Betting News and Notes - Feb 12

Betting News and Notes - Feb 12

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell leaves team following father-in-law's death
ASSOCIATED PRESS

TORONTO -Raptors coach Sam Mitchell is taking a leave of absence so he can fly home to Atlanta following the death of his father-in-law.

A team spokesman said Monday that Mitchell left Toronto and will not rejoin the Raptors until after the All-Star break. Toronto's first game after the break is at home against Orlando on Feb. 20.

Assistant coach Mike Evans was to take charge of the team for Monday's game against San Antonio, because the Spurs are one of the teams he scouts. Fellow assistant Jay Triano will serve as head coach for Wednesday's game against New Jersey.

A native of Niagara Falls, Ont., Triano will be the first Canadian head coach in NBA history.

Evans served as Denver's head coach for the final 56 games of the 2001-02 season after Dan Issel was fired. He said he's aware of the differences that come with being in charge.

''The decisions rest with you,'' Evans said. ''It's easy to sit there and make suggestions to the head coach about what you think we should do, but when you're actually the coach for the night, then you realize just how difficult it is to please everybody.''

Mitchell didn't offer Evans much advice on how to handle the team.

''He said do what you do,'' Evans said. ''That's Sam. We practice and we're all on the same page, so there's no mystery to what we're trying to do on the court.''

Mitchell won the NBA's coach of the year award last season, leading Toronto to a 47-35 record and the team's first Atlantic Division title. Toronto was 27-22 heading into Monday night's game.

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Top 10 weekend in review
By M.LAWRENCE

Auditions for the start of the 2008 March Madness Tournament are taking place as the contestants in this year’s dance contest begin putting the final touches on their acts. Let’s take a look at how the better teams performed this past weekend, and what sort of moves we can expect this week.

Click here if you'd like to check out what Marc wrote about these teams before the weekend.

No. 1: Memphis Tigers - The Tigers are building a strong case to become the first team to finish the regular season unbeaten since the 1990-91 UNLV team. “We're raising the stakes as we go forward,” Calipari said. The return of F Robert Dozier (one-game suspension for allegedly hitting his girlfriend) helped lead a balanced attack as Memphis next prepares for an invasion of Houston, the No.2 team in the C-USA. With a 21-point win-and-push against UCF Saturday, the same Awesome Angle quoted in the Weekend Cheat Sheet is now 7-18-1 ATS and applies against the Tigers, making the Cougars the play in Wednesday’s matchup of conference felines.

No. 2: Duke Blue Devils - An expected letdown took place when the Devils skated past the Eagles in ho-hum fashion with a 90-80 win as 20-point favorites. B.C. led at the half and by two points with 10 minutes remaining before Duke finally awoke from it’s slumber. The Eagles shot 55 percent from the field while the Devils converted just 44 percent of their field goal attempts and just 61 percent of the time from the free-throw stripe. Coach K’s crew returns home Wednesday to host Maryland, a team that ‘s been a thorn in their side of late (3-5 SU & ATS vs. Terps) before traveling to Wake Forest on Saturday. For what it’s worth, Duke has dominated the Demons lately, going 20-3 SU and 18-5 ATS.

No. 3: North Carolina Tar Heels - As good a team as the Tar Heels are, the fact of the matter is they, nor any other high-profile team, are not going to cover games with a matador defense. UNC takes on the Virginia’s this week – Tuesday at the Cavaliers in a series that has seen the visiting team go 3-9 ATS and Saturday at home against the Hokies against whom they have double revenge from a pair of losses suffered last year against the Techsters. By the way, Carolina is 1-5 SU & ATS in its last six games against Virginia when they allowed 80-plus points. In their losses last year against Virginia Tech they allowed 81 and 94 points.

No. 4: UCLA Bruins - Winning and covering three conference road games in a row is a tough task. As good as the Bruins are the demands of pulling off a hat trick of this magnitude are difficult. They return home to host the Oregons this week, teams they won and covered against in earlier meetings this season. UCLA is 6-0 SU & ATS in their last six games against the Ducks and 9-1 ATS in their last 10 against the Beavers. FYI: the Bruins are now 83-60-4 ATS in all games under head coach Ben Howland.

No. 5: Kansas Jayhawks - When they need to, the Jayhawks can turn it on. Despite a lethargic effort in the first half against the battling Bears, Kansas connected for 63 percent from the floor after the intermission to turn a halftime deficit into a 10-point win. And they did so despite failing to land a 3-point shot (0-for-9) for the first time in 270 games. Up next is a rematch from last year’s Big 12 title game in which Kansas edged Texas, 88-84. Good news for the Jayhawks is they are 5-0 ATS in the series against the Longhorns when Kansas owns a win percentage of .890 or better. Bad news is Texas is 5-0 ATS when revenge against the Jayhawks. They return home Saturday to host Colorado, a team they’ve devoured in the past, going 37-1 SU & 26-12 ATS.

No. 6: Georgetown Hoyas - The Big East race is suddenly wide open and Georgetown is going to need to win both the regular and postseason titles if it wishes to garner a coveted No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. The Hoyas blew an 8-point halftime lead, going scoreless during an 8-minute stretch after the intermission, allowing Louisville back into contention in the Big East Conference. A 4-for-22 performance from the arc. Meanwhile, Georgetown returns home Monday to host Villanova, a team the knocked out of the Big 12 tournament last year. The Wildcats are 8-4 SU and ATS in the last 12 meetings in the series, including 6-1 SU & 7-0 ATS as dogs during the regular season. They conclude the week at Syracuse on Saturday, another team that has given them fits of late (2-7 SU & ATS last nine games). We’ll learn a lot about the Hoyas this week.

No. 7: Tennessee Volunteers -  Vols escaped from a tough environment Saturday when LSU took the court after their head coach, John Brady, was given the pink slip. The result was a hard-fought 47-45 win as Tennessee remained a game-and-half ahead of Kentucky in the SEC East Division race. The truth of the matter is the Vols won a game they should not have, shooting just 32 percent from the field and 27 percent (4-for-15) from the free throw line. For what it’s worth, though, teams that win as a double-digit favorite and score less than 50 points in the victory are 9-5-1 ATS if their next game is against a conference foe, including 3-0 SU & ATS as a single-digit favorite. Let’s see how they perform when they host red-hot Arkansas this Wednesday.

No. 8: Wisconsin Badgers -  The Badgers were burrowed on their revered home court Saturday night, resulting in a stunning 5-point loss to suddenly surging Purdue. As a result Wisconsin trails the Boilermakers by a half a game in the Big 10 standings. A quick look at the stat sheet had to have Bo Ryan pulling out his hair as the Badgers canned 30-of-33 shots from the free throw stripe while outrebounding Purdue, 42-21. They take on a pair of teams they’ve defeated this season, at Indiana on Wednesday, and home versus Minnesota on Saturday. Wisky is just 5-10-1 ATS in their last sixteen games against a conference opponent playing with same season revenge. It’s test time for Bo’s boys this week.

No. 9: Stanford Cardinal - The Cardinal performed as expected in a 71-56 win-no-cover performance at home against Oregon State Saturday to pick up their 20th win of the season. Coupled with UCLA’s upset loss at Washington, Stanford now finds itself tied with the Bruins atop the Pac-10 standings. They’ll invade the desert in Arizona this week to take on the Sun Devils and Wildcats, a pair of clubs they defeated in Stanford earlier this season. A season sweep will likely prove difficult, despite the Cardinal’s dominance over Arizona State (22-3 SU & 17-7-1 ATS). The aforementioned win over Arizona earlier this year snapped a six-game series losing skid by Stanford.

