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WINNING POINTS

EAST REGIONAL

Washington State over North Carolina by 1

The world saw 113 points and 108 points scored last weekend by the Tar Heels against a bunch of runnin’ fools wearing Mount St. Mary’s and Arkansas uniforms. Isn’t that special, topping 100 in front of all your adoring North Carolinians, setting yourself up to be contrasted into 2008 oblivion by Tony Bennett’s slow-paced Cougars? Stealing possessions from North Carolina is like taking candy from a baby. It will become upset. A whiny baby forces a parent – Roy Williams – to get distracted while attempting to go about his business. The Tar Heels’ specialty in 2008 has been wearing opponents down in the second half. But at the pace Washington State plays (59.7 possessions per game), they avoid getting worn down. See Butler against Tennessee last Sunday for a prime example of this phenomenon. Butler (61 possessions per game vs. Tennessee’s 72) – outscored early – nevertheless had plenty of energy for a second-half comeback.The teams that North Carolina generally runs into the ground are the free-wheeling types who want to score points ASAP and compile scoring averages that draw the attention of NBA scouts. Washington State is not that kind of opponent. The systematic upperclassmen patiently run their sets, scoring from many angles while sucking up time and forcing opposing kids for whom defense is a chore – not a responsibility – to play it for 35 seconds when they’d rather be takin’ it to the hole or swishin’ it. Tony Bennett uses the same game-plan that annihilated Notre Dame, crossing out “Harangody” substituting “Hansbrough,” and sweating a lot more to be able to sing: ‘I’m a stranger in paradise!’ WASHINGTON STATE, 63-62.


Louisville over Tennessee by 1

Little Ricky prepares Louisville to play many different ways during the course of a season. Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl is content to let the Vols just run around, game-night after game-night, which is why Tennessee had trouble putting away a team like Butler despite enjoying numerous physical mismatches. In this game, there are no real physical mismatches for Tennessee to enjoy. Instead of wild drives to the hole by A.J. Graves and Michael Green of Butler – wispy by comparison to Louisville’s guards – Tennessee will have to defend against stronger finishers, and an offense that benefits overall from the versatility of 6-11 Scott Padgett. The Vols’ usual pressure – if they choose to employ it – figures to be wasted against the coach who wrote the book on pressing defense. ‘Hello, Bruce. We’re Louisville, remember? We practice against this stuff even if we may not show it in every game like you do!’ The strategy chosen by Boise State’s Greg Graham against Louisville was to “pack it in a little bit and take away the paint. The 3-point game [34.8%] is not their strong suit.” Yet Louisville hit 12-of-24 three-pointers against Boise despite early foul trouble against Padgett. Tennessee probably has better shooters overall and their assist-to-turnover ratio is much better, but they also played many games against do pey and young SEC opponents and struggled twice against Kentucky’s physical game. But their ability to hit tough shots must be respected.LOUISVILLE, 74-73.


UCLA over Western Kentucky by 17

The double-digit points will look attractive to many, but Western Kentucky rebounds
will be few and far between in this affair. The Hilltoppers would like the reason for that to be an overabundance of their own 3-pointers dropping through the hoop, but as the game progresses, their make-rate figures to decline from using too much energy to keep pace with UCLA’s overall efficiencies on both ends of the floor. WKU head coach Darrin Horn might force Ben Howland to go small if Lee, Brazleton, Mendez-Valdez and Rogers are on with their three-pointers, but playing with Shipp, Collison and Westbrook on the floor at the same time is no problem for the Bruins, given the shooting range of normal point-guard Collison, and Westbrook’s ability to play the point. A three-ball barrage by Western Kentucky will do next-to-nothing in tagging productive UCLA center Kevin Love with fouls, and even in a big vs. little match-up, the Bruins can power their way to the hole for easy twos while Western Kentucky is firing up lower-percentage shots from long-range. UCLA has too many ways to play, and too many players that know how to get it done. Western Kentucky isn’t physical enough to give the Bruins any cause to pause and figure it all out – like Texas A&M did. UCLA,
81-64.


