|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|04-29-14||GOLDEN STATE GM5 +6 v. LA CLIPPERS GM5||Top||103-113||Loss||-102||15 h 16 m||Show|
Donald Sterling has always been the village idiot when it comes to owning a pro basketball team. He's also looking like a racist moron, please excuse the redundancy. Sterling may very well have sabotaged his team's playoff chances by becoming embroiled in a racial firestorm with his alleged racist comments.
Sterling's Clippers understandably lost their focus in Game 4 and were blown out on the road, 118-97, by the Warriors.
Now the Clippers are back home in LA right in the center of the controversy. Should the LA players wear their warmup suits inside out in continued protest against Sterling? Should they continue to wear black socks and black wristbands? Who will their fans support? Will their fans even show up?
The Clippers shouldn't have to go through this garbage, but they will. Their focus and concentration can't be 100 percent. Clippers coach Doc Rivers had to cancel yesterday's practice because of all the distractions. The Warriors are a very live 'dog with the best long-range shooting backcourt in basketball with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Golden State has covered seven of its last eight games. The Warriors are the better defensive team and won't have as strong a disadvantage of being the road team as they normally would because of all the anti-Sterling feelings around the league and country.
Note, too, the Clippers have covered only once during the past seven times they've played a foe with a winning record.
|04-28-14||San Antonio Spurs -4 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||93-89||Push||0||18 h 48 m||Show|
Can the Spurs lose three in a row to the inferior Mavericks and fail in what is now their biggest game of the season?
No. Gregg Popovich isn't going to let that happen. The Spurs aren't going to lose three in a row to Dallas after beating them 10 consecutive times.
Of course that' easy to say. But where is the proof?
The proof lies in several areas. The Spurs' bench is much better than it has shown. So is San Antonio's transition defense. It is much better, too, than it has shown.
Probability plays a large part in handicapping. Popovich is the best coach in the NBA. The Spurs beat Dallas in all four regular-season meetings. Yes, I know that was regular season. But this is the same Dallas team that very well should have lost at home in Game 3 this past Saturday if not for Vince Carter's mind-boggling buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
San Antonio's domination of Dallas until these last two games can't be ignored. The Spurs averaged 115 points per 100 possession against the Mavericks in the regular season, which is a tremendous efficiency number. Dallas' defense hasn't changed.
Popovich is the best at motivation and game-planning. San Antonio has covered eight of the last 11 times when playing on one day's rest. The Spurs have covered 61 percent of their road contests.
Dallas has been weak at home covering just 43 percent this season, failing to cover in five of its last six home matchups.
The Spurs have won 18 of the last 22 times following a loss. This includes a 9-2 ATS mark on the road for 82 percent. These are the marks of strong coaching, experience and superior talent.
San Antonio had an off performance in Game 2. It happens. Then Carter pulls off a miracle corner jumper at the buzzer to allow Dallas to steal Game 3.
I'm not going to overreact to this. The Spurs are an elite team. Dallas is not.
|04-27-14||Toronto Raptors v. Brooklyn Nets -4||Top||87-79||Loss||-105||26 h 54 m||Show|
The combination of the Nets' playoff experience, savvy and home-court will be too much for Toronto. Expect the Nets to be far less sloppy in the end game than they were in Game 3 when they almost let a 15-point lead with 4:11 left escape winning by four.
Since Jan. 1, the Nets are 23-4 at home. Brooklyn has a size advantage in the backcourt and at the wings to go with their huge playoff experience edge. The Raptors are a gutty squad, but their talent can't match Brooklyn's former All-Star collection of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
The Nets are long in the tooth, but are fortunate to be playing on one day's rest where they have covered 20 of the past 27 times in that situation. The Nets also are 10-1-1 ATS the last 12 times when playing an opponent with a winning record.
Brooklyn catches another break in that Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry is dealing with a sore knee and is not 100 percent.
|04-25-14||Chicago Bulls +3 v. Washington Wizards||100-97||Win||100||16 h 34 m||Show|
Aided by the return of Nene, the Wizards have emerged as a serious threat to pull off this first-round series upset. Washington, though, actually has been better on the road than at home.
The Wizards covered 65 percent of their away matchups compared to covering only 42 percent at Verizon Center. The Bulls are above .500 on the road, a well-coached, gutty squad that plays much better defense than Washington.
Chicago ranked No. 1 in fewest points allowed and No. 2 in defensive field goal percentage. Washington has put up at least 100 points in each of the first two games, although the Bulls held the Wizards to 91 points during regulation in Game 2 before losing 101-99 in overtime. Chicago is 12-2 ATS the following game after allowing 100 points in its previous game.
I am going to take the points with the Bulls in this must-win spot. I do concede the Wizards are better than perceived. They were laying in the weeds. But Chicago is the more playoff-tested foe, is superior defensively and the Wizards have proven disappointing at home.
This has been a road team series with the visitor covering the past six times. Chicago is 6-2 ATS during its last eight trips to Washington.
|04-23-14||Charlotte Bobcats v. Miami Heat -10.5||Top||97-101||Loss||-102||9 h 16 m||Show|
Miami owns Charlotte beating the Bobcats 17 consecutive times. The Heat are going to beat the Bobcats again today. The question is by how many. Indications are it will be by more than 10 points.
The Bobcats achieved their goal of making the playoffs. Job well done there. But they know they have no shot against the two-time defending champions after losing Game 1 and knowing their best player, big man Al Jefferson, is far from 100 percent.
Jefferson was hurt during the first quarter of Game 1. He has been diagnosed with a plantar fascia strain in his left foot. Jefferson managed to gut out the rest of the game after receiving not one but two injections. Then he left the arena in a walking boot. It's an injury that has to be taken seriously. The Bobcats have to consider sitting out their franchise player.
The Heat are looking at the big picture. They don't want to screw around with even one loss in this first-round series. Miami is a veteran team helped by having two days off following Game 1.
The Bobcats don't have the experience and front line talent to hang with Miami on the road. Charlotte has failed to cover 12 of the past 17 times on the road when taking on a foe with a winning home mark.
|04-22-14||Washington Wizards v. Chicago Bulls -5||Top||101-99||Loss||-109||13 h 9 m||Show|
Opening games of opening playoff series can be tricky. A perfect example is the Wizards shocking the Bulls, 102-93, in their Game 1 matchup.
The Bulls blew a 13-point lead in losing. Chicago gave up the fewest points in the NBA at 91.8. The Bulls were No. 2 in defensive field goal percentage. They are 12-1 ATS after allowing 100 points during their previous game. That 92 percent mark isn't a fluke. Tom Thibodeau is a defensive guru.
The Bulls held John Wall and Bradley Beal in check. They had problems with Washington's frontcourt. Thibodeau has a history of making the right adjustments - and he'll make them here.
I see the Bulls being far more intense and alert for this matchup, which has become crucial for them. Since 2000, teams that have lost the opening game at home in opening playoff series are 19-7 ATS in Game 2.
The Wizards last made the playoffs in 2008. They lack the maturity and experience to handle the success of Game 1. The Bulls will have the Eye of the Tiger and handily win this Game 2.
|04-22-14||Brooklyn Nets +5 v. Toronto Raptors||95-100||Push||0||2 h 29 m||Show|
Now that the line is up to 5 I'm going to get involved with the Nets.
I'm not convinced Toronto is better than New Jersey despite winning the Atlantic Division. Certainly the Nets have far more playoff experience. They also have a size edge at the wings and in the backcourt.
Toronto is playing tight. The Raptors' inexperience works against them here.
These teams have met five times this season and three of the matchups have been decided by four or fewer points. The Nets' seven-point victory in Game 1 was the second-biggest margin of victory in the series.
That game was played early on Saturday giving the Nets much needed rest.
|04-21-14||Golden State Warriors v. Los Angeles Clippers -7.5||Top||98-138||Win||100||18 h 56 m||Show|
Maybe it was getting overconfident after jumping out to a 12-1 lead. Maybe it was being over amped. Blake Griffin's foul problems certainly didn't help. I think all of these factors contributed to the Clippers not playing well during their Game 1 upset home loss to the Warriors, 109-105, two days ago.
I expect the Clippers to produce their "A" game today and blow out the Warriors.
The Clippers were outshot from the floor, outrebounded and made only 65 percent of their free throws in Game 1. The Clippers are a better shooting team than Golden State ranking third in field goal percentage. They are a stronger rebounding team with Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, especially with the Warriors minus injured center Andrew Bogut. The Clippers also shoot 73 percent from the foul line.
So there should be improvements in all these areas for the Clippers, not to mention a huge focus and intensity level. The prospect of being down 0-2 and going to Golden State certainly has to make the Clippers serious about this game. The home team has covered 72 percent of the time in Game 2 when losing at home in Game 1 of its opening playoff series since 2000.
|04-19-14||Brooklyn Nets +2.5 v. Toronto Raptors||Top||94-87||Win||100||45 h 46 m||Show|
Toronto is in the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. Toronto players have a combined 24 playoff games of experience. Contrast with the veteran Nets of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Co., which have a combined 399 postseason matchups.
That difference could prove pivotal in Game 1. The Nets have covered the past nine times when playing an opponent with a winning mark.
The teams split their four games during the season with all but one of the contests decided by four or fewer points. So taking points with the more experienced team makes sense.
|04-18-14||Houston Astros +1.5 v. Oakland A's||Top||3-11||Loss||-110||15 h 6 m||Show|
Two promising young pitchers, Jarred Cosart and Sonny Gray, match up here with a total of seven. This sure looks like a 3-2, 4-3 type of game. So taking 1 1/2 runs looms big especially with the Astros getting an extra at bat.
Cosart had a 1.95 ERA in 10 starts last season and has improved his control this year. He faced Oakland twice last season and had a 0.89 against the A's.
If you discount Tuesday's game against the Angels, the A's are averaging 3.4 runs during their last five games. The Astros would be 4-3 in their last seven games if given 1 1/2 runs.
|04-13-14||Golden State Warriors v. Portland Trail Blazers -3||Top||117-119||Loss||-110||16 h 28 m||Show|
The Trail Blazers are a much stronger team with LaMarcus Aldridge in the lineup. Bolstered by Aldridge's return after a seven-game absence due to a back injury, Portland has won seven of its last eight games. The Trail Blazers are yielding seven less points per game when Aldridge plays.
Portland has a strong home court edge, too, going 29-10. Golden State is 2-8 ATS the past 10 times when taking on an opponent that has a winning home record.
The visiting Warriors are in a bit of a letdown spot after clinching a playoff berth this past Friday with a road victory against the Lakers. Golden State only has a slim chance of improving its playoff seeding so motivation may be an issue. The Warriors are 1-6 ATS following a victory.
The Trail Blazers have momentum and shouldn't lack incentive remembering how they squandered an 18-point lead to the Warriors in a 113-112 home loss to Golden State on March 16.
|04-11-14||Philadelphia 76ers +15 v. Memphis Grizzlies||Top||95-117||Loss||-110||9 h 54 m||Show|
I realize the 76ers are capable of losing to any team by more than 20 points. But this is a bad spot for Memphis and the 76ers, sparked by a rejuvenated Michael Carter-Williams, have covered six of their last seven games.
Memphis trails Phoenix and Dallas by one game for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. So, yes, it's a must-win spot for the Grizzlies, but it is far from a kill spot.
The Grizzlies haven't been playing that well losing four of six before defeating the Heat, 107-102, this past Wednesday. Previous to that game, the Grizzlies had played San Antonio. So after dealing with perhaps the best team from each conference they drop completely down in class.
Memphis is 3-12-1 ATS the last 16 times when playing on one day's rest. Philadelphia, which covered at Toronto on Wednesday, is 7-2 ATS the past nine times when playing on one day's rest.
Following this matchup, the Grizzlies travel to the West Coast for a Sunday game against the Lakers and then Monday against the Suns before returning home to take on Dallas in their regular season finale on Wednesday.
This is the Grizzlies' final rest stop. They certainly will want to limit the minutes of their starters if building a decent-size lead knowing they have make-or-break games coming up against the Suns and Mavericks.
The 76ers can be competitive when Michael Carter-Williams is playing well as he has during the past six games. During this span, Carter-Williams is averaging 19 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists while shooting 52.5 percent from the floor. Sparked by Williams, the 76ers are averaging 106.2 points during their last six games.
