Betting News and Notes -Dec 8th

Betting News and Notes -Dec 8th

Saturday's Tip Sheet
VegasInsider.com

From noon until 6:00 p.m. Eastern, there are nine college basketball games on television. No college football? No problem!

Let’s take a look at a couple of the more interesting matchups.

**Davidson at UCLA


--UCLA (7-1 straight up, 4-2-2 against the spread) is in bounce-back mode following its first loss of the season, a 63-61 defeat to Texas as a 10-point home favorite. After missing six consecutive games, UCLA sophomore guard Darren Collison returned to the lineup with 12 points and five assists. However, he missed 10 of his 14 shots from the floor. Freshman Kevin Love had only 11 points and five rebounds and was benched by Ben Howland at crunch time.

--Most sports books have installed UCLA as a 13-point favorite.

--Davidson (3-4 SU, 3-2 ATS) covered the spread and nearly pulled upsets in games against North Carolina (in Charlotte) and at Duke. However, the Wildcats have disappointing losses at Charlotte and at Western Michigan. They are off a 75-68 loss to the 49ers as 5 ½-point road ‘chalk.’

--Davidson has one of the nation’s premier backcourts with senior point guard Jason Richards and sophomore sensation Stephen Curry, who is the son of Dell Curry, one of the NBA’s best all-time 3-point shooters. Curry scored 32 points in the losing effort against Charlotte, while Richards had 11 points and 12 assists.

--Curry is third in the nation in scoring, averaging 26.0 points per game. Richards leads the nation in assists, dishing out 9.4 per game.

--Despite struggling against the Longhorns, Love has been outstanding for the Bruins. He averages a team-high 17.9 PPG and 9.9 RPG.

--The ‘under’ is 3-2 for Davidson this year, 6-2 for UCLA.

Bob McKillop’s team is 15-5 ATS in its last 20 road games. In addition, Davidson has a 24-10-1 spread record in its last 35 games.

--UCLA has a pair of quality wins on its resume, beating both Maryland and Michigan State on a neutral court while Collison was in street clothes.

--Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

**Marquette at Wisconsin**

--Most spots are listing Wisconsin (6-1 SU, 3-1 ATS) as a four-point favorite. Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the total at 135.

--The Badgers have won three of the last four head-to-head meetings against Marquette, but the Golden Eagles have taken the cash in five of the last eight encounters.

--Marquette (5-1 SU, 3-1 ATS) is off a 100-65 victory over UW-Milwaukee as an 18 ½-point home ‘chalk.’ Dominic James paced the Golden Eagles with 22 points, five assists and four steals.

--Duke is the only team that has beaten either of these schools this season. The Blue Devils edged Marquette 70-66 at the Maui Classic, and they destroyed Wisconsin 82-58 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

--Marquette’s Dan Fitzgerald is “questionable” with a strained wrist. He averages only 5.4 PPG so far this year, but Fitzgerald is a guy that can score, as evidenced by his 40 combined points in a pair of games at the Big East Tournament last season.

--Dating back to last season, the ‘over’ is on a 15-6 run for Marquette.

--The ‘under’ has cashed in five straight Wisconsin-Marquette meetings, including the Badgers 70-66 win over the Golden Eagles as 3 ½-point road underdogs.

--ESPN2 will provide television coverage at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL

(22) Arizona (5-2, 3-2 ATS) vs. Illinois (5-2, 2-5 ATS), at Chicago


Arizona takes the floor for the first time since longtime coach Lute Olson announced he’s taking the entire year off as the Wildcats visits the United Center in Chicago for a Pac-10/Big Ten battle with Illinois.

Olson, who hadn’t been with the Wildcats since taking an indefinite leave of absence on Nov. 4 to tend to personal family matters, said Thursday those personal issues would keep him away from the program for the remainder of the season. In Olson’s absence, assistant Kevin O’Neill will continue to guide the team.

With O’Neill at the helm, the Wildcats bounced back from their first loss of the season – a 76-72 overtime setback at Kansas – with consecutive double-digit wins over Cal-State Fullerton (91-65) and Texas A&M (78-67). Including the loss at Kansas, Arizona has cashed in three straight lined games.

Illinois has alternated wins and losses in its last five games, most recently topping Weber State a week ago today 78-61, coming up just shy as a 22-point home favorite. The Illini are mired in ATS slumps of 5-14 at home, 3-13 in non-conference games and 2-11 on Saturdays.

The Wildcats topped Illinois 84-72 as a 7½-point favorite last year in a game played on neutral floor in Phoenix. The previous season, the teams met in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, with Illinois prevailing 90-89 in overtime as a five-point favorite to advance to the Final Four.

Going back to 2001, the teams have met four times, with Arizona going 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS.

The under is on runs of 9-2 for Arizona in non-conference games, 7-1 for Arizona on the road and 14-5-2 for Illinois overall. However, the over is 5-0 in the last five series meetings.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ARIZONA


Michigan (3-5, 1-6 ATS) at (6) Duke (8-0, 4-3 ATS)

Duke puts its undefeated record on the line when it welcomes slumping Michigan to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a non-conference tussle.

