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Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, November 21

Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, November 21



New Orleans at Atlanta
The Saints look to build on their 5-1 ATS record in their last 5 games against the Falcons. New Orleans is the pick (-9) according to Dunkel, which has the Saints favored by 16. Dunkel Pick: New Orleans (-9)

Game 107-108: New Orleans at Atlanta (8:25 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: New Orleans 140.250; Atlanta 124.251
Dunkel Line: New Orleans by 16; 57
Vegas Line: New Orleans by 9; 53
Dunkel Pick: New Orleans (-9); Over


Rutgers at Central Florida
The Knights put their 3-1 home record on the line against a Rutgers team that is 19-7-1 ATS in its last 27 road games against a team with a winning home record. Rutgers is the pick (+17 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Knights favored by only 14. Dunkel Pick: Rutgers (+17 1/2)

Game 109-110: Rutgers at Central Florida (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Rutgers 83.125; Central Florida 97.394
Dunkel Line: Central Florida by 14; 62
Vegas Line: Central Florida by 17 1/2; 57 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Rutgers (+17 1/2); Over

Game 111-112: Rice at UAB (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Rice 86.380; UAB 60.541
Dunkel Line: Rice by 26; 59
Vegas Line: Rice by 18; 63 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Rice (-18); Under

Game 113-114: UNLV at Air Force (9:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: UNLV 77.731; Air Force 71.205
Dunkel Line: UNLV by 6 1/2; 66
Vegas Line: Air Force by 2; 60
Dunkel Pick: UNLV (+2); Over


LA Clippers at Oklahoma City
The Clippers continue their road trip tonight against an Oklahoma City team that is 1-8 ATS in its last 9 home games. LA is the pick (+5 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Thunder favored by only 2. Dunkel Pick: LA Clippers (+5 1/2)

Game 701-702: LA Clippers at Oklahoma City (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Clippers 123.019; Oklahoma City 125.243
Dunkel Line & Total: Oklahoma City by 2; 216
Vegas Line & Total: Oklahoma City by 5 1/2; 210
Dunkel Pick: LA Clippers (+5 1/2); Over

Game 703-704: Chicago at Denver (10:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Chicago 124.028; Denver 120.456
Dunkel Line & Total: Chicago by 3 1/2; 192
Vegas Line & Total: Chicago by 1; 196 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Chicago (-1); Under


NY Rangers at Dallas
The Rangers look to build on their 4-0 record in their last 4 road games. New York is the pick (+110) according to Dunkel, which has the Rangers favored by 1. Dunkel Pick: NY Rangers (+110)

Game 51-52: St. Louis at Boston (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis 12.169; Boston 11.769
Dunkel Line & Total: St. Louis by 1/2; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Boston (-120); 5
Dunkel Pick: St. Louis (+100); Under

Game 53-54: Buffalo at Philadelphia (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Buffalo 10.543; Philadelphia 11.983
Dunkel Line & Total: Philadelphia by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Philadelphia (-200); 5
Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (-200); Over

Game 55-56: Nashville at Toronto (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Nashville 10.978; Toronto 12.391
Dunkel Line & Total: Toronto by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Toronto (-150); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Toronto (-150); Over

Game 57-58: Carolina at Detroit (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Carolina 10.677; Detroit 10.085
Dunkel Line & Total: Carolina by 1/2; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Detroit (-160); 5
Dunkel Pick: Carolina (+140); Under

Game 59-60: Chicago at Winnipeg (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Chicago 12.468; Winnipeg 10.995
Dunkel Line & Total: Chicago by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Chicago (-145); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Chicago (-145); Over

Game 61-62: NY Rangers at Dallas (8:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Rangers 11.427; Dallas 10.477
Dunkel Line & Total: NY Rangers by 1; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Dallas (-130); 5
Dunkel Pick: NY Rangers (+110); Under

Game 63-64: Colorado at Phoenix (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Colorado 11.151; Phoenix 12.724
Dunkel Line & Total: Phoenix by 1 1/2; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Phoenix (-125); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Phoenix (-125); Under

Game 65-66: Florida at Edmonton (9:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Florida 11.545; Edmonton 11.170
Dunkel Line & Total: Florida by 1/2; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Edmonton (-140); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Florida (+120); Over

