Thursday Service Plays

Re: Thursday Service Plays

Sports Gambling Hotline

Texas A&M vs. BYU -2' 

These teams met in last year's tournament in Anaheim, and A&M prevailed 67-62 as the one point favorite. We see a similar score today, but we see the Cougars being the team that prevails.

BYU has won 10 of their last 12 straight up, and has covered in 9 of those 12. They catch the Aggies off that mind-boggling 22-point collapse in the Big 12 tournament against Baylor, and we are not sure Mark Turgeon's team has their minds straight after that debacle of a loss.

Good chance this game stays nip-and-tuck for the majority of the contest, then when BYU takes a little bit of a lead, the Aggies fragile mind-set costs them the contest.

Change of venue for this year's Big Dance meeting between the teams, and a change in the result.

Play on the Cougars minus the small number.

2♦ BYU

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Re: Thursday Service Plays

Bobby Maxwell

Texas A&M vs. BYU -2, at Philadelphia 

Delivered the college FREE play winner Wednesday with Miami over Providence and we'll do it here with this one as we play BYU to get the win and cover over Texas A&M.

The best thing to happen to BYU might have been their Mountain West Conference semifinal loss to San Diego State. This team needed something like that to knock them down a notch and get them refocused.

The Cougars have won nine of 11 overall and they were riding a nine-game ATS run until their last three regular season contests.

On the other side is Texas A&M who turned around its season by winning six in a row to close the Big 12 season after opening 3-7. But a disaster in the Big 12 tourney could be lingering with this team as they blew a 21-point second half lead to Texas Tech, losing 88-83 as a 6 1/2-point favorite. Devastating for a team to lose that one.

These teams met last year in the opener with A&M getting a 67-62 win as a one-point favorite. So there is also a revenge factor on the Cougars' minds.

BYU is on ATS runs of 7-3 as a favorite, 7-1 against winning teams and 10-3-1 after a straight-up loss. Play BYU today to pull off a close one, hit their free throws down the stretch and win this one by 7.

2♦ BYU


Maryland +1' vs. California, at Kansas City, Mo. 

No mystery here why we're playing Maryland. The Terps played some of their best basketball of the season late in the season to earn their berth in the Big Dance. Meanwhile Cal comes in playing some terrible basketball, stumbling to a 1-3 SU and ATS mark down the stretch.

Cal is just 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS to end the season and lost to USC 79-75 in the Pac-10 quarterfinals on Thursday. The Bears are also on ATS slides of 1-4 on neutral courts, 1-4 against winning teams, 2-7 after a non-cover and 2-5 after a straight-up loss.

Maryland made a run in the ACC tournament to secure its berth, beating N.C. State in the opener, shocking Wake Forest 75-64 as a six-point underdog in the quarterfinals and then battling Duke down to the wire before lostin 67-61 as a nine-point 'dog in the semifinals. And remember the amazing performance this team had to beat North Carolina 88-85 as a 12-point home 'dog late in the season.

The Terps' Greivis Vasquez is a superstar in the making, putting up 17.2 points and 4.8 assists per game and he had a huge performance against the Tar Heels, getting a triple-double, the first for the Terps in 23 years.

Maryland is on ATS runs of 9-4 overall, 4-0 at neutral sites, 4-1 against winning teams and 7-3-2 in non-conference action. Look for the Terps to get this one with relative ease.

4♦ MARYLAND

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Karl Garrett

Akron vs. GONZAGA -13 - at Portland, OR 

Another comp play winner last night on Bowling Green plus the points, as the G-Man is now 7-2 the last 9 days for free.

Going tonight, lay the points in Portland as Gonzaga enjoys the "home cooking" against Akron.

The 'Zags Spokane campus is not too far away from the Rose Garden, so expect to see plenty of Bulldog backers in the stands this evening. Not that Mark Few's team will need much support, as the Bulldogs have won their last 9, and even better still is the fact they have covered their last 3, and are 5-1 against the spread their last 6 lined games, all in the favored role.

Akron won the MAC tournament for their automatic ticket to the Dance, but they did close the regular season by losing 3 of their final 5.

This is a Gonzaga team that has plenty of experience, and the G-Man is calling for the 'Zags to be dancing late in this tourny.

Lay the double-digits, as Gonzaga makes it look easy in their opening round.

5♦ GONZAGA

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Michael Cannon

VCU +7' vs. Ucla, at Philadelphia, PA 

I am on a 7-2 run with my last nine overall free plays.

