Thursday Service Plays

Thursday Service Plays

Matty O'Shea

George Mason vs NotreDame

Analysis: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are a very confident and talented bunch, but I simply think they will be overconfident in this game going against a team that is used to being underestimated in George Mason. The Patriots advanced to the Final Four just two years ago and will hang tough with Notre Dame in this game until the very end. Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey was not terribly disappointed that his team lost to Marquette in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament, which is a clear sign that he thinks they will have a cakeWalk in the first round. I like this Notre Dame team a lot, but they have a lot to prove to me when playing away from home. I also believe George Mason is a very dangerous foe here in this spot and should stay within the number, so bet the Patriots to cover as my Single DIme NCAA Tournament Underdog Play O' the Day for Thursday.


Washington St. / Winthrop Under 112

Analysis: This is the lowest total on the board, and with good reason. Both teams like to slow the pace of the game and ranked among the Top 10 defensive teams in the country during the regular season. Winthrop held its three opponents to an average of less than 49 points in winning the Big South Tournament while Washington State needs to play better defense in hopes of returning to early-seaSon form when the Cougars got off to a 14-0 start. The UNDER is 8-1 in Winthrop's last nine neutral site games, and I believe this could very well be the lowest-scoring game of the Big Dance, so stay with that trend and bet the UNDER as my Single Dime NCAA Tournament Total Play O' the Day for Thursday.


Kent St. vs UNLV

Analysis: The Kent State Golden Flashes are the real deal, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them duplicate UNLV's run to the Sweet 16 a year ago. The Runnin' Rebels built off last year's success in the NCAA Tournament by having another solid season, due mostly to their outstanding play at home. They have the benefit of playing the Mountain West Tournament at home and capitalized on that by winning it the last two years. They are just an average road team though and will be tested by a Kent State team that was ranKed in the Top 25 for the first time ever after winning at St. Mary's. Even though the Golden Flashes followed that big victory up with a loss, they have rebounded nicely by winning five straight heading into the Big Dance, going 4-1 ATS. They are also an outstanding 16-2 ATS in their last 18 Thursday games, so look for their success to continue here and bet Kent as my Single Dime NCAA Tournament Side Play O' the Day for Thursday.

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USA Sports Consulting

USC -2.5 over Kansas State - 1 unit

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John Ryan

Texas A&M vs. B.Y.U.    
Play: B.Y.U.     

BYU versus Texas A&M Thursday March 20, 2008 7:25 EST Tip Seems like a perennial event for BYU to be involved in an 8 versus 9 first round game. These games can many times be the most interesting and exciting to watch given that both teams are near equals. BYU is certainly a team that could go to the elite 8 in this West Region. Looking back the Vegas Tournament held back in November, BYU defeated Louisville nad gave UNC a tremendous test for 38 minutes. They play in the media quiet MWC and this is actually a big advantage for them. Their defense is ferocious to say the least. They rank in the top-10 defending shots both inside and outside the arc and also rank5th in opponents offensive rebounds. Limiting opponents to second chance opportunities is a sure fire recipe to advance in this tournament. Texas A&M is a tale of two seasons. They started out 15-1 and then lost 3 straight and have also 5 of their last 7 coming into the tournament. A&M has struggled mightily on the offensive end and have NO players in the TOP-20 in Big-12 scoring. I like BYU in this game and unfortunately I do not have a 3* grading on this play. What I do have is a 3* play on the OVER for this game and I still think playing BYU is a solid bet though. Let’s take a look at some of the supporting technical systems and angles that support the OVER play. The total is lined at 129 and the AiS shows a 72% probability that 130 or more points will be scored in this game. Here is a supporting system that ahs gone 34-24 OVER for 59% since 1997. Play over with all teams where the total is between 120 and 129.5 points in a game involving two excellent defensive teams allowing a shooting percentage of <=40% and in a game involving two good ball handling team committing <=14.5 TOPG after 15+ games. BYU is on a nice ATS streak and they are 10-2 OVER in road games after covering 2 of their last 3 against the spread over the last 2 seasons. Take the OVER for 3* and BYU for 1.5* plays.