Both teams have been idle since last Saturday, when Duke topped Davidson 79-73, failing as an eight-point favorite on a neutral floor, while Michigan suffered an embarrassing 62-51 loss at Harvard as a seven-point road chalk. The Wolverines have lost three in a row SU and ATS to Harvard, Boston College (77-64) and Western Kentucky (73-69).

Michigan has come up short against the spread in six straight games, including five in a row on the road. Going back to 2005, the Wolverines are 4-17-2 ATS on the highway, and they’ve been outscored by an average of eight points per game as a visitor this season (68-60).

Duke has been very impressive on its home floor, going 4-0 (3-0 ATS in lined games) and winning by an average of 37 points per game (92-55).

The Blue Devils are 6-2 ATS in their last eight against the Big Ten, including an 82-58 rout of Wisconsin as a nine-point home chalk on Nov. 27 and a 79-66 win over Illinois as a seven-point favorite in the Maui Invitational on Nov. 20.

The under is 19-7 in Duke’s last 26 non-conference games, but Michigan has topped the total in six of its last eight on the highway.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DUKE


DePaul (2-2, 0-2 ATS) at (3) Kansas (8-0, 4-1 ATS)

Kansas seeks to avenge one of its losses from last season while at the same time keeping its perfect record intact when it welcomes DePaul to Allen Fieldhouse for a non-conference matchup.

The Jayhawks posted two wins this week, upending USC 59-55 as a four-point road favorite on Sunday, then hammering Eastern Washington 85-47 and cashing as a 35½-point home chalk on Wednesday.

DePaul has alternated wins and losses in its last four outings, but has not played a game since besting Texas A&M-Corpus Christie 85-70 on Nov. 28 in a non-lined home game.

The Blue Demons stunned Kansas last year, winning 64-57 as a nine-point home underdog.

Seven of the Jayhawks’ eight wins this season have come at home, and they’re 4-1 ATS in lined contests at Allen Fieldhouse, where they’re averaging 88 points per game and giving up just 59.

Kansas is just 3-8 ATS in its last 11 Saturday tip-offs and 0-4 in its last four against Big East foes.

The Blue Demons are on ATS runs of 8-3 in non-conference games, 4-1 against the Big 12 and 12-4 on Saturdays.

The Jayhawks have stayed under the total in five consecutive games, and the under is 21-7-1 in its last 29 non-conference contests.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DePAUL and UNDER


Wake Forest (5-2, 3-1 ATS) at Georgia (5-1, 1-2 ATS)

A pair of southern teams off to solid starts meet up in a non-conference battle, as Georgia hosts Wake Forest.

The Demon Deacons have alternated wins and losses in their last four contests. On Wednesday, they traveled to Vanderbilt and suffered a tough 83-80 loss, but cashed as an 11½-point road underdog.

Georgia is coming off consecutive less-than-impressive home wins over Delaware State (58-47) and Augusta College (81-74), two non-lined teams. All five of the Bulldogs wins have come at home (1-1 ATS), but all against inferior competition. In its lone game against an upper-echelon Division I program, Georgia got crushed 68-49 at Wisconsin as an 11-point road underdog.

Wake Forest is 1-2 on the highway (2-1 ATS), but 7-2 ATS in its last nine against SEC foes.

The Dawgs are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight home games, 1-7 ATS in their last eight non-league contests and 2-5 ATS in their last seven against ACC foes.

These teams met last year on Wake Forest’s home floor, and the Demon Deacons escaped with an 87-86 victory, but Georgia covered as a 2½-point road underdog.

The under is 11-4 in Wake’s last 15 road games.

ATS ADVANTAGE: WAKE FOREST


(13) Pittsburgh (8-0, 3-1 ATS) at Washington (4-3, 0-6 ATS)

Pitt takes its perfect record across the country when it meets struggling Washington in a non-league game.

The Panthers hit the road for the first time on Wednesday and escaped with a narrow 73-68 win at Duquesne, barely covering as a 4½-point favorite. It was the first time all year that Pitt failed to win by double digits.

Washington dropped to 1-3 in its last four games after last Saturday’s 96-71 blowout loss at Oklahoma State as a 3½-point road underdog. The Huskies are 4-0 at home, but 0-3 ATS in lined games. In fact, they’ve yet to cover a spread in six lined games this season.

These teams met at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh back in February, with the Panthers rallying for 65-61 victory, coming up way short as a 13-point home chalk.

Pitt is just 2-5 in its last seven road contests.

The over is 6-1 in Washington’s last seven lined games overall and 23-9 in Pitt’s last 32 Saturday games.

ATS ADVANTAGE: PITT and OVER


(9) Michigan State (7-1, 2-1 ATS) at (21) BYU (7-1, 4-2 ATS), Salt Lake City

One of the day’s more intriguing matchups comes from Salt Lake City, where BYU makes the short trip down the road from Provo, Utah, to take on Michigan State in a battle of one-loss teams.

The Spartans have ripped off four straight wins since falling to then-No. 2 UCLA in a preseason tournament in Kansas City back on Nov. 12. Most recently, the Spartans held off Bradley 66-61 on Tuesday, barely covering as a five-point road favorite.

