Saturday Service Plays

Saturday Service Plays

SPORTS ADVISORS

NCAA TOURNAMENT

EAST REGION
(at Boston)

(3) Villanova (29-7, 18-14 ATS) vs. (1) Pittsburgh (31-4, 16-12-1 ATS)

Villanova rumbled to its second straight blowout victory in Thursday’s Sweet 16 round, ripping second-seeded Duke 77-54 behind a 51-point second half to pull the mild upset as a 2½-point underdog. Dante Cunningham doubled up with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Scottie Reynolds had 16 points. Villanova shot a mediocre 42.2 percent, but its defense stifled the Blue Devils into a 16-for-60 effort from the floor (26.7 percent), including 5-for-27 from three-point range (18.5 percent). The Wildcats are now on a 6-1 SU run (4-3 ATS).

Pittsburgh faced a far greater challenge than Villanova in its Sweet 16 contest, trailing in the final minute against fourth-seeded Xavier before Levance Fields knocked down a deep three-pointer, then got a steal and layup to ignite an 8-1 game-ending run in a 60-55 victory. However, the Panthers fell short as a 6½-point chalk, dropping to 0-3 ATS in this year’s Big Dance. In an extremely even contest, Pitt shot just 33.8 percent – though Sam Young had 19 points on 7-for-16 shooting – while the Musketeers, who started the second half with a six-minute scoreless drought, were even worse at 32.8 percent.

These Big East rivals met just once this regular season on Jan. 28, with Villanova winning outright 67-57 as a 3½-point home pup to end a four-game ATS run by Pitt in this rivalry (3-1 SU). Furthermore, the underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five contests. However, since March 2004, ‘Nova has faced Pitt just once outside Philadelphia, with the Panthers rolling 69-57 as a seven-point home chalk in January 2008.

Villanova, in its 29th NCAA appearance, has reached the Elite Eight for the first time since 2006, when it lost to eventual champion Florida 75-62 as a one-point favorite. Pittsburgh, in its 21st NCAA Tourney, has been in the Big Dance six straight years under coach Jamie Dixon, but this is the first time the Panthers have gotten to the Elite Eight in that stretch. In fact, with Thursday’s win over Xavier, Pitt advanced past the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1974.

The Wildcats are on ATS rolls of 12-5 against winning teams, 15-7 as a neutral-site pup, 4-1 as an NCAA ‘dog, 9-3 after an ATS win and 11-4 against teams with a winning percentage above .600.

The Panthers are on an 8-3 ATS run against Big East opponents, but their pointspread numbers tail off from there, including slumps of 0-4 overall (all at neutral sites), 1-5 in the Tournament (0-4 in the last four), 1-5 as a Tourney favorite, 1-6 laying less than seven points in the NCAAs and 2-5 after a SU win.

The under for Villanova is on stretches of 6-0 against winning teams, 24-8-1 as an underdog, 19-7-1 as a pup of less than seven points and 4-0 as a neutral-site ‘dog. Likewise, the under for Pittsburgh is on tears of 4-1 overall, 6-0 against winning teams and 6-1 on neutral courts. Finally, the last six meetings in this rivalry have stayed low, with none of the six contests featuring more than 127 combined points.

ATS ADVANTAGE: VILLANOVA and UNDER


WEST REGIONAL
(at Phoenix)

(3) Missouri (31-6, 20-10 ATS) vs. (1) Connecticut (30-4, 15-15 ATS)

Red-hot Missouri ran its winning streak to six in a row both SU and ATS after knocking off second-seeded Memphis on Thursday, building up a 24-point second-half lead, then fending off a furious rally for a 102-91 win as a 4½-point underdog. All five Mizzou starters scored in double figures, led by J.T. Tiller’s 23 points, and the Tigers shot 53.2 percent to break the century mark against the nation’s seventh-ranked scoring defense (58.8 ppg) and No. 1-ranked shooting defense (37.2 percent). Memphis had been riding a national-best 27-game win streak and was on a 15-5 ATS run.

