the 1st quarter. The win over Dallas in the Divisional Round also was not as close as the final score indicates. The Rams led that game virtually the entire way (by as many as 16) and outgained the Cowboys 459-308. Not only does LA have a better point differential than New England, they have a better yardage differential - both on a per game and per play basis.
Remember what I wrote about two weeks ago regarding the Patriots taking their act out on the road. Their offensive numbers go way down outside of Foxboro. Now obviously things didn't play out the way I had hoped vs. KC, but the Rams also have a better defense than the Chiefs. New England still has a losing record (4-5 SU) away from home. There is an irony here in that the Patriots' Super Bowl run under Belichick & Brady began w/ an upset of the Rams back in 2002. But remember that they have lost three Super Bowls, including last year (Philly special) and should have probably lost the last two. I think experience and reputation is somewhat overrated in this spot and will go w/ what I believe is the better team getting points. 10* LA Rams
|02-03-19||Clippers +10.5 v. Raptors||Top||103-121||Loss||-110||9 h 56 m||Show|
10* LA Clippers (3:05 ET): Truth be told, the Clippers were very fortunate to win on Saturday. They battled back from a 25-point deficit to beat the Pistons 111-101 and thus grabbed the cash as two-point road underdogs. It's a tough ask having to now go to Toronto w/o rest, but this line is pretty clearly inflated from where I sit. The Raptors have failed to cover three straight, all as favorites, losing two of those games outright. They've had two days off since being humbled by Milwaukee here at home, but are just 3-6 ATS this season when off an outright loss as a favorite. I'm taking the points here.
The Clips were down 18 at the end of the 1st quarter yday and the deficit was 23 in the third. But a 47-14 run, led by Lou Williams scoring 16 straight points, changed everything. Williams is perhaps the best bench player in this league and it's largely because of him that LA leads the league in bench scoring w/ 51.3 PPG. That tells me that this is a deep team, one that will not be hampered by playing in the second night of back to back. In fact, the Clippers are 3-1 SU and ATS playing in the second night of B2B road games, outscoring their opponents by 8.3 PPG. Maybe they won't be that successful Sunday afternoon, but they sure are getting a lot of points here.
This is also a revenge spot for the Clippers, who lost at home to Toronto by a score of 123-99 back on December 11th. That despite the Raptors not having Kawhi Leonard for that game. Toronto got off to a phenomenal 20-4 SU start to the season, but is a pretty pedestrian 17-12 since. As we saw Thursday, there is a definite gap between them and the Eastern Conference leading Bucks, which is backed up by point differential and efficiency numbers as well. Teams are often undervalued playing in the second game of a back to back, especially playing on the road. That's what we have here. 10* LA Clippers
|02-03-19||South Dakota State -9 v. Denver||Top||92-82||Win||100||9 h 51 m||Show|
8* South Dakota State (3:00 ET): South Dakota State is the class of the Summit League right now as the Jackrabbits are 8-1 SU in conference play and two games clear of everybody else. They've won seven straight coming into Sunday, though they failed to cover the number in each of their last two victories. One was 83-73 over Neb-Omaha at home where they were laying 11.5. Then, on Thursday, they won by only six (86-80) at Oral Roberts as 11-point chalk. As per usual, SDSU is being asked to lay a decent-sized number here. This time, I think they're up to the task. Lay the points!
The Jackrabbits have already played Denver once, doing so back on January 10th. It was another win, but non-cover, as they prevailed 78-66 as 16.5-point chalk. That game saw South Dakota State shoot the ball very well (53% overall), so well in fact that they did not really need to worry about extending a 11-pt halftime lead. They were 10 for 12 from three-point range in the 1st half and at that point, the game was basically over. This is an excellent shooting team overall (one of the best in the country) as the Jackrabbits are better than 50% overall for the year and 41.7% from three-point range. In fact, both percentages rank third in the nation! So I would not worry about any offensive decline from that first meeting.
Denver is in last place in the Summit League as they're just 2-7 SU in conference play. The Pioneers are off extended rest here as they haven't taken the court since lost 91-81 to IPFW eight days ago. The time off is nice, but the bottom line is that they're no more likely to slow down SDSU's shooting than if this game took place w/ "normal" rest. Denver is letting its opponents shoot better than 41% from three-point range for the year. They allow 76.8 PPG overall. They've been slightly better at home, but that's thanks in large part to one game vs. Oral Roberts where they allowed only 58 pts. There have been a lot of double digit losses for the Pioneers so far (9) and their record as an underdog (2-12 SU, 4-9-1 ATS) leaves a lot to be desired. 8* South Dakota State
|02-02-19||Rockets +7 v. Jazz||Top||125-98||Win||100||14 h 49 m||Show|
10* Houston (9:05 ET): This is the second night of a back to back for both the Rockets and the Jazz. Houston lost in Denver last night while Utah was victorious, here at home, over Atlanta. I went against the Rockets Friday as they fell to 1-7 ATS their last eight games. Sure, it was nice to see James Harden score 30+ for a 25th straight game (made a late three-pointer), but problematic is that the Rockets scored 43 pts in the 1st quarter and still lost by double digits. I know the Denver to Utah trip is among the most treacherous set of back to backs in the league. But, getting this many points, I like a desperate Houston team in this spot. Take the points.
Utah had an easy one last night as the lowly Hawks were ultimately no match. But it should be pointed out that the Jazz trailed at the half. As predicted here back at the beginning of January, the Jazz have gone on a hot streak, winning 12 of 15 w/ two of the losses coming to Portland (other was at Milwaukee). Most of the wins have come here at home where the team is now 16-9 SU on the season. But even though Utah has been better than Houston of late, with all things equal (both teams in a back to back), I think this is just too many points for them to lay, even at home.
In a tightly bunched Western Conference, the Rockets simply cannot afford to lose many more games. The winner tonight will find itself in 6th place in the Conference, possibly higher depending on what San Antonio does vs. New Orleans. You don't see the Rockets getting this many points that often. Last night, they closed only +3.5 at Denver. I'm not sure you can say the Jazz are better than the Nuggets, yet they're favored by substantially more, even though they too are playing without rest. 10* Houston
|02-02-19||Middle Tennessee +11.5 v. UAB||Top||79-78||Win||100||13 h 46 m||Show|
8* Middle Tennessee (8:00 ET): Despite their pretty poor record, Middle Tennessee is a team I've had some success with this season. The Blue Raiders have covered only five games all season, but I've been on them in two of those. The last time was 1/16 when they pulled a minor upset (were 4-pt home dogs) over UTSA. The followed that w/ another SU win (over UTEP) and are now coming off their third win in five games as they beat UAB on Wednesday, 71-65 as 6-point home dogs. In a bit of a unique scheduling spot, Middle Tennessee and UAB will play again Saturday. From an ATS perspective, I expect the same result. Take the points.
I've seen this before in C-USA w/ two teams playing each other in B2B games. It happened last month w/ UTSA and UTEP and the same team (UTSA) won both games. Wednesday was a pretty close game, one that either side could have won, but in the end it probably came down to three-point shooting as MTSU went 10-25 from behind the arc while UAB was only 4 of 21. Counting on a repeat of that may be "wishful thinking" for the Blue Raiders here. After all, they have not won a single road game all season. But it's been a little while since UAB has beaten anyone by double digits. The Blazers last two wins each came by only three points.
Middle Tennessee has now beaten UAB five straight times, covering the spread in all but one of those victories. The team is clearly picking up some confidence w/ its best stretch of the season. I realize UAB was a 1st place team in C-USA before losing Wednesday, but in my opinion they are not as good as the other top teams in this league.This will be the 1st time in conference play that they have been asked to lay double digits. They are just 1-2 ATS as DD chalk this year against the likes of Alcorn State, North Alabama and Alabama A&M. 8* Middle Tennessee
|02-02-19||Indiana +15 v. Michigan State||Top||79-75||Win||100||11 h 46 m||Show|
8* Indiana (6:00 ET): Last Sunday marked the 1st time that Michigan State tasted defeat in Big 10 play. They lost 73-63 to Purdue and quite frankly, it wasn't even that close. Sparty trailed 37-19 at the half and was down by as many as 23 in the second half. A late surge certainly put a scare into me (I was on the Boilermakers), but it turned out that it was nothing worth worrying about. Tom Izzo's team has certainly had plenty of time to get over that defeat and looks to be in a good spot to bounce back tonight vs. a struggling Indiana team. But after MSU was able to cover nine straight times before losing to Purdue, I expect them to start "giving some back" and for the pointspread to be a factor tonight. Take the points.
Injuries seem to have derailed Indiana's season as they come into East Lansing on a seven-game losing streak. If they aren't able to turn things around, then what once looked like an assured NCAA Tournament berth may not be such a sure thing anymore. The Hoosiers last won on January 3rd (over Illinois) and things are going from bad to worse as Wednesday saw them on the wrong end of a 22-0 run against Rutgers and they lost 66-58 on the road. One positive though is that Devonte Green has been upgraded to probable here after serving a suspension. Indiana is obviously a desperate team right now. I expect them to play like it.
Michigan State may not be as infallible as they look. It was announced earlier this week that Joshua Langford is done for the year. The team had managed to go 7-1 SU w/o him, but it looks like the extra minutes being logged by his teammates are starting to have an adverse effect. As much as these teams have trended in opposite directions in 2019, I think this pointspread is simply too high. Take the points. 8* Indiana
|02-02-19||North Carolina -1.5 v. Louisville||Top||79-69||Win||100||7 h 46 m||Show|
10* North Carolina (2:00 ET): Needless to say, revenge will be a big factor here for UNC. The Tar Heels got their doors blown off, in Chapel Hill, by Louisville last month. It was an 83-62loss as 11-pt favorites. That game begat the current six-game win streak for L'ville that has them now ranked #15 in the country. North Carolina is #9, mind you, and has won four in a row (last two by 44 pts) since that loss to the Cardinals. Much has obviously changed since that first meeting, at least in the eyes of the oddsmakers, as this rematch is basically a pick 'em. But I still believe Roy Williams' team to be the better squad here and motivated by revenge, they should roll Saturday.
Scary for future UNC opponents (including L'ville) is the fact the Tar Heels just won a game by 23 points despite missing 32 shots and getting just one second chance point. Overall, UNC is the ACC's top rebounding team at +9.9 per game. They've also made a total of 29 three-pointers the L2 games, which is the most over a two-game stretch in program HISTORY. Speaking of history, that 21-point loss to Louisville last month was the worst EVER suffered by Williams in Chapel Hill. It obviously hasn't been forgotten. The Tar Heels are 4-0 in ACC road games thus far, including the 23-pt win Tuesday (over Ga Tech). They shot horrifically that 1st meeting vs. L'ville, going 3 for 22 from three-point range. That won't happen again.