BYU’s only loss came against then-No. 1 North Carolina 73-63 in a preseason tournament in Las Vegas on Nov. 24. Since then, the Cougars have scored consecutive wins, including topping Weber State 72-57 on Wednesday, falling shy as a 22-point home favorite.

These teams met in Detroit last year, and the Spartans cruised 76-61 as an eight-point favorite. The Cougars shot just 41.8 percent from the field, missing 17 of 21 three-point attempts, while Michigan State shot 51 percent overall and 43.8 percent from three-point land.

The Spartans have played twice away from home this year, going 1-1 SU and 0-0-1 ATS, with the push coming as a five-point underdog in the game against UCLA.

This is technically a neutral-site game, and BYU is 3-1 SU and ATS away from home. Overall, the Cougars are on a 9-3 ATS run.

The under is 8-3 in BYU’s last 11 non-conference games and 12-4-1 in Michigan State’s last 17 on the road.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


Kentucky (4-2, 0-1 ATS) at (15) Indiana (7-1, 3-4 ATS)

Highly-touted freshman Eric Gordon is expected to lead 15th-ranked Indiana against Kentucky in an annual intersectional non-conference showdown.

Gordon entered this week as the nation’s second-leading scorer at 26.6 points per game, but he was held to a season-low eight points in Monday’s 84-72 victory over Tennessee State, forced out of the game late in the first half with a back injury. The Hoosiers failed to cash as a 26-point home favorite in Monday’s contest, dropping to 1-3 ATS in their last four.

Kentucky had its three-game winning streak snapped in last Saturday’s 86-77 home loss to North Carolina. The Wildcats, who opened the season with four straight non-lined games, came up just short as an eight-point underdog against the Tar Heels.

Kentucky got past Indiana last year, winning 59-54 and pushing as a five-point home favorite. The Wildcats are 8-2 SU in the last 10 meetings and 6-1 ATS in the last seven. The chalk has cashed in seven of the last eight series meetings.

This is the Wildcats’ first trip away from home of the season, and they ended last year in a 1-5 ATS slump on the road. Meanwhile, Indiana is 5-0 at Assembly Hall in Bloomington this year, but 1-3 ATS.

The Hoosiers are 1-5 ATS in their last six against SEC foes, while Kentucky is just 1-5-1 ATS in its last seven non-league games.

The under is on runs of 5-1 in this rivalry, 8-1 for Indiana against the SEC and 10-3 when Kentucky plays on Saturday.

ATS ADVANTAGE: INDIANA and UNDER


(11) Marquette (5-1, 3-0 ATS) at Wisconsin (6-1, 3-1 ATS)

Marquette looks to end a two-losing streak to Wisconsin when these instate rivals play their annual non-conference contest, with this one taking place on the Badgers’ home court in Madison, Wis.

The Golden Eagles lost to Wisconsin 70-66 as a 3½-point home favorite last year after falling to the Badgers 77-63 as a 10-point road underdog in 2005. Prior to last season, the home team had won five consecutive meetings (4-1 ATS).

Marquette rebounded from its only loss of the season – a 77-73 defeat to Duke in the finals of the Maui Invitational back on Nov. 21 – with a 100-65 rout of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in its most recent contest on Nov. 23. The Eagles covered as a 17½-point home favorite, improving to 3-0 ATS in the last three.

Like Marquette, the Badgers’ only loss this season came at the hands of Duke, an ugly 82-58 drubbing as a nine-point underdog on Nov. 27 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Badgers did bounce back from that setback on Monday, pummeling Wofford 70-43, eking out the cover as a 25½-point home chalk.

The Golden Eagles are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games and 1-4 ATS in their last five Saturday tip-offs.

Wisconsin is on ATS runs of 5-1-1 at home and 4-1 against Big East opponents.

The underdog has cashed in six of the last eight series meetings.

The under is 5-0 in the last five head-to-head battles.

ATS ADVANTAGE: WISCONSIN and UNDER


(13) Butler (8-0, 6-2 ATS) at Wright State (2-2, 1-2 ATS)

Butler figures to have payback in mind when it travels to Wright State for an early showdown between teams that finished 1-2 in the Horizon League last year and qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs crushed Wright State 73-42 in the first meeting last year, easily covering as a 15-point home favorite. However, with the regular-season conference title on the line, the Raiders got revenge a month later with a 77-65 win as a four-point home underdog, then prevailed 60-55 over Butler as a 1½-point home ‘dog in the Horizon League tournament championship game.

The home team has won each of the last seven meetings, but Wright State is 8-2 SU and 9-1 ATS in the last 10 clashes.

Butler remained unbeaten with Thursday’s 53-46 win over Detroit in the Horizon League opener for both teams. However, the Bulldogs came up short against the number as a 10½-point road chalk. Still, Butler is 9-2 ATS in its last 11 overall, including 7-2 ATS away from home. Going back further, the Bulldogs have cashed in 19 of their last 26 contests.

Wright State opened Horizon League play with Thursday’s 71-66 home loss to Valparaiso as a 1½-point home favorite, the Raiders’ second consecutive SU and ATS defeat.

The Raiders are 2-1 at home (1-1 ATS), while Butler is 5-0 on the highway (4-1 ATS).

