Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

Tuesday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

There’s no doubt that the most intriguing game of the evening will pit a hot Houston team lacing it up against Boston inside the Toyota Center. Looking to wrap up 23 straight victories, the Rockets are 18-2 against the spread in their last 20 and have done a bang up job on the hardwood without big man Yao Ming in the lineup for the rest of the season.

Without further ado, let’s see where Tuesday will leave the Association.

**Denver at Detroit**

While the Nuggets have been one tough team to face at home with a 28-7 SU record, road games have been a different story. Looking to meet the Pistons on their own home court, Denver is a mortal 12-19 SU and 13-18 ATS away from home. With a 26-6 SU home record of their own, Detroit will look stretch its winning streak to three games. The Pistons next five will be against opponents who have notched ‘Ls’ in its previous outing against the Motown organization. Detroit has held teams to 90.6 PPG in its last five, and is packing a 19-16 ATS record when coming off one-day worth of rest.

**Miami at Milwaukee**

Hitting rock bottom with only 11 wins on the season, Miami will bring its 6-28 SU road record to Milwaukee on Tuesday. The Heat are shooting 45.2-percent from the field away from home and have compiled a 9-18-1 ATS record versus teams with a losing record. Going 2-8 SU and 4-6 ATS in their last 10, the Bucks have been a team to fade. What has been brining in the money is a 15-3 record on the ‘over’ for Milwaukee in the last 19. The Bucks are 2-0 SU and ATS versus the Heat this season.

**New Jersey at Chicago**

In their last two head-to-head meetings, New Jersey stole Chicago’s show in two overtime wins. The Nets covered both games, one as a 2 ½-point favorite, and the last game in New Jersey as a 3 ½-point underdog. The ‘over’ hit in both contests. The Nets snapped a six-game losing streak on Mar. 12 against Cleveland (104-99) and are now looking to nail their fifth ‘over’ in the last six games. The Bulls have been shooting lights out in the last five, racking up 106.8 PPG in their last five appearances.

**L.A. Lakers at Dallas**

The Lakers are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 road games and will be entering Dallas with an effective 22-13 SU and 22-12-1 ATS record on the road. Looking back at a Mar. 2 meeting, L.A. defended its home court with a 108-104 overtime victory (Dallas was able to cover the 6 ½-point spread, while the ‘over’ cashed in for the seventh time in 10 head-to-head meetings). The Mavericks are on a five-game SU and ATS roll, while a 20-17-2 ATS record has been constructed after one-day of rest. Dallas is 8-4-2 ATS this season when paired against teams playing over .500.

**Boston at Houston**

Only once has the total between these two clubs exceed 200 points in the last 10 meetings. The ‘over/under’ has split with a 5-5 record in those 10 head-to-head contests, with Houston taking a 6-4 ATS advantage. Coming off a 104-92 win over the Lakers on Sunday, the Rockets are 19-3 ATS in their last 22 straight wins, and have exceeded 190 points on the total 49-percent of the time this season. When the total has been installed above 200 points, Houston has only seen a 26-percent success rate at exceeding that 200 mark. The Celtics will enter enemy territory with a 41-16-1 ATS record in their last 58 road games.  Boston's Ray Allen has been listed as 'questionable' with an ankle injury. The Rockets' Rafer Alston is coming off a 31-point showing against the Lakers on Sunday, and is averaging 18.6 PPG in the month of March.   

**Golden State at Sacramento**

Coming off two days of rest, the Warriors are 3-6 ATS, but have been a successful 8-2 SU in the last 10. With an 18-14 SU and 16-16 ATS record away from home, Golden State has scored 108.8 PPG, while holding teams to 107.2 PPG on the road. When installed as the favorite in their last 21, the Warriors have gone a ticket tearing 5-16 ATS. For the Kings, a 4-6 SU fall in their last 10 has been a performance worth taking a mulligan on. While Sacramento cashed in on seven straight ‘over’ plays in the last 10, an ‘under’ on Mar. 13 against Portland snapped that total streak.

**Phoenix at Portland**

The Trail Blazers are still in the race to make a playoff appearance but with over a dozen games left, that feat might be hard to accomplish. Facing a Phoenix team with a 19-12 SU road record, Portland must utilize its recent scoring spike of 99 PPG in the last five. However, the Suns have drained an astronomical 118.8 PPG of its own in the last five and have sunk 54.3-percent of its shots from the field. At home, the Blazers are 10-7 ATS at home versus teams with a winning record, but have crashed with a 2-10 ATS record in their last 12 home games.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

NIT Tip Sheet
Brad Young

The National Invitational Tournament has also been called the Not Invited Tournament, and it’s always interesting to see how certain teams react to being in this field. Some squads are still disappointed in missing the Big Dance, and play themselves right out of the tournament while others rally together and end up playing in Madison Square Garden.

There are a couple programs fitting the bill this year with Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Arizona State and Syracuse feeling slighted by the NCAA Tournament committee. It will be interesting to see how far these top seeds advance in the NIT.

There are 12 games on Tuesday’s NIT schedule, a pretty quick turnaround time for teams to get over their Selection Sunday snub. There will be an additional eight games played Wednesday until four teams remain. At that time the NIT moves to one of basketball’s grandest stages, Madison Square Garden in New York City. Let’s take a look at some of Tuesday’s key contests.

**Stephen Austin at UMass**

-Caesars Palace installed UMass as a 9½-point home ‘chalk’ over Stephen Austin, with the total set at 140. This NIT contest is scheduled to tipoff at 6:00 p.m. ET.

-Stephen Austin (25-5 straight up, 0-0 against the spread) won the Southland Conference’s West Division, but lost to Northwestern State in the conference tournament, 69-66.

-The Lumberjacks were cruising at halftime, 36-23, but they were outscored in the second half, 46-30. Forward Josh Alexander is the team’s leading scorer with 16 points per game, but was limited in this affair with foul trouble and only scored nine.

-Stephen Austin is 12-4 SU on the road, winning those games by an average score of 65-58.

-UMass (21-10 SU, 14-13 ATS) saw its NCAA Tournament chances snuffed after losing to UNC Charlotte in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament as a four-point favorite, 69-65. The Minutemen have failed to cover their last two games.

-UMass dominated the first half and entered halftime leading, 36-19, but the school was roughed up in the second half, 50-29. The Minutemen were outrebounded, 44-27, helping UNC Charlotte launch 15 more shots.

-UMass is 12-3 SU and 5-7 ATS at home, winning those affairs by an average score of 82-73.

**UNC Asheville at Ohio State**

-Caesars Palace opened Ohio State as a 15-point home favorite over UNC Asheville, with the total listed at 131. This contest is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. ET.

-UNC Asheville (23-9 SU, 0-1 ATS) tied with Winthrop atop the Big South Conference regular season, but fell to the Eagles as a one-point home ‘chalk,’ 66-48.

-UNC Asheville was outrebounded, 38-27, and shot just 33 percent (17-of-51) from the field. Reid Augst paced the offense with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting while grabbing six rebounds.