The way Louisville has kind of "come from nowhere" leads me to believe they're in store for a loss. They must be careful here in February as they're about to embark on a tough four-game stretch, all against ranked opponents. Their ACC schedule, at least to this point, hasn't been all that challenging (w/ the obvious exception of the 1st UNC game). When seeking revenge for a home loss, the Tar Heels are a perfect 4-0 ATS the L3 seasons. They are also 3-0 ATS this season after allowing 60 pts or less their previous game. Louisville is a good team, but UNC is simply better (despite what happened last month) in my eyes. 10* North Carolina
|02-01-19||Rockets v. Nuggets -4.5||Top||122-136||Win||100||14 h 18 m||Show|
10* Denver (10:05 ET): As I've been saying for months, the majority of conference games out West are going to have playoff implications. It's such a crowded field this year. Tonight's game between Houston and Denver definitely "fits the bill." The Nuggets have been at or near the top of the Western Conference standings for the majority of the season. With Golden State losing last night, they are just one-half game back of the Dubs. Houston has overcome a poor start to find its way into sixth in the Conference and is just one-half game out of fifth. One thing I found curious when handicapping this matchup is that Denver has lost to Houston nine straight times, two of those coming this year. At home, I believe they'll put an end to that streak tonight. Lay the points.
Houston is off an embarrassing loss to New Orleans, who was w/o Anthony Davis. The Rockets were 13.5-point home favorites when they lost outright Tuesday night. They're now just 1-6 ATS the L7 games. Not only were the Pelicans playing w/o Davis, they were without four of their other top six scorers. Yet Houston still blew a 15-point lead and lost at home. James Harden has scored 32 or more points in 24 consecutive games. But he can't carry the load by himself. There are some reports that Chris Paul may return from his back injury tonight. But if he does, I wouldn't expect much from him in his first game back. The Rockets are only 10-13 SU on the road this season.
Denver is 22-4 SU at home. One of those four losses was to Houston, but it was back in November. The Nuggets had their own questionable performance earlier this week when they found themselves down by as many as 25 to Memphis, but they came back and won. They followed that up w/ a six-point win in New Orleans. Now they're back home where they outscore teams by nearly 12 PPG. To me, even though they have only lost four times in the last 18 games, this is a statement game for the Nuggets as they have double revenge. Houston has typically NOT performed well coming off high-scoring games this year. They are 4-14 ATS after allowing 115+ points and 4-13 ATS after scoring 115+ points. 10* Denver
|01-31-19||Pacers v. Magic -2.5||Top||100-107||Win||100||11 h 18 m||Show|
10* Orlando (7:05 ET): The early returns on the Pacers w/o Victor Oladipo have not been good. Last Saturday, I faded them in what was their first game w/o Oladipo. They lost outright at Memphis. Since then, they've been hammered by both Golden State and Washington. They were in D.C. last night and even though it was the Wizards playing in the second night of a back to back, it was Indiana the had no energy nor punch. In an 18-point loss, the Pacers were held to a season-low 89 pts and shot only 39.7% from the field. No player scored more than 13 pts. I'm well aware that Orlando has not performed well in the chalk role this season, but this is a golden opportunity for them to take advantage of an Indiana team that looks both down and out. Lay the points.
While Indiana comes in on a three-game losing skid, Orlando has done them "one better" w/ a four-game streak. Three of those four losses were by five points or less, however, and on Tuesday they lost to OKC 126-117 (here at home) despite having the lead going into the 4th quarter. The Magic's previous game, which was at Houston, may have been even more painful even though they at least escaped w/ a cover there. But they led the Rockets by as many as 16 before giving the lead away for the first time w/ only four minutes remaining. Poor shooting has been a theme throughout this losing streak, but I feel can be corrected here (Washington shot 52.6% against Indiana last night). Certainly, the Magic will be motivated to end a four-game losing streak at home.
They should also be motivated here to erase a poor history against Indiana. The Magic have lost eight straight times to the Pacers (going 1-7 ATS) and 15 of the last 16 matchups (2-14 ATS!) That's pretty incredible when you think about it. Some might be scared off by the fact Orlando is favored, especially considering their poor 2-7 ATS mark as home chalk. But don't be. Indiana is a team that I thought would regress this year. As of a week ago, that thought appeared wrong. But now Oladipo is lost for the season and Nate McMillan doesn't appear to have a clue on how to replace the lost production. The Magic deserve to be favored given the situation and should pick up one of their bigger wins this season. 10* Orlando
|01-30-19||CS-Northridge v. CS-Fullerton -7||Top||71-78||Push||0||13 h 10 m||Show|
8* Cal State Fullerton (10:00 ET): Cal State Northridge seems to be a team I have greatly misread this season. Tbh, I've been unsuccessful a number of times going against them. The vast majority of games the Matadors have played this month have been close ones. That's a trend that actually extends to the entirety of the season. Twelve of the team's 20 games have been decided by six points or less. They are 6-6 SU in those games, including a 3-3 mark in the ones decided by three points or less. That's not really out of the ordinary. If anything, such a record in close games is what you'd expect. Yet the Matadors have still found a way to go 8-1-1 ATS since 12.22. A lot of their recent games have been close to a "pick 'em." So as a definitive underdog tonight, one might be inclined to grab the points. But I still view this as a poor basketball team, outside my top 300.
Tonight, the Matadors find themselves on the road playing rival Fullerton. This is the first meeting of the year between the two long-time Big West rivals. Cal State Fullerton has a pretty similar record to Northridge. In fact, they're actually a half game WORSE at 8-12 straight up. But the Titans have managed to go 4-2 SU in conference play, which is a half game BETTER than what Northridge can claim. Recently, Fullerton has turned it on w/ four straight wins and they've covered the spread in each of the last three. Two of them were on the road and they've scored 80 or more points three straight times. For tonight, defense may be the key as the Titans are allowing just 60.0 points per game at home. Consider that Northridge is giving up 82.3 PPG on the road.
Northridge isn't exactly a strong defensive team to begin with as the number of PPG allowed on the road is pretty much in line w/ their overall season average (of 82.0 PPG). Recently, the Matadors have been better on that end of the floor, especially in last Wednesday's 86-71 win over Long Beach State. But that game also took place at home. This is a spread that I believe should be double digits. Fullerton has been pretty dominant its last two games, first shocking UCSB w/ a 21-point win (UCSB's only Big West loss) and then an 80-63 win over Cal Poly over the weekend. The Titans never trailed in that game and haven't been behind since midway through the 1st half of that UCSB. They'll show Northridge "who's boss" tonight. 8* Cal State Fullerton
|01-30-19||Mavs v. Knicks +7||Top||114-90||Loss||-109||11 h 46 m||Show|
8* New York (7:35 ET): Last night, I played against a bad road team (Washington) that found itself laying a pretty substantial amount of points. The result was they lost outright (to Cleveland) and actually trailed by more than 20 points in the second half. Now, I'm not saying this game will turn out quite as easy for us, but it certainly bears mentioning that Dallas owns a terrible 4-20 SU record on the road. Therefore, it would seem to be fairly ridiculous to find them laying this many points tonight at MSG. Yes, the Knicks have been really bad of late, losing 10 straight and 23 of their last 25 games. But this is one where they have a legit shot at winning.
Thanks to rookie sensation Luka Doncic, the Mavs have plenty of reason to be optimistic about their future. But the bottom line is that they are still a pretty pedestrian team overall, sitting at five games below .500. At home, they do play well. But the road has been a much different story. Only Phoenix (4-23 SU) has a worse record away from home and that's because they (the Suns) have played three more games. Dallas sees a pretty substantial decline on both ends of the floor when they take their act out on the road, but especially on defense where they are allowing 113.1 PPG. As a road favorite, the Mavs are 1-3 SU and ATS this year, losing by an average of 8.3 points per game.
Dallas has covered its last four games, which may help explain the pointspread here (in addition to the Knicks being really bad). But the Mavs did lose their last time out, at home, to Toronto. Doncic had a triple double in that game, but the team was unable to hold the small lead it had going into the fourth quarter. Even though it was a close game, the Mavs were outscored in three of the four quarters and they had a lot go their way in the one they weren't (third). As bad as the Knicks have been over the last month, this will be the first time Dallas has been favored on the road since 12.13 when they lost outright in Phoenix. It will also be the most points they've been asked to lay in any road game this season. Take the points. 8* New York
|01-30-19||Marquette v. Butler -2.5||Top||76-58||Loss||-112||10 h 41 m||Show|
10* Butler (6:30 ET): Marquette seems to be one of those teams (every year, there's always ONE!) destined to succeed more than the metrics say they should. The Golden Eagles are 18-3 SU and now find themselves ranked #10 or #9 (depending on which poll you're looking at), but I don't think there's anyone besides the pollsters who honestly thinks this is one of the 10 best teams in America. The key for them has been an amazing propensity for winning close games. They're now a perfect 5-0 SU in games decided by five points or less w/ three of those wins requiring overtime. Saturday may have been their "greatest escape" yet as they came back from an 11-point 2H deficit to defeat Xavier 87-82, a game Marquette really had no business winning.
Tonight, Marquette goes to Butler. The host Bulldogs are coming off B2B losses (one to Villanova), so it's not as if they need the added motivation of having a top 10 team visit their campus. Friday saw Butler get held below 40% shooting for just the third time all season, in a double digit loss at Creighton (went 5 of 22 from three-point range). While the B2B losses might seem to indicate "poor form," one thing Butler definitely has going for it is a "mastery" over Marquette. They have won and covered the last four meetings, including a pair of double digit victories last season (won by 20 on the road!). Also, the Bulldogs are a perfect 5-0 SU and ATS all-time hosting Marquette. The loss to Villanova eight days ago was one of just two home losses this season. They average 80.1 PPG here.
So I expect Butler to be a lot better tonight at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Marquette would certainly seem "due" to lose w/ four of their seven Big East victories having come by five pts or less. I will concede that this Golden Eagles team does do the "little things" right in that they lead the conference in FG% defense - both overall and from three-point range. They are also 9th nationally in free throw percentage. But they just let Xavier, who came into Saturday ranked last in the Big East in scoring and 3-pt shooting, score 82 points on 50% overall shooting (8 of 18 from 3-pt range). The current win streak is Marquette's longest in conference play since 2012 and their ranking is their highest since 2013. I love this spot for Butler. Lay the short number. 10* Butler
|01-29-19||Ohio State +10 v. Michigan||Top||49-65||Loss||-109||14 h 53 m||Show|
8* Ohio State (9:00 ET): One of College Sports' most well-known rivalries is renewed tonight, this time on the basketball court, with Ohio State taking on Michigan. We all know about the one-sided nature of the rivalry on the football field (OSU 14-1 L15), but the Wolverines certainly come into tonight thinking they have the better hoops program in 2019. But I'm not sure the gap is as large as the oddsmakers are expressing w/ their line here. Michigan has definitely overachieved so far this season while the Buckeyes are still a bit undervalued despite coming in off an upset win at Nebraska. Take the points.
Part of the reason Ohio State comes in as such a heavy underdog tonight is that they have not had a good January in terms of wins and losses. Before beating Nebraska on Saturday, the Buckeyes had lost five straight games and were 0-6 ATS their L6. But winning at Nebraska was no small feat as the Cornhuskers are still a legit top 20 team. The five-game losing streak that preceded Saturday's win was OSU's longest in 21 seasons. They played desperate Saturday and should be very motivated coming in as a big dog against their rivals tonight.
