Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, December 27

Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, December 27

DUNKEL INDEX

BYU vs. Washington
The Cougars bring an 8-4 regular season record into the Fight Hunger Bowl against a Washington team that is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games against teams with a winning record. BYU is the pick (+3) according to Dunkel, which has the Cougars favored by 3. Dunkel Pick: BYU (+3)

Game 217-218: Marshall vs. Maryland (2:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Marshall 86.002; Maryland 87.490
Dunkel Line: Maryland by 1 1/2; 66
Vegas Line: Marshall by 2 1/2; 61
Dunkel Pick: Maryland (+2 1/2); Over

Game 219-220: Syracuse vs. Minnesota (6:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Syracuse 85.446; Minnesota 95.916
Dunkel Line: Minnesota by 10 1/2; 43
Vegas Line: Minnesota by 4; 47 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (-4); Under

Game 221-222: BYU vs. Washington (9:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: BYU 101.765; Washington 98.866
Dunkel Line: BYU by 3; 64
Vegas Line: Washington by 3; 58 1/2
Dunkel Pick: BYU (+3); Over

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DUNKEL INDEX

NBA

Phoenix at Golden State
The Suns bring an 11-2 ATS record in their last 13 road games as they travel to Golden State tonight. Phoenix is the pick (+6 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the game Even. Dunkel Pick: Phoenix (+6 1/2)

Game 801-802: Detroit at Orlando (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Detroit 118.087; Orlando 111.871
Dunkel Line & Total: Detroit by 6; 197
Vegas Line & Total: Detroit by 3 1/2; 202
Dunkel Pick: Detroit (-3 1/2); Under

Game 803-804: Oklahoma City at Charlotte (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oklahoma City 125.331; Charlotte 122.136
Dunkel Line & Total: Oklahoma City by 3; 205
Vegas Line & Total: Oklahoma City by 9; 199 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Charlotte (+9); Over

Game 805-806: Milwaukee at Brooklyn (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Milwaukee 110.503; Brooklyn 111.217
Dunkel Line & Total: Brooklyn by 1; 199
Vegas Line & Total: Brooklyn by 5 1/2; 195 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Milwaukee (+5 1/2); Over

Game 807-808: Toronto at New York (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Toronto 120.492; New York 115.338
Dunkel Line & Total: Toronto by 5; 191
Vegas Line & Total: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 809-810: Washington at Minnesota (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Washington 114.408; Minnesota 124.667
Dunkel Line & Total: Minnesota by 10 1/2; 202
Vegas Line & Total: Minnesota by 6; 207 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Minnesota (-6); Under

Game 811-812: Denver at New Orleans (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Denver 117.752; New Orleans 116.665
Dunkel Line & Total: Denver by 1; 212
Vegas Line & Total: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 813-814: LA Lakers at Utah (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Lakers 116.315; Utah 117.336
Dunkel Line & Total: Utah by 1; 202
Vegas Line & Total: Utah by 4; 195 1/2
Dunkel Pick: LA Lakers (+4); Over

Game 815-816: Miami at Sacramento (10:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Miami 125.381; Sacramento 116.633
Dunkel Line & Total: Miami by 9; 204
Vegas Line & Total: Miami by 7 1/2; 209
Dunkel Pick: Miami (-7 1/2); Over

Game 817-818: Phoenix at Golden State (10:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Phoenix 122.757; Golden State 122.874
Dunkel Line & Total: Even; 215
Vegas Line & Total: Golden State by 6 1/2; 210 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Phoenix (+6 1/2); Over

NCAAB

DePaul at Northwestern
The 7-5 Wildcats host a DePaul team that is 2-10 ATS in its last 12 games against teams with a winning SU record. Northwestern is the pick (-4) according to Dunkel, which has the Wildcats favored by 6 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Northwestern (-4)

Game 819-820: UL-Monroe at Ohio State (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: UL-Monroe 52.691; Ohio State 72.509
Dunkel Line: Ohio State by 20
Vegas Line: Ohio State by 25
Dunkel Pick: UL-Monroe (+25)

Game 821-822: DePaul at Northwestern (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: DePaul 54.886; Northwestern 61.484
Dunkel Line: Northwestern by 6 1/2
Vegas Line: Northwestern by 4
Dunkel Pick: Northwestern (-4)

Game 831-832: Northern Kentucky at North Carolina (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Northern Kentucky 46.126; North Carolina 70.634
Dunkel Line: North Carolina by 24 1/2
Vegas Line: North Carolina by 27 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Northern Kentucky (+27 1/2)