-The Bulldogs are 7-6 SU on the road, dropping those affairs by an average score of 72-70.

-Ohio State (19-13 SU, 14-14 ATS) made the NCAA Tournament title game last season, but is now battling in the NIT. The Buckeyes dropped their Big Ten Tournament opener to Michigan State as a 4 ½-point underdog, 67-60.

-Ohio State had no answers for Spartans guard Drew Neitzel who scored 28 points, while the Buckeyes leading scorer was guard/forward David Lighty who had 12 on 5-of-14 shooting.

-Ohio State is 14-3 SU and 6-7 ATS at home, winning those affairs by an average score of 70-58.

**Robert Morris at Syracuse**

-Caesars Palace lists Syracuse as a 14½-point home ‘chalk’ over Robert Morris, with the total set at 155. This contest is slated to start at 8:00 p.m. ET.

-Robert Morris (26-7 SU, 0-0 ATS) won the Northeast Conference regular season title, but was bumped off by Mount St. Mary’s in the tournament, 83-65. The Colonials were riding a 14-game winning streak before suffering that setback.

-Robert Morris owns a 15-3 SU road record, winning those contests by an average score of 74-68.

-Syracuse (19-13 SU, 13-16 ATS) won its last two games during the regular season SU and ATS, but fell to Villanova in the opening round of the Big East Tournament as a 2½-point ‘chalk,’ 82-63.

-The Orange actually led at halftime, 28-27, but were dismantled in the second half, 55-35. Syracuse was outrebounded, 34-20, while allowing the Wildcats to shoot 48 percent (27-of-56).

-The Orange sport a 14-5 SU and 7-9 ATS home record, winning those games by an average score of 84-73.

**Maryland at Minnesota**

-Caesars Palace installed Minnesota as a three-point home favorite over Maryland, with the total listed at 137. This game is scheduled to tipoff at 9:30 p.m. ET.

-Maryland (18-14 SU, 11-15 ATS) plummeted to 1-4 SU and ATS its last five games after falling to Boston College in the ACC Tournament as a 5 ½-point ‘chalk,’ 71-68.

-The Terrapins were outscored in the second half, 46-37, and lost the game despite shooting a blistering 52 percent (27-of-52) from the field. Forward James Gist had 19 points and six rebounds in a losing effort.

-Maryland is 5-8 SU and 6-7 ATS on the road, dropping those outings by an average score of 77-72.

-Minnesota (20-13 SU, 14-14 ATS) won its first two games in the Big Ten Tournament before having its run halted by Illinois as a two-point underdog, 54-50. The Golden Gophers are just 1-4 ATS their last five games.

-Guard Lawrence McKenzie was the only Minnesota player to reach double digits in scoring against the Illini with 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

-The Golden Gophers are 12-4 SU and 7-6 ATS at home, winning those affairs by an average score of 73-62.

-Maryland and Minnesota met back in 2005 with the Terrapins prevailing as a 15-point home favorite, 83-66.

**Alabama State at Arizona State**

-Caesars Palace opened Arizona State as a 19-point home favorite over Alabama State, with the total listed at 128. This contest is scheduled to tipoff at 11:00 p.m. ET.

-Alabama State (20-10 SU, 0-0 ATS) won the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular season title by three games, but was bounced out of NCAA Tournament consideration after losing to Jackson State in overtime, 77-72.

-The Hornets were riding a six-game winning streak heading into that contest, but dropped the game by turning the ball over 15 times.

-Alabama State is 10-8 ATS away from home, winning those games by an average score of 69-67.

-Arizona State (19-12 SU, 15-12 ATS) got the NCAA Tournament snub due to its poor strength of schedule and ratings percentage index numbers. The Sun Devils still could have advanced to the Big Dance but lost to Southern Cal in the Pac-10 Tournament as a 4½-point underdog, 59-55.

-A controversial call on Jeff Pendergraph late in the game sealed ASU’s fate, but the team was outrebounded, 32-19, while shooting just 35 percent (18-of-51) from the field. The Sun Devils kept the game close by forcing the Trojans to commit 19 turnovers.

-Arizona State is 13-4 SU and 8-5 ATS at home, winning those games by an average score of 71-58.

-The Sun Devils are 3-1 ATS their last four games.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

SHARPS TOOK SPECIAL NOTE OF STRUGGLING COLLEGE POWERS
Nick Bogdanovich

One of the hallmarks of "sharp" play in Las Vegas and Reno from professional sports bettors is the ability to find and go against teams that the public is overrating. You might think that "sharps" got that way by knowing which teams are going to play great every year in March Madness. That's not really the case. What's more true is that they became sharp by knowing who WASN'T going to play great!

Most sports fans try to fill out their office pool brackets every year...and they're annually surprised by how poorly they do. They assume that it's because they don't follow the sport closely enough. They also assume that the knowledgeable bettors based in Nevada do a great job of filling out their brackets because they know the game so well. Wrong! Our brackets are as bad as everyone else's! The difference is that we know how to find point spread value in individual games...and that we know which teams are more likely to underachieve than others.

Okay, are brackets are a little better than yours because we weed out some of the pretenders. There's still enough randomness in this event that you can't account for everything. The goal is to put the percentages in your favor. Here's how sharps do that in the Big Dance.

# They remember that the public loves betting on big name teams as favorites.

# They study the game closely enough to know that certain styles do well in playoff style basketball, while others do poorly.

# They put those two together to find teams who are loved by the public, but are likely to stumble under the pressure of neutral court basketball.

Take the Duke Blue Devils for example. This is a team that gets more media coverage than anybody else. The public hears all the hype, and bets money hand over fist on Duke in the tournament. Last year the team couldn't even get past the first round. They were a sixth seed (poor for them), and lost to 11th seeded Virginia Commonwealth. The year before they were taken out by LSU in the Sweet 16...when many pundits had suggested they could go all the way behind the shooting of JJ Redick. It's the ultimate definition of a "public" team.

Do they play a style that can have trouble in playoff style basketball? It might be odd to think that given Coach K's past history in tournaments. The past few years, they really are unsuited to the kind of hoops that's played in the postseason. They launch way too many three-pointers. They are soft inside on defense. They don't rebound well when playing other good teams. And, they tend to hope the refs bail them out whenever they run into traffic. That doesn't happen on neutral courts.

Duke is a prime example of a public team that isn't suited well for tournament basketball. Maybe they'll get hot from long range this year and run the table. It could happen. Sharps will adjust if they see something special from the Duke side. Right now, this is a team they're not going to lay points with. They'll be looking to go the other way at most numbers...particularly if the public has driven the line up 2-3 points because of heavy action.

Let's note other big name programs who didn't impress this weekend:

# Tennessee barely got by a weak South Carolina team in the first round of the SEC tournament, then lost to Arkansas right afterward. This is another team the sharps like to go against when favored. You may recall two poor performances in the Dance two years ago when Tennessee couldn't reach the second week. Last year was better, as the team almost took out Ohio State. Still, they had to shoot lights out to do it.