Michigan destroyed Indiana Friday night, racing out to a 17-0 lead and never looking back in what ended up as a 69-46 win and cover. But prior to that, they'd been struggling a bit. The previous seven days saw them suffer their 1st loss of the season (at Wisconsin) and then need a buzzer-beater to escape w/ a win over Minnesota here in Ann Arbor. Tip your cap to another phenomenal coaching effort from John Beilein this season as the Wolverines were not a preseason top 10 team. But I think the pointspread catches up w/ them here as they're only 9-9 ATS as a favorite and 5-7 ATS at home. This just feels like it will be a close game. 8* Ohio State
|01-29-19||Wizards v. Cavs +7.5||Top||113-116||Win||100||12 h 54 m||Show|
8* Cleveland (7:05 ET): I just cashed the Cavs as an underdog, on Sunday, as they won outright at Chicago. Now, I know you're thinking the likelihood of them winning B2B games is rather small. But, despite the multitude of injuries this team is dealing with right now, I actually think they're in a good spot tonight. They're at home, which might be more significant when it comes to analyzing their opponent as Washington has been a very poor road team this season, checking in w/ marks of 6-19 SU and 7-18 ATS. I would never want to lay this many points w/ the Wizards on the road.
For the Wiz, this marks their third consecutive game away from home. The trip started w/ an outright win in Orlando, but then they lost by 13 at San Antonio on Sunday. That loss saw the Wizards' defensive woes continue as they allowed the Spurs to shoot 57% from the field. The fact that the Spurs were w/o DeMar DeRozan did not even matter as they had seven players finish in double figures anyway. Even though Washington has played better w/o John Wall, the fact remains that they are 29th (next to last) in the league in PPG allowed (115.9). They allow 117.4 PPG on the road.
So Cleveland should find ways to score tonight. They've played better defense of late, giving up 104 pts or less in three of their last four contests. Coming off a win, coupled w/ the fact they have not won a home game since before X-Mas, should have them extra motivated. One of their 10 wins this season did come against the Wizards and was here at home. In fact, that 15-point win was their third largest margin all season. Washington was a 7.5-pt road favorite for that game. They have been a road fave only one time since then and lost outright again, to Atlanta. For the year, the Wizards are 2-5 SU and ATS in the road chalk role. Take the points. 8* Cleveland
|01-28-19||TCU v. Texas Tech -4.5||Top||65-84||Win||100||12 h 55 m||Show|
10* Texas Tech (9:00 ET): Texas Tech is a better team that I think most people realize. The Red Raiders are #1 in the country in defensive efficiency (per KenPom), which can help a team go a long way come March. But offense is also required in this sport and that's where this team has failed at time this season. Recently, they lost three in a row, including a putrid 45-point effort at Kansas State last week. But stepping out of Big XII play proved fruitful on Saturday as they beat Arkansas 67-64. Still, they did not cover though and that leaves the Red Raiders at a money-burning 1-8-1 ATS their L10 games.
TCU is a team that I thought was overrated coming into the season. But the Horned Frogs have fought their way back and should probably now be considered one of the top 25 teams in America. But they're still not as good as Texas Tech. Like the Red Raiders, the Horned Frogs were successful in the Big 10 vs. SEC Challenge, beating a good Florida team 55-50 on Saturday. It was TCU's second straight close win as they beat Texas (in Ft Worth) by four last Wednesday. But the problem for Jaime Dixon's team is they have yet to win a conference road game. They're 0-3 SU, having lost at Kansas State, Oklahoma and Kansas this month.
Texas Tech's #1 ranking in defensive efficiency and being at home should go a long way tonight. They are 11-1 SU in Lubbock and give up only 52.0 PPG. TCU shot just 36% from the field against Florida, so I think points are going to be very difficult to come by for them this evening. Nine of the past 13 meetings have gone the Red Raiders' way, including both last season. I look at T.T. as a very undervalued side here, likely due to the fact they've recently struggled so much against the spread. But, even off a win, this qualifies as a great "buy low" spot as they'll be desperate to snap a three-game losing streak in conference play. 10* Texas Tech
|01-28-19||Nuggets v. Grizzlies +6.5||Top||95-92||Win||100||11 h 3 m||Show|
10* Memphis (8:05 ET): The Grizzlies were a 10* Game of the Week winner for me on Saturday as they upset the favored Pacers here at home. Despite how badly Memphis has struggled - both SU and ATS - over the last month, I thought that line was curious at best considering Indiana was w/o its leading scorer (Victor Oladipo) for the contest. Tonight shapes up as a tougher task for the Grizz when they play host to Denver. The Nuggets have been a surprise this year in that they are keeping pace w/ Golden State for the top spot in the West. But I think this is too many points to lay Monday night. Take the points in this one.
Both teams are playing a third game in four nights. For the first two, in both cases, the teams have been fortunate enough to play at home. But now the Nuggets must hit the road for just the 2nd time in 16 days. They have not won away from home since beating Miami by four on January 8th. Since then, they've been upset by Phoenix and also lost to Utah. I played against them in that Utah game, which dropped them to just 11-11 SU on the road this season. The Nuggets have actually been outscored on the road and they're only 5-6 ATS when favored.
Denver has scored 70+ pts in the 1st half of each of their last two games. But those games were against Phoenix (worst team in the West) and a Philadelphia squad that was playing w/o both Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid. Don't look for anything close to a similar offensive output tonight as Memphis is 2nd in the league in PPG allowed at 104.0. You have to figure the Grizzlies will start to perform better at the betting window after going a money-burning 3-19 ATS over the 22 games prior to beating Indiana on Saturday. I look for Memphis to slow this game down and cover the spread. 10* Memphis
|01-27-19||Florida State v. Miami-FL +3.5||Top||78-66||Loss||-105||11 h 44 m||Show|
8* Miami FL (6:00 ET): Miami played a bad game Thursday, losing by 20 at the Carrier Dome. But Syracuse had been a hot team (well, until yday), so maybe that loss can be excused. Then again, another loss was the last thing they needed down in Coral Gables as the Hurricanes have gone just 1-5 SU their last six games to fall to 9-9 SU on the year. But it should be pointed out that the Canes have faced most of the best teams in the ACC so far. The one exception is their only conference win, 76-65 over Wake Forest, which came here at home two weeks ago. I'll take the points here as Miami is desperate and Florida State is a shaky road favorite.
FSU did get back on track itself w/ a 77-68 win over Clemson on Tuesday. But before that, the Seminoles had lost three in a row to tumble out of the top 25. I personally never bought the Noles as a Top 25 team so said tumble was not surprising to me. The key vs. Clemson was three-point shooting as they made 10 shots from behind the arc, their most vs. any ACC opponent and second most in a game all season. This is a team that went into that game shooting just 31.3% from long distance. On the road, I would not expect the Seminoles to have another prolific game from three-point range today.
FSU's last two road games were losses to BC and Pitt, two of the ACC's weaker teams. So them being favored today seems like a precarious bet at best. They were favored in those two previous losses as well, dropping them to a 6-11 ATS as a favorite overall this season. Miami is averaging 77.3 PPG at home this season where it has gone 7-3 SU. One of those three losses was to North Carolina. The other two were by a combined eight points. Florida State may again be w/o one of its best players, Phil Cofer, who is battling a foot injury. 8* Miami FL
|01-27-19||Cavs +7.5 v. Bulls||Top||104-101||Win||100||8 h 19 m||Show|
10* Cleveland (3:30 ET): The two worst teams in the league square off again Sunday afternoon. The Bulls have certainly gotten the better of the Cavs this season, going 3-0 SU (2-1 ATS) in head to head meetings, including a pair of double digit wins in Cleveland. The most recent matchup took place just six days ago w/ the Bulls winning 104-88 as three-point road favorites. That is Chicago's only win of 2019 as they are 1-12 SU the L13 games. Not to be outdone, Cleveland also has just one win in 2018 and is 1-18 SU its last 19 games. Other than Chicago being 3-0 SU in the H2H meetings, there really isn't that much of a difference between these teams. I'll take the points.
You have to figure Cleveland is due to play better against Chicago than it has the last two tries. Now the Cavs are extremely banged up right now w/ the likes of Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr all out. It's not like the post-LeBron roster was particularly strong anyway. But two nights ago, the Cavs at least earned themselves a cover at home against Miami. They led that game outright at the half. One player to keep an eye on is Cedi Osman, who has been a double digit scorer in 31 of the team's 48 games. He's scored a total of 54 points the last two games.
The Bulls blew a 12-point lead in their last game, which ended up being a 106-101 loss here at home to the Clippers. So I wouldn't exactly trust them in the role of favorite, which they are in today for just the 4th time all season. Two of the previous three instances have been against Cleveland and they did NOT cover the spot at home. The Bulls, like the Cavs, are dealing w/ a lot on the injury front. I would not expect them to shoot the ball as well from three-point range here as they did last week in Cleveland when they were 15 of 30. The Bulls are only 5-19 SU at home this season. 10* Cleveland
|01-27-19||Michigan State v. Purdue +3.5||Top||63-73||Win||100||6 h 44 m||Show|
10* Purdue (1:00 ET): This shapes up as a heck of a contest. #6 Michigan State has won 13 in a row, the third longest such streak in the nation, trailing only Tennessee (14) and Hofstra (16!). But I have Purdue as the most underrated team in the country right now. The advanced metrics LOVE this Boilermakers squad in spite of their somewhat pedestrian six-loss resume. One of those six losses came up in East Lansing about three weeks ago, 77-59 as 7-point dogs. Today, they'll get their shot at revenge and to prove they're as good as those advanced metrics say they are. I think they get the job done. Take the points.
Now Michigan State hasn't just won 13 straight games. They've also covered the spread nine straight times. They are 9-0 SU/ATS in conference play and coming off an 82-67 win at Iowa on Thursday. But despite the rather convincing final margin of victory, that wasn't an "easy" game for Sparty per se. They trailed at the half. Also, Iowa shot very poorly from the field. The Hawkeyes finished the game at 38.6% overall and were 5 of 24 from three-point range. Some of the credit must go to the MSU defense (#6 nationally in efficiency), but I expect Purdue to shoot a lot better here than Iowa did. A big part of the reason the Boilermakers are still unbeaten here in West Lafayette (9-0 SU) is that they average 81.4 PPG on 48.5% shooting.
Another key in Michigan State picking up its school record 21st consecutive Big 10 victory Thursday was that Iowa, the nation's best team at getting to the FT line, only had eight attempts from the charity stripe. Michigan State also turned it over 19 times in Iowa City. Purdue, who has gotten hot w/ four straight wins to get to 6-2 SU in the Big 10, is a better team that Iowa. Their ONLY loss since X-Mas was the one to Michigan State. Despite a slow start Wednesday, the Boilermakers still won by double digits at Ohio State (even w/ the Buckeyes shooting 52%). Michigan State has not won here in West Lafayette since 2014. This is a rare home underdog opportunity w/ Purdue. 10* Purdue
|01-26-19||San Francisco -2.5 v. San Diego||Top||63-67||Loss||-110||10 h 44 m||Show|
8* San Francisco (10:00 ET): Not sure if the "bloom is off the rose" or what, but the Dons are deserving of far more respect than this! This is a team w/ a 17-3 SU record and two of those losses are to Buffalo and Gonzaga. The other one was a 2-pt loss at UCSB after a week-long holiday layoff. The Dons sport a strong defensive efficiency rating (34th), which is the highest in the West Coast Conference. I don't see San Diego measuring up tonight. Lay the short number.
