Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Jesse Schule

Lightning vs. Hurricanes
Play: Over 5½

The Canes have now won five of seven in the New Year, and they find themselves right back in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Carolina will host the Lightning tonight, and both teams are playing in a back to back situation.

This will likely force Tampa to rest starting goaltender Ben Bishop, who played last night, and didn't look sharp, allowing five goals on 32 shots. Backup netminder Anders Lindback has played poorly all season, with a record of 5-10 and a 3.16 GAA. He hasn't been successful in previous meetings with Carolina, going 1-2 with a 3.03 GAA.

Anton Khudobin has been instrumental in the Canes success of late, winning seven of nine starts, posing a GAA of 2.00. With Cam Ward injured, and Justin Peters allowing eight goal in his last two starts, it seems that the Canes best option is to ride Khudobin on back to back nights.

Whoever is in net for Carolina will have to worry about Marty St. Louis, who is doing his best to make Steve Yzerman look a fool once again. Yzerman, the Lightning GM left St. Louis off the Canadian Olympic roster, for the second time in four years. Marty has been one of the league's Top 5 scorers during those four years, and he's showing no signs of slowing down, coming off a four goal outburst last night in Tampa.

The Lightning have really struggled on the penalty kill, surrendering 10 power-play goals in just their last seven games. Coming into Carolina with tired legs, they aren't likely to fix that overnight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Steve RosenFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Patriots vs. BroncosFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Under 57FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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This game is going to be Brady vs Peyton….but there is too much stock in these 2. The defense will show up on both sides tomorrow. The total is set too high as it is for a playoff mathchup. Great value on the Under!
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Play: Under 40½FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The under has hit 4 in the last 5 games between these 2 teams. 2 under's happened this season. Seattle has hit the Under 6 times in a row this season in their last 6 games. SF has hit the Under in their last 2 games. This should be low scoring as both D will show up strong and keep the trend going for Under. Grab Under 40.5!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Red Dog Sports

Lightning vs. Hurricanes
Play: Under 5½

These two have combined for 39 overs and 47 unders. The last 5 meetings have reached 5, 3, 5, 5 and 5 goals. Look for a 3-2 type of game on Sunday afternoon.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Bill Biles

49ers vs. Seahawks
Play: Over 38½

I know both these teams have great defenses, but I believe this number is a bit to low. I think the final score will be somewhere in the 24-21 range and that will have the over hitting.

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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto RaptorsFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Toronto Raptors -9FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Several weeks ago, the media mocked the Eastern Conference for having just 2 teams with winning records, while the Western Conference had 12. The tide is steadily turning toward a more equitable situation with the East now having 4 teams over .500 and to more just 1 game under. Toronto has been one of those teams and they have surged up the Atlantic Division to take control with a 4-game lead over the Nets. The Lakers are looking toward ping-pong balls and a big lottery pick in this year's very deep draft. They have just one more win than last place Utah in the West. They did defeat the Celtics in their last game. However, they are in the third game of a 7-game road trip and motivation and team chemistry are at season lows. The simulator shows a high probability that Toronto will win this game by 14 or more points. Supporting this graded play is a proven system posting a 91-48 ATS mark for 66% winners since 2008. Play against road underdogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points (LA LAKERS) after having lost 5 or 6 of their last 7 games, a struggling team winning between 25% to 40% of their games and now playing a team with a winning record. SIM projects that Lakers will score between 93 and 98 points among numerous others. In past games, Lakers are a money burning 1-11 ATS (-11.1 Units) in road games when they score 93 to 98 points in a game over the last 2 seasons; 16-4 ATS (+11.6 Units) when they allow 93 to 98 points in a game over the last 2 seasons. Take Toronto.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

River City Sharps

Louisiana Tech +2.5

Pretty interesting game here today with two of the best teams in C-USA. Over the past several years, La tech has been an ATS darling, going 38-18 ATS in road games in January since 1997 and an even more interesting trend is the fact that Tech is 13-1 ATS after allowing 60 points or less over the last 2 seasons. La Tech comes into this game on a 7-game winning streak while Southern Miss comes off an impressive win over Rice. Tech scores 85 ppg while So Miss is scoring 73 points per contest. While So Miss may be a slightly better teams defensively, we don't think they can keep up with Tech offensively here today.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

