Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, February 13

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, February 13

Gabriel Dupont

My free play for tonight is on the Northwestern Wildcats plus the points against the Michigan State Spartans, as I think this will be closer than expected.

Northwestern (12-12, 5-6) is looking to even its Big Ten record, while it also seeks a fourth straight Big Ten road win tonight, when it travels to East Lansing to face Michigan State (20-4, 9-2). The Wildcats are in off a homee loss to Northwestern, while Michigan State steps to the wood off a loss as well, after falling at Wisconsin.

Why Northwestern can cover this game - Despite their recent loss to Nebrasks, the Wildcats have now beaten Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota on the road consecutively heading into tonight's matchup with the Spartans. That's not a bad trio, and make note, that includes the same Wisconsin team Sparty just lost to its last time out.

Why Michigan State will sputter in this game - This is dangerous territory for Northwestern, since Michigan State is in after ekeing out a 60-58 decision at Wisconsin on Sunday. The Spartans will be looking to avenge the loss, but I also think they may press a little too hard in this one, and underestimate the scrapiness of the Wildcats.

In conclusion, why Northwestern is my SMART FREE PLAY in this game - Northwestern had won four of its last five before losing to Nebraska, 53-49 at home on Saturday. So the Wildcats are not the only team in this game looking to avenge a setback. And again, I go back to their road wins, because you have to appreciate where these wins took place - historic Big Ten venues that you don't just waltz out of with a victory.

The 'Cats recorded a 54-47 victory at Indiana's famed Assembly Hall on Jan. 18. They went to Madison, Wisconsin and posted a 65-56 win inside the Badgers' Kohl Center on Jan. 29. To put that in perspective, the Badgers' home loss was just their 20th in Bo Ryan's 13 seasons as head coach, and just 13th by a Big Ten team. Then it was a 55-54 victory at Minnesota three days later, inside Williams Arena, aka The Barn. Very impressive. Let's take a shot.

4♦ NORTHWESTERN

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, February 13

Andrew Lange   

Northwestern at Michigan State
Recommendation: Under 119.5

Thanks to a big push towards the over I see no reason not to play Northwestern under the total...again. In listening to Chris Collins, it is clear the Wildcats have zero depth and as a result must slow down the pace of the game and focus nearly all of their attention on playing defense and keeping the game close. Offensively, Northwestern has topped a point per possession once in Big Ten play whereas they've failed to top 0.90 in 8 out of 11 games. On the road against arguably the best defense in the league, it'll be a struggle to top 50 points. Michigan State meanwhile has had its issues offensively due to injuries. Tom Izzo noted that the team's desire to push the pace has been hampered because of not being able to play with the ideal personnel. The first meeting featured 94 points and 54 possessions. Even with drastic improvement on a number of fronts, topping 120 will be difficult.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, February 13

Dave Mathews

Brooklyn Nets at Chicago Bulls
Play: Chicago Bulls -3.5

Carlos Boozer is back for Chicago, who could actually get a top 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, which shows you how bad that league has been. The Nets are 7-15 on the road as they could have won five in a row had they not been crushed at Detroit, 111-95 on Feb. 7. Chicago beat the Nets on the road by 17 on Christmas Day and they'll dominate them again at home.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, February 13

Harry Bondi

MISSOURI (-5.5) over Arkansas

We expect a laser-focused effort from the Tigers tonight for a couple of reasons. First off, the team is mired in a three-game losing streak and needs to stop the bleeding now if it wants to play in a postseason tournament. What's more, Mizzo head coach Mike Anderson was formerly the longtime head coach at Arkansas and there is no love lost between the two. Missouri went to Arkansas in January as a six-point dog and dominated the boards to the tune of 42-26 in a five-point outright victory and we see the same advantage here tonight in the rebound department. Arkansas has a dismal record on the road the last three seasons going just 7-17 ATS and 3-22 straight up away from home and those woes will continue tonight. Lay the short number.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, February 13

STEVE JANUS

Chicago Bulls -3½

It's easy to look at Chicago's blowout win in the first game of the season series and expect the Nets to bounce back and get their revenge, but you can also look at it from the perspective that Brooklyn simply doesn't matchup well with the Bulls. Offensively the Nets rank in the middle of the pack in terms of offense efficiency, which makes it difficult to get easy looks against a tough defense like Chicago. Adding to this is that while the Nets will be playing on the road with tired legs, this will be just the second game in the last four days for the Bulls.