Consider this: San Francisco has already beaten two Pac 12 teams this season. Now that may speak to how bad the Pac 12 actually is this year, and the two teams were Stanford and Cal, but those wins came by an average of 14 PPG. That's right in line w/ the Dons' season-long scoring margin. They're also 4-1 SU in "true" road games. Their last three have all been decided by three points or less (six pts total!), so maybe that's the reason for the short number here. But I just don't see any area where San Diego is a better basketball team. The Dons also have double revenge here, stemming from a pair of losses last season.
USD is off an impressive DD win at home as they beat Loyola Marymount by 13 on Thursday. But USF is also off a DD win at home as they beat Portland by 22. San Diego has followed up every conference win this year w/ a loss. One of those losses took place here at home, as eight-point chalk, to a Pepperdine team that rarely wins on the road. USD has also been fortunate to avoid Gonzaga to this point, but that ends next Saturday when they'll head to Spokane. San Francisco is the 2nd best team in the WCC this season and they'll demonstrate that Saturday night. 8* San Francisco
|01-26-19||Warriors v. Celtics +4||Top||115-111||Push||0||9 h 35 m||Show|
8* Boston (8:35 ET): So the key here is that Kyrie Irving has been upgraded to probable for the Celtics. I was tempted to take Boston here even w/o him, but his presence was the "cherry on top." I'd like to state for the record that if for some reason Kyrie does NOT play, this play still stands. The Celtics are a great play as a home underdog, even against the vaunted Warriors.
Golden State has won nine straight while clearly hitting its stride. But this will be their 4th consecutive game out on the road and second in three nights. Much of the win streak has come against lackluster competition. Only thee of the nine wins have come against teams with winning records and one of those was the LeBron-less Lakers. One of those others was over the struggling Clippers, who are now 27-22 SU. The win at Denver is very impressive. Other than that, the Dubs have simply taken advantage of the schedule.
Look for Boston to make a move up the Eastern Conference standings. They're already a better team than the two teams in front of them - Indiana and Philadelphia - no matter what the records say. Now Indiana is without its leading scorer (Victor Oladipo) the rest of the season. The Celtics' YTD point differential of +6.5 PPG is basically identical to that of the Warriors (+6.8), so getting points with them here at home seems like a very solid value. Boston is on its own win streak right now, having won five in a row, all by comfortable margins. They are 19-5 SU here at home. Take the points. 8* Boston
|01-26-19||Pacers v. Grizzlies +4.5||Top||103-106||Win||100||12 h 15 m||Show|
10* Memphis (8:00 ET): As bad as things have gotten in Memphis, I don't think they should be getting this many points at home, even in the second night of a back to back. I say this because their opponent finds itself in a far more precarious situation Saturday. This will mark Indiana's first game since losing leading scorer Victor Oladipo for what will be the rest of the year. This is a crippling loss for a Pacers team I believed would regress this season anyway. That regression call seemed incorrect for most of the year, but all of a sudden it's looking like a reality.
Memphis lost last night 99-96 to Sacramento. It was not just their third loss in a row as a home favorite, but also their eighth straight loss overall and 14th in the last 15 games. Things have rapidly fallen apart here w/ the team also going an unfathomable 3-19 ATS in its last 22 games. But tonight they're facing a wounded foe, getting points at home, and in a better spot than most think. This will be just the third time in eight home games in 2019 that they are the dog. The other two were vs. San Antonio and Milwaukee. They upset the Spurs.
Oladipo left Wednesday's game vs. Toronto with a knee injury. The worst was feared and those fears were confirmed 24 hours later when it was announced Oladipo was done for the season. Having to go the rest of the season w/o their leading scorer is obviously tough. It's even worse here when you consider they give up over 108 PPG on the road. There's no way to properly quantify how the Pacers will play w/o Oladipo right now, but you have to guess it will be "worse." I'm a little shocked to see the public basically disregarding the injury and betting the Pacers anyway. That may have more to do w/ Memphis' play over the last month, but I look for the Grizz to take advantage tonight. Take the points. 10* Memphis
|01-26-19||Texas State v. Georgia Southern -2||Top||58-74||Win||100||9 h 9 m||Show|
10* Georgia Southern (5:00 ET): Texas State is off to an absolutely stunning start to the season as they're 17-3 SU and all alone in 1st place in the Sun Belt. Such a start to the season has not been seen in San Marcos since the 1959-60 campaign, something that I'm sure very few remember. The Bobcats have 1st place to their lonesome by virtue of upsetting Georgia State Thursday. They did so in highly impressive fashion, going on an 18-0 second half run and ending up w/ an 81-68 win (as 3.5-pt dogs). But I think it speaks volumes that this team again comes in as the underdog, as they stay in the Peach State to face Georgia Southern.
While Texas State is off a SU win as a road dog, Georgia Southern is off an outright loss as a home favorite. So it's the exact opposite situation for them as they get set to play a second home game in three days while Texas State is on the road for the second time in three days. The Eagles lost as 9.5-point faves to TX-Arlington on Thursday, which was a pretty stunning setback all things considered. Ga Southern led by six at the half and by 13 early in the second, but completely fell apart down the stretch. They didn't make a single basket in the final 3:35 and finished only 5 of 21 from three-point range. It's somewhat perplexing how a team that averages 89.0 PPG at home is only 5-3 straight up in its own gym.
Georgia Southern's last four losses have all been by five points or less, so their record could be a LOT better coming into this game. One of those four close losses came against Texas State, 73-70, back on January 3rd. That game saw the Eagles again betrayed by three-point shooting as they went just 3 of 19 from behind the arc. That won't be happening again today, especially after another shaky performance from long distance. Perhaps the Eagles should focus on the interior as - despite less than stellar numbers from 3-pt range - they are still shooting 50% overall for the year. The situation calls for a big-time performance from the home side here. 10* Georgia Southern
|01-26-19||Marquette v. Xavier +3||Top||87-82||Loss||-110||6 h 9 m||Show|
10* Xavier (2:00 ET): Going by the top 25, I have Marquette as the most overrated team in the country right now. Certainly, tip your cap to the Golden Eagles for starting 17-3 SU. But two of those losses were blowouts to teams (Indiana, St. John's) that simply aren't as good as we thought they once were. For a frame of reference, I have Marquette as just the 29th best team in America. So that's a big difference from where the pollsters have them (12th). They were able to escape earlier this week against DePaul. But it should be a different story this afternoon at Xavier.
The Musketeers are in dire need of a win here. They enter this game off B2B defeats, one at the hands of Villanova (no big deal) and the other vs. Providence. The loss to Providence came Wednesday here at home. Xavier turned the ball over 18 times in that game, which ended up being a difference maker in a two-point game. The Musketeers are now just 3-4 SU in Big East play. One thing that's not up for debate is that this is a huge revenge game for the home dog today. They lost up in Marquette earlier this month, 70-52, as 7.5-point dogs. Oddsmakers have definitely adjusted their view of the teams for this rematch. There's now some real value on Xavier.
In that first meeting, Xavier had a dreadful shooting night. They went just 17 of 54 from the field (31.5%), which included a horrible 1 of 17 from three-point range. They won't shoot anywhere close to that poorly again here as they're averaging 77.1 PPG on 49.6% shooting here at home. On the flip side, Marquette does not play good defense away from home, giving up 85.2 PPG. The Golden Eagles have played just four "true" road games previously. They were blown out by Indiana and St. John's. Their two wins, over Creighton and Georgetown, were by a total of five points and one (Creighton) was an overtime game. They trailed at the half in both. It's time for this team to drop a game. 10* Xavier
|01-26-19||Texas-Arlington v. Georgia State -8||Top||71-77||Loss||-115||5 h 9 m||Show|
8* Georgia State (1:00 ET): The Sun Belt traditionally employs a Thursday-Saturday schedule, meaning you get a lot of teams playing two road games in three days. That's the case this afternoon for Texas Arlington, who just upset Georgia Southern two nights ago, on the road. The Mavericks improved to 6-1 ATS in SBC play w/ a 72-67 outright victory as 9.5-point underdogs. That win moved them into a second place tie w/ Saturday's opponent, Georgia State, who happens to be coming off an outright loss to first place Texas State (here at home) on Thursday. This is an excellent sell high/buy low spot with the two teams involved here.
Georgia State's loss to Texas State on Thursday was the second straight time they've gone down in conference play following a 5-0 start. The Panthers had actually won seven in a row before going to Troy last Saturday and getting upset there as well. That was a 77-75 loss where Troy hit the GW three-pointer w/ 1.7 seconds remaining. Thursday was equally as disappointing w/ 1st place in the Sun Belt on the line and Texas State came in and laid it to them. That game was all about an 18-0 2nd half run (by Texas State obvi). But it bears noting that this Georgia State team has been to the NCAA Tournament two of the last four years and was the favorite to win the SBC coming into 2018-19.
Georgia State hadn't lost at home before going down at the hands of Texas State Thursday, and I don't see them losing two straight here in Atlanta. UT Arlington averages just 62.6 PPG away from home this year. They are a surprising 3-0 SU on the conference road so far, but were actually 6.5-point underdogs when they visited Appalachian State, who is now 0-6 and the last place team in the SBC. A five-game win streak has the Mavericks overrated coming into Saturday while at the same time, the B2B losses for Georgia State clearly have them undervalued. I'll lay the points w/ the vastly superior side as the Panthers average 83.1 PPG here at home. 8* Georgia State
|01-26-19||Iowa State -1 v. Ole Miss||Top||87-73||Win||100||4 h 10 m||Show|
8* Iowa State (12:00 ET): Iowa State is the better team here, although you probably could have already ascertained that simply by looking at the line. But I say that the Cyclones still aren't getting the respect they deserve in this Big 12 vs. SEC Challenge matchups. Yes, the game will take place in Oxford. But, Ole Miss has twice proven that they probably don't belong in the Top 25. Earlier this week, they were blown out by Alabama (73-54). That was the Rebels second straight Thursday loss as they week prior saw them beaten here at home by LSU. Iowa State is a legit Top 15 team in the country and will make a statement here.
ISU is off a loss themselves. On Monday, they fell by four at Kansas, a tough result considering they led at the half. For virtually the entire 1H, the Cyclones were out in front, but a 14-0 run by KU in the second half changed things dramatically. The Jayhawks wound up shooting nearly 52% from the field and when they do that, they're extremely tough to beat at Allen Fieldhouse. Yet, Iowa State still only lost by four points. Consider that four of the Cyclones' five losses this year have been by four points or fewer. They easily could have an 18-1 SU record coming into this game.
Ole Miss has definitely been a surprise in the SEC (were picked to finish last!). Taking advantage of low expectations, they have a 15-3 ATS record. But double digit losses in two of their last three games tell me that the Rebels are finally "coming back down to Earth." They did not play a very challenging non-conference schedule, so the fact they are 11-1 ATS outside the SEC doesn't mean as much as you might think. After losing to LSU last week, the Rebels did bounce back with a nice win (here at home) vs. Arkansas. But Iowa State is a much tougher foe than Arkansas. Ole Miss simply did not look very good against Bama, scoring a season-low 53 points. Iowa State will be their best team they have faced all season. 8* Iowa State
|01-25-19||Michigan v. Indiana +4.5||Top||69-46||Loss||-110||11 h 31 m||Show|
8* Indiana (6:30 ET): It's been a pretty shaky week for Michigan, who suffered its first loss of the year (at Wisconsin) last Saturday and then barely escaped Minnesota (at home) on Tuesday. The former saw the Wolverines turn in a season-worst performance. They weren't a whole lot better vs. Minnesota, scoring fewer than 60 pts for a second straight time. They needed a buzzer-beater just to prevail and they're now a dismal 20% from three-point range (8 of 40) the L2 games while being well below 40% shooting overall. Things will get no easier tonight in Bloomington as the face a desperate (and revenge-minded) Indiana team.