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Doc's Sports

Arizona vs. West Virginia
Play:West Virginia

This is pretty much a blind play against the Wildcats who have been one of the most disappointing teams this season and cannot wait for this season to end and bring back Lute and ship out Kevin O’Neil. Granted Arizona has better talent then West Virginia, but they will be making a cross country flight into Washington D.C. and they have yet to live up to expectations this season. West Virginia has the best player on the floor in Joe Alexander and a great coach in Bob Huggins and that will be enough to advance onto the next level for a likely match-up with Duke.

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Nelly

Belmont + over Duke

Belmont is a high scoring team that averages over 80 points per game and the Bruins have a veteran squad that played in the NCAA tournament last season. It was a tough match-up for the Bruins last season going against Georgetown but the size and pace that Duke plays should be more what Belmont is used to, albeit still at a big talent disadvantage. Duke continues to be an overrated team and the recent NCAA tournament performances prove the Blue Devils are generally rated higher than they should be. The ACC features a few top tier teams but overall the depth of conference was down considerably this season. Belmont held their own in some early season battles with wins at Cincinnati and at Alabama so the Bruins will know what it takes and relish the opportunity to face Duke. Many are writing off Duke in this tournament which can provide some motivation but it also provides added pressure. Belmont is a team that lives and dies by the 3-point shot with an average of over ten makes per game which can help the Bruins keep up in what should be an exciting fast-paced game.

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Tom Scott

Baylor vs Purdue

Play ON:PURDUE minus the points

The euphoria seen in the Baylor locker room when the Bears were announced as the final team in the NCAA tourney field masks the disappointing finish. Baylor started the season like a house afire with 16 wins in its first 18 games, the streak culminated by an emotionally draining five overtime win at neighborhood rival, Texas A&M. Since then, though, the Bears have flattened out considerably winning just five of their last 13 and losing badly to league doormat Colorado in the conference tournament. It was Baylor's defense that disappeared. Before that game against the Aggies, the Bears were allowing 67 points per game. Since that win over A&M, Baylor is coughing up 82 points per game. Purdue has been playing stellar defense all season, allowing only 61 points per game. There's the difference. Both teams can score but Purdue is the one who can get a stop now and then.

PREDICTION: PURDUE 81 - Baylor 68

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Vegas Sports Pics

Purdue Boilermakers - 2.5 over Baylor Bears    

Baylor (21-10) is making its second NCAA appearance since 1950, the other coming in '88. No.17 Purdue (24-8) is 14-4 ATS last 18 games. The Boilermakers went 1-1 in last season's NCAAs beating Arizona 72-63 losing to eventual national champion Florida 74-67.     
   

Kentucky Wildcats + 6 over Marquette Golden Eagles    

No.25 Marquette (24-9) is playing in its third consecutive NCAA tournament, losing in the first round last two seasons. Kentucky (18-12) is making its 17th consecutive NCAA appearance. The Wildcats have won their opening round game each of the past five seasons.    
   

USC Trojans - 2.5 over Kansas State Wildcats    

Kansas State (20-11) is in the NCAAs for the first time in 12 years. USC (21-11) is 3-1 last four games, including a 77-64 win over No.11 Stanford, the loss coming to No.3 UCLA 57-54. The Trojans went 2-1 in last season's NCAAs, including an 87-68 win over then No.11 Texas    

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David Malinsky  4* TEMPLE/MICHIGAN STATE Over

Temple @ Michigan State
PICK: over

The first time Tom Izzo’s Spartans took the court for a lined game this season we cashed an easy 4* Over in an 86-83 win over Missouri at Kansas City that sailed past the 145.5 that was posted. And in our pre-game breakdown we noted how Izzo was acknowledging that this was going to be a different look for his team, with more athleticism than usual, which made getting into the open court a priority. Now fast forward a few months later and we find that it was the only time we were able to make an Over play with the Spartans this season. The Big 10 just does not allow that kind of flow, and Izzo himself fell back on some of his conservative ways in league play. But all that does is set us up with outstanding value for this one, in a game that will flow much more loosely than the current projections.