# UCLA barely got by USC in the Pac 10 semifinals, and barely got by Stanford in the championship game. Can you look down on a team when they win its conference tournament? Hey, it's about covering pointspreads when you're talking about making legal sports wagers. UCLA was a 9-point favorite over USC in a game that would go down to the wire. They were just 3.5 point favorites against Stanford. The lesson here isn't that UCLA is bad or anything. It's that the distance between the Bruins and other good teams isn't as high as the public thinks. We'll see this with many powers in the Big Dance. The public will be expecting victories of 4-6 points in games that will go right down to the wire...and expecting victories of 10-14 points in games that will be decided by single digits. It's possible that UCLA will be a Final Four team that still has trouble covering its spreads.

# North Carolina had some sluggish moments during the ACC tournament. They could have easily lost to Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Tar Heels are almost a cross between Duke and UCLA. They're better at playoff-style basketball right now (hence their better results in this weekend's ACC tourney and last year's Dance). But they still have weaknesses that can be exploited. The public thinks of them as a powerhouse because of their national ranking. Sharps watched the Virginia Tech game...and know that the word "powerhouse" doesn't mean what people think right now in this sport.

# Wisconsin, the top seed in the Big Ten, was lucky to get past Michigan State after trailing the whole game. It was its second straight poor shooting game in a row. The fact that other teams have been losing this weekend could drive Wisconsin up to a very high seed. The sharps are hoping the public places more weight on seeding than they do shooting percentage.

# Many of the higher seeds in the Big East tournament posted disappointing results. Whenever a 7th seed wins a tournament, that's six teams who don't look so great by comparison! Top seed Georgetown didn't embarrass themselves by any means. Amazingly, #2 Louisville, #3 Notre Dame, and #4 Connecticut didn't get out of the quarterfinals! Add those teams to the list the sharps will avoid as big favorites. Sure, SOMEBODY's going to win impressively in the opening weekend. But, taken as a large group, the public teams from the big conferences are likely to have losing ATS records.

# Moving away from the very elite for the moment. There are other hyped teams who had trouble. Kansas State has the player of the year in Michael Beasley. The public knows he's going to be the #1 draft pick in the NBA next year. Will they bet based on that? You know it. The recent slump barely registered because Kansas State isn't a team that saw much on TV anyway. They'll hear the hype before the tourney opener and bet accordingly. Indiana is a team with a long term reputation that's been playing badly of late. The public hasn't historically punished teams like this as much as they should.

Bottom line, if you're serious about making money in the NCAA tournament, you need to be finding reasons to GO AGAINST public teams. If you're new to legal sports gambling, you're instincts will be to lay the points with the top programs. The spreads will seem small to you (numbers are lower on neutral courts). And, you'll just feel there's more "insurance" when you take the better teams. How did that work out for Tennessee backers? How did those North Carolina/Duke parlays work out for everybody Saturday in the ACC semifinals? Was UCLA a steal over Stanford at the short price?

You'll have the brackets handy by the time you're reading this, and the opening pointspreads as well. See if you can find smart betting spots in the first round games based on today's theme...and map out the rest of the tournament to look for situations that might crop up in later rounds. I can tell you the Nevada sharps had that taken care of before the first Dick Vitale Hooters commercial Sunday Night.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

Play-In Game

The 2008 NCAA Tournament will begin Tuesday night in Dayton, OH., where Mount Saint Mary’s and Coppin State will fight for the right to play North Carolina on Friday night in Raleigh.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the Mountaineers as six-point favorites with a total of 124. Most books have adjusted Mount St. Mary’s to seven with the total moved to 127. Bettors can back the Eagles on the money line for a plus 250 return (bet $100 to win $250).

Coppin State (16-20 straight up, 2-1 against the spread) won the MEAC Tournament by beating Morgan State – the league’s regular-season champ coached by former California coach Todd Bozeman -- by a 62-60 count in the finals. The Eagles won outright as six-point underdogs.

Tywain McKee scored on a driving lay-up with two seconds left to lift his team to its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1997. McKee tied a season-high with 33 points for the Eagles, who have won four in a row and 12 of their last 13 games.

Mount St. Mary’s (18-14 SU, 1-0 ATS) is going back to the Tournament for the first time since 1999, when it lost 76-53 to top-seeded Michigan State in the first round. The Mountaineers have won six in a row, including a 68-55 victory over Sacred Heart in the Northeast tourney finals.

Five years after Jim Phelan retired with 830 career wins at MSM, his former assistant Milan Brown has the program back in the NCAAs. Jean Cajou and Kelly Beidler were the catalysts with 15 points apiece against Sacred Heart.

Since both teams hail from non-board conferences, let’s get a better feel for both squads by looking back at their respective performances against big-time programs back in November and December.

Coppin St. faced four tourney-bound schools during its non-conference slate, dropping each non-lined affair. The Eagles lost 74-51 at Kent St., 98-49 at Xavier, 89-42 at Marquette and 73-46 at Indiana. They also faced a trio of bubble teams, losing 60-43 at Arizona St., 47-39 at Ohio St. and 66-34 at Dayton.

MSM also faced four teams in the field, beating Winthrop 64-59 at home. The Mountaineers also gave Oregon fits, dropping an 81-73 decision in Eugene. They also lost 66-45 at American and 81-57 at Oklahoma.

If Coppin State’s trip to the ’97 Tournament rang a bell, it should have. The Eagles were a No. 15 seed, but they thumped second-seeded South Carolina by a 78-65 count. Next, they gave Texas all it could handle before losing an 82-81 decision.

ESPN will provide television coverage at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

Mount St. Mary’s (18-14, 1-0 ATS) at Coppin State (16-20, 2-1 ATS)

Mount St. Mary’s qualified for its third NCAA Tournament, and first since 1999, by winning the Northeast Conference tournament title, routing Sacred Heart 68-55 as a three-point road underdog in Wednesday’s final, the team’s only lined contest this year. The Mountaineers enter this play-in game, played at Dayton University Arena, having won five in a row and eight of their last nine.

Coppin State finished tied for sixth place in the 11-team Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference but pulled off a stunning upset in the league tournament, winning four games in four days by a total of six points to capture the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles, who are the first team ever with 20 losses to get into the Big Dance, are on a 12-1 run after going 1-17 in their previous 18 contests. This is their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, the first since 1997.

During its run through the conference tourney, Coppin State topped Howard 55-54 last Tuesday, Hampton 75-74 in overtime on Wednesday, Norfolk State 67-65 on Thursday and Morgan State 62-60 on Friday. The Eagles cashed as a six-point underdog against Morgan State, only their third lined game of the season and first since late November.

Going back to last year, Coppin State is 4-1 ATS in lined contests. Meanwhile, prior to Wednesday’s conference title game, Mount St. Mary’s hadn’t played in a lined game since December 2005. The Mountaineers have alternated spread-covers in their last five games on the board going back to the 2003-04 campaign.