The Hoosiers come into this Friday night showdown on a five-game losing streak. The streak began w/ a 74-63 loss at Michigan on January 6th. Foul trouble cost IU that game. At the time, they were ranked 21st in the country and on a seven-game win streak. They've been playing short-handed recently, which has certainly contributed to the current losing skid. But they've still only lost one home game this season (to a vastly underrated Nebraska squad). Like Michigan against Wisconsin, I faded Indiana in that home loss. So I feel I know these teams well.
At home, I expect the Hoosiers to come out hot in this one. They are 0-4 SU/ATS vs. Michigan the L4 meetings. But I am a bit surprised to see them getting points at home. This will be the 1st time they're a home dog all year. I suppose it makes sense given Michigan's lofty ranking, but I believe the Maize and Blue are a bit overrated right now. Race Thompson, who has missed the entirety of the season so far for Indiana (concussion), could debut here. The Hoosiers are a significantly better team at home and Michigan is struggling right now. Take the points. 8* Indiana
|01-24-19||Wolves v. Lakers +1.5||Top||120-105||Loss||-101||14 h 23 m||Show|
8* LA Lakers (10:35 ET): LeBron James is still out and this will be the second time this month Minnesota gets to face the Lakers w/o him. The T'wolves won the first time, 108-86, but that was at home. On the road, this team is a lot more shaky. Even after winning at Phoenix, their road record is just 7-16 SU on the year. That's a big difference from their 16-8 SU record at home. The Lakers may only be 5-9 SU since James went down on X-Mas, but I like them here as a home dog as they'll at least be getting PG Rajon Rondo back in the lineup. Tonight is actually the 4th time these teams have met this season. The home team has won every time.
Let's look at the respective competition these teams have faced recently. Minnesota is coming off a home and home w/ lowly Phoenix. They won both games, but the Suns were the only team in the Western Conference w/ a win percentage below .400 entering yday. Meanwhile, the Lakers are coming off a three-game gauntlet of Oklahoma City, Houston and Golden State. Despite being w/o James, LA beat OKC and led Houston by as many as 21 (before losing in OT). Golden State has regained its mojo and the Lakers simply could not keep pace from behind the three-point arc. So that was a tough one. But there's no denying that Minnesota is a clear drop in class from what the Lakers have faced over the past week.
Minnesota isn't too far removed from a coaching change. They are 4-3 SU since Ryan Saunders (son of Flip) became the HC, but I'm not exactly sure they're a demonstrably better team now, if better at all. Three of the four wins under Saunders have come by four points or less. The exception was at Phoenix on Tuesday, a game where the opponent was severely short-handed. The Suns entered the game w/o Deandre Ayton, then lost Devin Booker to an ankle injury and T.J. Warren to an ejection. The Lakers are obviously short-handed themselves, but Rondo being back will help. Meanwhile, Minnesota is still missing Jeff Teague. 8* LA Lakers
|01-24-19||Appalachian State +2.5 v. Arkansas State||Top||81-82||Win||100||12 h 49 m||Show|
8* Appalachian State (8:00 ET): It would appear as if Appalachian State has little going for itself going into Thursday night's game in Jonesboro. The Mountaineers are 0-11 SU on the road and have dropped six in a row overall. They are the only team in the Sun Belt w/o a conference win. So you may be wondering why they're only a small dog on the road. Well, Arkansas State isn't very good either. The Red Wolves have their own three-game losing streak coming into tonight and are 0-5 ATS the L5 games. In what shapes up as an "ugly game," I'll take the points.
App State has generally been competitive here in conference play. Three of the five losses have been by six points or less. Saturday's game at Coastal Carolina was certainly their worst effort yet against a Sun Belt opponent as they fell by 17. Really, the game was "over before it started" w/ CC racing out to a 16-0 lead to start the game. From there, App State played basically an even game, but it hardly mattered. After such a brutal start to a game, I expect the Mountaineers to come out far more focused tonight against an opponent they know they can beat.
App State definitely "owes" Arkansas State after losing to them three straight times, all by five points or less. Last year's two meetings were decided by a total of eight points and the last two times the Mountaineers have come to Jonesboro, they've lost by one and three points. Arkansas State was 0-2 last week, scoring just 59 and 64 points in losses to TX-Arlington and Texas State. Both losses were on the road. While the Red Wolves have been better at home, you have to think this line is a little bit curious. Note Arkansas State was on the wrong end of a 30-0 (!) run in their last game as they missed 12 consecutive shots. This entire three-pack is based on fading shaky looking favorites and that's what the Red Wolves are here. 8* Appalachian State
|01-24-19||Middle Tennessee +4.5 v. Rice||Top||68-79||Loss||-109||12 h 49 m||Show|
8* Middle Tennessee (8:00 ET): It's been a pretty ugly year for the Blue Raiders. They're 5-14 SU and 4-13 ATS. But that hasn't stopped me from cashing them twice already this month. The first time was at Southern Miss exactly two weeks ago when they covered as 10.5-pt dogs in a 77-70 loss. Things worked out even better last Thursday when I had them as a four-point dog and they won outright over UTSA, 89-86. While that game ended up being close, note MTSU had a double digit lead for most of the second half and led by as many as 19 points! Let's make it three Thursdays in a row w/ this team as I'll again grab them as a road dog this week.
The good news didn't stop last Thursday for Middle Tennessee. They followed up their "upset" of UTSA w/ another win, this one over UTEP, also at home and by three points. This is the Blue Raiders' first win streak since starting the season w/ two wins over non-board teams. While the win over UTSA saw them jump out to a big lead early and hold on, MTSU was forced to rally vs. UTEP, coming back from an early 13-point deficit. The game was close for much of the second half and the Blue Raiders really helped themselves by scoring 27 points over 20 UTEP turnovers.
Rice is the opponent for Middle Tennessee this Thursday. The Owls have lost three in a row, all on the road, the last two each coming by a point. Those two one-point losses were both heartbreakers w/ the Owls losing on a buzzer beater each time. Saturday's 76-75 loss to North Texas (who is a good team) was really painful as the Owls blew a 16-point lead in that one. I know they've had four days off, but I wonder how much Rice will have left in the tank after a week like that. This is a team that gives up 79.2 PPG on the year. Wouldn't want any part of laying points w/ them right now. 8* Middle Tennessee
|01-24-19||Hofstra v. James Madison +7.5||Top||85-68||Loss||-109||11 h 49 m||Show|
8* James Madison (7:00 ET): The number of teams w/ unbeaten conference records seems to be rapidly dwindling. Count Hofstra among the survivors though as the Pride are off to a 7-0 start in the Colonial and have won 14 in a row overall, which is the nation's longest active win streak! They've already built a two-game lead in conference play. They are 7-1 ATS on the road (14-4 ATS overall), but I'd be a bit worried about this outfit considering it ranks an ugly 186th in the country in defensive efficiency. I'll take the points here as I'm not yet sold on this Hofstra team.
James Madison should be more than excited to be back home. The road has been unkind to the Dukes this season as they just dropped two more games last week away from home. They lost to Delaware on Thursday and Drexel on Saturday to fall to 2-5 in the CAA, which has them tied for last. Six of JMU's last nine games have been played on the road and they've lost all six. But they went 2-1 SU in the three home games w/ the one loss coming by only three points. The Dukes are 6-2 SU at home for the year and I think it's important to note that it's been over a month since this team lost a game by more than seven points.
Hofstra's two road wins in league play were both three point games. They needed three overtimes to win one of them (William & Mary) while a 74-71 win at Elon required them to battle back from an eight-point halftime deficit. The team can score, but it's shooting percentage are down considerably when on the road. James Madison certainly looked as if it was headed for a win Saturday at Drexel when it jumped out to an early 22-4 lead. But it was not to be and they lost 73-68 as a 3.5-pt road dog. Their own offensive numbers are way up here at home as they average 78.7 PPG on 47.5% shooting. They will be a tough out tonight. 8* James Madison
|01-23-19||Nuggets v. Jazz -3||Top||108-114||Win||100||14 h 5 m||Show|
10* Utah (10:35 ET): While I haven't been correct about everything this NBA season, one of my more "spot on" calls came earlier this month when I said the Jazz were set to go on a major run. Sure enough, that's exactly what's taken place. The team has gone 8-2 SU its L10 games, though they did lose Monday (here at home) to Portland, 109-104 as five-point chalk. As hot as they've been, I don't see the Jazz dropping B2B home games. A big reason for their success this month has been their play at home. They'll be hosting a Denver team that has played just one of its last six games on the road and that was at Phoenix, where they lost outright 102-93. Lay the points here.
Overall, the Nuggets are just 11-10 SU on the road this season. Now let's not sell this team short, shall we? They are 31-14 SU overall and just a game back of Golden State for the top spot in the Western Conference. But of course the Warriors did humiliate them last week - at home - in a 142-111 beatdown. Since then, Denver has gotten back on track w/ B2B blowouts over Chicago and Cleveland, the two worst teams in the league. Fatigue certainly shouldn't be a factor for the Nuggets here as they've been off since Saturday. But what about rust? The team is only 1-3 ATS this season when playing w/ three or more days rest.
The Jazz have certainly had the Nuggets' number here in Salt Lake City through the years, winning 38 of the past 46 matchups here. Perhaps what happened to Utah Monday night was a product of what could very well happen to Denver tonight. They could have been a bit overconfident following a recent string of wins, although in the end it simply boiled down to the fact the Blazers shot the ball a whole lot better. Denver is 6-0 SU/5-1 ATS in division games this season, but this sets up as a big revenge spot for the Jazz, who lost badly in the Mile High City back in November. They're certainly playing a lot better now and I look for them to beat the Nuggets for an eighth straight time here in SLC. They've held Denver below 90 pts in five of those seven previous wins, which have come by an average of 14 PPG. 10* Utah
|01-23-19||Long Beach State -1 v. CS-Northridge||Top||71-86||Loss||-105||14 h 31 m||Show|
8* Long Beach State (10:00 ET): We return to our "previously scheduled program" of fading Cal State Northridge, a team I maintain is getting too much respect from the oddsmakers on a game by game basis. Perhaps the joke is on me, however, as the Matadors have managed to go a somewhat impressive 7-1-1 ATS their last nine games. But that one ATS loss happened to be the last time I played against them, which was 1.17 at home vs. a Hawaii team that hadn't played on the road in months. The Matadors did cover over the weekend against UC Irvine, but lost the game straight up, by six points (they were getting seven).
Long Beach State is off an outright loss here as they lost by two, at home, to Cal State Fullerton. That was an overtime game as the 49ers were able to rally back from a 10-point halftime deficit. But, it was not to be as the extra period saw them only able to grab the lead briefly. Still, this is a team that has been beaten in regulation only one time since blowing an eight-point halftime lead on December 10th and that was at Stanford. While they did not cover either game LY vs. Cal State Northridge, LBSU did win both. They also won their last road game, beating UC Irvine exactly one week ago.