Take the points with Virginia Commonwealth over Ucla in the East Region.

This is a tough spot for the Bruins, who have to travel to Philadelphia for this first round matchup.

Vcu enters this game on the heels of a five-game winning streak, which included a win in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game.  The Rams are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.

Ucla is on pointspread slides of 1-5-1 after an ATS loss and 1-4-1 after a SU loss.  The Rams are on positive ATS runs of 4-0 against winning teams, 4-1 after a SU win, 10-4 at neutral sites and 17-8-3 in non-conference action.

The venue is what makes this a tough spot to back Ucla and I expect the scrappy Rams to give them a scare here.

Take the points with Vcu as they stay within the number.

2♦ VCU


Western Kentucky +4' vs. Illinois, at Portland, OR

Take the points with Western Kentucky tonight in the South Region over Illinois.

I love the run the Hilltoppers are on right now.  They have won 11 of their last 12 down the stretch, including a current 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS run.

This is a team that also stunned Louisville 68-54 as a 19 ½-point neutral-site underdog in November.

Western Kentucky had a nice run in last year’s tournament, posting a pair of wins before losing to Ucla in the Sweet 16, 88-78.

Illinois could be without starting guard Chester Frazier, who’s hand injury kept him out of last week’s Big Ten tournament.

The Fighting Illini are on a 1-3 SUATS slide and are averaging just 59.4 ppg in their last five games.

The Hilltoppers are on ATS runs of 5-0 overall, 4-0 in the Big Dance, 16-5 on neutral courts, 5-1 as a neutral-site dog, 19-7-1 against winning teams and 40-17-1 in non-conference play.

Take the points with Western Kentucky and don’t be surprised to see them pull off the outright win.

4♦ WESTERN KENTUCKY

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JACK JONES

North Carolina -25 over Radford

I am playing the Tar Heels today even though I fully expect Ty Lawson will be sitting on the sidelines. The line has dropped almost two points with the news Lawson will be out and that's just kept pace with what my expectations would have been. I know he's the catalyst for the offense, but North Carolina is putting up 90 ppg this year and will be facing a Radford team that went 21-11 with only one game being big enough to earn a point spread, and that was their conference championship against VMI. The Tar Heels will be playing in Greensboro, which is around 50 miles from campus so even without Lawson you can expect the Highlanders to be outmatched down the line. Sure Artsiom Parakhouski put up 16.3 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, but how is he going to do against last year's Player of the Year in Tyler Hansbrough? Not well.

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Jimmy Boyd

1 Unit on Lakers -13

Off a 1-point home loss to Philadelphia, expect the Lakers to bounce back strong Thursday. The Warrior have been getting it handed to them on the road all season, losing by 9.8 ppg on average. In fact, the Lakers crushed the Warriors 130-113 as a 14.5-point favorite at home earlier this season. The Warriors are 6-20-2 ATS in their last 28 road games vs. a team with a winning home record, 6-20-1 ATS in their last 27 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600, and 15-47-1 ATS in their last 63 games following a SU win. The Warriors are also 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games as a road underdog of 11.0 or greater. We'll lay the points here.

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Jeff Scott Sports

4 UNIT PLAY

Memphis -20 over CS Northridge

The Tigers are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record and 5-0 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games, while the Matadors are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games as an underdog of 13.0 or greater. Memphis is a team that will be on a mission in this NCAA Tourney as they felt they should have been a number 1 seed.  The Tigers defense is one of the tops in the Nation as they have allowed just 56.9 ppg and 36.2% shooting overall this year and it has been even stingier down the stretch were they have allowed just 44 ppg on an unheard of 29.6% shooting from the floor in their last 4 games. Now that's playing some defense.  Oh year they won those 4 games by an average of 21.8 ppg.  CS Northridge has had a good offensive year as they have averaged 73.8 ppg overalland 69.6 ppg away from home, but facing Big West defenses is a lot different than facing this one.  Speaking of defense, that is not something the Matadors do great. CS Nothridge has allowed 70.2 ppg on the year, including 73.3 ppg when playing away from home.  The Matadors have played 7 non-conference foes away from home and they have allowed 78.9 ppg in those games. Bad defense in that spot and now they will take on the 67th ranked scoring offense in the country, as the Tigers have put up 74.1 ppg on the year. I really have a hard time seeing the Matadors putting more than 52 or 53 on the board in this one, while I do see Memphis hitting 75+. The Tigers will be playing with a chip on their shoulders and that cannot be good news for the Matadors today.


