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Betting News and Notes - Feb 7

Betting News and Notes - Feb 7

Thursday's Tip Sheet
By Chris David

If you love run’ n gun basketball, then you better tune into Thursday’s late-night battle from the Bay Area between Golden State (29-19 straight up, 22-25 against the spread) and Chicago (19-28 SU, 18-29 ATS). Most people would believe that Phoenix owns the league’s most potent offense in the NBA, but that honor goes to the Warriors this season.

Don Nelson’s team is averaging 109.7 points per game, using a “keep shooting until you miss” approach. The Warriors lead the league in field goal attempts per game (88.4) and 3-point attempts per game (27.6).

Golden State has only been held under the century mark on eight occasions, and the team has come up the loser in seven of those games.
   
On Thursday, the Warriors’ starting lineup will have Chris Webber back in Golden State. Webber is expected to start with Baron Davis, Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson, with Andris Biedrins and either Al Harrington or Matt Barnes filling in the fifth spot.

Webber has been questioned on his endurance in the past and might make some wonder if Golden State will slow it down with the five-time All Star on the court. Last year, Webber averaged 11.3 PPG and 6.7 RPG in 42 games with Detroit in just 29 minutes per game.

Either way, the Warriors should be fresh for tonight’s matchup after having six days off. Make a note that the team is 0-2 both SU and ATS when playing on three or more days of rest and the ‘over’ has gone 2-0.

Golden State is averaging 115.5 PPG in its last nine games, which has helped the ‘over’ notch an 8-1 record. Opponents haven’t exactly been shut down either, posting a healthy 108.5 PPG during this stretch.

Fortunately, Golden State catches Chicago in a back-to-back spot. The Bulls have struggled in these situations too, going 3-9 SU and 4-8 ATS.

These two clubs met a few weeks ago, with the Warriors claiming a 119-111 road victory as 2½-point favorites. The Bulls actually shot better from the field and 3-point land, but was a dreadful 22-of-36 (61%) from the charity stripe. Baron Davis led Golden State with 40 points, five boards and four assists.

Chicago has gone 9-15 SU and 10-14 ATS on the road. Golden State has been beatable at home, going 14-8 SU and 9-13 ATS.

Tip-off is slated for 10:30 p.m. EST, with TNT offering full coverage.

Thursday’s other action…

**Miami (9-38 SU, 16-29 ATS) at Philadelphia (19-30 SU, 23-23 ATS)**

On Tuesday, reports were circulated and later confirmed that Shaquille O’Neal was being shopped to Phoenix. The Heat are expected to get back Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks from the Suns. It’s still not known when the trade will be finalized and the players exchanged. Miami is 2-3-1 both SU and ATS without O’Neal this year.

Ever since Miami snapped its 15-game losing streak to Indiana on Jan. 26, the club has dropped four straight games, three of them against the spread as well. The club has been outscored by an average of 19.3 PPG during this stretch, which has helped the ‘over’ go 3-1.

This will be the second game in two nights for the Heat after facing the Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Wednesday. The club hasn’t been good on zero days rest, going 2-11 SU and 5-7-1- ATS. The ‘over’ is 8-4.

Philadelphia snapped a two-game losing skid on Tuesday by rallying past Washington 101-96 as a two-point home underdog. The Sixers outscored the Wizards 28-13 in the final 12 minutes. Mo Cheeks’ team is 4-0-1 ATS in the last five games.

The Sixers have gone 10-14 SU and 10-12 ATS at home, while the Heat are 4-19 SU and 10-11 ATS on the road. Philadelphia has won and covered three straight against Miami, including a 96-85 victory on Dec. 26 as a three-point home favorite. The ‘under’ has cashed in all three of the contests.

**Cleveland (27-20 SU, 22-25 ATS) at Houston (28-20 SU, 24-23 ATS)**

The Cavaliers and Rockets meet for the first time this regular season with a showdown at Toyota Center on Thursday. This will be the first game of TNT’s double-header, which is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EST.    

Houston enters this contest on a roll, winning eight of its last nine games and four in a row. Despite the solid run, the team is only 5-4 ATS but five of the victories did come on the road.

Another key factor to the Rockets’ success is their stout defense. Only three opponents have been able to eclipse the 100-point plateau during this stretch.

So far 2008 has been very good to Mike Brown and the Cavaliers, watching his squad produce an eye opening 13-3 SU and 9-7 ATS mark. If you look at the 16 games closer, you’ll notice a two-point setback at home to the best team in the Western Conference (Phoenix) plus a six-point (101-95) defeat at Seattle without LeBron James.

King James is making a strong case as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, leading the league with 30.2 PPG. Also, the young phenom is averaging 7.9 rebounds and 7.3 assists.

Cleveland has gone 12-13 SU and 14-11 ATS on the road this year. Houston is 12-9 SU and 9-11 ATS at home.

This head-to-head series has seen a lot of low-scoring affairs lately, watching the ‘under’ go 6-1 in the past seven games. The lone ‘over’ cashed when the game went to overtime.

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Televised Tip Sheet
By Brian Edwards

**West Virginia at Pittsburgh**

--Pittsburgh (17-5 straight up, 11-6 against the spread) has dominated arch-rival West Virginia recently, especially for our purposes. The Panthers are 11-3-1 ATS in the last 15 head-to-head meetings. They will go for their fourth consecutive win (SU and ATS) over the Mountaineers when these backyard adversaries collide in the Steel City.

--Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Pitt as a three-point favorite with a total of 130. The number was 2 1/2 at most books this morning.

--Jamie Dixon’s team has been outstanding at home this year, hooking up its backers to the tune of a 12-1 SU record and 6-2 ATS mark.

--West Virginia (16-6 SU, 8-8 ATS) bounced back from a shocking home loss to Cincinnati by going into Providence on Saturday and spanking the Friars, 77-65. Bob Huggins’ squad easily took the cash as a two-point favorite. Darris Nichols paced the ‘Neers with a game-high 23 points thanks to 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point land.

--Back to the Cincy loss, you can bet Huggins was livid with his team for losing to his former school. Not only that, but WVU took a pimpslap. As 14-point home ‘chalk,’ the Mountaineers took a 62-39 clubbing.

--Pitt is in bounce-back mode after dropping a 60-53 decision at UConn as a four-point underdog. The Panthers have yet to lose consecutive games this year.

--Pitt owns a 4-3 spread record as a single-digit favorite. On the flip side, WVU is 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS as an underdog.

--The ‘under’ has cashed at an 8-2 clip in West Virginia’s last 10 games.

--Both teams are tied for seventh in the Big East with 5-4 records.

--ESPN will provide television coverage at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

**Clemson at Virginia**

--LVSC opened Clemson (16-5 SU, 11-7 ATS) as a 1 ½-point favorite with a total of 151. The Tigers have won four of their last six games, including Saturday’s 78-56 blowout win over Boston College as 10½-point home favorites. Cliff Hammonds paced five Clemson players in double figures with 14 points.

--Virginia (11-9 SU, 7-8 ATS) is mired in the ACC cellar with a 1-6 record in ACC play. The Cavaliers have lost four in a row and seven of their last eight. Three of those defeats came in overtime, including Saturday’s 72-65 loss at Virginia Tech as five-point underdogs. Sean Singletary scored 26 points in the losing effort.

--UVA is in its first home underdog spot this season. The Wahoos are 2-4 ATS in their six games as ‘dogs.

--Clemson is winless in a pair of ACC road games (at Duke and at Miami), but it’s worth noting that the Tigers won at Alabama and at Mississippi St. in non-conference play.

--Clemson guard Demontez Stitt is “out” with torn cartilage in his knee. Stitt averages 8.8 points and 3.1 assists per game.

--The ‘over’ is 11-6 overall for Clemson.

--Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.

**Indiana at Illinois**

--This has always been a big rivalry, but the venom is at an all-time high since Eric Gordon committed to Illinois last year, only to change his mind and sign up with Indiana. Making matters worse for the Illini is the fact that IU coach Kelvin Sampson was punished by the university last year for making inappropriate calls to recruits. Obviously, Illini fans feel as if Sampson was shady in his recruitment of Gordon, who is one of the nation’s premier freshmen.

--LVSC opened Indiana (18-3 SU, 8-9 ATS) as a three-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 126. The Hoosiers have come back to earth lately after starting the season 17-1. They have lost two of their last three games, dropping a home game against UConn and a road contest at Wisconsin.

--Kelvin Sampson’s team ended a two-game slide by slipping past Northwestern on Sunday, 75-63. However, the Wildcats covered the number as 19 ½-point underdogs. Gordon, who is averaging 21.8 PPG, scored a game-high 29 points, while D.J. White added 26 points and 13 rebounds.

--Illinois (10-13 SU, 9-13 ATS) has lost nine of its last 11 games, including Saturday’s 83-75 loss to Purdue as a 4½-point home favorite. On the bright side, the Illini nearly knocked off IU in the first meeting this year, losing a 62-58 decision as an 11½-point underdog.

--Bruce Weber’s team is a home underdog in this situation for the first time this season.

--The ‘under’ is 6-0-1 in the last seven meetings between these long-time Big Ten rivals. Illinois has covered the spread in five consecutive encounters.

--ESPN will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**


--As I’ve been stating repeatedly, Davidson is my “blind pick” for the first round of this season’s NCAA Tournament. In other words, I’m picking the Wildcats to advance regardless of their opponent (i.e. blind). I’m 2-for-2 in such picks, calling for Northwestern State (which beat Iowa) two years ago and Winthrop (which beat Notre Dame) last season. In each instance, I picked my team in December.

--Tennessee senior guard Chris Lofton had the worst shooting slump of his collegiate career in November and December, but his smooth stroke returned in January. Lofton has been especially hot in UT’s last five games, draining 27-of-52 shots from 3-point land.

--Ok, Duke now has my full attention. I had it in my mind that this team was soft after it got pushed around by Pittsburgh earlier this year, but I was wrong. There certainly wasn’t anything soft about Wednesday’s 89-78 win at North Carolina as a four-point underdog. The Blue Devils hooked up money-line players with a plus 160 return.

--UNC played without its floor general Ty Lawson, who missed the game with a sprained ankle. I backed the Tar Heels for my only loss of the night.

--I had winners with Kentucky, Vanderbilt and the Texas Tech-Baylor ‘over.’ The Commodores won 67-59 at Georgia to cash my SEC Game of the Week. They closed as three-point underdogs, cashing money-line tickets in the plus 135 range. I’ve now successfully faded the Dawgs in each of their last four games.