The under is 7-1 in Butler’s last eight lined road games, but Wright State has topped the total in four consecutive lined contests.

ATS ADVANTAGE:BUTLER

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Auburn's Hargrove, Sylla out 4-6 weeks
December 7, 2007

Associated Press

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Auburn forward Lucas Hargrove and center Boubacar Sylla are out for 4-6 weeks with injuries, coach Jeff Lebo said Friday.

Hargrove broke his left, non-shooting hand in practice while Sylla sustained an injury to his left ankle against Kennesaw State Nov. 13.

"I feel badly for both Lucas and Boubacar," Lebo said. "These injuries severely limit what we can do as a team."

The Tigers, in the midst of a 10-day break in between games for final exams, are down to only seven available scholarship players again. Forward Quan Prowell just returned from suspension in time for Wednesday night's loss to West Virginia.

Hargrove has appeared in all six games, averaging 4.8 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the field.

Sylla, a freshman, had three points and three rebounds against Kennesaw State. He has missed the last three games.

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Michigan PG Smith will miss Duke game for academic reasons
December 7, 2007

Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan point guard Jerret Smith will miss Saturday's game at Duke so he can complete some academic obligations.

"When Jerret and our academic support staff feel he has caught up with some very important academic requirements, we will meet to re-evaluate his status for future games," coach John Beilein said in a written statement issued Friday by the university.

Smith was suspended for the season opener against Radford for violating a team policy regarding class attendance.

Smith has played in 65 games during his college career, including 13 starts. The junior has averaged 4.2 points, 2.7 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game in his career.

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What to watch: College basketball bettors' TV guide
Covers.com

Though the college basketball schedule is more than five weeks old, it doesn’t officially feel like hoops heaven until that first big Saturday.

My first TV Guide for college basketball bettors appears below.

No. 24 Arizona Wildcats at Illinois Fighting Illini (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Arizona coach Lute Olson put an end to speculation surrounding his return this week by announcing he would not return for the entire season. While the Arizona players were disappointed to lose the coaching great, they have accepted interim head coach Kevin O’Neill.

O’Neill, a former NBA coach, has integrated a hard-nosed defense and pro-style offensive sets into Olson’s classic systems. The style has led the Wildcats to a 5-2 record, including their most recent win over Texas A&M.

Michigan Wolverines at No. 7 Duke Blue Devils (2 p.m. ET, CBS)

Anyone who wagered on Dukes last game against Davidson watched the Blue Devils’ defense almost relinquish a 16-point lead. The Wildcats pulled as close as two points before dropping a 79-73 decision as an 8-point underdog.

This week, coach Mike Krzyzewski will focus on tightening up his team’s defense. Since the Blue Devils’ fast-paced offense is averaging more than 85 points per game, a solid defensive effort would shut down a Michigan team that is averaging just 64.5 points.

DePaul Blue Demons at No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks (2 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Thursday was a busy day for Kansas swingman Brandon Rush. The junior was arrested on two outstanding warrants, put in jail, released on bond and still made it to practice.

Head coach Bill Self told reporters he’s not suspending Rush, who recently returned from offseason knee surgery. Self expects Rush to play this Saturday.

Dayton Flyers at No. 11 Louisville Cardinals (2 p.m. ET, ESPN2)


Louisville’s Rick Pitino is on the verge of 500 career coaching wins. The former Boston University, Providence and Kentucky mentor has a record of 499-183 over 22 seasons.

No. 500 won’t come easy. The Cards have lost the past two meetings with the Flyers, including last season’s 68-64 shocker as a five-point road favorite. Dayton has won five straight games heading into this Saturday’s showdown in Freedom Hall.

Iowa Hawkeyes at Iowa State Cyclones (2 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Despite Todd Lickliter’s best intentions, Iowa junior Tony Freeman is back on the court after breaking his foot in early November. The first-year Hawkeyes coach tried to play it safe with his star player by bringing him off the bench this past week against Northern Iowa.

Freeman played 24 minutes and scored 15 points, shot 5-for-7 from the field, 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and added both free throw attempts.

No. 9 Pittsburgh Panthers at Washington Huskies (3 p.m. ET, FSN)

The Huskies are the worst bet in college hoops thanks to starting the season 0-6 ATS. Washington, 4-3, is coming of a blow-out loss against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The wheels are falling off the bus in Seattle. Head coach Lorenzo Romar just watched sophomore Adrian Oliver walk away from the program this week. Romar told reporters he hoped to be further along at this point in the season. Washington’s biggest issue is its defense that has allowed 75 points against per game.

Kentucky Wildcats at No. 15 Indiana Hoosiers (4 p.m. ET CBS)


The entire state of Indiana fell silent when freshman Eric Gordon slammed into the floor this past Monday and limped off the court with a bruised back.

The Hoosiers’ most prized recruit in years is scoring over 24 points per game, while grabbing 3.5 boards and dishing out 2.6 assists. Gordon is expected to play this Saturday night against Kentucky, which is also dealing with its own freshman drama.

