Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

Jimmy Boyd

Oklahoma City Thunder -7

The Thunder are an easy call in this game. They are a perfect 7-0 at home this season and face a Golden State team that has really struggled on the road. In home games Oklahoma City is averaging 103.6 points per game. They have been outstanding statistically in all the key areas. The are outrebounding opponents by pulling in 56 boards per game at home, shooting well over 75% from the free throw line, and over 47% from the field.

The Warriors have not played well when getting a single day of rest between games, posting a 1-4 ATS record in their last five. They have a losing record on the road this season, and have to face a Thunder team that is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games against teams from the Pacific division. Oklahoma City is the hot team, going 5-1 ATS in their last six games. I think the Thunder will dominate the Warriors from start to finish today.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

Rickie Robbins

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Detroit Pistons    
Play: Los Angeles Lakers +5½

Two old rivals collide as the Detroit Pistons welcome the Los Angeles Lakers to town on Friday night.

Head to head, the Lakers are 7-2 ATS in the last 9 meetings and home team is 5-0 ATS in the last 5 meetings. The Pistons are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a SU loss of more than 10 points and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400, but just 6-19-1 ATS in their last 26 vs. Western Conference. The Lakers on the other hand are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a losing S.U. record and 5-0-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall, but just 5-11 ATS in their last 16 road games.

Add Detroit to the list of teams I just can't seem to get a feel for this season. I really liked them on Wednesday night, hosting a Chicago Bulls team that was missing Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler and coming off deflating losses in Los Angeles and Utah, and how did they respond? With their lowest scoring output of the season, scoring just 79 points and getting blow nout after scoring 109 and 113 in back-to-back wins over Brooklyn and Milwaukee. The Pistons don't do anyone one thing well as they rank 17th or lower points, points allowed, assists and rebounds per game.

While Detroit struggle to find some consistent form, the Los Angeles Lakers come into tonight's game playing their best basketball of the season, having won four of five to improve to 8-8 overall. The Lakers suffered from a very tough schedule early on, but that has evened itself out lately, which has seen Los Angeles improve to .500 as they continue to wait for Kobe Bryant to return from injury. LA has really improved on the defensive end as of late, holding five of their last six opponents under 100 points, which was a rarity at the start of the season.


Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers    
Play: Indiana Pacers -10

Can John Wall and the Washington Wizards stay hot against the Indiana Pacers tonight?

With five wins in their last six outings, the Wizards have suddenly turned over a new leaf thanks to the rapid development of John Wall who had three games of 30+ points followed by a game of 19 points, six assists and five steals against the Bucks on Wednesday. Martell Webster added 18 points and seven assists while Marcin Gortat led the team with 25 points on 11 of 12 shooting as the Wizards won in overtime by 100-92 to improve to 7-8 on the season and 3-6 on the road.

Meanwhile, the Pacers will be looking for a sixth straight win tonight after blowing past the Bobcats by 99-74 on Wednesday to improve to 14-1 on the season. The league's best defense held the Bobcats to 31 percent shooting, including the back court duo of Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson to a combined six of 32 from the field. On the offensive end, the Pacers shot just 38.1 percent from the field and looked uneasy for most of the game until CJ Watson hit five three pointers in the fourth quarter to finish with a season-high 18 points.
In ATS trends, the Wizards are 5-1 ATS in their last six after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game and 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games against a team with a winning home record, while the Pacers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall and 13-4 ATS in their last 17 home games.

Head to head, the Wizards are 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings overall but just 3-7 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Indiana.

It has been so refreshing to see the Wall lead the Wizards to some wins this season but with Bradley Beal still injured, the Wizards need another massive night from their leader in order to win again tonight. However, the Pacers have been the benchmark in defense this season and I'm pretty confident they have the goods to keep Wall quiet and the Wizards in check. I'm taking Indiana to cover at home once again.


Toledo vs. Akron    
Play: Toledo -7

The Akron Zips host the Toledo Rockets in the regular season finale for both squads.

Toledo's bid to upend Northern Illinois and capture the MAC West crown went by the wayside in the last 30 minutes of a 35-17 decision. The Rockets led 17-14 in the third but that was short lived with Northern Illinois ripping off a 28-7 second half run to win going away. It was simply too much offense from Jordan Lynch who ran and thre the Huskies to a 566-421 edge in total yards. The Rockets ran for 184 yards but Doug Fluellen was held to 54 yards on 15 touches with Kareem Hunt doing most of the damage with 91 yards on 19 carries. Terrance Owens had an up and down night through the air with a 17-29 performance resulting in 235 yards with two score and a pair of interceptions.