--As for Kentucky, it covered as a two-point favorite at Auburn thanks to Patrick Patterson's late free throw to give the 'Cats a 66-63 win. UK played without both Jodie Meeks (hip) and Ramel Bradley (concussion). Billy Gillispie's team is now 6-1 ATS in its last seven games with the lone non-cover coming in an overtime loss at Florida as a 7 1/2-point 'dog.

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Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers

- The Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers will both be gunning for a victory on Thursday when they meet at Wachovia Center.

Dwyane Wade went for 30 points and 12 assists for the Heat in their 100-95 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.

The Pistons couldn't cover as 15.5-point home favorites as the game played over the 184.5-point total listed by oddsmakers.

The 76ers stormed back to dominate the fourth quarter and earn a 101-96 victory over the Wizards on Tuesday. The 76ers won the game as 2-point underdogs, while the 197 points made it OVER the posted total of 190.5.

Andre Iguodala tossed in 20 points with four rebounds and four assists, while Thaddeus Young added 17 points and nine rebounds.

Current streak:
Miami has lost 5 straight games.

Team records:
Miami: 9-39 SU, 17-30-1 ATS
Philadelphia: 19-30 SU, 23-25-1 ATS

Miami most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 7-3
Before playing LA Lakers are 6-4
After playing Detroit are 6-4
After a loss are 1-9

Philadelphia most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 4-6
Before playing LA Clippers are 5-5
After playing Washington are 4-6
After a win are 3-7

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Miami's last 6 games when playing Philadelphia
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Miami's last 5 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Miami's last 6 games when playing on the road against Philadelphia
The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Miami's last 15 games when playing on the road against Philadelphia
Philadelphia is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games when playing at home against Miami
Philadelphia is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games when playing at home against Miami
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Philadelphia's last 6 games when playing Miami
Philadelphia is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games

Next up:
Miami home to LA Lakers, Sunday, February 10
Philadelphia home to LA Clippers, Saturday, February 9

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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Houston Rockets

- The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Houston Rockets will both be trying to pick up a win on Thursday when they battle at Toyota Center.

The Cavaliers were outplayed in the fourth quarter, but held on for a 114-113 win over the Celtics on Tuesday. The Cavaliers failed to cover the 3-point spread, but the combined score sailed OVER the posted total of 186.

LeBron James had a game-high 33 points with nine rebounds and 12 assists, while just missing the triple-double.

The Rockets were locked in a see-saw affair in Monday's 92-86 victory at Minnesota. The Rockets managed to cover the 5.5-point spread, but the 178 points fell UNDER the posted total of 188.5.

Tracy McGrady shot 10-for-21 from the field with 26 points, six rebounds and seven assists for the Rockets.

Current streak:
Cleveland has won 2 straight games.
Houston has won 4 straight games.

Team records:
Cleveland: 27-20 SU, 22-25 ATS
Houston: 28-20 SU, 23-23-2 ATS

Cleveland most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 6-4
Before playing Atlanta are 6-4
After playing Boston are 7-3
After a win are 7-3

Houston most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 7-3
Before playing Atlanta are 6-4
After playing Minnesota are 5-5
After a win are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Cleveland's last 7 games when playing Houston
Cleveland is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games on the road
Cleveland is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
Cleveland is 9-2 SU in its last 11 games
Houston is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Houston's last 7 games when playing Cleveland
Houston is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Cleveland
Houston is 9-2 ATS in its last 11 games when playing at home against Cleveland

Next up:
Cleveland at Atlanta, Friday, February 8
Houston home to Atlanta, Saturday, February 9

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Chicago Bulls vs. Golden State Warriors

- The Chicago Bulls and the Golden State Warriors will both be trying to pick up a win on Thursday when they battle at Oracle Arena.

Thabo Sefolosha and Andres Nocioni had 22 points apiece for the Bulls in their 100-97 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

The Blazers failed to cover as 6.5-point home favorites as the teams played over the 184.5-point total set by oddsmakers.

Golden State shot 54.9% from the field in Friday's 127-96 rout over Charlotte, covering the 8.5-point home spread. The 223 points scored were OVER the posted total of 219.

Monta Ellis was 7-for-10 for 21 points, while Stephen Jackson added 19 points for the Warriors.

Current streak:
Golden State has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
Chicago: 19-29 SU, 19-29 ATS
Golden State: 29-19 SU, 22-26 ATS

Chicago most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 6-4
Before playing Utah are 5-5
After playing Portland are 5-5
After a loss are 7-3

Golden State most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 3-7
Before playing Sacramento are 8-2
After playing Charlotte are 3-3
After a win are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
Chicago is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Chicago's last 13 games when playing on the road against Golden State
The total has gone UNDER in 11 of Chicago's last 15 games when playing Golden State
The total has gone OVER in 7 of Chicago's last 10 games on the road
Golden State is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Chicago
Golden State is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Chicago
The total has gone OVER in 8 of Golden State's last 9 games
Golden State is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games at home

Next up:
Chicago at Utah, Saturday, February 9
Golden State home to Sacramento, Saturday, February 9

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Cleveland (27-20, 22-25 ATS) at Houston (28-20, 24-23-1 ATS)

Two of the NBA’s biggest superstars playing on two of the NBA’s hottest teams clash at the Toyota Center in Houston, as Tracy McGrady and the Rockets host LeBron James and the Cavs.

Houston returns home off a perfect three-game road trip that ended with Monday’s 92-86 win over the TWolves, barely cashing as a 5½-point chalk. Overall, the Rockets have won four in a row, eight out of nine and 13 of 16. On the downside, Houston has followed up a 10-2 ATS run by going just 5-6 ATS in its last 11, including 2-3 ATS at home.

