Saturday Service Plays

Saturday Service Plays

Robert Ferringo

Take New Mexico (-6.5) over UNLV

This is a projected line and I might even be selling the Lobos a bit short. They are one of the hottest mid-major teams in the country right now and they are fresh off a 29-point bludgeoning of Wyoming at The Pit. UNLV, on the other hand, took an overtime loss at home to San Diego State and I think that might have burst their bubble a bit. The Lobos have covered seven straight games and 10 of 11 overall, and they have in-season revenge for a tough two-point loss to the Rebels in Vegas in early January. They have won seven of eight in The Pit with five of those seven wins coming by 12 points or more (including their last four wins at home). We’re going to hope that UNLV’s name recognition keeps this line down and try to get on a hot team out west. 

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

SPORTS ADVISORS

(20) Syracuse (18-5, 9-10 ATS) at (17) Villanova (18-4, 11-7 ATS)

Surging Villanova goes after its fifth straight win when it takes on Syracuse in a Big East battle at the Wachovia Center.

The Wildcats won a shootout at Providence 94-91 Wednesday night, narrowly covering as a 2½-point chalk for their sixth consecutive spread-cover (5-1 SU), with the lone blemish in that stretch being a five-point road loss at current No. 1 Connecticut. Over the past six games, Villanova has held four opponents to 61 points or less and posted three double-digit victories, outshooting opponents 47.7 percent to 38.3 percent.

The Orange had a week off to regroup from a three-game SU and ATS skid, then ended that slump Wednesday by topping West Virginia 74-61 as a 1½-point home underdog. For the season, Syracuse has averaged 79.5 ppg on a sturdy 49.6 percent shooting, while allowing 70.7 ppg on 40.4 percent shooting. But the Orange have lost their last three roadies – all in Big East play – by an average of 12.7 ppg, despite shooting 47 percent from the floor.

Villanova has won three of the last four clashes in this rivalry (2-2 ATS), including an 82-63 blowout as a 2½-point pup in last year’s Big East tournament. The underdog has cashed in each of the last four meetings.

Along with their current 6-0 ATS run, the Wildcats are on a handful of positive pointspread streaks, including 8-3 as a favorite of less than 15 points, 5-0 against winning teams, 4-0 after a SU win, 5-0 after a spread-cover and 5-1 on Saturday. The Orange have cashed in five straight Saturday contests, but they are just 1-5 ATS in their last six following a spread-cover.

The over is on a 7-3 run in conference play for Villanova and is on a 6-2 run for Syracuse in Saturday games, but the under for the Wildcats is on rolls of 22-10-1 overall, 6-1 on Saturday and 10-3 after a SU win.

ATS ADVANTAGE: VILLANOVA


Notre Dame (12-9, 4-11 ATS) at (15) UCLA (18-4, 11-10 ATS)

Freefalling Notre Dame takes a break from the rigorous Big East for a West Coast trek to face UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.

The Fighting Irish tumbled to Cincinnati 93-83 Wednesday laying 2½ points on the road for their sixth consecutive SU loss and seventh straight setback at the betting window. During the six-game skid, Notre Dame has lost by no less than seven points and has fallen by double figures four times (all on the road). The Irish are averaging 72.4 ppg in their last five outings – nearly six points below their season average – while giving up an eye-opening 83.8 ppg.

The Bruins have been enjoying the comforts of home lately, ripping off a three-game SU and ATS streak, with all three wins coming by double digits. UCLA whipped archrival Southern Cal 76-60 Wednesday as an eight-point favorite to follow up a 15-point win over California and a 34-point pounding of Stanford. In their last five outings – including an 11-point loss at Washington – the Bruins are outscoring opponents by an average of 13 ppg (78-67) and shooting 51.5 percent from the floor, including 47.5 percent from three-point range.

These two teams have met just twice this decade, with both going 1-1 SU and ATS, and the road team winning and covering each time. In February 2004, Notre Dame traveled to Pauley Pavilion and scored a 75-60 victory in a pick ‘em, and a year later, UCLA went to South Bend, Ind., and prevailed 75-65 as a seven-point road pup.

In addition to their 0-7 ATS slump overall, the Irish carry on nothing but negative ATS streaks, including 0-5 on the highway, 1-5 as a ‘dog this season 0-6 against teams with a winning percentage above .600, 1-5 against the Pac-10 and 7-19-1 on Saturday. The Bruins are just 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games coming off a spread-cover, but they are on ATS upticks of 4-1 at home and 9-3 against winning teams.

The under is 5-0-1 in Notre Dame’s last six games against Pac-10 foes, but aside from that, the over for the Irish is on stretches of 5-2 overall, 4-0 on the road, 15-3 in roadies against teams with a winning home record, 18-7 against teams with a win percentage above .600 and 23-11 on Saturday. The under is 9-2 in UCLA’s last 11 tilts against the Big East, but the over for the Bruins is on surges of 5-0 overall, 4-1 at home, 4-1 after a SU win and 11-4 on Saturday.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UCLA and OVER


Miami, Fla. (15-7, 8-8-1 ATS) at (4) Duke (19-3, 11-9-1 ATS)

Duke aims to bounce back from its worst loss in nearly 18 years when it welcomes Miami to Cameron Indoor Stadium for an ACC contest.