The Spartans are not going to be slowed down into a half-court game here; Fran Dunphy in fact needs to avoid that if he can. His surging Owls found their chemistry in a major late-season surge, and when you are on that kind of run it means that you play to your strength, rather than trying to adjust to your opponent. That strength is the dynamic combination of 6-5 Dionte Christmas (20.2 points per game) and 6-5 Mark Tyndale (15.9) , a pair of big guards that excel in the open floor, and an offense loaded with players that value the basketball. Combine 47.2 percent shooting with only 421 turnovers in 33 games, and you have an attack that can create matchup problems, particularly for an under-sized Spartan guard trio of 6-0 Drew Neitzel, 6-2 Travis Walton and 6-0 Kalin Lucas.

The problems for Temple are defense around the basket and rebounding. The Owls are just ordinary defensively, and were actually our-rebounded on the season by their opponents, allowing a high 11.4 offensive rebounds per game. And once again an Izzo team attacks the glass tenaciously. The Spartans won the battle of the boards by 7.1 per game vs. a tough schedule, and averaged 12.4 offensive caroms per outing in that span. There are some easy put-backs just waiting to happen.

So what do we have here? An invitation for Michigan State to speed the pace a bit, and the RSVP will be favorable. Izzo will relish the chance to run vs. this class of opponent, with plenty of points available by attacking the rim. Meanwhile a confident Temple team does not back down, with Christmas and Tyndale able to more than hold their own. And in a game that we expect to be competitive there are not going to be many points left under the table - the Owls have shot 74.1 percent from the free throw line this season, and the Spartans 73.1. The pieces are in place for an easy Over.

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Stephen Nover

Portland State @ Kansas
PICK: Portland State

REASON FOR PICK: The marketplace has acted decisively on this matchup backing Portland State. The line has come down, but not down enough to ignore Portland State.

The Vikings have enough talent and moxie to get the cover here. Portland State has come on to win 14 of its last 15 games. Kansas is a powerhouse, but the Vikings won't be intimidated having gone against some of the finest Pac-10 teams, including UCLA, Washington State and Washington.

There's no pressure on Portland State. A No. 16 seed has never won a first-round NCAA matchup. Kansas, though, has proven to be vulnerable during the opening round. The Jayhawks lost to a No. 14 seed three years ago in the first round and fell to a No. 13 seed in the opening round two years ago.

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Jimmy The Moose

Game: Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins
Prediction: over

Reason: The Lightning played last night and gave up 7 goals in a 7-4 loss to the Sabres. Look for Tampa to be a tired team vs. the Penguins who are very very good offensively. The Penguins have played the over in 5 straight games and 8 of their last 10. The over is 5-0 in their last 5 vs. Eastern Conference opponents. Their last 4 games vs. a team with a losing record have played over the total. Play the over tonight.

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FAIRWAY JAY

CBB 20* Big Drive: Xavier -8.5

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DR. BOB SPORTS

3* Purdue
3* USC
3* Mich State
3* Oral Rob
2* Wash State

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Right Angle Sports

2008 NCAA Tournament - First Round

THURSDAY

Oral Roberts (+8.5) vs Pittsburgh - 12:00pm Pacific - Game #729-730
ORU is extremely well coached by Scott Sutton and is making their third consecutive trip to the big dance. The Eagles have multiple marquee wins over major conference teams over the past four seasons and this year they beat Oklahoma State by 15 in Oklahoma City. They also played at Texas A&M, at Texas, and at Arkansas, losing by an average of 11.6ppg which after taking points away for home court would be good enough to cover in this spot. The losses at Arkansas (led at half by 5) and at Texas (trailed by 2 at half) were particularly competitive. ORU is dominated by upperclassmen and ranks #2 in the country in experience by KenPom. They have held opponents to just .397 from the field this season which ranks 23rd nationally. ORU has ten players who average double digit minutes which is a big factor in the high altitude of Denver. Depth, particularly in the front court is not a strength for Pitt who primarily uses just an 8 man rotation. The Panthers are coming off an emotionally and physically challenging four game in four day Big East tournament championship. It was even more special for them with 5 New Yorker's on the roster and having lost in the final the previous two seasons. With Pitt's depth and fatigue issues and ORU's solid half court defense this figures to be a low scoring game. Pitt will have to play near perfect to cover this big number. Take the points.