Game 833-834: Lafayette at Seton Hall (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Lafayette 48.793; Seton Hall 62.899
Dunkel Line: Seton Hall by 14
Vegas Line: Seton Hall 11
Dunkel Pick: Seton Hall (-11)

Game 835-836: Mississippi Valley State at Washington (10:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Mississippi Valley State 36.875; Washington 60.731
Dunkel Line: Washington by 24
Vegas Line: Washington by 22 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Washington (-22 1/2)

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DUNKEL INDEX

NHL

San Jose at Phoenix

The Coyotes return home after dropping three of four on the road and face a San Jose team that is 1-5 in its last 6 road games. Phoenix is the pick (+105) according to Dunkel, which has the Coyotes favored by 1. Dunkel Pick: Phoenix (+105)

Game 1-2: Columbus at New Jersey (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Columbus 10.621; New Jersey 12.122
Dunkel Line & Total: New Jersey by 1 1/2; 4
Vegas Line & Total: New Jersey (-130); 5
Dunkel Pick: New Jersey (-130); Under

Game 3-4: NY Rangers at Washington (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Rangers 11.574; Washington 10.591
Dunkel Line & Total: NY Rangers by 1; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Washington (-130); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: NY Rangers (+110); Over

Game 5-6: Pittsburgh at Carolina (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Pittsburgh 11.742; Carolina 12.910
Dunkel Line & Total: Carolina by 1; 6
Vegas Line & Total: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 7-8: Ottawa at Boston (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Ottawa 10.301; Boston 12.176
Dunkel Line & Total: Boston by 2; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Boston (-190); 5
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-190); Under

Game 9-10: Buffalo at Toronto (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Buffalo 10.185; Toronto 11.644
Dunkel Line & Total: Toronto by 1 1/2; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Toronto (-170); 5
Dunkel Pick: Toronto (-170); Under

Game 11-12: Colorado at Chicago (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Colorado 12.680; Chicago 11.566
Dunkel Line & Total: Colorado by 1; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Chicago (-200); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Colorado (+170); Over

Game 13-14: Minnesota at Winnipeg (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota 10.241; Winnipeg 11.182
Dunkel Line & Total: Winnipeg by 1; 6
Vegas Line & Total: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 15-16: Nashville at Dallas (8:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Nashville 12.049; Dallas 11.146
Dunkel Line & Total: Nashville by 1; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Dallas (-150); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Nashville (+130); Over

Game 17-18: Edmonton at Calgary (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Edmonton 9.936; Calgary 1.210
Dunkel Line & Total: Calgary by 1 1/2; 5
Vegas Line & Total: Calgary (-135); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Calgary (-135); Under

Game 19-20: San Jose at Phoenix (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Jose 10.634; Phoenix 11.662
Dunkel Line & Total: Phoenix by 1; 6
Vegas Line & Total: San Jose (-125); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Phoenix (+105); Over

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Jim FeistFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Syracuse vs. MinnesotaFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Over 47½FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Good weather here for this bowl as it's indoors at Reliant Stadium in Houston. A pair of strong ground attacks meet as Minnesota ranks 34th in the country running the ball (200.9 yards per game) while Syracuse is 39th (193.8). The over is 8-2-1 in the Orange's last 11 non-conference games. Minnesota is 4-1 over the total in non-conference games and the over is 4-1 in the Golden Gophers last 5 Bowl games, so look for an offensive show. Play Minnesota/Syracuse over the total.

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Rob Vinciletti

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Charlotte Bobcats    
Play: Oklahoma City Thunder -8½

OKC comes in after cashing big for us on Christmas day flattening the Knicks by 30+ points. Now they head into Charlotte to take on the Bobcats who are 0-5 straight up and ats at home with 3 or more days rest and 2-14 to the spread vs Northwest Division teams. Charlotte has lost and failed to cover both times thuis season as a home dog of 6.5 or more. Non Division home teams with rest are 2-17 to the spread if they scored 110 or more as a home favorite in their last game, and are taking on a road team that won and covered while scoring 120 or more last out. The Winner in this series has also covered the last 8 in the series and we expect OKC to take this one. So we will lay the points as the Friday free play.