Akron is suffering through another losing season but for a team not accustomed to winning their 4-7 record is an improvement. The defense has improved the most but the scoring still needs a boost with the team see averaging less then 20 points. The defense saved the day in a 14-13 victory over Massachusetts with the Zips producing 341 yards but losing three fumbles which took points off the scoreboard. Jawon Chisholm paced the rushing attack with a ten carry, 72 yard performance with Conor Hundley adding 57 yards on eleven attempts. The passing of Kyle Pohl didn't light up the Minutemen secondary but it was efficient with 208 yards on 20-33 with a touchdown. UMass was held to 323 yards and had two passes picked off and mustered 17 first downs leading the Zips consecutive victories.

I'm sure Toledo wants to head in to a Bowl with a win and they have the offense to put up points here.


Miami (OH) vs. Ball State    
Play; Ball State -34

The Miami (Ohio) Redhawks end the season with a visit to the Ball State Cardinals.

The numbers tell the story for Miami (Ohio) with the offense mustering just over nine points per contest which is reason number one for the goose egg in the win column. Miami (Ohio) battled Buffalo to a stand still for 15 minutes before the Bulls exploded for 28 points in the second on the way to a 44-7 decision. UB rolled up over 500 yards with the Redhawks checking in with 200 yards with a pair of lost fumbles and a pick making matters worse. The ground attack totaled 135 yards and averaged four yards with Robert Williams III running for a team high 48 yards on just three carries. Austin Gearing became the focus of moving the chains through the air but he struggled to go 5-19 for 65 yards and a pick.

Ball State saw their chance to win the MAC West go by the wayside in 48-27 defeat at Northern Illinois. This game was far closer then the final score indicates with the game tied 27-27 in the third before the Huskies rattled off 21 points in the final six minutes including a pick six. NIU won the real estate battle 569-494 with Ball State leaning on the pass a little more then the run. The Cardinals were able to do some damage with the run Jahwan Edwards who totaled 156 yards on 29 carries. Keith Wenning kept his team competitive by completing 35-49 for 324 yards with a touchdown and a pick six in the final minute with Willie Snead the receiver of choice with 12 catches for 121 yards. The bottom line is the Huskies came up with big plays at the right time on both sides of the ball.

Ball State might not be winning the MAC West but a ten win season is there for the taking. Big line however the Cardinals can cover this easily.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

Steve Janus

Oregon Ducks -23

Not to take anything away from Arizona, who played a fantastic game, the Ducks weren’t mentally ready to play last week. This team has too much talent to get beat by a team like the Wildcats by nearly four touchdowns. I just can’t see this team not showing up at home against their in-state rivals. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t won a game or are undefeated, players always seem to come out motivated in these games.

If in fact the Ducks decide to play, they are clearly capable of winning this game and covering the spread. The fact that Oregon State allowed Washington to rush for 530 yards is a very promising sign. Oregon is 8-0 in games where they rush for at least 200 yards and have won all eight of those games by at least 21 points. Home favorites of 21.5 to 31 points who feature an incredible offense (averaging 6.4 or more yards/play) after gaining at least 6.25 yards/play in two straight games are 49-13 (79%) ATS over the last 10 seasons.

While it hasn’t happened often, Oregon is 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 games following a SU loss of more than 20 points and are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games after allowing more than 40 points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

Jack Jones

Iowa +3

Iowa may very well be the best four-loss team in the entire country. Its four losses have come against the likes of Northern Illinois (28-31), Michigan State (14-26), Ohio State (24-34) and Wisconsin (9-28), who have a combined 41-3 record on the season. What’s most amazing is that the Hawkeyes had their chances to win in all four of those games as they were all close entering the 4th quarter.

Nebraska has played a much easier schedule, and it is very fortunate to be 8-3 right now. It has won four games by 4 points or less, including three by exactly a field goal. Its other four wins have come against the likes of Southern Miss, South Dakota State, Illinois and Purdue, which are four of the worst teams in the country. The Hawkeyes will be highly motivated to avenge their two losses to Nebraska over the past two seasons as Big Ten opponents.

Iowa is improved on both sides of the football in 2013. I like what I’ve seen from the offense, which is putting up 26.4 points and 399.0 yards per game behind a balanced attack that averages 192 yards on the ground and 207 through the air. There’s no question that the Hawkeyes have the better stop unit in this one. They are allowing just 18.9 points and 304.5 yards per game to rank 10th in the country in total defense.