Connecticut wasn’t distracted by off-court recruiting issues, dropping fifth-seeded Purdue 72-60 as a seven-point chalk Thursday to move to 3-0 SU and ATS in this year’s Tournament. Craig Austrie scored 17 points, going 3-for-3 on three-pointers, and 7-foot-3-inch center Hasheem Thabeet had a big night with 15 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, helping hold the Boilermakers to just 36.4 percent from the field. The Huskies, meanwhile, shot 44.6 percent and had a 42-31 rebounding edge. UConn has outrebounded its three Tournament foes by a combined 134-86.

Missouri is in its 22nd NCAA Tournament and its first since 2003. However, the Tigers have never reached the Final Four in its previous 21 appearances.

UConn, meanwhile, is a two-time national champion under Jim Calhoun and is in its 29th Big Dance. The Huskies have reached the Elite Eight for the first time since 2006, when they were upset by Tournament darling George Mason 86-84 in overtime as an eight-point chalk. Both of UConn’s national championships came with the team playing in the West Region.

The Tigers are on a 14-2 SU and 13-3 ATS blitz, and they are on additional pointspread sprees of 16-5 overall, 5-0 against winning teams, 9-2 in the Tournament and 5-1 as an NCAA pup. Mizzou’s current 6-0 SU and ATS surge has all come on neutral courts, beginning with its run to the Big 12 tourney title and continuing with its three victories in the NCAAs. The Tigers’ 31 victories are a single-season best for the school.

The Huskies were an ATS mess entering the Tournament, having dropped 13 straight postseason pointspread decisions, including seven in a row (all as a favorite) in the NCAAs. However, along with their 3-0 ATS mark in this year’s Tourney, they are riding positive ATS streaks of 6-1 on neutral courts, 5-1 as a neutral-site favorite and 6-2 outside the Big East.

The over for Missouri is on a plethora of hot streaks, including 9-1 in the Tournament, 15-7 in non-conference clashes, 7-0 with the Tigers catching points in the Tournament and 8-2 when the Tigers are a neutral-site ‘dog. UConn is also on a bundle of “over” runs, including 6-1 in the Tournament, 4-0 against the Big 12, 21-8 on neutral floors and 14-4 as a neutral-site chalk.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER


NBA

Phoenix (40-32, 29-41-2) at Utah (44-27, 37-34 ATS)

Two days after seeing their six-game winning streak end in blowout fashion, the Suns continue a three-game road swing with a stop at Energy Solutions Arena, where the Jazz have won 13 in a row.

After knocking off Utah 118-114 as a three-point favorite Tuesday for its sixth consecutive victory, the Suns went to Portland on Thursday and got clobbered 129-109 as a 6½-point road underdog. It marked Phoenix’s sixth loss in its last seven road games (2-5 ATS), and its only victories in its last 10 roadies have come at Pacific Division bottom-feeders the Warriors and Clippers.

Prior to Tuesday’s loss in Phoenix, Utah had won three in a row (2-1 ATS) after an 0-3 SU and ATS slide. Although the Jazz are on a 19-6 SU run, including that 13-game home winning streak, they’ve followed up a 10-2 ATS romp (8-0 at home) by cashing in just five of their last 13 contests (1-4 ATS at home).

The host has taken all three meetings in this season series, with the Jazz rolling 109-97 as a two-point home chalk on Nov. 17 before Phoenix took the last two at home by a total of six points. With the Suns barely cashing in this week’s clash in the desert, it ended Utah’s 5-0 ATS run in this rivalry. Going back several years, the visitor is 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings and the ‘dog is on a 15-7 ATS roll.

The scoreboard figures to get a workout in this one, as the Jazz have hit triple digits in 20 of their last 26 games and Phoenix has done so in 27 of its last 31 contests. In fact, the Suns have scored at least 109 points in nine straight games, averaging 120.8 ppg during this stretch. Since Alvin Gentry took over as coach Feb. 17, Phoenix has scored at least 98 points in 21 consecutive games, but 25 of the team’s last 29 opponents – including 19 of 21 since Gentry took over – have hit the century mark.

