Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, January 15

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Doug UpstoneFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Dayton vs. FordhamFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Dayton -7½FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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On Wednesday, Play Against home teams like Fordham as an underdog or pick off a home loss by three points or less, with four starters returning from last season. The logic to this free college basketball pick is a veteran team should not be in this situation playing at home and being listed as an underdog off a tough loss could have a carryover. In the last five seasons, teams like the Rams are 10-33 ATS.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, January 15

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Baylor vs. Texas TechFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Baylor -4FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Baylor can be a frustrating team. The talent is there but they still leave you wanting more. Still they only have two losses on the season both to top 10 teams on the road so they must be doing something right. Tonight they are at Texas Tech a team they should overwhelm and cover easily against. I know conference road games are never easy but this one should be a one we don’t have to sweat.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, January 15

SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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BOSTON +151 over TorontoFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Raptors are just a little too high right now. Toronto has reeled off three in a row and ever since they unloaded Rudy Gay they have won 12 of 17 games. Volume shooters like Gay don’t merely interrupt a team’s offensive flow, but throw off its entire rhythm. It’s for that reason that brutal offensive and defensive stretches often coincided for Toronto; there’s something deflating about a single teammate attempting so many low-percentage shots without moving the ball around or working to create lane penetration. Not only has the Raps offense improved but their defense has stepped it up as well. Since completing the Gay trade, the Raps have locked down defensively, holding opponents to 4.4 fewer points per 100 possessions. Their new marks mimic that of a top-five defensive outfit, a stark improvement over the mediocrity in coverage that had become their standard. The Raps are the NBA’s most improved team over the past 18 games but with that recognition comes a price. That price is in the form of the point-spread, which has the Raps favored on the road, a role they are unaccustomed to being in. With their stock higher than it’s been in years, we now get a strong sell high opportunity on the Raps.
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The Celtics have lost nine in a row and their stock has plummeted to create this buy-low opportunity. That nine game losing streak started against Atlanta. The C’s followed that loss with two more against Chicago and New Orleans and then the schedule got nasty. Boston’s next five losses were all on the road at Oklahoma City, Denver, L.A. against the Clip Joint, Golden State and Portland. Boston then returned home to face the Rockets, thus completing its nine-game losing streak. This is the Celtics second game back after that exhausting trip and they get Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green back in the lineup. Sullinger is a game changer but more than that, Boston owns the Raptors at this venue, having covered eight straight against them and this small number suggests that Boston will in another strong position to win. Sometimes the price dictates the play and with at least a 50% chance of winning, Boston offers up the value in this one.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Purdue +6 over ILLINOISFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Well, that was short lived. The Illini snuck into the top-25 after their January 4th win over Penn State to run their record to 13-2. Two subsequent losses later, to Wisconsin by 25 and at Northwestern by six, and the Illini are no longer a top ranked team. Illinois is paying the price of scheduling out-of-conferences games against such weak competition. The Illini are a poor shooting team with weak guard play and their fall from grace isn’t quite done yet. 
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The Boilermakers were not supposed to be much this season and they haven’t really done anything to open any eyes but this team is getting stronger with each passing game. Over their past four games, Purdue is 2-2 after playing West Virginia, Ohio State, Minnesota and Nebraska. Purdue has played just two road games this season and they looked good in both of them, defeating West Virginia and losing to Minnesota by just three points. Purdue also played a very good game against #3 Ohio State. They were down just a point at the half and eventually lost by just nine. Purdue sophomore A.J. Hammons produced one of the most complete games of his career. He finished with a season-best 18 points, 16 rebounds and four assists and five blocks. Another sophomore, Ronnie Johnson, had 16 points and Johnson's older brother, Terone, finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Purdue out-rebounded the Buckeyes 46-37. If there is such a thing as a “good loss” that was it for the Boilermakers. They’ve had two quality starts since that loss and they figure to have another quality game here against a still overpriced Illinois squad. Upset possibility.
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Buffalo +7½ over TOLEDOFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Rockets come into this game with an impressive 13-2 overall record. Toledo also has some impressive statistical rankings that see them ranked 18th in the country in FG%, 11th in points per game average and 23rd in assists. What those rankings don’t reveal is that Toledo has played one of the weakest schedules in the nation. Toledo’s strength of schedule ranks 269th in the country. After opening the season against a Division II opponent and scoring 105 points, the Rockets went on to play Boston College, Florida A&M, Stony Brook, Detroit, Florida Atlantic, Robert Morris, Sam Houston State, Arkansas State, Cleveland and Coppin State. With a schedule like that it’s no wonder that the Rockets have 13 wins and a bunch of grossly skewed numbers. Battle tested they are not. When the Rockets played at #16 Kansas and lost by 10, it looks pretty good on paper but it should be noted that game for the Jayhawks was sandwiched between Georgetown and #21 San Diego State.
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The Bulls return nearly all of its key players from a season ago. That includes the Bulls' leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker, Javon McCrea, an All-MAC first-team selection last year. Buffalo is in the much stronger division (the East) of the MAC. The Bulls are 2-0 in conference play and 8-4 overall and they have played a schedule that ranks 126 positions higher than the Rockets. Buffalo has victories over St. Bonaventure and Eastern Michigan and they’ve also reeled off four wins in a row and eight wins in their past 10 games. The Bulls have also held three of their past four opponents to 57 points or less. The Rockets are a team that plays fast. When you play that style after competing against cupcakes, a wake-up call is forthcoming. This Toledo club is one of the worst 13-2 teams in the country and with conference play now underway, it is the correct time to step in against them. Upset possibility.
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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, January 15