Xavier over West Virginia by 4

While current West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins’ tenure at Cincinnati overlapped
with Sean Miller’s at Xavier, the Musketeers were 2-0 ATS against Huggins’ Bearcats.
But Huggie Bear does have some knowledge of the senior Xavier players Stanley Burrell and Josh Duncan, because both played against his Cincinnati team in 2005.We admire Xavier a lot, because near the end of the regular season, they were playing uphill on the A-10 road, getting key players with two and three fouls against them in the first half,yet beating teams with winning records anyway. Our Executive Club won back-to-back game-day releases with them last weekend and the Musketeers are now, surprisingly enough, 15-15 ATS for the year. If you like Xavier, your worst fear is often 5-7 point guard Drew Lavender driving inside shooting layups. He can’t get close enough to the hoop for his layups to be the gimmes that they are for others. But West Virginia is not a defense with shot-swatting length or intimidating bulk. Lavender should be okay.West Virginia had the best mid-range offensive game in the Big East, but Xavier’s offensive percentages are better across the board, with five double-digit scorers, Burrell almost making it six, and West Virginia not quite there in the rebounding department to take advantage of Xavier’s suspect board work. XAVIER, 78-74

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THE SPORTS MEMO

NC - 8 1/2 WASH ST

Recommendation: Washington St.
Little has stood in the path of North Carolina through two rounds. The offense looks like a well-oiled machine, putting up back-to-back triple-digit games. Defensively, they haven’t been challenged in the slightest due to the margin they were up virtually all of both games. But things in round three aren’t going to come as easy. UNC’s first two opponents were nowhere near Washington State in terms of defensive ability. While North Carolina was blowing teams out by 30 points, Wazzu held high-flying Notre Dame – an Irish squad that scored 90-plus in five Big East games – to 41 points on 25% shooting.Big Easy Player of the Year, Luke Harangody, finished with 10 points on 3-of-17 shooting. People like points and UNC’s first two games were impressive, but WSU is playing the best defense of any team in the tournament right now. So the pressing question is even if Washington State is able to make this a half court game and hold UNC under 70 points, will it be enough? It doesn’t matter if North Carolina shoots 40% or 55%, they are going to get out and run. The Cougars don’t necessarily want to play at a breakneck speed, but this is a squad with enough talent that if UNC wants to trade baskets, we see no reason why they can’t keep up. Remember, at no time this season did we see North Carolina play the sort of team defense that made opposing teams nervous. Take the points


LOUISVILLE - 3 TENN
Recommendation: Louisville
Tennessee has not looked all that impressive thus far. They played an extremely sloppy game against Butler with 20 turnovers and failed to put the game away when they had the chance. Guard Chris Lofton has been a no-show in the tournament, hitting just 4-of-18 shots. Now in some instances, we see teams struggle their way into the Sweet 16 only to find their rhythm after a couple of close calls and some rest. The Vols are certainly capable of doing just that, but they aren’t going to be able to grind out a win against Louisville. The Cardinals are shooting 58% from the floor and 51% from three after two rounds. Defensively,Louisville did a number on Oklahoma’s two big men, Blake Griffin and Longar Longar, holding them to 10 points combined in the 78-48 win. A concern for Louisville needs to be its free throw shooting, which is a dismal 14-of-33, 42% combined in both tournament games. In our opinion, Louisville is the better overall team and certainly playing better basketball right now. While Tennessee is one of the more entertaining teams to watch, we don’t think they will be able to win a game we expect to be a half court affair. Look for Louisville to force the Volunteers out of their comfort zone of outside shots and fast break opportunities. The Cardinals should move on to the Elite Eight


W.VIRG -1 XAVIER

Recommendation: Xavier
Xavier came out very sluggish against both Purdue and Georgia and put big runs on both teams to earn two pointspread covering victories. The Musketeers can beat you a number of ways but are at their best when post players Josh Duncan and Derrick Brown are involved. Xavier also does a great job at getting to the free throw line. They took 33 free throws each in both tournament games, connecting on 53 combined. Defensively, they’ll face a West Virginia team that is very similar to Purdue in that every player on the court can shoot and also put the ball on the floor. The Mountaineers, known for their outside shooting prowess, took advantage of Duke committing too much to the perimeter. WVU then made them pay by attacking the paint and the win was nothing more than them being stronger and more athletic with the ball. WVU also registered 18 offensive rebounds, something that Purdue had success with against Xavier. We feel the advantage though lies in Xavier’s versatility. Duke is not even in the same stratosphere as Xavier defensively and West Virginia is not going to have as many open looks as they did in its first two games. If this game took place in the first round, we feel Xavier would be favored by close to three points so we see plenty of value now with the X-men as a small underdog.