Philadelphia shouldn't have any fatigue issues as this is just the second time in six days it is in action. The Grizzlies aren't a team built for covering margins ranking 27th in scoring, averaging less than 96 points per game. Memphis has covered just one of its past eight games.
|04-09-14||Chicago Bulls -2.5 v. Minnesota Timberwolves||Top||102-87||Win||100||10 h 1 m||Show|
Superior matchup, right situation and Minnesota's cluster injury problems all make the Bulls a strong choice.
Chicago is 13 games above .500 and going for playoff seeding. The Bulls have won five in a row and playing with a great deal of confidence. The Bulls have won by an average of 15.8 points during their last four games. No team gives up fewer points per game than Chicago.
Chicago is extremely well coached. The Bulls should be rested and well prepared for this matchup having been idle since Saturday.
Minnesota is one game above .500, but its goal of making the playoffs is gone. This will be the 10th straight year the Timberwolves won't make the postseason. So motivation is an issue.
Just six days ago, the Timberwolves shocked two-time defending champion Miami winning 122-121 in overtime on the road. The Timberwolves followed that great victory up by pulling a stinker losing the following night on the road to Orlando, 100-92.
The Timberwolves then hosted San Antonio last night and ambushed the Spurs, 110-91, despite missing their second and third-leading scorers as Kevin Martin missed his third straight game due to a heel injury and big man Nikola Pekovic sat out his fourth consecutive game with a heel injury. Martin is the Timberwolves' top perimeter threat while Pekovic is their go-to-scorer inside. Minnesota also is without key reserve, Chase Budinger.
The Timberwolves have failed to cover 13 of the last 16 times when playing without rest. Their depth is greatly reduced because of all their injuries. I don't see the Timberwolves being mentally or physically ready for this matchup while Chicago should have lots of energy.
The Bulls are a disciplined, physical, grind-out type of opponent that isn't fun to play. The Timberwolves traditionally have problems with Chicago even when healthy. The Bulls have covered seven of the past nine meetings. Chicago has covered during its past five visits to Target Center.
|04-08-14||Dallas Mavericks -7.5 v. Utah Jazz||Top||95-83||Loss||-103||11 h 33 m||Show|
The Jazz are the second-lowest scoring team in the NBA. That problem is compounded by the Jazz not playing much defense during their last 20 games where they have gone 3-17. The Jazz rank last in defensive field goal percentage.
Good shooting teams can tear up the Jazz as Golden State did two days ago ripping Utah, 130-102, at home making 57.8 percent of their field goals. The Jazz surrendered 64 combined points to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Utah is equally vulnerable to Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis in this matchup. Nowitzki has owned the Jazz averaging 26.6 points and shooting 56.7 percent against them during the past 18 meetings.
Dallas is 3-0 versus Utah this season winning by an average of 13 points per game.
Utah is playing the string out more interested in accumulating ping pong balls than winning. The Jazz's once feared home advantage is gone. They are six games below .500 in Salt Lake City with a home spread record of 44 percent. Dallas has been a top money-making road club covering 70 percent of its past 64 away contests.
The Mavericks shouldn't lack motivation either. They are in a dogfight with Phoenix and Memphis for a playoff berth. After this matchup, the Mavericks finish the regular season against the Spurs, Suns and Grizzlies on the road. They can't go into these much tougher matchups sustaining a loss against a bad team like Utah. That would be a disaster. It's a disaster the Mavericks should prevent.
|04-06-14||Oklahoma City Thunder -2.5 v. Phoenix Suns||115-122||Loss||-108||19 h 49 m||Show|
Oklahoma City had defeated Phoenix 11 consecutive times until the last meeting. The Suns won that game, 128-122, at home behind a career-high 41 points from Gerald Green.
I don't see Green coming close to matching that performance, nor the Suns staying close to the Thunder.
Phoenix is a small team that has overachieved all season. I see the Suns wearing down starting with this matchup. The Thunder is going to be out for blood after surrendering 128 points to Phoenix last time. That was the most points Oklahoma City has allowed in regulation since 2009.
The Thunder also is off a 111-107 road loss to the Rockets this past Friday. Oklahoma City is 11-5-2 ATS following a defeat and 15-5-1 ATS the past 21 times when playing on one day's rest.
Prior to their game against Houston, the Thunder had gone 7-1 while holding foes to 99.1 points per game during this span. The Suns are led by Goran Dragic, who could be wearing down as he's shooting less than 33 percent from the field during his last three games.
The Suns haven't been able to contain Kevin Durant, who is averaging 33.5 points in the first two games this season against Phoenix. Durant has scored 25 or more points in 40 straight games. If he does it against the Suns he will break Michael Jordan's streak as the third-longest in NBA history.
Oklahoma City has an excellent track record against the Suns despite losing to them last time covering six of the past eight in the series and going 6-1 ATS during its last seven visits to Phoenix.
|04-06-14||New York Knicks v. Miami Heat -7||Top||91-102||Win||100||12 h 41 m||Show|
It's certainly a plus if Dwayne Wade plays. But the Heat won't need him to cover this mid-range number against the Knicks.
Don't be fooled by New York making a late playoff charge in hopes of grabbing the last seed in the East. The Knicks are a bad team unable to beat elite teams as evidenced by their 2-8 ATS mark the past 10 times when matched up against foes with a winning percentage above .600.
New York especially can't compete against top-notch competition on the road failing to cover six of the past seven times when facing home opponents with a winning percentage above .600.
The Knicks are going to make changes immediately following the season under Phil Jackson starting with the sacking of head coach Mike Woodson.
The Heat pounded the Knicks, 108-82, when they last hosted them on Feb. 27. The Heat have been anxiously awaiting this nationally televised home game ever since being upset in double overtime by the Timberwolves at home two days ago.
Carmelo Anthony is coming off perhaps his worst game of the season a 90-89 home loss to the Wizards where he scored just 10 points and committed a season-high nine turnovers. Anthony played with a right shoulder injury and says he'll play against the Heat with the injury. So obviously Anthony, the Knicks' lone consistent scoring threat, won't be 100 percent.
|04-05-14||Kentucky v. Wisconsin +2||Top||74-73||Win||100||73 h 47 m||Show|
Great coaching, preparation and team basketball trumps great individual freshman talent. That's the bottom line in this Final Four matchup as to why Wisconsin will beat Kentucky.
The Badgers have always played tremendous defense under Ryan, who I consider one of the best coaches in the country. But this season Ryan actually has a talented offensive group with five versatile players, who can all hit an open 3-pointer including red-hot 7-footer Frank Kaminsky.
It's not a fluke the Badgers have covered 10 of their last 11 non-league games.
Kentucky is the first team to reach a Final Four starting all freshmen since Michigan's "Fab Five" did it in 1992. The Wildcats are off perhaps their three best games of the season beating Wichita State, Louisville and Michigan at the buzzer.
Aside from getting past Arizona in overtime during their last game, the Badgers have been taking care off business in the NCAA Tournament in less dramatic fashion. The Badgers have yet to really play their "A" game while it's a lot to ask five starting freshmen to put together four straight magnificent efforts in the most pressure of pressure situations.
Wisconsin's four other starters besides Kaminsky are capable of playing better. The Badgers still remain under the radar being the only team left to have taken out three No. 1 seeds. The Big Ten Conference also was tougher than the SEC this season.
Kentucky has the tradition, name players and is a public team. But Wisconsin is the better team. It's a bonus the Badgers are catching points.
|04-05-14||Chicago Bulls +1 v. Washington Wizards||Top||96-78||Win||100||9 h 18 m||Show|
The Bulls have a double revenge motive and are in excellent form. Chicago has won four in a row getting balanced scoring while holding its last seven foes to an average of 87.6 points per game on 41.5 shooting from the floor.
The Wizards are in a letdown spot after nipping the Knicks, 90-89, last night at Madison Square Garden. The Wizards are 1-5 ATS following a spread cover.
Washington has been better on the road than at Verizon Center where its home spread record this season is 15-21-1.
|04-05-14||Minnesota Timberwolves v. Orlando Magic +4||92-100||Win||100||8 h 51 m||Show|
Minnesota is going to miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. It's a credit, though, to the Timberwolves that they have posted victories in their last two games beating Memphis on Wednesday and then shocking the Heat, 122-121, in double overtime last night.
I see a definite letdown from the Timberwolves tonight against Orlando. Minnesota has failed to cover the last five times when playing without rest.
The Magic are sneaky good at Amway Center going 12-4-1 ATS in their last 17 home contests. During this span they have defeated the Pacers, Thunder and Trail Blazers - three teams much better than the Timberwolves.
The Magic are 8-2 ATS the past 10 times when hosting an opponent with a losing road mark. Orlando has covered five of the last six times against the Timberwolves.
It's a huge plus if the Magic have Nikola Vucevic in the lineup. Minnesota, though, may be without its center, Nikola Pekovic. He is still dealing with an ankle injury.
|04-02-14||Chicago Bulls -2.5 v. Atlanta Hawks||Top||105-92||Win||100||10 h 57 m||Show|
The Bulls have won and covered the last five in the series, winning by an average of 16.4 points.
Chicago is playing solid as they try to finish as the No. 3 seed in the East. They have won 20 of 25 games versus fellow Eastern Conference teams since January. Chicago is 13-5-1 ATS in its last 19 games versus East foes.
The Hawks are free falling as they attempt to choke away the final playoff spot in the East. Atlanta is 7-20 in its last 27 games, 5-21-1 ATS. The Hawks managed to beat the 76ers, 103-95, two nights ago but they hardly have shown signs of righting the ship.
Atlanta's defense has been brutal allowing an average of 105 points per game during its last 24 contests. Chicago ranks No. 2 defensively but last in offense. However, the Bulls are 39-10 when scoring 89 or more points.
|03-31-14||New York Knicks v. Utah Jazz +3.5||Top||92-83||Loss||-105||11 h 25 m||Show|
The timing is right for Utah to upset the Knicks. New York is playing its fifth road game in seven days returning home after this matchup to close the regular season with seven consecutive Eastern Conference matchups starting with division rival Brooklyn on Wednesday.
The Knicks are off an 89-84 win against Golden State on Sunday. The Warriors were missing their two best big men, Andrew Bogut and David Lee. So this is both a letdown and look ahead spot for New York.
The Jazz step down in class after suffering a 116-96 road loss to the Thunder last night. A plus for the Jazz in that game, though, was the return of bench sparkplug Alec Burks. He had missed the last four games with an ankle injury and provides Utah with desperately needed scoring off the bench.
The Jazz are playing the lottery game, but they have some young big men with talent who can defend the Knicks' pick-and-roll with Carmelo Anthony. Utah should have motivation, too, after the Knicks embarrassed them, 108-81, earlier this month at Madison Square Garden.
Until last season, the Jazz had defeated New York five straight times at home.
|03-30-14||Chicago Bulls -4.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||107-102||Win||100||12 h 22 m||Show|
Chicago was blown out in its last game two days ago in an embarrassing 91-74 home loss to Portland. You have to go back to the beginning of February to find the last time the Bulls have lost two straight.
Prior to losing to Portland, Chicago had won 16 of its last 22. The Bulls usually play hard against the Celtics, where Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau was an assistant before taking over the Bulls. Chicago has defeated Boston in eight of the last 11 meetings. The Bulls are 1-0 this season versus Boston winning 94-82 in early January at home.
The Bulls are 13-4 ATS following a loss and 17-8 ATS versus foes with a losing record.
The Celtics rank 27th in scoring and field goal percentage. They don't have nearly the offense to dent Chicago's No. 2 ranked defense.
|03-30-14||Toronto Raptors v. Orlando Magic +5||98-93||Push||0||11 h 23 m||Show|
Orlando is terrible, right? Yes, on the road that certainly is true. The Magic are 4-34 away from Amway Center. But at home they are a far more respectable 17-18. They have covered 12 of their last 15 at Amway Center. This includes defeating Portland and Charlotte in their past two home contests.
The Magic are a very live 'dog today against the Raptors, who are in a dangerous letdown spot after clinching a playoff spot for the first time in six years.
The Raptors are emotionally and physically spent after narrowly defeating Boston in a home-and-road two game set. Toronto nipped the Celtics, 105-103, two days ago on a late layup by Amir Johnson.
