Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, November 21

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

Carlos Salazar

Saints at Falcons
Play: Under 53.5

Carlos has you covered for another Thursday night winner and he's saying the UNDER is your best NFL bet of the day. The Saints and Falcons have gone under the number the last two times they played. The Falcons offense has all but disappeared the past four games averaging just 15.3 points per game. Bet the Under with confidence.

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

Alex Smith Sports

Nashville at Toronto
Pick: Over

The Preds, riding their rookie goalie Marek Manzanec, head north to take on a Maple Leafs team who have heated up with some home cooking, winning their last 2 games and scoring 9 goals after losing their previous 3 away from Toronto. Both teams come in with 2 game win streaks after long losing streaks, I like for both clubs to come in hot and go over the total

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

Charlie Sports

Denver Nuggets +1

The 6-3 Chicago Bulls of the NBA Eastern Conference Central division will take on the 4-6 Denver Nuggets of the Western Conference Northwest division in 2013 NBA action. The over is 3-0-1 the last 4 meetings between the teams. Chicago is 4-1 Against The Spread their last 5 NBA games overall and 1-5 ATS their last 6 played in Denver. The over is 10-4 the last 14 meetings between the teams. Denver gets the home cover.

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

Sean Murphy

Long Beach St. vs. Michigan
Pick: Long Beach St.

Long Beach State is still searching for its first win against a Division I opponent this season. Keep in mind, the 49ers are the three-time reigning Big West champions. Yes, they're working in some new faces after losing considerable talent from last year's team, but I believe they'll give highly favored Michigan a run on Thursday.

The Wolverines welcomed Mitch McGary back from injury last Sunday, but still fell by seven points at upstart Iowa State. The Wolverines once again send a supremely talented squad to the floor, but perhaps not quite as strong as we've seen in the last couple of years - at least not yet. It's going to take some time for this team to truly come together, and I'm not sure an easy win is in the cards in this tournament opener in the Carribean on Thursday.

Note that Michigan has slowly gotten away from its preferred pace in the early going this season, most recently hoisting up 69 FG attempts in its loss to Iowa State. I believe that tempo favors Long Beach State in this one.

The cupboard is by no means bare for the 49ers. They remain an excellent scoring and rebounding team, even if we haven't seen evidence of that over the last few games. They've scheduled themselves a tough early slate, having already faced Arizona and Kansas State on the road. This neutral court matchup against Michigan doesn't represent their toughest test of the season to date.

Neither team has posted an ATS win this season, so something has to give on Thursday. I'm just not sure the Wolverines are ready to lay this many points against a quality, well-coached opponent just yet.

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

Jimmy Boyd

South Dakota State +8

In their only game against a decent opponent the Texas Tech Red Raiders were crushed by 12-points. This is a Red Raiders team that finished last season losing 20 games, and they have struggled to get by three very soft opponents to start the season. South Dakota State on the other hand was a 25 game winner and king of the Summit League conference.

This is simply too many points for the Red Raiders to cover. South Dakota State has played a very strong schedule this year. They lost to Loyola-Marymount by nine points, but the Jackrabbits played a good game. They simply fell victim to ridiculously good shooting from the Lions. That changes today as the Red Raiders face a very evenly matched opponent. Texas Tech may win this game, but it is a game that should come down to one of the final possessions.

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

Ray Monohan

Chicago Bulls -1

After a less than ideal start the Bulls are playing much better having won their last 5 games in a row - including dealing the Indiana Pacers their first loss of the season. Going into Denver can be a challenge but the Bulls should be fresh having not played since Monday night. This is the beginning of a long West Coast trip for Chicago, who might be better off not relying on PG Derrick Rose as much as they were to start the season. It won’t make them a championship contender to have him as the third option but that is no problem for coming into town and beating a struggling Nuggets team.

