Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday February 28

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday February 28

Jim FeistFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Cal Santa Barbara at Hawaii
Pick: HawaiiFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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A long road trip for UC Santa Barbara, flying to Hawaii. And do they even want to play basketball after a long flight? Santa Barbara (8-18) has lost 8 of the last 9 games and the offense has fallen off a cliff, scoring 49, 45 and 50 points the last three games (all defeats). Hawaii (16-11) is in a battle with Pacific for second place in the Big West, has won 6 of 8 and has a terrific offense averaging 74.3 ppg (35th in the nation). The Warriors are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 home games and 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games overall. Hawaii has already won 78-73 at UC Santa Barbara and will have no trouble winning at home. Play Hawaii!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday February 28

DAVID BANKS

Indiana Pacers -1

There is a terrific non-conference NBA matchup Thursday when the Central Division leading Indiana Pacers (36-21, 33-24 ATS) host the Pacific Division leading Los Angeles Clippers (41-18, 33-26 ATS) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis at 7:05 ET. The Pacers statistically have the best defense in the NBA, and they have been pummeling teams at home lately because the offense has also caught fire. The Clippers are the third seeds in the Western Conference and they own the fourth best record in the NBA at 41-18, but they could be at a disadvantage here as besides Indiana playing awesome basketball at home, Los Angeles had to fly across the country following a home game on Tuesday.

The Pacers own one of the best home records in the NBA at 24-5, but they have been absolutely dominant in their last four games in Indianapolis, winning all four games by double-digits with an average margin of victory of +25.3 points! The latest triumph was a 108-97 win over the second place team in the Pacific Division chasing the Clippers, the Golden State Warriors. Indiana is unquestionably playing the best defense in the NBA this season, as they lead the entire league in scoring defense (89.6 points per game), field goal percentage allowed (41.3 percent) and three-point defense (32.0 percent)! The one knock against the Pacers is playing in the weaker of the two conferences in the East, although they are a perfect 2-0 vs. the Miami Heat this season and many see them as the biggest threat to Miami in the East. That is especially true if Indiana continues it recent offensive resurgence, as a team that is still ranked only 24th in the NBA in points scored with 94.0 points per game is suddenly averaging a robust 112.0 points in those last four home blowouts! The Pacers should also be excited about hosting one of the league's elite teams here.

The Clippers could very well be the better team in this matchup, as their record speaks for itself and they rank fourth in the league in points allowed at 93.9 per game and fifth in field goal percentage against at 43.8 percent while usually facing much better offenses than Indiana faces, and the Clippers have been far superior offensively over the course of the entire season, ranking ninth in points scored (100.5) and fourth in field goal percentage (47.4 percent). However, the Pacers have beaten all comers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season going 9-2 straight up vs. Western Conference foes, and the long trip from Los Angeles after playing late Tuesday night is an obvious concern. Also the Clips are somewhat surprisingly just 6-7 ATS on the road vs. the Eastern Conference this season.

The Pacers are 11-1 ATS in their last 12 games after scoring at least 100 points in their previous game, while the Clippers are 1-4 ATS in their last five games vs. teams with a winning percentage above .600. Also the home teams are 6-0 in the last six head-to-head meetings.

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VIRGINIA -1 over DukeFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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As March approaches, this is the time of year that college basketball takes over the spotlight. The Blue Devils are rarely a dog. When they are, it gets the attention of bettors, especially at this time of year when the casual bettor is preparing for the upcoming tournament. Duke comes in as the #3 team in the country. It has won its past two games by 21 and 32 points respectively. The oddsmakers have posted a number here that attracts attention to the Dukies and that’s commonly a warning sign. The Dukies only goal now is to win the ACC tournament and get the highest seed possible in the subsequent NCAA tournament. A win over Virginia helps slightly but the Blue Devils biggest game of the year will occur this Saturday when they host Miami, the only team above them in the ACC. This one has far less meaning.
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The Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) is used by the NCAA to help pick at-large teams and determine seeds for the NCAA Tournament. Virginia remains much better than its RPI profile claims. Most polls have the Cavaliers as a top-30 team. BPI puts Virginia at No. 45. The RPI doesn't do this Cavs team justice, largely thanks to a few ugly early losses and some poorly scheduled road trips in the ACC. However, at home the Cavaliers are 7-0 in the conference. Right now UVA is on the bubble but a win here almost guarantees it a trip to the dance. A loss here puts the Cavs in big trouble and that would be an injustice because this talented group deserves to get their ticket punched. Tonight, they’ll prove their worth.
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BYU +6 over GonzagaFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Gonzaga has been perfect since conference play started. The Zags are now 14-0 in the WCC and should they win here, they’ll have a chance to run the table in the WCC and finish 16-0 when they face Portland in the final regular season game. Overall, the Zags are 27-2. They have shot up to #2 in the country, behind Indiana. They are the talk of college basketball right now and with it, comes a premium. Playing on hyped up road favorites in this sport is a bankroll killer.
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For the Cougars, this game is everything. They are a bubble team with a 20-9 overall record and a 9-5 conference record. They’ve lost twice to Saint Mary’s and once to these Zags. Even if they win here, they are not guaranteed to make the tournament but we can assure you that if they lose, they’ll be watching on TV. The Cougars rank 15th in the nation in points per game, 19th in assists and 50th in field goal percentage. When BYU played at Gonzaga earlier in the year and lost by 20, the Zags top two players couldn’t miss a shot that night (Kelly Olynyk was 9 for 9 from the field and Elias Harris was 8 for 11 from the field). This time around, in a less friendly environment and on senior’s night, it won’t be as easy. The Zags have only played at BYU twice in their storied history and lost both times. That’s how difficult it is to not only win at this venue, but to do so by a margin.