SPORTS WAGERS

DENVER -5½ over New England

We could easily make a case for either side here, as it’s not difficult to get behind the combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Belichick is one of the greatest coaches this league has ever seen with one of the sharpest football minds in history. He is calm, he knows how to plug holes and he knows how to exploit the opposition’s weaknesses. The way in which New England systematically broke down the Colts last week was a sight that is still fresh in the minds of everyone who watched it, especially those that wagered on the Colts and ripped up their tickets. Indy never stood a chance and now this Patriot team is being offered up what seems like far too many points. At least that’s what we’ve been hearing all week…….“Oh man, you can’t give Brady this many points”. “Brady owns Manning”. “New England can win this game without the points”. “100%, you have to take the points”. That’s all we’ve been hearing since the number came out. In fact, this number came out at -7 for a brief few moments on Sunday and one oddsmaker was quoted as saying, “We put out a bad number”. Yeah, ok. Don’t believe that for a hot second. The oddsmakers don’t put out a bad number for a game that is going to be one of the most wagered on events ever. The only thing missing from that quote was the chuckle under his breath.

We’re not going to waste your time and break down the X’s and O’s. You’ve already seen it or heard it broken down enough times to make you puke already and you’ll get more of it on Sunday with Curly, Larry and Moe. If Shannon Sharpe takes the marbles out of his mouth, you may even hear him muffle out an opinion. In any event, there is not a crystal ball in the world that can predict all the intangibles that affect the outcome when two evenly matched teams hook up. That aside, one should never ignore what the line is telling us and when something looks this good (New England plus the points), red flags should go off in your head. Had this game been played before New England defeated Indy and Denver struggled against San Diego, the masses wouldn’t be on the pooch. The public’s over-reaction to last week’s results has us backing the team that the oddsmakers don’t want us on because that’s usually the right side. So, while New England was preparing for the Colts, Peyton Manning has probably spent 16 hours a day for two weeks preparing to face New England’s weak defense. Lay the points.

SEATTLE -3 -120 over San Francisco

3½-points seems like an awful lot of points to be spotting a team that has been going as good as the 49ers have been (-3 -120 at Sportsinteraction) been. After all, the 49ers are on a seven game winning streak and are 8-2 on the road this year. San Fran’s offense has looked much sharper than the Seahawks recently but we keep going back to the same question. Why did the bookmakers add the hook to this game? Surely they could have made it a -3 and “even” things out a little bit in terms of action. That extra half-point in a game that almost everyone figures to be close looms large in the minds of all those on the fence in this contest. We’re not as convinced. The venue is the critical intangible in this game since both the teams play each other at least twice a year and home field has always been critical in winning. Add in the Seahawks being so dominant each time they play at home and it is hard to see just how the 49ers are going to score much. The Seahawks allowed only 12 points on average over their last eight games and they whacked San Fran, 29-3 in this year’s contest in Seattle. Colin Kaepernick only passed for 127 yards and no scores in the first meeting in Seattle and had three interceptions in that disaster. Vernon Davis was held to only 20 yards on three catches since the defense focused on him and Michael Crabtree was not playing. Anquan Boldin was held to only one catch for seven yards. Frank Gore ran for only 16 yards on nine carries. It was a complete failure in all facets and the lowest point of the season for the 49ers.

The Seahawks bring in a dominating defense but one that lost CB Brandon Browner in December. This is still a very formidable unit that is even better at home. Since the week 12 bye, the defense is only allowing about 10 points per game. The offense has been better in home games as well but has been held under 28 points in each of the last five weeks. So, while one must respect what the 49ers have accomplished, fading the Seahawks when they are home cannot be recommended. Russell Wilson has been under some criticism lately and this time of year it becomes an issue that is extremely overstated and over-exaggerated. Wilson makes plays in critical situations and figures to be up to the challenge here. Remember, all these outlets that cover the NFL don’t have 16 games to talk about all week. They have two and everything is blown out of proportion. What you won’t hear about is how the 49ers will be playing their fifth road game in six weeks and third in a row after playing in Carolina last week. Incidentally, they also got every call last week from the refs that killed any momentum the Panthers had the entire first half and into the third quarter. All that travel since Week 15, two tough road games in the playoffs, including one in frigid Green Bay has to take a toll and these are the things that the oddsmakers consider when posting a number while the television folks never mention it. Yeah, it’s tempting and maybe even enticing to take the 3½-points being offered but in terms of all the intangibles, the Seahawks have a big edge and that’s the way we’re playing it.   