The key to stopping Nebraska is stopping its running game, and the Hawkeyes have the perfect antidote. They are giving up just 123.6 yards per game and 3.6 per carry to rank 20th in the country against the run. That’s impressive when you consider they’ve played two of the best rushing teams in the country in Ohio State and Wisconsin, which are two teams that Nebraska has managed to avoid this year.

Iowa is 19-4 against hte spread versus excellent rushing teams that average 230 or more rushing yards per game since 1992. The Hawkeyes are 4-0 against the number in all road games this season. Bet Iowa Friday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

SPORTS WAGERS

Iowa +115 over NEBRASKA

We have no interest in spotting anything with a Nebraska outfit that has been in decline for years. The Cornhuskers will appear in a Bowl game with their eight wins but a close look reveals that they have one of the worst win résumés in the country. Nebraska’s best win came against unranked Michigan by four points. Its next best win came against a turmoil-filled Northwestern program by three points. Wyoming, Southern Miss, South Dakota State, Illinois, Purdue and Penn State round out the rest of Nebraska’s victories. The Cornhuskers played two ranked teams this season, UCLA and Michigan State, both in Nebraska, and they lost them both by 13 and 20 points respectively. When healthy, this is a mistake filled, badly coached Huskers team that is beatable every single week when the opposition is even remotely close to having equal talent. Problem is, they aren’t healthy this week at all. Among the injured are quarterback Tommy Armstrong, receiver Jamal Turner and three-fifths of the starting offensive line. Workhorse Ameer Abdullah continues to play on a bum ankle suffered at Purdue, but this is the most banged-up his supporting cast has been all year.

The Hawkeyes may be the most underappreciated team in America. Their four losses this year have come against teams that are all inside the top-15 of this week's BCS standings, and Iowa's only road loss came against third-ranked Ohio State by a 10-point margin last month. This is a team with an outstanding defense that has defeated every unranked team they have played and the weak Cornhuskers figure to be their next victim. Hawkeyes outright.


SAN JOSE STATE +8 over Fresno State

Fresno State is 10-0. They’re coming off a 69-28 win over New Mexico and a win here would cap off an undefeated regular season. However, the Bulldogs have virtually no shot of appearing in a BCS Bowl, as they rank lower than a Northern Illinois squad that just completed an undefeated season with its win on Tuesday. Instead, FSU will wait to see who they play in the Mountain West Championship game. That’s not to say the Bulldogs won’t be motivated here with an unblemished record on the line because they will be but that’s not the problem with spotting the road points. Combine Fresno State’s #1 ranked offense with its undefeated record and it has created an inflated number. That #1 ranked offense is also misleading. You see, the Bulldogs only faced one passing defense not ranked over #100. This is only the 2nd time this season that they are facing a half decent passing defense (first time on the road) and this is also the best passing offense they have faced all season. This is the first short rest game for Fresno this season, while they had bye weeks three times. The preparation for last week’s game and this weeks’ game are completely different, especially with all that is at stake for Fresno.

San Jose State is 2-0 at home against nationally ranked Fresno teams. This game is not only important to Fresno. San Jose State needs this win to gain bowl eligibility. This could be the last home game for Spartans QB David Fales and it’s worth noting that Fales is the 5th best QB in Division I in career passing efficiency among the active players, just behind Mariota (Oregon), Manziel (Texas A&M), McCarron (Alabama) and Murray (Georgia). The Spartans will not be as easy an out as all the rest of the cupcakes that Fresno State has played this season. They come in with high hopes and a lot of skewed numbers both offensively and defensively and it would not surprise us one bit to see the Spartans win this game outright. Last thing to note here is that the underdog is 5-0 ATS in the last five SJSU rivalry games against Cal based teams (Fresno State, San Diego State, Stanford). Pencil us in with the points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

SPORTS WAGERS

N.Y. Rangers +131 over BOSTON

OT included. The Bruins figure to be in a foul mood after that 6-1 debacle in Detroit on Thursday but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re going to win. The Bruins are in first place in the Atlantic and first overall in the East but they have won so many games this season due to the outstanding goaltending of Tuukka Rask. Not often are the Bruins dominating the time spent in the opposition’s end. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Against Detroit, the B’s were outshot 38-17. They have been outshot in 11 of their past 15 games and badly outshot and out-chanced in many of those. When Boston played in New York at MSG on November 19, give those 2 points to Rask, as New York dominated from start to finish, outshooting the B’s 44-22 and out-chancing them 30-12.