The Blue Devils got hammered at No. 10 Clemson 74-47 as a four-point chalk Wednesday, their worst setback since getting drummed 103-73 by UNLV in the 1990 NCAA title game. Duke has now lost two of its last three SU and ATS, with both losses coming on the road as it shot a combined 32.2 percent in the defeats. However, Duke is 13-0 SU at home this year, winning by an average of 25 ppg (83-58).

A couple of hours before Duke got spanked at Clemson on Wednesday, the unranked Hurricanes bashed No. 7 Wake Forest 79-52 as a 2½-point home pup, ending a three-game SU and ATS decline, which included back-to-back overtime losses to Virginia Tech (home) and North Carolina State (road). Miami, looking to snap a three-game skid in ACC road games, has averaged 72.3 ppg as a visitor this season, just a tick better than its opponents (72.2).

Duke is on a 6-1 SU run (4-2-1 ATS) in this rivalry, but Miami pulled off a 96-95 home win last February as a 6½-point underdog, a couple weeks after the Blue Devils prevailed 88-73 as a 15-point home favorite.

The Blue Devils are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games after a non-cover, 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight home games and 7-2 ATS when favored between 10 and 19½ points, but they are on pointspread back-slides of 1-5-1 against teams with a winning percentage above .600, 2-6-1 on Saturday and 4-9 after a SU loss. The Hurricanes are on ATS runs of 8-2-3 in Saturday contests and 4-1 after a SU win of more than 20 points.

The under for Duke is on rolls of 21-5 overall, 21-8 at Cameron Indoor, 14-3 in the ACC, 4-0 against teams with a win percentage above .600 and 4-0 after a SU loss. Conversely, the over for Miami is on streaks of 4-1 overall, 5-0 against winning teams and 9-3 on Saturday, and in this rivalry, the total has gone high in each of the last five meetings.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DUKE


Oklahoma State (14-7, 5-9-1 ATS) at (21) Kansas (18-4, 11-5 ATS)

Defending national champion Kansas goes after its eighth consecutive win when it squares off against Oklahoma State in a Big 12 contest at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks dropped Baylor 75-65 catching 1½ points on the road Monday, cashing for the sixth time during their seven-game winning streak – all in Big 12 play – to keep their perfect conference record intact. Kansas has outscored its opponents by an average of 13 ppg for the season (78-65), and that margin is still in double digits during the Jayhawks’ current unbeaten run, as they are averaging 74.9 ppg while allowing 64.1.

The Cowboys held off Texas Tech 81-80 Wednesday to halt a two-game SU skid, but they never came close to covering as a healthy 12½-point home chalk in dropping their third straight ATS decision. Oklahoma State has put up an average of 84.0 ppg this season and allowed 75.1, but on the road, the Cowboys drop off more than eight points per game, getting outscored 78.0-75.8.

Oklahoma State is on a 5-2 ATS run (3-4 SU) in this rivalry, including a 61-60 upset last February as an 11-point home underdog, which ended a three-game SU run for Kansas in this series and was the last loss the Jayhawks would suffer on its way to the national championship.

The Jayhawks are on a plethora of positive pointspread streaks, including 20-8 overall, 6-2 at home, 7-1 in conference play, 8-1 as a favorite of 12 points or less, 5-0 against teams with a winning percentage above .600, 5-1 after a SU win, 4-1 after a spread-cover and 6-2 on Saturday. The Cowboys are 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight Saturday starts but are otherwise on pointspread dips of 1-5 overall (all in the Big 12), 1-5 against winning teams, 8-22-1 on the highway and 1-6 as an underdog this season.

The under is on a trio of 8-3 runs: for Kansas against winning teams; for Oklahoma State against winning teams; and in the last 11 clashes in this rivalry. Furthermore, the under for the Jayhawks is on rolls of 5-1 overall, 6-1 after a SU win and 6-2 on Saturday.

ATS ADVANTAGE: KANSAS and UNDER


Michigan (15-8, 9-8-1 ATS) at (1) Connecticut (21-1, 9-8 ATS)

UConn, which is looking to become the first team in more than a month to hold onto the nation’s No. 1 ranking for longer than a week, puts its 10-game winning streak on the line when it hosts Michigan in a non-conference battle at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn.

Hours after ascending to the top spot in the polls, the Huskies went out and justified their new ranking with a 68-51 rout of No. 7 Louisville, cashing as a 2½-point road underdog, their fourth consecutive spread-cover. During its winning streak, UConn has been rock-solid defensively, giving up 61 points or less to eight of 10 opponents, allowing just 55.5 ppg on 29 percent shooting in the last four. Offensively, the Huskies are putting up 78.2 ppg on 46 percent shooting in their last five outings.

The Wolverines halted a two-game SU and ATS slide in dominating fashion Thursday, crushing Penn State 71-51 as a 4½-point home favorite. Despite the win, Michigan remains just 2-5 SU and ATS in its last seven games – all in Big Ten action – including 0-4 SU and ATS away from home. John Beilein’s squad has been held to 61 points or fewer in seven of its eight defeats, averaging only 54 ppg in its last five setbacks.

UConn is a perfect 11-0 in non-conference play this season, but just 3-4 ATS in lined games, including 6-0 SU and 0-2 ATS at home. Michigan is 10-2 outside of the Big Ten, including 5-1-1 ATS in lined games. In their one true non-conference roadie, the Wolverines fell 75-70 at Maryland, pushing as a five-point underdog. Also, Michigan, which was ranked at one point this season, is 2-2 SU and ATS against Top 25 teams.