Coppin State is 7-1 SU in neutral-site games this year. Meanwhile, Mount St. Mary’s did not play at a neutral venue this year, but the Mountaineers did win five of their last six road games.

The underdog is 5-2 ATS since the inception of this “play-in” game.

This marks the fifth consecutive year that the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) champion has been either a No. 16 seed or been forced to participate in this play-in contest.

Tonight’s winner faces North Carolina, the top-seed in the East Region, on Friday in Charlotte, N.C.

The under is 4-1 in the Mountaineers’ last five lined games, but the over is 6-2 in Coppin State’s last eight on the board (5-2 “over” at neutral sites).

ATS ADVANTAGE: COPPIN STATE


NIT

Oklahoma State (17-15, 12-11-1 ATS) at Southern Illinois (17-14, 15-15-1 ATS)


Oklahoma State snared one win in the Big 12 tournament, edging Texas Tech 76-72, narrowly covering as a 3½-point chalk Thursday. Then the Cowboys came back Friday and gave top-seeded Texas a tough game before falling 66-59 to push as a seven-point pup. The Cowboys went 6-3 SU in their last nine contests and were even better against the number, going 7-1-1.

Southern Illinois, seeded third in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, suffered a first-round upset on March 7, falling to sixth-seeded Northern Iowa 54-49 as a six-point favorite. The Salukis have followed up a 5-0 run (4-0-1 ATS) with consecutive SU and ATS setbacks.

These two teams have little history between them, although Oklahoma State posted an 85-77 win in Oklahoma City in the second round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament, barely covering the 7½-point spread.

The Cowboys are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five on the highway, and their current 7-1-1 ATS streak has all come against winning teams. However, they are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven non-conference contests. Meanwhile, the Salukis are on positive ATS runs of 5-1 against the Big 12, 5-0 on Tuesday, 4-1-1 following a pointspread setback and 7-3-1 at home.

For Southern Illinois, the under is on a 4-0 run at home and is also 4-1 in its last five overall, 35-16-2 in its last 53 non-conference games and 6-2 in Oklahoma State’s last eight after a SU loss. But the over is 10-2-1 in the Cowboys’ last 13 matchups outside the Big 12 and is 6-1 in their last seven Tuesday contests.

ATS ADVANTAGE: SOUTHERN ILLINOIS


Rhode Island (21-11, 13-15-2 ATS) at Creighton (21-10, 15-12 ATS)

Rhode Island bowed out of the Atlantic 10 tournament in the first round, losing 75-73 to Charlotte on a pair of last-second free throws Wednesday as a two-point favorite. It was the Rams’ second straight loss to the 49ers, coming after 74-64 home setback giving six points in the regular-season finale exactly a week earlier.

The Rams limped to the finish line with a 2-8 SU and ATS mark over their past 10 games, with the straight-up winner cashing in each of the last eight contests.

Creighton exited in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley tournament, losing to eventual champion Drake 75-67 as a three-point underdog on March 8. The Bluejays, who opened the MVC tourney with a 74-70 win over Bradley laying 1½ points, are 6-4 in their last 10 games (5-5 ATS), but they are just 1-3 ATS in their last four starts.

The Rams are 6-1 ATS in their last seven non-conference matchups, but the ATS trends turn negative from there, including 1-4 on the road, 1-6 against teams with a winning SU record and 1-6 following an ATS loss.

The Bluejays are 4-1 ATS in their last five starts in Omaha, 6-2 ATS in their last eight on Tuesday and 5-2 ATS in their last seven outside the Missouri Valley. However, they are 1-4 ATS in their last five coming off a SU loss.

The “over” trends are heavy for both these squads. For Rhode Island, the over is on streaks 43-17 overall, 22-6 outside the Atlantic 10, 26-10 on the highway and 20-8 following a SU loss. For Creighton, the over is on runs of 21-8-1 overall, 5-0 after a SU loss, 6-2 in non-conference play, 19-7-1 at home and 5-2 against the Atlantic 10.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CREIGHTON and OVER


Maryland (18-14, 11-15-1 ATS) at Minnesota (20-13, 14-14 ATS)

Maryland’s late-season slide continued in a 71-68 loss to Boston College as a five-point chalk Thursday in the first round of the ACC tournament. The Terrapins enter this contest on a three-game SU and ATS losing skid, and they’re 2-6 in their last eight (2-5-1 ATS). Finally, the SU winner is 13-0-1 ATS in their last 14 contests.

Minnesota made a stunning run to the Big Ten tournament semifinals before bowing out to Illinois 54-50 Saturday as a two-point pup. The Gophers were coming off a miraculous 59-58 second-round upset of Indiana catching six points, scoring the winning bucket in the final second off a 75-foot inbounds pass and a desperation shot. On the down side, the Gophers are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight contests, including 1-4 ATS in the last five.

These two teams met early in the 2005-06 season, with Maryland rolling to an 83-66 victory as a 15-point home favorite.

Despite the Terrapins’ recent woes, they are 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine road games. But they are on negative pointspread runs of 3-8 outside the ACC, 3-8 after a non-cover and 0-5 in Tuesday matchups.

The Gophers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven after a SU loss and 5-2 ATS as a single-digit favorite this year. However, they are on a 3-7 ATS slide at home and are 1-6 ATS in their last seven against the ACC.

For Maryland, the under is on runs of 5-1 overall, 4-1 on the road, 4-1 against the Big Ten and 11-4 after a Terrapins loss. Also, Minnesota has stayed low in seven straight games and nine of the last 10 overall, and the under is 4-1 in the Gophers’ last five at home.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


COLLEGE BASKETBALL INVITATIONAL

Houston (22-9, 13-13 ATS) at Nevada (21-11, 15-16 ATS)


Nevada had a four-game winning streak snapped in the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference tournament on Friday, losing 83-75 at New Mexico State as a 5½-point underdog. The Wolf Pack now return home, where they have won six consecutive games (5-1 ATS).

Houston’s hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid were quickly dashed in the Conference USA tournament, where the Cougars fell to UTEP 80-77 in the opening round despite being a 4½-point favorite. Since starting the season 18-4, Houston been extremely inconsistent, going 4-5 SU. It also has followed a six-game ATS winning streak by failing to cash in five of its final six games (0-4 ATS in the last four).

Nevada has cashed in five consecutive games after a SU defeat. However, the Pack are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 non-league games and 1-7 ATS in their last eight against winning teams. Meanwhile, Houston is on ATS runs of 9-4 on the highway, 5-2 on Tuesdays and 3-0 this year as an underdog of seven points or fewer.

The over is on streaks of 4-1for Houston overall, 7-3 for Houston on the road, 5-1 for Houston in non-conference action, 6-2 for Houston on Tuesdays and 4-1 for Nevada at home.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER


NBA

L.A. Lakers (45-21, 39-26-1 ATS) at Dallas (44-23, 30-33-4 ATS)


The Mavericks try to make it six wins and covers in a row overall and snap a five-game losing streak to potential playoff teams when they host the Lakers inside the American Airlines Center.