The Magic play more relaxed at home. Nikola Vucevic and Arron Afflalo are playing well. The Magic have suffered when those two haven't been in the lineup. But Vucevic and Afflalo are healthy now as is point guard Jameer Nelson. The presence of these three key cogs makes Orlando respectable at home.
Toronto isn't strong enough to cover this number against Orlando on the road if it doesn't play its "A" game, which I don't see happening.
|03-29-14||Wisconsin v. Arizona -3||Top||64-63||Loss||-105||19 h 18 m||Show|
Wisconsin's Bo Ryan is a great coach. But he hasn't much time in a quick turnaround to prepare the Badgers to face the best and most athletic defensive team they've played all season.
Wisconsin played a great game in burying Baylor two days ago. Arizona was able to get by San Diego State, 70-64, despite Nick Johnson, the Pac 12 Player of the Year, missing his first 10 shots.
I don't see the Badgers putting together back-to-back "A" games while the Wildcats and Johnson are going to play better. It's not just Johnson as Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have been hot from the inside. They've helped the Wildcats outscore their opponents by 11 points per game in the paint.
Playing in Anaheim is a plus for the Wildcats, too. The Badgers travel well, but they are not used to being on the West Coast.
Arizona has covered seven of its last nine NCAA Tournament games and is 20-8 ATS in its last 28 non-conference matchups.
|03-28-14||Connecticut +2 v. Iowa State||Top||81-76||Win||100||48 h 59 m||Show|
Emotion, experience and matchups. They all heavily factor here - and these key factors all are in favor of Connecticut.
Iowa State rode a lot of emotion into beating North Carolina, 85-83, this past Sunday to earn their way into the Sweet 16 motivated by the season-ending foot injury to George Niang, who is an excellent two-way player and maybe the best all-around player on the Cyclones.
North Carolina had just one day to guess how Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg would compensate for that big injury. Connecticut has five days to prepare knowing Hoiberg went for size in replacing Niang giving 6-foot-8 Daniel Edozie his first start.
Taking nothing away from Iowa State's gritty win against the Tar Heels, but North Carolina suffered an unexpected injury just two minutes into the game when 6--9 Brice Johnson left for good.
Iowa State is going to have size and bench disadvantages against Connecticut. The Cyclones also aren't going to have that intangible show-the-world mentality now that the full reality of Niang's absence is felt and they won a game without him fueled by emotion. Helping Iowa State's cause against North Carolina was converting 12-of-26 3-pointers for 46 percent. The Cyclones converted 35.8 percent of their 3-pointers during the season.
Iowa State is not Big Dance tournament tested like Connecticut is. The Huskies won the NCAA championship three years ago. Their star guard and leading scorer, Shabazz Napier, was part of that. He's having a big tournament and will be hard to stop, especially since Niang was one of the Cyclones' best and most versatile defenders. Iowa State also is going to have problems matching up against 6-9 DeAndre Daniels.
The Huskies are used to playing in Madison Square Garden. Iowa State is not. The Huskies like to think of Madison Square Garden as their home away from home having competed annually there in the Big East Tournament until this season when they joined the American Athletic Conference.
Playing in New York is like having home court advantage for the Huskies as their campus in less than a three-hour drive away and many of their fans live in the New York area.
|03-27-14||Baylor +3.5 v. Wisconsin||Top||52-69||Loss||-104||9 h 21 m||Show|
Both Wisconsin and Baylor come into the Sweet 16 playing well. The Badgers, though, aren't in Milwaukee anymore. They are far away from Wisconsin being in Anaheim, Calif. So their home-court edge they had in tournament victories against American and Oregon, a team they were fortunate to beat, no longer exists.
Baylor is 12-2 in its last 14 games peaking at the best possible time. The Bears have the athleticism, height, offensive balance and matchup zone type of defense that Wisconsin hasn't encountered too often.
The Bears have a lot of inside length, but also can make their 3-pointers shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc. They can hurt the Badgers, a not strong rebounding team, on the boards. Baylor's 7-foot-1 center Isaiah Austin is averaging nearly four blocks a game during the Bears' six postseason games this season.
I do think the Badgers have a coaching edge with Bo Ryan. However, the Bears' 17-3 tournament record in March during the last six years is highly impressive. Baylor reached the Elite Eight in 2010 and 2012. The Bears won the NIT title last season.
Baylor is a very tough out so catching this many points is huge. The Bears are 9-3 in games decided by five points or less or in overtime. They have covered in 11 of their last 15 non-conference games and are 6-1 ATS versus opponents with a winning percentage above .600.
Baylor beat Nebraska, 74-60, in its NCAA Tournament opener and then destroyed Creighton by 30 points. Wisconsin lost by nine on the road to Nebraska in its last regular season game.
|03-26-14||Toronto Raptors -2.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||99-90||Win||100||10 h 39 m||Show|
Toronto leads Brooklyn by 1 1/2 games in the Atlantic Division. It's not a fluke. The Raptors are a solid team with a 39-31 record. Boston is a lottery club in Stage 1 of what is going to be a massive rebuilding job. The Celtics are 23-47, which is 16 games worse than Toronto.
Yet we have a very short line here. History and the situation favor Boston - at least on paper. The Celtics have defeated Toronto 11 straight times at home. This current Boston team, though, is 1-0 versus the Raptors. The other 10 games don't matter because they were far, far better Boston teams.
The Celtics haven't played since Friday. Toronto is playing without rest. However, being idle for four straight days is too much for an NBA team. The Celtics might have some energy, but it could be misplaced. They figure to be rusty.
The Raptors need this game far more than Boston as they go for playoff seeding and to maintain distance from second-place Brooklyn. Toronto has the second-best ATS mark in the NBA.
Toronto, however, lost 102-100 at Cleveland last night. The Raptors had an off-shooting night from the floor and free throw line while the Cavaliers shot way above their average in both of those areas. Toronto made only 39.8 percent of its shots from the field against the Cavs and hit only 61.5 percent of its free throws. On the season, the Raptors shoot 44.3 percent from the field and rank eighth in free throw percentage at 77.8 percent.
Cleveland shot 51.4 percent from the field. The Cavaliers rank 27th in field goal percentage at 43.3 and are 20th in free throw percentage at 75. Yet the Cavaliers made 78.8 percent of their free throws against the Raptors, while going to the line seven more times than Toronto. Yet, despite all of this, Toronto had a chance to tie the game at the end.
I don't see the Raptors coming up flat a second straight time against a weak Eastern Conference foe. The Raptors are 14-4 ATS versus opponents with a winning percentage below .400. The Celtics are 4-10 ATS the past 14 times they've hosted a foe with a winning road mark.
Toronto has proven itself on the road covering 14 of its last 18 away games.
|03-25-14||Toronto Raptors -4 v. Cleveland Cavaliers||Top||100-102||Loss||-109||9 h 56 m||Show|
The Raptors have been huge money-makers all season. They are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games versus Eastern Conference foes and have covered in 18 of their past 25 road contests. Only Phoenix has a better ATS mark than Toronto.
Toronto has defeated Cleveland three straight times while covering five of the past six times in Cleveland. The Raptors are getting huge years from Kyle Lowry, perhaps the most underrated point guard in basketball, and DeMar DeRozan. Lowry is working on a career-best streak of scoring 19 or more points in his last nine games.
The Raptors have a talent and bench edge on Cleveland, which remains without its best player, Kyrie Irving. The line came lower than I anticipated because the Cavaliers ended the Knicks' eight-game winning streak during their last game two days ago. The Knicks, though, gave that game away blowing a 15-point halftime lead.
I'm not sold on the Cavaliers, who prior to beating the Knicks had dropped their last four games by a combined 40 points. The Cavaliers know they're not going to the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year. I question their motivation, especially off a great comeback victory and not having Irving.
Toronto is on nearly every game as it goes for the best playoff seed. The Raptors were flat in their last game, but overcame a 14-point deficit to beat Atlanta by 10 this past Sunday. The combination of the Raptors being the more talented and motivated team plus showing no quit even if they aren't playing well makes them worthy of being backed as short road chalk here.
|03-24-14||Brooklyn Nets v. New Orleans Pelicans +2||Top||104-109||Win||100||9 h 26 m||Show|
The Nets are off a huge, emotional and physical road victory beating the Mavericks, 107-104, in overtime last night. Even though it was a non-conference matchup it was still big for Brooklyn because it marked the return to Dallas of coach Jason Kidd.
The Nets really wanted to win that game for Kidd. Mission accomplished. But now the drained Nets are in a flat spot playing again tonight versus another non-league foe with a road Wednesday Eastern Conference matchup looming against the much-improved Charlotte Bobcats.
Brooklyn has a bunch of older players who no longer are in their prime. All four of them had to play longer than normal minutes last night with Deron Williams logging a taxing 42 minutes. The Nets' also lost some of their bench strength with Andrei Kirilenko suffering a sprained ankle. He's not expected to play tonight, nor is Kevin Garnett.
This isn't just a back-to-back spot for the Nets. It's also their third game in four days. The Pelicans are lottery-bound, but they are playing much better this month than in January and February.
After going a combined 9-20 during January/February, the Pelicans are 6-5 in March. They've won two in a row, including a confidence-boosting 105-95 home win against Miami this past Saturday. The Pelicans won despite not having Eric Gordon, who sat out due to knee tendinitis in his left knee. It was New Orleans' first win against Miami since 2010.
The Pelicans have a winning spread record at home. They are 10-3 SU in their last 13 games versus Eastern Conference foes and have revenge motivation against the Nets. Brooklyn defeated them, 93-81, last month when the Pelicans fell behind 51-28 at halftime after being outscored 11-0 to start the game.
Anthony Davis is playing as well as any player in the league. The emerging superstar has scored at least 28 points in his last eight games. He's had 30 or more points and at least 10 rebounds during his past three games. The Nets have no one who can defend him. Tyreke Evans also is playing at a high level.
|03-23-14||Orlando Magic v. Los Angeles Lakers -4||Top||94-103||Win||100||10 h 29 m||Show|
Orlando on the road. It doesn't come much worse than that. The Magic have lost 33 of their 37 away contests this season. They are 1-22 during their last 23 road matchups.
The Lakers are enduring one of their most miserable seasons ever, but this is a perfect situation for a stop-the-pain game - a Sunday night home game against a tired patsy. The Magic nearly pulled out a road win at Utah last night, but fell 89-88.
This marked the third straight game the Magic have failed to break the 93-point barrier. The Lakers are 12th in scoring averaging just under 102 points per game. Their up-tempo, fast style should work well against Orlando, which is playing without rest and could be missing point guard Jameer Nelson for a third straight game.
While the Lakers don't have Kobe Bryant they will be dressing 12 players for one of the rare times this season. Back are Steve Nash and Nick Young, who has enjoyed a solid season as the Lakers' second-leading scorer at 16.8 points per game.
|03-23-14||Baylor +3.5 v. Creighton||Top||85-55||Win||100||11 h 15 m||Show|
Baylor is playing its best basketball winning 11 of its last 13 games. The Bears are NCAA Tournament tested, have the height and big man talent to match up against Doug McDermott and the athleticism to frustrate the Blue Jays.
These are the ingredients needed to upset Creighton. Baylor also is on its own home turf with the matchup being played in San Antonio, which is just 180 miles away from Waco.
McDermott is a special talent. But the Bears have a front line that can contain him with 7-foot-1 Isaiah Austin, 6-9 Cory Jefferson and 6-6 Royce O'Neal. Austin was highly recruited and has a huge wing span.
The Bears played well again in beating Nebraska 74-60 in their first-round tournament game. Baylor won that game despite its second leading scorer and top 3-point shooter, Brady Heslip, missing all six of his shots from beyond the arc. Look for Heslip to shoot much better.
Heslip along with Jefferson and key contributor Gary Franklin all played for Baylor two years ago when the Bears made the Elite Eight.
|03-22-14||Oregon +5 v. Wisconsin||Top||77-85||Loss||-102||10 h 22 m||Show|
Wisconsin scores more this season, but its defense has slipped. The Badgers have been hurt more than most teams by the new rule that limits physical play. That's the style Bo Ryan has taught his Badgers, who lost three of their best defenders last year.
The Badgers are vulnerable against fast-paced teams, who can knock down the 3-pointer plus get to the hoops and hit their free throws. Oregon has those traits. The Ducks ranked No. 8 in scoring, 31st in 3-point percentage and sixth in free throw percentage.