UCLA - 12 1/2 W. KENTUCKY
Recommendation: UCLA

Like Memphis, UCLA had to grind out a close one in round two to advance. Texas A&M played as physical as the Bruins and late in the game was able to score at will in the paint. In watching UCLA big man Kevin Love, one will notice he is far from 100% healthy. Normally we see Love extending his defense outside the three-point line at times – a staple of UCLA’s defense – but his bad back greatly limited his mobility against the Aggies. And where in the world is the supporting cast of UCLA? Josh Shipp failed to make a field goal against A&M and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored just two points in both tournament games. UCLA is not winning the National Title without both of those guys improving their play. Western Kentucky is not only a good story but a good basketball team. Guard Courtney Lee is the real deal and is capable of matching scores with UCLA’s Darren Collison. The Hilltoppers made things interesting against Drake and San Diego, blowing comfortable leads in both. If they want to compete in this one, they can’t allow 10-0 runs from the Bruins because easy buckets are for the first time all season, going to be at a premium. Western struggled this season when forced to play a half court game, losing to South Alabama twice and Southern Illinois. And while UCLA is fresh off the heels of a 51 point effort against Texas A&M, they should have little trouble having a big offensive night against WKU. Lay the points with the Bruins.

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WILL SYKE

PORTLAND vs GOLDEN STATE

SYKE-O-ANALYSIS: First off I'd like to say how pissed the Warriors are after their loss against the Lakers two nights ago. Next off, I'd like to say how in the world did the Blazers beat the Wizards without their two scoring leaders? The Blazers will play with out Roy, and Aldridge again tonight. The Warriors don't lose two games in a row, and I emphasized this a couple times already. Along with that the Warriors know hoe important this game is in the fight for a playoff spot. I saw these two battle it out the last time they played, and the Warriors basically laid off the Blazers to get the cover at the end. But tonight there's no way they let this happen. And tonight we go the whole enchilada as the Warriors hit a homerun in all four quarters, making it a GRAND SLAM. Don't get psyched by the lines makers in scaring you about how much points the Warriors are giving up. Just stick with Sykes, as once again Sykes hits a GRAND SLAM with this 5* GEM.

GRAND SLAM 5* GEM: GOLDEN STATE -11.5

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CAJUN SPORTS

Play: 3* Denver -7.5

Score: Denver 118 Dallas 102

Comments: This game is extremely important for both of these teams as they fight for one of the final playoff spots in the West. With each team having only eleven games left this game becomes a huge game for the winner as they have a leg up owning the tie-breaker in case they finish the regular season with identical records. It certainly wont hurt the Nuggets feelings any to see the team leader for Dallas Dirk Nowitzki sitting on the bench for this contest as he has scored 32 points per game and snatched 12 boards against the Nuggets this season. The Nuggets have been playing well of late and taking care of their backers as well, they have covered 10 of their last 12 games heading into tonight?s match up with Dallas. This series has been dominated against the spread lately by the host team as they have covered 8 of the last 9 series meetings. Another positive note for the Nuggets is the fact that Dallas has not defeated a team with a winning record since acquiring Jason Kidd. A closer look at the scoring performance of the Denver Nuggets we see over their last 15 games they have averaged 119 points per game, this triggers a negative situation for Dallas because we know they are 44-111 ATS since 1996 in road games when they allow 105 or more points. We don?t expect Dallas to be able to hold this Nuggets team under that number and if they cannot their chances of covering the spread are not very high based on their past performance in this situation. The Mavericks coming off four straight ATS losses now installed as a conference underdog of 7 to 10 points are 0-5 ATS. The Nuggets have excelled when coming off road trips under the right situation, if they are coming in off five straight road games now playing a conference home game they are 9-1-1 ATS. Finally we have a few league wide angles that apply to Denver. The first tells us that teams that won SU in their last three road games now at home are 134-86-5 ATS. If they are a favorite in that game they are 193-137-7 ATS. Teams that won both SU and ATS in three straight road games and are now at home they are 83-49-3 ATS. If these teams are installed as a favorite coming off three SU/ATS wins they are 104-75-3 ATS. The last league wide angle tells us that teams coming off three SU/ATS road wins and now installed as a home favorite are 71-44-2 ATS. Combine all of our technical, fundamental and situational factors and Denver gets the call as our 3* NBA Super Situation Winner.

