THURSDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
Re: THURSDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
50 Dime ---- VILLANOVA
10 Dime ---- MEMPHIS
5 Dime ---- LAKERS
VILLANOVA --- It’s amazing to think this is a near home game for ‘Nova and they are grabbing a few points from the Dukies tonight, but when I first saw this matchup last weekend and broke it down, I had Villanova winning by five or six. I was fully expecting the Wildcats to be favored by a few points, so obviously when I saw Duke (a Vegas darling) come out as 2-3 point chalk, I had to jump all over this.
Look, I’m not saying Duke is a bad team or that they don’t deserve to be here, I’m just saying I believe Villanova is a better team from top to bottom and they are playing a lot closer to home than the Blue Devils, giving them yet another advantage in this matchup.
Many Duke backers will tell you that Coach K is a master of taking away a team’s strengths and forcing them to use other options. I’m sure you all heard about how Texas’ Dex Pittman was going to be able to dominate inside last weekend vs. a “soft” Duke interior, but since Pittman wasn’t much of a post-scorer all season why did anyone think just because Duke wasn’t great defensively in the paint that Pittman was all-of-a-sudden going to become a scorer? Pittman was a rebounder, shot-blocker and space eater all season, he wasn’t consider a major scoring option in that offense, so why am I hearing what a great job Duke did in keeping him to just eight points?
The problem in that game was the simple fact Texas just didn’t hit enough free throws or mid-range jumpers when Pittman did get doubled inside. Texas hit just 3 of 12 three-pointers and 16 of 25 from the free throw line and they only lost by five? Texas committed a silly foul in the waning seconds that sealed the deal, so don’t tell me Duke’s interior defense was the difference because it clearly wasn’t. Duke didn’t win the game, Texas lost it.
Folks, ‘Nova won’t make that same mistake tonight. Dante Cunningham, much like Pittman, is a space eater inside. But the difference between the two is that Cunningham can score at will against teams like Duke. The Blue Devils don’t have a single big man that can keep him down for 40 minutes (unless he gets in foul trouble). If Cunningham plays smart, he’ll finish the game with yet another double-double. And if Duke thinks they’re going to double down on big Dante, he’s got enough court presence to find the open shooter… and Villanova has plenty of them.
In their last game vs. UCLA, the Wildcats connected on 8 of 25 three-point attempts (32%) and we know their season average is better than that from out there. Imagine… they shot subpar from outside and still won by 20!?!?! Scottie Reynolds is due for a monster game after scoring just 11 points in his last one, and this might be just the venue for him to get it done.
The trends tonight favor the Wildcats, including a 10-4 mark ATS in their last 14 vs. a team with a winning percentage of greater than .600 and 8-3 ATS following an ATS win the game before, not to mention 5-2 ATS in their last 7 vs. teams from the ACC. Duke, on the other hand, is just 2-8-1 in their last 11 vs. teams from the Big East, 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Big Dance games overall, 2-10 in their last 12 Big Tourney games as a favorite and 0-5 ATS their last five as a favorite of less than 6 points.
The writing is on the wall boys, and the Wildcats are marching on to an Elite Eight appearance after an 84-78 upset win over Duke. Book it.
MEMPHIS --- I’ve backed these Tigers in their first two tourney games, going 1-1 thus far. They failed to show up in their first one, underestimating a very good Northridge team and winning by just 11. Once they awoke from their slumber, they put a beatdown on Maryland 89-70 in a game that was pretty much decided at halftime. The #1 reason I like Memphis is that they play defense. Yes, I realize it might not have shown vs. Northridge, but those guys shot lights out and weren’t afraid to pull the trigger. That doesn’t happen often against this defense and it won’t happen again tonight, even as good as Missouri has shown to be offensively.
In my opinion, Memphis is THE MOST athletic team in the tournament and can compete against any team left in the brackets for a full 40 minutes. I’m not saying they can beat them all, but I have no doubts they’ll compete against anyone that stands in their way and they’ll keep it close. Tonight all we’re asking them to do is win by a mere four or five points, something they’ve done often this year in and out of conference.
The Tigers get a bad rap for playing in a weak conference, but it’s the same conference they played in last year and yet they found themselves in the Big Dance Finals only a mere seconds away from pulling off a championship. Sure, they lost a few key players from that team, but coach Cal has done a nice job filling in the blanks with guys like Tyreke Evans and it doesn’t appear they’ve skipped a beat.
Now, back to their defense for a minute. Over the last five games, Memphis has allowed just 53 PPG, and on the season it’s only 57 per game. They do it by suffocating you on the perimeter and in the paint. It’s not often their opponents get really good shots at the basket. Most buckets against this team are “earned” because they simply don’t allow a lot of gimmes. Heck, I’ll be the first to say Congrats to Missouri if they’re able to score more than 70 points tonight as it’s not often this Memphis team has surrendered that many.