Alex Legion, one of the Wildcats’ big recruits, was teetering on leaving the team all week. The freshman swingman originally asked out of his scholarship citing differences with head coach Billy Gillispie. Legion’s mother then told reporters her son was having second thoughts. Kentucky has now cut ties with the first-year player.

Purdue Boilermakers at Missouri Tigers (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2)


The Tigers’ “40 minutes of hell” has helped make the over 5-1. Coach Mike Anderson’s intense pressure defense has limited the opposition to just 71.1 PPG, while his run-and-gun offense is scoring over 85 PPG.

Missouri’s offense is still waiting for one of its big guns to start firing. Sophomore guard Keon Lawrence, who averaged 10.5 points last season, is still ice cold from the field. Anderson says Lawrence is pressing on offense, leading to the second-year man’s 41.9 percent shooting over the past five games.

No. 15 Marquette Golden Eagles at No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers (6 p.m. ET, ESPN2)


The Badgers don’t want their 28-game home winning streak to end against an in-state rival.

Wisconsin leads the all-team series with Marquette, 62-51, including 7-2 in the last nine. The Badgers went into the Bradley Center last season and registered a 70-66 victory as 3 ½-point road underdogs.

No. 5 Texas Longhorns at Rice Owls (8 p.m. ET, CSTV)

The Horns’ talented backcourt combo of A.J. Abrams and D.J. Augustin get most of the props around Austin these days. However, 6-foot-7 sophomore Damion James is quickly becoming a difference maker.

The versatile James is scoring almost 12 points per game an adding almost nine rebounds. As a freshman, James put up solid numbers of 7.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in just over 25 minutes per game.

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NBA Gameday

A heavyweight Western Conference clash highlights the Saturday NBA action, as the Utah Jazz take on the Dallas Mavericks. In the Eastern Conference on Saturday, the Boston Celtics take on the bumbling Chicago Bulls, while the Charlotte Hornets will hope to see LeBron James in his street clothes when the Cleveland Cavaliers pay a visit.

Utah at Dallas

The Jazz had their three-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday after losing to Sacramento 117-107 as a 2.5-point road favorite. Deron Williams led the Jazz with 30 points and seven assists, while Carlos Boozer chipped in with his regular double-double, 19 points and 11 rebounds. Utah could be a bit tired on Saturday night after dealing with San Antonio the night before.

Dallas will be looking to bounce back Saturday night after getting pounded by Denver 122-109 as an 8.5-point favorite on Thursday. Dirk Nowitzki tied his season-high points total with 32 to go along with 12 rebounds, but Dallas could not contain Allen Iverson who dumped 35 points and 12 assists on them. Jerry Stackhouse saw his time on the court exceed 30 minutes for the third straight game as he netted a season-high 23 points for Dallas in the loss.

This the first meeting between Utah and Dallas this season. Last year they faced off three times with Utah taking two of three both SU and ATS.

Boston at Chicago

The Celtics entered the weekend on a four-game win streak and should be easily favored when they take on the struggling Bulls in Chicago on Saturday. Boston entertained Toronto on Friday night, making Saturday’s contest their third game in four days. Against Philadelphia on Wednesday night, Kevin Garnett poured in 22 points as Boston defeated the 76ers 113-103 as a 10-point favorite. Paul Pierce had 19 points and 12 assists in the win, while Ray Allen had an off-night with 12 points on 3-of-12 shooting.

The Bulls will also be playing their third game in four nights on Saturday, as they clashed with Detroit on Friday night. Chicago may slowly be turning things around after winning three of their last four before heading into Detroit. On Wednesday night, Chicago defeated Charlotte 91-82 as a 1-point favorite behind a season-high 30 points from Luol Deng. Andres Nocioni added 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Chris Duhon continued to make a push for the starting point guard spot with 12 points and nine assists.

This is the first time the Bulls will play the new-look Celtics this season. Last year, when Boston was awful and Chicago was good, the Bulls beat the Celtics three times while going 2-1 ATS.

Cleveland at Charlotte

Even if LeBron James doesn’t return from an injured finger on Saturday, the Cavaliers may get just what they need to snap their current losing streak when they face the Bobcats. Both Cleveland and Charlotte are riding losing streaks right now. Without LeBron in the lineup the Cavaliers have lost their last four games. The Bobcats are currently on a seven-game losing streak, but they can’t blame an injury to a star player like Cleveland can.

The Cavaliers' latest loss came on Wednesday when they were hammered by Washington 105-86 as a 9.5-point underdog. Daniel Gibson, Drew Gooden and Shannon Brown each scored 13 points for Cleveland.

The Bobcats dropped their seventh straight on Wednesday in a 91-82 loss to Chicago as a 1-point underdog. Gerald Williams led Charlotte with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Raymond Felton and Jason Richardson each had 17 points.

Last season Cleveland and Charlotte hooked up four times with each team winning two games at home. However, the Bobcats won the spread battle with a 3-1 ATS record.

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NBA Today - Saturday, December 8
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SCOREBOARD Saturday, Dec. 8

Sacramento at Denver (9 p.m. EST). Allen Iverson has scored 86 points in the last two games combined for the Nuggets.

STARS Friday

-Chris Paul, Hornets, scored a career-high 43 points to help New Orleans edge Memphis 118-116 in overtime.

