Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, January 11

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Carolina Sports

Villanova vs. St Johns    
Play: St John's +5

The Red Storm are an up and coming team in The Big East and should be taken notice. They come into this game glad to be back home as they just lost 2 in a row on the road. Villanova has been red-hot and if it were not for a melt down at Syracuse they would be undefeated. This game sets Villanova up in a let down situation as we want to play against any team (VILLANOVA), hot team - having covered 6 or 7 of their last 8 against the spread, a top-level team (>= 80%) playing a good team (60% to 80%), 122-70 63.5% ATS over the last 5 seasons. ST JOHNS is 8-1 ATS off a loss by 10 points or more to a conference rival over the last 2 seasons. Take St. John's

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Kyle Hunter

Montana vs. Portland State    
Play: Montana -3

The Portland State Vikings weren't a very good team to start with this year, but after Aaron Moore was dismissed from the team earlier this week they got a lot worse. Moore was one of the best players on the team, and they'll definitely miss him. Montana has been the best team in the Big Sky over the past few years. They aren't nearly as good this year, but they are still much more talented than this short-handed Portland State team. Montana should win comfortably here. Take Montana.

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Jesse Schule

Panthers vs. Devils    
Play: Under 5

The Devils ended a three game losing skid with a 1-0 win over Dallas on Thursday, and they will look to make it two in a row against the lowly Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

Florida is coming off a 2-1 shootout win over the Sabres, and three of it's last four games have been decided by a score of 2-1. The Panthers won two of those games, but playing their third game of a road trip in New Jersey they could be hard pressed to earn another victory.

You have to think that Corey Schneider will get the nod in goal, coming off a shutout over the Stars his last time out. Schneider has allowed just three goals while winning two of his last three starts, and he's got a 1.46 GAA at home this season.

The Panthers also have a hot goaltender in Tim Thomas, who is 5-1-1 with a 1.78 GAA in his last seven starts.

The Panthers though have one of the league's worst power-plays, converting on just 10.3 % of their man-advantage opportunities. The Devils aren't much better, hitting at a 17.6% clip.

Don't expect a lot of offense in this one.

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Steve Rosen

Saints vs. Seahawks
Play: Under 45

This game will be low scoring as both teams have outstanding under winners this season. Saints have 11 unders in 17 games, and Seahawks have 10 in 16 games. On top of that the weather is suppose to be miserable. 98 percent chance of rain and winds will blow toward the N endzone at 21 mph.

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Red Dog Sports

Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh    
Play: Wake Forest +14½

Pittsburgh has just one loss and that was a 45-44 defeat from Cincinnati. The Panthers are off a nice win over Maryland while Wake Forest lost badly at Virginia. The Cavaliers were able to jump all over them after the Deacons beat UNC at home. I expect WF to play better led by senior Travis McKie, Devin Thomas, Coron Williams and Codi Miller-McIntyre,

Pitt is well coached by Jamie Dixon and led by Lamar Patterson, who can score inside as well as shoot 3's. Wake is +7.5 in rebounding margin even though UNC led 50-31 in rebounds.

Pitt should win but I think the underdog stays within 10 to 12 points.

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Rob Vinciletti

Weber State vs. North Dakota    
Play: Weber State -1

Weber. St has dominated losing teams winning 36 of the last 40. Today they travel to North Dakota where they have won all games in the series. Weber. St has won 6 of 7 after scoring 60 or less, 5 of 6 off a conference loss, 15 of 20 with 1 or less day of rest and 25 of the last 31 on Saturday. North Dakota has failed to the last 6 times off 3+ spread losses. They lost here vs Weber St last year by 15 and are 0-9 in their last 9 lined games. Weber. St has a slightly better RPI Ranking too. Weber. St will look to rebound from a season low 35% shooting from the field. We will take Weber. St here and lay the point.