No. 10: Michigan State Spartans - Beating Northwestern by a margin is like running a marathon uphill. In the 234 games they’ve played under Carmody’s command, the Wildcats have lost just 20 of them by 20 or more points. "Like Coach (Izzo) said, a 15-point win against Northwestern is like a 25-point win against any other team. The style they play, the way they slow the game down and run the shot clock, I think we're feeling pretty good about the game,” MSU C Drew Neitzel said after the game. The Spartans travel to Purdue Tuesday night knowing they are 6-0 ATS in this series when the Boilermakers are off an underdog win. They conclude the week at Indiana on Saturday, in a series that has seen the home team go 9-1 ATS the last 10 meetings.

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Televised Tip Sheet
By Brian Edwards

Bettors have 14 board games on tap Tuesday, including a crucial Big Ten showdown. Also, North Carolina is back in action after Sunday’s thrilling win over Clemson, while Vanderbilt will look to cool off a surging Kentucky squad in Music City.

Let’s take a look…

**Michigan State at Purdue**

--Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened this game as a pick ‘em with a total of 132, but most sports books started out with the Boilermakers as 1 ½-point favorites.

--Michigan State (20-3 straight up, 10-8 against the spread) bounced back from a horrible loss at Penn State by beating Northwestern 70-55 on Saturday. However, the Spartans failed to cover the number as 18-point home favorites. The non-cover was the eighth in 11 games for Tom Izzo’s team.

--Purdue (19-5 SU, 12-9 ATS) has won nine in a row, compiling an 8-1 spread record during that surge. The Boilermakers are off a 72-67 win at Wisconsin as 10-point underdogs. Robbie Hummel paced the winners with a game-high 21 points.

--Purdue owns a 13-2 SU record at home, but the Boilers are just 5-7 ATS in West Lafayette.

--Matt Painter’s team punished Michigan St. in a 62-38 victory as 1 ½-point home favorites last year. Purdue has taken the cash in each of the last three meetings against the Spartans.

--The ‘under’ is 6-1 in the last seven head-to-head meetings between these Big Ten adversaries.

--The ‘over’ is 12-9 overall for the Boilermakers, 7-5 in their home games. The ‘over’ is 10-9 overall for the Spartans.

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

**North Carolina at Virginia**

--LVSC opened North Carolina (22-2 SU, 16-5 ATS) as an 8 ½-point favorite with a total of 159.

--UNC pulled out a miracle cover in Sunday’s 103-93 win over Clemson as a nine-point ‘chalk.’ The Tar Heels trailed for most of regulation and took the money only after outscoring the Tigers 13-3 in the second overtime. Tyler Hansbrough led the way with 39 points and 13 rebounds, while Wayne Ellington added 28 points.

--Virginia (11-11 SU, 7-10 ATS) is mired in the cellar of the ACC with an atrocious 1-8 record. The Cavaliers have lost six in a row, including Saturday’s 80-64 defeat at Wake Forest as 4½-point underdogs.

--UVA has lost five straight ATS. Dating back further, the Cavs are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games.

--UNC point guard Ty Lawson is “doubtful” with a sprained ankle. He averages 13.6 points and 5.7 assists per game.

--Virginia is led by Sean Singletary, who averages 18.6 PPG and 5.9 APG. He has scored in double figures in every game this year.

--The ‘over’ is on a 7-2 run for UNC.

--The 'under' is 9-8 overall for UVA, but the 'over' is 5-3 in its home games.

--Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.

**Kentucky at Vanderbilt**

--LVSC opened Vanderbilt (20-4 SU, 11-12 ATS) as a 2½-point ‘chalk’ with a 145-point tally. As of early this morning, most books had the Commodores at 3 ½.

--Kentucky (12-9 SU, 9-8 ATS) has won five straight games both SU and ATS. The Wildcats beat Alabama 62-52 Saturday as six-point home favorites. Ramel Bradley returned to the lineup to score a team-high 19 points. Bradley had missed Wednesday’s victory at Auburn after suffering a concussion against Georgia.

--After losing four of its first six SEC games, Vandy has won three straight, including a thrilling 66-65 victory Saturday at South Carolina. Jermaine Beal took the ball the length of the floor with six seconds left and buried a short fadeaway with 0.6 ticks remaining. Beal’s game winner lifted the Commodores to victory as two-point underdogs.

--Kevin Stallings’ team is undefeated in 14 home games, but the ‘Dores are 5-8 versus the number.

--The ‘Cats have taken the cash in nine of the last 12 games against Vandy. They lost a 67-65 decision in Nashville last year, but that was enough to hook up their backers as 2½-point road underdogs.

--Vandy has watched the ‘under’ go 8-1 in its last nine games, but the 'over' is 9-4 for the 'Dores at home. 

--The ‘under’ is 6-2 in the last eight head-to-head meetings.

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

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Villanova still hooked up its backers as a 12-point underdog in Monday’s 55-53 loss at Georgetown, but for a bubble team like Jay Wright’s, it was a gut-wrenching defeat. And the game should’ve undoubtedly been decided in overtime. You think John Clougherty made a horrible call against Seton Hall’s Gerald Greene to put Michigan’s Rumeal Robinson on the free-throw line in the 1989 national-title game? That quick whistle from Clougherty was nothing compared to the inexplicable call 75 feet from the basket with 0.1 seconds left that allowed the Hoyas’ Jonathan Wallace to drain the game-winning free throws.

--Louisville is a 7½-point favorite tonight at Depaul. ESPNU will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

--The last call for gamblers will come at 10:00 p.m. Eastern when UNLV plays host to Air Force at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. LVSC opened the Runnin' Rebels as 11 1/2-point favorites, but most spots had UNLV at 14 early this morning. 

--I’m on a 41-16 run (72%) in college basketball since Jan. 22, leading “dime players” to $23,500 of profit. Click here for tonight’s plays.

vegasinsider.com

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Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers

- The Boston Celtics and the Indiana Pacers will both be trying to pick up a win on Tuesday when they battle at Conseco Fieldhouse.

The Celtics lost to San Antonio 98-90 as a 2.5-point favorite last time out. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (178).

Paul Pierce scored a game-high 35 points for Boston, while Ray Allen added 19 points in the win.

Danny Granger threw down a game-high 29 points in leading Indiana to a 101-93 win over Portland last time out. Indiana covered the 4.5-point spread at home, while the combined score fell UNDER the posted total of 199.5.

Travis Diener scored 15 points, and Troy Murphy tossed in 13 for Indiana.

Current streak:
Boston has won 3 straight games.
Indiana has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
Boston: 39-9 SU, 30-17-1 ATS
Indiana: 21-30 SU, 25-25-1 ATS

Boston most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing New York are 6-4
After playing San Antonio are 5-5
After a win are 5-5

Indiana most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 4-6
Before playing Detroit are 5-5
After playing Portland are 5-5
After a win are 3-7

A few trends to consider:
Boston is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Indiana
Boston is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Indiana
Boston is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
Boston is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Indiana's last 5 games at home
Indiana is 17-8 SU in its last 25 games when playing at home against Boston
Indiana is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Indiana's last 6 games

Next up:
Boston home to New York, Wednesday, February 13
Indiana at Detroit, Wednesday, February 13

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Detroit Pistons vs. Atlanta Hawks

- The Detroit Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks will both be trying to pick up a win on Tuesday when they battle at Philips Arena.