New York is playing outstanding hockey. They are healthy and although it hasn’t shown up in the recent results, (3-3 over their past six) they are outplaying and out-hustling almost every team they face. Even in their recent 5-0 loss in Tampa, the Rangers were all over the Bolts. The Rangers are 3-1 in their past four road games. They have won 10 of their past 15 games with three losses over that span occurring against Anaheim, L.A. and Boston. Again, the Rangers were the better team in all three of those losses. The Blue Shirts are a live pooch. They’re in great form and most certainly have an equal chance of winning this one.


New Jersey +115 over CAROLINA

OT included. Marty Brodeur has played the past three games for the Devils and New Jersey has lost them all. Contrary to what you may think, Brodeur is not playing well despite winning some games. You see, the Devils allow the least amount of shots on net in the entire league. Brodeur has allowed nine goals against in the last 77 shots fired his way. Had the Devils chose to go with the superior Cory Schneider in net for the majority of their games, they would have more wins. Schneider has a 1.87 GAA in just seven starts. He was the winning goaltender in the Devils 2-1 win in Los Angeles when he kicked aside 34 of 35 shots. Schneider being the back-up to Brodeur is akin to Aaron Rodgers backing up Matt Flynn. It is absolutely ridiculous but Schneider gets the call here and that makes the Devils a very live underdog. New Jersey allowed just 22 shots on net in its most recent game at home against these same Hurricanes in a 4-3 defeat. When losing the first game of a home and home series, the Devils are on a 5-0 run in the second game and that applies here.     


BUFFALO +133 over Toronto

OT included. Toronto’s 14 wins are the direct result of outstanding goaltending and an unsustainable high percentage of their shots going in. Against Pittsburgh on Thursday, everything went in for the Leafs against Marc Andre Fleury before he was pulled with the Leafs up 4-1. The Penguins rallied for a 6-5 win in one of the most misleading finals of the year. The Leafs were outshot 48-24 and 17-0 in the third period. That’s not a typo either. Against Washington last Saturday, the Leafs were outshot 50-28. On a game by game basis shot differential doesn't tell us a whole lot, but over the course of a season it says plenty. This statistic takes a look at the 'average shots for' versus the 'average shots against' for a particular team. The theory is a team with a positive differential gets more shots on net, allows fewer shots against (with strong defense and blocked shots), and hence has proportionately more scoring chances than their opponent. In the last 20 seasons, not only have almost all Stanley Cup winning teams had a positive team shooting differential, they have consistently been in the Top 10 and only three teams over the past 20 years have made the playoffs with a shot differential of -3 or worse. Well, the Maple Leafs shot differential is last in the NHL. Again and without trying to sound redundant, the Maple Leafs are in the same class as Buffalo, Calgary and Columbus, the team they lost 6-0 to. The Leafs continue to get outplayed and outshot every single game and the fact that they are this big a favorite over the Sabres in Buffalo, where they have lost 20 of the past 27 games, proves once again that the Maple Leafs are the most overvalued team in the NHL and it’s not close. Until they show us something different, we’ll continue to fade the Maple Leafs when they are favored, especially on the road.   

It's also worrth noting that the Maple Leafs play in Montreal tomorrow night and in the unlikely event that they win here, we'll fade them again tomorrow, spotting a half puck with the Canadiens and taking back some juice.


Edmonton +137 over COLUMBUS

OT included. The Blue Jackets have revenge on their minds for this one but that’s an angle we’re not buying into for a second. Columbus went into Edmonton on November 19 and got clobbered, 7-0. Since then the Jackets are 2-2 with wins over Toronto and Calgary and losses to Nashville and Vancouver. In their last three losses, the Jackets have been outscored to the tune of 17-2. In their 6-0 win against the Maple Leafs they had 22 shots on net and in their 2-1 victory over the Flames they had 18 shots on net. The Blue Jackets highest shot total over their past six games was 22 shots on net. This is a garbage hockey team with average goaltending, no goal scorers, no heartbeat, and several key injuries. With all due respect to Calgary and Buffalo, the Jackets remain the most beatable team in the NHL.

