Sunday Service Plays
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Davidson @ Georgetown
REASON FOR PICK: I said before its game with Gonzaga that Davidson was "this year's Winthrop." Winthrop had been "knocking on the door" of a first round NCAA tourney win for years and finally got it against Notre Dame last year. I felt it is was Davidson's turn this year and behind a 40-point game from Curry (30 in the second half), I was right. Davidson beat Gonzaga, 82-76. Curry (25.5-4.7) and PG Richards (12.7-8.1 APG) are a super backcourt duo but frontcourt starters, the 6-8 Sander (7.6-4.9) and the 6-8 Lovedale (7.5-5.7), are up for big matchup problems against Georgetown. The 6-8 Meno (7.5-5.7) and the 6-7 Rossiter (3.2-3.4) contribute as reserves but the Wildcats' frontline is no match for the Hoyas. The 7-2 Hibbert (13.6-6.5) and the 6-8 Summers (11.2-5.4) were a big part of LY's Final 4 team, as was 6-8 sixth-man, Ewing (6.3-4.3). While Curry is clearly the most outstanding guard on the floor, Wallace (10.7), Sapp (9.6-4.1-3.3) and freshman Freeman (9.1) will be just fine. Wright (5.5), another freshman, adds depth on the perimeter. Much has been made regarding Davidson's close home losses this year vs North Carolina and Duke, plus its respectable 12-point loss at UCLA. However, a look at the Wildcats' schedule also reveals losses at Western Michigan, UNC-Charlotte and NC State. Go back to LY's first round NCAA game, an 82-70 loss to Maryland, and that makes seven straight losses vs major or mid-major competition prior to Gonzaga. Now this year's Gonzaga team was flawed, unlike Georgetown, which entered the tourney allowing opponents to score just 57.3 PPG and to shoot only 36.4 percent. Against UMBC, the Hoyas held the Retrievers to 47 points on 32.0 percent shooting, IMPROVING on their regular season averages! The Hoyas are not only a great defensive team but run Thompson's "Princeton-like" offense pretty darn well, having shot 48.7 percent from the floor this year, after last year's Final 4 team shot 50.5 percent over its 37-game season. Bye-bye Davidson. Lay the reasonable number with Georgetown.
Re: Sunday Service Plays
David Malinsky 4*
San Diego @ Western Kentucky
PICK: San Diego
Both of these teams staged overtime upsets on this court on Friday, in exhilarating games that went to the final shot. But they did it in much different fashion, and we are not sure that the right team is favored here, much less by the amount that is being called for.
Western Kentucky showed a lot of athleticism and heart, but not a lot of polish. It was as much an “escape” as a “win”, with Drake getting one more field goal attempt, and 19 more free throw attempts, but missing enough shots for the Hilltoppers to survive. Meanwhile Western was knocking down 14-28 triples, which was just barely enough to get by in a game in which the offense turned the ball over 22 times. And it was not as though any one or two players were careless with the ball - five different Hilltoppers gave it away at least three times. As for late-game poise, not only did a huge lead get away through their sloppiness, but a terrible foul (see yesterday’s edition of ”THE TOURNEY JOURNEY” in the overtime period nearly gave the game away.
Of course some of those turnovers came from the Drake pressure, but the reality is that it was not something all that new for a team that now has 489 for the season, vs. only 435 assists. And that was hardly against a difficult schedule - the only non-conference game against an NCAA tourney opponent was a loss to Gonzaga in Alaska back in November, and they were swept by South Alabama during the regular season. This is the type of team that has the raw athleticism to ge to this stage, but not the polish to go any further.
?Contrast those rough edges with the way that San Diego is playing under Bill Grier. The Torreros only turned the ball over 11 times in those 45 minutes vs. Connecticut, and with a savvy veteran floor leader in Brandon Johnson they are not going to be bothered all that much by the Western presses. They will methodically settle into their flow, and the Hilltoppers are not anywhere near their best when it is half-court basketball. And while the favorite in this one did not face a lot of challenges this season, note that the same difficult schedule that cost San Diego in terms of wins and losses early in the campaign (and subsequently in terms of the power ratings that establish this line), now means a great deal in terms of developing toughness - they played six games away from home against teams that made it to one of the post-season tournaments, and then road games at St. Mary’s and Gonzaga in WCC play. It would not be a surprise in our book if they turned this into a grinder of a game that they won outright, which makes the points being offered a significant edge.