Despite its success covering pointspreads in non-league games, Michigan is mired in ATS slumps of 11-28-2 on the road, 3-9-1 against Big East foes, 2-5 against winning teams and 7-22-2 on the highway against teams with a winning home record. The Huskies are 5-0 ATS in their last five on Saturday, but 6-14 ATS in their last 20 contests outside the Big East, 1-4 ATS in their last five at home and 2-6 ATS as a double-digit chalk this season.

Michigan has stayed under the total in three straight games, and the under is 6-1-1 in its last eight outings, including 3-0-1 on the road. In fact, the under is 11-2-1 in the Wolverines’ last 14 on the highway dating to last year. Also, the under is 8-3 in UConn’s last 11 overall. However, the over is on streaks of 12-5 for Michigan in non-conference games, 6-1 for UConn against the Big Ten and 4-1 for UConn on Saturday.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UCONN and UNDER


Florida State (17-5, 10-5-1 ATS) at (10) Clemson (19-2, 8-7-1 ATS)

Two teams clogged in the middle of the ACC standings do battle at Littlejohn Coliseum, where Clemson goes after its fourth consecutive victory when it hosts Florida State.

The Tigers ended a 22-game regular-season losing streak to Duke in emphatic fashion Wednesday, rolling to a 74-47 victory over the fourth-ranked team in the nation, cashing as a four-point home underdog. Clemson, which is on a 3-0 SU and ATS surge, had a 46.7 percent to 30.8 percent edge in shooting and a 38-28 rebounding advantage as it handed the Blue Devils their worst loss since a 30-point beatdown against UNLV in the 1990 national championship game.

The Seminoles held off Georgia Tech 62-58 on Thursday, but came up short as an 8½-point home chalk, ending a modest two-game ATS run. The 58 points allowed were the fewest Florida State has given up in ACC play, but their 62 points were the second-fewest scored in conference. The ‘Noles have alternated SU wins and losses in their last five games (2-2-1 ATS), averaging 71.4 ppg (42 percent shooting) while giving up 69.6 ppg (39 percent).

Clemson is 5-2 in ACC action (4-2-1 ATS), including 3-1 (2-0-1 ATS) at home. Florida State is a game behind at 4-3 in league play (4-2-1 ATS), including 2-1 SU and ATS as a visitor.

This has been an evenly matched rivalry in recent years, with Clemson winning six of the last 10 meetings both SU and ATS, and the SU winner cashing in all 10 contests. During this 10-game stretch, the host is on a 7-3 SU and ATS run. One edge for the Tigers: They’re 5-1 ATS the last six times hosting the Seminoles at Littlejohn.

Florida State is on a plethora of pointspread streaks, including 5-2-1 overall, 9-1-1 on the road, 8-2-2 in ACC play, 6-2 as an underdog, 4-1 on Saturday, 4-1-1 against winning teams, 8-1-1 on the road against teams with a winning home mark and 4-0-1 after a non-cover. The Tigers are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 league games and 9-4 ATS when coming off a victory of more than 20 points, but they’re 0-4-1 ATS in their last five on Saturday.

The over is 9-4 in Florida State’s last 13 games on Saturday, but Clemson is riding “under” streaks of 6-2 overall, 7-0 at home, 8-0 on Saturday and 8-1 against winning teams. Finally, the under is 6-1 in the last seven series meetings.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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(19) Minnesota (18-4, 9-7-1 ATS) at Ohio State (16-5, 10-7 ATS)

Minnesota will try to bounce back from its worst loss of the year when it visits Value City Arena for a matchup with Ohio State.

The Golden Gophers went to Michigan State on Wednesday and had the unfortunate luck of facing a ticked-off Spartans team that had lost two straight home games, as Minnesota got drubbed 76-47, never threatening to cover as an 8½-point road underdog. In scoring a season-low in points, Minnesota shot just 28.8 percent from the field (15-for-52), allowed Michigan State to shoot 51 percent and got outrebounded 39-21.

Since a four-game SU and ATS surge that pushed them into the Top 25, the Gophers are just 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS in their last five, averaging 60 ppg (37.8 percent shooting) and allowing 63.8 ppg (43.5 percent).

Ohio State needed overtime to dispatch 12th-ranked Purdue on Tuesday, prevailing 80-72 as a two-point home underdog .The Buckeyes have followed up a two-game SU and ATS slide with three straight wins and covers, and their offense has come to life during this stretch, putting up 81.7 ppg while shooting a sizzling 60 percent from the floor. Thad Matta’s team has now split its eight games against ranked opponents this season (5-3 ATS).

These foes are tied in the middle of the pack of the Big Ten standings at 6-4, with Minnesota going 5-5 ATS and Ohio State posting a 6-4 ATS mark (6-2 ATS in the last eight). The Gophers are 3-2 in Big Ten road games but 2-3 ATS, including three straight non-covers, while the Buckeyes are 4-1 when hosting conference rivals (3-2 ATS).

Minnesota tonight will be looking to sweep the season series from Ohio State for the first time in four years, as the Gophers topped the Buckeyes 68-59 as a 3½-point home chalk on Jan. 3. Tubby Smith’s squad has won and covered the last two meetings after going 0-3 SU in the previous three and 0-4 ATS in the previous four. Ohio State has won the last two battles at home by margins of 16 and 14 points, and the host is 5-0 ATS in the last five series clashes.