Cleveland edged the Kevin Garnett-less Celtics 114-113 on Tuesday, but failed to get it done as a three-point home favorite. The Cavaliers have won two in a row, are 9-2 SU in their last 11 and 7-3 ATS in their last 10.

The Rockets are 7-2 SU and ATS in the last nine series meetings, including 5-1 ATS in the last six overall and 4-1 ATS in the last five in Houston. However, the teams have split the season series each of the last two years, with the home team going 2-0 SU and ATS last season and the visitor going 2-0 (1-1 ATS) in 2005-06.

Houston hasn’t enjoyed much of a home-court advantage this year, posting marks of 12-9 SU and 10-11 ATS. However, the Rockets are 19-8-3 ATS in their last 30 contests on Thursday, 7-2 ATS in their last nine against the Eastern Conference and 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight against the Central Division.

Cleveland has picked up its game on the road lately, winning five of the last six both SU and ATS. The only loss – a 101-95 setback at Seattle a week ago tonight – came with an injured LeBron on the bench. Also, the straight-up winner is 12-0 ATS in the Cavs’ last 12 on the highway.

The Cavs are on ATS streaks of 36-17 when playing on one day of rest, 6-2 against the Western Conference and 4-1 on Thursdays.

The under is on runs of 6-3 for Houston overall, 3-1 for Houston at home, 10-3 for Houston against the Central Division, 7-3 for Cleveland on the road and 25-9 for Cleveland on Thursday. Also, the under is 6-1 in the last seven head-to-head meetings and 4-1 in the last five clashes at the Toyota Center.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


Chicago (19-29, 19-29 ATS) at Golden State (29-19, 22-26 ATS)

The Bulls look to avenge last month’s home loss to the Warriors when they continue a six-game road trip at Golden State.

Chicago fell 100-97 at Portland last night, but did cover as a five-point road underdog. The Bulls have been extremely inconsistent of late, going 8-12 in their last 20, never winning consecutive games or losing more than two in a row during this span. On the bright side, the Bulls are 4-1 ATS in their last five.

Golden State has been idle since Friday’s 127-96 rout of the Bobcats as an 8½-point home favorite, the team’s second straight win and cover. The Warriors are in the midst of an odd nine-game stretch in which they have gone lose one/win two three straight times.

These teams met on Jan. 18 in the Windy City, and the Warriors, behind a career-high 40 points from Baron Davis, pulled out a 119-111 victory as a 2½-point road chalk. That ended a string in which the home team had won 10 straight meetings in this rivalry, with Golden State going 5-0 SU and ATS in its last five against the Bulls at home.

The host is still 10-2 ATS in the last 12 clashes, the favorite is 7-2 ATS in the last nine, and the straight-up winner is 9-1 ATS in the last 10.

Chicago has struggled on the road all season, going 9-16 SU and 11-14 ATS, including 2-6 (3-5 ATS) in the last nine. The Bulls are on further ATS nosedives of 6-20 against the Pacific Division, 4-12 against the Western Conference and 1-6 on Thursdays.

Although Golden State has cashed in its last two, it is still just 6-10 ATS in its last 16, including 3-5 ATS at home. For the season, the Warriors are 14-8 at Oracle Arena, but just 9-13 ATS. They’re also 2-8 versus the number when playing on more than one day of rest. On the bright side, Don Nelson’s squad has cashed in nine of its last 11 Thursday contests.

The over is 8-1 in the Warriors’ last nine overall (3-1 at home) and 8-2 in their last 10 on Thursdays. However, the under is 6-3-1 in Chicago’s last 10 overall and 11-4 in the last 15 series meetings, including 5-2 in the last seven encounters at Golden State.

ATS ADVANTAGE: GOLDEN STATE and UNDER


West Virginia (16-6, 8-8 ATS) at (21) Pitt (17-5, 11-6 ATS)

Two teams struggling to find their form lately match up at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, where the Panthers host Big East rival West Virginia.

The Mountaineers beat Providence 77-65 Saturday as a two-point road chalk, halting a two-game SU skid and a three-game ATS slide, including an embarrassing 62-39 blowout home loss to Cincinnati as a 13½-point favorite last week. West Virginia (6-4, 4-6 ATS Big East), which averages 76.4 points per game, broke the 70-point barrier for the first time in five games in the win over Providence. And after a putrid 10-for-50 effort (20 percent) against Cincy, the Mountaineers drained 50.9 percent of their shots against the Friars.

Pittsburgh stumbled at Connecticut 60-53 as a four-point pup on Saturday, continuing its now six-game trend of alternating SU and ATS wins and losses. The Panthers (5-4, 6-3 ATS Big East) shot just 32.2 percent (19 of 59) versus the Huskies, and their season scoring average (75.4 ppg) is down more than 10 points (65.2) over the past five games.

Pitt is on a 3-0 SU and ATS run in this series, sweeping both of last year’s meetings, including an 80-66 beating as a nine-point favorite last February. West Virginia is just 3-11-1 ATS in the last 15 clashes with the Panthers, including 1-4-1 at Pitt. Finally, the favorite has covered the number the last four times.

The Mountaineers are 6-2 ATS against in their last eight roadies against teams with a winning home record (Pitt is 12-1 at the Petersen Events Center). However, they are 3-11-1 ATS in their last 14 against teams with a winning record and 1-6 ATS in their last seven following a SU win.