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Cal Poly Slo at Cal Santa BarbaraFFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Cal Santa BarbaraFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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This "Central Coast" rivalry has often shown a homecourt trend in recent years. And not sure Cal Poly can take its act on the road this season, with offensive dimensions limited due to faulty three-point shooting (only 29%), and high scorer Chris Eversley (just 19 for 65 triples) one of the main offending parties. The Gauchos appear the more reliable recommendation, with their accurate shooting (48% from the floor) and rugged presence in paint, thanks to bull-in-china-shop 6-7 PF Alan Williams (23.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 58% FGs!), a unique weapon in the Big West. Play UCSB

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Utah State vs. NevadaFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Utah StateFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Time for Nevada to come back to reality ! The WolfPack are off a Big Win vs State rival UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Wednesday Night as 8 point underdogs. UNLV's loss and poor play, is one of the biggest Wins for Nevada Basketball in the last decade. Meanwhile Utah St is a well Coached, disciplined Team, is a good 1/2 court Team, and generally plays hard and gives good effort that has had a week off to prepare for Nevada. Utah St gets the Win !

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SEATTLE - 7½ over New OrleansFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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These points look very appetizing especially when you consider that anyone that wagered on last weekend’s four favorites got buried. Furthermore, the Saints are an offensive force and should they score the first FG or TD, now you’re looking at 11 or 15 points to overcome. Lastly, this is the most points the Saints have been offered this entire year and in two isolated games, the generous points stick out in both of them. In other words, it’s not often that the oddsmakers are enticing a play on the dog but in this case they are. Don’t bite. The Saints were able to take the win in Philly with a last second field goal but Drew Brees was held to his second worse game of the year when he passed for 250 yards and just one score with two interceptions. His worse was in Seattle when they held him to only 147 yards and one touchdown. Any time New Orleans met any above average defense on the road they lost. The Seahawks lost only once at home and that was in week 15 when nearly every division leader mysteriously lost their games. Bottom line - the Seahawks only allowed 110 points at home for an average of less than 14 points per opponent and this will be a game that they have been resting up and preparing for two weeks.
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Aside from the loss to the visiting Cardinals which seemed more of a trap than a problem, the Seahawks have been dominating at home and more so at the end of the year. Many times Seattle wouldn't overly exert themselves in games they knew they could win. Home games against important opponents have all been big wins, like its 29-3 victory over San Fran and 34-7 victory over the same Saints. The Seahawks and the impact of their fans at this stadium are a little too much for this poor traveling guest. New Orleans went just 1-7 ATS on the road but the public is seeing New Orleans' 26-24 victory at Philadelphia, the first time the Saints have ever won a road playoff game, as a sign that they can get the job done away from home. They can’t and that frigid weather last week absolutely had to take a toll on them.
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NEW ENGLAND -7 over IndianapolisFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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We have no idea why folks think this Colts team is good. They are the beneficiaries of extremely good fortune and some of the worst coaching decisions by the opposition that we’ve ever witnessed. Indianapolis didn’t win last week, they were handed the game by the Chiefs, whose coaches had no idea what to do with a big lead. Perhaps Andy Redid should have called a timeout, huddled around his troops and yelled at the top of his lungs, “Who the F**k is covering T.Y. Hilton”. The Colts also got lucky when both Jamaal Charles and Brandon Flowers were injured. Forget last week’s result but don’t forget that the Colts were losing by 28 points at halftime to a team that can’t score 20. The Colts have had other miracle wins too over Tennessee twice and Houston once. Throw out the Colts last regular season win over a disinterested Chiefs squad and their two previous road games occurred in Cincinnati and Arizona. Indy lost them both by scores of 42-28 and 40-11. Last week the pedestrian Chiefs offense scored 44 on them, meaning that in their last three road games that meant anything, Indy has allowed 40 points or more in all of them.
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Give Bill Belichick a clipboard and two weeks to prepare for a weak defense and it figures to get ugly. Give Tom Brady access to the film room and two weeks to prepare for a weak defense and it figures to get ugly. Combine the two together, throw in their experience in the playoffs and the Colts have no chance of stopping them. New England has yet to lose at home this season and while they have several key players, both on offense and defense, it’s not going to matter because Belichick knows how to plug holes. That aura of invincibility on the Patriots is no longer present and they are not good enough to win the Super Bowl. However, they are more than capable of defeating a team that is not only lucky but that is also in danger of suffering a major letdown after that miracle victory last week. The Colts were on the verge of being exposed last week and they were exposed in recent road games in Arizona and Cincinnati. The Patriots figure to put an exclamation mark on that.

