Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday November, 12

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday November, 12

Chuck O'Brien

On the heels of winning the Denver Broncos as my free play over the Carolina Panthers, I'm releasing the Minnesota Golden Gophers laying a relatively big number in college hoops tonight, as they host the Toledo Rockets at Williams Arena. Besides the fact the Gophers are 20-2 all-time against teams currently in the Mid-American Conference, make note Minnesota coach Tubby Smith is a perfect 13-0 all-time against MAC teams.

The Rockets opened the season on Nov. 9 with a 62-50 loss to Loyola of Chicago in what I felt was a disappointing showing and a huge letdown in a game Toledo thought it should have won. On the other hand, Minnesota opened its season with a brutal 72-36 win over American, after two exhibition blowouts by a combined 52 points.

In limiting American to a total of 36 points in the opener, it is the least amount of points given up in a season-opener by Minnesota since it held South Dakota State to 27 points in a 71-27 victory on Dec. 1, 1945. Minnesota held the Eagles to just 14 points in the first half, the lowest since holding Purdue to 11 points in the second round of the 2010 Big Ten Tournament.

Minnesota has a combined record of 55-7 under Smith in regular-season non-conference games. The Gophers went 10-0 last season at Williams arena during the non-conference schedule. Under Smith, Minnesota is 42-1 in regular season non-conference games at the Barn.

Given Toledo's disappointing showing last week, and how well the Gophers looked, I'm laying the big number and will look for a 24-point win.

MINNESOTA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday November, 12

Craig Davis

11-7 free play run.

Portland over Atlanta is Monday's free play.

These two teams split their two meetings last season, with the home team winning each time. The Blazers' 97-77 win in Portland on Feb. 18 ended a six-game Atlanta winning streak against them and evened the overall series at 50-50. Portland, as expected, has a 33-17 edge at home over the Hawks and I look for them to extend it one more game tonight.

The Blazers are looking to end a three-game losing streak, albeit against three potential Western Conference playoff contenders (Dallas, the Clips and the Spurs). The biggest problem for Portland so far is the lack of perimeter defense.

They are currently allowing opposing shooters to hit over 50% of their shots... that's currently the worst in the NBA. Tonight they are going to focus on stopping Atlanta's outside shooters with a hybrid zone defense.

It should help, but it has to help in more than just stopping or altering shots. They must (and I think they will) get some transition buckets on the other end as a result of some of these stops.

Nicholas Batum and his 2.67 steals per game led all forwards before yesterday's games, and those turnovers must also result on points on the other end. If they can figure out a way to turn stops and turnovers into points on the other end, the Blazers should win this thing going away at home.

The Hawks most recently lost to the Clippers, 89-76, due in large part to what I'm talking about. Los Angeles made a concerted effort to stop the Hawks with a new half court defense which turned some of those stops and turnovers into points on the other end. They slowed the pace enough to frustrate Atlanta... and you can see the result. 76 points!!

Obviously it's early and this could go either way, but my money is on the Portland Trail Blazers, at home, as a small favorite for your free play of the day.

2♦ PORTLAND

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday November, 12

Jeff Benton

33-20 freebie run, including the Lions-Vikings Over the total yesterday.

Your Monday freebie is on Maryland as they play at home against Morehead State.

Morehead State opened their season with a win over LIU Brooklyn, but tonight's game is a definite step-up in competition level, and I expect the Eagles to struggle tonight against a Maryland team that won a "moral" victory on Friday night when they nearly erased a 13-point halftime deficit to the mighty Kentucky Wildcats at the Barclays Arena.

Mark Turgeon's team lost by just three in the end, and that is with one of their leaders Pe'Shon Howard only netting two points in his 28 minutes on the court!

Home opener for a Terps team with plenty of size and returning talent from last year's team, and they should dominate a Morhead State team that returns just a pair of starters from last season's squad.

Go ahead and lay the points as Maryland take this one by 20 points..

2♦ MARYLAND

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday November, 12

Chris Jordan

My free winner did win yesterday, as I delivered the goods on the Seattle Seahawks, who took care of business against the New York Jets. Tonight I'm on the college hardwood with the Youngstown State Penguins down in Athens, Georgia, against the Georgia Bulldogs.

I was impressed with how the Penguins opened the 2012-13 campaign with an 80-73 win over George Washington on Nov. 10 in Washington, D.C. Five players scored in double figures led by senior Blake Allen and freshman Bobby Hain who both scored 19 points. Hain also recorded the first double-double in his collegiate debut with a team-high 11 rebounds. Sophomore DJ Cole scored a career-high 12 points while senior Damian Eargle and sophomore Shawn Amiker added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Now the pumped up and eager Penguins take aim at an SEC foe that opened its season with a tight win over Jacksonville. The Bulldogs won 68-62 on Nov. 9 right here at Stegeman Coliseum, in less-than impressive fashion against an opponent the Dawgs probably should've annihilated.

Youngstown State was picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League, the highest preseason ranking for the Penguins since joining the Horizon League in 2001-02. And this is one of those conferences where a team picked to finish anywhere from third through sixth ends up being a breakout team that sneaks into the Sweet 16.

Are the Penguins that team? That remains to be seen; check back in March.

For now, though, take the points.

3♦ YOUNGSTOWN STATE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday November, 12

Matt Rivers

Monday's free play comes in the NBA.

Going with the Philadelphia 76ers as the home favorite over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks got off to an early 2-0 start, but they come to Philly having dropped two of their last three straight up, and they are on a 1-3 spread slide their last four games overall.

Philly looks like they have found a bit of a rhythm, as the Sixers just wrapped up their three game road swing with a win and a cover at Toronto to make it three wins and three covers in as many games on the short trek.

Doug Collins' team has captured two of the last three meetings against Milwaukee both straight up and against the spread, and the Sixers are an overall 6-1-1 the last eight series meetings in Philadelphia against the Bucks.

Stick with the 76ers to up their win streak to four in a row with the home win and cover tonight against the visiting Bucks.

3♦ PHILADELPHIA

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