Edmonton taking back +137 here is ludicrous. First, we get the West versus East angle that has been pure gold the entire season with 92 wins against just 36 losses. Secondly, we get an Edmonton team in fine form with four wins in their past five games. The Oilers only loss over that span occurred against Chicago. Edmonton has outscored the opposition 18-3 over their last four wins and figure to keep that momentum going here against this dreadful host. Huge overlay.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

Jeff Scott Sports

4 UNIT PLAY

Bowling Green -2 over BUFFALO: Big game here as the winner will move on to face Northern Illinois in the MAC Title game. I say that the team that will move on is Bowling Green, as they have been the more consistent team all year long and they are flat out rolling right now. The Falcons come in on a 3 game win streak, following a bad home loss to Toledo by 3 points. Now in their 3 game win streak they have outscored their foes by a 152-10 count. Bowling Green has the 8th ranked overall defense in the nation and they are 1st vs the pass, while allowing just 14.4 ppg on the year. The Buffalo defense is 35th overall and 39th vs the pass, while allowing just 22.2 ppg, but they have really only faced three good defenses this year and were torched in all 3 allowing a whopping 161 total points in losses to Ohio State, Baylor and Toledo. That Toledo game is a good measuring stick for this one as the Bulls allowed 51 points to Toledo and they were down 35 points in that game be fore finally losing by 10, while Bowling Green lost by just 3 to Toledo and allowed just 28 points in that game. Bowling Green also faced an SEC team on the road this year and they lost that game by just 1 point to Mississippi State. Bowling Green has more momentum here, they have the much better defense and I would even say they get a solid edge on the offensive side of the ball as well. Look for Bowling Green to wear Buffalo out in the second half and pull away for a DD win. 

3 UNIT PLAYS

Houston/ SMU Under 64: Yes the Mustangs have a bad defense, but the Houston offense really comes in to this game sputtering, have scored just 14.7 ppg on 280 ypg of offense in their last 3 games. I know the defenses they faced over that stretch were much tougher than this SMU defense, but still they are out of sorts on that side of the bal and will have trouble just turning it back on an a game that means very little to them as they have already been slated to appear in the Belk Bowl. No on offense SMU has a problem, as it looks like they will be without QB Garret Gilbert and last week when he left the game vs USF their offense really struggled. Well they will struggled again vs a Houston defense that has allowed just 22 ppg overall, including just 20 ppg in their last 5 games. Houston has played 3 AAC home games this year and all three have put up 58 or less. This one won't come close to 58 points.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC -27 over Florida International: FIU is just 1-10 on the year and that lone win was vs lowly Southern Miss, who has yet to win a game this year. Their pathetic offense is the worst in the nation, averaging just 10.1 ppg on the year, while they have averaged just 8.8 ppg and 195 ypg on the road this year, while being outscored by 35 ppg. FAU has been on a tear since the firing of their head coach for drug use, as they have gone 3-0 SU & ATS, while outscoring those foes by 32 ppg. Granted 2 of them were vs Southern Miss and New Mexico State, but FIU is no better than those two. FAU has huge edges on both sides of the ball and momentum as well, giving them an excellent shot at winning this one by 35+.

2 UNIT PLAYS

Fresno State -7.5 over SAN JOSE STATE: This is a team on a mission as they are fighting for a BCS Bowl berth and they have one of the best Qbs in the nation to help them get there. Derek Carr has thrown for 3943 yards this year with 39 Tds and just 4 INTs, and is the reason that this Bulldog offense is 2nd in the nation in total offense, 2nd in passing offense and 5th in points scored (46.8 ppg). This Fresno offense should have a field day vs a porous San Jose State defense that comes in ranked 102nd overall and 100th in points allowed (33.5 ppg). They are 48th vs the pass, but that is because teams run so much on theme as they are 110th in that department.. Fresno State isn't a great running team, but they do average 174.7 ypg on the ground and will use that ground game enough to open up some big throwing lanes for Carr. The San Jose offense is 9th in passing, but 95th in rushing, making them a one dimensional team, and you need a bit more balance on offense if you are going to score enough points to keep it close vs Fresno. The Bulldogs have way to much to play for here to think that they can't win this one by at least 2 Tds. KEY ANGLE: Conference dogs of 7 or more that are 1 game below .500 and playing their last game are 1-13-2 ATS when facing an opponent that is .700 or greater on the season. 

Central Florida/ South Florida Under 50: The Bulls offense has been pathetic this year as they have averaged just 263.2 ypg and 13.9 ppg overall, including 249 ypg and 14 ppg on the road, With numbers like that would not expect a whole lot of offense from the Bulls in this one, especially vs a Knights defense that is 28th in total defense abd 19th in points allowed, allowing just 20.2 pg. At home the Knights have been even better defensively, allowing just 16.6 ppg. The UCF offense has been very good this year, but the USF defense has been no slouch, especially on the road, where they have allowed just 22 ppg. Two solid defenses in this game and only on team can score. I just don't expect more than 42 points in this one.