3 UNIT PLAY

NOTRE DAME -4.5 over New Mexico

The Lobos are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games following a S.U. win., while the Fighting Irish are 12-5 ATS in their last 17 games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5. We all know how the Lobo's play in The Pit, but this isn't the Pit and they have struggled when taking to the road this year. The Lobos have gone just 6-6 in their true road games, plus another 0-3 in their neutral site games. The Irish stumbled ast home during the middle of the year after haveing a long winning streak at home, but this team is still very tough at home, where they are 13-3 and have outscored their opponents by 12.5 ppg. Defense has not been a strong suit for the Irish this year, but they do allow just 63.1 ppg on 39.9% shooting at home and they have allowed just 64 ppg on 36.8% shooting in their last 5 overall. The Irish have had somne problems scoring of late, but this team still has put up 76.5 ppg on thier home floor this year, including 86 ppg in their non-conf home games. New Mexico can score but their defense has been less than stellar of late as they have allowed 73.8 ppg in their last 5 games. With the way the irish play defense and score at home they should have no problems covering the spread vs a Lobos team that is like a fish out of water when they leave The Pit. Notre Dame by 8+ here.


2 UNIT PLAY

Texas A&M +2.5 over BYU

The  Aggies are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games as an underdog, while the Cougars are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS loss. The AgGies had a stron g finish to their season as they had won their last 6 regular season games before losing to Texas Tech in the Big 12 tourney.  Down the stretch they had a win at Nebraska, a 15 point home win over Texas  and a 10 point home win vs a very strong Missouri squad. BYU has had a nice year themselves as they were 25-7 overall, but their offense has struggled down the stretch as thyey have averaged 67.4 ppg in their last 5 games, which is 10 points lower than their season average. The Aggies offense has taken off of late as they have averaged 79 ppg in their last 5 games. Both teams have played well defensively this year, but I believe the Aggies offense will do more damage than BYU's in this one and get a solid upset win here.


1 UNIT PLAYS

UConn/ Chattanooga Under 145

The Under is 4-0 in Mocs last 4 neutral site games as an underdog, while the Under is 5-1 in Huskies last 6 games as a favorite of 13.0 or greater. Ok, Let's throw out that 6 OT game vs the Cuse for a moment. If we dso that then we will see that the previous 12 UConn games have averaged just 131.8 ppg, with only 2 of those games scoring more than today's total. UConn games have averaged 141 ppg bon the year, while their games away from home have averaged just 131 ppg. UConn plays great defense and should be able to hold a strong Mocs offense doiwn, while their own offense does enough to get the win here. I just don't see more than 140 in this one.


Maryland +1.5 over California

The Terrapins are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a S.U. loss, while the Golden Bears are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games. The Bears are just not playing well defensively right now as they have allowed 77.8 ppg in their last 5 games. look for the terps to take advantage and move on in the Big Dance.   

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Re: Thursday Service Plays

DUNKEL

Game 707-708: Binghamton vs. Duke
Dunkel Ratings: Binghamton 54.120; Duke 72.192
Dunkel Line: Duke by 18
Vegas Line: Duke by 22 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Binghamton (+22 1/2)

Game 709-710: Minnesota vs. Texas
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota 65.948; Texas 66.598
Dunkel Line: Texas by 1
Vegas Line: Texas by 4 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (+4 1/2)

Game 711-712: Radford vs. North Carolina
Dunkel Ratings: Radford 49.955; North Carolina 76.831
Dunkel Line: North Carolina by 27
Vegas Line: North Carolina by 27 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Radford (+27 1/2)

Game 713-714: Butler vs. LSU
Dunkel Ratings: Butler 62.862; LSU 66.984
Dunkel Line: LSU by 4
Vegas Line: LSU by 2 1/2
Dunkel Pick: LSU (-2 1/2)

Game 715-716: TN-Chattanooga vs. Connecticut
Dunkel Ratings: TN-Chattanooga 49.573; Connecticut 75.101
Dunkel Line: Connecticut by 25 1/2
Vegas Line: Connecticut by 21
Dunkel Pick: Connecticut (-21)

Game 717-718: Texas A&M vs. BYU
Dunkel Ratings: Texas A&M 66.887; BYU 69.837
Dunkel Line: BYU by 3
Vegas Line: BYU by 1 1/2
Dunkel Pick: BYU (-1 1/2)