The Pistons defeated Charlotte 113-87 as a 12-point favorite last time out. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (188).

Tayshaun Prince netted 21 points for Detroit and Richard Hamilton added 18 points in the win.

The Hawks lost 108-89 to the Rockets last time out, as 9-point underdogs on the road. The combined 197 points sailed OVER the posted total of 184.

Josh Childress shot 4-for-7 from the field with 18 points and four rebounds in a losing effort.

Current streak:
Detroit has won 8 straight games.
Atlanta has lost 2 straight games.

Team records:
Detroit: 37-13 SU, 29-20-1 ATS
Atlanta: 22-26 SU, 24-24 ATS

Detroit most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing Indiana are 7-3
After playing Charlotte are 6-4
After a win are 8-2

Atlanta most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 3-7
Before playing Charlotte are 3-7
After playing Houston are 4-6
After a loss are 4-6

A few trends to consider:
Detroit is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Detroit is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games when playing Atlanta
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Detroit's last 6 games when playing on the road against Atlanta
Detroit is 7-2 SU in its last 9 games when playing on the road against Atlanta
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Atlanta's last 6 games when playing at home against Detroit
Atlanta is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games at home
Atlanta is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games at home
Atlanta is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games when playing Detroit

Next up:
Detroit home to Indiana, Wednesday, February 13
Atlanta at Charlotte, Wednesday, February 13

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Minnesota Timberwolves vs. New Jersey Nets

- The Minnesota Timberwolves and the New Jersey Nets will both be gunning for a victory on Tuesday when they meet at Izod Center.

The Timberwolves lost to Toronto 105-82 as a 6-point underdog in Sunday. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (194).

Al Jefferson led Minnesota with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Marko Jaric netted 11 points in the loss.

The Nets defeated Dallas 101-82 as a 6-ponit underdog last time out. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (188).

Vince Carter scored a game-high 29 points to go along with nine rebounds for the Nets, while Richard Jefferson added 19 points in the win.

Current streak:
Minnesota has lost 3 straight games.
New Jersey has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
Minnesota: 10-39 SU, 23-25-1 ATS
New Jersey: 22-29 SU, 20-30-1 ATS

Minnesota most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing LA Lakers are 2-8
After playing Toronto are 7-3
After a loss are 4-6

New Jersey most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing Toronto are 6-4
After playing Dallas are 5-5
After a win are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Minnesota's last 5 games
Minnesota is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games when playing New Jersey
Minnesota is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games when playing New Jersey
Minnesota is 8-2-1 ATS in its last 11 games
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of New Jersey's last 7 games at home
New Jersey is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing at home against Minnesota
The total has gone OVER in 8 of New Jersey's last 11 games when playing at home against Minnesota
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of New Jersey's last 7 games

Next up:
Minnesota home to LA Lakers, Wednesday, February 13
New Jersey at Toronto, Wednesday, February 13

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Denver Nuggets vs. Miami Heat

- The fans at AmericanAirlines Arena will be treated to a game between the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat when they take their seats on Tuesday.

The Nuggets defeated Cleveland 113-83 as a 1-point favorite last time out. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (206.5).

Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points for Denver and Allen Iverson added 25 points and 13 assists in the win.

The Heat lost to the Lakers 104-94 as an 8-point underdog last time out. The combined score fell UNDER The posted over/under total (208).

Mark Blount led the Heat with 22 points, while Shawn Marion had 15 points and 14 rebounds in his Miami debut.

Current streak:
Denver has won 2 straight games.
Miami has lost 7 straight games.

Team records:
Denver: 31-19 SU, 27-23 ATS
Miami: 9-41 SU, 17-32-1 ATS

Denver most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 7-3
Before playing Orlando are 7-3
After playing Cleveland are 5-5
After a win are 5-5

Miami most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 9-1
Before playing Chicago are 3-7
After playing LA Lakers are 7-3
After a loss are 1-9

A few trends to consider:
Denver is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing Miami
Denver is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
Denver is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
Denver is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
Miami is 9-3 SU in its last 12 games when playing at home against Denver
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Miami's last 7 games when playing Denver
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Miami's last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Miami's last 6 games at home

Next up:
Denver at Orlando, Wednesday, February 13
Miami at Chicago, Thursday, February 14

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Sacramento Kings vs. Memphis Grizzlies

- The Sacramento Kings and the Memphis Grizzlies will both be gunning for a victory on Tuesday when they meet at FedExForum.

The Kings fell 105-102 to the Warriors on Saturday, as 7-point road underdogs. The combined 207 points fell UNDER the posted total of 224.5.

Ron Artest hit a double-double for the Kings, scoring 23 points and hauling down 13 boards.

The Grizzlies lost 112-99 to the Hornets last time out, as 14-point underdogs on the road. The combined score made it OVER the posted total of 203.

Rudy Gay had a team-high 26 points for Memphis, and Mike Miller added 18 in the loss.

Current streak:
Memphis has lost 6 straight games.

Team records:
Sacramento: 23-26 SU, 27-22 ATS
Memphis: 13-37 SU, 23-27 ATS

Sacramento most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 4-6
Before playing Houston are 3-7
After playing Golden State are 6-4
After a loss are 6-4

Memphis most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing Philadelphia are 3-7
After playing New Orleans are 3-7
After a loss are 3-7

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Sacramento's last 6 games when playing on the road against Memphis
Sacramento is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing Memphis
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Sacramento's last 5 games when playing Memphis
Sacramento is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Memphis's last 6 games when playing at home against Sacramento
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Memphis's last 5 games when playing Sacramento
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Memphis's last 11 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Memphis's last 7 games at home

Next up:
Sacramento at Houston, Wednesday, February 13
Memphis at Philadelphia, Wednesday, February 13

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New Orleans Hornets vs. Chicago Bulls

- The New Orleans Hornets and the Chicago Bulls will both be trying to pick up a win on Tuesday when they battle at United Center.

The Hornets were in tough Saturday, but came away with a 112-99 victory over the Grizzlies. The Hornets failed to cover the 14-point spread, while the combined score made it OVER the posted total of 203.

David West scored a game-high 33 points and hauled down 10 rebounds for a double-double for the Hornets.

The Bulls lost 97-87 to the Jazz last time out, as 12-point road underdogs. The combined score fell UNDER the posted total of 202.5.

Thabo Sefolosha shot 7-for-21 from the field with 22 points and seven rebounds in the loss.

Current streak:
New Orleans has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
New Orleans: 34-15 SU, 30-18-1 ATS
Chicago: 20-30 SU, 21-29 ATS

New Orleans most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing Milwaukee are 7-3
After playing Memphis are 6-4
After a win are 9-1

Chicago most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 6-4
Before playing Miami are 6-4
After playing Utah are 2-8
After a loss are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 6 of New Orleans's last 7 games when playing Chicago
The total has gone OVER in 5 of New Orleans's last 6 games
New Orleans is 9-2 ATS in its last 11 games on the road
New Orleans is 9-2 SU in its last 11 games on the road
Chicago is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Chicago's last 7 games when playing New Orleans
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Chicago's last 5 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Chicago's last 5 games

Next up:
New Orleans at Milwaukee, Wednesday, February 13
Chicago home to Miami, Thursday, February 14

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Hackett out indefinitely because of back spasms

The sophomore point guard will not require surgery for the condition but must complete a core-strengthening program to alleviate the back spasms.