The Gophers have proven they can bounce back from bad losses, going 10-2-1 ATS in their last 13 after a defeat of more than 20 points, and they’re 14-6 ATS in their last 20 Saturday outings. Ohio State is on solid ATS stretches of 6-2 overall (all in Big Ten action), 11-5 at home, 9-2 after a spread-cover and 4-1 after an outright victory.

The under has hit in seven of the last nine head-to-head matchups between these schools. Also, the under is on runs of 38-14 for Minnesota on Saturday, 6-2 for Minnesota against winning teams, 10-3 for Minnesota after an ATS setback, 7-2 for Minnesota after a SU win, 6-1 for Ohio State against winning teams and 40-18-1 for Ohio State on Saturday. However, the over is 4-1 in the Buckeyes’ last five home games and 5-2 in the Gophers’ last seven overall.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OHIO STATE


(14) Memphis (19-3, 13-8 ATS) at (18) Gonzaga (17-4, 10-9 ATS)

The marquee matchup on the Saturday slate comes from McCarthy Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash., where Gonzaga and Memphis meet in a non-conference clash between two of the nation’s hottest teams.

The Tigers, on the road for the fourth time in their last five games, are coming off Wednesday’s 79-66 rout at SMU, but they failed to cover as a 17-point road chalk, ending a 5-0 ATS run. Memphis is riding a 13-game winning streak (9-3 ATS in lined action), going 5-0 SU and 2-3 ATS on the road. During the streak – which is the second longest in the nation behind Utah State – John Calipari’s squad  has played stifling defense, giving up just 58.8 ppg, with only one opponent (Division II Lamar) scoring more than 68 points on the Tigers.

Gonzaga ran its winning streak to nine in a row with Thursday’s 93-78 thumping of Portland as a 10-point road underdog. The Bulldogs are just 5-4 ATS during their winning streak, including 2-3 ATS at home and 4-4 ATS as a favorite. Prior to Thursday’s shootout at Portland, Gonzaga had held seven straight opponents under 70 points, giving up 56 ppg during that stretch.

These teams have faced off three times in regular-season action since 2005, and the Tigers have won all three, but Gonzaga got the cash in the last two. Two years ago, Memphis went to Spokane and needed overtime to salt away a 78-77 victory as a 4½-point favorite, then last season the Tigers prevailed 81-73, but failed as a 13-point home favorite.

All three of Memphis’ losses have come in non-conference action, where it is 10-3 SU and 7-5 ATS, including 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS in road/neutral-site contests. Likewise, the Zags’ four defeats all came against non-league foes. Gonzaga started the season with seven consecutive non-conference victories (5-1 ATS), then went 1-4 SU (0-4 ATS) in the next four before outlasting Tennessee 89-79 in overtime as a four-point underdog on Jan. 7 prior to starting West Coast Conference play.

Memphis has faced just two ranked opponents this season, losing 79-70 at Georgetown in overtime as a six-point pup and falling 72-65 to Syracuse at home as a nine-point chalk. The Bulldogs are 3-1 SU and ATS versus Top 25 foes, beating Tennessee twice as well as conference rival St. Mary’s, while falling 88-83 to then-No. 2 UConn as a three-point favorite in nearby Seattle.

For the season, Memphis averages 77 ppg on 44.2 percent shooting (33 percent from three-point range) while Gonzaga puts up 78.8 ppg on 47.9 percent shooting (38 percent from beyond the arc). Defensively, the Tigers give up 61.5 ppg (37.6 percent overall, 31.4 percent on three-pointers) and Gonzaga yields 62.4 ppg (36.6 percent overall, 32.7 percent on three-pointers).

Memphis has cashed in four straight non-conference games and is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 Saturday outings and 4-0 ATS in its last four against winning teams. The Tigers have been an underdog just twice this season, going 1-1 SU and ATS. Gonzaga is on ATS runs of 23-10 on Saturday and 5-1 against Conference USA opponents, but the Zags are mired in pointspread funks of 2-5 at home, 2-7 against winning teams, 4-8 as a chalk and 1-5 after a non-cover.

The under is on runs of 4-1 for Memphis in non-conference games, 4-1 for Gonzaga at home and 9-1 for Gonzaga after a spread-cover. However, the over is 15-6 in the Bulldogs’ last 21 on Saturday, and these teams topped the total in their meetings the last two seasons.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE


NBA

Miami (26-22, 23-23-2 ATS) at Philadelphia (24-24, 23-23-2 ATS)

The 76ers continue a seven-game homestand that goes all the way to next weekend’s All-Star break when they welcome the Heat to the Wachovia Center for a battle of Eastern Conference foes searching for consistency.

Philadelphia held off Indiana 99-94 on Thursday, pushing as a five-point home favorite to end a two-game SU slide. Since ripping off seven-straight victories and an 8-0 ATS run, the Sixers have split their last eight contests (2-4-2 ATS), and they’re 3-3 at home during this stretch (1-3-2 ATS). Also, Philadelphia learned Thursday that it will play the rest of the season without injured big man Elton Brand.

Miami has been idle since Wednesday’s 93-90 loss at Detroit, though it covered as a 4½-point road underdog. The Heat are just 1-3 (2-2 ATS) in their last four, the lone triumph being Monday’s 24-point home blowout of the sad-sack Clippers. Going back to Dec. 28, they’ve split their last 20 games (12-8 ATS), going 4-7 on the highway, but 7-4 ATS.