Game 67-68: Tampa Bay at San Jose (10:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tampa Bay 11.447; San Jose 10.993
Dunkel Line & Total: Tampa Bay by 1/2; 6
Vegas Line & Total: San Jose (-200); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Tampa Bay (+170); Over

Game 69-70: New Jersey at Los Angeles (10:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: New Jersey 11.721; Los Angeles 13.227
Dunkel Line & Total: Los Angeles by 1 1/2; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Los Angeles (-200); 5
Dunkel Pick: Los Angeles (-200); Under

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Connecticut vs. Boston College
The Huskies look to follow up their   win over   on   and build on their 5-0 ATS record in their last 5 games following a SU victory. Connecticut is the pick (-9 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Huskies favored by 12. Dunkel Pick: Connecticut (-9 1/2)

Game 705-706: Central Florida at Miami (FL) (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Central Florida 55.107; Miami (FL) 68.706
Dunkel Line: Miami (FL) by 13 1/2
Vegas Line: Miami (FL) by 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Miami (FL) (-7 1/2)

Game 707-708: Middle Tennessee State at Florida (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Middle Tennessee State 63.242; Florida 73.311
Dunkel Line: Florida by 10
Vegas Line: Florida by 13
Dunkel Pick: Middle Tennessee State (+13)

Game 709-710: Bowling Green at Wisconsin (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Bowling Green 53.968; Wisconsin 73.370
Dunkel Line: Wisconsin by 19 1/2
Vegas Line: Wisconsin by 23 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Bowling Green (+23 1/2)

Game 711-712: NC-Wilmington at Western Kentucky (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NC-Wilmington 42.415; Western Kentucky 59.799
Dunkel Line: Western Kentucky by 17 1/2
Vegas Line: Western Kentucky by 9
Dunkel Pick: Western Kentucky (-9)

Game 713-714: Washington State at Gonzaga (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Washington State 63.816; Gonzaga 76.330
Dunkel Line: Gonzaga by 12 1/2
Vegas Line: Gonzaga by 16
Dunkel Pick: Washington State (+16)

Game 715-716: UC-Santa Barbara at Colorado (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: UC-Santa Barbara 51.793; Colorado 67.940
Dunkel Line: Colorado by 16
Vegas Line: Colorado by 14
Dunkel Pick: Colorado (-14)

Game 717-718: Charlotte vs. Kansas State (10:30 a.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Charlotte 54.766; Kansas State 67.949
Dunkel Line: Kansas State by 13
Vegas Line: Kansas State by 4 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Kansas State (-4 1/2)

Game 719-720: Northeastern vs. Georgetown (12:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Northeastern 54.423; Georgetown 66.435
Dunkel Line: Georgetown by 12
Vegas Line: Georgetown by 14 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Northeastern (+14 1/2)

Game 721-722: Long Beach State vs. Michigan (5:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Long Beach State 49.400; Michigan 76.770
Dunkel Line: Michigan by 27 1/2
Vegas Line: Michigan by 15
Dunkel Pick: Michigan (-15)

Game 723-724: Florida State vs. VCU (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Florida State 63.179; VCU 67.918
Dunkel Line: VCU by 4 1/2
Vegas Line: VCU by 8
Dunkel Pick: Florida State (+8)

Game 725-726: Nebraska vs. Massachusetts (12:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Nebraska 64.863; Massachusetts 58.414
Dunkel Line: Nebraska by 6 1/2
Vegas Line: Massachusetts by 3 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Nebraska (+3 1/2)

Game 727-728: UAB vs. New Mexico (3:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: UAB 55.305; New Mexico 68.831
Dunkel Line: New Mexico by 13 1/2
Vegas Line: New Mexico by 8
Dunkel Pick: New Mexico (-8)

Game 729-730: Georgia vs. Davidson (5:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Georgia 63.949; Davidson 57.646
Dunkel Line: Georgia by 6 1/2
Vegas Line: Davidson by 1
Dunkel Pick: Georgia (+1)

Game 731-732: Temple vs. Clemson (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Temple 59.892; Clemson 64.907
Dunkel Line: Clemson by 5
Vegas Line: Clemson by 2 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Clemson (-2 1/2)