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New Jersey +102 over WINNIPEGFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The MTS Centre in Winnipeg will be alive tonight. The city’s beloved Jets return home from a five-game trip with four wins and eight out of a possible 10 points. That seemed unlikely after Winnipeg had lost seven of its previous nine contests including four straight at home. The Jets are now back in the race but they take on the role of the favorite here and combined with the unfavorable angle of returning home from a trip, it makes them much less appealing.
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New Jersey is facing adversity for the first time this season. After soaring out to eight wins in its first 12 games and picking up points in 11 of those first 12, the Devils have won just once in their past five games and twice in their past seven games. They embark on a modest, three game trip beginning here, followed by games in Buffalo and Toronto. When focused, the Devils are as difficult to beat as any team in the league. Being off since Sunday and with plenty of time to practice (reports are that the past three practices have been very spirited), New Jersey does not figure to put forth a lackluster effort. This is a well-disciplined, talented Devils squad that knows how to win. After losing to these same Jets in their last game played, expect a much better effort from the Devils here. Peter DeBoer and Lou Lamoriello will have it no other way.
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DALLAS -½ +136 over EdmontonFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Regulation only. With unlimited potential, Edmonton is a young, talented and exciting bunch. Unfortunately, they currently lose more than they win, allowing far too many scoring chances and still making careless plays in their own end. Such inefficiencies is going to hurt them in this contest.
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Over the past 11 games, Dallas has scored more times than any team in the NHL. It has run their scoring streak of three goals or more to 11 games with Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Columbus. In that game, midway through the second period, Dallas and the Jackets were tied 2-2. However, the Stars had a 15-3 edge in scoring chances up to that point and such domination has been common for them lately. Poor goaltending has led to Dallas’ 10-10 record but they have activated #1 goaltender Kari Lehtonen off the DL for this game and he’ll start tonight. Allowing soft goals demoralizes a club. The Stars have more confidence in Lehtonen and therefore can play more aggressively, not having to worry about making a mistake. This Dallas team has been outplaying its opposition all year long in just about every game they’ve played. They don’t have the record to show for it but that works to our advantage because of the value the Stars offer up, such as they do here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday February 28

Jesse Schule

Philadelphia vs. Chicago
Pick: Chicago

The Bulls are struggling, with twice as many losses as they have wins in the month of February, and they are winless at home this month. They haven't had an easy schedule though, as they have played nine of their 12 games in February away from home. Chicago is coming off a home loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, despite the fact that Kyrie Irving didn't suit up for the Cavs.

Chicago will have to fancy it's chances of getting back on track against Philadelphia on Thursday, the Sixers are a sorry bunch at the moment. Philly has lost six straight, but it was the last loss that was the straw that broke the Camel's back. After losing at home to a shorthanded Orlando team, playing without Jameer Nelson, coach Doug Collins completely lost it in a post-game interview.

“If everybody looked inside themselves as much as I did, this world would be a CAT scan. OK? Believe me, there’s not two days go by that I don’t go to Rod [Thorn], I don’t go to Tony [DiLeo], ‘What can I do? Can I do anything different? How can I be a better coach? How can I be a better leader? How can I help these guys?’

He went on to criticize his players work ethic, his organization for the players that they have to work with, and the players they have lost. His comments were not those of a coach looking to light a fire under his team to motivate them, but those of a desperate man at his wick's end, who is throwing his hands in the air, saying "I quit".

Collins will not last much longer in Philly, he's practically daring the organization to let him go. He certainly won't be coming back next year if he lasts that long.

Chicago on the other hand still has a post-season run to look forward to, and the hope that their superstar PG will return to the lineup. I expect the Bulls to play with a level of desperation that you expect from a team that is looking to break out of a slump, while Philadelphia just continues to go through the motions.