USC sophomore point guard Daniel Hackett was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back Monday night and will be sidelined indefinitely, according to a statement released by the school.

Hackett will not require surgery for the condition but must complete a core-strengthening program to alleviate the back spasms that have plagued him since he bruised his right pelvis during a fall Jan. 31 against Arizona.

Needing a break
Needing a break
click to enlarge

A timetable for Hackett's return will be determined once his spasms subside and his core strength level is evaluated.

Before he was examined by Dr. Robert G. Watkins at the Marina Spine Center in Marina del Rey on Monday night, Hackett had expressed optimism that his condition was not serious.

"I'm not worried," Hackett said. "We'll see what the X-rays say and then we'll go from there."

The 6-foot-5 guard said that he remained a little stiff and sore from his pelvis injury but that he was "positive about the whole thing. . . . I hurt my back in high school, and I know for a fact that feeling is nothing like I have right now. It was way more painful back in the day."

Hackett was sidelined for nearly two months because of a broken vertebra during his junior year at Bellflower St. John Bosco High.

After suffering his pelvis injury less than two minutes into the Arizona game, Hackett returned two days later against Arizona State and played 18 minutes.

He played 27 minutes against Washington on Thursday, when he sprained his right ankle, and then played 24 minutes against Washington State on Saturday.

Any extended loss of Hackett would be a serious blow to the Trojans, who next play host to UCLA on Sunday at the Galen Center. Though freshmen O.J. Mayo and Angelo Johnson play point guard, the loss of Hackett would leave USC without a scholarship perimeter substitute.

Freshman Marcus Simmons is still recovering from an ankle injury, and sophomore Ryan Wetherell and junior Terence Green are walk-ons who seldom play.

Hackett averages 9.4 points and a team-leading 3.6 assists.

The Trojans are scheduled to resume practice today after taking Monday off.

latimes.com

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Feb 12

Tuesday’s Pregame Buzz

NBA

Detroit Pistons at Atlanta Hawks


* Pistons are riding an 8-game winning streak but are just 4-4 ATS during that stretch, failing to cover 4 of their last 6.
* Pistons are 6-11 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
* Hawks are 6-3 ATS in the last 9 meetings.
       
Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers

* The Celtics have been without Kevin Garnett for the past 7 games due to an abdominal strain, going 5-2 in those contests. Garnett will miss this game as well, but the team has stepped up in his absence. Paul Pierce scored 35 points in his last game, and the little-used Leon Powe is averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds over those last 7 games. EDGE: CELTICS
* The Pacers have won consecutive games and sit just a game out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. "We're riding a little high right now,” said Indiana guard Kareem Rush, who has averaged 14 poing per game in his last 12. Rush is giving an offensive boost to a team that is dealing with injuries, including point guard Jamaal Tinsley (knee), who has been shut down until after the All-Star break. EDGE: PACERS
* Celtics are 8-1 ATS in the last 9 meetings.
* Pacers are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 Tuesday games.
* Underdog is 11-2 ATS in the last 13 meetings.
       
Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat

* The Nuggets are going for their sixth straight victory over the Heat. Denver has won 5 straight in the series by an average of 12 points and is led by Carmelo Anthony, who is averaging 32 points and 9 rebounds while shooting 55.7 percent from the field in 5 February games. Anthony scored 30 points in Denver's latest victory over the Heat on December 2nd. EDGE: NUGGETS
* Miami has lost 22 of 23 to claim the NBA's worst record - even with the addition of Shawn Marion to the lineup on Sunday. Marion totaled 15 points and 14 rebounds in his debut with the Heat, who still lost by 10 points and failed to cover against the Lakers. EDGE: NUGGETS
* Nuggets are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games against the Southeast Division.
* Heat are 6-26 ATS in their last 32 home games.
* The OVER is 17-6-1 in Miami's last 24 games vs. Northwest Division.

New Orleans Hornets at Chicago Bulls

* New Orleans point guard Chris Paul is coming off a season-low 2 points in a 112-99 win over Memphis on Saturday. Paul hit just 1-of-10 shots from the field but did make up for it with 16 assists. This matchup could be the deciding factor in the game with Chicago's Kirk Hinrich nursing a rib injury that has kept him out the last 3 games. Hinrich is expected to return, but make sure to check the Pregame Wire for the latest status update. EDGE: HORNETS
* Chicago is returning home from its second and final West Coast road trip of the season. The Bulls were just 2-4 SU on the trek but covered their last 5 games after losing by 16 points at Minnesota.
* Hornets are 40-19-1 ATS in their last 60 games overall. They beat the Hawks 90-78 as a 5.5-point favorite following their first 6-game trip of the season. SLIGHT EDGE: BULLS
* Bulls are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 home games.
* The OVER is 22-9-1 ATS in Chicago's last 32 games vs. Southwest Division.

CBB

#9 Michigan State at #23 Purdue


* Michigan State is holding its opponents to 39 percent shooting overall and 32.2 percent shooting from 3-point range. The Spartans have held 13 of 23 opponents below 40 percent shooting after holding 23 of 35 opponents below 40 percent shooting last season. EDGE: UNDER
* The Spartans have a Big Ten-best +8.7 rebounding margin, ranking sixth in the nation. MSU is 19-1 this season when out-rebounding its opponent. EDGE: MICHIGAN STATE
* Purdue leads the all-time series with Michigan State, 60-43, including a 37-14 advantage in games played in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers dropped the first meeting this season in East Lansing, 78-75, despite attempting 22 more shots than the Spartans. EDGE: PURDUE
* Purdue has won its last 9 games and 12 of its last 13 overall. The Boilermakers are 13-1 at home and 6-0 at home in Big Ten games. BIG EDGE: PURDUE
* Michigan State is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games overall.
* Purdue is 20-6 ATS in its last 26 games against the Big Ten.
* Purdue is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games overall.
* Favorite is 8-3 ATS in the last 11 meetings.

#5 North Carolina at Virginia

* North Carolina is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 road games.
* Virginia is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games overall.
* Home team is 7-2-1 ATS in the last 10 meetings.

Kentucky at #19 Vanderbilt

* None of Kentucky’s 8 SEC foes have scored more than 70 points in regulation during the 2007-08 season so far. EDGE: UNDER
* The Wildcats are 308-107 all-time against schools from the Volunteer State (Tennessee). EDGE: KENTUCKY
* After playing 6 of its first 9 SEC games away from home, Vanderbilt returns to the friendly confines of Memorial Gym. The Commodores are 14-0 at home in the 2007-08 season and have won 27 of its last 28 home games. BIG EDGE: VANDERBILT
* Vanderbilt is one of only 2 teams in the SEC to have at least 3 seniors averaging over 15 minutes per contest. EDGE: VANDERBILT
* Kentucky is 9-3 ATS in the last 12 meetings.
* Vanderbilt is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games overall.
* The UNDER is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings.

Pregame.com

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Balance, defense help No. 12 Xavier take control of Atlantic 10
February 12, 2008

CINCINNATI (AP) -The play epitomized Xavier's season.