The Heat snapped a five-game SU and ATS losing skid to Philadelphia with a 106-83 rout as a three-point home underdog back on Nov. 5, but Miami is 0-4 SU and ATS in its last four trips to the City of Brotherly Love. In this rivalry, the host is on an 11-3 ATS run, the underdog is on a 5-3 SU and ATS surge and the winner has cashed in each of the last 10 battles.

Miami is on ATS tears of 10-4 overall, 6-2 as a visitor, 5-1 after a SU loss and 9-4-1 after a spread-cover. Conversely, the team is in pointspread funks of 2-5 on Saturday, 8-23 against Atlantic Division opponents and 6-13-1 when playing on two days’ rest. Meanwhile, Philadelphia carries positive ATS trends of 10-4-2 overall, 7-2 against winning teams, 5-2-2 against the Eastern Conference, 4-0-1 versus the Southeast Division and 29-13 when playing on Saturday.

For the Heat, the “over” is on runs of 4-0 overall, 8-1 on the highway, 7-1 on Saturday, 9-0 after an outright loss and 5-1 when facing Atlantic Division foes. However, the under is 20-9-1 in Philly’s last 30 home games, 5-2 in its last seven on Saturday and 4-1 in its last five when playing on one day of rest. Finally, the under is 6-1 in the last seven meetings in this rivalry and 10-4-1 in the last 15 tussles at the Wachovia Center.

ATS ADVANTAGE: PHILADELPHIA and UNDER

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Nelly

Texas A&M - over Kansas State

Kansas State is on a roll with four straight wins but the Wildcats have caught some breaks with both road wins coming in OT. In the previous two road games Kansas State had lost badly against Nebraska and Kansas and keep in mind the Wildcats needed OT to beat a lousy Colorado team and the win over Texas is not as impressive as you might think as the Longhorns have been sinking fast. Kansas State has been impressive at home but a few fluky wins does not make a strong case for the Wildcats on the road. Kansas State is 3-12 ATS in the past 15 conference games and the Wildcats are 3-5-1 ATS away from home this season. Texas A&M enters this game off a close loss at Oklahoma but the Aggies played the Sooners as tough as anyone has this season losing by six in both meetings. That cover was the fourth straight ATS win for Texas A&M and the home loss to the Sooners is the lone S/U home loss for A&M in 14 home games this season. This Aggies team has plenty of talent and big-game experience and the Aggies easily disposed of similarly rated teams at home beating Oklahoma State by twelve, Texas Tech by nine, and Baylor by eleven. Both teams played fairly weak non-conference schedules but Texas A&M has wins over Arizona, Alabama, and LSU in addition to respectable play through a much tougher conference slate at this point in the season.

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Jim Feist

CHICAGO BULLS at DALLAS MAVERICKS
Take: Over

You have to be impressed with rookie Derrick Rose. The kid point guard keeps getting better, as is the Chicago offense, which is on a 3-0 run over the total. They've topped 100 points in four straight games. Dallas is on a 7-4 run over the total. They have no shut down defensive players, which was obvious in the loss at Utah, giving up 115 points. Prior to that game, the Dallas offense had scored over 100 in 6 straight. Can't see much defense with all these talented offensive players. Play the Bulls/Mavericks over the total.

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Dave Cokin

Timberwolves @ Rockets
Play: Rockets -7'

The Timberwolves certainly raised some eyebrows with their inspired play throughout January and they're no longer pushovers. But I do see this team beginning to level off some following such a hot run. The Rockets have to be smarting a little bit after a really bad game at Memphis last outing and I expect them to rebound here. Lean to the Rockets minus the points for the Saturday free opinion.

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Marc Lawrence

Play On: Dallas Mavericks

A matchup of two teams off disparate results figures to bring value and a big effort by the Mavericks here tonight. That's because Dallas enters off a 115-87 drubbing at Utah Thursday night while Chicago checks in off a 14-point upset win at New Orleans in their last game. Toss in revenge from a 98-91 loss as road favorites at Chicago in November of this season and it will be nor surprise here to see the Bulls fall to 5-12-1 ATS in games off a win when playing a non-division opponent this year. Lay the points with the Mavericks.

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Alex Smart

Syracuse +6.0

The Syracuse Orange enter this game with revenge on board for last seasons ugly 19 point Big East Tourney loss to their hosts today Villanova. The Orange also look to keep their positive momentum alive after beating West Virginia last time , vs a Wildcats side that could be looking ahead to a matchup against a Marquette program that beat them earlier this season . Villanova has an active home-court winning streak of 25 games, however, the Wildcats' home court is in the on campus Pavilion. Syracuse has never played at the Pavilion. Today's game is at the Wachovia Center, where Syracuse won last season, and a repeat performance is not out of the question.

Here is a quote from the Orange top player Danny Flynn : Coming into the season, this is the team I wanted to beat the most out of any team we play, Flynn said. I just got a thing against Villanova. Every time I play them I want to beat them. I want to talk junk to their fans. I want to yell at their bench. I just really want to beat them, beat them bad.

This game has been circled on Syracuses calender for a long time , and Im betting they come out with one of their best efforts of the season. Look for a hard fought closely contested tilt , that will make taking points golden.

Final notes & Key Trends: The visitor is 14-4 ATS L/18 in this series. Villanova won a 94-91 shootout against Providence last time out which sets up well for us getting the cover , as a let down is in order. It must be noted that the Wildcats are 1-10 ATS after scoring 80 points or more over the last couple of seasons.