Re: Sunday Service Plays
LT Profits Sports Group
The Oklahoma offense has been throwing up bricks on the road lately, so do not expect much improvement vs. a good Louisville defense. Look for a rather safe Under.
The Louisville Cardinals have held opponents to just 38.6 percent shooting this season, while the Under is also 7-1 in the last eight Oklahoma Sooners games, so look for a low-scoring contest today.
In fact, given that the Sooners are averaging 61.1 points on 40.8 percent shooting on the road, they may have trouble scoring much more than 50 points here. Their average has plummeted further to an anemic 51.8 points over their last four road games, thanks to back-to-back games where they scored 45 points at Texas and Nebraska.
The Cardinals have gone Under in three of the last four games, holding their opponents to 61 points or less in each of the three Unders. Their defense has been just as stifling on the road as it has at home, as Louisville is holing opponents to 39.0 percent shooting away from home. Now granted, they are averaging 72.2 points offensively overall, but given that we don’t expect Oklahoma to top 50, we still feel this game stays Under.
Do not expect to see more than 120 total points scored here.
Pick: Oklahoma, Louisville Under 126
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Wizards +3 over Pistons
Western Kentucky -5.5 over San Diego
Both teams had great last second wins, but Western Kentucky put together one of the best games I have ever seen. The refs seemed like they were doing all they could to have Drake win that game and still no dice. Western Kentucky can shoot lights out from 3 point land and should advance to the Sweet Sixteen
Villanova -5 over Siena
Again, people still want to see upsets. Siena did a great job at stopping Vandy, but Nova has played tough competition all year and really will have the experience to advance to the next round. The public is betting Siena heavily hoping to see another upset.
Tennessee -4.5 over Butler
The Vols were the hottest team in the country a month ago and could have been a number one seed. Butler is a good team, but when you talk pound for pound talent the Vols have way more. Once again, everyone is all over Butler. We have seen our fair share of upsets and now I think the better teams will start taking care of business.
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Davidson 5.5 vs Georgetown
Analysis: The Davidson Wildcats bring a nation-leading 23-game winning streak into this matchup against the Georgetown Hoyas and are a perfect 4-0 ATS as an underdog this season. Two of those dog covers came against top seeds UCLA and North Carolina while another was against Duke, which is proof Davidson can play with the big boys. The Wildcats should have a majority of the fans in Raleigh rooting for them to pull off the upset and advance to the Sweet 16. They also have arguably the best player in the tournament in Stephen Curry, who scored 40 points against Gonzaga in the first round and has hit more 3-pointers than anybody in the country. Curry connected on 8-of-10 shots from beyond the 3-point arc against the Bulldogs and will be the focus of Georgetown's defense. But Davidson has other offensive options and will be ready for one of their biggest games ever. There's just something about the Hoyas that I don't like this year, and it surfaced in a loss to Pitt in the Big East Tournament title game. They tend to be overconfident in certain situations, and I think this will end up being one of them. Bet Davidson as my Double Dime NCAA Tournament Underdog Play O' the Week.
WAS 3.0 vs DET
It's hard to figure out what's motivating the Detroit Pistons nowadays - if anything. They have already clinched a playoff berth and are pretty much locked into the second seed in the Eastern Conference. We faded them on Wednesday at Washington and will do so again here against what should be a very motivated Washington Wizards team playing on national television. The Wizards begin a tough five-game road trip after this game and would love nothing more than to gain some more confidence at home against the Pistons after winning at Orlando and Miami. Detroit is just 1-4 ATS in its last five road games and 1-4 ATS this season when playing with three days of rest or more. Look for another letdown for the Pistons and bet the Wizards as my Double Dime NBA TV Play O' the Week.