Cal State Northridge has been involved in a LOT of close calls so far this season. Their last nine games have all been decided by eight points or less w/ eight of them decided by six or less. They've managed to go 5-4 SU and 7-1-1 ATS in that stretch, but the loss to UC Irvine on Saturday was pretty crushing as it not only came here at home, but also saw the Matadors blow a 16-point halftime lead. They were outscored 43-21 over the game's final 20 minutes including a 14-0 run by UC Irvine in the final six minutes. Cal State Northridge was only able to secure the cover when they hit a "meaningless" three-pointer w/ two seconds remaining, their only made basket in the game's six minutes. 8* Long Beach State
|01-23-19||DePaul +10 v. Marquette||Top||69-79||Push||0||12 h 1 m||Show|
8* DePaul (8:30 ET): While it's an arguable point whether or not LSU belongs in the Top 25 right now, I think it's inarguable that Marquette is NOT the 12th best team in the country. Yet, that's exactly where the Golden Eagles find themselves this week, based on the strength of a 16-3 SU record and five-game win streak. Personally, I don't even consider Marquette a Top 25 team, so there's an argument to be had that they are the most overrated team in the country right now. Don't sleep on DePaul here as the Blue Demons just upset Seton Hall over the weekend. I'm taking the points in this Big East matchup.
DePaul is 11-8 SU and coming off its second upset of Seton Hall this season. The Blue Demons won 97-93, on the road, Saturday as 7-pt pups. It was an impressive all-around performance shooting the basketball for the contingent from Chicago as they made 52.5% of their field goal attempts, including 6 of 11 from three-point range, and went 29 of 32 from the free throw line. Making the Blue Demons a force to be reckoned with is the fact that was the third outright upset they've pulled in the last four games. In addition to getting Seton Hall twice, they also went to St. John's and won. Consider that Marquette lost by 20 at St. John's, though you do have to factor in that the Johnnies were w/o their leading scorer when they faced DePaul.
Marquette is 13-0 SU at home this season, putting them in a pretty exclusive class of 19 teams that are currently 10-0 SU or better on campus. Only Houston (14-0 SU) has a better home record. Certainly, that has to be a little bit intimidating for a DePaul team that is just 2-17 SU its L19 visits here. But this is an underdog that can score (77.6 PPG) and they have four different players averaging double figures. Note that Marquette's last three games have not been easy. Two were wins by four pts or less (Seton Hall, G'town) and then on Sunday, they had to come back and erase an eight-point halftime deficit (here at home) vs. Providence. 8* DePaul
|01-23-19||Cavs +15.5 v. Celtics||Top||103-123||Loss||-110||4 h 56 m||Show|
8* Cleveland (7:35 ET): The Cavs have been unspeakably bad for some time now as their lone win of 2019 came against the LeBron-less Lakers. They own the worst record/point differential in the league at 9-39 SU while being outscored by more than 10 points per game. They're dealing w/ injuries and the truth of the matter is that this season is going just about as poorly as the first time LeBron left them high and dry (2010). That all being said, this is simply too many points for Boston - or any other team, for that matter - to lay in a regular season contest. Take the points.
The Celtics have had their own set of issues this season. Granted, it's not even comparable to what's going on in Cleveland, but w/ just the 5th best record in the East right now, they're clearly underachieving. I would not be surprised to see them move up the standings over the course of the second half of the season, but winning by a margin larger than what the oddsmakers are calling for here could prove problematic. Even as the Celtics have won four in a row coming into tonight, none of the victories have been by double digits. They're a pretty strong home team (won 9 straight here), but even so, they're "only" outscoring visitors by an average of 10.4 PPG, a far cry from tonight's pointspread.
Short-handed as they might be, the Cavs will desperately want to atone for Monday's putrid performance at home vs. Chicago where they lost by 18. They'll also want revenge for a 33-point loss here in Boston earlier in the year. Believe it or not, but the Cavs do own two outright wins this year as a road underdog of at least 12.5 points. Boston has a home game vs. Golden State (Saturday night) to look forward to. Too much has to go right to cover a pointspread as large as this one. 8* Cleveland
|01-23-19||Georgia +11.5 v. LSU||Top||82-92||Win||100||11 h 31 m||Show|
8* Georgia (7:00 ET): LSU has cracked the top 25, but I'm not entirely sure they belong there. Sure, they own a 14-3 SU record and have won seven in a row since a failed attempt at ending Houston's unbeaten run (which has since come to an end). But the Bayou Bengals haven't exactly taken on the toughest competition the SEC has to offer. Even an 87-69 win Saturday over a South Carolina team that had previously not dropped a conference game wasn't all THAT impressive when you consider the Tigers were 9-pt favorites here in Baton Rouge. I think LSU is ripe for a letdown.
Georgia has taken on the best the SEC has to offer and it really hasn't gone too well for them. They are 1-4 SU in SEC play, but those losses were to Tennessee (new #1 team in the country), Kentucky (hot as anybody right now), Auburn (who I still consider a top 15 team) and Florida. In my own personal power rankings, I have all of those teams rated higher than LSU. Now UGA lost all four of those games by double digits. But they should come in very motivated tonight and with some confidence, knowing that they are a perfect 3-0 (straight up) vs. LSU the past two seasons.
LSU HC Will Wade noted his team didn't handle being ranked in the polls very well earlier this year. "Human nature is to relax; human nature is to give in a little bit," he said. That's what happened after LSU started the year 5-0 SU and found itself ranked #19 in the country. They then lost their next two games, to Florida State and Oklahoma State. While the Tigers are on a 17-game home win streak (10-0 TY), the last team to beat them here in Baton Rouge was UGA, 61-60 last season. The Bulldogs played better than the final score (62-52) showed vs. Florida on Saturday as they shot almost 58% from the field (but 38% in the 2H), only to turn it over 20 times, which led to 28 pts for the Gators. Despite all that, the Dawgs were still up by five in the 2H. Take the points tonight. 8* Georgia
|01-22-19||Wichita State +2.5 v. South Florida||Top||41-54||Loss||-110||13 h 1 m||Show|
10* Wichita State (8:00 ET): What a difference a year makes. Last year, right around this time, Wichita State hosted USF and was a 29-point favorite at Koch Arena. They wound up covering that lofty spread in a 95-60 blowout win. Now, a year later, they are getting points from the Bulls in Tampa. While we know it's been a down year for the Shockers, this is a bad line in my opinion. Wichita State is coming off a tough run of games, losing to the top two teams in the American (Houston, Cincinnati) plus an OT defeat at the hands of Temple. Their one win in the last four games came as a short dog, at home though, against UCF last Wednesday. I'm taking the points here.
South Florida is 12-6 SU overall, but only 2-4 SU in conference play. They are a definite "drop in class" in terms of opponent for Wichita State, who just played the four top teams in the American all in a row. With five losses in its last six games (including one out of conference to VCU), the Shockers will be a desperate team tonight. Then again, four of USF's six losses have come in the last five games. They too had a tough time against the top teams from the American as they've just lost three in a row to Temple, Cincy and Houston. Only one team can get on track here though and I think it's going to be Wichita State.
South Florida shot very poorly Saturday against Houston, leading to a seven-game home win streak coming to an end. As for Wichita State's loss to Cincinnati, that was a close game (five points) before HC Gregg Marshall and freshman Erik Stevenson were both whistled for technical fouls for complaining about the officiating. Given that the Bearcats attempted 35 free throws to the Shockers' seven, maybe they had a right to complain. I thought USF was a bit lucky defensively against Houston as the Cougars didn't shoot the ball particularly well either. That came after the Bulls allowed B2B 82-point games to their two previous opponents. I'm on Wichita State here. 10* Wichita State
|01-22-19||Bowling Green v. Eastern Michigan -1.5||Top||80-67||Loss||-112||12 h 2 m||Show|
8* Eastern Michigan (7:00 ET): Maybe I should have called this as an "oddsmakers trap" as opposed to an "error." Because I think most would be surprised to see a team w/ an unbeaten conference record (Bowling Green) getting points from a team w/ a losing record (like 8-10 Eastern Michigan). But the bottom line is that BG is a pretty fraudulent group, despite being 5-0 SU in MAC play. Granted, I tried fading them over the weekend and that certainly didn't work out as the Falcons blew out Western Michigan. But that game was also at home where they're now 10-0 SU on the year. The road has been a different story and tonight's game in Ypsilanti will be their 1st conference loss of the year.
Eastern Michigan can claim a similar home vs. road dichotomy. They're a solid 7-3 SU at home this year, but just 1-7 on the road. They just lost at Buffalo over the weekend by 12, but covered the spread. As you probably know, the Bulls are the MAC's other unbeaten, but certainly far stronger than Bowling Green. Though they've lost twice to Buffalo this month, Eastern Michigan should hold its head high knowing they were 2-0 ATS vs. the #14 team in the country. The MAC slate will only get much easier from here and it should be noted that four of the Eagles' 10 losses this year have come against teams currently ranked in the top 15. Two others were to Power 5 schools.
Bowling Green has lost five of the seven "true" road games it has played this year. They might be a perfect 5-0 ATS in January and 8-0 ATS since December 8th, but Eastern Michigan happens to be riding its own 4-game ATS win streak. The Falcons have played an incredibly easy schedule to this point and might already be looking ahead to a showdown (at home) vs. Buffalo that takes place next week. I am simply not a believer in this team and Eastern Michigan isn't going to shoot only 28% from the field in this game like Western Michigan did vs. BG on Saturday. Lay the short number. 8* Eastern Michigan
|01-21-19||Marshall v. Western Kentucky -4.5||Top||59-68||Win||100||13 h 29 m||Show|
10* Western Kentucky (9:00 ET): This line should tell you all you need to know about the current C-USA standings. Marshall is the only team in the league w/o a loss, but the Thundering Herd come in as underdogs to Western Kentucky tonight in a rematch of a game played less than 10 days ago. Obviously, Marshall was victorious the first time around, but only by 1 point (70-69) and they had to rally back from a 15-point deficit. WKU is the better team here and should get its revenge tonight in Bowling Green. Lay the points.
Western Kentucky knows it let one slip away in Huntington and thus should come out highly motivated this evening. The disappointment from losing to Marshall the first time seemed to carry over into the Hilltoppers' next game, also a one-point loss, where they were 10-pt favorites over Florida International. Then again, that was a game WKU led by as many as 16 - at home. That not only made it B2B 1-pt losses, but three straight by three points or less. Finally, the Hilltoppers were able to get back into the win column on Saturday, defeating FAU 72-66 in their own come from behind effort. WKU is better than its 9-9 record as its last six losses have all been by six points or less.
Marshall has had just the opposite luck in close games. That 70-69 win over Western Kentucky was their third straight win by three points or less at the time and second straight by exactly one point. In their last road game, they were only able to defeat Charlotte (last place team in C-USA) 85-84. The Herd are also off a week where they played both FAU and FIU (just in the reverse order). They gave up plenty of points in both games, including 97 to FIU on Saturday. That marked the SIXTH time this season that they've allowed 90 pts in a game! Marshall has just been awful defensively on the road, giving up 88.0 PPG for the year and they rank an atrocious 221st in the country in defensive efficiency. I rate them only as the 4th best team in C-USA w/ WKU as one of the three that are better. 10* Western Kentucky
|01-21-19||Rockets +5 v. 76ers||Top||93-121||Loss||-100||13 h 35 m||Show|
8* Houston (8:05 ET): I think the better team is getting points in this one. James Harden has been on an all-time great run in terms of scoring, leading the Rockets to a 15-5 SU record in their last 20 games. Harden has scored 40 or more points in 10 of the last 13 games, including 48 in a wild come from behind victory out in Los Angeles Saturday night. Facing the LeBron-less Lakers, Houston trailed by as many as 21 before coming back to win the game in OT, 138-134. While falling into such a deep hole against a bad team doesn't exactly inspire confidence, this is a rare spot where the Rockets are getting points and I'll take advantage as Philadelphia remains overrated from where I sit.