The Ducks have three good guards - Joseph Young, Johnathan Loyd and Jason Calliste. I don't see the Badgers slowing all three down. The Badgers are not fast enough or athletic enough to keep up with Oregon, whose run-and-shoot style produces layups and open 3-pointers.
The line is a bit inflated because of Wisconsin's 75-35 first-round blowout win against American. The Badgers are 2-6 ATS the past eight times following a point spread cover.
Oregon is 8-1-1 ATS the past 10 times when playing at a neutral site.
|03-22-14||Dayton v. Syracuse -7||55-53||Loss||-106||9 h 28 m||Show|
I'm not impressed with Dayton. Who have they really beaten this season? I don't consider defeating Ohio State a big achievement.
Syracuse is laying in the weeds. The Orangemen were huge for much of the year, then slipped toward the home stretch, but are now back up and dangerous. I can't see the Flyers doing much against the taller Orangemen and their vaunted 2-3 zone defense.
Dayton doesn't play zone defense. This is significance because the Flyers couldn't really practice going against a zone in practice.
The Orange are a top-10 defensive club holding foes to under 60 points a game. Dayton is respectable, too, defensively but gives up eight more points per game than the Orange.
|03-21-14||Coastal Carolina +21.5 v. Virginia||Top||59-70||Win||100||15 h 37 m||Show|
Coastal Carolina is better than a normal 16th seed with three good guards. The Chanticleers average close to 73 points a game and are 27th in the country in defensive field goal percentage. They will get good fan support playing in Raleigh, N.C., which is 2 1/2 hours from their campus in Conway, S.C.
Virginia enters this tournament with very high expectations after winning the ACC title and conference tournament. The Cavaliers have the No. 1 defense in the land. They are a grinder on offense, though. This is going to be a very slow paced game, the kind of style that favors a big underdog such as Coastal Carolina. The over/under indicates the oddsmaker is anticipating a low-scoring game. So a correlated parlay to the 'dog and under makes sense if you're parlay-minded.
Virginia has a shot to win the tournament. The Cavaliers are looking at this tournament in a long term way. They don't care how much they win this game by - they just want to win, conserve as much energy as they can and move on.
The defensive-minded Cavaliers are not built to score a lot of points and cover huge margins like this. They average fewer than 66 points a game. Only once in their past 21 games have the Cavaliers beaten an opponent by more than 21 points.
Coastal Carolina is playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. Its players obviously are very excited. The Chanticleers have nothing to lose. They can play loose. They will do all they can to not get embarrassed, nor is Virginia looking to embarrass this opponent.
The Chanticleers are coached by Cliff Ellis, who knows the ACC having coaching Clemson for 10 years during the 1980s and '90s.
|03-20-14||North Dakota State v. Oklahoma -3.5||Top||80-75||Loss||-110||9 h 7 m||Show|
This is a case of fading an untested team at a short price. Oklahoma is in the bargain range with tremendous line value.
The Big 12 very well may have been the best conference in the country. North Dakota State barely got past Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne in the Summit League Tournament title game. The best team the Bisons beat all season was Notre Dame, which had the third-worst record in the ACC.
Both teams can score, but I trust the Sooners' scorers more. They have four players who average double figures and are excellent free throw shooters.
Oklahoma is 8-1 ATS the past nine times versus opponents with a winning percentage above .600 while North Dakota State is 5-13 ATS when it has met a foe with a winning percentage above .600.
|03-19-14||Iowa v. Tennessee +2.5||Top||65-78||Win||100||12 h 15 m||Show|
Current form means a lot here in this opening NCAA Tournament game. Tennessee has won five of its last six games. The Volunteers' only loss during this span was against top-ranked Florida - and they nearly upset the Gators.
Contrast this with Iowa. The Hawkeyes would be one of the worst teams in the Big 10 if you counted just the past 3 1/2 weeks. Iowa is 1-6 in its last seven games, 0-7 ATS.
The Hawkeyes' defense is down. Their rebounding is off and they're struggling to make shots. Iowa did outrebound Northwestern during its last game this past Thursday in the Big Ten Conference Tournament - and still lost by five as a 13-point favorite.
Tennessee ranks 18th in the nation in offensive rebounding. The Vols are far more athletic than Northwestern. Tennessee is playing top-notch defense, too, down the stretch giving up an average of only 47.4 points per game during its last five contests. On the season, the Vols hold foes to an average of just 40.8 percent shooting from the floor.
This was a down year for the SEC. But the Big Ten really levels off after Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes don't have a good track record in the NCAA either having last won a tournament game in 2001.
It's been a distracting week for Iowa coach Fran McCaffery because his 13-year-old son underwent surgery to remove a tumor on his thyroid.
|03-19-14||Charlotte Bobcats +6.5 v. Brooklyn Nets||Top||99-104||Win||100||11 h 58 m||Show|
This is the type of situation the Bobcats have excelled in. Charlotte is off a horrendous 97-83 home loss to the Hawks two nights ago.
The Bobcats have covered nine of the last 12 times following a loss. They are 8-0 ATS the past eight times when taking seven or fewer points.
Yes, Brooklyn is playing well with eight wins in its last 10 games. The Nets have won their last nine home games, too.
The veteran Nets, though, are far from a dominant team. This is a pivotal game for the Bobcats in their playoff quest. A victory here moves them to within 1 1/2 games of the Nets.
The Bobcats have other strong motivation factors, too. They are off their worst shooting game of 2014. The Bobcats still have won four of their last five so it's not like they're in a slump. They just had an off-night against Atlanta. It happens in the NBA.
Charlotte has a strong revenge motive. The Nets pasted the Bobcats, 105-89, in Brooklyn in the last game before All-Star break. The Bobcats should be far more focused this time around. Al Jefferson is one of the best big men in basketball. The Nets rank 29th in rebounding so Jefferson should be a huge factor.
|03-16-14||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Los Angeles Clippers -11||Top||80-102||Win||100||11 h 51 m||Show|
The Clippers are a little banged-up but they are deep, playing tremendous basketball and have a strong revenge motive.
Cleveland stunned the Clippers, 88-82, at home back in December holding Los Angeles to its lowest-scoring effort of the season and worst shooting game of the season.
The Cavaliers are a low C level team taking on a club that has a legitimate chance of winning the NBA championship. Cleveland is a slightly below average defensive club and a bad offensive team ranking last in field goal percentage.
Cleveland is a surprising 2-0 in its West Coast trip pulling off upsets against the Suns and Warriors. The Clippers aren't going to take them lightly and have the strong bench to keep the backdoor closed.
Los Angeles has won 10 in a row while going 7-2-1 ATS. The Clippers were averaging 115 points during their first nine games of their win streak before encountering a flat spot in their last game, a 96-87 win against Utah. I don't see the Clippers being flat a second straight game.
The Clippers play at Denver on Monday, but after that are idle until Saturday. The Cavaliers are feeling fat and happy after pulling off two improbable straight-up victories. They return to Cleveland following this matchup and have Miami and old teammate LeBron James on Tuesday. That's always an emotional spot for the Cavaliers when they host James and the Heat.
|03-15-14||Indiana Pacers -5 v. Detroit Pistons||Top||112-104||Win||100||10 h 31 m||Show|
After losing four in a row, the Pacers are getting back on track. In their last two games they defeated the Celtics by 11 points this past Tuesday and then defeated the 76ers by seven points last night after leading by 17 points.
I see the Pacers continuing to reach their earlier high standards taking on the disjointed Pistons, a team they won't take lightly and have a history of being motivated against.
The Pacers have covered five of their last six against the Pistons, but lost 101-96 at home on Dec. 16 to Detroit. That loss halted Indiana's franchise-best 11-0 start at home.
Indiana has a huge coaching edge, plays far stronger defense and has much better chemistry. The Pacers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games at Detroit.
|03-15-14||Pittsburgh +3.5 v. Virginia||Top||48-51||Win||100||4 h 25 m||Show|
Often it takes one outstanding player playing great to help carry a team to a conference tournament title. Pittsburgh is getting that from senior Talib Zanna, who has scored 36 points and pulled down 30 rebounds in helping the Panthers advance to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament with victories over Wake Forest and North Carolina.
In their last five games, the Panthers have scored 85 in overtime against Notre Dame, 67 versus North Carolina State, 83 in overtime against Clemson, 84 versus Wake Forest and 80 against the Tar Heels.
Of course I don't see Pittsburgh putting up that many points against Virginia, but the Panthers are playing well and have a very strong defense, too, ranking 28th.
Virginia nipped Pittsburgh, 48-45, when the teams last met on Feb. 2. The Cavaliers hit a last-second 3-pointer to win the game in a matchup that could have gone either way.
This is going to be a scrappy matchup where taking points really matter.
|03-14-14||Phoenix Suns -4.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||87-80||Win||100||9 h 25 m||Show|
This not only is a stop-the-pain game for Phoenix, but a crucial one as well.
The Suns have lost three in a row to fall two games behind gaining the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Now the Suns begin a three-game road trip. After this game, the Suns play two far stronger Eastern Conference teams - Toronto and Brooklyn.
Despite the return of Eric Bledsoe, the Suns suffered a shocking 110-101 home loss to Cleveland this past Wednesday. That was only the second time since Jan. 5 that Phoenix had lost to a sub-.500 team.
Rajon Rondo is expected to play for Boston, but the Celtics are still one of the weakest teams in the league definitely committed to youth and playing for ping pong balls.
The Celtics have lost nine of their last 12 with their victories coming against the Pistons, Nets and Hawks during this span. Boston rarely has been competitive with the quicker more athletic teams from the West. The Celtics are 4-23 against Western Conference teams this season and have failed to cover in six of their last seven versus Western Conference opponents.
Boston is 0-4 in its last four games versus Western Conference foes since Feb. 21 losing by nine to the Lakers, by seven to the Kings, by 12 to the Jazz and by 20 to the Warriors at home.
Rondo isn't shooting well missing 21 of 30 shots from the floor in his last two games. The Celtics also don't have injured Avery Bradley in the backcourt.
The Suns are 21-8 ATS in their last 29 road contests and 7-3 ATS the past 10 times facing Eastern Conference foes. They also are 20-7 ATS following not covering the spread during their last game.
Bledsoe returned this past Wednesday after missing 33 games following knee surgery. He played 32 minutes against the Cavaliers and had 15 points and nine assists although his shot was rusty. Bledsoe, who averages 17.8 points and 6.0 assists, should get his shot back soon. He's a high energy player and a very good defender. The Suns are 16-9 when Bledsoe plays.
Bledsoe didn't play when the Suns defeated the Celtics, 100-94, at home on Feb. 19.
|03-13-14||Wyoming v. UNLV -8||Top||67-71||Loss||-110||7 h 59 m||Show|
UNLV is well aware that it needs to win the Mountain West Conference Tournament in order to make the NCAA Tournament. The tournament is on UNLV's home court, the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Rebels are finally healthy with Bryce Dejean-Jones returning from suspension and Roscoe Smith back from a concussion.
Wyoming has been way down since losing its star leading scorer and rebounder, Larry Nance Jr. to a knee injury. The Cowboys have dropped four of five since.
UNLV has never lost three in a row under David Rice. The Rebels are healthy, motivated, have home-court and catch Wyoming unable to recover from losing Nance.
|03-12-14||Dallas Mavericks -4.5 v. Utah Jazz||Top||108-101||Win||100||11 h 0 m||Show|
The veteran Mavericks know they need to focus for this matchup. A motivated Dallas club should cover this number against a bad Utah team playing the lottery game.
Utah has dropped six of its last seven with its lone win during this time coming versus 76ers, which should be noted with an asterisk considering how much Philadelphia is tanking.
The Jazz's latest defeat came two night ago at home, 112-110, to the Hawks, who had lost 14 of 15 entering that matchup.
Dallas has a top 10 offense and can definitely take advantage of Utah's lack of defense. The Jazz are giving up 106 points during their last five games allowing opponents to make better than 51 percent of their shots from the field.
The line is lower than normal because the Mavericks played last night and got hammered by Golden State, 108-85, on the road. The veteran Mavericks are in a dogfight for a playoff spot battling both Memphis and Phoenix. They know they have a much more difficult game on tap against Oklahoma City on the road. They can't take a loss here.