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JB 
Heat/Pistons UNDER


JWhip
North Carolina -8.5


Matty O'Shea
Louisville -3

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Black Widow Sports

1* on UCLA UNDER 133.5

We will take the UNDER 133.5 points here where Western Kentucky is a perfect 8-0 UNDER when the total is 130 to 139.5 this season.  Not once has Western Kentucky gone over the total in this spot.  UCLA is 27-13 UNDER when the total is 130 to 139.5 over the last 3 seasons.  UCLA is 14-3 UNDER when seeded 4 or higher in the NCAA tournament since 1997.  UCLA and Texas A&M combined for just 100 points in a 51-49 Bruins’ victory in the Round of 32.  Western Kentucky has been scoring at will, but the points won’t come very easy against a UCLA defense that is allowing just 52.4 points per game over their last 5 games.  Take the UNDER 133.5 points.

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InfoPlays

3* on Golden State Warriors -11

Golden State catches Portland at home in a great spot tonight.  The Warriors are coming off a loss to the Lakers, hurting their playoff hopes.  Golden State will respond in a big way Thursday against a banged up Blazers’ squad.  Portland will be playing without their best player in Brandon Roy tonight.  Their best post player, Lamarcus Aldridge, is questionable after sitting out the Blazers’ last game.  Portland is 3-14 ATS after 2 straight games where opponent was called for 18 or less fouls over the last 3 seasons.  Portland is 1-8 ATS versus up-tempo teams averaging 83 or more shots/game - 2nd half of the season this season.  The Warriors simply have too much offensive firepower for the injury-plagued Blazers.  Bet Golden State at home.

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Kelso

Best Bets 5 units Portland +10 @ Golden St

March Madness
10 units Louisville -3
5 units Xavier +1
3 units North Carolina -8.5
3 units WKy/UCLA UNDER 133.5

No Chairmans Club

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PPP/GAVAZZI

4* Xav

3* W Ky

3* Louis

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PLAYERS ADVANTAGE

North Carolina Tar Heels (-) vs Washington State

The Cougars have used favorable draws to get past the first two rounds with ease. Of course the Tar Heels have too but North Carolina as proven time and time again that they can step up when necessary. As for Washington State, they went 0-5 this season against Stanford and UCLA (the other two Pac Ten teams still alive in the tournament). In round one of this tourney, the Cougars had their hands full with Winthrop in the first half before dominating the second half but the Eagles of Winthrop certainly aren’t comparable to the Heels of North Carolina! As for round two, the Cougars managed to blow out a Notre Dame offense that just may have been overrated! Consider that the Fighting Irish ended their season with a 2-6 record in games against ranked teams. All of the sudden, the Cougars victory over the Irish is not so impressive.

Thursday, Washington State is taking a big step up in level of competition as they face a team that many believe will win it all this season. North Carolina has so much depth and talent offensively that we just don’t see the Cougars defense being able to hold this team in check. While we do respect what Tony Bennett has done with this Washington State team their slow and conservative play is not going to get the job done here. With Ty Lawson now healthy he combines with other talents on this Tar Heels offense to give North Carolina the ability to break defenses down. Even rock solid ones like Washington State has. The Cougars were last this season in the Pac Ten in offensive rebounds. Of course, that’s because they don’t hit the boards hard on that end because they’re already looking to get back on the defensive end once the shot goes up. This does help slow fast break opportunities going the other way but North Carolina absolutely can execute in a half-court offense.