The Panthers are on positive ATS runs of 11-4 overall, 6-1 at home, 6-1 coming off a non-cover and 13-3-1 after a SU defeat. On a negative note, they are 3-8-1 ATS at home versus teams with a road winning percentage above .600 (West Virginia is 5-2 in true road games).

The under is on streaks of 23-11 for Pitt in Big East games, 4-1 for Pitt against winning teams, 8-2 for West Virginia overall, 7-2 for West Virginia against the Big East and 4-1 for West Virginia on the road. Finally, four of the last five meetings in this series have stayed low.

ATS ADVANTAGE: PITTSBURGH and UNDER


(14) Indiana (18-3, 8-9-1 ATS) at Illinois (10-13, 9-13-1 ATS)

The Hoosiers, back on track after a two-game losing skid, travel to Assembly Hall in Champaign for a Big Ten battle against struggling Illinois.

Indiana bounced back from an 11-point loss at Wisconsin by topping Northwestern 75-63 on Sunday, but couldn’t cover the 19½-point spread at home, falling to 0-3 ATS in its last three. The Hoosiers (7-1, 3-4-1 ATS Big Ten) owned the boards against the Wildcats with a 36-16 advantage, including 15-4 on the offensive end.

Illinois lost to Purdue 83-75 on Saturday laying 4½ points at home, its second consecutive SU and ATS setback. The Fighting Illini (2-8, 5-5 ATS Big Ten) have dropped four of their last five league contests, with the only win being a 70-37 rout of Northwestern as a 13-point home favorite.

Illinois is on a 5-0 ATS run in this series (3-2 SU), most recently losing 62-58 last month at Indiana but easily covering as an 11½-point ‘dog. Indiana won last year at Illinois 65-61 but again failed to cover, giving seven points. In fact, the Hoosiers are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven trips to Illinois.

The Hoosiers are on an 8-2 ATS run in Thursday contests and are 5-2 ATS in their last seven on the road, but those marks are overshadowed by a 4-12-1 ATS slide in Big Ten play that dates to last season.

The Illini are 5-0 ATS in their last five against winning teams and 5-1 ATS in their last six coming off a SU loss. But they sport negative ATS trends of 9-20-1 at home (3-7 ATS this year), 1-4 on Thursday and 0-4 against teams with a winning road record (Indiana is 4-1 in true road games).

The under is 6-0-1 in the last seven meetings in this series, with last month’s game easily staying under the 134-point total. Also, the under is 7-2 in the last nine clashes at Illinois. Finally, the under is on runs of 5-2 overall for Indiana, 5-2 on the road for Indiana and 15-7 for Illinois in Big Ten play.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ILLINOIS and UNDER


Oregon (13-8, 9-8-2 ATS) at (9) Stanford (18-3, 11-10 ATS)

The Ducks, who just halted a four-game slide, head to Northern California looking to cool off Pac-10 rival Stanford, which suffered its last loss three weeks ago at Oregon.

Oregon ripped archrival Oregon State 79-63 Saturday, managing a push as a 16-point home chalk to stop a two-game ATS skid. The Ducks (4-5, 4-4-1 ATS Pac-10) had their best shooting performance in nearly a month, hitting 29 of 55 from the field (52.7 percent).

Stanford swept its Northwest road trip last week, drilling Washington 65-51 as a two-point favorite Thursday, then squeaking out a 67-65 overtime win Saturday against Washington State as a four-point underdog to improve to 4-0 ATS in its last four starts. The Cardinal (7-2, 4-5 ATS Pac-10) have outscored opponents by an average of eight points per game during their five-game run (67.4-59.4) and outrebounded them by 12 per game (38.8-26.8). Stanford continues to rank second nationally in rebounding margin (11.3 per game).

Oregon beat Stanford 71-66 as a two-point home favorite on Jan. 13 to end Stanford’s 3-0 ATS streak in this series. Still, the Cardinal are 8-2 SU and 6-3-1 ATS the last 10 matchups, including an 88-69 home rout as a 2½-point chalk last year.

The Ducks are a solid 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 conference games, but they are on pointspread nosedives of 4-10 on Thursday and 1-5 against teams with a winning record.

The Cardinal are 4-1 ATS in their last five versus winning teams and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 coming off a spread-cover. On the negative side, they are on ATS droughts of 1-4 at Maples Pavilion and 2-7-1 at home against teams with a losing road record.

For Stanford, the under is on streaks of 14-3 overall, 9-1 at home and 6-2 against the Pac-10. For Oregon, the under is on runs of 38-18 on Thursdays, 5-2 in league play and 4-0 coming off a SU win. Finally, five of the last six series battles have stayed low, including last month’s contest, which came up short of the 141½ posted price.

ATS ADVANTAGE: STANFORD and UNDER


(5) UCLA (20-2, 13-6-2 ATS) at (17) Washington State (17-4, 10-10 ATS)

The Bruins fly to the Pacific Northwest looking to sweep the season series from Washington State in a battle of ranked Pac-10 teams.

Two days after an 84-51 blitzing of Arizona State as a 13½-point home favorite, UCLA steamrolled Arizona 82-60 on Saturday laying nine points at home, moving the Bruins to 4-0 SU and ATS in their last four games. During that stretch, UCLA (8-1, 7-2 ATS Pac-10) has outshot its opponents 53.7 percent to 42.7 percent and dominated the glass (142-77 rebounding edge).