The Musketeers were down one point against Saint Joseph's with under a minute to play on Sunday. Senior guard Stanley Burrell took matters into his hands, driving the baseline into a crowd of defenders.

Instead of forcing a shot in a crowd, he passed the ball to point guard Drew Lavender, who had a decent shot from the top of the key.

Shoot? No way.

Lavender caught the ball and passed it in one motion to 3-point specialist B.J. Raymond, who was unguarded in the left corner. Raymond's 3-pointer with 45 seconds left put Xavier ahead to stay and showed why the Musketeers are such a tough team to beat.

This is by far their most balanced team since they returned to national prominence in the 1980s.

``That's a team that's headed to the Top 10,'' Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said, after Xavier held on for a 76-72 win. ``They're not going into the Top 10 this week, but that's where they're headed.''

The Musketeers (20-4) are going places they haven't been for some time.

They moved up a spot to No. 12 in The Associated Press' poll on Monday, their highest ranking since they also were No. 12 in the final poll of 2003. That's the season when David West, Romain Sato and Lionel Chalmers led the Musketeers to a 26-6 record and a second-round loss in the NCAA tournament.

A year later, the Musketeers had one of their best seasons, going 26-11 and coming within one victory of their first Final Four appearance. It ended with a 66-63 loss to Duke in a regional final.

This team is doing it without a surefire NBA player. Five players average double figures in an attack so balanced that defenses can't latch onto one shooter. The decisive basket against Saint Joseph's was a prime example.

``That's how unselfish we are,'' said Lavender, one of the nation's leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio. ``Nobody cares who takes the big shot. We just want to win. Stan could have easily forced up a shot, but he kicked it out to me. I could have forced a shot, but I saw B.J. in the corner.''

The comeback tightened Xavier's hold on first place. The Musketeers are 8-1 in Atlantic 10 play, two games better than Saint Joseph's and Rhode Island. They have games left at Rhode Island, at Dayton and at Saint Joseph's.

``It's a real big win for us, but we're not going to look at it like we've got breathing room now,'' Lavender said. ``We're going to keep it up.''

Since they faded in the final minutes of an 82-75 loss to Tennessee on Dec. 22, the Musketeers have gone on an impressive run. They've won 12 of their last 13 games, 10 of them by double-digits.

``The one thing this team has done a good job of is never really putting the cart before the horse,'' coach Sean Miller said. ``Our focus right now is to compete for the conference championship. I think everybody understands the best way to do that is to be very consistent every day. We've done that the whole way through.''

Xavier leads the conference in scoring margin, field goal percentage and free throw percentage. The Musketeers are second in points allowed and hold opponents to the lowest field goal and 3-point shooting percentages in the conference.

Also, they have the best rebounding margin in the conference.

Martelli has seen a lot of good Xavier teams during his 13 seasons at Saint Joseph's, and is impressed with this one's defense, balance and grit.

``This team has a lot of Sean in them, I think,'' Martelli said. ``He looks mild-mannered and Clark Kent-like, but he's going to fight you and scrap you whether it's recruiting or on the sideline. They have a lot of that in them with this team.''

Especially their three seniors.

Lavender runs a patient offense that is one of the nation's most efficient. Guard Stanley Burrell has become the team's top perimeter defender, shutting down the other team's top scorer each game. Forward Josh Duncan has become an inside threat as well as an outside shooter.

``Their mind is in the right place, every one of them,'' Miller said. ``Our players clearly allow those three guys to lead them.''

They've welcomed the chance to set the tone.

``This team is so tough,'' Burrell said. ``We're poised, too. We've been in situations where we've had our backs against the wall, and what are we going to do? We fought with everything we had.''

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Johnson's improvements at point guard help Stanford back into Top-10
February 11, 2008

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -It would be easy to overlook Mitch Johnson on a Stanford team dominated by the 7-foot twins Brook and Robin Lopez in the paint.

Yet Johnson's ability to drive with authority, feed the brothers inside and confidently knock down his own jumper is a big reason the Cardinal have climbed back into the Top 10 for the first time in four years.

Those are the things he didn't do with nearly such consistency during his sub-par sophomore season a year ago.

This season he has helped No. 7 Stanford, up two spots this week, to a share of first place in the Pac-10 with UCLA after the Bruins lost at Washington on Sunday.

``We're going to go as far as Mitch takes us,'' fellow guard Anthony Goods said.

The Cardinal already have the first 20-win season during fourth-year coach Trent Johnson's tenure. They are riding a seven-game winning streak in the talented Pac-10, their longest unbeaten league stretch since Mike Montgomery's final season at Stanford in 2003-04. The team finished that year ranked No. 1.

It's impossible not to notice the two 7-footers in the middle - the Lopezes weigh a combined 515 pounds and block shots with a vengeance. Brook Lopez returned for a second college season but is widely expected to bolt for the NBA and forego his final two years on The Farm after missing time early this season with academic problems.

Johnson and Goods challenge themselves each day to make smart decisions in the backcourt that will allow their big men to shine in a conference featuring several other talented frontcourt tandems.

``I think a lot of it has been mental more than anything,'' said Johnson, one of Stanford's captains. ``A lot of it has been just relaxing and playing the game and not trying to do too much or something I'm not usually accustomed to doing, not trying to be someone else or something else.''

His teammates have noticed the major turnaround. Johnson has started all 23 games and has improved his shooting percentage from 36 percent a year ago to 45 percent this season. He is averaging 6.7 points, 4.7 assists and 4.0 rebounds and has a team-leading 19 steals. He tweaked his shot and has found a nice rhythm from the perimeter.

``He had to find himself on the court,'' forward Lawrence Hill said.

In a 72-43 rout of Oregon last Thursday night, Johnson hit a 3-pointer early in the game, then dished to Brook Lopez the next time down. Johnson also had a layin off a steal that rolled around the rim before falling in, the kind of break he didn't get often last year.

The Cardinal are going to need that type of play from Johnson if they want to make it to the third round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001.

``To waver from what we've been doing on and off the court would be very disappointing at this time because we've worked so hard to get where we're at,'' Johnson said. ``We still have a lot of season left to play and we really haven't reached any goals. We're still on the journey.''

It hasn't always been pretty for a Stanford team whose strength is defense. The Cardinal even won a game earlier this season against Southern California when they shot just 27 percent.

``This group is what it is. Everybody wants this group to be the next coming of the Lakers. It ain't happening,'' Trent Johnson said. ``If we take a step back, it could get ugly.''

Mitch Johnson is the 6-foot-1, 190-pound son of former NBA All-Star John Johnson, who started on the Seattle SuperSonics' 1979 championship team. Mitch Johnson won two state titles at O'Dea High School in Seattle and was named a state tournament MVP and also was part of a successful AAU team with NBA player Martell Webster and Washington star Jon Brockman.

``There's not a level of basketball he's not been exposed to,'' Trent Johnson said. ``Mitch has always been a guy who impacts the game without shooting the ball and without scoring. To the untrained eye, that's hard for people to respect and understand.''

The coach told his players when they cracked the Top 10 not to let the recognition that comes with a higher ranking interfere with what Stanford is trying to do - reminding them what it took to get there.

And this is another important week for the Cardinal, who play at Arizona State on Thursday and then travel to play Arizona in Tucson on Saturday.