Play on Syracuse to cover

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Jeff Benton

For Saturday’s free play in College Hoops, we’ll lay the chalk with red-hot UCLA against freefalling Notre Dame in early-afternoon action from Southern California.

Start with the Bruins. I was extremely impressed with their effort in Wednesday’s 76-60 rout of crosstown rival USC as an eight-point home favorite – and I had the Trojans as a big play that night. Don’t be fooled by the final score, either, as UCLA jumped out to a 44-21 halftime lead and just cruised from there.

Since going through a three-game stretch in which UCLA went 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS, looking lackadaisical in all three contests – culminating with an 86-75 whipping at the hands of Washington – Bruins coach Ben Howland has lit a serious figure under his troops. The Bruins have posted three straight double-digit home routs of Cal (81-66), Stanford (97-63) and USC, cashing in all three games. During the winning streak, UCLA is shooting nearly 55 percent from the field, holding opponents to 43 percent and owning a cumulative 99-74 rebounding edge.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame has lost six straight games overall, including four consecutive double-digit road losses – all in Big East play. On top of that the Fighting Irish have failed to cash a ticket in seven consecutive contests, and they’re 0-5 ATS in their last five as a visitor. Notre Dame’s big problem? It has stopped playing defense, giving up 93 points three times during its six-game slide and allowing an average of 84,3 ppg. Well, that’s bad news coming into this game, because the Bruins have flexed some offensive muscle of late, averaging 78 ppg on 51.5 percent shooting – including a whopping 47.5 percent from three-point range – over the last five games alone.

Finally, check out the defensive numbers of these two squads. At home, UCLA gives up just 58.7 ppg (42.6 percent shooting), while the Irish get pounded for 82 ppg (45.6 percent shooting) when the go on the road.

Obviously, we’re laying an inflated number here because of the way both squads are going, but I still don’t think it’s big enough. Because even though Notre Dame is beyond desperate for a win, they’ve picked the wrong team at the wrong place and the wrong time to try and get it. Bruins win this by 15 or more.

3♦ UCLA

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Matt Rivers

For Saturday take the points with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Call me stubborn and watch me beat my head against the wall one more time, I don't care! Notre Dame plus this number is just too freakin' good to pass up.

I do realize that Mike Brey's team has been awful over the past few weeks dropping six straight games both SU and ATS. Nothing at all has worked out for the Irish and they are sketchy on the road, even when things are going well. With that said there is still too much talent here to not take this number back, even across the country and against a borderline great UCLA team. Plus the game is at a ridiculously early 10:00 AM out west and that does not bode well at all for a West Coast team as this thing is 1:00 for the East Coast Irish making me believe it is a much bigger adjustment for the home Bruins and something that can't just get overlooked.

Luke Harangody is still a star and a beast down low. Throw in phenomenal three point shooters led by Kyle McAlarney and this Notre Dame team still has too much of an upside at this price to pass up.

Ben Howland is a phenomenal coach and these Bruins do have a chance to go to yet another Final Four. Darren Collison leads once again the best team in the Pac-10 and it has shown in the great last few games. With that said though UCLA is a little vulnerable as we saw against Washington State (in that win but non-cover) and bad losses to Arizona State (at home) and Washington. That may be a thing of the past as things have improved of late but yet maybe it may not be.

Sure this is an extremely tough spot for the visitors as a seventh straight win is almost definitely in the cards but ND is just too good to be this bad and too talented to be such a hefty dog, period.

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Jake Timlin

Today's Selection

I'm on a 12-5 comp play run still despite my losing play on Memphis last night.

In one of the bigger mismatches of the day I look for the Aztecs to possibly double up tonight’s spread as they destroy Air Force for the second time this season.

You see if the first meeting was where the Aztecs won by 17 in Colorado Springs is any indication of what is going to happen today then San Diego State is going to make easy work of the Falcons.  The same Air Force team that is still winless in league play at 0-8 straight up and even less competitive failing to cover all but 7 of their 8 league games.

Meanwhile, for San Diego State they are flying high as thanks to their outright win in Vegas last game out they are now a top of the MWC standings.

So thanks to being the best team in the league and having covered 7 of the last 9 series games against Air Force I look for San Diego State to make a statement today at home as win in a major blowout.

All San Diego State minus the home chalk!

PICK: San Diego State Aztecs

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Tony Weston

Today's Selection

Dropped the ball in this spot Friday with the lousy Grizzlies as they just got destroyed by the pathetic Clippers.

We’re switching gears and headed to college hardwood today for one of the easiest FREE winners you'll ever find.

We’re coming at it today and playing the New Mexico Lobos in The Pit against UNLV. There's no stopping the Lobos as they are a money-making machine, cashing in seven straight and going 8-0 ATS in Mountain West Conference play to this point.

In the first meeting this season, UNLV may have gotten the victory, but the Lobos got the cash, losing 60-58 but covering as 5-point underdogs in Sin City. New Mexico outrebounded the Rebels and held them to 19-of-53 shooting and honestly should have won the game outright.

The Lobos have cashed in six of their last seven against UNLV, including three straight at home. They are also an impressive 19-7 ATS in their last 26 Mountain West games and 36-16-1 ATS in their last 53 overall.

The Pit is a tough place for anybody to play, but especially in MWC action. Lay the points and play the Lobos tonight.

4♦ NEW MEXICO

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Pittsburgh -14' at DE PAUL 

G-Man with another comp play winner last night on Oklahoma City outright over Portland to make it 6 straight comp play winners, and an 11-2 comp play run the last 13 days!