The Sixers are coming off a loss Saturday afternoon to Oklahoma City. I played against them in that spot too, noting they were laying points to a better team. It ended up being just their 5th home loss of the year as Paul George saved the day for the Thunder w/ a four-point play in the final seconds. While that game ended up being close, note OKC led virtually the entire way and by as many as 16 in the first quarter. That terrible start ultimately doomed them. While the Sixers aren't likely to fall into such a deep early hole again tonight, the same can be said for the Rockets as it pertains to their previous effort.
With a red-hot Harden, I expect the Rockets to shoot a lot better tonight than they have in the last two games. Houston has actually played two straight overtime games as they lost to Brooklyn last Wednesday, 145-142 despite 58 from Harden. I don't think the B2B OT games will be much of a factor here as the Rockets have only played twice in the last five days. I mentioned earlier that its rare to find them as underdogs. The only time they've been a dog of more than two points in the last month was at Golden State (were +9) and they won that game outright. I just don't think Philly should be favored by this many against what I still view as a superior team, even at home. Take the points. 8* Houston
|01-21-19||Bulls v. Cavs +2||Top||104-88||Loss||-110||6 h 35 m||Show|
10* Cleveland (1:00 ET): I honestly thought the Cavs might be favored here. There's certainly an argument that they should. While it's true Cleveland is the worst team in the league right now, Chicago isn't much better. In fact, I'd consider the Bulls to be the second worst team w/ a power rating that's just a "touch" better. The Cavs are dealing w/ some injuries right now and just finished up a tough road trip w/ B2B blowout losses at the hands of Utah and Denver. But Chicago isn't fully healthy right now either and the Cavs likely remember suffering a 20-point loss here on their home floor right before X-Mas. They'll get their revenge here. Take the points.
Since beating the Cavs here on 12.23, the Bulls have dropped 10 straight and 11 of 12 overall. Tuesday's loss to the Lakers proved more costly than usual as Wendell Carter Jr tore ligaments in his thumb and is probably done for the season. Since losing Carter, the Bulls have lost by 30 to Denver and 14 to to Miami. Both of those opponents shot better than 52% from the field. The Bulls shot 39.3% in their last game as they continue to rank dead last in the league in offensive efficiency. It should be pointed out that Chicago was a slight dog the last time they came calling to Cleveland. The underdog is an incredible 22-5 ATS the past 27 meetings between these teams.
The Cavs have also cashed six of their last eight games vs. teams w/ a winning percentage of .400 or below. These teams have similar YTD records and point differentials w/ Chicago only slightly better. There's not many games you'd "expect" Cleveland to win anymore, but this is one for me. They're off a tough West Coast swing, have revenge and I just can't see them losing for a third straight time to the Bulls this season, including a second straight at home. These teams rate fairly evenly in my book, so I absolutely think the home team deserves more respect. 10* Cleveland
|01-20-19||Clippers +9 v. Spurs||Top||103-95||Win||100||10 h 30 m||Show|
10* LA Clippers (7:05 ET): The Clippers are reeling right now (lost 5 in a row), which I can't say is any kind of terrible surprise seeing as their hot start to the season was viewed as a surprise by many (including me). They've fallen to a precarious 8th place in a Western Conference where there's little margin for error and the team right behind them, the cross-town Lakers, will be getting LeBron back soon. Losing both Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari hurts - figuratively AND literally - but the result of those injuries and the recent slide is that the Clips are getting A LOT of points tonight in San Antonio, far more than they should. Take the points in this one.
The Spurs' season is trending in the opposite direction of the Clippers. Trading away Kawhi Leonard was supposed to signal a downturn in the Alamo, but as long as Greg Popovich is still coaching in San Antonio, this team is probably going to be good. They started 2018-19 slow and were particularly pourous on the defensive end. But they've certainly turned things around over the last month or so by going 16-6 SU their last 22 games. But even w/ such a run, they're still only two games up on the Clippers. Coming off B2B road wins (over Dallas & Minnesota), I think they're a little bit overvalued in this spot.
Playing Golden State is always tough, but the Clippers did themselves no favors Friday by shooting only 36.5% from the field. I had the Under in that contest (won easily), so I was happy. But the Clippers are far better than how they've looked in this 0-5 SU/ATS stretch while I feel the Spurs are due to start "giving some back" after a 17-5 ATS run. This is just too many points for a Clippers team that should come out desperate here. San Antonio has actually been outscored over its last five games, despite going 3-2 SU. Two of the three wins have been by four points or less while the other was a double overtime game. 10* LA Clippers
|01-20-19||Patriots v. Chiefs -2.5||Top||37-31||Loss||-135||74 h 57 m||Show|
10* Kansas City (6:40 ET): At long last, the Chiefs are finally back in an AFC Championship Game. It's their first appearance in one since 1993. Though the winner of this annual game gets the Lamar Hunt Trophy, named for the franchise's founder and long-time owner, this will be the first time EVER that Arrowhead Stadium has actually hosted an AFC Championship! The Chiefs had gone just 1-10 SU in playoff games since that '93 AFC Champ Game appearance (lost to Buffalo) and were a heinous 4-16 SU, 3-17 ATS in the playoffs since winning Super Bowl IV. But that was before they exorcised a lot of demons last week w/ a completely dominant performance here at home vs. what was a red-hot Colts team. I said last week that "this year would be different (for KC)" and I still feel that way now.
Compared to the Chiefs, the Patriots' playoff resume is obviously a lot more impressive. They've won 10 straight division (AFC East) titles and five Super Bowls. This will be their 8th straight AFC Championship Game appearance, which is incredible when you think about it, and they're going for an 11th all-time Super Bowl appearance (their 10 prev appearances is the NFL record). They've gone 4-3 SU the L7 years in the AFC Champ Game, winning it each of the last two years. No team has won the AFC three straight years since the Bills of the mid-90's. The only other team to do it was the Dolphins in the early 70's.
So enough w/ the history lesson, let's get down to the game. These teams did meet in the regular season w/ New England prevailing in a wild 43-40 game. But that was in Foxboro where the Patriots went undefeated this year (only team in the league to go unbeaten at home). Last week in Foxboro, everything that could go right for the Pats did as they routed the Chargers 41-28 (wasn't even that close). But this game is in Arrowhead and that presents a problem for Brady, Belichick and co. Kansas City's somewhat maligned defense is A LOT better at home, giving up just 17.4 PPG here. New England's offense, which averages 33.8 PPG at home, averages just 21.6 PPG on the road. That's a sizable dropoff, especially when having to compete w/ Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense, which averages 35.1 PPG. Kansas City, clearly, is the better offensive team in this matchup. New England has lost road games this year to Detroit, Tennessee, Jacksonville and Miami. I think homefield and revenge play a big factor here and Kansas City goes on to the Super Bowl. Lay the points! 10* Kansas City
|01-20-19||Illinois +8 v. Iowa||Top||71-95||Loss||-105||13 h 38 m||Show|
10* Illinois (1:00 ET): I've had some pretty good success betting Big 10 games this year. Just yesterday, I was on Wisconsin, who handed Michigan its first loss of the year. I also won w/ Penn State plus the points over Minnesota. Another Big 10 matchup I cashed earlier in the week was Illinois over Minnesota. The Illini, a slight dog on their home floor, won "going away" by 27 points. It was a much needed result in what has been quite the unlucky season in Champaign-Urbana. Sunday finds the Illini getting more points against an Iowa team that I feel is "ripe for the pickin'." Take the points here.
The Big 10 is very interesting this year. You could have as many as 10 teams making the NCAA Tournament. Michigan and Michigan State are the clear heavyweights. I happen to think that three of the more underrated teams in the country - Nebraska, Purdue and Wisconsin - hail from this league. I also think there's some overrated teams like Minnesota and Iowa. Illinois now has a chance to beat both overrated squads. They scored 51 pts in the 1st half against Minnesota on Wednesday and led for all but 28 seconds of that game. They ended up shooting 56.1% from the field.
Illinois had ample time to prepare for Minnesota (were off last weekend), but remember what I said in my analysis. They have played better than their record, even taking Michigan to the limit. They have three losses by exactly two points. As for Iowa, they've had quite the opposite kind of luck. They've pulled off three upsets in the last four games. They may or may not be getting leading scorer Tyler Cook back here. Cook sat out the win vs. Penn State earlier in the week as he's been hobbled by an ankle injury. But the Hawkeyes are 0 for their last 7 ATS in home games when the total is 155 to 159.5. That includes an 0-4 record this year. 10* Illinois
|01-19-19||Penn State +4 v. Minnesota||Top||64-65||Win||100||9 h 42 m||Show|
8* Penn State (8:30 ET): I smell upset here. Isn't a little curious that a Penn State team that is 0-7 SU and 1-6 ATS in Big 10 play is only a short road dog here to a Minnesota team that is 13-4 SU overall on the season? Of course, anyone who joined me for my ANTI-PUBLIC BURIAL against the Golden Gophers on Wednesday knows that this team is pretty much a fraud. The Gophers lost by 27 at Illinois, a team that also was without a Big 10 win at the time. Take the points here!
Penn State hasn't necessarily been bad this year, they've just been unlucky. Case in point, an 89-82 loss to Iowa on Wednesday where they were actually favored by 3.5 points. Iowa is a ranked team and the Nittany Lions held a five-point lead at the break. But it was not be as they ended the game w/ some extremely cold shooting. Up eight w/ just over 11 minutes to go in the game, they would go onto miss 16 of their next 21 shots and 10 in a row from three-point range. Also disappointing was the fact they didn't defend as well as they normally do. None of their previous five opponents had scored more than 71 points before Iowa (a good offensive team) went for 89. Despite this, the Nittany Lions still rank top 30 in the country in defensive efficiency.
In my writeup for that Minnesota-Illinois game, I said the line was just as curious as it looks to be here and this is due to the oddsmakers being all too aware how fraudulent the Gophers truly are. I talked about this quite a bit in the analysis for the Illinois game, but would like to add that this is a poor shooting team, from both two and three-point range as they sit outside the top 200 in percentage. They've been helped by a strong offensive rebounding rate, but that will probably go down here in Big 10 play. The Gophers really do not have a quality win. 8* Penn State
|01-19-19||Kings v. Pistons +2||Top||103-101||Push||0||12 h 1 m||Show|
10* Detroit (7:05 ET): The Pistons won last night here at home, beating Miami by a score of 98-93. They were 2.5-pt favorites and it was their 4th straight cover, a stretch which has also seen them go 3-1 SU as they try and remain relevant in the Eastern Conference playoff discussion. They're currently a game back of Charlotte (who hosts Phoenix today) for the 8th and final spot. Last night's win did not come w/o some attrition as Andre Drummond had to make an early exit after getting hit in the face. But despite them blowing all of a 16-pt lead, I was impressed w/ how they came back and won. Despite being in the second game of a back to back, I like them tonight.