The Suns are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven roadies, 4-11 ATS in their past 15 against teams with a winning record and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 as an underdog, but otherwise they’re on positive pointspread stretches of 5-2 overall, 7-2 on Saturday, 5-2-1 after a double-digit loss and 6-0 after allowing more than 125 points in their previous outing.

Utah carries negative ATS streaks of 2-5 overall, 1-4 at home, 1-5 on Saturday, 1-6 against winning teams, 3-7 after a SU defeat and 0-4 when giving up 100 points or more in their last game. On the bright side, the Jazz are 14-6 ATS in their last 20 as a favorite and 58-28-2 ATS in their last 88 as a home chalk.

The high-scoring Suns are riding a bevy of “over” streaks, including 15-7 overall, 4-1 on the road, 4-0 against winning teams, 9-4 versus the Western Conference, 20-7 as a road underdog and 4-0 against teams with a winning record. The over is also 4-0 in Utah’s last four against winning teams and 32-14 in its last 46 versus Pacific Division foes. Finally, the last four series meetings – including all three this season – have hurdled the posted total.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

Karl Garrett

Tonight in the NBA, lay the points with Charlotte as they take on the New York Knicks.

New York stopped their 6-game slide with an impressive home win over New Orleans last night, while Charlotte was also busy recording a win, as the Bobcats won outright at Philadelphia to keep their name in the playoff chase.

Charlotte is back home for this one, and they do own a decent 22-15 spread mark on their own hardwood, but better still is their 9-4 spread mark the last 13 times they have faced the Knickerbockers, and the Bobcats just did pick up a 114-105 road outright win at Madison Square Garden back on March 7th.
Larry Brown would love to stick it to his former employer once again, and the G-Man thinks he will do just that.

Play on the Bobcats minus the points.

3♦ CHARLOTTE

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Jeff Benton

Portland has won five straight meetings against the Grizzlies, with three of those being double-digit romps. The Blazers have cashed in four of the five victories, the only exception coming on Feb. 18 in Portland when they were in a major look-ahead situation and barely escaped 94-90 as an 11½-point chalk.

Tonight, there is no look-ahead for the Blazers. Yes, they have a critical showdown with Utah on deck, but that game isn’t until Tuesday. And given Portland’s inconsistent play of late – the team has split its last 10 games – you know coach Nate McMillan would love to get his squad going as the season comes down to the home stretch. And nothing builds confidence quite like a blowout win in front of your own fans over an inferior team.

And make no mistake: Memphis is beyond inferior. Despite Friday's win over the god-awful Kings, the Grizzlies have been a disaster all season long and they enter this game having lost five of their last six, nine of 11 and 17 of the last 20. And seven of Memphis’ last eight defeats have come by double digits!

Portland is on ATS runs of 5-1 overall, 9-4 when playing on one day of rest, 8-4 when laying nine points or more and 4-0 against teams with a losing record. At the same time, Memphis is in pointspread slumps of 6-21 against the Northwest Division, 3-10 when playing on Saturday and 10-16 when catching eight points or more. The Blazers, who are coming off a 20-point home win over the Suns, will match or exceed that margin of victory tonight. Give the points with confidence.

3♦ PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

Bobby Maxwell

The home team has won five of the last six in this series and we don’t expect things to change today as we go ahead and lay the big chalk with the Jazz. Utah is tough to beat on the home court and they will win this one by 15 at least.

Remember the Suns play absolutely no defense and they showed that on Thursday in Portland, losing 129-109 as a 6 ½-point underdog. They let the Blazers shoot 50-of-83 from the floor (60.2 percent) and hit 50 percent of their long-distance shots. The Suns are letting teams score 114 points a game over the last five, and hit at a 48.6 percent clip.