1 UNIT PLAYS

CENTRAL MICHIGAN -18.5 over Eastern Michigan: EMU has been crushed in their losses in the MAC, as their 6 conference losses have been by an average of 36 ppg, with all 6 losses coming by at least 28 points. CMU is not a powerhouse in the MAC but they are 4-3 in the conference and 5-6 overall. That is key as conference favorites in their season finales are 18-5 ATS if they are 1 game below .500 and are facing a team that they beat in their most recent meeting.

PITTSBURGH +3 over Miami: The Canes have been exposed as a fraud team weeks ago and now Pittsburgh will look to continue that. The Panthers have a solid passing offense that can take advantage of a weak Miami secondary, plus they are at home in a cold environment and that is something that Miami does not excel in. The Panthers beat Notre Dame on this field and will do the same vs the Canes here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

Red Dog Sports

Mount St Mary's +26½

Take the underdog plus the points. The Spartans are a good team but may lose focus on the day after Thanksgiving facing a much weaker opponent. Surely, Michigan State will win by 20 points or so but MSM should keep it within 26 points.


Pittsburgh +3

Take Pitt plus the points as the Panthers were able to defeat Notre Dame at home. This will be the last home game for the seniors of Pittsburgh and they will face warm weather Miami in the cold. Miami has struggled in recent weeks. They did beat UVA but were outgained by over 100 yards. Pitt's QB Tom Savage is decent and has experience. Look for Pitt to win a close one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

Dave Price

Atlanta Hawks +1

Motivated by three consecutive defeats, and with a 118-109 season-opening loss at Dallas also stoking the fire, the Hawks will be ready to go tonight. Atlanta has been a nice investment lately in bounce-back spots, going 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games following a loss. Even more impressive, the Hawks are 11-2 ATS in home games after 2 or more consecutive losses over the last 3 seasons, winning by an average score of 97.4 to 88.4 in this situation. Dallas has dropped 5 of 7 on the road to start the season, and I believe it drops another one here. Take Atlanta.

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Charlie Scott

Fresno State vs. San Jose State
Play: Fresno State -8.5

I believe San Jose St hopes for a Bowl Season went away in OT loss vs Navy last week. Fresno St can score points and will be able to take advantage of San Jose States terrible defense. Throw in any hopes Fresno has for BCS means they must win big today which San Jose States defense is the perfect set up.

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Jeff Benton

Your Black Friday freebie is Ball State to make it a black Friday indeed for Miami-Ohio.

Have to face facts, the Redhawks have NOTHING this season. Miami-O has now lost 16 in a row straight up, and the points have not been all that helpful as the Redhawks are just 1-5-2 with the spot their last 8 games this season, getting outscored by an average of 33 points over their last 3 losses. Chances the end the year with a victory are slim and none.

Ball State can name it today, and they will name it. The Cardinals have covered 7 of their last 10 in Muncie when dressed as the favorite, and today presents senior QB Keith Wenning a chance to pad his stats, which are pretty darn impressive to say the least - only the second quarterback to throw for over 7,000 yards in school history.

Cardinals have been off since losing at Northern Illinois on the 13th, today they take out their frustrations on the door mat of the MAC, Miami Ohio as they win this one 49-7 over the Redhawks.

5♦ BALL STATE

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Craig Davis

Today's free play is on the Atlanta Hawks over the Dallas Mavericks in their final meeting of the year.

The Mavericks are off to a better start this year than many people thought they'd be, but a closer look at their record and results you can see this is a Dallas team that clearly plays better in Big D.

Dallas has just two road wins in seven tries, and now they enter Atlanta knowing the Hawks have a little revenge on their minds. Dallas beat the Hawks on opening night, 118-109, in a game that was a lot closer than the final score indicated.

With a solid inside game, including Al Horford, the Hawks will attempt to slow the pace and work the ball inside. They saw the Houston Rockets do this with some success against the Mavs as Dwight Howard has dominated in two games against Dallas.

Samuel Dalembert wasn't able to stop Howard and he's not going to be able to stop Horford either. Atlanta needs a quality win like this on their resume to turn things around, and I think they'll get it by four or five points.

Take the Hawks as your free play of the day.

2♦ ATLANTA

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Brad Wilton.