Game 719-720: American vs. Villanova
Dunkel Ratings: American 56.466; Villanova 72.566
Dunkel Line: Villanova by 16
Vegas Line: Villanova by 18 1/2
Dunkel Pick: American (+18 1/2)

Game 721-722: VA Commonwealth vs. UCLA
Dunkel Ratings: VA Commonwealth 63.325; UCLA 71.882
Dunkel Line: UCLA by 8 1/2
Vegas Line: UCLA by 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: UCLA (-6 1/2)

Game 723-724: CS-Northridge vs. Memphis
Dunkel Ratings: CS-Northridge 56.034; Memphis 78.730
Dunkel Line: Memphis by 22 1/2
Vegas Line: Memphis by 15
Dunkel Pick: Memphis (-15)

Game 725-726: Maryland vs. California
Dunkel Ratings: Maryland 65.371; California 68.476
Dunkel Line: California by 3
Vegas Line: Pick
Dunkel Pick: California

Game 727-728: Morgan State vs. Oklahoma
Dunkel Ratings: Morgan State 51.101; Oklahoma 71.315
Dunkel Line: Oklahoma by 20
Vegas Line: Oklahoma by 16 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Oklahoma (-16 1/2)

Game 729-730: Michigan vs. Clemson
Dunkel Ratings: Michigan 65.973; Clemson 69.297
Dunkel Line: Clemson by 3 1/2
Vegas Line: Clemson by 6
Dunkel Pick: Michigan (+6)

Game 731-732: Northern Iowa vs. Purdue
Dunkel Ratings: Northern Iowa 63.184; Purdue 67.744
Dunkel Line: Purdue by 4 1/2
Vegas Line: Purdue by 9
Dunkel Pick: Northern Iowa (+9)

Game 733-734: Mississippi State vs. Washington
Dunkel Ratings: Mississippi State 64.425; Washington 73.058
Dunkel Line: Washington by 8 1/2
Vegas Line: Washington by 4 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Washington (-4 1/2)

Game 735-736: Western Kentucky vs. Illinois
Dunkel Ratings: Western Kentucky 62.171; Illinois 64.657
Dunkel Line: Illinois by 2 1/2
Vegas Line: Illinois by 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Western Kentucky (+6 1/2)

Game 737-738: Akron vs. Gonzaga
Dunkel Ratings: Akron 58.155; Gonzaga 68.177
Dunkel Line: Gonzaga by 10
Vegas Line: Gonzaga by 13
Dunkel Pick: Akron (+13)

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Re: Thursday Service Plays

Tom Freese

Golden State Warriors at LA Lakers

Golden St is 5-0 OVER after allowing 100 or more points in their last game and they are 17-7 OVER vs. winning teams. The Warriors are 11-5 OVER on Thursday and they are 11-5 OVER their last 16 Division games. The Lakers are 15-6 OVER as home favorites of 11 or more points and they are 20-8 OVER vs. losing teams. Los Angeles is 8-2 OVER their last 10 Division games and they are 19-7 OVER their last 26 games vs. the Warriors.

Play on: Over

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VEGAS EXPERTS

VA Commonwealth at UCLA

Here's a popular upset pick of many that we patently disagree with. VCU's greatest strength (Eric Maynor) will be negated by UCLA's own PG Collison and lets note the Bruins have motivation from an early exit in the Pac 10 Tournament. UCLA is 19-9 ATS after failing to cover the spread in its previous game over the last two seasons. Virginia Commonwealth is 0-6 ATS following back-to-back covers as a favorite. Lay, don't take, the points here!

Play on: UCLA

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Dave Cokin

Northern Iowa vs. Purdue
Play: Purdue -8

Northern Iowa has sailed under the radar all season, but the fact is that this very well coached squad has indeed emerged as the legit best team in the Missouri Valley Conference. But this year's MVC crop turned out to be below that league's usual standards and I can't see Northern Iowa pulling the upset today. Purdue started off red hot, ran into a couple of injuries that slowed them down, but are now looking like a team that could make some noise in this tournament. They're very solid fundamentally and I like their experience. I was also very impressed with their performance in the Big 10 tourney, and believe the Boilermakers might be peaking at just the right time. The underdog is capable of making this a tough game, and the number is high enough to prevent me from taking a strong stance on Purdue, but I do think the Boilermakers are the right side.

