SATURDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
Re: SATURDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
4* CONNECTICUT over MISSOURI
Few teams have been as big of a meal ticket in any sports season as Missouri was for us down the stretch ? since January 31st the Tigers produced a perfect 6-0 when we backed them, including three 6* plays and a 5*. But this is where the run ends for Mike Anderson and his team. While their ability to pressure opponents into mistakes, and take advantage of them with outstanding precisions, has been special, what it has also hidden is that their talent is only good, not great. Now they run into an opponent that will force a different pace into the game and will rarely turn the ball over, and this game flow will show how great of a job that Anderson did with the pieces at hand this season. Connecticut is not going to be bothered by a press. While Hasheem Thabeet gets those deserved accolades for the impact that he has only games, it is point guard A. J. Price that has been the heart of this team, and Price has only turned the ball over 88 times in 1,047 floor minutes this season, despite the fact that many of those minutes came against tough Big East defenses. He has set the tone for a team that has only 425 turnovers in 34 games, and one that can use their size as an advantage against the press ? with Thabeet, Jeff Adrien and Stanley Robinson on the court, they can throw the ball right over the top of traps. And Price?s back-court mate Craig Austrie has been as strong with the ball as just about any guard around, with 80 assists vs. only 28 turnovers in 845 minutes. The latter count is special. So what happens when the Missouri presses are broken? A team that lacks size around the basket not only has a huge matchup headache with Thabeet, literally, but both Robinson (15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per tourney game) and Adrien (14.7 and 10.0 in the Dance) have been dominating as well down low. That exploits a weakness that both Marquette and Memphis were able to find, with each of those teams slashing to the basket through large openings. And it is not just the half-court defense for Missouri that can be exploited, but the fact that when they are not getting easy opportunities off of turnovers the Tiger half-court offense is also nothing special. Missouri gets a lot of assists from attacking the basket and unselfishly dishing the ball. But there is nothing to attack against Connecticut ? the Huskies allowed only 37.4 percent shooting, including 30.5 from 3-point range, blocking 265 shots along the way. It is a matchup that will eventually see the Tiger offense bog down, and they get forced to play a grinder of a game that takes their strentghs away, and exposes all weaknesses.
4* UTAH over PHOENIX
When Jerry Sloan looks at films of Utah?s loss at Phoenix on Wednesday night he sees a perfect storm of disasters by his team. The Jazz allowed the Suns to shoot 54.9 percent from the field; grab more rebounds; get 31 fast break points vs. only 14; and win the points in the paint battle by a major 68-38. All the while Utah was making only 16-27 free throws. So it is no secret that it disturbed the veteran coach, who has had his team at home since that debacle to study the films and go over the glaring mistakes. But here is the subtle key for our purposes tonight ? even with all of that happening, it was a tie game in the final minute. On a night in which the pendulums were swinging in the Phoenix direction in a major way, the Suns could barely escape. They will not be so lucky here. On Thursday we cashed an easy 4* ticket with Portland over Phoenix in the first road outing since losing Leandro Barbosa, and the Suns had little say in the outcome ? once again they were just awful defensively, allowing 60.2 percent shooting, and the legs and depth were not there to chase from behind. Now in a key back-to-back sequence Alvin Gentry must remain aware of the issues that his team has, knowing that burning out those legs in a game that may not be able to win tonight anyway only makes matters more difficult when they play at Sacramento tomorrow, one that absolutely must put into the win column to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive. And on a court on which the Jazz are on a current run of 13-0 SU and 10-3 ATS, with the three spread failures coming by a combined 5.5 points, it is an uphill battle from the opening tipoff.Note that the recent home surge by Utah had little to do with scheduling ? the Jazz beat the Celtics, Hornets, Hawks, Lakers, Nuggets and Rockets (twice) in that span. They deliver another knockout punch here, as fresh legs propel a bitter revenge motive into a blowout.