Black Friday is here, and my "gift" to you is Bowling Green as the small favorite in their MAC East showdown with Buffalo.

The winner faces Northern Illinois in the conference title game next Friday, and my money is on the more complete Falcons to dump the Bulls.

The Falcons defense comes in at #8 ranked, and they have allowed just 10 points to score against them in their last 3 games - all wins and covers!

Can't knock the season Jeff Quinn's team is having, but it should be noted the last time Buffalo was an underdog, they lost by 10 at Toledo after getting down 31-0 in that contest.

Bowling Green has won and covered the last pair in this series, and 3 of the last 4 both straight up and against the spread.

Look for the Falcons defense coupled with the talented combo of Matt Johnson under center, and RB Travis Greene who has 9 touchdowns the last 8 games to make the difference in this MAC battle.

Bowling Green advances to the MAC Championship with the solid touchdown win and cover over Buffalo.

2♦ BOWLING GREEN

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

Brett Atkins

My free pick comes from the Orleans Arena and the Las Vegas Invitational, where I'm laying the points with Missouri over Reno, after seeing these two play last night. Missouri struggled in the first half against Northwestern, allowing the Wildcats to get out on their break, and basically do what they wanted.

But then the Tigers awoke for the second half, they were relentless. Missouri scored the first 14 points of the second half, and eventually widened its lead to 15 points thanks to the a balanced inside-outside game, and a transitional game fired up from a tenacious defense.

I watched UNR get humiliated into submission against UCLA, and not to compare the Tigers to the Bruins, but same kind of quickness and athleticism the Wolf Pack couldn't handle. Once the Tigers get rolling and into a groove in this game, Nevada won't stand a chance, even with leading scorer Deonte Burton.

My money is the Tigers will once again find their frontcourt presence, and will be able to get easy buckets on the break. Lay the chalk.

3♦ MISSOURI

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Dr. Bob

Fresno State (-7 1/2) 38 SAN JOSE STATE 35

A San Jose State victory here would not be much of an update in my mind since Fresno State is only 0.7 yards per play better than an average team (+0.6 yppl on offense and +0.2 yppl on defense) while San Jose State is average from the line of scrimmage. That math only favors Fresno by 3 points and I have strong situations favoring both sides in this game. Unbeaten teams tend to fall on the road against quality opposition this time of the year and I'll lean with the Spartans in a game that they must win to qualify for Bowl consideration. San Jose State will be playing with a sense of urgency while Fresno State may be playing this game not to lose rather than to win.

OREGON (-23) 46 Oregon St. 19

It's tough to know how Oregon will react to last week's loss at Arizona, which ended their chances of winning the Pac 12 and going to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. However, I suspect the Ducks will regain some focus this week for rival Oregon State and if that's the case they should win by more than 3 touchdowns, as my math model favors Oregon by 25 1/2 points if each team plays at their normal level.

Oregon State has trouble defending the run, as the Beavers have given up 6.6 yard per rushing play or more in 3 of their last 4 games and are now allowing 203 rushing yards at 6.0 yprp in 10 games against FBS opponents (and they were also run on in their opening loss to FCS team Eastern Washington). Oregon should run wild in this game while the Ducks' outstanding pass defense (4.9 yards per pass play allowed to quarterbacks that would combine to average 6.5 yppp against an average team) should contain a very good Beavers' aerial attack (367 yards at 7.0 yppp against teams that would allow 5.7 yppp to an average QB). After taking care of the ball most of the season (just 3 interceptiosn in the first 8 games) OSU quarterback Sean Mannion has returned to his careless ways with 10 picks in the last 3 games (he now has thrown 44 interceptions in 3 years).

It's possible that Oregon has lost interest in their season but I think pride will kick in against their in-state rival and that we'll see the Oregon that we saw earlier in the season.

CENTRAL FLORIDA (-27) 36 South Florida 12

UCF is a very good team but South Florida is improved offensively with Mike White at quarterback and the Bulls' defense is solid (5.5 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.7 yppl against an average team). It might be hard for UCF to score enough points to cover such a big number. My math model actually gives South Florida a 55.8% chance of covering but UCF applies to a 35-4 ATS situation that plays on favorites of more than 21 points with revenge and the Bulls apply to a 71-138-6 ATS situation. I'll still lean with USF despite the bad situation.