Washington State stumbled twice at home to the Pac-10’s Northern California contingent last week, losing 69-64 to California as a heavy 10-point home favorite a week ago, then falling 67-65 to Stanford as a two-point chalk on Saturday. The Cougars (5-4, 3-6 ATS Pac-10) are on an 0-5 ATS freefall (2-3 SU). During the slide, they have been outshot 46.7 percent to 43.8 percent and outrebounded by nearly five boards per game (29.2-24.4).

UCLA has dominated this rivalry, wining 92 of the 104 all-time meetings, including the last seven in a row (4-3 ATS) and nine of the last 10 (6-4 ATS). The road team is on a 7-1 ATS run in this series, with the lone exception coming last month in L.A. when the Bruins scored an 81-74 home victory and barely covered as a six-point favorite by making a meaningless layup as time expired. UCLA led that contest by double digits almost the entire way until the Cougars drained a slew of three-pointers in the final 90 seconds to make the final score respectable.

The Bruins are a sturdy 30-12-1 ATS in their last 43 road trips, including 5-0 ATS in true road games this season (4-0 ATS in Pac-10 roadies). They are on further positive ATS spurts of 5-1 on Thursday, 4-1 after a SU win and 28-11-1 on the road against opponents with a winning home mark (Washington State is 8-2 SU in Pullman).

The Cougars, conversely, carry negative ATS trends of 1-5 against teams with a winning road mark (UCLA is 8-0 in road/neutral site games), 1-6 in Pullman and 0-6 versus winning teams.

For UCLA, the over is on tears of 6-0 overall and 5-0 against teams with a winning percentage above .600. Meanwhile, Washington State has topped the total in three of its last four overall (2-0 at home). Finally, last month’s head-to-head clash easily hurdled the 117-point total, ending a 3-0 “under” streak in this rivalry.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UCLA and OVER

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Feb 7

Bettors can't afford to ignore Timberwolves

Last-place Minnesota has a respectable record against the spread.

In the NBA, once a franchise gets off to a slow start and the losses mount, casual bettors often write off that team for the rest of the season.

But that's not always a smart thing to do.

For example, take the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, who sit in last place in the Northwest Division with a 10-37 record.

Although the Timberwolves have won the fewest games in the Western Conference, they have been a good pick against the point spread in recent weeks.

With Sebastian Telfair stepping up at point guard and Al Jefferson emerging as a legitimate inside force, Minnesota has covered the line in seven of its last nine games and has a respectable 22-25 record against the spread for the season.

It's no secret that a key to the Timberwolves' success with bettors has been inflated point spreads. Since Jan. 6, Minnesota has been an underdog of seven points or more nine times, including six in double-figures.

On Friday, the Timberwolves are expected to be big underdogs again when they play host to the Boston Celtics, who have the league's best record.

Despite having two key players sidelined because of injuries, Cleveland is another NBA team on a roll, going 7-3 against the spread in its last 10 games and 5-1 against the spread in its last six road games.

But the Cavaliers -- playing without Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao until at least the All-Star break -- will be tested tonight at Houston.

With Tracy McGrady back in the lineup after being out because of an elbow injury, the Rockets have won four games in a row and eight of their last nine.

Houston is also 6-1 against the spread in its last seven games against a team with a winning record and 7-2 against the spread in its last nine games against an Eastern Conference opponent.

College basketball

With the Pacific 10 Conference season heading into the homestretch, four big games will be played tonight, highlighted by league-leader UCLA's matchup at Washington State.

The Bruins (20-2 overall, 8-1 in the Pac-10) are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games and 5-0 against the spread in their last five games in Pullman, Wash.

Supporters of the Cougars (17-4, 5-4) also should be aware that they are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven home games and 0-6 against the spread in their last six games against a team with a winning percentage above .600.

Here are a few more Pac-10 betting trends for tonight: USC (14-7, 5-4) will play at Washington (12-10, 3-6) and the Trojans are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games and 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games against a team with a winning home record.

Stanford (18-3, 7-2) will play host to Oregon (13-8, 4-5) and the under is 9-1 in the last 10 home games for the Cardinal; Oregon State (6-15, 0-9) will play at California (13-7, 4-5) and the Bears are 0-4 against the spread in their last four games.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Feb 7

What bettors need to know: TNT Thursday doubleheader
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Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets

Carrying the Cavs

The Cavaliers are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now and it’s all down to one man. LeBron James is currently enjoying his best spell of the season and Cleveland has won nine of its last 11 games.

In the last two weeks James has scored 41 points on the road against the Lakers, 37 points at Portland and 33 in Tuesday’s home win over the surging Boston Celtics. And for anyone with lingering doubts about his importance, here’s one more stat: the Cavaliers have have played six games without him this season and lost all of them.

In his last game against the Rockets, James scored 32 points and had 12 rebounds in a 91-85 Cavaliers victory. They were 3-point favorites in that contest.

Rockets’ offense taking off

An injury-plagued season for the Rockets has forced coach Rick Adelman to rethink his plans for the team’s offense. He has been without Rafer Alston, Aaron Brooks and Tracy McGrady at various junctures this season, forcing him to rely mainly on Yao Ming.

"It's like any other system," Adelman told the Houston Chronicle. "In this league, you have to go with the talent you have. You can't manufacture something if it's not good for everybody. We've tried to tweak things and put some stuff in."