Game 733-734: Columbia vs. North Texas (5:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Columbia 53.564; North Texas 47.399
Dunkel Line: Columbia by 6
Vegas Line: Columbia by 4
Dunkel Pick: Columbia (-4)

Game 735-736: Idaho at Portland (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Idaho 50.131; Portland 53.876
Dunkel Line: Portland by 3 1/2
Vegas Line: Portland by 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Idaho (+8 1/2)

Game 737-738: Niagara vs. SC Upstate (5:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Niagara 53.926; SC Upstate 51.125
Dunkel Line: Niagara by 3
Vegas Line: SC Upstate by 4
Dunkel Pick: Niagara (+4)

Game 739-740: Western Carolina at Kent State (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Western Carolina 46.439; Kent State 62.231
Dunkel Line: Kent State by 16
Vegas Line: Kent State by 9
Dunkel Pick: Kent State (-9)

Game 741-742: CS-Northridge vs. Montana State (4:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: CS-Northridge 49.510; Montana State 38.533
Dunkel Line: CS-Northridge by 11
Vegas Line: CS-Northridge by 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: CS-Northridge (-9 1/2)

Game 743-744: Austin Peay at Central Michigan (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Austin Peay 46.560; Central Michigan 47.488
Dunkel Line: Central Michigan by 1
Vegas Line: Central Michigan by 3 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Austin Peay (+3 1/2)

Game 745-746: Connecticut vs. Boston College (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Connecticut 69.560; Boston College 57.379
Dunkel Line: Connecticut by 12
Vegas Line: Connecticut by 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Connecticut (-9 1/2)

Game 747-748: Indiana vs. Washington (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Indiana 69.406; Washington 62.996
Dunkel Line: Indiana by 6 1/2
Vegas Line: Indiana by 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Washington (+8 1/2)

Game 749-750: The Citadel at Wake Forest (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: The Citadel 42.842; Wake Forest 60.883
Dunkel Line: Wake Forest by 18
Vegas Line: Wake Forest by 21
Dunkel Pick: The Citadel (+21)

Game 751-752: Georgia Southern at West Virginia (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Georgia Southern 46.112; West Virginia 61.553
Dunkel Line: West Virginia by 15 1/2
Vegas Line: West Virginia by 13
Dunkel Pick: West Virginia (-13)

Game 753-754: South Dakota State at Texas Tech (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: South Dakota State 53.184; Texas Tech 62.775
Dunkel Line: Texas Tech by 9 1/2
Vegas Line: Texas Tech by 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Texas Tech (-7 1/2)

Game 755-756: Wofford at Minnesota (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Wofford 50.818; Minnesota 65.938
Dunkel Line: Minnesota by 15
Vegas Line: Minnesota by 18
Dunkel Pick: Wofford (+18)

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Doug Upstone

Florida State vs. VCU    
Play: Florida State +8

Florida State's starting center from a year ago returns tonight for the Seminoles after missing the first three games of the season. The 7 footer should minimize VCU's advantage on the glass. 8 points is a lot on a neutral site this early in the season. I think the Noles keep this pretty close. Take the points.

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Rob Vinciletti

UC-Santa Barbara vs. Colorado    
Play: Colorado -14

Colorado has now wont 4 straight after an opening game loss to Baylor. They have been an offensive machine scoring 90+ points in 3 of their last 4 games. When they are a home favorite of 13 or more they are 5-0 straight au and 4-1 to the spread. Tonight they will take on a Cal Santa Barbara Team that is dropping like flies. They have lost 3 players over the past week. Center Alan Williams is the latest injury and is said to be doubtful for this game. Also missing the game will be forward Mitch Brewe and Guard John Green. USCB will be thin on the front line. They have failed to cover 7 of the last 10 November games and are 1-13 straight up and 4-10 to the spread as a road dog from +12.5 to +15. They followed a huge 9 point dog win at UNLV with a home loss to Utah St in their last game. This is a bad spot for them at a tough BIG 12 Venue like Colorado. Lau the points with Colorado here tonight.