NOTE: Depending on where you shop there are different lines for this game everywhere. We still recommend playing Seattle @ -3½ if you can't get on for -3.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

SPORTS WAGERS

N.Y. RANGERS -½ +113 over Washington

Regulation only. These are two teams that are not equal and that are going in opposite directions. Washington’s decline started just before Christmas but anyone with a sense of hockey knowkledge could see it coming long before that. In 15 games since the 17th of December, the Caps have four wins in 15 games. One of those victories occurred against these Rangers in a game in which the Caps were bombarded with 40 shots on net and they were second best team on the ice. The Caps have dropped four in a row and over that span they have scored six goals while surrendering 13. Washington has also allowed nine goals against in its last two contests. There is a big correlation between losing and shots on net allowed. Washington has allowed the second worst shots on goal average per game in the NHL, ahead of only the Maple Leafs. The Caps are a team in peril because of a weak defense and just one producing line.

The Rangers have won two in a row and five of their past six. Their one loss over that span occurred against Tampa Bay in a game they ran into a super-hot Ben Bishop and lost 2-1. The Rangers have picked up points in seven of their past eight games and they have been outplaying, outshooting, out-chancing and out-working each team along the way. New York is a legit contender that is playing their best hockey of the season and its chances of defeating the vastly inferior Caps in regulation is much greater than 50%, (thus, the value) especially after losing the past two to the Caps this season. In this league, inferior teams seldom defeat superior one’s three games in succession. The Rangers will not be denied this time around.

Pass NBA & CBB

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

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Milwaukee at San AntonioFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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While the Bucks have lost 16 of their last 18 games overall and are listed as a big underdog at San Antonio, this is an interesting spot for the Spurs, who clearly treat this game against Milwaukee on the same level as their previous game against Portland or their next game against Oklahoma City.
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This is a textbook "letdown and lookahead sandwhich", however the way the Bucks have been playing the last few weeks we can't justify taking the points. We do, however, believe we are getting solid line value with the Under here, as the Spurs will likely just look to get done with this game and move on to the next big test, while the Bucks have been held to 85 points or less in four of their last six games. Spurs looking to get the win and nothing more - resting players late and not looking for style points. Not sure who covers, but this one stays under the total.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Jeff Alexander

Oregon -2½

Oregon started 13-0 and then lost 3 straight. With those losses serving as a huge motivator, I expect the more talented Ducks to make it 4 consecutive wins over their in-state rivals. Oregon State is coming off a home loss to Cal. That doesn't bode well for the Beavers as they are on a 14-37 ATS slide in home games off a home loss. The Ducks have been a good investment on the road where they are on a 6-1-1 ATS run. They are even 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 road games versus teams like Oregon State that have a home winning percentage greater than .600. The road team is 3-0-1 ATS in the last 4 meetings, and the Ducks are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings at Oregon State. Bet Oregon.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Steve Janus

Boston Celtics -2

The Celtics may have struggled in their first game with Rondo back in the lineup, but I don't see them losing two straight with the former All-Star leading the charge. Boston is a perfect 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games vs the Magic, including a 91-89 road win as a 5.5-point favorite and 120-105 home victory as as 1.5-points favorite this season.

The Magic have fallen and fallen hard, losing each of their last 10 games to fall to a mere 10-30 overall. One of the telling signs that Orlando is simply not motivated to win at all right now is the fact that 8 of those 10 losses came by at least 10 points. The Magic are just 9-21 ATS in their last 30 home games revenging a road loss to an opponent, 4-13 ATS in their last 17 in games where the total is set between 190 and 199.5 points and 1-9 ATS in their last 10 games with a spread set between +3 to -3.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Dave Price

Iowa -9

This is a favorable spot for Iowa. The Hawkeyes will be the fresher and more prepared team as they haven't played since Jan. 12. The Golden Gophers just played Thursday so this is a quick turnaround for them, and they aren't even close to as deep as Iowa, which basically has two starting fives. The Hawkeyes really push the tempo and that will leave Minnesota fatigued down the stretch. Iowa is 10-0 at home this season where it is winning by 28.9 points on average. It is on a 19-0 run at home going back to last season, and this streak includes a 21-point win over the Gophers. Iowa is 18-6 ATS in all home games over the last 2 seasons. A good chunk of Minnesota's offense comes from the three-point shot. Of the 57 shots it averages per game, 22 are three-point attempts. This plays right into Iowa's hands. The Hawkeyes are 7-0 ATS in games played 15 games or more into the season versus teams who attempt 21 or more three-point shots per game. Iowa has won these games by an average score of 72.9 to 61.1. Lay the points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Joe Gavazzi