Re: SATURDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
Houston / LA Clippers Over 190.5
The Clippers are playing their sixth road game in a row. They are a tired, demoralized team that has given up on playing defense. They've allowed an average of 110.1 points in their last nine games.Los Angeles has allowed six of its last eight foes to shoot 50 pecent or better from the field. The Rockets have shot 47.2 percent from the floor during their past 16 home games.The Clippers are going to be missing their lone solid defender and top shot-blocker, Marcus Camby. Look for Yao Ming to go to town.The pointspread is huge, but the Rockets shouldn't be letting up or playing their subs too much. They've been off since Tuesday and won't play again until Tuesday. This is going to be a fun game for the Rockets.Not only will the Clippers be missing Camby but Baron Davis is out, too. This is good for the 'over.' Camby is strictly defense, while the disinterested Davis is a low percentage shooter.Rookies Eric Gordon and Mike Taylor will be doing a lot of scoring for the Clippers. So will Al Thornton and Zach Randolph. These guys think offense first and are statistically inclined with their hopeless team far out of the playoff picture.
Indiana will be taking this matchup very serious trailing Chicago and Detroit by 4 1/2 games with 10 left to play for the final playoff spot in the East.The Pacers are playing their best defense of the season. They've held their past four foes to an average of 90 points per game.Indiana has covered six of its past nine away matchups. The Pacers are rested, having been idle since Wednesday.Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro has shortened his rotation down to primarily seven players. Fatigue might hurt the Bulls, especially with this early start time. This is Chicago's fourth game in six days.Derrick Rose and John Salmons are not at 100 percent for the Bulls.Indiana has the higher scoring average, averages more rebounds and commits fewer turnovers than Chicago.
Villanova has played two outstanding games in the NCAA Tournament. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, hasn't been sharp.The result is Pittsburgh is just very short chalk. The Panthers were 3 1/2-point road favorites when they lost to the Wildcats back in January. Home-court and DeJuan Blair getting in foul trouble had a lot to do with that Villanova victory.I see Pittsburgh playing its finest game, while Villanova is unable to produce a third straight "A" game effort.Blair gives the Panthers a huge inside edge against the smaller Wildcats. The Panthers have the three best players.Since taking over at Pittsburgh in 2003, Jamie Dixon has only lost twice to the same team during a single season. It won't happen for a third time here.
Re: SATURDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
No Best Bets for Saturday (unless Detroit goes down to -3).
Saturday NCAA Analysis
Pittsburgh (-2) versus Villanova
Villanova beat Pitt 67-57 in Philly earlier this season as Panthers’ star big man DeJuan Blair was limited to just 20 minutes due to foul trouble. Blair only averages 2.7 fouls per game, so I don’t see him getting in foul trouble again and having him on the floor more will certainly help Pitt in the rematch. Hitting some shots will also help the Panthers, who were a randomly bad 3 for 16 from 3-point range and only 59% from the free throw line in that game. My ratings favor Pitt by 2 ½ points with a total of 142 points and I have no opinion on this game.
Connecticut (-5 ½) over Missouri
Both of these teams have been very impressive during the tournament, but Connecticut has been the better team over the course of the season and Missouri’s run to the Final Four is likely over. The Tigers aren’t likely to get to the rim much against Connecticut’s shot blocking C Hasheem Thabeet and Mizzou is not a great 3-point shooting team (35.5%), so forcing turnovers for easy buckets would seem to be the answer. U Conn, however, takes care of the ball very well (just 12 turnovers per game). My first instinct was that the line on this game was a bit too high, but my ratings using only games against quality opposition favors the Huskies by 5 ½ points (with a total of 146 points), so the line is fair. U Conn applies to a negative 4-20 ATS round 4 situation while Missouri applies to a negative 27-82-2 ATS situation (that angle is 1-0 ATS when intersecting with the situation that applies to Connecticut), so I don’t really want either side here. I have no opinion on the side and I’ll lean with the under (150 ½ points).
Saturday NBA Opinion
Detroit (-4) over WASHINGTON
Washington is coming off a rare victory but the Wizards are just 2-9 ATS this season after a win when not getting more than 10 points (1-5 ATS at home) and they apply to a negative 45-107-3 ATS general letdown situation. Detroit has been on a slide lately without Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton, but both return today (they are better without Allen Iverson and he is still likely out). Washington’s Caron Butler is also returning from injury today and the difference between him being in or out is 2 points and my ratings only favor Detroit by 3 points with Butler playing. I’ll lean with Detroit at -4, but I’d only take the Pistons in a 2-Star Best Bet at -3 or less.