Utah is able to clamp down the defense at home, giving up just 94.6 points per game and this team is starting to get healthy and look pretty solid. Carlos Boozer is back in the lineup, Deron Williams is still one of the top three point guards in the Western Conference and Ronnie Brewer is a do-everything guy that the Jazz desperately need.

The Jazz clobbered Houston back on Tuesday, 99-86, cashing as a 5 ½-point favorite at home. They are on ATS runs of 58-28-2 as a home favorite and 6-2 ATS when they are a home chalk of 5 to 10 ½ points. Utah has also gotten the cash in five of the last six against the Suns, including back in November when the Jazz got a 109-97 win as two-point favorites.

Lay the chalk and play the Jazz against the defenseless Suns in this one.

3♦ UTAH

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Sports Gambling Hotline

With the Bulls making a late season charge at the playoffs, we will lay the wood with Chicago as they take on the banged-up Pacers Saturday afternoon.

Chicago has won 3 straight, and 6 of their last 7, and they have also covered in their last pair, and 6 of their last 8 overall, while the Pacers do come into this one off a pair of wins and covers, but Indiana is still hurting with Murphy, and Daniels dinged up.

Series numbers show the Bulls with wins and covers in 3 of the last 5 meetings, and the Bulls are also a profitable 20-15 against the spread in their 35 home games this season.

Chicago will hit the road for their next pair, including a stop at Conseco on Tuesday night, so expect the Bulls to bring it strong in this Saturday matinee home date.

Play on the Bulls.

4♦ CHICAGO

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

Bob Harvey

Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz    
Play: Under 228

This will be the second meeting in three nights between these Western Conference playoff hopefuls. And while Wednesday night’s affair topped the total, don’t look for a repeat of that tonight in Salt Lake City.

First, this number is way too high given the fact that the Jazz are much better defenders at home than they are on the road. Utah has won 13 straight at the building formerly known as the “Salt Palace” and defense has been the key, Jerry Sloan’s troops are allowing just over 90 ppg during the red hot home streak. In fact only one team, the Lakers, have topped the 100 point mark.

Phoenix leads the league in scoring and is the only NBA that is shooting over 50% of their shots. Sloan and the Jazz can read the stat sheet. They must know that after Wednesday night’s loss, they just can’t run with this team.

Utah needs to slow it down and play more of a half-court game. Take some air out of the ball and use more clock. They’ve done all of the above very well at home in 2009 and I’m betting they’ll do it again this evening.

A couple of trends to keep in mind: Phoenix is 22-12 to the high side on the road while Utah is 16-20 to the under at home. All three meetings have topped the total but only Wednesday night’s game anywhere close to the posted number of 228.

Take the under tonight as the Jazz play just enough defense to get the deal done.

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Jimmy Boyd

1 Unit on Knicks/Bobcats UNDER 206.5

With both of these teams playing last night, fatigue will play a major role in keeping this one under the number. Charlotte has played to the under in 4 of its last 5 and the Knicks have played to the under in 7 of their last 8. The Under is 10-4 in the Bobcats last 14 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game, 6-2 in the Bobcats last 8 home games, and 4-1 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400. The Under is 4-0 in the Knicks last 4 games as an underdog, 4-0 in the Knicks last 4 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game, and 4-1 in their last 5 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game. This one has the under written all over it.

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

Craig Trapp

Villanova vs. Pittsburgh    
Play: Pittsburgh -2

The Big East has been the best conference all season and with four teams of the eight teams remaining they have definitely not let anyone down. The rematch of an early season beat down where Nova really dominated Pitt. Craig has this game as a very close game and in fact this game might go down as one of the better elite 8 games ever.

Team records:

Villanova: 29-7 SU, 18-14 ATS
Pittsburgh: 31-4 SU, 17-12 ATS

Recent Trends:

-Wildcats are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games as an underdog.
-Wildcats are 15-7 ATS in their last 22 neutral site games as an underdog.
-Panthers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 NCAA Tournament games.
-Panthers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall.