Play: Oral Roberts +8.5 1 UNIT

Kansas State vs USC (-3.5) - 4:10pm Pacific - Game #721-722
USC is young but very talented with all five starters likely having high level professional careers in their future. The Trojans were raw in non-conference play but still beat four postseason participants by double digits in November alone. They have proven to be competitive with the best teams in the country as they own a win over #1 seed UCLA in Pauley, while losing to #1 seeds Memphis in OT and Kansas by just four. The Memphis loss was played in New York just two days after the Kansas loss and could have been won by the Trojans in regulation with one more made free throw. USC finished the regular season winning 11 of 15 games in arguably the best conference in the country. This was despite losing their most experienced guard Hacket for three full games and all but 2 minutes of another due to injury. They downed tough bubble team Arizona State and played UCLA down to the wire in Pac-10 tourney proving their sharp form. Freshman standout OJ Mayo really stepped up late in the season averaging 24.3ppg over his last eight and showed the ability to take over games. USC is very well coached and have continued to improve all season. Kansas State is also very young but has not shown nearly the same maturity or late season improvement. The Wildcats struggle to shoot outside, play very suspect defense, and often take questionable shots. It was a down year in the Big 12 with a big dropoff after Kansas and Texas. KSU still stumbled to a 2-5 finish in their last seven games and have not been solid away from home all season going just 5-9. USC in comparison went 11-6 away from the Galen Center. Trojans simply outclass the Wildcats here. Give the points.

Play: USC -3.5 1 UNIT

Texas A&M vs BYU (+1.5) - 4:25pm Pacific - Game #737-738
BYU won the regular season MWC title for the second straight year and likely would have been tournament champions if UNLV was not the host. Their 27-7 record is their best 34 game record in 100+ years of history. Their 4-4 record vs the Sagarin top 50 and 11 wins away from home give them a much better resume than last year when they played Xavier close to the wire in a 2 point first round loss. The Cougars beat Louisville and held multiple second half leads vs Michigan State and North Carolina in non-conference play. They have a top notch big man, shoot very well, rebound, play defense, and have one of the best assist rates in the nation. Texas A&M finished just 8-8 in a down Big 12 and played just one true non-conference road game all season. They have struggled with point guard play all year which is a huge negative in the pressure packed environment of the NCAA tournament. With a large Mormon population in Southern California, BYU figures to have an advantage in fan attendance. Take the points and expect a mild upset.

Play: BYU +1.5 1 UNIT

FRIDAY

St. Mary's (+1) vs Miami Fla - 9:30am Pacific - Game #843-844
Everything fell together perfectly for the Gaels this season. With six key returners it was known they would be a good team, but no one had any idea how big of an impact late blooming Australian recruit Patrick Mills would make. Mills not only emerged as a consistent double digit scorer but led the team in assists and steals. Most importantly he made everyone on the team better. SMC has good size for a mid major, F Simpson and C Samhan are capable of playing with the big boys, and depth is solid with little dropoff in talent from 1 through 8. The Gaels are well coached, fundamentally sound, and can be successful playing different styles of basketball. SMC has beaten five different teams in the NCAA tournament field, are 11-5 in games away from home, and even played respectably at Texas. Miami has only beaten three NCAA tournament teams and are 8-8 in games away from home. The Hurricanes finished just .500 in a mediocre ACC and their two biggest wins came by just 1 and 3 points, both on their home court. After a 14-1 start, they are just 8-9 in last 17 games. Canes star guard McClinton went just 6-for-23 in two ACC tournament games. After shooting over 50% in November & December he is only .386 since. Expect the Gaels to get their first tournament win since 1959.