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Bryan PowerFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Phoenix vs. Golden StateFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: PhoenixFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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In my latest NBA Power Rankings, I have these two Pacific Division rivals rated 8-9.  My numbers indicate that Golden State should be no more than a four-point favorite for this contest. Therefore, I'll gladly take the points w/ a Suns team that has proven itself to be a live dog throughout this season...
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I would rate Phoenix as the biggest surprise team in the league this season, even moreso than Portland.  Not because they are better than the Trail Blazers, but because of where the Suns started in the ratings. I had them 29th to start the year, but they have proven the doubters wrong w/ an 11-2 ATS road record and 14-3 ATS mark as an underdog.  They just beat the Warriors at home 12 days ago, by a four-point margin. Overall, they are 8-1 SU/ATS their last nine games, the only loss coming against San Antonio.
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Golden State is at the disadvantage of having played Christmas night where they earned a hard fought win over the Clippers.  It was their third straight win, but they are just 5-8 ATS at home this season.  The bottom line is that Phoenix deserves more respect from the oddsmakers here.  With outright wins this month over the likes of Houston and Denver on the road, they have proven themselves more than capable of pulling this "upset. "

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River City Sharps

Marshall -4

Marshall takes their high-powered offense to the Military Bowl where they will take on the Terps from the ACC. The Marshall offense is led by QB Rakeem Cato, who has directed the Herd offense to a seventh rank nationally in scoring and 12th in total offense and over 502 ypg. A Marshall victory in this game will give them their first 10-win season since the 2002 team went 11-2, led by Byron Leftwich. Marshall really has a balanced run/pass attack where Maryland struggles to produce a lot of offense. Even though we will readily admit that Maryland plays the better schedule, we think Marshall is the better team and will show it here in this spot. We think both of these teams are motivated to perform, but the herd have way too many weapons for Maryland to handle.

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Carlos Salazar

BYU vs. Washington
Play: Washington -3

Fight Hunger Bowl features Washington against BYU in San Francisco on Friday night. Carlos sees the offense of Washington being to much for the BYU Cougars defense. Washington averages 38.5 points per game and will be to much for a BYU team depleted by injuries on the defensive side of the ball.


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Dave CokinFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Washington vs BYUFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: BYU +3.5FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Two radically different sets of circumstances will be in play tonight as Washington squares off against BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco. I see those as the keys to finding the winner in this duel.
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The game itself is really unusual from a visual standpoint. It’s played in a baseball stadium and due to the configurations at AT&T both teams share the same sideline. It’s a very weird look. That has nothing to do with the analysis of the game, but it makes for some strange camera shots for those of us watching on television.
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Let’s move on the actual matchup. Washington grades out as the slightly superior team, but it’s hardly a landslide. Just based solely on the talent, I’d favor the Huskies by roughly 2-3 points.
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I see the intangibles being vital here, and that’s where I swing to the BYU side. These have been a very turbulent last few weeks for the Huskies. Their head coach said so long to Seattle and moved to a new job in the same conference. The defensive line coach is under investigation for what appear to be some serious rules violations. He’s denying the charges, but it’s nevertheless not an ideal scenario. Plus, I’m just not sure how excited the Huskies are about this game.
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BYU needs to win this game to push themselves forward in terms of their national perception. The Cougars are an independent entry, and that simply makes their bowl games more important. That’s especially true based on Bronco Mendenhall’s stated desire to push BYU into the national title picture moving forward. The Cougars lost two major national spotlight games this season to Wisconsin and Notre Dame, and were actually really bad in the defeat at South Bend. They need to step up and deliver here, as an 8-5 campaign and bowl game loss is not what I’d consider a positive season.
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Mendenhall has been a very good bowl coach, and I also feel as though Steve Sarkisian’s expertise with the offense will be missed against the various schemes the Huskies will see from that BYU defense. The entire BYU staff’s focus is on this game, with all nine assistants slated to remain in Provo next season. Plus, Washington can be run on and that’s what the Cougars like to do best.
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If this were a regular season game, I doubt very much I’d have any involvement. But the bowls are all about finding the team that probably wants it more and has less distractions. I definitely believe BYU has the advantage on those counts, so I’m lining up with the Cougars plus the points tonight.

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Jimmy BoydFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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DePaul +4½FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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There is a lot of value on DePaul as an underdog in this game. I think the Blue Demons have a very good chance to head to Northwestern and win this game outright. DePaul has won three of their last four games coming into this matchup, and their outstanding offensive play gives them a big advantage over the Wildcats. Northwestern is averaging just 66.6 points per game at home this season. DePaul on the other hand comes into this game averaging 75.2 points per game.
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The Blue Demons are a very good rebounding team, and they also do a great job of forcing turnovers and getting steals. The Wildcats do not do a good job of getting turnovers. Northwestern has played three decent teams this year, and all of those games resulted in double-digit losses. JerShon Cobb is one of the top players for Northwestern, and he missed the Wildcat's last game with an ankle injury. He is listed as probable for today's matchup, but even if Cobb does play it is doubtful he will be at 100 percent. Without Cobb in the lineup the Wildcats struggled to squeak by Brown last weekend, and I don't think they can beat this talented DePaul team without Cobb at 100 percent.