Look for the Tar Heels defense to help create some opportunities as well. Defense is certainly not the forte of North Carolina but we’ve seen Tar Heels Coach Roy Williams in similar situations in the past where he was able to get his defense to step up when it matters most. Remember 2005 in St Louis? Solid defense played a big role then for the Tar Heels and it can again here. This is especially true since the Cougars aren’t exactly loaded with playmakers on offense. In fact, another key here is that Marcus Ginyard is a rock solid defender for the Tar Heels and he can hold the Cougars top threat Kyle Weaver in check in this game. The Cougars were just 10-8 their last 18 heading into the tournament and their big wins over Winthrop and Notre Dame are getting them a little too much respect from the odds maker here. In what is essentially a home game for the Tar Heels and a cross country road trip for Washington State, we’ll gladly side with the high powered Heels in this one.

Play North Carolina minus the points as a regular selection.

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INDIAN COWBOY

PLAY OF THE DAY: DALLAS vs DENVER

Play: Mavs/Nuggets Under 217.5 (POD)

Mavs/Nuggets Under 217.5 (POD) This is my POD for today and frankly my only play as I am not fond of the college card although I do believe the college card holds value for Friday and this weekend and those selections are to come tomorrow afternoon and the weekend for the upcoming days. As per this play, if the Mavs are to be competitive in this game, they must play defense. They cannot allow 160+ as the Sonics did or 130+ points Memphis did. This play of course goes against the public grain who think by a margin of roughly 2:1 that this game will go over. However, keep in mind that this is the Mavs first game without Dirk on the road. On top of that, if they have any shot in this game, they must play defense which Avery will preach over and over again about getting back on defense. This team thus will focus on defense and will be hindered on offense on the road. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this game does not top 200 nevertheless 217.5 where this line stands now. Denver has scored over a 100 points in their last 10 ballgames, but, the Mavs have played the under in 4 of their last 5 ballgames. The under is 5-1 when the Mavs play a team with a winning record straight up meaning they play defense against the better teams in the league and the under is 11-4 for the Nuggets when they play teams with a straight up winning record as well not to mention the under is 11-4 in the last 15 meetings. I think people will be surprised by the low scoring that takes place in this game tonight.

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Jimmy Thompson Guaranteed Selections

Game Louisville -3

If your were asking us right now who the best team in the country is it would be tough to say between UNC and Louisville. The unfortunate thing here is that if they meet it will be 2 rounds before they should. Just by the line you can see that Louisville is more respected by the oddsmakers than Tennessee. There are a couple of reason for this, one is that Louisville has been rolling the past for more than a month and as 2 weeks ago they were a very possible number 1 seed, but losses to Georgetown and Pitt stalled those hopes. Meanwhile Tennessee, although with a signature win over Memphis they have been less than dominant in conference and during this tournament so they appear ripe to get beat. Louisville's defense has been awesome in their first 2 games and that defense will be the difference in what will be a fast paced game. The Cardinals have better interior players and if Smith shoots the ball well they could win this game big. We like Louisville to advance with a 80-68 win!

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ATS March Madness

4 Unit N. Carolina

4 Unit Western Kentucky

3 Unit West Virginia

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Winning Points Online

**PREFERRED
Golden State* over Portland by 20

Brandon Roy is out for the Blazers. They won't be making the playoffs. Golden State is playing to avoid falling below the #8-seed line. Steve Blake -- sure, he'll hold Portland together in this match-up, especially if recently injured LaMarcus Aldridge also misses the game for Portland, right? Wrong.

GOLDEN STATE 112-92

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Rob Veno

Blue Chip: Denver Over 217

North Carolina Under 142.5 

Xavier Over 136

20* Blue Chip: UCLA Over 133 

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ER Sports

20* Playmaker: Memphis Over 134 

Playmaker: Tennessee +3

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Fairway

20* Big Drive: Xavier +1 

20* Big Drive: Memphis Over 136.5 

Xavier Under 136

Western Kentucky +12

NBA Miami +22

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Gina

Miami Heat (13-58) at Detroit Pistons (50-21)

The sorrowful Miami Heat have played the Pistons tough in the past and did lose a close, 100-95 fight earlier this season on February 6 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Miami is a pitiable team, but has been lucrative, 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games and 8-2-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings against Detroit. Take Miami to cover the huge 21½ point spread. The Heat has covered the spread in four of the last 5 meetings in Detroit.

Miami Heat


Miami Heat + 21½
Portland Trail Blazers + 11½

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Mr. A

Denver Nuggets - 9

Portland Trail Blazers + 10

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