But with the majority of the roster now fit and ready to go, Houston’s offense has started to find its groove. In 10 games since a mid-January road win over the Timberwolves, the Rockets have averaged 100.6 points while shooting 46.8 percent.

Before that, they were averaging 94.5 points per game and shooting just 43.9 percent.

"I think the guys really did a great job of learning the system, playing off the ball, moving the ball, playing off each other extremely well, getting Yao the ball, letting him put pressure on the defense, kicking it out to the shooters and, most important, knocking down shots," McGrady said of the improvement that began when he was sidelined with a knee injury.

The Rockets have won six of their last seven games since McGrady returned.

Head to head

Houston has won four of its last six games against the Cavaliers and covered the spread in five. But Cleveland won the most recent meeting, coming out 91-85 winners as a 3-point home favorite on Mar. 15 of last year.

Five of the last six meetings between these teams have gone under the total.

Chicago Bulls at Golden State Warriors

Prodigal son returns

The Golden State Warriors are getting a second season out of a first round draft pick, but it has come 14 years later. Free-agent forward Chris Webber re-signed with the franchise last week, returning to a team he left in controversial circumstances back in 1994.

He was openly critical of coach Don Nelson all through his rookie season and decided to part ways with the club at the end of that campaign. Nelson was fired after Webber’s departure, leaving the franchise in disarray. Ironically, Nelson is now in his second spell as coach of the Warriors.

"It feels good, but returning is something I'd never expect," Webber told the Associated Press. "I think we all felt that way. It's a good feeling, but it's really surreal right now. I never thought in a million years. Never, not at all."

Webber went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals with Detroit last season, averaging 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. But the 35-year-old was let go by the Pistons, and spent the last seven months out of the game.

Webber will make his first start against the Bulls on Thursday, joining a Warriors team that has won four of its last five games.

Wallace wants ‘big’ help

It has been a disappointing season for Bulls center Ben Wallace. He is averaging just 4.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, but offered a theory this week about why he has struggled so badly.

Wallace played alongside 7-foot center Aaron Gray for seven minutes in the second quarter of Monday’s win over Seattle and the Bulls turned a one-point deficit into a five-point lead in that time. After the game, Wallace told reporters he would like to play with a 7-footer every night.

"Doesn't matter," Wallace told reporters. "Whether you're a great player or not, if you're 7 feet and around that basket, they have to pay some attention to you.

"It opens up a lot of things for me," he added. "When you've got a big body out there, they can't leave him and let him roam around. You have to pay attention to him when he's on the floor. That allows me to get lanes where I get to the basket and get rebounds."

The win over the Sonics was Chicago’s second victory in its last six games.

Head to head

The Warriors have dominated this contest, winning and covering the spread in three of their last four meetings with Chicago. Golden State recorded a 119-111 victory at the United Center in the most recent matchup, covering a 2 ½-point spread on Jan. 18.

Four of the last six games between these teams have gone under the total.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Feb 7

Cavs F Drew Gooden (11 ppg; groin) has been downgraded to doubtful for tonight's game.

Bulls G Ben Gordon (20 ppg; wrist) has been downgraded to not expected to play tonight

Heat F Shawn Marion will NOT be available for tonight's game.

Wizards F Caron Butler (left hip flexor) may not play again until after the All-Star break.

USC F Daniel Hackett (10 ppg; hip) is questionable for Thursday's game.

UCLA F Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (9 ppg; ankle) will miss Thursday's game.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Feb 7

Trouble finding #3 in the ACC
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There is a great deal of attention on ACC this week with the big showdown between North Carolina and Duke, but finding quality teams in the traditional basketball power conference is difficult after the top two this season.

Every team past the top two traditional powers has at least three conference losses and five overall losses. Some separation is likely to occur in the next few weeks but the middle of the conference lacks standout teams. It will be difficult to justify giving bids to teams that post marginal records just because of the past reputation of the conference.

In ESPN’s Bracketology predictions only three ACC squads are slated to make the NCAA tournament as of the most recent update. Only Clemson would join North Carolina and Duke, although the top two are currently slated to be #1 seeds. Virginia Tech and Maryland are listed as bubble teams among the final four cut from the bracket, but this is a dramatic change from recent years should those predictions hold up. The ACC has received at least four NCAA tournament bids every year since 2000 and last year the conference earned an ACC record seven bids. The large number of bids did not translate into deep runs however as only North Carolina was able to win more than one game, and the #1 seeded Tar Heels lost in the regional finals.

Perhaps there is valid cause for the decline of the ACC. The addition of Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech to the conference was intended to be a boon for football, but it may have hurt the overall level of play in basketball. Since the realignment to twelve teams the ACC has had zero final four teams as no ACC team has made it past the elite eight in the past two NCAA tournaments (The conference expanded to eleven teams for the 2004-05 season but Boston College did not join as the twelfth team until the 2005-06 season). From 1997 to 2002 the ACC had at least one final four representative every season and the conference won three national championships in a five year span from 2001 to 2005. This season Duke and North Carolina appear to be legitimate contenders but both schools have been upset prone as top seeds in recent years.

According to the Sagarin ratings the ACC currently ranks as the #4 conference in the nation, despite having two teams that currently rank towards the top of the national rankings. According to the Sagarin ratings, Duke is the #1 team and North Carolina is the #4 team but there is big gap before Clemson enters at #29. Miami, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Florida State are all bunched together between #50 and #68. The Pac-10, Big 12, and Big East all rated higher than the ACC in the conference rankings, and all three of those conferences are likely to get more NCAA tournament bids this season.