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MARYLAND +118 over MarshallFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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In the early going so far in the “Bowl” season, teams that played the more difficult schedule have been emerging victorious and we saw two more examples of that yesterday when Pitt defeated Bowling Green and Utah State defeated NIU. The strength of schedule theory comes into play once again here with Maryland and has even more appeal since this one will be played in the Terps backyard.  Marshall played in the weak C-USA and went 7-1 in conference play. Marshall QB Rakeem Cato comes in highly regarded with some of the best stats in the country but we’re not buying into the hype for a second. Cato thrived at home against garbage competition. When the going got tough, he did not, as the Thundering Herd lost four of seven road games with only wins on the road occurring against FIU, Tulsa and Florida Atlantic, the latter by a single point, 24-23. Cato and the Thundering Herd offense is full of skewed numbers and their defense is dreadful.
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Maryland went 7-5 overall and 3-5 in the much tougher ACC. Out of conference, the Terps went 4-0 with wins over FIU, Old Dominion, UConn and West Virginia. Maryland also played Florida State, Va Tech, Clemson, Wake, Boston College and NC State among others. Yeah they were blown out in a couple of those games but senior QB C.J. Brown missed time and it really hurt the Terps offense. Brown finished the regular season with 2,045 yards in addition to 538 yards and a team-best 12 scores on the ground. Brown was sensational against the Wolfpack in his last outing as he passed for 259 yards, rushed for 138 and accounted for five total TDs with no turnovers. Furthermore, Maryland’s defense is so much better than most think. In fact, only two teams, Florida State and Clemson put up crooked numbers against the Terps defense. In summarizing, Maryland is more battle tested, its defense is vastly superior to the Herds’ defense, they played in a much tougher conference, the game is in Maryland and we’re not even convinced that Cato is better than Brown. Keep the points. Terps outright.
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Syracuse/Minnesota Under 47½FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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It’s very tempting to take the points here and if you don’t like totals, we would recommend doing so but frankly, we have no idea how these two are going to come close to this number. Minnesota’s passing game is non-existent. This team will run most of the time and will run on third and 10’s also. If the Gophers running game isn’t working, they’ll run some more. When you look at the Gophers slate of games you are going to see some crooked scores but don’t buy it. Every bounce went the Gophers way. From fumbled punts to deflections to penalties, it seemed like the ball always landed in Minnesota’s lap but believe us when we tell you this is a one-dimensional, highly predictable Gophers offense that isn’t that difficult to stop. The Orange has been very good against the run and that figures to bode well here.
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Syracuse, too, is a run first offense that throws the ball only when absolutely necessary. The Orange are a relentless ball control team that will attempt to wear down the Gophers defensive line. Syracuse averaged close to 200 yards per game on the ground. Most importantly, the Orangemen seldom turn the ball over and they rarely make mistakes. Mistakes by the opposition is what the Gophers rely on. This is a game that is going to feature more running plays than any bowl game this season and it’s also likely going to be a game of field position with the clock running most of the time. Expect plenty of punts and expect this one to be mostly played between the 30 yard lines. With a month off since they last played, these two offenses can’t be expected to be overlay sharp. This is going to be like a prize fight in that these two will feel each other out for a quarter or two until something breaks. In the end, this one is going to be decided by which team has more success running the ball and as long as turnovers don’t play a major role it’s going to stay well under this number.