``This is new territory for them. What I told them is nothing changes,'' Trent Johnson said. ``Yes, it's a reward. It's good at this time of year to be thought of like that, but how did we get there? That's part of my responsibility and my job as a coach to be proactive. There's not a guy in that locker room who's been a major player or had a major role on a team that's been ranked this high. ...

``They're pretty grounded.''

He is proud of how his point guard has ``overachieved'' and made the necessary adjustments to lead the team, be more relaxed and stay within himself. Early in the season, teams pressured Stanford from all angles to see how Johnson would handle different situations.

``People understand that for us to be successful we have to get good guard play,'' Trent Johnson said. ``When you're 7-feet tall and you're talented, if the ball's thrown in there, so be it, you have an advantage.''

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Feb 12

Mavs flying under the radar
By Stephen Nover

The Dallas Mavericks have a losing road record. They have injuries and are off back-to-back bad losses against the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.

So this is the best time to take the Mavericks on the future book where you can still find odds as high as 8-1.

Dallas is struggling. So now is the time to get value because the Mavericks have as good an opportunity as any of the other elite teams to win the championship.

Make no mistake. The Mavericks remain an elite team despite their 12-14 away mark and current injuries to Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier.

Let’s not forget Dallas’ 67-15 regular-season record last season, best in the NBA. Dirk Nowitzki is the reigning MVP and is continuing blossoming into a great all-around player. Josh Howard is one of the most underrated players in the league, averaging 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.

Harris is an emerging point guard. He’s missed the past eight games because of a bruised left ankle, but isn’t going to be out forever.

Dampier, DeSagana Diop and Brandon Bass provide front-court depth. They are capable of handling the big men in the Western Conference with their defensive skills, rebounding abilities and 18 fouls to give.

Dallas has a veteran bench with Stackhouse, Eddie Jones, Trenton Hassell, Devean George and Juwan Howard.

The Mavericks learned a crucial lesson from their shocking first-round loss to Golden State last season. They now are all about winning the playoffs, aiming to peak at the right time rather than going for the best record.

Thanks to Avery Johnson, the Mavericks remain committed to improving their defense. They’ve allowed an average of 90.5 points during their past nine games. That would rank them third in the NBA if computed for the entire season.

Keep in mind, too, Dallas still might add another key piece before the Feb. 21 trade deadline. Jason Kidd perhaps?

Don’t be distracted by the Mavericks’ less than sparkling record and current form. The chemistry remains good. Every top team has a flaw or serious question.

San Antonio is a mediocre 10-8 during its last 18 games. The Spurs’ aging bench is another year older.

Phoenix might have gotten worse not better by dealing Shawn Marion for a washed-up Shaquille O’Neal. How bad could the Suns’ chemistry have been when they probably would have won the championship last season if not for unfairly getting key players suspended during their series against San Antonio?

Boston’s bench has been better than expected, but Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have proven brittle and Kevin Garnett already has gotten hurt.

Detroit is too old. The Pistons’ window of opportunity has closed.

New Orleans doesn’t have the pedigree. The Hornets are headed down after nearly reaching top level status.

Utah is solid, but lacks the defense to go all the way.

The Los Angeles Lakers made a strong statement by heisting Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol, though, can be soft.

The Mavericks made a big media splash last season. They earned home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. It meant nothing because they had first-round matchup problems against Golden State.

There are none of those distractions now because Dallas swims under the radar screen. The Mavericks still are thought of as dangerous. But it’s the Suns, Lakers and Celtics drawing the publicity. Even Mark Cuban has been fairly quiet.

Forget not having home-court advantage. Elite teams overcome it during the playoffs. The key is to peak come post-season, not in February. The Mavericks are going to be involved. The time to back them at a favorable price range is now before their upcoming momentum begins.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Feb 12

Bulls G Kirk Hinrich (bruised ribs) and G Chris Duhon (knee/back) are upgraded to probable for tonight's game.

Warriors F Mickael Pietrus is unhappy with his role on the team and wants to be traded.

Celtics C Kendrick Perkins is expected to miss tonight's game with a strained shoulder.

Bucks C Andrew Bogut has been playing with a hip injury, according to head coach Larry Krystkowiak.

Nets F Vince Carter received a cortisone shot to his right ankle at the end of January, and has been playing his best basketball of the season.

The Knicks were recently proposed a trade that would have sent Fred Jones, Quentin Richardson and Malik Rose to the Bulls for Ben Wallace.

Hornets C Tyson Chandler (flu) has practiced two consecutive days and said he will play tonight.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Feb 12

ASA: Overrated/Underrated
February 12, 2008

Overrated – Underrated on the Collegiate Hardwood

History and recent past results often lead to future preconceptions. A good year or a run of good seasons or a bad year or run of bad seasons give certain teams a reputation of being either a great team or an awful team. Things change, though, but these reputations don’t. This frequently results in certain teams being overrated based on past success and other being underrated based on past failures. Here are a few of each of those cases:

Overrated

Indiana – The Hoosiers are currently second in the Big Ten and 13th in the AP Poll but there may not be team in the top 15 less tested than this one. Indiana’s strength of schedule is 10th in the 11-team Big Ten Conference. It has yet to beat a team currently in the top 25 and picked up just its first victory over a team with an RPI higher than 49 with Sunday’s win over Ohio State.

The Hoosiers’ three losses – at Xavier, at Wisconsin and at home versus Connecticut – have come against their three toughest foes. They just haven’t proven they can beat a good team. Indiana’s nine conference wins have come against teams with a combined conference record of 29-70. The Hoosiers will get a true test over the next week when they take on Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan State over the course of seven days.

Underrated

Purdue – Not much was expected of these Boilermakers as their youth and inexperience made them a prime candidate to break out next year. Nobody expected that breakout to come this season. Purdue, 10-1 in Big Ten action and 19-5 overall, recently made its first appearance in the top 25 and have done so on the strength of a nine-game winning streak.

The Boilers have covered nine of their last 10 outings behind a group of players largely unheralded coming out of high school. Their top four scorers, including three freshmen, are of sophomore or younger status. Most experts would expect a young team like Purdue to struggle on the road but that has not been the case. The Boilers are 6-1 ATS on the road this year and are fresh off an upset of Wisconsin in Madison, which is a nearly impossible venue to win in for visiting teams.

Overrated

Southern Illinois – The Salukis are one of those teams whose reputation exceeds its production this year. They have dominated the Missouri Valley Conference over the past few seasons, earning a No. 4 seed in last year’s NCAA Tourney. This is not the same Southern Illinois team, though. The Salukis are just 12-12 SU on the season despite being favored in 19 of their 24 games. The odds-makers have expected the Salukis of old but those Salukis have not showed up this year.

Road struggles have been the primary factor behind Southern Illinois’ poor record this season. The Salukis are just 1-9 SU and 2-8 ATS away from home this year, averaging just 54 points per game in those nine losses. Southern Illinois has made it to six consecutive NCAA Tournaments but it’s going to take a miracle to make it seven straight.

Underrated

Bradley – Three weeks ago, the Braves were sitting at 1-5 in MVC action and 8-10 overall. Fast forward to the present day and Butler is 7-6 in conference action and 14-11 overall following a 6-1 SU stretch highlighted by six straight covers. The Braves started the season covering just four of their first 14 games. They are currently riding a 7-2 ATS run and nobody has noticed.