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Game: Oklahoma vs. Louisville
Prediction: under Reason: I'm playing on Louisville and Oklahoma to finish UNDER the number. The Cardinals played a very high-scoring team (Boise State) in their opener, as the Broncos came into that game having averaged 84.8 points in 17 road/neutral games on the season. The Cardinals dominated defensively though, holding the Broncos to a mere 61 points. The Broncos hit 40 percent of their 3-point attempts this season, putting them among the nation's top 20, but were just 4-for-17 against the aggressive Louisville defense. Rick Pitino would comment: "We did a good job of stopping a tremendous 3-point shooting team." Despite the Cardinals shooting well themselves, the game still fell comfortably below the closing number. That marked the third time in four games that the Cardinals have held an opponent to 61 points or less, as they limited Georgetown to 55 and Villanova to 54. Note that the UNDER is now 24-13 their last 37 non-conference games which had a total. Additionally, its also worth noting that the Cardinals have seen the UNDER go 13-7 the last 20 times that they played with one day or less worth of rest in between games. While Friday's opponent averaged nearly 85 points per game on the road, today the Cardinals will face an opponent which scored a mere 62.8 points per game on the road this season, averaging just 27.1 in the first half. The Sooners make up for their lack of offensive explosiveness by playing solid defense, allowing an average of 63.4 points per game for the season and 62.4 their last five games. The Sooners saw their opener vs. St. Joseph's finish above the number with 136 (72-64) combined points. However, they'd previously seen seven straight games fall below the number. Despite Friday's result, the Sooners have still seen the UNDER go a highly profitable 44-25 their last 69 non-conference games which had a total. During that stretch, they've seen the UNDER go 44-21 (68%) when listed as underdogs. Cardinals forward Terrence Williams said: "This will be kind of the battle of our bigs versus their bigs." I also expect a physical defensive affair with the UNDER improving to 7-2 on the season when Louisville played a game with an over/under line in the 120s. *Blue Chip
Game: Butler vs. Tennessee
Prediction: Tennessee Reason: I'm laying the points with TENNESSEE. The fact that Butler has been covering lately while Tennessee has been struggling against the spread, has given us excellent line value with what I feel is the stronger team. Yes, both teams have 30 victories. However, Butler's victories came against significantly weaker opponents as Tennessee had to deal with the likes of Arkansas, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida in SEC play play while Butler faced teams like Detroit, Youngstown State and Wright State in the Horizon League. Taking a look at the losses shows that Butler can be beaten by somewhat mediocre teams while the Volunteers only lose vs. the toughest teams or at the toughest venues. While Tennesee's losses came vs. Texas, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Arkansas, Butler's losses came against Wright State, Cleveland State and Drake. The Bulldogs didn't beat any really elite teams either. On the other hand, the Volunteers knocked off Memphis when the Tigers were #1. They also beat the likes of Xavier, West Virginia and Gonzaga in non-conference action. After failing to win their conference tournament and not getting a #1 seed, the Vols come into the tournament with a chip on their shoulder. As Tennessee star Chris Lofton had to say: "We're out to prove something, so it should be a great game." The Vols got their "wake up call" in the first round as American hung around longer than expected and covered the spread. They'll be fully focused here, particularly as Butler beat them early last season, holding the Vols to a season low (44) in total points. As Lofton said: "Last year we overlooked Butler, being from the Horizon League." They won't make that same mistake twice. They're 3-1 SU/ATS after failing to cover the spread in three consecutive games the past few seasons and I expect them to record a convincing victory here. *Personal Favorite
UNDER Memphis/Miss. State
Game: Mississippi State vs. Memphis
Prediction: under Reason: I'm playing on Memphis and Mississippi State to finish UNDER the number. Its true that Memphis has an excellent offense, as they averaged 79.9 points per game. That number is somewhat lower on the road though, as they averaged 75.1 points in 15 games away from home. Note that the Tigers numbers are somewhat inflated due to playing in the relatively weak Conference USA. The Tigers did show that they were capable of playing low-scoring games when matched up against solid defensive non-conference teams earlier in the season though, as they beat Oklahoma 63-53 and beat USC 62-58. While Tigers' offense gets all the attention, the defense is also very strong. In fact, the 63 points they allowed in the first round was the most they had given up in their past six games. Their