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Jim Feist

UNLV vs. Air Force
Play: Under 61½

A pair of teams that can run the football meet in cold weather in the mountain air. UNLV is on a 4-0 run under the total and 9-2 under the total in the Rebels last 11 games following an ATS win. They face an Air Force team that is all about running the football, which chews up yards and the clock with 277 yards on the ground per contest. The weather will be lousy for offenses, 33 degrees, with an 80% chance of rain or snow. Play UNLV/Air Force under the total.

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Bruce Marshall

Devils vs Kings
Pick: Under

We cashed in with an “under” when the Kings met the Devils last week in Newark and look to do so again tonight at Staples Center. Since the injury to goalie Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles has received stellar work in goal from Ben Scrivens, who blanked New Jersey last week. Scrivens has posted a 4-0-0 record and stopping 105 of 109 shots since taking over between the pipes. After Martin Brodeur was in the nets for Wednesday’s 4-3 OT win at Anaheim, New Jersey likely goes with Cory Schneider, 1-5-3 despite a 1.98 GAA, stopped 19 of 20 shots in last week's loss to the Kings. He's 2-1-0 with an 0.67 GAA in three career starts in Los Angeles.

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Dave Essler

Clemson -2

Yes, I know it's not out everywhere yet, but this is technically not a neutral site. It's in Charleston, SC, which is only about 2 hours (or less, depending on how fast you drive) from Clemson. They'll bring a decent crowd down. I have never been overly impressed with Clemson, but I did watch them beat a South Carolina team that's better than people think (and will be even better when Ellington isn't playing football since he's their PG) and all their transfers are eligible. Anyhow, that South Carolina team gave Baylor all the wanted in Waco. Temple has fallen on harder times, as we know, and IMO if this were based on the talent on the floor, the line might not be this low. But, it is "Temple" and people are basing the number on that, IMO. Clemson has been getting to the line a ton and hitting over 80%, Temple hasn't been able to defend, and goes home to face St. Joe's when this little classic is over. I'd play the ML to be safe, but that won't be out anytime soon.

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Ken Thomson

Michigan -15

The Wolverines will get rolling in this Tournament.  Mitch McGary will be playing in only his second game and should be dominant on the glass at both ends.  Meanwhile Long Beach State is not the same team as they've been the past few years, at least not yet.  Coming off the tough loss at Iowa State, Caris Lavert, Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III will help McGary wear down The Beach in the second half and roll in this one.  The 49ers still have Mike Caffey but will be out gunned by the boys from Ann Arbor.

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DETROIT -½ -104 over Carolina

Regulation only. The Carolina Hurricanes are a team on the verge of collapsing. They are right around .500 this season and have played some decent hockey but that’s all about to end. First, Cam Ward is back and he’s rusty after sitting out the last 13 games prior to his return against Boston. Even before his injury, Ward was average with a 2.84 GAA and .910 save %. The ‘Canes have dropped two straight and were outscored 8-3. They’ve recorded 24 shots on net or less in three straight and haven’t had 30 shots on net in seven straight. Carolina was already without Jeff Skinner and now Alexander Semin joins Skinner on the rack. That leaves who to score goals? Eric Staal has no playmates and he leads the team with five goals in 21 games. Stall is -12 this season. Jiri Tlusty has three goals and three assists in 21 games. How bad is this team? Jeff Skinner has played 10 of the 21 games and has 9 points this season. He’s third on the team in scoring. This team is complete and utter mess with no end in sight.

Can the Red Wings actually to this team after going down in defeat in seven straight overall and eight straight at the Joe? The fact the Detroit has lost eight in a row at home is hardly believable. The Red Wings’ last home victory came way back on Oct 15 against the Blue Jackets. There is simply no chance of Detroit coming out flat tonight. This team is as desperate for a win as any team in the NHL and more so. The most amazing thing about Detroit losing seven straight overall and eight in a row at home is that this team is loaded with talent. What we have here is a Detroit team that has five weeks of frustration built up inside of them and they could not have handpicked a better team to take those frustrations out on. Losing to the Hurricanes is not an option and if you decide to make one bet this week, this should be it. We’re making this a 3-unit pick.