Play: St. Mary's +1 1 UNIT

Connecticut (-11) vs San Diego - 12:00pm Pacific - Game #827-828
Few teams enter the tournament as hot as the Huskies. UConn won 13 of their final 15 regular season games and if the Big East was not competitive enough, they added in a quality road win at Indiana in late January and a 12 point win over Georgia Tech in early February. All of this with third leading scorer Dyson (returned for last five games) missing nine games due to suspension. The Huskies lead the nation in blocked shots per game. Their superior size, strength, and athleticism figure to give San Diego fits. The Toreros have no business being in the dance, but parlayed home court advantage and a miracle comeback win in 2OT over St Mary's to upset Gonzaga in the WCC final. Before the WCC tournament USD went 2-8 (avg loss by 11.25 points) vs teams playing in the postseason, with one of those wins coming at Kentucky when the Wildcats were struggling and San Diego got four 3's from a walk-on freshman. San Diego lost starting guard Murdock (left team) midseason and returning rotation forward Fleming (injury redshirt) before the season. They have no seniors playing and only have 3 upperclassmen in the rotation. UConn will be the best team they have played all season and I do not expect a competitive game. The Huskies are still hungry from missing the tournament last year and will be focused. Give the points.

Play: Connecticut -11 1 UNIT

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GOLD SHEET EARLY BASKETBALL LTS RELEASES FOR THURSDAY

GEORGIA +8½ over Xavier

TEMPLE +7 over Michigan State

STANFORD -14½ over Cornell

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Rob Veno

West Virginia Over 137

Xavier Over 129.5

Blue Chip: USC -3

Marquette -6

20* Blue Chip: UCLA Over 122

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Priceless Picks

1 Unit on Pitt -8.5

I like the Pitt Panthers to keep right on rolling in round one of the Big Dance, riding the momentum they created by winning the Big East title.  Pitt comes in having won 5 straight games SU and 4 of its last 5 ATS.  Oral Roberts has been relying on its defense this season after losing last season's top two scorers.  Oral is going to have to be able to score against Pitt to keep this one close and I just don't see enough fire power on the roster.  Pitt was a Sweet 16 team a season ago and is playing its best ball of the year right now.  Bet Pitt as the Panthers advance to round two with ease.

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Mike Rose

Xavier -8.5 (-110)

3/20 XBOX NCAA TOURNAMENT ATS SIMULATIONS

Opening Round @ Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

(3) Xavier vs. (11) Georgia: The Bulldogs continue its excellent play it exhibited in the SEC Tournament and comes out on fire. They hold a 9-point lead at the break, 41-32, forcing Musketeer fans to drown their sorrows in their beers during the intermission. However, the Musketeers come out like gangbusters in the second half and open it up with a 15-0 run to take a lead they never surrender. However, the spread is in doubt in the final seconds, but Georgia’s last ditch 3-point attempt clanks off the rim and Stanley Burrell hits the final two FT’s of the game to allow Xavier to cover the spread.

Final Score: Xavier 77 Georgia 67

(11) Baylor vs. (6) Purdue: The Bears and Boilermakers went back and forth throughout the first 17 minutes of the contest, but PU was able to pull away in the last couple minutes to grab a 9-point lead at the half, 33-24. Head Coach Scott Drew must have given one heck of a halftime speech because the Bears started to look like the team that earned a bid to the dance right out of the gates in the second half. Senior guard Curtis Jerrells nailed back-to-back-to-back threes and the Bears took their first lead of the game at the 12-minute mark. Matt Painter’s club didn’t back down though as frosh phenom Robbie Hummel caught fire and scored the Boilers next 10 points to allow them to retake the lead. The score was all knotted up at 76 apiece with 17 seconds left on the clock and the Bears held possession of the ball. Everyone in the building knew it was Jerrells time, and they were right. After letting close to 12 seconds elapse, Jerrells bolted to the rim but instead of taking the shot he dished it off to a wide open Tweety Carter who let one go from beyond the arc. The ball touched nothing but nylon as the buzzer sounded, and the Bears were the proud owners of the first last second win in the tourney.

Final Score: Baylor 79 Purdue 76

(15) Belmont vs. (2) Duke: The Dookies wasted no time in getting ahead of the spread in their evening contest with the Belmont Bruins. Not seven minutes had elapsed from the game clock, yet the Blue Devils had already notched 37 points while holding Belmont to a miniscule 16. DeMarcus Nelson and John Scheyer were unloading from beyond the arc, and Greg Paulus had already registered 10 dimes. Duke held a 63-27 lead at the break, so Coach “K” decided to bring in his bench players to play a bulk of the second half. They went on to win by a 91-64 final count and cover the 20-point spread with ease.