Dallas comes in with a five-game SU and ATS winning streak but all against Eastern Conference squads with losing records, including Sunday’s 98-73 rout of Miami as a 15½-point chalk. The Mavs are 0-5 (2-3 ATS) against Western Conference playoff contenders since acquiring Jason Kidd from New Jersey.

The Lakers got steamrolled by the unbeatable Rockets on Sunday 104-92 and failed to cash as 3½-point underdogs. It was their third loss in four games (0-4 ATS) and second straight on this four-game road trip against Western Conference playoff contenders.

These two have split two games this season with the home team winning each outing, including back on March 2 when the Lakers scored a 108-104 overtime win at home but failed to get the cash as a 6½-point favorite. Back on Jan. 25, the Mavericks pushed as a seven-point favorite in a 112-105 victory in Dallas. The home team is on a 7-1 SU run in this series (4-3-1 ATS); the underdog is 8-3-1 ATS in the last 12 meetings; and the straight-up winner is 6-3-1 ATS in the last 10.

Avery Johnson’s squad is on ATS runs of 9-0 on one day of rest, 6-0 following a SU win and 5-0 as a favorite, but just 6-14-3 ATS in their last 23 against Pacific Division teams and 1-4 ATS in their last five Tuesday tip-offs. As for the Lakers, they’re on ATS spurts of 12-4 on the highway, 8-2 on Tuesdays and 8-2-1 as a road ‘dog, but they’re 0-6 ATS in their last six against teams with a winning record, 0-5-1 ATS in their last six against the Southwest Division and 1-4 ATS in their last four playing on one day of rest.

For the Lakers, the over is on hot streaks of 6-2 overall, 4-0 as an underdog, 4-1 following a non-cover and 7-3 against teams with a winning record. The over is also 7-2-1 in the Mavericks’ last nine overall and 7-0 in their last seven against the Pacific Division.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DALLAS and OVER


Boston (53-13, 40-24-2 ATS) at Houston (46-20, 40-25-1 ATS)

The Rockets put their 22-game winning streak on the line when they host the surging Celtics, who arrive at the Toyota Center on a 12-1 run and with the NBA’s best record.

Houston’s streak (19-3 ATS) is the second longest in NBA history and has put them atop the Western Conference playoff race. Rick Adelman’s squad beat the Lakers 104-92 on Sunday, easily cashing as 3½-point favorites and making them 19-3 ATS during their incredible run, including 13-1 ATS in their last 14 overall and 13-2 ATS at home. Overall, Houston is on a 36-16 ATS roll.

The Rockets have been getting it done with defense lately, not allowing an opponent to hit triple digits in 12 straight games (11-1 ATS) and holding the opposition to 83.2 points per game and 38.3 percent shooting over their last five contests (4-1 ATS).

Boston rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit at San Antonio last night, outscoring the Spurs 50-38 in the second half to steal a 93-91 win as a 4 ½-point road underdog. The Celtics have won 12 of its last 13 games (9-4 ATS) and six straight on the road (6-0 ATS). Doc Rivers’ squad is now on a 42-16-1 ATS roll on the highway (21-10-1 ATS this year).

The Celtics are in the midst of pointspread streaks of 7-1 overall, 8-1 against the Western Conference and 7-2 as an underdog this season. They’re also 10-4 ATS this season when playing on the second night of a back-to-back situation.

Boston beat the Rockets 97-93 back on Jan. 2 but Houston got the cash as 11½-point ‘dogs, improving the Rockets to 10-4 ATS in the last 14 series clashes. The road team is 8-3 ATS in the last 11 series matchups, and the underdog is 5-2 ATS in the last seven.

The under is 5-2 in the last seven head-to-head series clashes and is 8-4 in Boston’s last 12 overall (4-1 in the last five), 5-2 in the Rockets’ last seven on a day of rest and 4-1 in the Rockets’ last five against the Eastern Conference. However, the over is 7-1 in the Celtics’ last eight against Southwest Division foes and 4-1 in their last five Tuesday tip-offs.

ATS ADVANTAGE: HOUSTON and UNDER

Gametimepicks.com

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Denver Nuggets vs. Detroit Pistons

- The Denver Nuggets and the Detroit Pistons will both be gunning for a victory on Tuesday when they meet at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Oddsmakers currently have the Pistons listed as 6-point favorites versus the Nuggets, while the game's total has not yet been posted.

The Nuggets defeated Seattle 168-116 as a 15-point favorite last time out. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (212).

Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points for Denver and Allen Iverson added 24 points in the win.

The Pistons defeated New Orleans 105-84 as a 6-point favorite last time out. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (186).

Jarvis Hayes scored a game-high 29 points off the bench for Detroit and Chauncey Billups added 17 points in the win.

Current streak:
Denver has won 3 straight games.
Detroit has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
Denver: 40-26 SU, 35-31 ATS
Detroit: 48-18 SU, 36-29-1 ATS

Denver most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 8-2
Before playing Philadelphia are 4-6
After playing Seattle are 3-7
After a win are 6-4

Detroit most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 6-4
Before playing Cleveland are 4-6
After playing New Orleans are 6-4
After a win are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
Denver is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Denver's last 7 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Denver's last 6 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Denver's last 12 games when playing Detroit
Detroit is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Denver
Detroit is 12-2 SU in its last 14 games at home
Detroit is 12-2 SU in its last 14 games when playing Denver
Detroit is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games

Next up:
Denver at Philadelphia, Wednesday, March 19
Detroit at Cleveland, Wednesday, March 19

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks

- The fans at Bradley Center will be treated to a game between the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks when they take their seats on Tuesday.

Odds aren't yet posted for this game, so check back later for the opening line and total.

The Heat lost to Dallas 98-73 as a 16.5-point underdog last time out. The combined score fell UNDER then posted over/under total (194).

Earl Barron led the Heat with 21 points and Daequan Cook had 11 points and eight rebounds in the loss.

Charlie Bell led Milwaukee with 16 points in its 99-77 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.

Boston covered as 8.5-point road favorites as the teams played under the 204-point total listed by oddsmakers.

Current streak:
Miami has lost 8 straight games.
Milwaukee has lost 5 straight games.

Team records:
Miami: 11-54 SU, 23-41-1 ATS
Milwaukee: 23-43 SU, 29-36-1 ATS

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

Milwaukee most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 2-8
Before playing Cleveland are 8-2
After playing Boston are 3-7
After a loss are 3-7

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 10 of Miami's last 11 games when playing on the road against Milwaukee
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Miami's last 7 games when playing Milwaukee
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Miami's last 5 games
Miami is 10-4 SU in its last 14 games when playing Milwaukee
The total has gone OVER in 10 of Milwaukee's last 11 games when playing at home against Miami
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Milwaukee's last 7 games
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Milwaukee's last 7 games when playing Miami
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Milwaukee's last 5 games at home

Next up:
Miami at Toronto, Wednesday, March 19
Milwaukee home to Cleveland, Saturday, March 22

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

New Jersey Nets vs. Chicago Bulls

- The New Jersey Nets and the Chicago Bulls will both be gunning for a victory on Tuesday when they meet at United Center.