Memphis is 6-1 ATS in their last seven non-conference game and 10-1 ATS in their last 11 vs. teams with a winning percentage of greater than .600. Missouri is just 2-5 ATS in their last seven neutral site games as an underdog and 1-4 ATS in their last five vs. teams from Conference USA. Hey, I give coach Anderson tons of respect and credit for what he’s been able to do with this Mizzou team this year, but it has to end sooner or later and I pick sooner. They’re good, but I don’t believe they’re as good as Memphis and it will show tonight. Lay the points.
LAKERS --- This one is quite simple. No Rasheed, No Iverson, No Rip Hamilton, No Chance. This line continues to climb so get in as early as you can. It opened at -7 ½ and has already worked its way up to nearly nine, but that’s still okay with me as I see a 15-20 point win from Kobe and the boys tonight.
Detroit has been bitten badly by the injury bug and will be without three-fifths of their starting tandem tonight at home where the Pistons are just 18-18 on the season. And have you noticed how well the Lakers have been playing lately? Even without Andrew Bynum, this team is thumping its opponents in an attempt to get the #1 overall seed and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. So don’t tell me they’ll “ease up” tonight and that this game “doesn’t matter”. IT DOES MATTER. They all do. Tonight will be no different and I fully expect the Lakers to put a charge into the Pistons tonight in this continuing road trip.
LA has covered their last four road games and six of their last seven vs. the Eastern Conference while the Pistons are a mere 8-21 ATS in their last 29 home games including just 1-4 ATS in their last five as a home dog of 5-10 points. Easy pickins’ for the Lakers tonight as they unload on the Pistons, 109-95.
Re: THURSDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
4 Unit Play.Take James Madison +6.5 over Old Dominion
Let's ride the San Diego State win to another pod winner hopefully today. Give JMU a lot of credit. They went into Liberty and won by 23 and beat Mt. St. Marys at home by 11. Liberty was ranked outside the top 200 but they had just crushed Rider at home and JMU just waltzed in and won by 23 points on the road. This team is a top 125 team that faces a top 100 team within their own conference today in ODU. This team beat ODU by 8 on the road and most recently lost to ODU by 6. In games like these, often you see the team that lost the mots rencet meeting gets the revenge - you see this countless times in the conference tournament as well. You think to yourself, that's crazy, how did this team beat them in the regular season and now lose today? It's all motivation - and in a tournament such as this, where it's not the Dance, just another opportunity to play, motivation becomes more of a factor. I like how JMU shoots 75.7% from the line as compared to ODU who shoots 63.3% from the line. ODU keeps getting it barely covering against Belmont and the Citadel winning by 8 and 8. Keep in mind they were down to Belmont at half and most of the way. Now, they face an ODU team that has beat this team on the road before (then lost at home to this team) and is not intimidated from the opening tip. ODU has been pressing its luck a bit of late but I think despite if they win this game, JMU getting the 6.5 points is a very nice play here given that they shoot better free throws and heck, they have a 50% of winning this game outright so why not take the points here. The Road team is 7-2 ATS between these two squads of late.
4 Unit Play. Take Under 202.5 between Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls
I wrote an article about the myth of hoops consensus on the page today and if you get a chance check it out. I have changed my spreadsheets accordingly. As per today's play, let's ride the Under today in Chicago. If you are looking for another play, I took a long look at the Pistons today at home against the Lakers and a possible over there, but I laid off as the Lakers have some revenge coming into that game and they are playing strong basketball. I think the under here in Chicago is live. For starters, Derrick Rose is said to be questionable. Next, the Bulls have revenge against the Heat from their loss earlier this year when Wade hit the 3 point shot at the buzzer after stealing the ball. The Bulls are running just 7 deep right now as Kirk took over the point guard duties against the Pistons - and won. I understand the last contest between these two teams went over, but it also went into overtime sessions. There was 208 points scored in regulation in that game when the Bulls were an active 5 point dog. This game is a bit different as the Bulls are favored. The last time these two teams met in Chicago, the Heat won 95-93 and the game totaled at 188. Prior to that in Miami, the game totaled at 167 when these two teams met the day after Christmas. I think the total is placed as high as it is because of what happened in the last contest but these two teams are more of an under team when they face each other. The last 4 of 5 and 5 of 7 between these two have gone under. This is the last road game for Miami before they return home. This team just faced Indiana and comes off a very low scoring game that totaled 178 and that game's total was set at 204.5. Against Memphis, this team put up 94 points and the total closed at 176 from the line originally being set at 195. This team also played an Under at Cleveland (189), New Jersey (184) and Philly 162. The Bulls are just running 7 deep as well and I feel that this game will be a bit more methodical as the Bulls will run Tyrus Thomas, Gordon, Kirk, Salmons, Tim Thomas, Noah, Miller and Hunter. Note: Tyrus and Lindsay only played 4 minutes a peice roughly against the Pistons - so really, this team ran 6 guys for quite a bit of the game.