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Boston vs. PortlandFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: PortlandFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Though catching plenty of points, this appears to be a terrible spot for the Celtics Saturday night....
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Boston played in Golden State and blew a lead in the fourth quarter, eventually losing 99-97, though covering as double-digit dogs.  But it was their seventh loss in a row and 10th in the last 11 games.  This will be the finale of a five-game West Coast swing and the fact they are w/out rest does them no favors. The Celtics have not won a non-conference roadie all season, going 0-8.  Going back further, they are 2-21 SU in such contests.  Five of the eight losses this year have been by double digits and their last 13 losses have been by an average of 12.2 PPG.
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Portland is the highest scoring team in the league (109.1 PPG) and is coming off a 110-94 home victory over Orlando on Wednesday. Laying big points hasn't seemed to bother this team so far as they are 4-1 ATS as double digit chalk this season and 10-3 ATS L13 in that role.  Watch as this one gets ugly in a hurry.

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Ben BurnsFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Pittsburgh vs. CalgaryFOR REE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Calgary +1.5FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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With the Penguins favored quite heavily on the money-line, we’re able to get the Flames at a (relatively) reasonable price on the puck-line. I feel that the extra +1.5 goals could easily come in handy.
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The Pens are off a 4-3 loss at Edmonton last night. That marked their third game in a row which was decided by a single goal.
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While Pittsburgh is 6-3 SU since these teams last met, it would only be 2-7 in those games, if laying an extra 1.5 goals in each.
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Admittedly, the Flames have been struggling. They had last night off though and they should be very determined here. They played the Pens tough at Pittsburgh and I look for them to do so again here. Consider Calgary at +1.5 goals.

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Carlos Salazar


Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
Play: Indianapolis Colts +7.5

Carlos loves the Colts in this spot having a good chance to not only cover the 7.5 points but win the game outright. New England has Tom Brady and a great head coach but the losses on defense will be to much to over come on Saturday night. Look for Indy to keep this one close all the way to the end.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, January 11

Dave Essler

West Virginia +5.5

Oklahoma State hasn't won a true road game yet, aside from beating a bad South Florida team. They're super-young and super-small to be playing in such a tough atmosphere. West Virginia is very different team at home, and all five of their losses have been to very good teams. Oklahoma State beat them badly twice last season, and Coach Huggins remembers. West Virginia can and will play the pace, and can play some defense. On the road, I don't see the Cowboys getting the calls they get at home, which should negate some of their free throw attempts. When the 'Neers get hot, they'll score in bunches from anywhere, and we love those types of teams at home, catching points.