College blowout on-tap today as Pitt blasts DePaul.

DePaul is in free-fall mode, losers of 10 in a row straight up, and 8 of 10 against the spread, and they haven't been close the last 2 times they have faced Pittsburgh, losing by double-digits in both of those meetings.

The Panthers recorded win # 20 on Monday night in a non-lined game at home against Robert Morris, and that out-of-conference break should have Jamie Dixon's team refreshed, and ready to roll this afternoon in the Windy City.

For the year, Pitt is 6-2 straight up on the road, and 5-3 against the spread on the road.

DePaul has not covered a lined home game this season, as the Demons stand at 0-7 against the spread at home.

G-Man says to lay it with the Panthers, as they romp the Blue Demons.

5♦ PITTSBURGH

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Sports Gambling Hotline

Arkansas at MISSISSIPPI STATE -7' 

We will lay the wood with the Bulldogs today as they play host to the poor-traveling Razorbacks.

Arkansas is just 1-4 straight up on the road this year, and 1-3 against the spread in their lined road games. The Hogs have also struggled in Starkville, as they are just 3-8 their last 11 visits to the Hump, and 3-7-1 against the spread in those 11 games.

Miss State did some how lose last weekend at home to Ole Miss as the 9-point favorite, but they rebounded earlier this week with the road outright at Kentucky.

The Bulldogs are 11-3 straight up at home this year, and 6-3 against the spread in their lined home games.

Look for Miss State to make a statement today at home, as they rout conference rival Arkansas in this matinee meeting from Starkville.

Play on the Bulldogs.

4♦ MISSISSIPPI STATE

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Bobby Maxwell

S. Illinois at MISSOURI STATE -2' 

Delivered FREE winners in nine of the last 13 days and tonight we've got another for you as we play Missouri State at home against Southern Illinois.

Southern Illinois has been a bad bet on the road this season and while we know the Bears aren't tearing up the court, they will step it up for us tonight and get this win and cover.

The Salukis have dropped two straight, losing at home to Illinois State 60-57 as a one-point home 'dog and losing at Evansville 60-54 as a 2 1/2-point pup. They have lost three of their last four roadies and they are just 3-6 on the highway this season.

Missouri State scored a 65-62 home win over Evansville on Wednesday and pushed as a three-point favorite. We were impressed when the Bears scored a 65-44 home win over Drake and easily got the cash as two-point favorites. They've got some very good forwards in Kyle Weems and Chris Cooks who both had double-doubles last time out.

Southern Illinois is just 6-14 ATS in its last 20 Saturday games, 3-8 ATS as an underdog and 5-14 ATS in their last 19 raod games against teams with a winning home record. The Salukis are also just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 trips to Missouri State.

The Bears have got a tough defense, giving up just 58.5 points a game. And Southern Illinois isn't exactly lighting up the scoreboard at just 63.9 points per game on the road.

This one will be close but we're playing Missouri State as they should pull it out late.

3♦ MISSOURI STATE


Michigan +17 at UCONN

We'll make it a 2-0 sweep with FREE plays today when Michigan goes to Connecticut and stays within this big number. We've hit comp plays in nine of the last 13 days and we'll do it again today.

This is just way too many points to pass up so let's grab them all and play the Wolverines tonight as they take on the Huskies.

Michigan went out on Thursday and destroyed Penn state 71-51 as a 4 1/2-point home favorite. The Wolverines are outstanding outside the Big Ten, going 10-2 and a sparkling 5-1-1 ATS. In a big roadie against Maryland, the Wolverines were in it until the end, losing 75-70 and pushing as a five-point 'dog.

The Wolverines are also 2-2 SU and ATS against Top-25 teams this season.

On the opposite side, the top-ranked Huskies are just 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games outsde Big East play, 1-4 ATS in their last five at home and 2-6 ATS as a double-digit chalk this season. While UConn is a perfect 11-0 in Big East action, they are just 3-4 ATS in lined games and 0-2 ATS at home. They are winning games, but not necessarily getting the cash.

Michigan has played a tough schedule this season and they will keep this one respectable. And with all those points we are getting, that's all the Wolverines have to do. Grab the points and play Michigan.

2♦ MICHIGAN

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Cajun Sports

Old Dominion vs. Drexel    
Play: Drexel -2.5

Daskalakis Athletic Center will be the site of tonight’s Colonial Athletic Association battle between the host Drexel Dragons and the visiting Old Dominion Monarchs. The Monarchs are coming off three straight wins with their most recent a home win over Towson State 71 to 62 as a 13.5 point home favorite. The Dragons will be looking to bounce back from an overtime road loss at Delaware on Wednesday night 73 to 70 as a 1 point road favorite which snapped a seven game SU and ATS winning streak for the Dragons.

Old Dominion is 14-8 straight up and 6-10 against the spread this season. When the Monarchs play on the road they have a record of 4-5 SU and 4-3 ATS, in conference play they are 7-5 SU but only 4-8 ATS averaging 63.1 points per game while allowing 60.3 points per game.

Drexel is 12-9 straight up and a money-making 14-6 against the number this season overall. When playing on their home floor they are 6-3 SU and 7-2 ATS, in conference play the Dragons are 8-4 SU and a very solid 9-3 ATS averaging 67.0 points per game and only allowing 58.2 points per game to teams that average 68.4 points per game.