Nashville +133 over TORONTO

OT included. Let me preface this by saying I don’t hate the Maple Leafs at all. I have received numerous emails regarding my “hate” for the Leafs this season because I haven’t played them and often fade them. Truth is, I’ve lived in Toronto practically my entire 53 years. I grew up a huge Maple Leafs fan when I was a kid and even greeted them at the airport way back in 1977 at 3:00 AM in the morning after they knocked off the Islanders in a classic 7-game series after Lanny MacDonald scored in OT to send the Leafs to the Eastern Finals against Montreal. Those were the days of Darryl Sittler, Borje Salming, Mike Palmateer in net, Ian Turnbull, Pat Boutette, Tiger Williams, Randy Carlyle on defense, Bruce Boudreau, Jim McKenny, John Anderson, Errol Thompson, et all. I never missed a game as a kid and as a result, the Maple Leafs will be in my heart forever. That said, I’m not a fan anymore of anyone. I’m a fan of the team I bet that night and couldn’t care less what they do the game after. I understand that there are a lot of Leafs fans that read this and like all fans, they think there team is actually better than they really are. Fan is short for fanatic. I look for value and although I’m slightly in the red this season, my NHL record ever since I started this site speaks for itself and by season’s end, we’ll be well in the black again. 

As a favorite, the Maple Leafs have little value. They continue to get badly outplayed in 80% of their games, which makes winning at this pace unsustainable. The hockey gods are shining very brightly on Toronto this year, as they have won games with an uncanny high percentage of their shots going in. Toronto has scored nine goals on their past 45 shots on net over two games. Over their last four wins against the Islanders, Buffalo, Calgary and Edmonton, the Leafs have scored 17 times on 92 shots. That’s one goal every 5.4 shots for an average of just under 20%. The league average this season is 8.8%. We can take that a step further. In 21 games, Toronto has 556 shots on net for an average of 26 shots on net per game. That’s the third worst in the NHL ahead of only Buffalo and New Jersey. Just above the Maple Leafs are the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers. The Leafs shot differential per game ranks them second last in the NHL ahead of only Buffalo. In terms of shots against per game, Toronto ranks dead last in the NHL. In recapping, the Leafs are in the same class as Buffalo, Edmonton, Florida and New Jersey, yet they have as many wins as Chicago, St. Louis, Boston, Minnesota, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and San Jose. That cannot last. Once again, we’re adamantly signifying the huge correlation between winning and losing in relation to shots on goal and shots against. The four teams with the highest shot differential per game in their favor this season are San Jose, Chicago, Los Angeles and St. Louis and sure enough, one could argue those are the four best teams in the NHL. We promise that if the Leafs continue to get outshot, out-chanced and out-played every night, the losses are going to start piling up. The proof is in the pudding and we can go back all the way from 1967 until 2013 to prove that teams that get outshot every night do not make the playoffs and usually end up in the bottom five in the league. With that, we’ll continue to fade the most overvalued team in the NHL and make no exception here. PLEASE NOTE: This bet will stand only if Marek Mazanec is in net for the Predators, as we want no part of the Preds with Carl Hutton in goal.

St. Louis +112 over BOSTON

Regulation only. Obviously we prefer Tuukka Rask over Jaroslav Halak and it’s for that reason we will play this one in regulation only. The Bruins have won back-to-back games over the Hurricanes and Rangers but were clearly dominated in the latter game against New York. They are also the only team to lose to Ottawa over the Sens past five games and blew a 2-0 lead in that one. The B’s continue to win a lot of games because of the outstanding goaltending of Rask but if the Blues can score twice here, they have a great chance of winning because they’re a defensive juggernaut that doesn’t give up a whole lot. It’s also worth noting that the Bruins are without two starting defensemen in Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid here, which gives the Blue Notes an even better chance of winning.

St. Louis has two losses over their last eight games. The first loss over that span was against Phoenix, where St. Louis outshot the Coyotes 39-19. The other loss was on Sunday in Washington, where St. Louis outshot the Caps 47-20. In those two losses, the Blue Notes outshot that pair by a count of 86-39 and out-chanced them by a remarkable count of 47-14. St. Louis is one point behind Western Conference leaders Chicago and Anaheim. They feature a dangerous mix of brawn, speed, and skill and they will not get outworked or out-played here. Rask may beat us again here and if he does, so be it but we’re getting great value on a ticket that has an outstanding chance of cashing.