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

Rickie Robbins

Rutgers vs. Central Florida    
Play: Rutgers +17½

UCF is averaging 35.2 PPG and Rutgers is averaging 28.2 ppg. UCF's defense is yielding only 20.6 ppg this season. Rutgers is giving up 35.4 ppg. Here are some key stats. Rutgers has only allowed 110.9 rush yards per game (12th in the country.)Rutgers has struggled with the pass, yielding 20.9 passes completed per game on average. The good news is UCF is about even at 20.7.

On a neutral field, UCF should be only a 7-point favorite. Add in their home-field advantage of about 3-5 points, and another 2 points for the Thursday-night environment, and we’re still only at 14 points. This game is zipping past 17.5. UCF has covered only one of four games when favored by 9 points or more this season, including failing to cover their past two games.

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

Dave Price

Denver Nuggets +1.5

The Bulls have struggled on the road where they are 1-3 SU and ATS. The Nuggets have won three in a row at home where they have had plenty of success against Chicago. They have won six straight at home in the series and four straight overall. Chicago has struggled in the role of favorite, going just 19-32 ATS the last 51 times it's been laying points. Plus, Denver has made rather easy work of good teams like Chicago at home. Consider that the Nuggets are on an 11-1 ATS run in home games versus good teams that outscore opponents by 3.0 points per game or more. They have won these contests by an average score of 106.5 to 98.0. Take Denver.

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

Jeff Alexander

Wofford +18

This experienced Wofford squad, which brought back all 5 starters, isn't getting quite the respect it deserves against a Minnesota club that lost three starters and is still adjusting to a new coach. The Golden Gophers just played Tuesday so this is a quick turnaround. Wofford, meanwhile, has had 4 days of preparation time. The Terriers are on an impressive 83-66 ATS run in lined road contests, and this trend tightens up to 68-49 ATS when they're listed as an underdog or pickem. Bet Wofford.

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

Brandon Shively

Middle Tennessee St vs. Florida
Play: Under 136½

Florida won this game last year 66-45, but this is a different starting 5 for the Gators this year. Florida's Kenny Boynton had 20 points in the game last year and he is gone. MTSU's key guards from last year have graduated and the replacements will have a hard time scoring on this SEC defense. Also, MTSU only shot 32% from the floor as a team and the Gators still thrive on defense as opponents are only shooting 39% from the field in this early season. Florida's Scottie Wilbekin is still suspended as the Gators now have 4 guards that are not playing tonight and I expect scoring to be hard to come by from both teams.

Trends:
Under is 12-2 in MTSU last 14 vs. Southeastern.
Under is 12-3 in FLA last 15 overall.


Rutgers vs. Central Florida    
Play: Central Florida -17½

Rutgers come into this game with at least 8 players on the injury report that are not expected to play as the Scarlet Knights have been battling injuries all year long. The defensive injuries were apparent last week as Cincinnati outgained them by 262 yards. Rutgers secondary is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete passes this year at a 66% rate and that is bad news playing vs. an experienced UCF team with skilled position players. Asking Rutgers who is now playing on a short week against a UCF team who could easily be undefeated this year if not for the loss to South Carolina is a tough task and one that I do not think they will be up to tonight. Actually in that game vs. South Carolina, UCF had the lead at halftime before the Gamecocks eventually got the 28-25 win. UCF has a very efficient offense led by quarterback Blake Bortles (19 TD/ 5 INT) and running back Storm Johnson (841 rushing yards and 12 total touchdowns) that is averaging 35 ppg and converting on 3rd downs at a 49% conversion rate.

These two teams did meet in the 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl and Rutgers won, 45-24. O'Leary was the coach for UCF then and he would love to run the score up tonight and get some good ol' revenge. That was 4 years ago and Rutgers had playmakers on both side of the ball. WR Sanu (NFL draft pick) had 2 touchdowns and the defense also had a pick 6 in the game. Please remember also that Rutgers had a defense in 2009 that only allowed 308 ypg. This year, Rutgers lost 7 players to the NFL Draft and their defense is giving up 433 yards per game. Some of that might also be in the coaching change with 2nd year coach Kyle Flood as Schiano was much more defensive minded. Rutgers defense is now getting shed for 514 ypg their last 5 games.