Oddsmakers currently have the Bulls listed as 5-point favorites versus the Nets, while the game's total has not yet been posted.

Richard Jefferson went for 27 points to lead the Nets past the Utah Jazz 117-115 on Saturday night.

New Jersey won as 3.5-point home underdogs as the teams played over the 204.5-point total set by oddsmakers.

The Bulls were dominated in the fourth quarter in Monday's 108-97 loss to the Hornets, as 4-point road underdogs. The combined score was a PUSH against the posted total of 205.

Ben Gordon tossed in 31 points for the Bulls, and Drew Gooden had 23 in the loss.

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

Team records:
New Jersey: 28-38 SU, 26-39-1 ATS
Chicago: 26-40 SU, 29-37 ATS

New Jersey most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 6-4
Before playing Atlanta are 7-3
After playing Utah are 4-6
After a win are 4-6

Chicago most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 2-8
Before playing San Antonio are 2-8
After playing New Orleans are 6-4
After a loss are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
New Jersey is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Chicago
New Jersey is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Chicago
The total has gone OVER in 4 of New Jersey's last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of New Jersey's last 5 games when playing on the road against Chicago
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Chicago's last 5 games when playing at home against New Jersey
Chicago is 18-7 SU in its last 25 games when playing at home against New Jersey
Chicago is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games at home
Chicago is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games at home

Next up:
New Jersey home to Atlanta, Wednesday, March 19
Chicago home to San Antonio, Thursday, March 20

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks

- The Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks will both be gunning for a victory on Tuesday when they meet at American Airlines Center.

Oddsmakers currently have the Mavericks listed as 5-point favorites versus the Lakers, while the game's total has not yet been posted.

The Lakers lost to Houston 104-92 as a 3.5-point underdog last time out. The combined score caused this game to be a PUSH on the posted over/under total (196).

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 24 points, while Lamar Odom had 17 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.

The Mavericks defeated Miami 98-73 as a 16.5-point favorite last time out. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (194).

Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points for Dallas and Josh Howard added 15 points in the win.

Current streak:
Los Angeles has lost 2 straight games.
Dallas has won 5 straight games.

Team records:
Los Angeles: 45-21 SU, 39-26-1 ATS
Dallas: 44-23 SU, 30-33-4 ATS

Los Angeles most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing Utah are 5-5
After playing Houston are 6-4
After a loss are 7-3

Dallas most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 8-2
Before playing Boston are 8-2
After playing Miami are 4-6
After a win are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 4 of the LA Lakers last 5 games when playing on the road against Dallas
LA Lakers are 14-4 SU in their last 18 games
LA Lakers are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games on the road
LA Lakers are 11-4 SU in their last 15 games on the road
Dallas is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Dallas is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
Dallas is 16-1 SU in its last 17 games at home
Dallas is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home

Next up:
LA Lakers at Utah, Thursday, March 20
Dallas home to Boston, Thursday, March 20

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Boston Celtics vs. Houston Rockets

- The Boston Celtics and the Houston Rockets will both be trying to pick up a win on Tuesday when they battle at Toyota Center.

Odds aren't yet posted for this game, so check back later for the opening line and total.

The Celtics pulled out a hard-fought 93-91 victory over the Spurs last time out, as 4.5-point road underdogs. The 184 points made it OVER the posted total of 178.

Paul Pierce shot 8-for-13 from the field with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists to lead the Celtics.

The Rockets defeated the Lakers 104-92 as a 3.5-point favorite last time out. The combined score caused this game to be a PUSH on the posted over/under total (196).

Rafer Alston scored a game-high 31 points for Houston, while Bobby Jackson added 19 points in the win.

Current streak:
Boston has won 2 straight games.
Houston has won 22 straight games.

Team records:
Boston: 53-13 SU, 40-24-2 ATS
Houston: 46-20 SU, 39-25-2 ATS

Boston most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 6-4
Before playing Dallas are 4-6
After playing San Antonio are 6-4
After a win are 9-1

Houston most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 3-7
Before playing New Orleans are 7-3
After playing LA Lakers are 5-5
After a win are 10-0

A few trends to consider:
Boston is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games on the road
Boston is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
Boston is 12-1 SU in its last 13 games
Boston is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games
Houston is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
Houston is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Houston is 13-1 ATS in its last 14 games
Houston is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games at home

Next up:
Boston at Dallas, Thursday, March 20
Houston at New Orleans, Wednesday, March 19

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Golden State Warriors vs. Sacramento Kings

- The Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings will both be gunning for a victory on Tuesday when they meet at ARCO Arena.

Oddsmakers currently have the Warriors listed as 2½-point favorites versus the Kings, while the game's total has not yet been posted.

Stephen Jackson had 21 points and six assists to lead the Warriors over the Memphis Grizzlies 110-107 on Saturday night.

Golden State failed to cover as 15.5-point home favorites as teams played under the 229-point total listed by sportsbooks.

The Kings defeated Toronto 106-100 as a 5.5-point favorite last time out. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (212).

Kevin Martin scored a game-high 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Sacramento, while Ron Artest added 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Team records:
Golden State: 41-24 SU, 28-37 ATS
Sacramento: 30-36 SU, 34-31-1 ATS

Golden State most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 7-3
Before playing LA Clippers are 5-5
After playing Memphis are 6-4
After a win are 6-4

Sacramento most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 7-3
Before playing San Antonio are 4-6
After playing Toronto are 8-2
After a win are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 10 of Golden State's last 11 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Golden State's last 8 games when playing on the road against Sacramento
Golden State is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Sacramento
Golden State is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Sacramento's last 8 games when playing at home against Golden State
Sacramento is 10-3 SU in its last 13 games at home
Sacramento is 19-6 SU in its last 25 games when playing at home against Golden State
The total has gone UNDER in 16 of Sacramento's last 22 games when playing Golden State

Next up:
Golden State at LA Clippers, Wednesday, March 19
Sacramento at San Antonio, Friday, March 21

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Phoenix Suns vs. Portland Trail Blazers

- The Phoenix Suns and the Portland Trail Blazers will both be gunning for a victory on Tuesday when they meet at Rose Garden.

Oddsmakers currently have the Suns listed as 4-point favorites versus the Trail Blazers, while the game's total has not yet been posted.

Amare Stoudemire scored 30 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as the Suns coasted past the Sacramento Kings 127-99 on Saturday night.

Phoenix covered as 9-point home favorites as the game played under the 228-point total posted by sportsbooks.

LaMarcus Aldridge netted 26 points as the Trail Blazers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-96 on Saturday night.

Portland covered as 9.5-point home favorites as the teams played over the 190.5-point total set by oddsmakers.