-Manu Ginobili, Spurs, had 37 points to help San Antonio defeat Utah 104-98.

-Kevin Durant, SuperSonics, matched his career high with 35 points, leading Seattle over Milwaukee 104-98.

-Yao Ming, Rockets, had 25 points and 11 rebounds and Houston never trailed in a 96-89 victory over New Jersey.

-Danny Granger, Pacers, scored a season-high 27 points to lift Indiana over Orlando 115-109.

HOME COOKIN'

Kevin Garnett scored 23 points to help Boston improve to 10-0 at home with a 112-84 win over Toronto on Friday night. Paul Pierce had 18 points for the Celtics (16-2), who are off to the NBA's best start and their best home mark since opening the 1984-85 season 12-0. ... Seattle downed Milwaukee 104-98 to win consecutive home games for the first time since last March. The Bucks lost for the sixth time in their last seven games.

HOT AND COLD

Baron Davis finished with 25 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, and Golden State beat Miami 120-113 Friday night for its 11th win in 13 games. It was the fifth straight loss for the Heat.

NO DUNCAN, NO PROBLEM

Manu Ginobili had 37 points for the second straight game, and San Antonio beat Utah 104-98 Friday night for its fifth straight victory. The Spurs remained unbeaten at home despite playing their second straight game without Tim Duncan, who is recovering from a sprained ankle.

CAREER-BESTS

Chris Paul hit a driving layup through a crowd of defenders with 1.8 seconds left in overtime, capping New Orleans' 118-116 victory over Memphis on Friday. Paul made five 3-pointers on his way to 43 points, both career highs, to go with nine assists and four steals. The Hornets, winners of four of six, won their 12th straight overtime game dating to the 2005-06 season. It was also their third overtime victory this season, the second against the Grizzlies.

STREAKING

Amare Stoudemire scored 27 points and Raja Bell added 22, including 14 in the third quarter, to lead Phoenix past Washington 122-107 on Friday for its fifth consecutive victory. The Suns improved to 11-1 against Eastern Conference teams. ... Yao Ming had 25 points, Tracy McGrady added 24 and Houston own its fifth straight in New Jersey, beating the Nets 96-89. The Rockets have won two straight and five of seven overall following a six-game skid.

SNAPPED

Chris Kaman had 26 points and 12 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Clippers snap a seven-game losing streak with a 97-87 victory over Sacramento on Friday. ... Andres Nocioni scored 22 points and Ben Wallace pulled down 13 rebounds to lead Chicago over Detroit 98-91 and stop the Pistons' winning streak at five games. The Bulls have won four of five. ... Samuel Dalembert scored 20 points to help Philadelphia snap a three-game losing streak with a 101-90 win over New York.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer had 28 points apiece for Utah in a 104-98 loss to San Antonio on Friday. Williams also had 10 assists for the Jazz, who haven't won in San Antonio since 1999. ... Michael Redd finished with a season-high 41 points, including 25 in the second half, but Milwaukee fell to Seattle 104-98. ... Dwyane Wade scored a season-high 33 points and added 10 assists in Miami's 120-113 loss to Golden State. ... Dwight Howard scored 30 points and pulled down 15 rebounds in Orlando's 115-109 loss to Indiana. ... Rudy Gay had 31 points and Mike Miller also scored 26 in Memphis' 118-116 overtime loss to New Orleans. ... Jamal Crawford chipped in 28 points but New York fell to Philadelphia 101-90.

STILL OUT

LeBron James didn't practice Friday and will miss his fifth straight game with a sprained left index finger when Cleveland plays Saturday night at Charlotte. The Cavaliers have been beaten by an average margin of nearly 19 points in their losing streak without James.

SPEAKING

''Pretty crazy, right?'' - Phoenix's Raja Bell, after the Suns registered 42 assists on 50 field goals in a 122-107 victory over Washington on Friday. Steve Nash delivered a season-high 19 assists in the win.

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Re: Betting News and Notes -Dec 8th

Milwaukee's Noel undergoes wrist surgery,Simmons misses game in Seattle
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE -- Milwaukee Bucks forward David Noel had surgery on his right wrist Friday, and doctors confirmed he has nothing more than a sprain.

Noel underwent the surgery at the University of North Carolina Orthopedics in Chapel Hill, N.C. Noel has been inactive in all 17 games this season, and injured his wrist during a practice in Cleveland on Nov. 20.

Noel is expected to miss at least the next four to six weeks.

''There was a chance that it could have been worse ... it could have been a season thing. I'm actually a little optimistic that we got that news,'' Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said.

Milwaukee was also without forward Bobby Simmons, who left the team in Seattle on Thursday and returned to Milwaukee for a personal matter. The Bucks don't know if Simmons will rejoin the team for the final two games of their West Coast road trip. The Bucks play Sunday in Portland and Monday in Sacramento before returning home.

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Re: Betting News and Notes -Dec 8th

Damon Stoudamire sidelined by flu
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW ORLEANS -- Memphis guard Damon Stoudamire missed Friday night's game between the Grizzlies and New Orleans Hornets because of what team officials said was the flu.