Seattle -3 & Under 40

Huge situational edge for the Seahawks in this one. San Francisco is playing on the road for a fourth consecutive week following back to back road wins in west to east travel games at Green Bay and Carolina. Seattle is playing their fourth consecutive home game on a field where under QB Wilson they have outscored opponents by an average margin of 29-13, good for a record of 16-1 SU, 12-4 ATS, extending their recent dominance at Century Link to 23-10 ATS. That includes the most recent two meetings on this field, where the Seahawks last year defeated the Niners 42-13, and in week 2 of this year by a count of 29-3. Plenty of love for the fact that the Niners enter with the longest winning streak of any remaining playoff contender. That is 8 straight victories, running their closing rush to 13-3 SU, 12-3 ATS. They have outrushed their last 6 foes by an average of 154-81, to make the running game a statistical push against the ground oriented Seahawks. Last week, the Niners outrushed Carolina 126-93 and profited from a +2 in the turnover margin for a 23-10 road victory that avenged an earlier 10-9 loss at Carolina. QB Kaepernick also features a playoff experience edge against counterpart Wilson. Kaepernick is 4-1 SU in the post season, including 3-0 on the road. Last week, Seattle outrushed New Orleans 174-108 and with the benefit of a +1 in the turnover column, emerged with a 23-15 victory, failing to cover only because of the success of a 2-point conversion by the Saint. In an old style NFL football game featuring defense and running games, must give the slightest of edges to the Seahawks in what figures to be a low-scoring tussle.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Doug Upstone

Bowling Green vs. Western Michigan    
Play: Bowling Green +6½

On Sunday, Play Against home teams as a favorite or pick like Western Michigan who score 67-74 points a game, against a sharp defensive team (Bowling Green) who allows 63 or fewer points a game, after scoring 50 points or less. The rationale here has been the home team has a negative carryover and against a quality defense squad they are just 11-35 ATS since 2009.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Rickie Robbins

Washington Capitals vs. NY Rangers    
Play: NY Rangers -1½ +207

The Washington Capitals head to the Big Apple to take the ice with the New York Rangers Sunday.

Struggling Washington picked the wrong time to face a hot Columbus squad in a 5-1 defeat. These teams are headed in the opposite direction right now with the Blue Jackets winning number five in a row and the Capitals dropping their fourth straight. The Caps experienced issues at both ends of the ice with the lone tally coming off the stick of John Carlson who gave the visitors a shortlived spark that cut the lead to 3-1 before the CBJ lit the lamp twice in the third for an easy win. Philipp Grusbauer took the loss with three goals given up on 14 shots before he was replaced by Brad Holtby.

The Rangers have been in the midst of starting a hot streak and continued on that path with a 4-1 victory at Ottawa. New York has now won five of six as they return home to face Washington on Sunday. Things didn't start on the right foot with the Senators taking a 1-0 lead at the 3:37 mark of the opening frame but the Rangers evened it half way through the first and it was all NYR thereafter. The balanced attack saw goals from Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Brad Richards while Cam Talbot picked up the win with 29 saves. This was a solid performance against an Ottawa club that had beaten the Rangers three times this season.

Washington has been in a bit of a funk and the Rangers have been playing well so I lean to the home team who are 6-2 in the last eight visits from Washington. There are strong under trends as well, but for now I will back the hotter team.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Larry Ness
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Bowling Green at Western Michigan
Pick: Western Michigan
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Louis Orr was named the MAC Coach of the Year for Bowling Green's performance during the 2008–09 season, when the Falcons finished in a tie for first in the MAC East and ended 19-14 overall (lost a 1st round NIT game). Orr had taken Seton Hall to two NCAA bids in his five seasons there but he hasn’t had much success here at Bowling Green. Since that 2008-09 season, his Falcons have gone 14-16, 14-19, 16-16 and 13-19. His son Chauncey scored 14 points in 12 minutes of action in BG’s first game this season, then was lost to a season-ending knee injury.
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Bowling Green does own five legitimate contributors but the results are just not there. Clarke (11.5-4.6 APG) and Henderson (10.1-4.1) man the backcourt with the 6-8 Holmes (14.6-7.7) and the 6-7 Parker (12.8-4.9) surrounding 6-10 center Black (6.2-7.3) up front. However, BG’s 67-57 win at Central Michigan on Jan 15 ended a four-game slide in which the team had averaged a woeful 47.5 PPG. Bowling Green is 7-9 on the season, including 1-4 on the road (beating only Morehead St).
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Western Michigan tied for first in the MAC West last year at 10-6 with Toledo and won two games in the CBI, before losing at George Mason in the semis (finished 22-13). This year’s team is 9-6 (2-1 in the MAC), after losing an ‘ugly’ game the last time out, 56-37 at Eastern Michigan (Broncos made just 12 of 42 FGs, for 28.6%). However, the Broncos owns an outstanding guard in Brown (18.8) plus Richie (7.8) and Klein (5.9) support him on the perimeter. Up front, the 6-5 Tava (13.1-5.3) is a quality small forward plus the 6-11 Whittington (13.8-9.0) is one of the MAC’s best big men.
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Western Michigan should well-remember losing at Bowling Green 70-60 last year (only meeting) and should also be eager to get back on the court after that AWFUL performance at EMU. Note that Western Michigan is 6-1 SU at home, while averaging 84.7 PPG. The team's lone home loss came against North Dakota St. Let me note that North Dakota St has won at Notre Dame this year and was playing with revenge from a 72-71 OT loss to Western in last year’s CBI. Broncos take this one with “room to spare!”