Drake has been the talk of the MVC all season long but nobody seems to remember the battle the Bulldogs got when they visited Bradley, In its toughest conference game to date, Drake needed a last-second layup to pull off the win. Since that game, the Braves have gone 6-1 with an average margin of victory of 9.2 points per game. Bradley is playing its best ball of the season right now and could be a legitimate threat to Drake come conference tourney time.

Overrated

Pittsburgh – The Panthers stormed out to a 10-0 start behind an easy non-conference slate and moved to 11-0 following an upset of Duke at Madison Square Garden. Injuries then struck with starting guards Levance Fields and Mike Cook missing a substantial amount of time. The season has unraveled for Pittsburgh since then with the Panthers going just 7-5 SU and 6-5 ATS. The odds-makers haven’t seemed to take notice, though.

The absence of Fields and Cook has been amplified by Pitt’s road struggles. The Panthers are just 2-4 SU in their last six road games with their only wins coming against St. John’s and South Florida, which are a combined 5-17 in Big East play. Their struggles were even more evident in a 13-point home loss to 10-15 Rutgers as 18-point favorites. Yet Pittsburgh remains in the top 25.

Underrated

Maryland – The ACC has been a two-horse race pretty much all season with Duke and North Carolina predictably taking up much of the conference headlines. Maryland has emerged recently, though, to steal some of those headlines. The Terrapins sit just a game behind the Tar Heels with a 6-3 conference record following a four-game winning streak.

Following a Dec. 22 home loss to American University, nobody expected Maryland to be much of a threat in the ACC. The Terrapins have used that unlikely loss as motivation, though, and have gone 10-2 SU and 8-2 ATS since, including an 82-80 upset of UNC. Sophomore guard Greivis Vasquez and senior forward James Gist have led the charge, combining for 40 points, 14.3 rebounds and 10.1 assists per game over Maryland’s four-game winning streak.

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Indiana's A.J. Ratliff will not finish season with Hoosiers
February 12, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -Indiana swingman A.J. Ratliff will not finish his senior season with the Hoosiers.

Ratliff missed the Hoosiers' last two games, but coach Kelvin Sampson said Tuesday those absences were not a disciplinary move. The parting comes after a turbulent season in which Ratliff was declared academically ineligible for the first semester, then slowed by a sprained ankle in December.

``Both of us agreed that it was in his best interests to focus on himself and to work through his personal issues,'' Sampson said in a brief statement released by the athletic department. ``We wish him the best.''

This season, Ratliff averaged 11.3 minutes in nine games, 1.7 points and 1.3 rebounds for the Hoosiers (20-3). He fell behind newcomers Eric Gordon, Jamarcus Ellis and Jordan Crawford in the Hoosiers' rotation and struggled to fit in.

Ratliff was the state's high school Mr. Basketball in 2004, but was slowed by injuries during his first three seasons.

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(9) Butler (21-2, 11-9-2 ATS) at Wisconsin-Milwaukee (12-10, 9-9-1 ATS)

Butler hits the road for the third time in a week when it battles Wisconsin-Milwaukee in a Horizon League contest.

The Bulldogs are riding a five-game winning streak, including consecutive road wins at Valparaiso last Tuesday (71-68 as a three-point favorite) and at Wisconsin-Green Bay on Saturday (62-57 as a six-point chalk). Although Butler sits atop the Horizon standings at 10-2, it is just 2-8-2 ATS in conference, including 0-5-2 ATS on the road.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee has followed up a 9-1 run with two straight losses, both on the road at Horizon League foes Detroit (72-61) and Wright State (53-51). In its most recent contest at Wright State 10 days ago, the Panthers shot just 34.5 percent from the field, but still managed to cover easily as a seven-point road underdog.

Butler has won three straight in this rivalry, cashing in the last two. That includes a 72-56 rout as a 15-point home chalk back on Jan. 12. However, the Bulldogs are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight trips to Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Wisconsin-Milwaukee is 7-5 in the Horizon League (6-5-1 ATS) and has alternated spread-covers in its last seven contests.

The Panthers are 7-4 at home, but only 3-5 ATS in lined games. Dating to last year, they’ve failed to cover in eight of their last 11 at home. On the flip side, Wisconsin-Milwaukee is 7-2 ATS as an underdog of 12 points or fewer this season.

Going back to last season, Butler is 2-10-2 ATS in the Horizon League.

The under is 5-2 in Butler’s last six overall, 12-3 in its last 15 on the highway and 6-1 in the last seven series meetings overall (3-0 in the last three) and 4-1 in the last five clashes at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


(10) Michigan State (20-3, 8-9-2 ATS) at (19) Purdue (19-5, 12-9 ATS)

One of the best games of the week takes place tonight inside Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind., where the red-hot Boilermakers host Michigan State.

Purdue has won nine in a row, with its most recent victory being the most impressive: Saturday’s 72-67 upset at Wisconsin as a 10-point underdog. The Boilermakers, who on a 9-1 ATS spree, became just the second visitor to ever win at Wisconsin’s Kohl Center as they took over first place in the Big Ten at 10-1 SU (9-2 ATS), with the only loss coming last month at Michigan State.

The Spartans bounced back from a stunning loss at Penn State with a tougher-than-it-looks 70-55 victory over Northwestern, failing to cash as an 18½-point home chalk. Michigan State is 8-2 in league play, but just 3-7 ATS (2-2 ATS on the road).

Since starting the season 5-1-1 ATS in lined action, Michigan State is 3-8 against the number.

These teams played a thriller in East Lansing, Mich., on Jan. 8, with the Spartans escaping with a 78-75 victory. Purdue, which got outshot 61 percent to 41.3 percent and outrebounded 33-22 in the defeat, easily cashed as a 13-point road underdog. The Boilermakers are 3-0 ATS in the last three meetings, but the home team is 6-1 SU in the last seven series battles.

Despite Purdue’s spread-cover at Michigan State last month, the favorite is on an 8-3 ATS roll in this rivalry.

The Spartans are mired in ATS funks of 4-10-2 on Tuesdays, 3-9 against the Big Ten and 2-5 following a non-cover.

In addition to its current 9-1 ATS roll, Purdue is 4-1 ATS in its last five at home, 20-6 in its last 26 against the Big Ten and 5-0 ATS on Tuesdays.

These schools topped the total in their meeting last month, ending a 6-0 “under” streak in this series. The under is still 5-1 in the last six battles at Purdue, 3-0 in Purdue’s last three overall, 9-2 in Michigan State’s last 11 on Tuesday and 11-5 in Purdue’s last 16 on Tuesday. However, the over is 3-0 in Michigan State’s last three on the road.

ATS ADVANTAGE: PURDUE and UNDER


Kentucky (12-9, 9-8-1 ATS) at (24) Vanderbilt (20-4, 11-12 ATS)

The streaking Wildcats go for their sixth consecutive SEC win and spread-cover, and try to sweep the regular-season series from Vanderbilt, when these two league rivals clash at Memorial Gym in Nashville.

Kentucky opened SEC play with a 79-73 overtime win over Vanderbilt as a one-point home chalk on Jan. 12, then proceeded to lose their next two at Mississippi State (69-64) and at Florida (81-70 in overtime). Since then, however, the Wildcats are on a 5-0 SU and ATS tear, including Saturday’s 62-52 victory over Alabama as a 6 ½-point home favorite.