UCF did struggle last week vs. Temple which did not surprise me as they were clearly not focused but I feel the situation playing back home will play to their advantage against a Rutgers team playing on short rest as well tonight.

Trends:
Scarlet Knights are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
Scarlet Knights are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. loss.
Knights are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 home games.
Knights are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games overall.


Chicago Bulls vs. Denver Nuggets    
Play: Denver Nuggets +1½

The Bulls are on a game winning streak as they head out west to the altitude to play the Denver Nuggets in what is the start of a 6 game road trip. The home team is 7-3 SJU the last 10 matchups and Denver is 4-0 SU the last 4 at home vs. the Bulls. Denver has won 3 straight home games now vs. the Hawks, Lakers, and the T'Wolves. I like the temp of the Denver offense as well right now as they have scored over 100 points in their last 7 games.

The Bulls are like day and night when playing at home and on the road. The Bulls are only 1-3 SU on the road and their defense is much worse as opponents are shooting 44% from the floor, including 42% from the 3 point line and scoring 98 ppg. That should go well for Denver as they are shooting 40% from behind the arc in their home games this year. When playing in altitude, I will also factor the bench and that Denver's bench is scoring 45.5 ppg compared to Chicago's minute 26 ppg. Look for Denver to push the pace, make plenty of perimeter shots , and use their bench to polish off the Bulls.

Trends:
• Bulls are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 Thursday games.
• Bulls are 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games following a S.U. win.
• Bulls are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 vs. NBA Northwest
• Nuggets are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
• Nuggets are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
• Nuggets are 17-6 ATS in their last 23 vs. NBA Central.

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

LT Profits

NC-Wilmington vs Western Kentucky
Pick: Western Kentucky -9

The NC-Wilmington Seahawks come off of a 10-20 season and they lost easily their best player from that team in Keith Rendleman, who was a walking double-double averaging 17.0 points and 10.5 rebounds. Thus, it is not surprising that they currently rank 219th in offensive efficiency and 249th in defensive efficiency after five games, and their 3-2 record is deceiving as they beat three non-lined opponents while losing their two lined games to Iowa and Iowa State by an average of 38 points! The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers return four starters from the team that won the Sun Belt Conference last season and then lost by just seven points to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament, and they also have a key addition in Aaron Adeoye, who averaged 14.3 points and 8.0 rebounds at the JUCO level last season. Western Kentucky is 16-7 ATS in its last 23 home games.


Clippers vs Thunder
Pick: Under 212

This is another big total in a marquee NBA in TNT matchup, and the fact that the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-103 last time helps pad this total even more. However, first year Clipper Coach Doc Rivers wants to see better defense from a team that actually finished fourth in the NBA in points against last year, and he was finally pleased last night when LA held the Timberwolves to 37.8 percent shooting in a 102-98 road win. Rivers may also employ more half-court sets tonight as he probably does not want to get into a track meet with the Thunder in Oklahoma City. The Thunder are actually only 16th in the NBA in filed goal percentage and sixth in field goal percentage against, so more half-court play by LA should mean less scoring. The ‘under’ is 19-6-2 in the Thunder’s last 27 games after scoring at least 100 points in their previous game.

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

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAY

Rice -18.5 over UAB: The Rice Owls are big road favorites here and with good reason as they have really beaten up on the weaklings of late and UAB certainly falls into that category. In their last 4 games the Owls are 3-1, with the 3 wins coming vs teams with a combined 7-23 mark and in those games Rice has won by 26, 38 & 38 points. They have crushed those teams. Now they take on another bad team in UAB who is just 2-8 on the and 3-7 ATS in those games. UAB comes off BB crushing losses as they were outscored by a combined 91 points to Marshall and East Carolina and Rice is pretty close to being equal to both those teams. The UAB defense is really wearing down as they allowed 1282 yards overall, including 659 yards in their last 2 games and that rushing defense does not look good at all heading to this one vs a Rice team that is 14th in the nation in rushing and that has run for 363 ypg in their last 3 wins. That running game will wear the UAB defense down and should allow Rice to pull away in the second half for a comfortable 24+point win.