LT ProfitsFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Florida State vs Miami-FLFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Florida State -1.5FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Florida State Seminoles are 11-4 this season with all four of their losses coming to teams ranked in the Pomeroy Top 40, and they showed their versatility in their last two games by first smothering Clemson 56-41 with the defense holding the Tigers to 30.0 percent shooting, and then erupting for 16 three-point field goals in an 85-61 romp of Maryland. The Seminoles are ranked sixth in the country in defensive efficiency and second in effective field goal percentage allowed at 41.0 percent, and they have done that vs. a very good schedule ranked 27th in SOS. The Miami Hurricanes lost their entire starting lineup from the 29-7 team last year and this year’s contingent ranks just 328th out of 351 Division I teams in scoring with 63.5 points per game. Florida State is 8-1 ATS in its last nine games following a straight up win.
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Dallas vs L.A. ClippersFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Mavericks +5FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Both the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers are on three-game winning streaks, but Dallas could be the overlay getting this many points in a game that could go down to the last possession. The Mavericks are ninth in the NBA in scoring at 103.1 points per game and fourth in field goal percentage at 46.8 percent, and the Mavericks have been on fire lately averaging 104.8 points on a blistering 48.6 percent shooting over the last five games. Perhaps most importantly the Mavs do not mind traveling that much as they are 9-10 straight up and a spiffy 12-7 ATS away from home. Yes, the Clippers are fourth in scoring at 105.3 points and fifth in field goal percentage at 46.4 percent, but they will have to avoid a letdown after a 123-87 wipeout of the rival Lakers. The Mavericks are 24-9 ATS in their last 33 road games vs. teams with winning home records.

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Bryan LeonardFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Florida St. -1FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Seminoles come at a cheap price tonight considering its season to date resume. 11-4 on the year with the only losses coming to Michigan, Florida, Minnesota and Virginia. The Seminoles took a step back last year under Leonard Hamilton winning just 18 games, but this is a talented team that has a solid upside. Florida State rarely turns the ball over which is what you want when playing on the road, especially in this pointspread range.
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Miami sits at just 9-6 on the season but the majority of those victories came against weak opposition. The most impressive wins are Arizona State on a neutral and North Carolina on the road last time out. But as we have seen all season that Tar Heel team is extremely volatile losing to much inferior opposition while at times pulling off a shocker. Off a competitive loss at Syracuse and a road victory against a storied North Carolina team we believe this Miami squad is a bit overrated with the full week off.  Florida State has played the tougher schedule and it will dominate on the glass. This line is extremely cheap in a win and cover situation.

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Kyle HunterFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Valparaiso at DetroitFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Detroit -2FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Valparaiso Crusaders aren't the team they have been in recent years. Valpo has been able to go to Detroit and win with veteran leadership the last few years, but they have nothing back from last year. Detroit has much more athleticism and talent than Valpo, and the Titans are going to be upset after blowing a late lead and losing to Oakland in their last game. Valpo is getting too much credit for what they have done in the past. The Titans are the better team this season.

