Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, December 28

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, December 28

Scott Delaney

My free winner for Saturday is in college basketball, as I like the Kentucky Wildcats at home against the defending champion Louisville Cardinals.

Anyone else seen the make up of either team's schedule?

You'd think Louisville bowed out of last year's tournament, rather than win the whole thing for its fallen soldier with a broken leg. Over the Cardinals' first 12 games, the only one that looks impressive was on Nov. 24 against North Carolina, and the Tar Heels put a 93-spot on Louisville.

Kentucky, meanwhile, lost a close one to Michigan State early on, and this month has played Providence, Baylor and North Carolina. Though the Wildcats are just 3-2 this month, they're better than when they started and have shown improvement since the start of the season.

Now you put the 'Cats on the floor against their in-state, arch rivals and you just might see their best game of the season. Fact is, anyone who does his homework can easily see No. 18 Kentucky is the better value on its own court, than No. 6 Louisville, especially knowing the Wildcats have won four of the last five meetings.

And with the trees Kentucky has planted in the paint, well, the 'Cats just might be the tallest team in the nation to contend with, and Louisville could very well struggle in a very big test. The Cardinals came into this season with all but two starters back from last year's team, but has struggled to accomplish the matchup 2-3 zone that led them to last year's title. Add in Luke Hancock's nagging Achilles injury, and this is an altogether bad matchup for the Cardinals.

It only takes a little homework to see the home team is the right side of this game is the home underdog.

1♦ KENTUCKY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, December 28

Brad Wilton

Talk about a huge college hardwood battle....undefeated Villanova taking on undefeated Syracuse, as these former Big East rivals have at it at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon, and I am taking any points they are giving with this Wildcats team.

'Nova has won outright 5 of the last 9 times they have faced the 'Cuse, and the 'Cats have also covered in 6 of the past 9 series meetings.

Jay Wright's team has been a pointspread cash cow, covering 11 of their last 17 (with one push) on the road dating back to last year, and they have gone a money-turning 10-1 against the spread their last 11 Saturday games!

Jim Boeheim's team is ranked at #2 in the nation in the early going, but this is one of those tricky games for the Orange, as they are stepping up in class here, and Villanova does have a veteran back court that can handle the hostile road crowd in this spot.

Grab the points in a game that could very well be decided in the closing seconds.

2♦ VILLANOVA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, December 28

Brett Atkins

My free winner is in College Basketball, as I like UNLV laying the points at home against Cal State Fullerton.

The Runnin' Rebels looked good last weekend in winning the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, inside the Orleans Arena, as they tore through Santa Clara and then Mississippi State, getting added efforts from players who hadn't stepped up until recently, including junior guard Deville Smith, whose outside game came to life.

The Runnin' Rebels have won five straight, all by at least 16 points and by an overall average of 22.0 points per game.

Junior Roscoe Smith leads the nation in rebounding average with 13.1 rpg, and comes in after being named Mountain West Conference Player of the Week. His power game has led him to eight double-doubles this season, while he's grabbed 10 or more boards in the first six games of the season (now 10 of 12) with totals of 19, 21 and a career-high 22.

Fellow-junior Khem Birch, who prides himself in blocking shots, has five double-doubles this season, and ranks sixth in the nation in blocked shots with 3.8 per contest. He has had double-figure rebounding totals in six of his 12 games and has blocked at least four shots in a game six times.

Those two will lead the charge, while the Rebels will catch fire from the perimeter to build a comfortable lead and coast to a big win before opening conference play on New Years Day at Fresno State.

1♦ UNLV

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, December 28

Jeff Alexander

Denver Nuggets +3

Memphis has really struggled at home where it is just 6-10 on the season. Going back to last season, the Grizzlies are 4-14 ATS in their last 18 home games. Denver has lost 5 in a row, but it will take the floor confidently tonight against a Memphis squad it went 3-1 against last season. Memphis has defeated Denver by more than 3 points just once in the last 7 meetings so the Nuggets are definitely showing value at this number. The Nuggets are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 road games versus a team with a losing home record and 35-17-1 ATS in their last 53 road games versus a team with a home winning percentage of less than .400.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, December 28

Ryan James

Kentucky +2½

It is surprising to see such a tight line on this game given how well Kentucky has played at home this season. The Wildcats are a very young team that has improved substantially with each passing week. They have played a very strong schedule to this point in the season and should be well prepared to take on their in-state rival. Louisville on the other hand has played just one ranked opponent, and it was a game they lost by nine-points on a neutral court.

I think the Cardinals are getting a little too much credit from last year’s NCAA Tournament Championship. They are nowhere near as good this season as they were last, and I can’t see them coming into the Wildcats house and picking up a win. The Wildcats have a big rebounding advantage over the Cardinals, and they have also proved to be the better three throw shooting team. That is a huge advantage considering the Wildcats are a great foul drawing team. Kentucky has been to the line 90 more times than the Cardinals have this season.

In head-to-head meetings between these teams Louisville has not fared well against the spread. The Cardinals are 3-7 ATS in the last 10 meetings. I don’t think the Cardinals have a defensive answer for the combination of Julius Randle and Aaron Harrison, and I expect both of those players to have very big games. Russ Smith is the only talented veteran player returning to the Cardinals roster, and it seems as though nobody else on the team is willing to step up and help Smith out. With home court advantage this will be the Wildcats game to win.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, December 28

WunderdogFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
FOR THE LARGEST SELECTION OF FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Illinois vs. Illinois, ChicagoFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Illinois -12FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Illinois has a big edge in the low post against this opponent at the United Center. The Fighting Illini are 7-3-3 ATS in their last 13 non-conference games. This is a homecoming game for many Illini, as half of the UI roster features players from Chicagoland in Tracy Abrams, Nnanna Egwu, Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate, (all from Chicago), along with walk-on Mike LaTulip (Arlington Heights), and transfers Darius Paul (Gurnee), and Ahmad Starks (Chicago). Illinois is 12-2 in this series and 4-0-1 ATS in their last five neutral-site games. Lay the points and ride with Illinois.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, December 28

NHL Predictions

Anaheim Ducks -½ -102

The Coyotes come into tonight after losing a tough one against the Sharks last night in a shootout, 4-3. It won't get any easier for Phoenix tonight, as they need to compete against the Ducks after a date with the Sharks last night. They'll be up against a Ducks team that hasn't lost at home yet, posting a 13-0-2 record. The Ducks are also rolling on a 9 game winning streak coming into Saturday night, pushing them into an overall record of 27-7-1-4. Conversely, after a sizzling start for the Coyotes, they have begun to come down to earth a little bit. The loss last night gave them their seventh loss in ten games. Interestingly enough the previous four games have all entered overtime, only winning one out of the four. The Ducks are a rock solid all around team, enjoying solid offense, averaging 3.21 goals per game, and defense, allowing 2.41 goals a game. There is no reason to believe that the Ducks won't be able to get to 10 straight wins tonight after coming back from the break. After a grueling battle with the Sharks, I expect the Coyotes to be flat. Their last four games have gone to extra minutes, but the Ducks should be able to take care of them at home in regulation where they have been untouchable. I advise taking the Ducks tonight.

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