In recent years it has generally been assumed that the ACC is the top conference in the nation and the annual nationally televised rout of the Big Ten early in the season certainly helps to validate that perception. The ACC has gone 8-3 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge each of the past two seasons but an argument can certainly be made that the match-ups do not always line up fairly and the TV schedule often dictates more favorable situations for the top ACC teams. For example, Duke has played at home three of the past four seasons and taken on teams that did not project as elite teams in the Big Ten. Not surprisingly Duke is 9-0 all-time in challenge games but the Devils conveniently seem to play the elite teams a year or two after the top players graduate or leave school. The ACC generally has much greater depth than most conferences in the middle and bottom of the pack, and that is a big reason for the success in the challenge format and in the non-conference schedule.

This year the depth of the ACC may prevent the conference from getting the number of NCAA tournament bids that is normally expected. Duke and North Carolina are clearly going to be NCAA tournament teams and probably very high seeds. Duke has a fairly favorable finish to the conference season and could realistically go 16-0 in the conference if they beat North Carolina at home and avoid upsets along the way. North Carolina is just 6-2 in ACC play but none of the other teams in the conference has been consistent enough to challenge for the #2 spot. The remaining teams have a lot left to work out.

Maryland: The Terrapins were expected to be a legitimate threat in the conference but the non-conference season delivered brutal results with Maryland losing to Missouri, Ohio, Virginia Commonwealth, and American. Maryland also lost to UCLA which helps the strength of schedule but Maryland has amazingly lost seven home games already this season. Maryland is picking up steam and has gone 3-1 on the road in the ACC but some of the early losses may be hard to ignore if Maryland finishes with a similar resume to other teams. The big trump card for Maryland is the win over North Carolina, which could be a ticket to the dance if it remains one of the few teams to knock off the Tar Heels.

Clemson: The Tigers started the season 10-0 through a modest non-conference schedule but early season wins over Mississippi State and Purdue are looking much stronger at this point in the season. Clemson also beat major conference foes South Carolina, DePaul, and Alabama which will help keep the Tigers in the post-season conversation. Unfortunately a strong finish will be hard to come by and momentum might leave the Tigers on the wrong side of the bubble. Clemson plays six of the remaining nine games on the road and the Tigers are yet to win an ACC game away from home.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies have five ACC wins but the remaining schedule features tough road games at North Carolina, Clemson, and Maryland. Virginia Tech has some questionable losses on the season losing to Butler, Penn State, Gonzaga, Old Dominion, and Richmond. None of those are horribly bad season-killing losses on their own, but there are absolutely no quality non-conference wins to help balance things out. Virginia Tech will need a very strong finish to have a chance at the NCAA tournament and winning in Chapel Hill might be necessary.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack lost a couple of questionable early season games to New Orleans and East Carolina but State owns a few solid wins over Big East teams beating Villanova, Seton Hall, and Cincinnati. At 15-7 N.C. State will likely have a better overall record than the many of the teams fighting for the same spots. The schedule is very challenging down the stretch but that also means there are opportunities. N.C. State hosts both Duke and North Carolina in the coming weeks and an upset win could be a bid-clincher if the Wolfpack finish up in decent shape in the standings.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are barely over .500 but they own three road wins in conference play. Georgia Tech has won four of the last five games and the wins need to keep coming to keep alive any shot at the NCAA tournament. A big opportunity against a hot Connecticut squad would qualify as the marquee win that The Jackets might need. If Georgia Tech can continue to win on the road with several tough road games remaining on the schedule they can move up in the pecking order.

Wake Forest: Despite an 11-1 record at home this season the Deacons are just 3-5 in ACC play. Nothing really stands out on the resume for Wake Forest as there are no terrible losses but also no glowing wins. The Deacons would need to get hot and move up the standings to even be considered, and a big upset win against one of the top two teams might be needed.

Boston College: A loss to Robert Morris might have sealed the fate for the Eagles as a five-game losing streak has commenced in the last two weeks. Boston College beat Wake Forest and Maryland early in conference play but an early season win over Rhode Island does not hold enough weight for the Eagles to merit serious consideration.

Florida State: The Seminoles beat Florida in non-conference play but the ACC season has been a nightmare with losses in six of the last eight games. With ten losses already and several tough games waiting there will not be much drama behind Selection Sunday for the Seminoles unless they reverse the current path.

Miami, Florida: The Hurricanes stormed out to a 12-0 start but they own only two ACC wins and six losses thus far through the conference season. The early season schedule was very weak so the solid overall record is not going to hold up unless a strong finish and a deep conference tournament run are in order.

Virginia: With three overtime losses in ACC play so the Cavaliers are close to having a much better record but as it stands, a 1-6 conference record is not going to help when being compared with so many similar teams. Virginia beat Arizona early in the season but there is not much substance in the remainder of the non-conference record. Virginia still has nine games to play but this is likely too big of a hole to dig out of.

There is still a lot of basketball left to be played but at the halfway point of the conference season, not much has been determined in the ACC. The conference tournament could be very meaningful this season and the ACC may have a hard time getting bids past the top two teams unless a few teams start to step up and build separation from a tightly packed group of mediocre teams.

Prediction: ACC receives four bids: Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, N.C. State

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