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Carolina SportsFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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St Bonaventure vs. St. Louis     St BonaventureSERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: St Bonaventure +11FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Bonnies are off to a strong start this season as it is a little unexpected with only 2 returning starers back. On the other hand the Billikens were picked by many to finish in the top of the Atlantic-10 and they are playing great basketball (15-2 SU and 8-1 SU at home). St. Louis is only 6-8 ATS this season as they have been up and down all year to bettors.
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Bonnies are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. Bonnies 10-2 ATS after a loss by 6 points or less over the last 3 seasons. We will side with the Bonnies tonight getting doubl-digits. Take St. Bonaventure.

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Miami Heat -5½FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Motivated by back-to-back defeats and with fresh legs following a four-day break, Miami will be ready to take it to the Wizards. The Heat have been an outstanding investment in bounce-back spots, going 17-6 ATS in their last 23 games following a loss. They are also 18-6 ATS in road games the last two seasons versus poor defensive teams, like Washington, that allow 99.0 ppg or more. They have won these contests by an average score of 101.9 to 91.7. Washington has struggled lately at home where it is on a 0-4 SU and ATS slide. It has also struggled against the Heat, losing the last four meetings by 18.3 points on average. The Heat are a terrific 19-6-1 ATS in their last 26 meetings in Washington. Lay the points.

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Miami Heat -6FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Miami Heat will be highly motivated for a victory tonight in Washington after suffering back-to-back losses coming in. While they have lost two games in a row on three different occasions this season, they have yet to lose three straight, and I don't expect it to happen tonight, either.
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The Heat have had four days off prior to this game, so they are well-rested and ready to go. That rest was huge in getting back a healthy Dwyane Wade from a knee injury. Also, Shane Battier is expected to be back after missing the past five games due to a strained quad.
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The Wizards have lost seven of their last eight home games. Miami is 9-3 against Washington since acquiring Lebron James, and two of those losses came when he did not play. The Wizards have just one win against a team with a winning record this season, and that was Atlanta (20-18).
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Miami is 12-3 ATS in its last 15 road games versus poor defensive teams that allow 46% or worse shooting. The Heat are 26-11 ATS in their last 37 games following two losses in their last three games. Miami is 17-6 ATS in its last 23 games following a S.U. loss. Bet the Heat Wednesday.

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Duquesne vs. St JosephsFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Duquesne +10.5FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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These 2 matchup evenly, statistically speaking. One thing that hurts St Joe's is FT shooting, at less than 66%. Those few points left at the line could be the difference between covering and not covering. In addition, the Hawks have a couple of injuries that will affect their bench, which is already sub par in production, compared to Duquense. I Like the fact that Duquense protects the ball better, a key when playing on the road. Double digits is just too many for this game.

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Northern Illinois +6.5FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Line: This line opened 4 and quickly moved to 5 in yesterday's betting activity. The move to 6.5 was swift this morning taking a grand total of about 15 minutes depending on what book was monitored. Guessing where a line that has been this active is hard to gauge but my best guess is that we will have some sort of buyback during the remainder of the betting cycle..
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Why We Bet It: This line move may have been spurred on by the fact that Dontel Highsmith has been declared out for the season and/or the fact that the Huskies are 1-10 ATS last 11 at home. EGADS! I have searched far and wide for other things of note but have come up empty. Northern Illinois is not that good of a basketball team but the Flashes have not shown much over their last few attempts either. The fact is, even without Highsmith in the lineup, both teams have mastered similar results, which amount to poor offensive numbers and reasonable D Play. One of the key's to this game IMO is the ability for Northern Illinois get grab rebounds, especially on the offensive side of the court. The other key is that this is likely to be a VERY Low scoring game. That puts these points at a premium. The Huskies are playing better D than they have all year and they have done so better than Kent, and they have excelled at that here on their home court. Our Fair number here is Kent -3.2 and at the current line that is good enough to play..
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Biggest Concerns: My biggest concern is that maybe I have missed something here. There is no doubt that the Flashes are the better team. Free Throw shooting a bit iffy for the Huskies as well although better of late..
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Added Notes: I would play this one down to 5 only and nothing less..