Final Score: Duke 91 Belmont 64

(10) Arizona vs. (7) West Virginia: The Mountaineers came out simply on fire from beyond the arc! Alex Ruoff and Darris Nichols hit 7 of their first 8 attempts to give the Mountaineers a double-digit lead at the 10-minute mark. This left AZ Head Coach Kevin O’Neill scrambling searching for answers, but then his “ptp’ers” stepped up to chew into the lead. WV led 52-44 at the break. Arizona’s porous defense really turned it up in the second half and held WV scoreless for a four-minute mark to allow Bayless and company to tie it up. This took the air out of HC Bob Huggins club, and the Wildcats rolled from there on out. The final score looks closer than it was only because WV nailed a couple of desperation 3’s and the Wildcats kept splitting at the line. Huge underdog win for the Wildcats who now get the pleasure of taking on Duke in Round 2.

Final Score: Arizona 84 West Virginia 78

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Arthur Ralph

Super Picks XAVIER

900 GOLD KEY winner ORAL ROBERTS

Free Play: George Mason

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EZ WINNERS

5 STAR: (723) GEORGE MASON (+6.5) over Notre Dame
(Risking $550 to win $500)

3 STAR: (733) KENTUCKY (+6) over Marquette
(Risking $330 to win $300)

3 STAR: (709) ARIZONA (+2) over West Virginia
(Risking $330 to win $300)

2 STAR: (718) UNLV (+2) over Kent State
(Risking $220 to win $200)

2 STAR: (737) BYU (+2) over Texas A&M
(Risking $220 to win $200)

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Bobby Maxwell

Arizona +2 vs. West Virginia, at Washington, D.C.

Another comp play in the Big Dance today comes with Arizona as we side with the Wildcats to get the job done against West Virginia.

Arizona probably shouldn't be in the tourney based on records and how teams finished the season, but the Wildcats are in and these kids know how to play in the Big Dance. Look for them to be on a mission to prove everybody wrong and show that they belonged in this game.

Arizona beat Oregon State 87-56 in the opening round of the Pac-10 tournament last week then got eliminated by Stanford the next night 75-64, failing as a 2 1/2-point 'dog. But in the Big Dance they are on a 6-1 ATS run and they are 4-0 ATS after a loss, 6-2-1 ATS in non-conference games and 16-7 ATS at neutral sites.

West Virginia has failed in four of its last five neutral site games and got drilled in the semifinals of the Big East tourney, losing 72-55 to Georgetown as a three-point underdog. The Mountaineers come into this contest on a 2-4 ATS slide.

Arizona has got talent on its roster and Chase Budinger is as good as they come in the Pac-10. Look for the Wildcats to play inspired basketball and pull off the minor upset in this one. But grab the points just in case this is one of those fantastic NCAA finishes and they lose it at the buzzer.

3* ARIZONA


Joel Tyson

West Virginia -2.5 vs Arizona, at Washington, DC

Lay the small number as the West Virginia Mountaineers are set to take on the Arizona Wildcats. No way I can put trust in this Arizona team that is 8-18 ATS over their last 26 Thursday games, and have lost eight of their last 12 overall. Two of the four wins for the Cats were against lowly Oregon State, and Arizona has not put together back-to-back wins since January, as the Mounties have lost back-to-back contest just twice this year. Before being ousted from the Big East tournament the Mountaineers had won four straight, and seven of their last nine prior to their most recent defeat. Wva comes in ranked 2nd nationally in assist to turnover ration and 6th in the country in fewest turnovers. Play the Mountaineers to get the win and cover tonight.

2* WEST VIRGINIA


Bobby Maxwell

UNLV +2 vs. Kent State, at Omaha, Neb.

College hoops winner Wednesday when Utah went down to Utah and got the win and cover just like we said. Today the Big Dance kicks off and we've got a FREE winner coming on UNLV as the Rebels take on Kent State.