Stoudamire had started all of Memphis' previous 18 games, averaging 8.2 points and 4.6 assists, while leading the Grizzlies in field goal percentage (57.1 percent).

Kyle Lowry started in Stoudamre's place.

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Re: Betting News and Notes -Dec 8th

James to miss fifth straight game with sprained finger
ASSOCIATED PRESS

CLEVELAND  -- LeBron James didn't practice Friday and will miss his fifth straight game with a sprained left index finger when the Cavaliers play Saturday night at Charlotte.

In speaking to reporters for the first time since he sprained the finger at Detroit on Nov. 28, when Nazr Mohammed slapped at the ball as he attempted to shoot, James had a message for the Cavaliers' opponents.

''Teams better get their wins now,'' he said. ''They try to kill us and talk trash about us now ... When we get our guys back, it's going to be a different story.''

The defending Eastern Conference champions have also been without Larry Hughes (bone bruise), Donyell Marshall (sprained right wrist) and Anderson Varejao (contract holdout). The Cavaliers (9-11) have been beaten by an average margin of nearly 19 points in their losing streak.

''It's definitely tough because we're struggling right now with me not being out there,'' James said. ''I want to go out and help the guys.''

James' finger is stiff and he is being cautious with the sprain, which is on top of his knuckle.

''You don't want to make it long term. I'm trying to take care of it, so if I get hit again, I don't have to sit again,'' he said.

It's the longest stretch of games that James has missed and the most in a season. But if it were late April, he'd be playing.

''If it was a time we needed these games more than anything, I'd be out there,'' he said.

Hughes practiced Friday for the first time in weeks and is listed as questionable for Saturday night. The fragile guard injured his left leg Nov. 4 at Phoenix when he collided with Leandro Barbosa.

''If there's no problem tomorrow, there's a good chance I could get out there and play,'' he said.

Varejao rejoined the team Friday, two days after Cleveland matched Charlotte's $17 million, three-year offer sheet for the restricted free agent. Varejao didn't practice Friday and has to work out visa issues before he can play.

He could return Tuesday at home against Indiana. He acknowledged he's not in basketball shape.

''I'm here. I'm going to try to help the team as much as I can,'' he said.

He should be able to improve a defense that's allowed an average of 101.4 points in 20 games compared with 92.9 points per game last season.

James is the only remedy for everything else that's ailing the Cavaliers - no offense and a lack of focus.

''It's just whenever I feel I'm comfortable to go back out there and my hand feels a little bit better, I'm going to give it a go,'' he said. ''It's not like I'm just taking my time.''

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Re: Betting News and Notes -Dec 8th

Saturday's NBA betting matchup notes
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Cleveland Cavaliers at Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats won both of their home games against Cleveland last season.

Memphis Grizzlies at Atlanta Hawks


Pau Gasol struggled in two games against Atlanta in 2006-07, averaging 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds, although one of the contests was his first game of the season after missing the first 22 with a broken left foot. The Hawks won both of those meetings after losing their previous six games against the Grizzlies.

Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks

The Knicks (6-12) suffered their sixth straight defeat in Philadelphia. New York has dropped two of its last three against the Sixers (6-13) in New York following a six-game winning streak there.

Phoenix Suns at Minneosta Timberwolves

Phoenix won three of four meetings with Minnesota last season, as Nash averaged 13.8 assists and Marion had a double-doubles in each game.

Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls

Boston (16-2) lost all three games against Chicago (6-11) last season and recorded its last win against the Bulls on Jan. 29, 2005. Since then, the Celtics haven't beaten the Bulls, but they also didn't have Garnett.

Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs have won eight of their last 11 meetings, and seven of the last eight at home.

Sacramento Kings at Denver Nuggets

This is the first of three meetings this season between Denver and Sacramento after the teams split four matchups last season. The Nuggets didn't have both Iverson and Anthony available for the losses, but the duo averaged 50.0 points in their two victories.

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Re: Betting News and Notes -Dec 8th

Today's Top 25 matchup betting notes
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No. 24 Arizona at Illinois

Arizona leads 7-6 in the all-time series with Illinois and looks to win its second straight after Budinger scored 22 points in the Wildcats' 84-72 victory over the Illini on Dec. 2, 2006 in Phoenix.

Michigan at No. 7 Duke

Michigan looks to avoid a sixth consecutive defeat to the Blue Devils, who lead 17-7 in the series.

Dayton at No. 11 Louisville

The Flyers won 68-64 over Louisville in Cincinnati on Nov. 24, 2006, in the teams' first meeting since 2000. Louisville, which leads the all-time series 39-26, last beat the Flyers 68-65 on Dec. 21, 1998.

DePaul at No. 3 Kansas

Draelon Burns had nine points in the win over Kansas last year and is DePaul's top returning scorer.

No. 9 Pittsburgh at Washington

The 9th-ranked Panthers will be leaving Pittsburgh for the first time this season.

Kentucky at No. 15 Indiana

Kentucky has won 11 of its last 13 games against Indiana to take a 28-22 advantage in the series, including a 59-54 victory last season at home. The Wildcats, though, are just 2-7 all-time at Assembly Hall, where they haven't won since a 68-66 victory on Dec. 6, 1980.