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, January 15

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Purdue/ Illinois Under 135.5: Both teams dont really push tempo and both teams have played solid defense this year. Purdue comes in allowing 70.9 ppg on 41.4% shooting for the year, while the Illini come in allowing just 62.8 pg on 40.4% shooting overalll and 60.0 ppg on 36.7% shooting on their home floor. Purdue has played in 2 true road games this year and while the averaged 76 ppg in those two games they still shot just 40.7% in the two games. Overall this Purdue offense hasn't faced too many good defensive team, but they did vs Ohio state and grabbed just 69 points, while also putting up 69 vs a good Eastern Michigan defensive team in a slow down game that should be similar to this one. On offense the Illini are a grind it out team that works the ball and looks for the good shot. They average just 70.4 ppg on 42% shooting overall and are poor from long range (31%). The Over is 11-3 the last 14 in the series, but the last 3 between these teams have failed to eclipse 129 points and i don't see this one putting up more than 129 either.
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South Florida/ SMU Under 133: Both teams play a slow paced game as the Bulls hoist up 54 shots per game, which is 257th in the nation, while the Mustangs put up 54.1 spg, which is 251st in the nation. We also have a couple of teams that have played excellent defense this year. South Florida comes in allowing just 68.7 ppg on 41.5% shooting overall, while on the road they have allowed just 64.8 ppg on 41.5% shooting. The Mustangs come in allowing just 62.8 ppg on 36.5% shooting on the year, but at home they have been very stout, allowing just 57.4 ppg on a mere 32.8% shooting overall and 26.5% shooting from long range. Offensively, the Bulls are mediocre as they average just 69.8 ppg on 45.4% shooting overall, but they are very poor from long range (29.8%) and the FT line (65.2%). The Mustangs are a decent offensive squad, averaging 72.8 ppg on 49.1% shooting overall , while at home they have averaged 80.6 ppg on 54% shooting. Still this is a very good defensive squad in South Florida, so I wouldn't expect SMU to come close to their home numbers at all. Lets also note that SMU is one of the worst FT shooting teams in the nation, hitting 66.2% overall and 58% at home. I see both teams playing a slow pace and both defenses playing to their potentials. Look for around 125 points scored in this one. 
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Notre Dame/ Maryland Under 147: The Irish have played some higher scoring games this year, but without Grant they will have to start slowing down the pace. Their offense has sputtered some in the last 2 games, averaging just 69.5 ppg over that stretch. The loss of Grant is starting to show and their offense should struggle in this one vs a Maryland team that allows just 68.7 ppg on 41.6% shooting. The Irish defense has struggled this year, but I expect Brey to mask that with a slower paced game and keep this Maryland team that averages 76.8 ppg form going hog wild in this one. I really don't expect either team to hit 75 points.
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Michigan State/ Northwestern Under 129: This line has been moving up for most of the day and Im not sure why, as Northwestern can score, they play one of the slowest paces in the nation and are going up against a tough Michigan State defensive team. I won't expect allot of points from the Wildcats. The Spartans average 82 ppg, but they just may be a bit flat after playing BB OT games vs Ohio State and Minnesota, plus they will be taking on a Wildcat team that allows just 57 ppg at home. Wildcat home games have averaged just 119 ppg this year and I don't expect many more than that in this one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, January 15

Jeff Benton

Your Wednesday freebie is the Tennessee Volunteers as they welcome SEC rival Auburn to Knoxville.

With a 1-10 spread mark their last 11 conference games, hard to make a strong case for the visiting Tigers, especially when you consider the numbers in this series.

The home team in this series is 10-2 against the spread the last dozen series meetings, and the favorite has also compiled a 13-3 spread mark the last 16 times these schools have met.

Tennessee is off a rare home loss their last time out, as Texas A&M nipped them by a point in a game the Vols were favored by double-digits. I would think coach Cuonzo Martin gave his team an earful after that loss, and I would fully expect the Volunteers to get back to their winning ways at home where they are still 7-2 straight up, and 4-3 against the spread.

UT's series win and cover streak over AU stands at 5 in a row.

Move that streak to 6-0 both straight up and against the spread after the dominating win tonight.

4♦ TENNESSEE

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Craig Davis

Today's free play is on the Portland Trail Blazers to rout the Cleveland Cavs out west.

If you'll remember, these two gave us a heckuva game the last time they met in Cleveland. Portland was favored by four and led much of the 4th quarter, including a 116-108 lead with 1:01 left in the game. They watched Cleveland score eight straight points to tie the game at 116 with only four seconds left.