How is it UNLV is the higher seed, made it to the Sweet 16 in last year's NCAA tourney and is coming off three games that tested their mettle in the Mountain West Conference event, yet their an underdog in this one? I don't understand it and we're going to cash in on the mistake.

The Rebels destroyed BYU 76-61 in the MWC finals on Saturday, winning as a one-point favorite. This is after surviving a thriller against TCU and a semifinal close win over Utah. UNLV has now won four straight and seven of their last eight overall (5-2-1 ATS).

Kent State won the Mid-American Conference but who'd they beat there? Akron a couple times, a terrible Miami of Ohio team and Toledo? Not exactly BYU, TCU and New Mexico.

Remember the name Wink Adams for UNLV, he is a definite NBA prospect and he will not let the Rebels lose this one. UNLV is 23-8-1 ATS in non-conference action, 8-2 ATS in postseason play, 5-1-1 as a neutral-site underdog and 42-20-3 ATS against teams with a winning record.

Play the Rebels tonight and watch them win this one with defense and timely 3-point shooting.

4* UNLV


Sports Gambling Hotline

Temple +7 vs. MICHIGAN STATE - at Denver, Col.

We bring a 9-4 comp play run into the first day of the Big Dance!

Early action today, and we are interested in taking the points with Temple as they take on Michigan State.

Temple comes into this game brimming with confidence, as the Owls are riding a 7 game win and cover streak into the Pepsi Center. Temple is also making their backers plenty of cash with a spread mark of 19-7 their last 26 games on the season!

We expect the Owls to prove a tough out for Michigan State, as the Spartans were anything but Spartan on the road this year, going just 2-6 straight up their last 8 road games - Big 10 Tournament included! - and State has failed to deliver in the favorite role in 9 of their last 16 when laying the wood.

Michigan State may be able to pull this one out, but we feel the Owls are most definitely going to challenge for the possible upset, so we are very interested in grabbing any points they are giving in this spot.

Play on Temple.

2* TEMPLE


Drew Gordon

Kentucky +6 vs. Marquette at Anaheim, CA

Split my Freebies Wednesday, with winner coming on Valparaiso outright over Washington 72-71, but the loser coming on the 76ers failing to cover at home against the Nuggets 115-113. That brings me to 313-295-6 over my L614 Free Play releases! (Note: 11-2-1 overall run with paid plays, incl. a 3-0 Wednesday Sweep - See my website for more details)!

While many believe the injury to F Patrick Patterson effectively ended the Wildcats season, I disagree. There's no question it changes the Kentcuky offense, but in this specific match up, it won't make as much difference as you think and here's why:

Marquette is guard-heavy team, that depends almost solely on guards McNeal, James, and Mathews. Sure, they've got Lazar Hayward listed as a forward, but he's more of a tweener at 6'6. In other words, despite losing their best frontline player, Kentucky still has the personnel to match up with the Marquette. Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley are both experienced and extremely talented. Not to mention, sophomore F Perry Stevenson has stepped it up in Patterson's stead (18 points 10 boards against Florida March 9th).

One thing we know for sure about the Wildcats is they can play perimeter defense with the best of 'em, allowing their opponents to shoot just 39% from the floor on the season! Herein lies the problem for the Golden Eagles, as McNeal and James love to shoot the rock, but don't shoot it particularly well, at 45% and just 40% respectively.

Finally, let's talk motivation, as it appears for the first time in a long time, Kentucky is actually being underestimated. They had their struggles early on, but have matured well over the course of the season, going 10-4 ATS over their last 14 overall! Not to mention, they're an outstanding 9-1-1 ATS over their last 11 against the Big East! In the end, expect a razor close contest here, with the Wildcats defense helping them grab the cash in this one!

Take Kentucky plus the points over Marquette in this NCAA Tournament First Round match up.

2* KENTCUKY


Michael Cannon

Oral Roberts vs. Pitt -9, at Denver, CO

Lay the points with Pitt over Oral Roberts in the South Regional.

It's hard to think of a hotter team right now than Pitt.

They won the Big East tournament last week, knocking off ranked opponents Louisville, Marquette and finally Georgetown to grab the crown.