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Jeff Benton

Your Sunday freebie is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as the home favorite over the visiting Hokies of Virginia Tech.

Something has got to give here, as the Hokies have lost 3 in a row, and 5 of their last 6. The Irish have also lost their last 3, and 4 of their last 5 overall.

Still, prefer to lay the points in this one, as tonight they are going to honor former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps by unfurling a banner in the rafters to commemorate ND's historic win that ended UCLA's 88 game winning streak back in the 1970's.

That is the kind of "intangible" that I like, and the fact Notre Dame is also 9-3 straight up at home taking on a Va-Tech team that has just one straight up road win while losing the other three away games.

Irish to end their three game slide and increase Tech's skid to four in a row.

Take Notre Dame.

2♦ NOTRE DAME

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Craig Davis

The Big 10 is, by far, the toughest conference in college basketball, with at least six teams capable of winning the title.

The two teams playing today have something in common... and what they accomplished was something no one thought they could do... beat Ohio State.

The Buckeyes checked into the Iowa game as the #7 team in the country, with only a road overtime loss to Michigan State as their only loss of the season.

Well, one week later the Buckeyes are probably going to fall to #18-20 because they lost to an unranked Minnesota team. But which was worse... the road loss to unranked Minny or the home loss to 20th ranked Iowa?

I say losing at home is always worse because in a conference as tough as this, you must win your home games because you know you're going to lose some roadies.

Both Minnesota and Iowa are decent teams, but Iowa has come a long way from last year and if you look at their resume so far, all of their losses are against top 10 teams (at least they were top 10 when they played them).

Iowa State came from 9 down to beat the Hawks by three at home. Villanova beat them on a neutral floor by five in a game that saw both teams score in the 90s. And finally, they lost by four at #4 Wisconsin.

Iowa wants to make a statement today and this is a perfect team to get it done against. The Gophers are completely different on the road than they are at home and I see Iowa winning this game by at least 12.

3♦ IOWA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Scott Delaney

My free pick keeps in the theme of totals, as I like the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns to keep things low and stay under the posted number. In the NBA, one thing you have to remember about these guys is they're professionals, they play every single day and they can't wait for slow days.

And given this is a Sunday - the 'end of the week' - you best believe these two teams will be playing at a slower pace, looking to ease into next week's action.

The Suns are in the midst of a five-game homestand, and have lost four of their last five games. And even though four of the last five have gone over, they have a date with Indiana on deck in a few days. The focus for the Suns is to slow the pace and keep things at a minimum.

As for the Nuggets, they've lost two of three and have gone over in four straight. This team is used to streaks of totals. Denver went over in seven of its first 10 games, then stayed under in 15 of its next 18 and has now gone over in nine of its last 11.

So how do you know when the tide will turn? The Nuggets are back out on the road after sandwiching a home game in two nights ago. They go up to Portland for a Northwest showdown in four days.

Trust me, both teams are ripe for an under.

5♦ Suns/Nuggets Under

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 19

Brad Wilton

Going to lay the big wood with the Spurs here on Sunday as my comp play, and why not?

Milwaukee looks to be playing for the most ping-pong balls in next season's draft, as the Bucks come to the Alamo town losers of 8 in a row after last night's setback in Houston, and the points have also been unkind to the Bucks lately, as Milwaukee is on a 2-6 spread slide during their current losing stretch.

San Antonio was off on Saturday night, and they are playing off a Friday home loss to Portland, so they should be itching to run the Bucks off the floor, especially since Milwaukee was pretty much just run of the floor last night in Houston.

The Spurs have won the last 3 series meetings, and 7 of the last 8 overall. They are also 6-2 against the spread in those 8 games.

Go ahead and lay the big lumber as San Antone has their way with unrested Milwaukee.

3♦ SAN ANTONIO

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