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Charlotte +4½ over Kansas State

Note that this game goes off at 10:30 AM EST and will be played in San Juan in the Puerto Rico Tipoff. We’re not even sure the Wildcats should be favored here but come in as such because of their strong pedigree and success over the past five years. That was then but this year Kansas State's talent has been depleted significantly from this time last year. The Wildcats come in unranked due to the loss of a few key players, including Rodney McGruder (15.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG), who graduated and Angel Rodriguez (11.4 PPG, 4.9 APG), who transferred to Miami-Florida. Additionally, the departure of 6-foot-11 Jordan Henriquez (who was a senior last season) and the transfer of 6-10 Adrian Diaz mean that K-State will have to play small up front since no one on the roster stands taller than 6-8. The Wildcats have already lost to Northern Colorado, in K-State no less, before defeating Oral Roberts and Long Beach State. The Wildcats are perhaps the weakest team in the Big-12 at the all-important guard position and that’s a huge obstacle to overcome, especially early in the year.

Charlotte lost some front line talent as well but it won’t impact them in the same manner that it will impact K-State. The 49ers lost their leading scorer in Chris Braswell and replacing his production inside will be difficult. However, Charlotte receives some help with the addition of Ben Cherry. The Tulane transfer guard hit 50% of his 3s last season and put up an effective field goal percentage of 61%. Cherry is actually the third guard in the rotation behind Pierria Henry and Terrence Williams. Throw is forward Willie Clayton and it gives the 49ers a rock solid foundation. The 49ers have five players already averaging double digits and they have scored 80 points or more in all three games. We get a much more balanced squad with more experience and we get 4½-points in a game the 49ers have a better than 50% chance of winning.


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Bryan Power

Nashville vs. Toronto
Pick: Toronto

I realize that this play flies in the face of my typical "West over East mentality" when it comes to playing non-conference games, but the reality of the matter is that I simply do not think Nashville is very good.  Yes, the Preds like every over Central Division team has a winning record.  But they are still in last place.

Despite coming into Thursday w/ 22 points, Nashville is in last place and the Central and also has one of the worst goal differentials in the entire league at -15.  Only four teams are worse, and three of them - Florida, Buffalo and Edmonton - have the three lowest point totals in the league.  After shocking Chicago 7-2 at home on Saturday, the Predators came away w/ a 2-0 win at slumping Detroit Tuesday.  But keep in mind that in the four games prior to those back to back wins, all losses, Nashville scored just two goals total.  They rank 24th overall in the league in goals per game.

Toronto has 27 points, but is actually third in the Atlantic. After suffering their own three-game losing skid, the Maple Leafs have posted B2B dominant victories here at home against Buffalo and the Islanders.  At home, they are 8-2 and averaging 3.7 goals per game.  Third on the power play and in the Top 10 in both goals scored and allowed, this is a quality club.  They should easily earn the two points Thursday.

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River City Sharps

Minnesota -17.5

Richard Pitino has Minnesota playing really good basketball in his first-year, as evidenced by the Gophers 15-point victory at Richmond earlier this season. The Gophers come into the game with a 4-0 mark while Wofford has a 1-2 record, including a 20-point loss at Georgia to open the season and a 21-point loss at Iona. This is not your typical Minnesota team like we have seen over the past several years under Tubby Smith. True to his HOF Dad's teaching, the younger Pitino wants his team to defend full court, shoot a decent amount of 3's and get up and down the floor. Wofford is only averaging 63.3 ppg while Minnesota is scoring over 80 ppg and giving up just under 63. The real story in this game will be on the glass, where Minnesota has a 12 rebound per game edge. In addition, they also shoot FT better than Wofford. All in all, we feel like this is a game where Minnesota, which is feeling good about themselves, continues that feel good story.