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Harry Bondi

SAN JOSE STATE +8 over Fresno State

Really interesting match-up today between these long time bitter rivals. Fresno State is one of the best teams in the country in line to be a BSC buster and would complete an undefeated regular season for the third time in school history with a win over San Jose State today. But the Bulldogs have already wrapped up the Mountain West Western division title and will play Boise State in the league championship game on Dec. 7 so even with a lot on the line today this is a little bit of a look ahead game for the Bulldogs. San Jose State has the offense to keep pace with Derek Carr and company and while their defense has been a disaster against the run it has been very good against the pass and that's how Fresno moves the ball. The Spartans won't be intimidated as many of these kids grew up playing against each other in California high schools and know each other well. Lets take the motivated home dog to keep it close today, take San Jose State.

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SPORTS WAGERS

IFPW +15 over ILLINOIS

Early in the season when power conference schools schedule games against weaker competition, the goal is to win a lot of games early and fine tune everything until the in-conference games kick in. What we also get early in the year is a lot of bogus rankings in all areas because of such weak schedules. The Illini have jumped out to a 6-0 start after defeating Alabama State, Jacksonville State, Bradley, Chicago State and UNLV. Against UNLV in their last game, the Illini played catch-up all night long. Illinois trailed by 10 at the half in that game and eventually won it by a single bucket. Illinois is getting big production out of Rayvonte Rice and Joseph Bertrand but very little production from anywhere else. Rice did not play at all last season. Against UNLV, Rice spent 38 minutes on the court (season/game high) and recorded his season high in points and rebounds because the Illini got a big scare. Illinois is winning but they’re not blowing away the easy competition. With Georgia Tech up next and figuring this is an easy game, the Illinois don’t figure to blow away this unknown program either.

Right off the bat when you wager on Illinois over Fort Wayne you are going to pay a premium to do so. If any team in the Summit League is looking to build on momentum gained late last season, it's Fort Wayne. The Mastodons floundered early in the season but finished 2012-13 with five straight wins and a quarterfinal victory in the Summit League tournament. Frank Gaines, the program's career leading scorer has graduated, but all the key players who filled in around Gaines and who began hitting their stride late in the season return for coach Tony Jasick. The Mastodons have reeled off five in a row. Their two losses this season have both been by a single point and one of those was against Temple. In eight games overall this season, IFPW has had six different players lead the team in scoring while senior Michael Kibiloski was second in scoring in four of those games without being their best scorer in any game. The Mastodons are deep, they’re talented and they really have a chance of catching the Illini off guard. We’re always looking for overlays early in the year and trust we have found another here. Take the points.

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River City Sharps

Marquette -1.5

Marquette seems to be getting their act together offensively and will need it as they take on the Colonials from the A-10. GW is very experienced and needed that experience yesterday as they drew away from Miami (FL) in OT. The reason we like Marquette here is that they have been tested by a pretty good early season schedule, while GW hasn't faced the same competition. The Golden Eagles get it done here.


Florida Atlantic -27.5

We aren't going to do a big writeup here, because how many ways or times can we say this: FIU IS HORRIBLE! After a 72-0 loss to Louisville here earlier this season, a Louisville assistant coach was rumored to have said that FIU is the worst football team they have played since Strong has been the coach (and that's saying something!) On the other side, Fla Atlantic like to score lots of points and really likes to beat the tar out of inferior competition, as seen in last week's 55-10 pasting of New Mexico State! We are only going to go 2 units here, but feel free to go more if you like as FAU can name this score.

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Rocketman

Pittsburgh vs. Miami Florida
Play: Miami Florida

The Miami Florida Hurricanes travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers on Friday afternoon. Miami Florida is 8-3 SU on the season while Pittsburgh comes in with a 6-5 SU record this year. Miami Florida is 9-1 ATS last 3 years when the line is +3 to -3. Miami Florida is scoring 35.5 points per game overall this year. Miami Florida is 11-1 SU overall vs Pittsburgh since 1992 including 6-1 SU at Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is 1-5 ATS last 6 games after a SU win. The Favorite is 5-2 ATS last 7 meetings overall in this series. We'll recommend a small play on Miami Florida today!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, November 29

The Prez

Xavier vs Tennessee
Play: Xavier

Ignore the meltdown by the Musketeers in their OT loss to Iowa on Thursday. Xavier led by as many as 15 points in the second half against the Hawkeyes, but got sloppy with the ball committing 11 of their season-high 19 turnovers after the break. The fact that Xavier had 55 points in the first 28 minutes nd then followed with just 14 in the last 12 minutes was cause for the loss, not their turnovers, and all indications have Semaj Christon hydrated for today's game.

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