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Dave Price

Philadelphia 76ers +7

Right away, Philly has a good amount of history on its side. Consider that road underdogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points that check in with six or more consecutive defeats, provided the game is being played in the second half of the season, are 32-10 ATS the last five seasons. Teams fitting into this situation have been underdogs of 7.2 points on average but have lost by only 0.4 points on average. This system is 16-4 ATS the last three seasons. In addition, Philly is on a 16-4 ATS run in road games after 6 or more consecutive losses. Chicago has been overvalued all season at home where it is just 7-22 ATS. It has also been a terrible investment when laying points. The 11-20 ATS as a favorite this season, 4-15 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points this season and 1-10 ATS as a home favorite of 6.5 to 12 points this season. Five of the last six meetings between these two have been decided by seven points or less. Expect another close game between a pair of struggling teams. Take the points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday February 28

Jack Jones

Clippers/Pacers OVER 190

I look for a high-scoring affair tonight between the Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana Pacers. A big reason I'm on the OVER tonight is the fact that Indiana will be without its rim defender in center Roy Hibbert (2.6 BPG), who is expected to miss tonight's game due to a suspension. Look for Blake Griffin and company to have their way around the rim tonight.

Indiana was a low-scoring, defensive team early in the year. That is the case no longer as it has proven it can put up big points consistently. The Pacers have scored 101 or more points in nine of their last 14 games overall with the OVER going 9-5 in those contests. They have averaged 107.6 points/game in their last five games alone.

The Clippers certainly know how to fill it up with all of the weapons they have this season. They are scoring 100.5 points/game which would be higher if their guys had been able to stay healthy all season. Los Angeles is showing of late what it can do when healthy, scoring 102 or more points in six of its last seven games overall. It is averaging 106.1 points/game in those seven contests.

Indiana is 9-1 to the OVER in home games after scoring 105 points or more over the last 2 seasons. I'm seeing an average combined score of 204.5 points/game in this situation. The OVER is 7-2 in Pacers last 9 home games. The OVER is 4-1 in Clippers last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. Bet the OVER in this game Thursday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday February 28

Bob Balfe

Bulls -7.5 over Sixers

This Sixers team is the worst team in the NBA. The Bulls were knocked out of the playoffs last year by them because of major injuries. Chicago is still not at full strength, but are much more talented than Philadelphia. It seems like the Sixers have packed it in for the year. Take the Bulls.


CS-Northridge -2 over Cal Poly

Cal Poly has made us some nice change this year and we have fired away and won with them at home, but on the road this is just not a good basketball team. The Big West is a conference in which the home team has a tremendous value. Take CS Northridge


Duke PK over Virginia

Virginia is great at home, but Coach K and his Duke team have the more talented team. This game reminds me of the Iowa State/Kansas game the other night. Iowa State is great at home, but when the going gets tough in the final minutes you know Duke is going to get all the calls. The top teams in the nation are on high alert as upsets are happening left and right. Take Duke.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday February 28

Teddy Covers 

Drexel at Old Dominion
Play: Drexel

Old Dominion is 4-24 SU this year, including a 2-14 mark at home in Norfolk.  Head coach Blaine Taylor didn’t survive the Monarchs 2-20 SU start; an absolute disaster for a program that has been a fixture in the postseason for the last eight years, averaging 24 wins per season during that span.  They got a small bump when Jim Corrigan was named interim head coach, but the betting markets reacted very quickly.  That’s why we’ve seen ODU lose SU as favorites twice in their last three games.  And because the Monarchs are ineligible to play in the CAA tournament this year, their final few games are as meaningless as it gets for a downtrodden bottom feeder.

When Taylor was fired, Old Dominion’s first game came at Drexel.  The team responded positively to the coaching change, winning 78-66 as 11.5 point underdogs.  Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint: “We’ve only had two games in which in the last two or three minutes we haven’t been in it, and that was one of them.  They came in and they played extremely well against us that day.”  That included a 50% shooting effort from three point range for a team that has been awful from beyond the arc all year; hitting just 27% for the season.

Now the Dragons get their chance for revenge.  The Monarchs have not been able to maintain that early momentum under Corrigan, losing four of their last five since that rare win at Drexel.   The Dragons are coming off a two point OT loss at Delaware and a one point loss at Towson, primed to take out some frustrations on a bottom tier foe.  We’ve seen Bruiser Flint’s squad win SU at George Mason, Hofstra, William and Mary and Georgia State in CAA play.  Expect another road win here!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday February 28

Undefeated's Triple/Quadruple Confirmed Plays

Chicago Bulls  -6.5

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