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Sean Higgs

CS Northridge vs. Memphis U    
Play: Under 132

Let's go UNDER here. Tigers play D. CS Northridge hasn't seen a team remotely close to this Memphis team. They will be lucky to make it to 50. Which leaves us with Memphis to roll out a 80 point game. Even with a chip on their shoulder from a #1 snub. I see this breaking down as a 73-45 type game. FREE PLAY! UNDER

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Joseph D'Amico

Dallas Mavericks vs. Atlanta Hawks
Play: Atlanta Hawks -6

Today's winner is the Atlanta Hawk's over the Dallas Maverick's. Atlanta is ripping it up on this home stand. The Hawk's have won and covered all 6 of their matchups on this stretch. As a matter of fact, they have covered their last 9 at home. Atlanta is fighting to retain the 4th seed in the East and homecourt in the 1st round of the playoffs. Don't forget that Atlanta will be playing with some extra gusto, as they want revenge for their "close but no cigar" 2 point loss ( with a 13 point 4th quarter comeback) in the only meeting with Dallas this season. Center Al Horford DNP in that 1st meeting. Of late, he has been lighting it up as he is averaging 15.0 PPG and 10.2 RPG in his last 10 outings. Dallas is hurting with Guard Devean George and Forwards Stackhouse, Howard, and Williams, all listed as most likely missing tonight game. Check these Atlanta stats out; the Hawk's are 7-0 ATS their last 7 vs. teams with a SU winning record, 6-0 ATS their last 6 vs. teams with a losing road record, 5-0 ATS their last 5 as a favorite, 5-0 ATS their last 5 games played on 1 days rest, 6-0 ATS their last 6 overall, 7-0 ATS their last 7 as a home fav, and 5-0 ATS their last 5 vs. the Western conference. This is a no-brainer. Take Atlanta.

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Re: Thursday Service Plays

Strike Point Sports.

Alabama (+2.5) over Vanderbilt

Despite the Bruins playing somewhat more of an uptempo style of play this season, its still UCLA and Ben Howland. And when you combine those two factors with the NCAA Tournament, its safe to say the Bruins will be on their 'A' game come this match-up. Also, it's not like UCLA is playing a team that wants to get up and go. Even if UCLA does decide to selectively run, VCU will make sure to slow the pace even more. In this game the Rams will stick with a halfcourt attack, and their full court press should do well to keep the Bruins from running on them. A lot of good guard play, but both playmakers and point guards in Eric Maynor and Darren Collison will have the focus on good, quality possessions. With that, the under is the play in this first round game.

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Vegas Sports Informer

Take Akron (+12.5) over Gonzaga

I can't see Gonzaga losing this game but winning by double-digits could be a problem for the Bulldogs. Akron is a tough team to beat and hasn't lost a game by double-digits since Jan. 10 in overtime against Miami, Ohio. Gonzaga is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games and the MAC representatives are notoriously tough outs in the NCAA Tournament.

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Bob Balfe

Morgan State +16.5 over Oklahoma

Oklahoma is not playing their best ball even with a healthy Griffin in the lineup. The Sooner Guards are not playing their best and the team is turning the ball over more than average. Oklahoma is a bigger and superior team, but Morgan State has a big win at Maryland this year under their belts and are used to playing on the road. Morgan State plays good defense and has a good coach in Todd Bozeman. This team has the experience to pull a major upset. Take Morgan State +16.5 and if you are feeling really lucky take the Moneyline. A $100 bet would win you $1240! Its worth a shot!

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Wunderdog

Cal State Northridge vs. Memphis
Pick: UNDER 131.5

The Memphis Tigers came within a few points of winning a national championship last year, dropping a heartbreaker in overtime at the hands of the Kansas Jayhawks. That Tigers team saw Joey Dorsey, Chris Douglas Roberts and Derrick Rose all either use up eligibility, or declare for the draft. Those three players combined for 46 of the 68 points scored in the championship game - 67.6%! They also dished out 12 of the team's 14 assists. How in the world are they back again, as a #2 seed and strong candidate for another Final 4? John Calipari doesn't rebuild at Memphis, he reloads. And he has another freshman sensation in Tyreke Evans, who in his first year leads Memphis in scoring. Shawn Taggert and Antonio Anderson emerged as double-digit scorers, and Robert Dozier elevated his game. The result? Memphis hasn't skipped a beat in terms of wins and losses. But, the offense isn't nearly as good. It's about defense as this team defends as good as anyone in the country. How good? They gave up 43 ppg in the three games in the C-USA Championship round. They have allowed an average of 48.5 ppg in their last 12 overall. Last year's team put up 80+ in 19 games. Meanwhile this year in the last 13 games, Memphis has reached 80 just once. CS Northridge at 17-13 is fortunate to be here. They were 6-10 to start the season and finished 11-3 to make their way into the tournament. They have done it with defense, as those 14 games down the stretch saw teams average just 65 ppg against them and no team touched them off for 80+. If Memphis with their superior athleticism and tenacious defense holds them to 50 or less like they have with just about everyone, this total of 130+ would require a lot from the Tigers offense. Memphis would have to go over 80 to push it over, something they have done just once in their last 13 games. And, this is something Northridge hasn't allowed happen in their last 14 games. Too many things have to happen in an unexpected way to push this one OVER the total and my play here is on the UNDER, which has also prevailed in 11 of Memphis' last 12 games.