So I'm expecting a focused and professional effort from a professional group of veterans. Before losing to the Warriors, the Mavericks had defeated the Pacers and Trail Blazers at home winning those games by an average of seven points. Utah is a major step down from those teams.
The Mavericks have been solid money-makers on the road covering 21 of 34 for 62 percent. They have defeated Utah in 10 of the past 13 meetings, including going 2-0 this season winning by a combined margin of 32 points while sinking 17 of 35 shots from 3-point range.
|03-11-14||Wisc-Milwaukee v. Wright State -6||Top||69-63||Loss||-106||23 h 17 m||Show|
Wisconsin-Milwaukee has been a great under-the-radar story this season meeting Wright State on the road for the Horizon League championship game with the winner securing a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
But the clock strikes midnight for the Panthers here in the title matchup.
Wright State has too much experience, balance and bench strong for UWM, which lost 24 of 32 games last season.
The Panthers achieved their high water mark knocking off No. 1 seed Green Bay in overtime this past Saturday as an 11 1/2-point 'dog.
It's way too much to expect the Panthers to hang in against another superior foe on the road on such short notice. Wright State certainly won't be taking UWM lightly either after losing 68-64 to the Panthers on the road.
The Raiders buried the Panthers, 73-57, at home earlier this season. Only 20 teams in the country have allowed fewer points per game than Wright State.
|03-09-14||Toronto Raptors +5 v. Minnesota Timberwolves||Top||111-104||Win||100||11 h 14 m||Show|
Both teams are playing well, but it's hard not to back the Raptors. Consider these trends about Toronto: 16-6-1 ATS on one day's rest. 20-7 ATS last 27 road contests. 11-4 ATS versus foes with a winning mark. Five consecutive victories against the Timberwolves.
The situation lays out well, too, for the Raptors as this is just their second game in a week and first road matchup since Feb. 25.
The Raptors have the stronger bench and superior defense. They've held their past nine opponents to an average of 92.7 points in regulation. Amir Johnson is one of the few defenders who has had past success containing Kevin Love. Only once during their past nine games have the Raptors allowed an opponent to score 100 points.
I like Toronto coach Dwane Casey much more than Rick Adelman. The Timberwolves lack discipline under Adelman. That's not the case with the Raptors, who have the second-best point spread mark in the NBA at 36-23-1.
|03-09-14||Denver Nuggets +2 v. New Orleans Pelicans||107-111||Loss||-110||10 h 13 m||Show|
The Nuggets are a much stronger team with point guard Ty Lawson back running the show. The Nuggets are healthy now for one of the rare times this season.
The Pelicans are missing Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday and key big man reserve Jason Smith. They are in tank mode as coach Monty Williams continues to provide minutes to his younger players.
New Orleans has won two in a row - but those victories were achieved against the Bucks and Lakers. Prior to that the Pelicans had dropped eight in a row. They are 0-6-1 ATS the past seven times when playing on one day rest.
|03-08-14||Fresno State -6 v. San Jose State||69-56||Win||100||17 h 18 m||Show|
Fresno State is healthy for one of the few teams this season and underrated. The Bulldogs are road proven having won their past three away contests. They are 21-8-1 ATS during their last 30 road contests and 9-1 ATS in their last 10 overall games.
The Bulldogs should have more motivation than hapless San Jose State knowing a victory would give them a winning season and help give them a better seed in the upcoming Mountain West Conference Tournament.
San Jose State is easily the worst team in the conference. The Spartans do not have a league win at home. They rank last in the Mountain West in field goal percentage at 36.4 and are 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 overall games.
The teams met a month ago and Fresno State cruised to an 82-56 victory.
|03-08-14||Baylor v. Kansas State -3.5||Top||76-74||Loss||-106||9 h 25 m||Show|
Revenge, senior day and a 15-game home win streak all help convince me to lay this semi-short number with Kansas State.
This isn't just a typical revenge spot for the Wildcats. No loss bothered them more than losing at Baylor in double overtime by 14 points after leading by 10 with fewer than nine minutes to go in regulation.
This also is the final home game for four Wildcat seniors, including Shane Southwell and Will Spradling. The Wildcats are 8-0 in Big 12 action at home. Among their victories were defeating Kansas by three, Iowa State by seven, Texas by 17 and Oklahoma State by 5 1/2.
Baylor has a losing road record in Big 12 action. The Bears have lost on the road to Texas, Iowa State and Kansas with the average losing margin in these games being by 10 points.
|03-07-14||Brooklyn Nets -4 v. Boston Celtics||Top||84-91||Loss||-110||10 h 8 m||Show|
Have to ride the Nets here. Brooklyn is 20-8 since January, the best record in the Eastern Conference during this span. The Nets have won four in a row, holding foes to 90.3 points a game during this span.
The Nets are at their best when playing bad teams such as Boston going 15-1 the past 16 times when playing foes currently under .500.
Brooklyn just got done beating two hot teams - the Bulls by 16 on Monday and Grizzlies by nine on Wednesday - and now step way down in class.
Boston is 1-7 in its last eight and 2-23 the past 25 times when meeting an opponent with a winning record. The Celtics had a perfect situational spot in their last game this past Wednesday hosting a tired Warriors team playing without rest after having upset Indiana the night before on the road and lost by 20.
The Nets have covered seven of the last 10 in Boston, including beating the Celtics 85-79 in their last visit on Jan. 26.
|03-06-14||Iowa v. Michigan State -3.5||Top||76-86||Win||100||15 h 44 m||Show|
You have to go back to 1993 to find the last time Iowa won at Michigan State. The Spartans have won the last 17 times hosting the Hawkeyes, 15 in a row under Tom Izzo.
The Spartans are on a two-game losing streak. They haven't lost three in a row all season and traditionally play their best ball under Izzo in March. When the Hawkeyes played at Breslin Center last season they lost by 34 points.
Michigan State has covered four of the last five times off a loss. Izzo drove his players hard with two-a-day practices this week following a home loss to Illinois this past Saturday. That game, though, was important for the Spartans even though they lost because they finally had all their injured players back. Now they've had close to a week of intense practices to get back in sync.
Michigan State has three home losses this season. The Spartans haven't lost four home games in a season since 1996-97. That was just Izzo's second season. Iowa is a decent, but far from great road club splitting eight of its Big Ten road games. The Hawkeyes haven't finished above .500 in Big Ten road games since 1997-98.
The Spartans prevailed, 71-69, in overtime in the team's first meeting this season on Jan. 28. The Spartans won despite shooting 23 fewer free throws than Iowa and being without their second-leading scorer, Adreian Payne, and their leading rebounder Branden Dawson.
|03-05-14||Chicago Bulls -3.5 v. Detroit Pistons||Top||105-94||Win||100||15 h 30 m||Show|
The Bulls are a well-coached, veteran team that plays great defense and is focused on gaining the No. 3 playoff seed in the East. The Pistons are disjointed with a lame duck coach. They sit around on defense and on offense watch Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings hoist up bad shots.
The Bulls are 9-2 in their last 11 games, but off a bad 96-80 road loss to the Nets two nights ago. They should be primed for a strong effort after committing a season-high in turnovers versus Brooklyn. Chicago is 6-1 ATS following a loss. The Bulls have been solid on the road, too, covering 13 of their last 19 away matchups.
After this game, the Bulls return home. However, their next four opponents are the Grizzlies, Heat, Spurs and Rockets. So Chicago can't afford to slip in this matchup.
The Pistons are in just the opposite frame of mind after snapping a four-game losing streak with a 96-85 home win against the Knicks, another team in disarray. Despite that victory, Detroit has covered only 42 percent of its home contests. Only four times since Dec. 8 have the Pistons won in their next game following a victory that ended a losing streak.
Before beating the equally inept Knicks, the Pistons were giving up 112.3 points in their last seven games following All-Star break. They are last in the league in defensive field goal percentage.
The Bulls have revenge for a December 92-75 home loss to the Pistons in the last meeting. The Bulls have a strong history against Detroit winning 19 of the last 21 meetings while going 18-7-1 ATS during their past 26 games in the series.
|03-04-14||Miami (Fla) +4.5 v. Clemson||Top||54-58||Win||100||10 h 26 m||Show|
The Hurricanes are proven road warriors and in need of a victory if they want to avoid playing during the first day of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Clemson locked up an opening day bye in the ACC tournament by getting past Maryland in double overtime this past Sunday. The Tigers exerted tremendous energy in going all out to achieve that victory with four of their starters playing 40 or more minutes. K.J. McDaniels logged 48 minutes while Landry Nnoko went 46 minutes.
The Tigers are going to be laboring and facing one of the toughest defensive clubs in the nation. The Hurricanes rank 11th defensively giving up less than 60 points per game. They also are 32nd in defensive field goal percentage.
Miami has covered six of its last eight road games and is 6-1 ATS versus opponents with a winning home mark. The Hurricanes are 5-1-1 ATS as conference road 'dogs.
|03-02-14||Atlanta Hawks +8 v. Phoenix Suns||Top||120-129||Loss||-110||9 h 22 m||Show|
The Suns got back on track with a 116-104 win against New Orleans two days ago. Previously, the Suns had dropped three in a row. Phoenix has failed to cover five of the last seven times following a double-digit victory.
Phoenix certainly isn't sneaking up on opponents like it did during the first half of the season. The Suns are a legitimate contender for the last spot in the Western Conference. They are the most improved team in the league, but they are far from elite.
The Hawks are at low ebb, five games below .500 as they battle injuries. Paul Millsap, their All-Star big man, is out again. However, I see the Hawks turning things around in this matchup. Giving the situational circumstances and matchup makeup, Atlanta can definitely stay with in this number.
The Suns aren't a strong enough rebounding team to fully exploit Atlanta's front-court injuries. Atlanta will get its points off the Suns, who rank 23rd in scoring defense. The Hawks are averaging 105.2 points in their last four games. If they averaged that for the season they would rank as the fifth-highest scoring team in the NBA.
The Hawks also have been idle since Wednesday and won't play again until this Wednesday. They are rested and focused. Phoenix, though, is playing for the fourth time in six days.
|03-02-14||New Mexico -4.5 v. Nevada||Top||72-58||Win||100||11 h 17 m||Show|
Nevada is fading badly losing and failing to cover in five of its last six games. The last time the Wolf Pack played at home - two games ago - they lost as a 13-point favorite to San Jose State. That's the Spartans' lone Mountain West Conference win in 16 league games.
New Mexico holds a talent edge at every position except point guard and has a deeper bench. The Lobos rolled past the Wolf Pack, 90-72, on Feb. 15.
New Mexico is 13-2 in the Mountain West and 9-2 ATS in its last 11 games, including covering its past five away matchups.
The Wolf Pack, on the other hand, have failed to cover in 11 of their last 16 home contests.
|03-01-14||Washington Wizards v. Philadelphia 76ers +12||Top||122-103||Loss||-105||7 h 48 m||Show|
Yes, I'm holding my nose way high taking the 76ers fully aware Philly has lost 12 in a row with an average loss of more than 20 points as they race to get their lottery ticket.
But this is a complete fade on the Wizards, who are off their most physically draining game of the year a triple overtime victory against the Raptors this past Thursday night. That was a huge road victory. The Wizards host the Grizzlies on Monday in what figures to be a much tougher matchup. So it's a big letdown spot for Washington.
A number of Wizards played huge minutes against Toronto. Marcin Gortat played 51 minutes. Bradley Beal also logged 51 minutes. Trevor Ariza went 50 minutes and John Wall clocked in at 49 minutes. I can't see these key players being in top shape for this letdown matchup.
The Wizards have failed to cover in five of their last six games in Philadelphia.
|03-01-14||Iowa State v. Kansas State||Top||73-80||Win||100||15 h 10 m||Show|
Kansas State has the best defense in the Big 12. Iowa State owns the best offense in the conference. But I see defense trumping offense in this matchup.
The Wildcats are 14-1 at home. They have covered nine of their last 11 at Bramlage Coliseum. Their star freshman guard Marcus Foster is playing well averaging 20.9 points and shooting 50 percent from the floor during his last seven games. Senior forward Shane Southwell is close to 100 percent from a foot injury.
Kansas State has a great home-court advantage, which is proven by a 23-6-1 ATS record in its last 30 home contests versus opponents with a winning road record, including a 10-3 ATS mark against foes with a winning percentage above .600. The Wildcats have covered 76 percent of the time in their last 17 games versus teams with a winning record.