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4 UNIT PLAYFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Minnesota/ Syracuse Under 47.5: I was looking at this game as soon as the lines came out and I really like the Under here. Both of these teams are all about the rn as they both rank in the top 40 in rushing this year, while ranking 118th and 104th in passing. The Gophers come in to this game ranked 13th in the nation in rushing attempts per game with 45.5 per game. Syracuse isn't all that far behind with 41.8 pg, which ranks 34th in the nation. Minnesota doesn't get a whole lot from their passing game, ranking 118th in passing attempts per game (20.4) and they complete just 10.4 passes per game, which is 120th in the nation. For Syracuse they do throw a bit more than Minnesota, but their yards per attempt is very weak at 5.3, which is 123rd in the nation. Neither team will get much from the passing game, even though both defenses have struggled vs the pass. There will be allot of running in this one which will keep the clock rolling and that should keep the score well below the posted total in this one.
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Marshall -2.5 over Maryland: Neither team has played a tough schedule as Maryland's opponents had a win pct of .475, while Marshall's opponents had a win pct of .406. No big advantage there. We also note that both teams are 1-4 SU vs bowl teams, but a closer look shows that Marshall did play slightly better vs bowl teams than Maryland did. The Terps have been outgained by 137 ypg and outscored by 18 ppg in their 5 games vs bowl team, while Marshall was outgained by just 5 ypg and their point differential was even vs their 5 bowl teams faced. Marshall has played very well down the stretch, winning 5 of their last 6, with their lone loss coming to rice in the Conference USA Title game and you can bet they will look to get that bad taste from that loss out of their mouths. Maryland has not played well down the stretch as they have won just 2 of their last 6 games. Marshall gets a huge edge on offense as they are 7th in scoring (43 ppg), while Maryland is 61st in scoring at 26.7 ppg. The defenses are fairly even, but Maryland strugglde vs high powered offenses like Clemson and Florida State this year and should struggle with this Marshall offense in this one. This game is in Maryland's home state, but they haven't played all that well in this state down the stretch, losing their last 3 home games. Marshall will travel well in this one and should put up more than enough points to get the solid cover in this one.

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MARYLAND (+2.5) over MarshallFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Marshall has put up some big-time offensive numbers this season behind underrated QB Rakeem Cato, but there's no way they should be the favorite here today. The Thundering Herd have been abysmal away from home, winning just four of their last 30 road games. While this is not a true "road" game, it is being played away from Edwards Stadium in West Virginia and in Annapolis, less than a half-hour ride from the Maryland campus. This is also a step-up in competition for Marshall, which played a far inferior schedule compared to the Terps. Fear the turtle! Take the better team, getting points.

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Red Dog SportsFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Colorado Avalanche vs. Chicago BlackhawksSERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Colorado Avalanche +177FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Colorado is 11-5-2 on the road and faces a good Chicago team Friday night. The Avalanche won at home 5-1 when these two met back on November 19. Colorado should be focused after losing at San Jose and at Los Angeles. Both teams have been off for several days due to the Christmas break.

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Steve RosenFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Syracuse vs. MinnesotaFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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I love this play tonight. The Gophers are 8-4 vs a 6-6 Cuse squad. Cuse is 7-5 ATS while Gophers are 9-3!Syracuse will be playing a Big Ten opponent for the third time this year, after losing to Penn State and Northwestern by a combined 27 points. The Orange also faced a pair of Big Ten teams last year, including a 17-10 road loss to the Golden Gophers in which Syracuse did not score a touchdown until 46 seconds remained in the game. Minnesota uses two quarterbacks, Nelson and Mitch Leidner, and the duo has combined for more rushing touchdowns (13) than passing scores (10). David Cobb is the workhorse back for the Gophers, rushing for 1,111 yards and seven TDs, although he rushed for only two scores in Minnesota's last eight games. The Gophers' defense showed significant improvement late in the season, allowing 44 points over the last three games.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, December 27

Chris Jordan
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My free play is a bit of a challenge, but one I think the North Carolina Tar Heels can get done. They're hosting Northern Kentucky, out of the Atlantic Sun Conference, and this is one of those games where we have a power team looking for a nice little reprieve after a tough stretch, just before New Year's and the start of conference play. On the other hand, you have a very small program looking to collect a nice big paycheck for the program, by playing in a place like Chapel Hill.
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The Tar Heels finally avenged their Dec. 18 loss to Texas, with a 12-point win over Davidson on Dec. 21. They will play on New Year's Eve, against UNC Wilmington, but that might be a more competitive game... meaning they'll probably lay about 16, and not 27, like tonight against the Norse.
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Quick history lesson: Norse is a common term used for Norsemen from the early medieval period. For them, a modern history lesson: North Carolina's pretty good!
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That Kentucky Wildcats team the Norse lost to by 30 back on Nov. 10; yeah, the Tar Heels just beat them by five on Dec. 14. UNC comes into this one having won eight of its first 11 games, with five of the victories coming by way of double digits.
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The Norse are 4-7 on the year, and while I know they're coming in on a three-game win streak, don't get too concerned with their hot streak, as they've only had official lines to report in two basketball games this season. They didn't cover either one - and that was against Southeast Missouri State and Texas State.
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Trust me, the only other time you're going to hear about Northern Kentucky will be the two times (Dec. 30 and March 1) it plays Florida Gulf Coast, aka Dunk City. A couple of Eric McKnight slam dunks for FGCU and one of the Norse could be posterized for Sportscenter.
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Tonight should be one of those 100-67 kind of ball games, where the power team delights the home crowd on a Friday night and everyone disseminates onto campus for Winter Break parties. And trust me, the bigger question won't be whether or not the Heels can survive without P.J. Hairston against the almighty Norse, it's be how many celebratory selfies we'll see on Twitter from Tar Heels after the big win.
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Lay the chalk!
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1♦ NORTH CAROLINA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, December 27