Current streak:
Phoenix has won 4 straight games.

Team records:
Phoenix: 44-22 SU, 31-33-2 ATS
Portland: 35-32 SU, 35-32 ATS

Phoenix most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 6-4
Before playing Seattle are 6-4
After playing Sacramento are 9-1
After a win are 4-6

Portland most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing LA Clippers are 2-8
After playing Minnesota are 4-6
After a win are 2-8

A few trends to consider:
Phoenix is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing Portland
Phoenix is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Portland
Phoenix is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Portland
Phoenix is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Portland
Portland is 18-6 SU in its last 24 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Portland's last 8 games at home
Portland is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games
The total has gone OVER in 12 of Portland's last 17 games when playing Phoenix

Next up:
Phoenix at Seattle, Wednesday, March 19
Portland home to LA Clippers, Friday, March 21

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

The smart money's on Stanford

First-round matchup against Cornell is one game the fans won't have to dumb down the smack talk.

The smart money's on Stanford

As businesses all over the country brace for an epidemic of epidemic proportions Thursday (call it Vitale Virus), here is some first-round info:

* Stanford versus Cornell. Finally a game where Stanford fans won't have to dumb down the smack talk.

* UCLA versus Mississippi Valley State. Both reek of tradition. The Wooden Award, named for the former Bruins coach, goes to college basketball's best player. The Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy, named for a former Mississippi Valley State player, goes to the leading scorer in the Euroleague.

* Coppin State comes into the tournament 16-20. The last 20-game loser to make it to the postseason? George Mullin (20-20) with the Detroit Tigers in 1907. His team didn't win a game either.

* The only chance for St. Mary's (Calif.) to play Mount St. Mary's (Md.) is in the national title game. A Hail Mary that won't happen, but expect Billy Packer to take the Maryland version if it does.

D.C. comic

Mount St. Mary's Coach Milan Brown, noting that his university is only 45 miles from Coppin State, yet the two teams will meet in the play-in game today in Dayton, Ohio, joked that he was tempted to call Coppin State Coach Fang Mitchell and say, "Why don't we just meet at the Verizon Center [in Washington, D.C.] and save on some travel?"

Forget the joke. Fang? Milan? Sounds more like James Bond villains than basketball coaches.

Costume brawl

The Big West may take a back seat to the Pacific 10 Conference in basketball (maybe even the trunk), but its mascots may be a match for anyone.

Tuffy the Titan (Cal State Fullerton) and Peter the Anteater (UC Irvine) both were ejected from the conference tournament championship game Saturday night after demonstrating improper conduct (yes, even for a mascot) after nearly coming to blows.

It seems Fullerton, which plays Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament Thursday, is well prepared if this becomes the Road Rage to the Final Four.

Making the grade

The top four schools in the NCAA tournament, according to U.S. News and World Report's rankings of top universities: Stanford (ranked the fourth-best university), Duke (eighth), Cornell (12th) and Vanderbilt (tied for 19th).

UCLA was tied for 25th and USC was 27th. Fullerton? Sorry, the list stops at 125. As a consolation prize, the Titans may have the No. 1-ranked contender among mascots.

Coppin a plea

Follow . . .

Coppin State beat Morgan State. Morgan State beat American University. American beat Maryland. Maryland beat North Carolina.

So why isn't Coppin State the top-seeded team in the tournament?

We shall (hiccup) overcome

Arise ye prisoners of sobriety.

John Boyle, chairman of the Motherwell soccer team in Scotland, seemed outraged at the continued oppression of (wait for it) . . .

. . . drunk soccer fans.

Speaking with The Journal, Boyle said the ban on alcohol at Scottish soccer matches -- enacted after riots during the Scottish Cup 28 years ago -- was "absurd," adding, "this situation is absolutely ludicrous and football fans are discriminated against."

Geez, next thing there will be a ban on stomping a chap for supporting the other team.

And finally

Kenyon Martin of the Denver Nuggets, after a 168-116 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Sunday: "A lot of people are going to think it's a misprint. A lot of people will think there's no way they scored that many points. It's unbelievable. There are no words for it."

Two jump to mind: bad . . . team.

latimes.com

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

Picking that one out of a zillion

Jeff Haney on strategies for picking a successful NCAA Tournament bracket

Nine point two quintillion.

The number nine followed by 18 more digits.

Two to the 63rd power.

It sounds like a number from the realm of physics or astronomy, not sports.

It’s also the number of possible standard brackets that could be filled out for the NCAA Tournament, according to Las Vegas sports betting analyst R.J. Bell.

In other words, Bell said, if everyone on the planet were to complete a random bracket, the odds would be 1.5 billion to 1 against anyone having a perfect bracket.

All is not hopeless, though. A set of basic strategies based on the outcomes of previous tournaments can boost your chances of submitting a successful bracket, said Bell, who analyzes the single-elimination field from what he calls a “macro perspective.” (Basically, he’s a big-picture guy.)

“This approach is not team-specific and it doesn’t have much to do with any of the specific matchups,” said Bell, proprietor of the betting Web site Pregame.com. “For someone who’s a novice and filling out a bracket, being able to cross out a certain number of teams as they go through each round can simplify the process.”

In the first round, for instance, Bell advises backing teams seeded higher than No. 12 sparingly, if at all. (By “higher,” we mean the higher seed number, or a team considered worse than an opponent with a lower seed number.) That makes sense, considering the 13th through 16th slots are typically filled by teams with automatic tournament bids, often from the weakest conferences.

A No. 16 seed has never upset a No. 1 seed (0-for-92), No. 15 seeds are just 4-for-92 straight up, and teams seeded 13 and 14 have won fewer than 18 percent of their first-round games combined in the past 23 years.

Bell advises paying special attention to No. 12 seeds, which have won 11 of 28 times against No. 5 seeds in the past seven years, and No. 9 seeds — perhaps Kent State against the Rebels? — which historically hold their own against No. 8 opponents.

In his 2007 book, “Weighing the Odds in Sports Betting,” author King Yao also recommends considering No. 12 seeds, because the point spread is often tighter than you would expect in a 5-12 matchup. As a result, bracket-pool participants who are not point-spread-savvy overrate No. 5 seeds, according to Yao. This allows backers of No. 12 seeds to pull away from the pack in pool standings when minor upsets occur.

In this week’s 5-12 matchups, Drake is favored by 4 points against Western Kentucky in Las Vegas sports books; Michigan State by 6 1/2 against Temple; Clemson by 6 against Villanova; and Notre Dame by 6 1/2 against George Mason.

Other trends advanced by Bell:

• No. 1 seeds win their first two games 87 percent of the time. By contrast, teams seeded higher than 12 falter in the second round. Just six of the 368 teams that have advanced past Round 2 were seeded higher than 12th.

• When working the Sweet 16 portion of your bracket, play the percentages and figure exactly three No. 1 seeds will advance to the Elite 8.

• Only two Final Four teams in the past 23 years have been seeded higher than No. 8.