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DAAVE COKINFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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FLORIDA VS ARKANSASFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
PLAY: ARKANSAS -1FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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I have no real idea why certain teams have spectacularly split personalities. These are the teams that are absolute terrors on their home court, but turn into total mush on the road. There are lots of theories, but that’s all they are. If anyone really knew, there would be a way to fix the flaw.
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Arkansas is without a doubt one of the truly glaring examples of a team with this mysterious trait. The Razorbacks can pretty much play with anyone when they’re in the role of host. Put the Hogs on a floor that’s not their own, however, and they’re about as pathetic as a team can be.
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Arkansas is off and running in that fashion again this season. They’re beating up the opposition in their building and getting trampled when they head anyplace else. The game earlier this week at Texas A&M was business as usual for the Razorbacks. They hung in for the first half against the Aggies and then were summarily dismissed in an ugly second half.
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The Hogs are back home today, and I’m expecting them to naturally bounce back like they usually do off a road loss. It doesn’t really seem to make a difference as to the level of opponent they match up against in these situations. They just go ahead and get the job done.
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It’s therefore a tough assignment under any circumstances for Florida today. But it gets even worse as the Gators will have to play this game without Casey Prather, who has been their best player. Prather has knee issue and the info as of now is that he’s out. The Florida health problems don’t end there. Scottie Wilbekin has a dinged up ankle. Patric Young will play, but his knee is not 100%.
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I’m not generally a fan of fading teams with injuries. It gets incorporated into the number, plus there are so many occasions where the beat up team finds a way to band together and come up with a really huge effort. But this really looks like a wrong place at the wrong time scenario for Florida today.
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Put these two teams on a neutral court and I’m going to looking for a way to play the Gators. But Arkansas is about as Jekyll and Hyde as it gets, and today they’re in a setting where the good doctor generally shows up. It’s therefore an excellent bounce back opportunity for the Razorbacks, and the number is certainly not an obstacle. I’ll take Arkansas to garner the win and cover this time.

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Larry NessFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Loyola Marymount vs. Brigham YoungFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Brigham YoungFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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I used BYU as my free play last Saturday, with the Cougars returning home to the friendly confines of the Marriott Center after four straight road games to host San Diego, all of which resulted in losses. BYU was beaten badly at Utah on Dec 14 and then a week later (Dec 21), lost a great opportunity to hand the Ducks their first loss of the season, but fell in OT, 100-96. That loss seemed to deflate the Cougars more than just a little, as they lost at Loyola-Marymount and Pepperdine (each time as a road favorite), to open the WCC season at 0-2.
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Dave Rose is in his 9th season at Provo. The loss inside of Brandon Davies (17.7-8.0) has been a tough blow. Two big freshman had high expectations but only the 6-10 Mika has met those expectations, averaging 13.9 & 6.4. The 6-9 Worthington has been useless. That said, 6-11 junior Nate Austin has been capable, averaging 4.2 & 8.2. A huge addition to this year's team has been 6-6 swingman Kyle Collingsworth, who returned from a two-year mission. He averaged 5.8-5.1 as a freshman when he made 27 starts. He’s been excellent so far for BYU, averaging 13.1-8.4-5.6.
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BYU’s backcourt is terrific, led by Haws and Carlino. Haws averaged 29.5 & 10.5 in BYU’s 1st two wins, then missed the next two with a an abdominal strain. He hasn’t missed a game since and leads the team in scoring at 22.5 PPG (also 4.7 RPG). Carlino averaged 18.0 PPG with 8.0 APG in four NIT games last year, and has opened this season averaging 14.2-4.6-4.6. Three other guards are making contributions as well, in Halford (8.8), Bartley (6.2)  and Winder (5.6).
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Last Saturday's game was "gut check time," as BYU was in desperate need of a victory and playing its first home game since December 11th. I said San Diego was in the WRONG place at the WRONG time and was right, as BYU cruised to an 87-53 win. I'll go "back to that same well" here, as payback is on BYU's mind after losing by 11 in Westchester a few weeks ago (Dec 28), 87-76. In that game, Haws and Carlino combined to shoot just 8 of 28, which WON'T happen again.
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LMU head coach Max Good will remind his players how they lost by 41 up in Provo last year but I doubt it will help (or matter). LMU owns a solid pair of guards in Ireland (19.1) and Payne (14.7) but other than the 6-7 Levin (11.4-8.1), the Lions can't match up with BYU in the frontcourt.
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Just like last Saturday, lay the points with BYU at home, where the Cougars are 7-1 SU (only loss was 90-88 to still unbeaten and 9th-ranked Iowa St), outscoring opponents on average, 92.1-to-68.9 PPG.