There is not a better match up in the elite eight than the Big East clash of titans. To add to the drama Nova dominated the Panthers early this year and somewhat embarrassed Pitt. Craig has the Pitt Panthers -2 in a very tight nip and tuck game. All the trends and momentum is on Nova but Pitt will just get the job done. It might not be a pretty game for Pittsburgh but don't worry they play better ugly than any team in the NCAA. Blair, Young, and Fields will carry Pitt all the way to the NCAA championship. Enjoy the great game!! SCORE PITT 70 - NOVA 65

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Marc Lawrence

Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz    
Play On: Utah Jazz

Note: When the Jazz play host to the Suns this evening they will do so knowing they are 16-4 ATS in this series when Phoenix is playing off a loss of 6 or more points, including 6-0 ATS when Utah is also off a loss. With the Jazz 15-8 ATS at home off a loss in conference play this season. With the Suns having covered in only 3 of 13 road games when playing off a loss this season, look for Utah to extend their numbers here this evening.

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DAVE COKIN

DETROIT PISTONS / WASHINGTON WIZARDS
Take WASHINGTON WIZARDS

The Pistons are beat up and don't seem to be playing with much energy right now. Obviously, the Wizards are awful but they figure to be the more enthused team here with Agent Zero finally getting into action. I'd rather side with the team that figures to be more interested, so I'm leaning to Washington to score the win at home over the Pistons.

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

JIM FEIST

INDIANA PACERS / CHICAGO BULLS
Take CHICAGO BULLS

Indiana is struggling, on a 3-5 SU, 2-6 ATS run. They run into a focused, motivated Chicago team. The Bulls coasted to a 106-87 triumph Thursday at the United Center over Miami by dominating the second half. The victory -- the sixth in seven games for the Bulls moved the team into seventh place in the Eastern Conference by percentage points over the Pistons. The Bulls also hold the first tiebreaker over the Pistons with a 2-1 edge in the season series. Kirk Hinrich has been filling in great for rookie Derrick Rose, but Rose is now back, playing some in that game. The Bulls now have the third-best record (12-8) in the Eastern Conference since the All-Star break, trailing only the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers and second-seeded Orlando Magic. Play the Bulls.

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

Scott Spreitzer

New York Knicks at Charlotte Bobcats

New York has been amazing in this particular situation this season. They're 8-3 ATS away from home when playing in the second of back-to-back nights. Even more impressive, they're a perfect 11-0 ATS this season when playing on the road in their third game in four days. Obviously, the line is being adjusted too much when this team is playing on short or no rest. That's the case again tonight. The Bobcats are laying too big of a number thanks to faulty public perception and I'll jump on the side of the books.

Play on: New York

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James Patrick Sports

Suns vs. Jazz

In Saturday NBA action James Patrick is featuring his selection on Utah Jazz as they host the Phoenix Suns. The Suns are 1-5 ATS in their past 6 match-ups with the Jazz and 3-8 ATS as an underdog.

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Scott Rickenbach

Charlotte Bobcats (-) vs New York

The Knicks pulled off a shocking win last night as they had a huge third quarter against New Orleans and then hung on for the victory. Let's not forget that New York had previously lost six straight games. Also, the Knicks are facing a Charlotte team that just won outright on the road in Philly last night! The Bobcats, with their play in recent weeks, have proven that head coach Larry Brown now has the right pieces in place. Charlotte is playing their best basketball of the season and that continues here. The Knicks now take their show on the road and that means the long-term struggles quickly return as last night's New York win will prove to just be a 'blip on the screen'. This Knicks team is very poor defensively and here they're matched up with one of the best defenses in the league. Consider a small play on Charlotte minus the points on Saturday night.

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Jimmy The Moose

New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Rangers have lost 12 of their last 15 road games. In their last 9 road games vs. a team with a winning road record they are 2-7. In their last 20 games vs. a team with a winning record NY is 6-14. Pittsburgh has won 4 of their last 5. The Penguins are 9-3 in their last 12 vs. a team with a winning record. The Penguins are 50-23 in their last 73 home games. Pittsburgh has won 7 of their last 9 vs. Eastern Conference opponents. The Rangers are 7-22 in their last 29 trips to Pittsburgh. Play on the Pittsburgh Penguins -.