previous five opponents finished with scores of 51, 53, 56, 56 and 55. Despite their opener slipping over the number, the Tigers have still seen the UNDER go 17-7-1 their last 25 games in March. During the same stretch, they've seen the UNDER go 17-8 when playing with one or less day's rest in between games and 27-18 in 45 games (with a total) after scoring 80 or more points in their previous game. They'll face a strong Mississippi State defense which will be attempting to slow down the pace as much as possible. The Bulldogs allowed 64 points when playing away from home this season, while seeing the UNDER go 10-5. Look for the Bulldogs' Charles Rhodes and Jarvis Varnado to make things difficult inside and force the Tigers into a slower game. Note that the 6-9 sophomore Varnado needs six blocked shots to break Shaquille O'Neal's SEC record of 158, set in 1991-92. The Bulldogs faced Oregon in the first round and it became clear that the Ducks were intimidated by Varnado. Not only were they scared to come inside but they shot horribly from long-range, going just 2 of 21 with their second half 3-point attempts. I feel that the number is generous and I look for the final score to be lower than expected with the UNDER improving to 5-0 the last five times that the Bulldogs were listed as neutral court underdogs of three points or less. *2nd Rd Total of the Year
Game: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
Prediction: Dallas Mavericks Reason: I'm laying the points with DALLAS. I have a lot of respect for the Spurs and its hard to imagine that facing them would represent a "step down in class" from anyone. That's arguably the case here though, as the Mavs come off games vs. the Celtics and Lakers, arguably the top current team from each conference. While it remains to be seen which team will prove to be the best come playoff time, I expect the Mavs to be the best this afternoon. The fact that they lost the games vs. LA and Boston (both losses were very close) and the fact that they have struggled to beat top tier teams since the Kidd trade, makes this an extremely important game - both for playoff positioning and for pyschological reasons. The team badly needs a big win over a quality opponent. The defending champs certainly qualify as a 'quality opponent' and I expect the Mavs to come out with their guns blazing. They've played the Spurs tough in all three games. They lost by two points at San Antonio in December. Last month, also at San Antonio, they lost by three points, covering as five point underdogs. However, when the teams met at Dallas, the Mavs won by double-digits. That's not really surprising as both teams are MUCH better at home. The Spurs are 28-6 at San Antonio but just 18-17 at home. The disparity is even bigger for Dallas as the Mavs are a poor 15-19 on the road but an excellent 29-6 at home. Including the earlier win, the Mavs have won four of the last six regular season series meetings with the Spurs. They've won those games by an average of 18.3 points per game. I believe this game is more important to the Mavs and I expect them to be the "hungrier" team. Look for them to deliver an Easter Sunday victory for the home fans, covering the small number along the way. *TV GOW
Game: Denver Nuggets vs. Toronto Raptors
Prediction: Toronto Raptors Reason: I'm laying the small number with TORONTO. The Raptors have struggled recently. However, those struggles have come without Chris Bosh in the lineup and primarily on the road. Bosh is back (24 points in 37 minutes on Friday) and the Raptors are playing a home game on Easter Sunday afternoon. Note that the Raptors, who regularly play home games on Sunday afternoon, are 12-5 their last 17 in that situation with 10 of those victories coming by a minimum of five points. Overall, the Raptors have won six of their last eight games here with the six victories coming by an average margin of more than 21 points! The Raptors will have payback on their minds as they were embarrassed at Denver recently. Note that they didn't have Bosh in the lineup for that game and that they were playing the middle game of a 5-game road trip. This time, its the Nuggets who are playing the fourth game of a 5-game road trip. More important than getting 'revenge,' the Raptors desperately just need a victory. They've slipped in the standings and are in danger of falling to 500 on the season. With Bosh in the lineup, they're a better team than that and I expect them to respond with a massive effort here. Its true that the Nuggets have been tough on Toronto in recent years. However, its also worth noting that the teams faced each other here on this exact day last year. The Raptors held Iverson and Anthony to a combined 6-of-27 from the field and the Raptors rolled to a 27 point victory. The Nuggets haven't fared particularly well as underdogs, going just 8-12 ATS (4-16 SU) when getting points this season. That includes a 0-6 SU and 2-4 ATS mark their last six and a 4-8 ATS (1-11 SU!) mark their last 12. I look for history to repeat itself and for the Nuggets to struggle here for the second straight year. *Best Bet