Iowa State, by contrast, has failed to cover in 10 of its last 13 Big 12 games. The Cyclones are 0-7 ATS during their past Saturday games.
Kansas State has a strong revenge motive after losing 81-75 on Jan. 25 in Ames. In that six-point loss, the Wildcats made 42 percent of their shots from the floor compared to Iowa State hitting 48 percent. The Wildcats also shot 12 fewer free throws, which isn't likely to be the case at home.
|02-28-14||Charlotte Bobcats +9 v. San Antonio Spurs||Top||82-92||Loss||-107||9 h 58 m||Show|
The Bobcats are a legitimate playoff contender for the first time. They are playing their best ball with a four-game winning streak, including a victory against hot Memphis. Charlotte is well-rested and greatly anticipating this step-up game having had six days to prepare for this matchup.
The Bobcats are 23-12 ATS when taking three or more points. They hung in against the Spurs at home three weeks ago losing, 104-100. The Bobcats are 17-8-1 ATS during their past 26 road contests. Al Jefferson is playing as well as any big man in the league.
San Antonio is playing just its second home game since Feb. 1. The Spurs host Dallas on Saturday in a much bigger game for them.
|02-28-14||Yale +7 v. Princeton||Top||46-57||Loss||-109||6 h 26 m||Show|
Look for Yale to bounce back after Columbia ended the Bulldogs' seven-game winning streak. Yale is 22-8 ATS following a loss.
Princeton is 4-6 in its last 10 games, which includes home defeats to Harvard and Columbia. Yale is 8-2 in its last 10 games, including a win at home and a 66-65 home victory against Princeton on a putback by Justin Sears in overtime.
Princeton has been a big money-burner at home failing to cover in eight of its last nine home matchups.
|02-27-14||Gonzaga -6 v. Pacific||Top||70-53||Win||100||18 h 56 m||Show|
Gonzaga needs this game to clinch the West Coast Conference title and also to stop the pain of a two-game losing streak. If the Bulldogs lose here, they'll have to beat Saint Mary's on the road Saturday to win the title. So I see a very focused effort from the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga is 7-2-1 ATS following a loss. The Bulldogs destroyed Pacific, 86-64, in the first meeting last month. Pacific doesn't have the needed perimeter defense to keep this close. The Tigers rank 346th in defending against 3-pointers.
Gonzaga is in no mood to screw around after consecutive road losses to San Diego and BYU. The Bulldogs average 77.5 points per game. Pacific surrenders just under 75 points a game. The Tigers have lost three in a row by an average margin of 13.3 points a game to competitor inferior to Gonzaga.
|02-26-14||Michigan -5 v. Purdue||Top||77-76||Loss||-102||8 h 29 m||Show|
The line is purposely low because the oddsmaker is factoring a Michigan letdown after its big showdown victory this past Saturday at home against Michigan State.
But what's not being factor correctly is how bad the Boilermakers are playing and how low their mental state is.
The 15-12 Boilermakers aren't going anywhere especially after suffering a 76-57 thrashing at Nebraska that put an exclamation on their down season. Purdue is 1-7 ATS in its last eight home games. It's one cover was a huge in-state win against rival Indiana.
In their last home game, the Boilermakers lost 94-79 to Michigan State, a team the Wolverines just defeated by nine points. All together, the Boilermakers have dropped seven of their last nine. Morale is low and not helped by the news that senior guard Sterling Carter is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL in the loss to Nebraska. Even before this, the Boilermakers had shown little heart.
Michigan is well-coached and knows a letdown loss to Purdue would negate its big win against Michigan State. Properly motivated, the Wolverines should bury the Boilermakers. They lead the Big Ten in free throw percentage while Purdue is last in the conference in free throw percentage.
|02-25-14||Orlando Magic +10 v. Washington Wizards||Top||106-115||Win||100||11 h 0 m||Show|
Yes, I'm aware of Orlando losing AND failing to cover in its last 15 road games. But I see the Magic ending that streak with this high of a spread.
The Wizards are both 14-14 on the road and at home. They have been a far better ATS team on the road. At Verizon Center they are 11-17 ATS on the season. This includes a 1-9 ATS mark the past 10 times hosting a foe with a losing road mark.
The Magic will be without their leading scorer, Arron Affalo. However, the Wizards have a bigger injury loss with Nene out around six weeks after suffering a sprained MCL. Nene has been with the Wizards for the past three seasons. Washington is one game below .500 when Nene has played and 26 games below .500 when he's been out. The Wizards are 1-6 this season minus Nene.
Orlando has defeated the Thunder, Pacers, Knicks and Pistons while losing by five to the hot Grizzlies during their past eight games. That's not a sign of a team that has quit.
|02-25-14||Kansas State v. Texas Tech||60-56||Loss||-105||11 h 43 m||Show|
Home-court means a lot in this matchup of tough-nosed defensive clubs who have been struggling.
Kansas State has cooled off since a 10-game winning streak going 6-6 in their last 12 games. The Wildcats have dropped their past six road contests. The Wildcats play four freshmen who have yet to learn how to win on the road.
Texas Tech is stronger at home and is heavily promoting this matchup in hopes of drawing another sellout crowd. The Red Raiders have covered in 10 of their last 14 games in Lubbock. They also are 7-1 ATS following a point spread loss, which happened in their last game a blowout loss at Oklahoma State. The game before that, however, the Red Raiders nearly upset Kansas at home losing, 64-63.
The Red Raiders also have revenge. Kansas State won the first meeting, 66-58. The Wildcats shot 44 percent from the floor in that game while Texas Tech made less than 34 percent of its field goals.
|02-25-14||Iowa -2.5 v. Minnesota||Top||89-95||Loss||-107||11 h 42 m||Show|
Iowa enters this matchup angry coming off a 79-74 home loss to Wisconsin this past Saturday. The Hawkeyes are a perfect 6-0 following a loss.
The Hawkeyes are fifth in the Big Ten behind Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Iowa clearly is a notch above Minnesota, whose season has slipped away again. The Hawkeyes haven't lost to a team outside the RPI top 18. They destroyed the Gophers by 21 points in the first meeting this season.
Minnesota chances of making the NCAA Tournament took a serious hit with losses in its last two games to Illinois and Ohio State by a combined 31 points.
The Gophers have lost to unranked Illinois and Northwestern during two of their past three games at Williams Arena while losing six of their past eight overall games.
Iowa has been a big money-maker on the road covering seven of its last eight on the highway.
|02-24-14||Boston Celtics v. Utah Jazz -3||Top||98-110||Win||100||17 h 58 m||Show|
Boston is bad and banged-up. Not a good combination. The Celtics also are weary as this marks their third game in four days and the end of their four-game Western Conference trip. Making it worse is Utah is up in the mountains meaning the Celtics are playing in higher altitude. Boston is 1-6 ATS the past seven times when playing on one day's rest.
The Celtics have lost four in a row. All the defeats have been by six or more points. They are 3-14 in their last 17 road games. The Celtics' only victories during this span were against the Bucks, 76ers and Wizards in overtime. The Bucks and 76ers are the two worst teams in the NBA.
Boston especially has trouble with Western Conference opponents. They have failed to cover in seven of their last nine meetings versus Western foes, including losing their last two by seven points to the Kings and by nine points to the Lakers. Utah is right on par with those teams.
The Jazz have played better at home winning nine of their last 15 in Salt Lake City, including upsetting the Thunder and Heat during this span.
Utah still may be missing Derrick Favors, but the Celtics are in far worse injury shape even though Rajon Rondo is expected back tonight. The Celtics' backcourt is still down Avery Bradley and they will be without their best frontcourt player, Jared Sullinger. He's out with a concussion.
Like Boston, Utah played this past Saturday and was embarrassed at home by the Timberwolves losing, 121-104. So the Jazz should be pumped for this matchup. They are 13-6 ATS the last 19 times after suffering a double-digit home defeat.
|02-23-14||Michigan State +2.5 v. Michigan||Top||70-79||Loss||-108||8 h 18 m||Show|
Only once in its last five games has Michigan had a strong offensive performance. Take away a 79-point game against Nebraska and the Wolverines are averaging 62.7 points in their last four games.
Michigan State is getting healthier with team assists leader Keith Appling back and is playing better covering four of its last five. The Spartans also are 8-1 ATS during their last nine road contests and 7-3 ATS versus opponents with a win percentage above .600.
Michigan won the first meeting, 80-75. But the Spartans were missing senior center Adreian Payne due to a foot injury. Payne is averaging 18 points and 6.8 rebounds in five games since returning. I don't see Michigan matching up well inside against Michigan State with Payne back on the court plus the Spartans are sure to get better looks at the basket with Payne in the lineup.
|02-22-14||LSU v. Kentucky -11.5||Top||76-77||Loss||-106||10 h 56 m||Show|
LSU is garbage on the road and faces a revenge-minded Kentucky team that plays far better at home and is in good form.
Kentucky has won five of six since losing 87-82 on the road to LSU. The Wildcats' only loss during this span was to second-ranked Florida.
The Wildcats are 5-1 ATS the past six times they've been double-digit home favorites this season. LSU is 0-6-2 ATS in its last eight road games versus opponents with a winning home mark.
The Tigers have lost and failed to cover in their last three away matchups falling to Arkansas, Texas A&M and Georgia during this span by an average losing margin of 10.6 points. Kentucky is much stronger than those teams.
The Wildcats hold a huge rebounding edge. I see a fast-paced Kentucky offense pouring in points and taking advantage of missed shots with second and third chances.
|02-22-14||Marquette -7 v. DePaul||96-94||Loss||-106||7 h 19 m||Show|
Marquette is playing better and knows it has to be focused down the stretch. DePaul, on the other hand, has quit on the season. The Blue Demons haven't been competitive since their leading scorer and rebounder, Cleveland Melvin, was dismissed from the team.
DePaul has lost nine in a row with the average losing margin being 17.7 points. The Blue Demons have covered only 27 percent of the time during their last 26 home contests. Marquette has won the past five in the series, including 66-56 in the first meeting on Jan. 4.
The Golden Eagles had won three in a row until being outclassed by 12th-ranked Creighton suffering a miserable day at the free throw line. That shouldn't happen here as Marquette is several notches above DePaul. The Golden Eagles are 18-7-2 ATS the past 27 times following a defeat.
|02-20-14||Michigan State -4.5 v. Purdue||Top||94-79||Win||100||15 h 26 m||Show|
Tom Izzo has been cracking the whip hard since the Spartans suffered a shocking home loss this past Sunday to Nebraska.
The Spartans have a huge game this Sunday against arch-rival Michigan, but that matchup will lose some of its luster if Michigan State loses this game to Purdue. It's something Izzo and his well-coached players are well aware of.
While Michigan State is off a bad loss, Purdue is off its best win of the season, an 18-point victory against Indiana.
The Boilermakers are fat and happy now. They aren't going to the NCAA Tournament. They are 5-7 in the Big Ten, 2-5 in their last seven games and have failed to cover in six of their past seven home contests.
The Spartans need this game to set up their showdown for first place in the Big Ten with Michigan. Izzo is too good of a coach to have his team overlook the Boilermakers, especially off a terrible loss. The 21-5 Spartans have won their following game after each of their first four losses.
Izzo has had to deal with injuries but expects to have senior guard Keith Appling available.
The Spartans have handled Purdue in the past winning the last five meetings. They are 4-1 ATS in their last five visits to Mackey Arena.
Michigan State has won 10 of its 12 road contests while covering seven of the past eight times away from East Lansing.
|02-19-14||Arizona State v. Colorado -3.5||Top||52-61||Win||100||15 h 45 m||Show|
Colorado has gotten back on track after losing star guard Spencer Dinwiddie. The Buffaloes have won of their last five and catch Arizona State in a bad situational spot.
The Sun Devils are on the road after a thrilling 69-66 double-overtime home win against in-state rival and No. 4 ranked Arizona this past Friday.
Arizona State has lost and failed to cover in three of its last four road Pac-12 games. Colorado, firmly on the bubble, is at home where it is 15-1 this season.
|02-18-14||South Florida +23 v. Louisville||Top||54-80||Loss||-110||9 h 9 m||Show|
Yes, South Florida is terrible. But this is a real letdown spot for fifth-ranked Louisville and the line is inflated.
The Cardinals are off a couple of easy victories last week, including destroying Rutgers 102-54 this past Saturday.