• No team higher than No. 6 has made it to the title game in 22 years, and the champion has been seeded No. 4 or lower for 19 consecutive years.

“These events have occurred a disproportionate amount of times,” Bell said. “If you go against it, you’re really bucking the math.”

Although just 1 percent of the estimated $12 billion wagered on the NCAA Tournament will take place here, Nevada is the only state with legal sports betting. The remainder is driven by old-fashioned illegal bookies and online sports books based offshore.

The Las Vegas Hilton sports book made UCLA, at 7-2, the favorite to the win the tournament after Sunday’s draw, and the Bruins also command the biggest point spread of the first round, as a 32 1/2-point favorite against Mississippi Valley State. Pick the Delta Devils in an upset at your own risk.

“After 92 losses in a row, I don’t see things getting any better for the No. 16 seeds this year,” Bell said.

lasvegassun.com

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NBA Today

Boston at Houston (9:30 p.m. EDT). The Celtics try to snap the Rockets' 22-game winning streak.

STARS

-Chris Paul, Hornets, had 37 points and 13 assists, helping New Orleans to a 108-97 win over Chicago.

-Al Jefferson, Timberwolves, had his 48th double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds as Minnesota won its fourth in six games, 99-90 over the Clippers.

-Dwight Howard, Magic, had 23 points and 13 rebounds to lead Orlando to a 104-90 victory over Cleveland.

-Mike Dunleavy, Pacers, tied his career high with 36 points as Indiana beat New York 110-98.

STREAKING

Utah tied a franchise record with its 19th straight home victory, 96-79 over Toronto on Monday night. The Jazz have won six straight over the Raptors.

FINALS PREVIEW?

Boston improved to a league-best 53-13 by handing NBA champion San Antonio its season-worst fourth straight loss, 93-91 Monday night.

SNAPPED

Memphis snapped a four-game losing streak with a 98-80 victory over Charlotte on Monday night.

SLUMPING


New York's 110-98 loss at Indiana on Monday night was its ninth in 10 games. The Pacers, 3-0 against the Knicks this season, held an opponent under 100 points for the first time since the All-Star break.

STANDINGS

Atlanta's 105-96 victory over Washington on Monday night - the Hawks' third straight win which snapped the Wizards' three-game winning streak - moved them one-half game ahead of idle New Jersey for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta hasn't made the playoffs since the 1998-99 season.

SPEAKING

``I think our chances are good. It's in our hands. You never really want to leave it up to anybody else to try to get into the playoffs. I've been there before to where I've waited to see how other teams finish to see if you're going to make it not, so I want to impress upon these guys that it's there for us to take and we've got to go do it.'' - Atlanta's Mike Bibby on the Hawks' playoff chances.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Mar.18

Short Sheet

Play-In Game

Coppin State vs. Mount St. Mary's, 7:30 ET

Coppin State:
6-2 Over in all games (L3 years)
3-0 Over if total is 129.5 or less

Mount St. Mary's:
4-2 ATS in neutral court games
4-0 ATS in tournament games

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Tips and Trends

Denver Nuggets at Detroit Pistons

Nuggets: The Nuggets set NBA season highs for points in a half with 84 and points in a game in a 168-116 rout of the Seattle SuperSonics on Sunday night. They shared the ball and hit open shots, and for the second straight game the starters were on the bench in the fourth quarter. Head coach George Karl said his team will do their best to continue their strong play against the defensive-minded Pistons.

Nuggets are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games against the Central Division.

Key Injuries- NONE

Pistons (-6, O/U 208.5): Detroit bounced back from a loss to the 76ers by beating New Orleans after head coach Flip Saunders said his team played “too cool” against Philly. The Pistons have now won 2 straight and defeated 2 of the top teams in the West (Spurs and Hornets) by a combined 25 points. Chauncey Billups is averaging 20 ppg over his last 12 games, and Richard Hamilton had one of his best offensive games on Friday with 25 points.

Pistons are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games against the Northwest Division.

Key Injuries- NONE


Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks

Lakers: The Lakers are in the middle of their most trying road stretch left of the season and have started 0-2 – both games played without Pau Gasol due to an ankle injury. Kobe Bryant said he will be more aggressive on offense, and he is averaging 30 ppg in those games without Gasol. However, it hasn’t been enough as Los Angeles has been outscored by a combined 11 points.

Lakers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 Tuesday games.

Key Injuries- C Pau Gasol (19 ppg; ankle) is OUT.

Mavs (-5.5, O/U 205.5): The Mavericks are fresh off a 98-73 thrashing of the Heat and have won 5 straight overall. Now Dallas hosts 3 of the NBA's top clubs - the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston and San Antonio - in the next seven days. Dirk Nowitzki said “we should be ready” while head coach Avery Johnson agrees in saying: “I wanted us to get some momentum.” This looks to be the case, as Dallas has won its last 5 by an average of 24 points..

Mavs are 6-14-3 ATS in their last 23 games against the Pacific Division.

Key Injuries- NONE


Boston Celtics at Houston Rockets

Celtics: The Celtics own the NBA’s best record at 53-13 and has bounced back nicely after the Jazz ended their 10-game winning streak. Ray Allen has been dealing with a heel injury, but he wasn’t missed much in road wins at Milwaukee and San Antonio. The Celtics held the Bucks to 34 percent shooting, and they were able to overcome a 22-point deficit against the defending NBA champs on Monday.

Celtics are 41-16-1 ATS in their last 58 road games.

Key Injuries- G Ray Allen (18 ppg; ankle) is questionable.

Rockets (NA): The Rockets have won 26 of their last 27 games and 31 of their last 34. They've won 15 straight at the Toyota Center and 10 in a row since Yao went out with a broken foot. Even more impressive is that they're won 11 of their last 13 games by double digits. Houston defeated the Lakers on Sunday afternoon, even with Tracy McGrady scoring just 11 points. Rafer Alston scored 31 points and McGrady said this shows just “how good the Houston Rockets are.”

Rockets are 19-3 ATS during their franchise-record 22-game winning streak.
Rockets are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 home games.

Key Injuries- F Carl Landry (8 ppg; knee) is questionable.


Golden State Warriors at Sacramento Kings

Warriors (-2, O/U 229): Golden State avoided a bad loss on Saturday against the Grizzlies, pulling out a 110-107 victory. Baron Davis jammed his right pinkie in the win, and said: “We were just sloppy.” The Warriors are 8-2 SU in their last 10 games but continue to play .500 basketball on the road while allowing 107 ppg.

The OVER is 10-1 in Golden State’s last 11 road games.

Key Injuries- G Baron Davis (22 ppg; finger) is probable.

Kings: Sacramento has been all fired up this week after a team meeting back on March 9th. The Kings have gone 3-1 SU since then with victories over the Blazers and Lakers. The Kings have increased their scoring average to 104 ppg during those games and have always had an uncanny ability to step up against the better teams.

Kings are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 Tuesday games.

Key Injuries- G John Salmons (13 ppg; ankle) is probable.

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