Jeff Benton
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Your Friday freebie is the Cougars plus the points in the Fight Hunger Bowl against the Huskies.
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Do not like the distractions the coaching change has brought upon Washington, as Steve Sarkisian left Seattle for the warmer climes of Southern Cal, and you saw just how the coaching changes at Boise State and Bowling Green effected the schools this week, as both teams took it on the chin both straight up and against the spread.
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U-Dub may have the better talent at QB with Price and at RB with Sankey, let me remind you that BYU's defense is "sneaky" good at #23 in the nation, and the Cougars have made their bones at this time of the season with Bronco's team winning and covering each of their last 4 bowl games.
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That's not all, as Brigham Young is 11-1 against the spread their last dozen games when listed as the underdog, while the Huskies of Washington come into San Francisco looking to snap a 2 game bowl losing streak.
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Have to grab the points with BYU in this one.
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3♦ BYU

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, December 27

Scott Delaney
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My free play for Friday night is up in Sacramento, where I like the two-time defending champion Miami Heat and the Kings to go over  the posted 209, in what should be an entertaining, high-scoring game.
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These two generally put on a pretty good show, as the past five games have gone over the posted number, averaging 232.8 points per game against an average total of 205.6. That's an average margin of about 27 points over the posted number.
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Miami is in after its Christmas Day victory in Los Angeles, over the Lakers. It was the first of a four-game road trip, with stops in Portland and Denver next on the docket. That first one, of the two, is a big reason I think this one could go over. See, if the Heat are looking ahead to the biggest surprise in the NBA - the Trail Blazers - you may see the Kings make a run at the champs tonight.
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That doesn't mean the giant will not wake up, it simply means Sacto will force Miami to play furiously in the second half and help drive this total up. I don't know who is going to cover this number, but I do believe the Kings are capable of running this total high and staying in this one long enough to get their share of points. Their last four games have finished with an average total of 218.5 points.
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Aside from the series being an over play, Miami has gone high in five of its last six overall, while the Kings are in over runs of 10-4 vs. the Eastern Conference, 20-8 against teams hailing from the Southeast Division and 4-0 overall.
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This one is going high.
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1♦ Heat/Kings Over

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, December 27

Brad Wilton
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Charlotte's 4-1 run their last 5 games is pretty nice, and normally a team on a 4-1 run getting near double-digits at home would be my cup of tea, but not tonight!
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Oklahoma City is simply on another level right now. On Christmas Day they toyed with the New York Knicks, as OKC made it 10-4 straight up on the road, and 9-5 against the spread in their roadies this season.
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The Thunder has covered their last 6 away from home, and they have had no issue disposing of the Charlotte Bobcats, as Oklahoma City stands 7-1 both straight up and against the spread in this series, including 5 straight series wins and covers.
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Yes, the Bobcats are playing well, but the Thunder are just that much better.
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Best to lay the wood with the Thunder.
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4♦ OKLAHOMA CITY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, December 27

Brett Atkins
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My free winner is in College Basketball, as I like Seton Hall laying the points to Lafayette College.
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Though Lafayette just enjoyed a four-game win streak, I can't get excited for a team that beat a school named Immaculata. All due respect to the private, Roman Catholic university, but I don't think Lafayette's 25-point win is a lot to brag about. And make note, these are not the Ragin Cajuns you're thinking of, these are the Leopards who are 4-6 on the year, and that hasn't played a game that has garnered a point spread.
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The Pirates already had a wake-up call this season, losing to St. Peters in overtime, on Dec. 14. They responded eight days later - with time off for finals and to let the loss sink in - by destroying Eastern Washington by 22 points.
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Seton Hall has played a decent schedule overall, and I can honestly say that's a hard-fought 8-4 record the Pirates have earned. They're also 6-2 ATS at home this year.
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This should be an easy one, as I'm looking for the Pirates to win by about 22.
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5♦ SETON HALL

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