No. 10 Michigan State at No. 22 Brigham Young

This is the second straight year these teams will play in an NBA arena. Michigan State won 76-61 at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Dec. 9, 2006, as Drew Neitzel scored 22 points to lead the Spartans.

Davidson at No. 8 UCLA

Davidson lost its only previous meeting with UCLA, 91-64 on Jan. 3, 1975.

No. 15 Marquette at No. 23 Wisconsin

The Badgers lead the 90-year rivalry 62-51 and have won seven of the last nine between the teams, including a 70-66 victory at Marquette last season. The Golden Eagles have lost four straight at the Kohl Center since a 65-60 victory Nov. 14, 1997.

Utah at No. 18 Oregon

Utah leads the all-time series 7-6, including a 60-58 victory in the first round of the 2003 NCAA tournament in the most recent meeting.

No. 13 Butler at Wright State

The Bulldogs haven't beaten the Raiders on the road since an 81-70 win on Jan. 16, 2003, a streak which includes two losses in the conference tournament.

Texas State at No. 14 Texas A&M

The Aggies host the Bobcats in the teams' first meeting since a 73-71 loss at College Station on Dec. 28, 1991. The defeat was just the third in 14 all-time meetings against Texas State.

CSU Northridge at No. 19 Gonzaga

Gonzaga and CSU Northridge have split their two meetings, with the Bulldogs winning the last matchup 90-57 on Nov. 27, 1993.

No.5 Texas at Rice

Texas has dominated its rivalry with Rice lately, winning nine of the last 10 in the series. In the teams' only meeting since the SWC dissolved in 1996, the then-No. 2 Longhorns beat the unranked Owls 85-58 in Houston on Dec. 5, 2005. Texas has a 130-59 advantage all-time against Rice.

Lipscomb at No. 25 Vanderbilt


Last season, these teams met for the first time since 1955, and Vanderbilt came away with a 59-50 win at home behind 18 points.

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View from the Bench
By ASA 

A month has come and gone in the NBA season with certain players and teams setting trends in the early going. Some players have stepped up their play in helping their teams to strong starts. Others have struggled out of the gate, bringing their team down with them. Here’s a little of what we liked in the first month, as well as some things that we didn’t like so much.

Stephen Jackson, Golden State Warriors

The volatile one’s impact on the Warriors has been a positive once since the first day he set foot in California. His impact goes far beyond the box scores, except for those all important wins. Since joining the Warriors, Golden State is 17-3 in the regular season with him in the lineup. Jackson missed the first seven games of the year due to a suspension and the Warriors proceeded to go 1-6 (2-5 ATS) in those contests. Since his return, Golden State is 9-2 (8-3 ATS). Jackson fits perfect into Don Nelson’s offensive philosophy while also being the Warriors’ best perimeter defender. Golden State is making last season’s playoff upset of Dallas look legit as this team appears to be for real, due in large part to Jackson.

Raymond Felton, Charlotte Bobcats

The offseason acquisition of Jason Richardson, along with the development of their young nucleus, was supposed to lift the Bobcats into playoff contention. That hasn’t happened and a big part of that has been the lack of development from Felton. While fellow 2005 point guard draftees Chris Paul and Deron Williams are tearing up the league, Felton hasn’t made that jump yet. Charlotte has lost seven straight (1-6 ATS) by an average of 11.6 points per game and Felton has been a big part of the problem. He has shot just 29-89 (31%) during the streak and is hitting at a 39 percent clip for the season.

Detroit Pistons roster

The Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic have consumed the Eastern Conference headlines this year and rightfully so. Lost in the shuffle has been the Detroit Pistons. Detroit has won five straight, both SU and ATS, and seven of its last eight games outright. And the Pistons are doing it in the exact same fashion that they’ve always done it. They may be the most balanced team in the league with eight players averaging at least eight points and no player averaging better than 17 points per game. Also, Detroit has not forgotten how to defend as it is second in the NBA with just 91.9 points allowed per game. The Celtics and Magic may be the talk of the East but don’t forget about the Pistons.

Houston Rockets supporting cast

The offseason overhaul made to the Houston supporting cast was supposed to be what put the Rockets over the top this year. So far, though, that supporting cast has been wildly inconsistent and hasn’t given Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming the help they need. Since starting the season 6-1, the Rockets have gone 4-8 (5-7 ATS). Over that stretch McGrady and Yao have combined to average 45.3 points per game while the rest of the roster has averaged just 51.2 points per game. While Mike James, Bonzi Wells and Luis Scola have proven capable of having big nights from time to time, they aren’t doing it on a consistent enough basis.

Caron Butler, Washington Wizards

A majority of the betting public thought the Wizards were done for when Gilbert Arenas was lost for three months with a knee injury. Washington has stayed afloat, though, due in large part to the play of Butler. The Wizards are 6-3 ATS since Arenas went down and their offense hasn’t lost a step, averaging 106.3 points per game in going over the total in eight of the last nine games. Butler has been the catalyst over this stretch, averaging 27.8 points, 6.4 boards, 4.9 assists and 2.3 steals while shooting 56 percent over his last eight games.

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