Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday December, 17

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday December, 17

Scott Delaney

My free pick run is now at 54-32-2, and tonight I look to improve on that number with a play on short chalk in a game with some old rivals.

So let me get this straight, the Valparaiso Crusaders are 7-3 on the season, and yes will have a quick turnaround, playing its second road game in a three-day span tonight. But let's not get lost in the travel theory, this game is at former Mid-Con rival Oakland, and the Crusaders will be looking for their second straight road win after Saturday night’s victory at Missouri State.

Oakland, which is 3-7, has had nine days off since its last game and could very well be thrown off by the physical nature the Crusaders are bringing in. The Grizzlies have won their only two home games so far this year, but both were against non-Division I foes.

And even though the Grizzlies score more than 71 points per game, they also surrender nearly 76 points per game.

Now they host a Valpo team that owns a sizable 17-4 lead in the all-time series over Oakland. Notably, all four of Oakland’s wins have come in the last five meetings, including an 82-80 Crusader loss last season at the ARC. But be aware, the Golden Grizzlies are in rebuilding mode this year, and won't be as scrappy as they've been the past couple years.

Oakland has dropped four straight to the books now, and tonight Valpo won't make it any easier.

3♦ VALPARAISO

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday December, 17

Chuck O'Brien

North Dakota may have retired its longtime "Fighting Sioux" nickname and logo prior to the 2012-13 athletics season, and won't operate with an official nickname until 2015, but I can assure you it's ready to make a shift to the Big Sky Conference tonight. It will undoubtedly be in the right spot to win its first league game, tonight in Cedar City, Utah against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds.

And though this is always a tough little town to play in, trust me when I tell you this non-nicknamed team is ready for its debut and should win the game outright.

Though the UND comes in with a 2-6 mark, a couple of losses to note include Kansas State out of the Big 12, and a pair of mid-major postseason teams from last year - Northern Iowa (smaller dance) and South Dakota State (larger dance).

And three of North Dakota's losses have come by five points or less, so I would have to say coming down to the caliber level of play the Thunderbirds offer is going to be easier than some might think.

JUCO transfer Alonzo Traylor has been coming along nicely, and I think could have another career night since joining UND, after recording the best game of his brief UND career last Thursday versus Presentation College. Traylor went 8-for-8 from the floor and scored a season-high 17 points. His perfect shooting night helped UND snap a five-game losing skid in the team's final tuneup before Big Sky play.

This is not a bad lineup, either, as UND's probable starters, as it has three juniors and two seniors in the starting lineup. Look for a spirited effort, while I think the T-Birds will be looking ahead to Friday the 21st, when they head to Denver, a much more established opponent they might be worried about.

Take the road underdog in this one, as I think UND aims to steal a win.

2♦ NORTH DAKOTA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday December, 17

Craig Davis

Monday free play on the Thunder minus the points.

I've given you the Thunder at least 20 times over the past two seasons and I think it's safe to say the winning percentage has been 65 or better.

I know this team inside and out... and each year they get one step further in their quest for the NBA Title.

First it was just making the playoffs after a dismal season the year before. They pushed the Lakers to six games and honestly were just as good, in my opinion.

Then a Western Conference Finals exit vs. the Mavericks where they really learned a lot about themselves. Though the Mavs were clearly better than OKC that year, the Thunder made a few key moves in the off-season so that they swapped places with Dallas last year and made it all the way to the NBA Finals.

This year... it's championship or bust.

For San Antonio, it's kinda the same thing every season. Okay, let's get through the regular season with one of the best records and with as few injuries as possible.

Then we'll turn it on in the playoffs and hope we have enough legs at the end. Last year the Thunder thwarted those efforts with a nice come-from-behind series win but an eventual loss to the Heat in the Finals.

This year OKC started 1-2 but have reeled off 10 straight wins recently and continue to be the most impressive team in the NBA... in my opinion.

3♦ OKLAHOMA CITY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday December, 17

Jeff Benton

Sunday freebie winner on Green Bay, now 49-38 with my comp play selections.

For Monday night, freebie winner is the streaking Clippers to win and cover in the Motor City against the Pistons.

Life is good in "Lob City", as the Clips have reeled off nine straight victories coming into tonight's road game, and they have covered in seven of those nine wins.

Detroit on the other hand has dropped four straight and eight of their last ten games overall. The points have been of little help either, as the Pistons are on a 1-6 run when listed as the underdog their last seven times in that role.

This is the last game of the Clippers road swing before a Wednesday night home game against the Hornets, and Los Angeles has posted an average win on this trek by over 15 ppg.

The Clippers are looking to match the longest winning streak in the franchise's existence - 11 wins in a row when they were the Buffalo Braves back in 1974-75. Look for the Clips to get one game closer to their record with the easy win and cover over Detroit.

4♦ L.A. CLIPPERS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday December, 17

Chris Jordan

My comp play tonight is in college basketball, where I've been tearing things up over the first five weeks of the season, going 18-9 overall and making $1 bettors a cool $2,450 already. Hope you've been along for the ride.

Today you're getting my top college hoops play at no charge since my premium selection is on the NFL game, and I want you playing Arkansas Little Rock (+2), a slight home underdog to Louisiana Tech, as the Trojans wrap up their non-conference slate in a rematch against the Bulldogs.

UALR comes into this one boasting a 7-0 mark at home this season, and an eight-game home winning streak dating back to last year. And not only would a win tonight set a new Jack Stephens Center record for most-consecutive home wins for the Trojans, but with them touting a 99-40 home mark under the direction of coach Steve Shields, milestone home win No. 100 would be out of the way as well.

Little Rock's scoring defense (62.9 ppg) and defensive field-goal percentage (40.1) rank third in the Sun Belt Conference, while its defensive 3-point field-goal percentage (26.5) is tops in the league. That defense is going to be smothering tonight, against a La Tech team that has dropped two of its last three games, most recently losing at McNeese State by an 80-72 final on Dec. 12.

The Bulldogs are 2-3 on the season in true road games, while the Trojans roll in on a non-conference ATS win streak of 9-4.

UALR has won the last three meetings in this series, when played in Little Rock, and it'll come in with revenge after Louisiana Tech topped the Trojans in what was the second game of the season for both teams, back on Nov. 14, 70-52.

4♦ ARKANSAS LITTLE ROCK

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Monday December, 17

Matt Rivers

70-58 free play run.

For Monday, lay it with the Thunder at home over the Spurs.

San Antonio is no slouch, but they are also no match right now for the Thunder, as OKC is showing that they are among the elite in this league on a nightly basis.

Oklahoma City has won 10 in a row and 13 of their last 14 overall. They have also covered seven of their last nine when laying single digits.

This is a revenge game for the Thunder, as San Antonio was a two point winner at home over Oklahoma City back on November 1st.

San Antone is fresh off a home pounding they administered to Boston, but the Spurs have dropped their last pair of road games, and I see that streak reaching three in a row at the hands of the mighty Thunder tonight.

Lay it with OKC.

2♦ OKLAHOMA CITY

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