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Dwayne Bryant

Rhode Island +1 vs Penn St.

Penn State is listed as a #1 seed, they're from the stronger conference, playing at home with same-season revenge (Rhode Island won at Penn State back in November), and yet they're favored by just a single point.I like the way the Rams match up with PSU and I do not think that Rhode Island's November win at the Bryce Jordan Center was a fluke. The Rams own edges in points per game, FG %, free throw %, and rebounding.The Rams are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 road games, and 18-6-2 ATS in their last 26 non-conference games. Rhode Island is also 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.

I'll take Rhode Island in this one

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Greg Shaker

LSU -1.5 vs Butler

I have been waiting for this line to drop to this level and it is time to pull the trigger. Butler is everyone's pick today because they are Butler, and the LSU Tigers play in the weak SEC. The Tigers also did not finish strong this year, and that lends people to believe that maybe they are not up to snuff for this tourney game. The most interesting thing about today's contest is the fact that even though the Tigers are the slight favorite to win, nobody is giving them a chance. That has a way to motivate teams and especially one that has had the kind of season LSU has had. You are not going to convince me that the Horizon League is as strong as the SEC. The Bulldogs have played very well, but this is The Big Dance, and they find themselves in a peculiar situation of being the squad that is supposed to win. While the Bulldogs have good interior play, the Tigers do as well and the rebound edge is with us. The Tigers do not turn the ball over very much but they do force TO's. LSU coasted toward the end of their campaign but they will be ready today and they will not take the Bulldogs lightly as many have done in the past.

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Matt Fargo

Michigan vs. Clemson     
Play: Michigan +5

Clemson started the season 16-0 and expectations grew once again only to see the Tigers tumble again. They went 7-8 in their last 15 games including a first round loss in the ACC Tournament against lowly Georgia Tech. This is nothing new. Last season, Clemson started the season 10-0 and 12-1 only to finish 12-9 in their final 21 games including a first round NCAA tournament exit against Villanova. Two years ago, Clemson started the season 17-0 only to finish 4-9 in its final 13 regular season games then lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament and had to settle for an NIT invitation. Want more history? Three years ago, it was an 11-0 start and a 7-11 finish along with a first round ACC Tournament loss and another NIT bid. This tells us two things. First, the non-conference schedules have been a joke and those cupcake wins do nothing in preparation for the ACC. This year’s non-conference schedule was ranked 260th in the nation. Second, the coaching is a real issue. Oliver Purnell has put a good resume together in his six years at Clemson but he has yet to get the Tigers over the hump. Last year was a classic example as he led them to their first NCAA Tournament in nine years only for them to bow out after one game. With the athletes this team has, they should be a lot better. Michigan built a very good resume in the non-conference season as it defeated UCLA and Duke. A 3-1 start in the Big Ten turned some heads but a 2-7 run ensued and it looked as though the 11-year NCAA Tournament drought would continue. The Wolverines finished strong however as they went 4-2 in their final six regular season games before splitting in the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan’s success or lack thereof comes down to making shots. If the shots are falling, the Wolverines can beat anyone but if they are not going down, winning becomes more difficult. As with any John Beilein coached team, Michigan takes care of the ball as it has a 1.38 assist/turnover ratio which is ninth best in the nation. It is also shooting 75.5 percent from the charity stripe which is 14th in the country. Those are two of the bigger statistical categories to look at come tournament time and the Wolverines have advantages in both in this matchup. They also have an edge in overall efficiency and that is pretty big considering they are the underdog. Back to the coaching, Beilein is spectacular. He is the 7th head coach all-time to bring four different teams into the NCAA Tournament. I will take him over Purnell with four days to prepare any day of the week. If the perimeter shots are falling at just an average clip, the Wolverines have a great shot at the upset. 3* Michigan Wolverines

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