Louisville has failed to cover the past eight times after scoring 100 points in its previous game.
The Cardinals have a far bigger game on deck this Saturday when they travel to Cincinnati to meet the AAC-leading Bearcats, who they trail by 1 1/2 games.
South Florida plays respectable defense, can slow the pace down and has revenge for an embarrassing 39-point home loss to Louisville.
|02-17-14||NC-Wilmington v. William & Mary -10||Top||70-93||Win||100||15 h 47 m||Show|
There is a clear class difference here. William & Mary is one of the three best teams in the Colonial Athletic Association while North Carolina-Wilmington is the worst team in the league. The Seahawks are 2-15 in their last 17 CAA contests. They have been especially bad on the road losing 13 of 16 times.
But is William & Mary good enough to cover a double-digit point spread against the Seahawks? I believe the answer is yes. The Tribe is off a very disappointing 85-70 home loss to Towson two days ago. That was their first home game back after three consecutive road matchups, a difficult situational spot.
William & Mary has covered the past six times following a straight-up defeat. The Tribe also is 9-1 ATS when facing a below .500 opponent.
The Tribe shot 36 percent from 3-point range in the loss to Towson going 9-for-25. The Tribe' 3-point shooting also was off in their first meeting against North Carolina-Wilmington. William & Mary missed 23 of 30 shots from beyond the arch in that game for 30.4 percent. Yet it still won 54-50 on the road although the Seahawks had a chance to tie but missed an inside shot with 10 seconds left.
William & Mary ranks 19th in the country in 3-point shooting percentage at 39.6. They are 53rd in field goal percentage. The Tribe figures to shoot better this time around and won't lack for motivation after the stinging Towson loss from two days ago. The Seahawks aren't good enough to stay with the Tribe on the road if William & Mary plays well.
|02-16-14||Wisconsin +4.5 v. Michigan||Top||75-62||Win||100||7 h 15 m||Show|
After a rough 1-5 patch, Wisconsin is turning things around winning three in a row. The last two victories by the Badgers have come against Michigan State and Minnesota at home.
I see the Badgers continuing to salvage their season as they take to the road. Wisconsin is playing much better than four weeks ago when it lost 77-70 to Michigan at home.
The Wolverines shot 54.7 percent from the floor in that win, including 53.8 percent from 3-point range. The Badgers have gone back to their tough, physical aggressive defensive approach that has been their trademark under Bo Ryan, a coach I regard as one of the best in the country.
The underdog has covered the past five times in this series. Michigan hasn't beaten Wisconsin twice during the regular season since 1998 and Wisconsin has covered five of its last seven road matchups.
|02-15-14||Colorado State v. Fresno State -3||66-75||Win||100||12 h 43 m||Show|
Fresno State is much improved from when it last played Colorado State on Jan. 11. The Rams closed on a 14-1 run making the final score of 76-57 more lopsided than the game really was.
The Bulldogs' improvement began three weeks ago when they took UNLV to overtime on the road before losing by two. Following that game, the Bulldogs have rattled off four consecutive Mountain West victories, winning by an average margin of 14 points.
Fresno State is 5-0 ATS in its last five games, while Colorado State has covered only 29 percent of the time during its last 28 contests. The Rams are a weak road team, too. Their only away victories have been against San Jose State and Air Force, the two lowest ranked teams in the Mountain West Conference.
A key for the Bulldogs is much stronger rebounding. They have outrebounded their last five opponents.
|02-15-14||Pittsburgh v. North Carolina -3.5||Top||71-75||Win||100||9 h 18 m||Show|
Matchup-wise and situation-wise this one squarely lines up on the side of North Carolina.
Pittsburg is banged-up, weary and mentally down after nearly upsetting unbeaten Syracuse this past Wednesday. The Orangemen pulled out the two-point victory when Tyler Ennis hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.
That was in Pittsburgh. Now the Panthers face even a tougher assignment - cover a short number at North Carolina against the red-hot and well-rested Tar Heels.
North Carolina is 6-1 in its last seven games, playing its finest ball of the season. The Tar Heels have had ample time to rest and game plan, too, having been idle for a week. This is just their second game in 10 days as their matchup this past Wednesday against Duke was postponed due to weather conditions.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is in action for the fourth time in 10 days and could be missing two key players - Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna. They were both injured against Syracuse. Patterson, who leads the Panthers in scoring and assists, suffered a thumb injury. Zanna, who leads the Panthers in rebounding, blocks and shooting percentage, suffered an ankle injury.
Not having these two, or if they are limited, really would hurt the Panthers. The Tar Heels have an excellent point guard in Marcus Paige and they lead the ACC in rebounding margin. The Panthers outrebounded Syracuse, but prior to that had not been rebounding well in recent games.
|02-14-14||Pennsylvania v. Yale -9||Top||54-69||Win||100||9 h 50 m||Show|
Yale is far superior to Penn especially at home. The Quakers are 1-8 on the road, 3-5 ATS. They have lost their last two Ivy League road games by a combined 39 points and are 3-7 ATS during their past 10 visits to Yale.
Yale is playing its best ball of the season winning four in a row, including beating Harvard, 74-67, last weekend as a 12 1/2-point road 'dog.
The Bulldogs have covered seven of their last nine conference matchups.
The line is lower than I thought probably because Penn is off a home win against Columbia. The Quakers, though, are 5-17-1 ATS following a victory.
|02-13-14||Oklahoma City Thunder -11.5 v. Los Angeles Lakers||Top||107-103||Loss||-114||16 h 22 m||Show|
I can't see the Lakers being competitive at all against the Thunder in this last game before the All-Star break.
Decimated with injuries, including missing five of their top six scorers and point guards Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar, the Lakes are no match for a hot Oklahoma City squad. The Thunder have won 14 of their last 16 while covering 12 of the 16.
The Lakers just want to get to break and then hopefully get back some of their walking wounded, including Pau Gasol and maybe even Kobe Bryant. In the meantime, the overmatched Lakers have dropped 21 of 26. This includes losing in their last six home games.
The Thunder have always taken the Lakers seriously and usually don't let up when playing weaker competition. They are 7-2 ATS in their last nine road contests.
Kevin Durant has been on a shooting tear as he battles for Most Valuable Player honors. Durant is averaging 35.2 points while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor during the last 21 games. He shouldn't have any letup here since the Thunder won't play again until next week.
|02-13-14||Colorado +10.5 v. UCLA||74-92||Loss||-106||12 h 0 m||Show|
Yes, Colorado lost star point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. The Buffaloes couldn't beat UCLA earlier this season losing by 13 points without him. That was Colorado's first full game without Dinwiddie.
But defense, coaching and resiliency have kept the Buffaloes competitive. They have won three in a row and Askia Booker, Dinwiddie's replacement, has settled down and actually would rank third in the Pac-12 in assists if his numbers were extrapolated over the entire season. He also is averaging 14.2 points a game.
Colorado also can do damage inside against UCLA, who has problems matching up against Josh Scott.
Colorado is 18-5 and has won three in a row. The Buffaloes are 24th in RPI power rankings and 26th in strength of schedule.
|02-13-14||Arkansas v. Missouri -5||Top||85-86||Loss||-106||15 h 54 m||Show|
This is a pivotal game for both teams, but Missouri has a strong situational edge returning home after three consecutive road losses, the first time that's happened under Frank Haith.
Arkansas is strong at home, weak on the road. The Razorbacks are 1-9 away from home. They have covered less than 30 percent of their last 76 road matchups and are 2-7 ATS when going against foes with a winning percentage above .600.
The Razorbacks are 3-22 on the road and 3-19 versus SEC teams on the road. The only SEC teams the Razorbacks have beaten on the road during this span are Vanderbilt and Auburn.
Missouri beat the Razorbacks in Arkansas, 77-75, on Jan. 28. It was the fifth time in the last six meetings the Tigers have covered against Arkansas.
The Tigers are guard-oriented, but a key to their win was outrebounding the Razorbacks by 16. Arkansas' lack of rebounding is a real negative especially on the road.
|02-12-14||Kentucky v. Auburn +7.5||Top||64-56||Loss||-106||7 h 6 m||Show|
Kentucky isn't the same on the road and has a huge look-ahead game on Saturday against fourth-ranked Florida.
The Wildcats have a losing straight-up record in true road matchups this season. They are 5-15-2 ATS during their past 22 road contests. Auburn has covered five of its past six home games. The Tigers also have covered five of the last six in the series.
Auburn is coming on after a slow start, due in part to a very strong schedule. The Tigers are playing much better now winning their past three games. Auburn does face a strong challenge in the frontcourt, but has a tremendous guard in senior Chris Denson, who leads the SEC in scoring at 20.2 points per game. He's been red-hot shooting 56.7 percent from the field during his last four games.
|02-12-14||San Antonio Spurs -3.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||104-92||Win||100||6 h 32 m||Show|
This is a cheap number. It doesn't matter that San Antonio is banged-up. The Spurs are deep and coming off a horrible 109-100 road loss against the Pistons two nights ago. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it might have been the worst defense his team has played all season.
The veteran and proud Spurs will come out fired up. The Celtics, on the other hand, have won of their past five. They are fat and happy heading into All-Star break. Their victories during this span have come against four of the worst teams in the league - the Kings, Magic, 76ers and Bucks.
The Spurs still are far superior to Boston. They won by double-digits in the first meetings and are likely to win by an easy margin this time, too.
|02-11-14||Southern Illinois +17 v. Wichita State||Top||67-78||Win||100||10 h 15 m||Show|
Unbeaten Wichita State returns home after a tough two-game road swing having achieved victories against Indiana State and Northern Iowa. The Shockers hold a commanding three-game lead in the Missouri Valley Conference with six matchups remaining.
After this matchup the Shockers go back on the road for their next two games. The Shockers rolled past the Salukis, 82-67, in the first meeting. That was Southern Illinois' opening conference game of the season. I see Wichita State in a letdown spot and Southern Illinois being much improved since that first loss to the Shockers.
The Salukis have made several lineup changes since then. They are 5-2 during their past seven conference games. The Salukis have gotten a lift from freshmen Tyler Smithpeters and Bola Olaniyan. Those two logged a combined four minutes against Wichita State in the first meeting.
Southern Illinois enters this matchup playing its best ball having won four in a row -three of them coming by 16 or more points - while connecting on 16 of 30 3-pointers during its last two games.
The Salukis have covered in eight of their last 11 trips to Wichita State. They played the Shockers extremely tough last season winning at home by two as 10-point 'dogs and losing by six at Koch Arena last season.
|02-11-14||Dallas Mavericks -3 v. Charlotte Bobcats||Top||89-114||Loss||-110||9 h 10 m||Show|
Dallas is playing well and has dominated Charlotte winning 17 of the past 18 meetings, including the past five. The Mavericks have covered in six of their last seven road matchups versus the Bobcats.
Dallas has put together five solid efforts - all victories - the last four coming against the Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Jazz and Celtics by an average victory margin of 16 points.
Last season, Dallas was 17-24 at the halfway point. The Mavericks have made it a priority to play better during the first half and they've succeeded winning 31 of their first 52 games.
On tap for the Mavericks is a game tomorrow night at Indiana - a probable loss. So the Mavericks should be primed for an all-out effort in this very winnable game. Dallas has a strong road track record at 38-13 ATS and is 36-15 ATS when playing sub .500 teams.
|02-10-14||Kansas v. Kansas State +4||Top||82-85||Win||100||12 h 47 m||Show|
Kansas State is a whole different team when playing at home capable of beating any team in the country. The Wildcats have proven that winning eight of the past 11 times against quality foes at Bramlage Coliseum.
The Wildcats not only were sharp two days ago in a 74-57 home win against Texas, but none of their starters were too taxed as nobody played more than 30 minutes.
Kansas has great talent, but is inexperienced and not used to playing in this type of road setting. Wildcats freshman guard Marcus Foster has been playing great scoring 57 points during the last two games. Kansas stopped him in the team's first meeting this season holding him to seven points on 3-of-12 shooting from the floor. Look for Foster to have a much better game this time around.
Kansas State has the necessary guard pressure to force turnovers and hit their perimeter shots to avoid the Jayhawks' tall front line.
|02-09-14||Philadelphia 76ers +16 v. Los Angeles Clippers||Top||78-123||Loss||-110||10 h 32 m||Show|
Chris Paul is expected to play for the first time since injuring his shoulder on Jan. 3. Paul isn't going to have his rhythm yet after being out for so long.