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Joe Gavazzi

Air Force -1

In late October, UNLV recorded their 5th win of the season against Nevada. It left the Rebels 1 win short of qualifying for their first Bowl Game since 2000. Excitement ran high for UNLV backers in Sin City. Since that time, however, the Rebs have dropped a pair of home games to San Jose and Utah St. Now, the pressure mounts with this road trip to Air Force and a home game against surging San Diego St. still on the agenda. Pressure packed times for HC Hauck. Remember, this is a guy who coached the Rebels to a record of 5-16 ATS as road dog. The Air Force has struggled through an injury-plagued season that has left them 2-8 SU, 3-7 ATS and winless in league play. But, we know this team will never give up. Their nightmare season has resulted in a reduction of this line by at least 10 points since opening week. On recent runs of 6-17 ATS and 5-15 ATS as home chalk, we back the bounce from an Air Force team who has reached the nadir of their discontent.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, November 21

Steve Janus

UAB Blazers +19

The public has been all over Rice since this line opened at the Owls -20, but we are seeing a reverse line move with big money coming in on the Blazers.

UAB comes into this game with a 2-8 record and are riding a four game losing streak. Their last two losses haven't been pretty. They got beat 14-56 by Marshall and 14-63 by East Carolina. However, you have to keep in mind that both of those games came on the road. In fact 7 of the Blazers 10 games this season have came on the road. Their poor record shouldn't come as a huge surprise, as they entered the season with a 16-49 record on the road since 2003, compared to a 25-28 record at home during that same stretch. UAB is 27-8 ATS in their last 35 games following two straight road games!

Prior to their loss against Marshall, UAB lost by a score of just 21-24 at home to Middle Tennessee. The same Blue Raiders team that upset the Thundering Herd earlier in the season. Rice has a winning 3-2 road record, but their only victory away from home by more than 6-points came against a horrible New Mexico State team. The Owls are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Thursday games, while UAB is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 home games vs a team with a winning road record.

The key thing here is that UAB's offense matches up well with the Owls defense. The Blazers come into this game averaging 185.4 rushing yards/game, which is pretty impressive given they have been playing from behind in almost every game. Darrin Reaves and Jordan Howard have combined for 11 touchdowns and each has rushed for over 825 yards. Rice ranks 72nd in the country vs the run, giving up 175.0 ypg.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, November 21

Jack Jones

Central Florida -17.5

The Central Florida Knights know that if they win out, they will be crowned American Athletic Champions in their first season in the new conference. Their only loss this season came at home against SEC power South Carolina by a final of 25-28. They have been dominant at home otherwise, going 3-1 straight up and 3-1 against the spread while outscoring opponents by an average of 19.5 points per game.

Central Florida is putting up 35.2 points and 455.3 yards per game on the season to rank 39th in the country in total offense. Quarterback Blake Bortles has been solid, completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 2,484 yards with 19 touchdowns against five interceptions. Storm Johnson has rushed for 841 yards and nine scores. The Knights have been solid on the other side of the ball as well, giving up 20.6 points and 369.8 yards per game to rank 33rd in total defense.

Rutgers has simply not played well over its past three games, going 0-3 against the spread. It was blown out at home by Houston (14-49) on October 26 as a 6-point favorite, it only beat Temple (23-20) at home as an 11.5-point favorite on November 2, and it lost to Cincinnati (17-52) at home this past Saturday as a 1-point underdog.

The Scarlet Knights gave up a ridiculous 619 total yards to the Bearcats, including 507 passing. They also allowed 611 total yards in the loss to Houston, so the defense is clearly sub-par to say the least. If Houston and Cincinnati can both beat Rutgers by 35 points apiece, then Central Florida should have no problem winning by 18-plus tonight to cover this spread.

Central Florida is 30-13 against the spread after failing to cover the spread in two of its last three games since 1992. The Knights are 18-7 against the number in their last 25 home games after playing a game where 60 or more total points were scored. Central Florida is 9-2 against the spread in its last 11 games after playing its last game on the road. George O’Leary is 25-11 against the number in home games when playing with 6 or less days rest as the coach of UCF.

The Scarlet Knights are 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight games following a double-digit loss at home. Rutgers is 0-5 ATS in its last five games following a S.U. loss. The Knights are 5-1 ATS in their last six home games. Central Florida is 35-16-1 ATS in its last 52 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game. Bet UCF Thursday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, November 21

Dave Cokin Sports

Rice vs UAB
Pick: Rice -18

All three of the Thursday night football games have one thing in common. There’s plenty on the line for one of the teams in each game, and nothing but pride for each of the opponents. I’ll focus on the Rice-UAB game to try and earn a profit tonight.