Kentucky is only outscoring its opponents 68-62 during the five-game winning streak, but it is outshooting them 53 percent to 38.8 percent (44 percent to 29 percent from three-point land).

Last month’s loss at Kentucky sparked a 1-4 slump for the Commodores, but they’ve since rallied to win three in a row, including Saturday’s 66-65 victory at South Carolina as a two-point road underdog. Vandy has cashed in back-to-back outings after going 1-6 ATS through its first seven SEC contests.

The Wildcats snapped a four-game losing skid to Vanderbilt with the six-point overtime win at home on Jan. 12. Kentucky is 9-3 ATS in the last 12 battles, including 4-1 at Vandy. Meanwhile, the underdog had been on a 4-0 ATS roll in this rivalry before the Wildcats cashed as a one-point chalk last month.

Vanderbilt is 27-1 in its last 28 games inside Memorial Gym, including a perfect 14-0 this year, but just 5-8 ATS in lined contests. That includes 3-0 SU and 1-2 ATS when hosting SEC foes. However, the Commodores are 5-0 ATS as a short favorite this season (seven points or less).

Kentucky started the year 0-5 away from Rupp Arena (1-4 ATS) before winning and covering in its last two at Georgia (63-58) and Auburn (66-63).

The under is 6-2 in the last eight series meetings, including 3-0 in the last three overall. Also, the under is on current runs of 5-0 for Vandy and 4-1 for Kentucky. Conversely, the Commodores have topped the total in 36 of their last 53 home games, going 9-4 “over” at Memorial Gym this season.

ATS ADVANTAGE: KENTUCKY and UNDER


NBA

Detroit (37-13, 29-20-1 ATS) at Atlanta (22-26, 23-24-1 ATS)


The Pistons take an eight-game winning streak down south to Atlanta looking to sweep the season series from the Hawks.

Detroit capped a perfect five-game homestand with Sunday’s 113-87 rout of the Bobcats, cashing easily as a 12-point home chalk. Although the Pistons have won eight in a row, they’re just 2-4 ATS in their last six and 6-11 against the number since a remarkable 18-0-1 ATS streak that stretched from late November to early January.

Atlanta has followed up a three-game winning streak (2-0-1 ATS) with consecutive losses, falling to the Cavs on Friday 100-95 as a four-point home favorite and getting drilled at Houston on Saturday 108-89 as a 9½-point road underdog. The Hawks have won six of nine at home (5-3-1 ATS).

The Pistons are 3-0 against the Hawks this season (2-1 ATS). They squeaked out a 92-91 home win as a 7½-point favorite back in the season’s first week, then posted double-digit routs at Atlanta (106-95) on Dec. 4 and back at home (91-81) on Dec. 14, cashing in both contests. Detroit is 8-2 SU in the last 10 meetings and 7-3-1 ATS in its last 11 visits to Philips Arena.

For the season, Atlanta is 16-10 SU and 14-11-1 ATS at home (4-2-1 ATS in the last seven), with the winner going 22-1-1 ATS in those 24 contests. However, the Hawks are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight as an underdog and 1-6 ATS in their last seven on Tuesday.

Although Detroit is 17-9 on foreign turf this year (14-11-1 ATS), it has split its last eight on the highway, going 1-5 ATS in the last six. On the bright side, the Pistons are on ATS runs of 11-6 when laying 6½ points or less, 14-4 when playing on one day of rest, 12-4 following a double-digit win and 17-8 against the Eastern Conference.

During their eight-game winning streak, the Pistons have held six opponents under 90 points, Meanwhile, the Hawks have reached triple digits in scoring just once in their last eight games.

The over is 4-0 in the last four series clashes in Atlanta, 4-1 in the Hawks’ last five as an underdog, 6-0 in Detroit’s last six against the Southeast Division, 7-0 in Detroit’s last seven on Tuesday and 15-6 in Detroit’s last 21 games as a road chalk.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DETROIT and OVER


New Orleans (34-15, 30-18-1 ATS) at Chicago (20-30, 21-29 ATS)

The Bulls return home from an unsuccessful six-game road trip, and awaiting them are the Hornets, one of the NBA’s best teams both overall and on the road.

Chicago went 2-4 on its road swing, alternating losses and wins in the last five games. On the bright side, the Bulls have cashed in a season-high five consecutive games, including on Saturday at Utah, where Chicago fell 97-87 as a 12-point pup.

The Hornets have been extremely streaky over the last month, winning nine in a row (9-0 ATS), then losing three in a row (0-3 ATS) before winning their last two (1-1 ATS). However, in Saturday’s 112-99 rout of Memphis, New Orleans came up just short as a 14-point home chalk, ending an amazing string in which the straight-up winner had covered the pointspread in 25 consecutive Hornets games.

Chicago has won three straight meetings in this rivalry (2-0-1 ATS) and is 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight clashes (3-1 ATS at home). Finally, the favorite is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six matchups.

The Hornets have been road warriors all year, going 17-7 SU and 16-7-1 ATS. In fact, dating to last year, they’re on a 23-7-1 ATS tear on the highway. They’re on further positive pointspread streaks of 5-1 against the Eastern Conference and 4-1 on Tuesdays.

The Bulls are just 10-13 SU at the United Center, going 8-15 ATS, including 4-10 ATS in the last 14. They’ve also failed to cash in five straight against teams from the Southwest Division.

The over is on streaks of 9-3 for New Orleans overall, 4-1 for Chicago overall, 18-8-1 for New Orleans versus the Central Division, 22-9-1 for Chicago against the Southwest Division and 8-2 in this rivalry (3-2 in Chicago). However, the under is 4-0-1 in the Bulls’ last five at home.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NEW ORLEANS and OVER

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Feb 12

Bobcats F Wallace to sit out against Hawks
February 12, 2008

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -The Charlotte Bobcats will again be without leading scorer Gerald Wallace for Wednesday's game against Atlanta.

Wallace's strained right foot is feeling better, but he will still sit out for the fifth time in six games. With the All-Star break to follow, Wallace will get a week off before the Bobcats play again next week.

Guard Jason Richardson is expected to play against the Hawks despite a sprained left ankle.

Guard Derek Anderson is doubtful with a sore right knee.

The Bobcats have dropped seven in a row after Monday's 106-97 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Feb 12

Pistons G Richard Hamilton (19 ppg; food poisoning) is IN tonight's starting lineup.

Pacers F Mike Dunleavy (18 ppg; knee) has been upgraded to probable for tonight's game.

Pistons G Richard Hamilton (19 ppg; food poisoning) has been upgraded to probable for tonight.

Pitt G Levance Fields (12 ppg; foot) has now been downgraded to doubtful for tonight.

Nets F Richard Jefferson (23 ppg) has a stomach virus and is a game-time decision for tonight's game.

North Carolina G Ty Lawson (14 ppg; shoulder) is NOT in tonight's probable starting lineup.

Providence's leading scorer G Jeff Xavier (12 ppg; foot) is IN tonight's probable starting lineup.

Pitt G Levance Fields (12 ppg; foot) has been upgraded to probable for tonight's game, but is almost certain NOT to start.

Pennsylvania F Tyler Bernardini (13 ppg; concussion) has been added to the injury report as questionable for tonight's game.

Timberwolves G Rashad McCants (15 ppg; ankle) has been downgraded to not expected to play tonight.

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