Yes, the Clippers can name their score - if they wanted. But I can't see their focus and concentration being there especially after they followed up their home loss to the Heat with a resounding home win against Toronto in their last game.
The Clippers have allowed an average of 112.3 points during their last three games. The 76ers are the worst defensive team in the league, but they are averaging a respectable 101 points a game. They have talent with Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and prime rookie of the year candidate Michael Carter-Williams.
The 76ers have played better on the road than at home. They are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 road contests and have won their past three West Coast road matchups beating the Kings, Trail Blazers and Nuggets.
The teams met on Dec. 9 in Philadelphia and the Clippers won, 94-83. Paul played and had a big game. But the 76ers shot less than 36 percent from the floor - missing 18 of 21 shots from beyond the arc - and didn't have Carter-Williams for that game.
Surely they can shoot better in this game and having Carter-Williams play makes a difference for the 76ers.
|02-09-14||Temple v. Houston -2.5||Top||74-88||Win||100||4 h 3 m||Show|
Both of these teams are struggling, but the Cougars' last five losses have been against brutal competition - Louisville, at Memphis, SMU, at Rutgers and at UConn.
Now the Cougars step down in class and should get the job done against a Temple squad that lost too much from last season and is 1-10 in its last 11 games. The Owls also are 2-7 ATS the past nine times they've played a foe with a losing mark.
|02-08-14||Denver Nuggets +1 v. Detroit Pistons||Top||109-126||Loss||-110||15 h 14 m||Show|
Denver is the superior team and is in a good spot despite being on the road.
The Pistons are fat and happy after beating Brooklyn at home last night. Even with that win, the dysfunctional and poorly-coached Pistons are just 5-10 ATS in their last 15 games at The Palace at Auburn Hills. The Pistons also might not have Josh Smith, who suffered an ankle injury against the Nets.
Denver is off a bad loss to the Knicks last night at Madison Square Garden. The Nuggets were held to under 101 points for just the third time in their last 18 games. The Nuggets have a winning spread record during their past seven away matchups.
The Nuggets have defeated Detroit in each of the last six meetings. They should be primed to do it again.
|02-08-14||San Antonio Spurs -4.5 v. Charlotte Bobcats||104-100||Loss||-107||4 h 14 m||Show|
The Spurs should be highly motivated after suffering a blowout loss to Brooklyn in their last game.
They draw Charlotte in its first game back from a successful 3-1 West Coast trip. The Bobcats are 0-5 the past five times playing following a road win. Their average losing margin during this span is by 10 points.
The Spurs have beaten Charlotte four straight times by double digits. The Spurs aren't 100 percent, but they have most of their injured players back. Tim Duncan is expected to play today. That's huge.
|02-07-14||Portland Trail Blazers v. Indiana Pacers -5.5||113-118||Loss||-107||7 h 32 m||Show|
Indiana is seeking revenge and has covered 25 of its last 34 games.
The Pacers rank first in scoring defense and defensive field goal percentage. They catch Portland playing poorly.
The Trail Blazers rely on offense. However, they have failed to break the 94-point barrier in three of their last four games. They are 2-7 ATS in their last nine games.
|02-06-14||UTEP -2.5 v. East Carolina||58-47||Win||100||13 h 48 m||Show|
UTEP is in good form. The Miners are 19-6-1 ATS in their last 26 games and have covered in their past five away contests.
East Carolina started fast, but is just 1-6 in Conference USA and 1-8-1 ATS during its past 10 games.
UTEP is much stronger defensively surrendering eight fewer points per game in league play. The Miners are No. 1 in Conference USA in defensive field goal percentage.
|02-06-14||IUPU Ft Wayne +5 v. South Dakota State||Top||51-79||Loss||-121||15 h 2 m||Show|
IPFW of Fort Wayne Indiana is one of those under-the-radar teams that has been a solid money-maker. The Mastodons are leading the Summit League with a 6-1 mark and have covered 12 of their last 16 games.
The Mastodons are getting points at South Dakota State, a team they are better than. The Mastodons defeated the Jackrabbits by seven points at home last month.
South Dakota State is 12-10. IPFW Fort Wayne is 18-6. The Mastodons have covered 78 percent of their last 29 games. They are 10-4-1 ATS during their last 15 road contests.
The Jackrabbits outscore their opponents by only one point per game when playing at home. They are 1-7-1 ATS the last nine times when going against an opponent with a winning record.
Sometimes dealing with under-the-radar type matchups that look too good often can backfire. That shouldn't be the case here. Sources tell me the Mastodons are much better than South Dakota State. So taking this many points makes sense.
|02-06-14||Cleveland State -2.5 v. Oakland||92-85||Win||100||11 h 36 m||Show|
Cleveland State ranks with Green Bay as the two best teams in the Horizon League. Oakland is down this season, not in that class.
The Golden Grizzlies are 7-19 ATS in their last 26 games, including 1-4 ATS during their past five home games. They have failed to cover in their past five conference matchups.
Cleveland State has a strong history of covering against weak competition going 11-2 ATS during the past 13 instances.
|02-05-14||Stanford +4 v. California||Top||80-69||Win||100||16 h 2 m||Show|
All games are big in the very competitive Pac-12, but Cal not only has to contend with a solid Stanford club but refocus after its historic upset of top-ranked Arizona this past Saturday.
Stanford is a blue-collar team that usually plays with a great deal of intelligence. The Cardinal has a solid starting five with Chasson Randle, Dwight Powell, Josh Huestis, Anthony Brown and much improved center Stefan Nastic.
The Cardinal lost 69-62 to Cal in its Pac-12 opener on Jan. 2. The Cardinal was hurt by Nastic and Powell, who leads the team in assists and steals, fouling out.
This would be a very close game anyways, but with Cal's focus under question it's enough to make Stanford a strong play.
|02-05-14||Phoenix Suns v. Houston Rockets -7.5||Top||108-122||Win||100||11 h 21 m||Show|
The Suns have overachieved all season. But they could be hitting the wall heading into next week's All-Star break. Phoenix lost 101-92 at home to slumping Chicago last night.
This marks the Suns' seventh game in the last 11 days. The Suns, especially minus Eric Bledsoe, don't have the offense to keep up with the Rockets.
Houston is rested, too, having last played on Saturday. James Harden should be back to 100 percent, Jeremy Lin is off a triple-double and Dwight Howard has made 15 of his last 19 free throws during the past two games.
|02-04-14||Chicago Bulls +8 v. Phoenix Suns||Top||101-92||Win||100||12 h 56 m||Show|
Chicago has lost two in a row. That hasn't happened to the Bulls since the week before Christmas.
The Bulls are well-coached under Tom Thibodeau. They are a gritty, determined team that has overcome adversity having lost Derrick Rose and given away Luol Deng.
It's rare for the Bulls to play three straight poor games. I see them bouncing back against Phoenix, which has been outstanding this season but hasn't laid this big of a number to a team as good as the Bulls all season.
The Bulls are 7-1 following a loss, 6-2 ATS.
Chicago also has covered in eight of its last 11 road games. The Bulls have matched up well against the Suns with their rugged front line winning eight of the past 10 meetings. Chicago has won and covered during its past four visits to Phoenix. The Bulls defeated Phoenix, 92-87, at home this season on Jan. 7.
|02-03-14||Chicago Bulls v. Sacramento Kings +2||Top||70-99||Win||100||10 h 60 m||Show|
On paper, the Kings don't look like the right side. They have lost seven in a row. But the Kings are home and the Bulls are dragging playing in their third consecutive road game.
During their losing streak the Kings have been beaten by the Rockets, Pacers in overtime, Nuggets, Jazz at Utah, Grizzlies and then road defeats to Dallas by four and to San Antonio by two this past Saturday after blowing a nine-point fourth quarter lead. Now the Kings finally step down in class.
Rudy Gay is playing well. He's the best player on the court. It's a plus if DeMarcus Cousins can play, but I still like the Kings in this spot even without their rising big man star.
|02-03-14||South Alabama +13 v. Georgia State||Top||65-85||Loss||-106||9 h 12 m||Show|
This matchup was originally scheduled for last Thursday but was postponed until today because of bad weather conditions in the greater Atlanta area.
It's a break for the underdog Jaguars. They know Georgia State having lost to them a month ago by 10 points. They've had more time now to prepare. It's a bigger matchup for South Alabama, which needs to get its season turned around in order to be one of the eight teams to qualify for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
South Alabama has yet to win on the road, but Georgia State is 1-6 in its last seven home games.
The Panthers are on cruise control having won 12 in a row, leading the Sun Belt with an 8-0 league mark. Georgia State has a much bigger game on deck traveling to Arkansas Little-Rock on Thursday.
South Alabama has the talent level to hang within double digits. The Jaguars rank first in the Sun Belt in defensive field goal percentage. They should have a good game plan in place. The key is playing hard, which the Jaguars should do with a revenge motive, catching Georgia State in a look-ahead spot and knowing that right now they would be one of two Sun Belt teams that wouldn't make the conference tournament.
|02-02-14||UCLA -4.5 v. Oregon State||Top||67-71||Loss||-110||6 h 34 m||Show|
There are a lot of trends going against Oregon State in this matchup and I think they make sense.
UCLA should play better than it did during a 70-68 Thursday victory against Oregon. Oregon State nipped Southern Cal in overtime on Thursday. The Beavers are 5-12-1 ATS following a victory.
I am not a fan of Oregon State coach Craig Robinson. The Bruins have owned the Beavers going 15-5-1 ATS in the series and are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight visits to Oregon State.
The Bruins also have covered during their past six games on Sunday.
|02-01-14||Providence -4.5 v. DePaul||Top||77-72||Win||100||7 h 31 m||Show|
DePaul is too short-handed to hang with Providence, which is in a revenge spot and off a bad game. The Blue Demons' leading scorer Cleveland Melvin still is under suspension and star rookie point guard Billy Garrett Jr. also is out. This should mean a big game for the Friars' star point guard Bryce Cotton.
DePaul knocked off the Friars in Providence last season. However, the Friars have won three of their last four at DePaul.
The Blue Demons are off losses to Villanova, Xavier and Seton Hall by a combined 53 points. The Blue Demons also have failed to cover in 17 of their last 23 home contests and 5-11 ATS following a straight-up loss.
|01-31-14||Golden State Warriors v. Utah Jazz +5||Top||95-90||Push||0||19 h 27 m||Show|
Golden State is off a highly-satisfying grudge match win against the Clippers last night.
Now the Warriors, playing for the third time in four days and without rest, have to travel into high altitude to catch the improved and well-rested Jazz.
Utah has been idle since Monday. The Jazz are finally healthy. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are providing good inside production and Utah has an underrated backcourt with Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke.
The Jazz have won seven of their last nine home contests. During this span, the Jazz have defeated the Nuggets by 15 and Thunder by 11. They are fully capable of defeating a tired Warriors squad that is in a letdown spot and despite their win last night are just 3-7 ATS during their past 10 games.
|01-30-14||Phoenix Suns v. Indiana Pacers -10||Top||102-94||Loss||-110||14 h 51 m||Show|
This is the revenge game of the year for Indiana after the Suns dealt them their worst loss of the season, 124-100, in the desert just eight days ago. The Pacers had never surrendered that many points in a game under defensive-minded Frank Vogel.
The Suns were unconscious in that game making 11 of 16 3-point shots while shooting 54.2 percent from the floor.
Now, though, the Pacers are back in Indiana where they have one of the toughest home-courts in the NBA and catch the Suns in a road weary situation and with their best player, Goran Dragic, banged-up.
The Pacers have won 21 of their 22 home contests, including the past 10. The key question, though, is can they cover a double-digit spread? The evidence says yes. None of their last 10 road opponents have put up more than 92 points on them. The Pacers' average win margin at home this season is by 15.8 points. They have covered 77 percent of their last 31 games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Phoenix just beat Milwaukee, 126-117, last night. Now the Suns are playing their fourth road game in five days. They also are going from playing the worst team in basketball to the best team in the Eastern Conference if not the entire NBA.
Dragic injured his elbow late in the victory against the Bucks. So his status is up in the air. Keep in mind, too, the Suns are without guard Eric Bledsoe.
The time to play this game is now as I can only see the line rising.