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San Francisco vs. St. Mary'sFORFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: St. Mary'sFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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St. Mary's is coming off a devastating loss against Santa Clara on Thursday as it went down in the final seconds on a Broncos three-pointer. That dropped the Gaels to 2-2 in the conference after going 2-1 in the first three WCC games, all of which were on the road. While losses like that can carry over, I expect just the opposite of St. Mary's. That was their first home loss against an unranked team in the last 26 games at home so they will be out to make up for that today. Additionally, this marks the return of head coach Randy Bennett who had to serve a five-game suspension for violation of the basketball program. San Francisco meanwhile is coming off an overtime win over Pacific on Thursday to improve to 4-1 in the conference. That also happened to be the Dons second overtime win in WCC action, both of which came on the road. They were blasted by Gonzaga in their other conference road game by 28 points. St. Mary's has won the last 10 meetings in this series and while san Francisco has been solid against the number, this is the lowest the Gaels have been favored by at home. St. Mary's is 11-2 ATS in its last 13 games coming off a home loss by three points or less.

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Jimmy BoydFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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New Mexico -13½FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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This game has blowout written all over it. The Lobos are a very good team. Their three losses have come against opponents that have a combined 36-10 record this season. Even with their difficult schedule they have had no problem getting points on the board. New Mexico's opponents have surrendered an average of 68.1 points per game, but that has not stopped the Lobos from putting up an impressive 77.4 points per game this season.
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San Jose State is even worse than their 6-9 record indicates. They have played a soft schedule, and have still scored less than their opponents defensive scoring average, all while allowing more points than their opponents offensive scoring average. The Spartans have yet to face a team that is of the same caliber as the Lobos, yet six of their nine losses have come by a double-digit margin.

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Boston Celtics vs. Portland TrailblazersFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Portland Trailblazers -12FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Boston shows up with no deep ball threats, their best long ball shooter is Jeff Green and it ends there. They have built their game now on an inside presence, with Jared Sullinger, who can play well, scoring 13 and rebounding solidly. But cannot play great defense. Jeff Green has been the best player on the team, showing strides as a leader on the Celts. They don't play well on the road, which has been shown by the beatings they have taken, back in the past, Boston used to own them, it doesn't look that way now. Portland is the team right now, led with their G play of Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews, who combine for 39 a game. The play of LaMarcus Aldridge actually has the team getting noticed. Aldridge has been premier for years now, but with Portland playing the way they are, he is getting a lot more attention. They are a fast paced scoring team and a great rebounding team. Based off of their guard play. Struggles vs the 3, and they give up good 3 pt shooting, wont be an issue here. Staying excellent off the offensive glass in particular. Portland wins by 17.

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Dave PriceFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Charlotte Bobcats +5FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Charlotte will be the hungrier team following last night's ugly loss in Minnesota. It will also be motivated by a five-point loss in Chicago in the season's first meeting. The Bulls are 4-0 SU and ATS in their last four. However, they are 2-11 ATS under coach Thibodeau after successfully covering the spread in 4 or more consecutive games. This trend illustrates the way odds makers inflate the line for teams on a covering spree. In addition, Chicago is 16-34 ATS as a home favorite over the last 2 seasons and 11-33 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points over the last 2 seasons. The Bobcats are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 road games and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games following a loss of more than 10 points. The road team is 16-5 ATS in the last 21 meetings, and the Bobcats are 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings in Chicago. Take the points.

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Doug Upstone

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma    
Play: Iowa State -3

Get ready for some points as the Cyclones and Sooners square off. Both are in the top 7 in scoring but I trust the ISU squad a lot more because their scorers are a lot more proven. OU has tough back to back home games with ISU following Kansas into town. They lost to the Jayhawks and I think this will be another spirited takedown. The Cyclones just have too many great options and are so well seasoned.

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