Drexel’s intimidating and manipulating defense will be the difference here tonight as the numbers listed above show the Dragons are holding opponents to more than ten points below their season average. The Monarchs will look to their big man 6 foot 10 inch forward Gerald Lee for offensive production and that will be hard to come by when facing this Dragons “D”. The Monarchs only have two players that average double-digits that’s Lee with 14.8 points per game and guard Ben Finney who averages 10.8 points per game. They are not a real inside-out threat and this Dragons defense will neutralize what little scoring they account for and have control of this game from the outset.

Old Dominion has not done a real good job of handling success especially against conference rivals as they are 2-13 ATS off a win against a conference rival the last 2 seasons and 1-8 ATS off a home win against a conference rival. Drexel on the other hand is in a positive situation, they are 9-1 ATS as a favorite this season and 6-0 ATS as a home favorite. Success breeds success for the Dragons as they are 13-3 ATS in home games after covering 5 or 6 of their last 7 against the spread since 1997.

With the much more potent “D” playing on their home floor and the better overall offense we will lay the short price with the host as the Dragons get back to their winning ways and snap this abbreviated win streak of the Monarchs.

PROJECTED FINAL SCORE: (2*) Drexel Dragons 70 Old Dominion Monarchs 60

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Bob Harvey

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Montreal Canadiens Over 6.0

Both teams have been plagued by inconsistent play and injuries since the All-Star break and Toronto has continued a season long habit of poor defense and shoddy goaltending.

Montreal is 17-5-4 at home but for our needs the Habs are averaging 3.3. goals per game on home ice. They've also lit up their Canadian Original Six rivals this season, scoring 15 total goals while going 2-1-0 in the series,including a pair of six-goal efforts in their two victories. One of the contributing factors for the high scoring games between these two clubs is Toronto's 3.58 team goals-against average which ranks last in the league.

The Leafs (19-24-9) are 2-2-1 since the All-Star break, but they've allowed at least four goals in all five games, giving up a total of 23 over that span.

Starting goalie Vesa Toskala continues to struggle, with his career-worst 3.34 GAA and .883 save percentage both ranking as the second-worst in the league.

Toskala has been even worse against the Canadiens this season, with a 6.00 GAA in three starts, getting pulled from two of them after two periods.

At least one of the clubs has reached the six-goal mark in each of their three meetings earlier this season. The Leafs have allowed at least four goals in their last five games.

No fewer than seven goals have been scored in the first three series meetings with the two teams combining for eight biscuits in the basket in their last meeting on January 8th.

You've got hockey clubs that have disdain for one another and that could to a few extra "Power Play" opportunities tonight. Look for the Habs to break out of their scoring funk in a big way tonight as they outlast the Maple Leafs in yet another wild shootout.

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Tom Freese

Minnesota at Houston

Houston is 8-1 OVER vs. the NBA Northwest Division and they are 8-3 OVER when playing with two days of rest. The Rockets are 17-8 OVER off two straight games where they were favored. Minnesota is 15-7-1 OVER their last 23 games and they are 13-5-1 OVER when playing with two days of rest. The Timberwolves are 4-0 OVER off a straight up loss and they are 9-3-1 OVER their last 13 games vs. Western Conference foes. PLAY ON 'OVER'

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Jimmy The Moose

Buffalo Sabres at Ottawa Senators
Prediction: Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo played and beat the Canadiens last night. The win was the Sabres 2nd staright and 3 in their last 4 games. Buffalo is 8-1 in their last 9 games vs. Eastern Conference opponents. In their last 11 games vs. a team with a losing record the Sabres are 9-2. Ottawa continues to struggle through a horrible season and tonight's not the night it turns around. The Senators have lost 4 straight and are 18-41 in their last 59 games. Ottawa has lost 4 of their last 5 home games. In their last 30 games vs. a team with a winning record the Senators are 6-24. Play on the Buffalo Sabres -.

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Sportspic

Notre Dame at UCLA February

The Irish tailspin continued Wednesday in a 93-83 loss at Cincinnati marking six straight defeats (0-6 ATS). An inconsistent defense which has surrendered 85+ points in four of the six losses, an offense that hit a messily 39.2% from the floor in the losses the Irish tumble looks to continue Saturday.

Bruins off a balanced performance in defeating USC 76-60 on Wednesday enter 18-4 (11-10 ATS) scoring 76.1 PPG behind a triplet of double digit scorers in Collinson (14.1), Shipp (12.6) and Holiday (10.0). Bruins with one blemish at Pauley Pavilion thanks in large part to a stingy defense allowing just 58.7 PPG are outscoring visitors by 22 PPG in front of the home crowd.

Consider Bruins: Irish have lost five in-a-row (SU & ATS) on the highway by an average 12.4 PPG and come in 1-5 ATS last six vs a Pac-10 foe.


Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks

Piston 26-21 (19-28 ATS) struggling of late finally picked up a rare win Thursday defeating Heat 93-90 giving the team a 4-9 record the past thirteen on the hardwood with a 3-9 mark at the betting window.

Pistons 12-10 (12-10 ATS) on the highway look to be in a great spot for back-2-back victories. Pistons have won 16-of-20 (11-8-1 ATS) meetings vs Milwaukee including 6-3 (5-4 ATS) at Bradley Center.

Bucks (24-28, 29-21-2 ATS) without both guard Michael Redd and center Andrew Bogut have been pegged 3-point underdogs for the contest.

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