1 UNIT PLAY

Rutgers +17.5 over UCF: The UCF Knights are 8-1 on the year but Akron, FIU and UConn are the only teams on their schedule that they beat by more than 5 points. Rutgers was crushed last week by Cincinnati and a win here would mean bowl eligibility, so I expect them to give their best in this one. I don't feel that Rutgers can win outright, but they should play hard enough to keep this one close.

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

Sam Martin

Rutgers at Central Florida
Prediction: Rutgers

While we do expect UCF to take this game outright, we believe there is decent line value on the road underdog in this matchup considering the amount of points the Knights are laying. Central Florida is averaging 35 points per game this season and with an average scoring output tonight they would have to hold Rutgers to 17 points or less - a tough task considering Rutgers puts up 29 ppg this year and 39 ppg away from home. Rutgers is 17-6 ATS away after a high scoring game that went over the total, and we look for them to stay close as UCF fails to pull away in the second half.

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

Rickie Robbins

Rutgers vs. Central Florida    
Play: Rutgers +17½

UCF is averaging 35.2 PPG and Rutgers is averaging 28.2 ppg. UCF's defense is yielding only 20.6 ppg this season. Rutgers is giving up 35.4 ppg. Here are some key stats. Rutgers has only allowed 110.9 rush yards per game (12th in the country.)Rutgers has struggled with the pass, yielding 20.9 passes completed per game on average. The good news is UCF is about even at 20.7.

On a neutral field, UCF should be only a 7-point favorite. Add in their home-field advantage of about 3-5 points, and another 2 points for the Thursday-night environment, and we’re still only at 14 points. This game is zipping past 17.5. UCF has covered only one of four games when favored by 9 points or more this season, including failing to cover their past two games.

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

Chris Jordan

My free play for tonight is on the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Los Angeles Clippers.

I know the surging Clippers have looked pretty darned good lately, riding the inspired play of Chris Paul, who has set an NBA record with 12 straight double-doubles to start the season. Oh, and, Blake Griffin has his own double-double streak of five straight games.

I still like the Thunder, on their own court tonight.

It's the spotlight game, and I don't believe Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are going to allow the Clippers to come into their house - particularly Paul and Griffin - and embarrass them or steal the show.

These two have already met once this season, on Nov. 13, when Paul had 14 points and 16 assists in a 111-103 home win over the Thunder. The Clippers ended their three-game slide in the series, and quite frankly, Oklahoma City hasn't been the same since.

It lost the next night in Oakland, to the Warriors, then needed to late surges to win its next two contests. If there were ever a game to unleash, and play to full potential, it's this game tonight.

3♦ OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

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

Jeff Benton

Thursday freebie is the Clippers plus the points at the Thunder.

These teams just met in Lob City last Wednesday, and Los Angeles was able to exert their will in that one in a 111-103 win and cover.

The Clips are interested in showing the Thunder that there is a "changing of the guard" as to who the rising team in the West is, so my suggestion is to take the points with a Los Angeles team that has won 5 of their last 6 straight up, while covering all 3 in that span in the underdog role.

The Thunder is 4-0 straight up at home, but OKC has covered just once in their 4 home games this year.

Throw in Oklahoma City's 4-12 home spread mark the last 16 times they have hosted the Clippers, and you can see why I am siding with the visiting underdog.

Clippers the play.

4♦ L.A. CLIPPERS

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

Craig Davis

Today's free play is on the OKC Thunder over the Clippers. LA is on a plane as I write this analysis, heading from Minnesota to Oklahoma City, getting ready to face a Thunder team that fell apart in Los Angeles the last time these two teams played.