The Panthers won it the hard way, playing four games in four nights in the physical Big East.

Pitt looks like it's peaking at just the right time, and it's no coincidence their jump in play has happened with the return to full health of point guard Levance Fields.

Fields is a smart point guard who runs the half-court set to perfection for the Panthers and I expect him to lead the way to a big win this afternoon.

Oral Roberts brings with it some bad history of Mid-Continent/Summit League teams in the tournament. They have yet to cover in first-round Big Dance action since Southern Utah in 2001.

Pitt has crushed its last two first-round opponents, Wright State last year and Kent State in 2006.

Lay the points as Pitt cruises to the win and cover.

3* PITT


Drew Gordon

Oral Roberts +8' vs. Pittsburgh at Denver, CO

Split my Freebies Wednesday, with winner coming on Valparaiso outright over Washington 72-71, but the loser coming on the 76ers failing to cover at home against the Nuggets 115-113. That brings me to 313-295-6 over my L614 Free Play releases!

While everyone in the country seems to be riding this Panthers team in this afternoon's match up, let me be one of the few to tell you not to sleep on this Oral Roberts team. This is a dangerous match up for Pitt for several reasons, but let's start with their respective styles...

Both teams rely on hard-nosed defense to get the job done, which immediately sends up a red flag, because despite Pitt's red-hot play, they can be coaxed into a slower more methodical pace. Both teams had trouble scoring on the road this season, and with the Golden Eagles defense locking down opponents to the tune of 62 ppg on 39% shooting, I say they can keep this one within the number.

Second, speaking of the Panthers red-hot play, if we know Pitt is playing well, obviously oddsmakers know it too. Therefore, why would you play right into their hands by picking the favorite every uninformed bettor is going to side with? Make no mistake, Pitt will win this game, but its the margin I have real issues with.

Finally, March Mayhem is all about match ups, and this contest is no different. In order to hang with Pittsburgh you need the size to handle their frontcourt, and that's exactly what Oral Roberts has between 6'10 Shawn King (10 ppg, 6 boards/game, 65 swats) 6'8 F Marcus Lewis and 6'9 F Yemi Ogunoye. Young and Blair may be better players, but not by as much as everyone thinks. We haven't even mentioned G Robert Jarvis, who paces the Eagles with 16 ppg... He may be small, but he's dangerous (40% from 3-point).

Bottom line, this is Oral Roberts' "Super Bowl," and with the match ups they have, and the type of lockodown defense they play, look for them to keep this game within the number this afternoon.

Take Oral Roberts plus the points over Pittsburgh in this First Round NCAA Tournament match up.

2* ORAL ROBERTS


Karl Garrett

Texas A&M -2 vs. BYU - at Anaheim, Cal.

The G-Man is feeling strong about the Aggies tonight, as he feels this line is a definite mistake.

This Texas A&M team started the season like gangbusters, only to see a 9-9 close lump them in the middle of the pack in this Big Dance. There is still plenty of experience left of this team from last year's deep run, and coach Mark Turgeon was at the helm of Wichita State's deep run in the Dance a few March's ago.

Have to believe that experience will pay off against a tough BYU team that did close the year with wins in 15 of their final 17 games!

The G-Man feels the rugged Big 12 conference slate that A&M had to fight their way through is going to pay dividends in this spot tonight.

Very cheap price indeed on the Aggies, so lay the short price, and watch as Texas A&M puts in a workman-like 8-point win and cover over the Cougars.

A&M to the second round!

3* TEXAS A&M


Michael Cannon

Texas A&M vs. BYU (+2), at Anaheim, CA

Take the small number with Byu tonight in the West Region over Texas A&M.

I prefer the seasoned Cougars in this matchup over the inconsistent Aggies.

Byu has won 15 of its last 17 games overall while Texas A&M dropped five of its last seven regular season games.

The Cougars have a big advantage in the backcourt and that is imperative in these tournament games. If Byu can continue to shoot well from beyond the arc (where four players average better than 34 percent), then they can pull away in this game.

The Aggies offense averages 16 ppg fewer on the road, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them struggle from the field.

Take Byu as they grab the cash tonight.

3* BYU

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