Rice needs some help to get there, but they’re still breathing for a chance to win their division and make it to the CUSA title game. The Owls have to win their two remaining games and hope North Texas lets one get away. Rice should certainly have no problem holding up their end of the bargain tonight, and a win would also at least create some pressure for the Mean Green on Saturday.

This should not be a competitive game. UAB is a really bad football team, especially on the defensive side of the football. The Blazers cannot stop anything, either on the ground or through the air. I don’t doubt that UAB can score some TD’s tonight, but the Blazers are also a good bet to give up 50 points.

Rice isn’t the most trustworthy outfit on the planet, as they’ve struggled in a couple of games they should have won comfortably, But the Owls are playing pretty good ball right now, and they’ve won the stats convincingly in each of their last four games.

I think the key tonight, as far as the spread is concerned, is Rice’s ability to hang on to the football. If they avoid turnovers, they’re going to put a pile of points up tonight. If they drop the pigskin, they might be in for more of a fight. Handicapping turnovers is pretty random, so I’ll act under the assumption that they don’t kill themselves with unforced errors.

Teams that run the football for 200 yards per game do very well late in the season when facing teams that surrender that number overland. Rice fits on that stat, and stated simply, this game should matter to them, while it’s just a play out the string contest for the lowly Blazers. It’s a big spread, but the only way I can play is with Rice minus the points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, November 21

Tom Barton

Colorado vs UC Santa Barbara
Pick: Over 144

The Buffalos have been running wild offensively to begin the season and they should continue here. Colroado was one of mine and many other sleeper picks of the college season in part because of their leadership and scoring ability they showed glimpses of last year. The Buffs seem to have put it all together in the early going. Colorado has scored 90+ in 3 of the last 4 games and on the year are averaging over 80 per game. You can argue they have nt played elite competition but the fact is when you can get 40 rebounds per game you will score at will. The Gauchos are averaging 75 per game and they have already had a huge victory over UNLV to start the year off. Santa Barbara is in the top 30 in assists per game and don't mind the travel as they showed against the Rebels. I see the Buffs once again scoring into the 80's here while the Gauchos should be good for 70. The Gauchos star center is out for this game as well.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, November 21

Bryan Leonard

Wofford +17.5

The Terriers are an experienced team coming off a bad season. But we like the way Mike Young's team plays defense and we believe they will have success near the basket, which has been a defensive problem for Minnesota in the early going. With a slower paced game the high pointspread is likely to come into affect here. Minnesota has a statement game on deck at Syracuse and the Gophers will be without Joey King, one of their starters. That means little used players will need to see extended minutes.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, November 21


Colorado at Phoenix
Pick: Colorado +116

The Colorado Avalanche have been playing a lot better than most expected. This team is 15-5 and has done a great job on the road where they own a 6-2 record. They snapped a three-game losing streak with a huge win at home vs. Chicago, and should have their heads on right heading to Phoenix. Phoenix is 9-0-1 to start the season so it is likely the Avalanche come in hear with full focus. Colorado has been at their best off of a win where they are 12-3 in their last 15. The Coyotes are just 3-7 in their last 10 vs. an opponent that scored 5+ in their previous game. Take Colorado.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, November 21

Joe Gavazzi

Rice -18

The Owls as nearly 3 TD road chalk. Are you kidding? But, it is warranted. For these are truly two teams headed opposite directions. With 4 consecutive losses, including 63-14 last week at E. Carolina in which they allowed 625 yards, the Blazers have now lost 4 consecutive games, stand 2-8 SU on the season, and have tossed the towel. They are 5-12 ATS on the run and have a 43 point defense. Rice is still in the hunt for the CUSA West title. With one of the most experienced teams in the nation, the Owls are 7-3 SU, 8-2 ATS and 5-1 SU in CUSA play. That makes their total run currently 13-4 ATS. At the beginning of the season, this game would have been at a “Pick” range. As a result, the adjustments have been made, but not to the point where one should consider backing UAB.

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