Though they definitely haven't played great there, the Thunder are a perfect 4-0 at home and have beaten the only good team they've faced (Dallas) by double digits.

Some might point to the fact they've failed to show much home court advantage against teams like Phoenix, Washington and Denver, but it appears to me they are playing down or up to their talent.

This team is so anxious to get back to the playoffs with a healthy roster that they sometimes overlook some of their regular season games. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's just the way it is.

They kicked Dallas in the teeth in the second half by stepping up their defense, becoming one of only two teams to hold the Mavs to under 100 points on the road.

The Clips come in from a fairly physical game against the T'Wolves and get set to rumble with a team that wants some revenge. OKC led the Clippers into the 4th quarter, but the Clips closed the game on a 24-9 run to pull away from the Thunder.

Not tonight... OKC will roll from tip to buzzer. Take OKC minus the points as your free play of the day.

4♦ OKLAHOMA CITY

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

Scott Delaney

I like Davidson as the underdog tonight against the Georgia Bulldogs, as the Wildcats are in a good spot here in the first round of the Charleston Classic. While I realize the Wildcats are 0-3 thus far in this young season, they come in after a 70-57 setback to No. 25 Virginia on Saturday, and a trip to a neutral court might be what the doctor ordered.

Davidson, in the midst of a six-game stretch away from home, has quite the challenging non-conference slate this year, having already played Duke, UW-Milwaukee and the Cavaliers.

The Wildcats, who lead the all-time series with Georgia (3-0), are led by Southern Conference Preseason Player of the Year, De'Mon Brooks, who is averaging 17.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, while they also have Tom Droney and Brian Sullivan contributing double figures with averages of 15.7 and 14.0 points, respectively.

And keep in mind, this is a team that was picked to finish second in the SoCon preseason poll by both the media and head coaches.

The Bulldogs have just two games under their belt, a 20-point win over Wofford and a 9-point loss to Georgia Tech. I don't know if they're necessarily ready for this game.

4♦ DAVIDSON

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

Brad Wilton

My comp winner tonight is Over the total in the Georgia Dome.

Throw out the 3 straight Unders played between the teams in Atlanta, as this one falls Under the Thursday night umbrella, and as you all should know by now the Under has cashed the last pair of Thursday night games, and 7 of the past 8 overall under the Thursday night lights.

Also consider that Atlanta has played Overs in 6 of their last 7 at home, while New Orleans comes in on a 4-1 Over clip their last 5 games overall.

The Falcons stand at 2-8 overall, and their defense has been shredded for 30 or more points in 5 of their last 7 games. Expect Drew Brees who was held in relative check this past Sunday against San Francisco to light things up tonight at the Georgia Dome.

Saints-Falcons Over the total.

2♦ NEW ORLEANS-ATLANTA OVER

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

Sean Michaels

9-4 roll with comp plays after backing Arizona State in college hoops against UNLV on Tuesday. Tonight, however, I'm back on the Runnin' Rebels, but in college football as they seek to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2000 with a win at Air Force.

UNLV finds itself needing one more win with two games after losing three of its last four games, including consecutive home outings versus Utah State (28-24) and San Jose State (34-24). But those are pretty good teams; Air Force is not.

The Falcons are 2-8 SU on the season, including 0-6 in Mountain West play, following last Friday's 45-37 loss at New Mexico, a game where I had a 100 Dime Winner on the Lobos. And that's the same New Mexico team UNLV beat 56-42 in late September.

Sure, Air Force won its last home game, snapping a seven-game skid by beating Army 42-28, but the Falcons have allowed an average of 45 points a game in their home losses this season to Wyoming, Utah State, San Diego State and Notre Dame. They're an undersized team that's been shredded defensively all season and the Rebels have enough offensive talent to put points on the board.

Now the weather in Colorado Springs isn't going to be pretty. Snow is expected to fall during the day and at times during the game with the wind chill down in single digits. But both teams have to play in those conditions and UNLV is the more talented of the two.

2♦ UNLV

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