Of course while I'm now begging for overtime, Damian Lillard drains a three pointer as time expired to help the Blazers secure a 119-116 road win... screwing me by a point.

Not tonight. Not after the Cavs scored a 120-118 win over the Lakers last night. Have you seen, on average, how poorly the Cavs play on the road? It's bad.

Not only that, but the Blazers own just about every offensive statistic, including FT percentage and three-point percentage. While the Blazers also outscore the Cavs, on average per game by 13, they have identical defensive numbers.

Giving the Blazers the home court advantage, I could see this one getting out of hand by the middle of the third quarter.

Take Portland as your free play of the day.

4♦ PORTLAND

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Scott Delaney

I'm on a 16-9 Run with my complimentary winners after losing with the Knicks last night. Tonight my free play is on the Toronto Raptors minus the points against the Boston Celtics.

I don't think I would have ever said this, but the first-place Raptors continue to put space between themselves and their division rivals. They have won three straight and eight of the last 10, and currently lead second-place Brooklyn by 4.5 games. The Raptors, who are also 12-5 since trading Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, are the only team in the Atlantic Division with a record that is .500 or better.

I know the Raptors have lost two straight on the road, but they also happened to be against the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat in a pair of setbacks they lost by a combined 12 points. Now they have a chance to steal one on the road against a Boston team that has lost nine in a row.

Toronto, which I know has lost 10 in a row at TD Bank Garden, beat the Celtics by six on opening night in Toronto. Lay the road chalk here, as the Raptors make a bit of a statement with a win and cover.

4♦ TORONTO

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, January 15

Brad Wilton

Xavier saw their 8 game winning streak ended in a 6-point loss (but underdog cover) over the weekend at Creighton. I look for the Musketeers to get back to their winning ways at the Cintas Center where they have managed to win all 12 of their games this season.

The Musketeers are on a 17-4 spread run their last 21 lined home games, and they are catching Georgetown at the right time, as academics (Josh Smith) and injury (Jabril Trawick) have sidelined a pair of key Hoyas contributors.

Georgetown is just 3-4 both straight up and against the spread in road games this year, and could very well be a bit "drained" after holding off Butler in overtime on the road their last time out.

First meeting between these new conference rivals, and my money is on X to pull away.

2♦ XAVIER

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Brett Atkins

My free winner for tonight is in the NBA, as I like the San Antonio Spurs to win and cover in a blowout of the Utah Jazz.

This one won't even be fair, for the Jazz, as the Spurs roll in on a five-game win streak, and will be motivated to stay hot as they're opening a homestand with a winning run. This is the right time of year for a team like the Spurs to thrive, as we're just before the All-Star break, and they can build momentum en route to staying afloat atop the Western Conference standings.

I know San Antonio is stinging from injuires and the Jazz have won seven of 12 out of nowhere, but the Spurs are still a much better basketball team than Utah and have one of the stingiest defensive units in the NBA.

There's a reason this veteran-laden team was the first league's first to 30 wins. And even short-handed, you have to respect the body of work the Spurs provide nightly. Lay the points.

4♦ SAN ANTONIO

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, January 15

Sean Michaels

3-0 Sweep with my free plays last weekend, all of them in college hoops. Tonight, however, I'm heading to the NBA and laying the big number (-11) with Phoenix at home against the Lakers. A steep price, but the Suns have already beaten them twice this year, 114-108 on the road on December 10 and 117-90 at home on December 23.

The Lakers are coming off a 120-118 home loss to the Cavaliers last night. LA lost despite Nick Young coming off the bench for 28, Jodie Meeks pouring in 26, Pau Gasol chipping in with 20 points and 12 rebounds and Kendall Marshall adding 10 points and 16 assists.

When a short-handed team gets that type of production and STILL loses at home, how can you possibly back them on the road less than 24 hours later?

LA has lost 11 of 12 overall and carries a six-game road losing streak into the opening game of a seven-game road exodus tonight.

The Suns return home after a 1-4 road trip, but they have won seven of their last nine in Phoenix.

2♦ PHOENIX

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, January 15

Bob Balfe

Florida State -1

We are talking about a Miami team that lost its best 6 players from last year and this year have gone away from their head coaches defensive strategy that worked so well over the years. It seems like their new zone defense is working, but temporary fixes without experience is not going to win you many games. Florida State is a better basketball team from top to bottom and will simply score more points tonight.

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