Sacramento's last game only further confirmed my general skepticism towards them. They were blown out in Charlotte, 114-95, which for me was a ~SIGNATURE~ *10* ULTIMATE POWER release (on the Hornets). The Kings, like the Pistons, are hovering right under the "cut line" for the playoffs. But they have a negative point differential, indicating their winning SU record is at least a little fraudulent. Their defense is bottom five in the league (in terms of points per game allowed) and while they've been able to go 9-2 ATS as a favorite this season, I wouldn't be surprised if this line "flips" before tipoff.
Playing without rest and possibly some key players hardly sounds ideal, but I expect the Pistons to "step up" here. Drummond is officially listed as questionable, though HC Dwane Casey has said he's "hopeful" he can play. Backup PG Ish Smith also left last night's game early and is listed as "day to day." This one simply boils down to the fact that I do not believe in Sacramento moving forward. Note this is a revenge game for the Pistons, who lost out in California nine days ago. But they played that game w/o Blake Griffin. We know Griffin will play here and he's been on fire of late, averaging 29.3 points on 51.4% shooting his L10 games. Look for the home team to roll. 10* Detroit
|01-19-19||Western Michigan +8.5 v. Bowling Green||Top||48-79||Loss||-109||11 h 55 m||Show|
Start time for this game has been moved up due to weather. Play is still valid!
10* Western Michigan (2:30 ET): Bowling Green is the only MAC team besides Buffalo w/o a conference loss, but to consider those two squads as anything close to equals would be downright laughable. Buffalo is a legit top 20 team in the country right now. I wouldn't even consider BG to be among the top 200. While the Falcons' Saturday opponent, Western Michigan, isn't exactly lighting the world on fire, I do like the Broncos plus the points here. Bowling Green is not accustomed to being this large of a favorite and will struggle here to win by any kind of margin.
Bowling Green does enter this game on a seven-game ATS win streak. But the Falcons have been a slight underdog in three of their four MAC games, including here at home Tuesday where they escaped w/ a 79-78 victory over Ball State. They won that game despite shooting just 33.9% from the field. But they made 8 of the 20 three-pointers they took and were 29 of 33 from the FT line. Give credit to the Falcons for being 9-0 SU at home. They're averaging a lot of points here while visitors are shooting just 38.4% from the field. But I just don't see this good fortune continuing.
Western Michigan has dropped its last four games as well as seven of its last eight. As of now, they and Miami are the only teams in the MAC w/o a conference win. But the Broncos are coming off a couple of "game efforts" at home over the last week against Toledo and Buffalo. They actually gave Buffalo its toughest test in MAC play thus far - by far - as they led by 11 pts in the first half. Obviously, they weren't able to hold on, but they easily covered as 14-point home dogs. The L3 games have seen WMU score 73, 77 and 79 points. If they can get to that threshold today, then they'll have no problem covering this generous pointspread. 10* Western Michigan
|01-19-19||Virginia v. Duke -2.5||Top||70-72||Loss||-105||11 h 55 m||Show|
8* Duke (6:00 ET): This is a rare battle of teams each ranked #1 in different polls. Duke is the AP's top choice while Virginia is #1 according to the Coaches. This is just the 4th time this has happened in CBB history where teams ranked #1 in the two polls are meeting. Don't let the fact that Duke is w/o PG Tre Jones lure you into thinking the luster of this matchup is gone. I agree with the AP that the Blue Devils are the top team in the country, despite what happened to them earlier this week. Virginia is one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the country, but I believe they will go DOWN on Saturday. Lay the points.
It's certainly a bit odd to consider Duke an "anti-public" bet. But coming off a loss and w/o Jones, they are here. Facing an unbeaten team is also a contributing factor. But the Blue Devils have the depth to overcome the loss of Jones and will obviously be highly motivated coming off the 95-91 loss to Syracuse on Monday. That game saw them lose Jones to a separated shoulder just six minutes in and they were already w/o Cam Reddish. But Reddish is set to return here. Zion Williamson just set a Duke freshman record w/ 35 pts in that Syracuse game. The Blue Devils have outscored teams by more than 30 PPG here at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Virginia, as per usual, is the near the top of the country in defensive efficiency. They are giving up just 51.7 PPG and enter this game at 13-3 ATS. But two things to keep in mind here. One, it's hard to shake the memory of what happened to the Cavaliers in LY's NCAA Tournament. How will they handle this step up game? Two, I'm sure Duke remembers losing to Virginia LY here at home. This year's team is better w/ Williamson and R.J. Barrett and I don't see them going down in Durham two years in a row to the Hoos. This line should be higher. The fact that it's not is an overreaction to what happened Monday (Jones injury, Duke losing). 8* Duke
|01-19-19||Thunder +2.5 v. 76ers||Top||117-115||Win||100||9 h 31 m||Show|
8* Oklahoma City (3:30 ET): Both of these teams are coming off results that are not indicative of where they're truly "at" and the better team is getting points. Oklahoma City suffered an upset at the hands of the LeBron-less Lakers Thursday night, which was actually the second straight head-scratching result for them. Earlier in the week, they lost at Atlanta. So that's two games in a row where the Thunder have lost outright as a double digit favorite. You just don't see that very often and I think they'll bounce back in this early start time Saturday afternoon. Take the points.
Philadelphia just destroyed Indiana Thursday night, 120-96. That win was not free from criticism, however, as the team's decision to play an injured Joel Embiid received plenty of criticism from all the usual talking heads. Despite clearly being bothered by a bad back, Embiid had 22 points and 13 rebounds vs. the Pacers, which is right in line w/ his season averages. But I wonder if playing Thursday has an adverse effect on him here. Despite a 19-4 SU home record, I'm a little skeptical of the Sixers, who are just 4-9 ATS off a double digit win and lagging behind some of the other top teams in the East in key metrics such as point differential and net efficiency.
For much of this year, Oklahoma City has led the league in defensive efficiency. Not in the last two games, however. The Hawks and Lakers torched them for a combined 280 pts, which is a stunning number. That Lakers game did go to overtime and they also recently lost to the Spurs 154-147 in double overtime. This team is better than its record, IMO, and has gone 6-2 ATS as an underdog this season. They should start to turn things around here as I see defensive improvement on its way against a Philly side who is "due" to dropoff at the offensive end anyway. 8* Oklahoma City
|01-19-19||Michigan v. Wisconsin +4||Top||54-64||Win||100||5 h 55 m||Show|
8* Wisconsin (12:00 ET): There are only two unbeaten teams left in the country (Virginia, Michigan) and both face stern road tests on Saturday. Michigan, ranked #2 (AP) and #4 (Coaches) in the polls must visit Madison for this early tip and as of press time, I believe this line is trending in the WRONG directions. Don't let Wisconsin's six losses fool you; the Badgers will be the Wolverines most worthy adversary yet. Michigan has played only a handful of "true" road games so far (three to be exact) and this one happens to come at a team that is not only top 15 in the country in defensive efficiency (per KenPom), but also top 20 in my own personal power ratings.
Michigan is 17-0 overall and has started Big 10 play 4-0 ATS. But they've gotten dealt a "pretty easy hand" so far in conference play, drawing three of the league's four teams that likely won't be making the NCAA Tournament. You have to tip your cap to the job done by HC John Beilein here in Ann Arbor as once again he has his team overachieving. Last year's national runner-up came into the year barely even considered a top 20 team in the country. This 17-0 record is Michigan's best start EVER, but I believe a few losses are coming. They got career-highs from TWO players in last Saturday's 80-60 win over Northwestern. That won't be happening again on the road.
Wisconsin enters this game off B2B losses, both by just four points. They've also dropped four of five, all by seven points or less. So it's not just facing a top 5 and unbeaten opponent in their gym that should have the Badgers motivated here. They desperately need a win as well. As I mentioned earlier, despite these recent results, I still have Wisconsin as a top 20 team nationally. It is not often you find them as an underdog at the Kohl Center. (Hasn't happened until now this season). Even last year when they had a down year, the Badgers were only a home dog three times. I'm taking the points here and obviously don't be surprised if it's an outright upset. 8* Wisconsin
|01-18-19||Grizzlies +10.5 v. Celtics||Top||116-122||Win||100||12 h 5 m||Show|
8* Memphis (7:05 ET): It's a been a bit of a dicey period for the Celtics the last couple weeks with players calling each other out. There's been plenty of hand-wringing over "why this team isn't better," but the bottom line is that while the Celtics' record may not be what "it should be," they've still outscored the opposition this year by a healthy 6.1 PPG and that's the third best margin in the league right now (trailing only Milwaukee and Golden State). They are coming off a most impressive win Wednesday night over Toronto (117-108 as 3-pt home chalk), led by Kyrie Irving's 27 points and career-high 18 assists.
Whatever "ails" Boston right now is "small potatoes" to what is going on w/ Memphis. The Grizzlies have won just one time in the New Year (at San Antonio though) and are just 3-14 SU dating back to December 14th. They are 2-15 ATS during that same stretch. Fortunately for tonight, they are getting double digits. As long as the Grizzlies can maintain their defensive prowess (1st in the league in PPG allowed!), then I say they're a great value at this current price. Remember that Boston had lost three straight games, all as favorites, before beating Toronto two nights ago.
These teams did play right before the New Year, in Memphis, with the Celtics winning 112-103 as 3.5-point chalk. Boston made 16 three-pointers in that game to Memphis' seven and that was the difference. However, the Grizzlies are 17-4 ATS all-time here in Beantown. This figures to be a pretty low-scoring game, which makes the underdog all the more attractive. The Celtics were very much on the verge of losing a 4th straight game when they were down four to Toronto w/ less than five minutes to go. My read is they'll likely win here, but not cover. Take the points. 8* Memphis
|01-18-19||Canadiens +1.5 v. Blue Jackets||Top||4-1||Win||100||12 h 5 m||Show|
6* Puck Line Montreal (7:05 ET): Please note that this is a play on the puck line only where I am taking the Canadiens +1.5. This is a matchup where both teams come in hot. The last time the Habs played on the road, they beat Boston by a score of 3-2. They've now won three straight after beating Florida 5-1 on Tuesday. This win streak has them in 4th in the Atlantic Division and, if the regular season ended today, they'd be the final Wild Card. Given how well they have looked recently, I think taking them w/ an additional goal and a half is warranted here.
Not to be outdone, the Blue Jackets have won four in a row and now actually lead the Metro. But the three teams that are close behind them are all better in my eyes. The last two games have seen C-bus roll over two bad teams (Devils, Rangers) here at Nationwide Arena. But we should tip our collective caps to them for also beating Nashville and Washington during this current run. Still, the club only ranks 20th in goals allowed and thus it's a little hard for me to see them winning this one by multiple goals, if they even win at all.
Montreal hasn't just won three straight, they are also 9-4 SU the L13 games (Columbus is 11-3 SU its last 14). But the Canadiens have the superior goaltending in this matchup, no matter who they turn to. Carey Price has been outstanding all year long, but his backup Antti Niemi has really come on of late as well, including a 52-save effort against the Panthers Tuesday. In what will likely end up being a pretty low-scoring game, I think the +1.5 is going to be very valuable. 6* Puck Line Montreal (+1.5)