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VEGAS EXPERTS

Villanova at Pittsburgh

Villanova sure looks like the better team right now, so why not grab the points? They won the regular season meeting by 10 points, have outscore the opposition by over 60 in their last five halves of play and Pitt is 0-3 ATS in the NCAA Tournament. We've already seen that the Panthers don't like to guard around the perimeter, so good look guarding all those Villanova scorers around the perimeter.

Play on: Villanova

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LT Profits

Pittsburgh -2

The Villanova Wildcats have certainly looked impressive while running teams off the floor in this tournament, but never forget that defense wins championships, so we will side with the gritty Pittsburgh Panthers in this all Big East Elite Eight battle.

After all, the Panthers are now 31-4 this year, thanks to a defense that has limited opponents to 64.2 points per game overall on just 40.8 percent shooting from the floor. This is not to say that the offense has not done its part, as according to the Pomeroy Ratings, Pittsburgh is now second in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency. It also helps that they lead the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, thanks to DeJuan Blair.

Now we have a lot of respect for Villanova, and they really are a Final Four caliber club. However, they just drew a terrible matchup here, as they would probably have a better chance of advancing vs. any other of the Elite Eight clubs this year except North Carolina. Yes, the Wildcats did beat Pittsburgh 67-57 during the regular season, but that was in Philadelphia.

Here on a neutral court, we simply feel that Pittsburgh is the better, more balanced team, and we do not expect Villanova to have as easy a time running the floor as they have the first three games of the tournament.

As long as Blair avoids foul trouble, the Panthers should prevail.

Pick: Pittsburgh -2

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

Tom Freese

Memphis at Portland

Portland is 10-3-1 UNDER their last 14 games vs. losing teams and they are 40-17-1 UNDER after scoring 100 or more points in their last game. The Trailblazers are 6-1 UNDER vs. a team with a win percentage of less than 40% and they are 10-1-1 UNDER their last 12 games with the Grizzlies. Memphis is 8-1 UNDER their last 9 games vs. a team with a winning home record and they are 6-1 UNDER as a dog of 11 or more points. The Grizzlies are 6-1 UNDER vs. a team that scored 100 or more points in their last game and they are 4-1 UNDER off an ATS Win. PLAY ON 'UNDER'

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John Fisher

Villanova vs. Pittsburgh     
Play: Pittsburgh -2
       
DUKE lost to Villanova because they were not as tough. Pitt is TOUGH. With BLAIR,YOUNG, and FIELDS these guys wont let the pestering NOVA defense bother them. However, the last time these teams playes PITT got in foul trouble and turned the ball over numerous times.It was their worse offensive performance of the year. PITT is destined to get to FINAL FOUR and have the players and experience to make this happen. This game will be back and forth till the 15 minute mark of second half. The KEY to this game is for PITT to play within themselves. Look for Young to have a BIG SHOW this game and put PITT in the FINAL FOUR! PITT 65 NOVA 59

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

DUNKEL

Villanova vs. Pittsburgh
The Wildcats are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 NCAA tournament games as an underdog, while the Panthers are just 1-6 ATS in their last 7 NCAA tournament games as a favorite between 1 and 6 1/2 points.  Villanova is the underdog pick (+2) according to Dunkel, which has the Wildcats favored straight up by 2.   Dunkel Pick: Villanova (+2). 

Game 517-518: Villanova vs. Pittsburgh
Dunkel Ratings: Villanova 75.513; Pittsburgh 73.560
Dunkel Line: Villanova by 2
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh by 2
Dunkel Pick: Villanova (+2)

Game 519-520: Missouri vs. Connecticut
Dunkel Ratings: Missouri 73.007; Connecticut 79.201
Dunkel Line: Connecticut by 6
Vegas Line: Connecticut by 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Connecticut (-5 1/2)

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