Another factor that needs to be touched on is the Nets have not been a good road team. They are just 8-15 away from home this season. Adding to this, Brooklyn has played just six road games during their impressive 14-5 run and are just 3-3 in those games. It's also worth mentioning that they haven't played consecutive road games since the first week of January. I have my concerns that the Nets strong play of late is a bit of fools gold and when the road games start to pick back up, this team is going to struggle to stay in the playoff race.

There's a couple of key systems here favoring Chicago. First, road underdogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points (BROOKLYN) - revenging a home loss vs opponent of 10 points or more, off a home win by 10 points or more are just 54-101 (39%) ATS since 1996. We also see that home favorites of 3.5 to 9.5 points (CHICAGO) - an average offensive team (92-98 PPG) against a poor defensive team (98-102 PPG) after 42+ games, after allowing 85 points or less are 78-40 (66%) ATS since 1996.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, February 13

TOM GRASSI

Eastern Kentucky vs. Tennessee Tech   
Play: Eastern Kentucky -3½

The Colonels come to Tennessee having won seven of their last nine straight up, but have been winless in the pointspread column for the last three matchups. The Golden Eagles are on a winning streak of their own, but it only spans two games.

Eastern Kentucky’s last game was an upset loss at home to Morehead State, but the good news for fans of the Colonels is that the team has shown a strong tendency to bounce back following a straight up loss, with a 16-5 ATS mark to its credit the last 21 times they’ve played after a defeat.

Tech’s problems are the opposite: they’ve managed to put up a 2-7-1 ATS record in their last 10 games after a straight up win. Throw in the fact that Eastern has managed to cover in five of their last six trips to the Volunteer state, and that they have a 24-11 ATS overall road mark for the past three seasons, and the challenge of beating the line in this game becomes larger.

The two teams will meet again two weeks from tonight, but for tonight, we’ll take the road chalk in this one, so go with Eastern Kentucky.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, February 13

JOHN RYAN

Denver vs. IUPU-Indianapolis   
Play:IUPU-Indianapolis +11½

The simulator shows a high probability that IUPUI will lose this game by fewer than 9 points. Supporting this graded play is a proven system posting a 106-55 ATS mark for 66% winners since 1997. Play on a home team (IUPUI) revenging a loss where team scored less than 50 points and is off a road loss by 20 points or more. IUPUI is just not a good team, but they are not as bad as the double digit spread would indicate facing a 12-11 Denver U team. This is just too many points. Further, note that Denver is just 13-34 ATS (-24.4 Units) in a road game where the total is 120 to 129.5 since 1997; 18-43 ATS (-29.3 Units) in road games after 2 straight games giving up 9 or less offensive rebounds since 1997. Take IUPUI.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, February 13

MICHAEL ALEXANDER

Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls   
Play: Brooklyn Nets +4

Brooklyn is as close as its been to .500 since the first month of the season and is 1 1/2 games shy of the Bulls in the East standings. The easy win over the Bobcats was the fourth in five games for the Nets and once again highlighted the strength of the bench, which put up 45 points and allowed the starters to sit the entire fourth quarter. No starter has played more than 28 minutes in either of the last two games as players like Mirza Teletovic, Mason Plumlee and Andrei Kirilenko take on larger roles in support of the aging and banged-up core.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, February 13

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAYS

Minnesota/ Wisconsin Under 136: Very hard to see this one being that high scoring. I know that Wisconsin has been looking to score more this year, but recently this team has reverted back to teams of old, where they have played low scoring games. Wisconsin games have averaged just 124.2 ppg and It has been a combination of weaker scoring and stronger defense as they have averaged just 64.2 ppg on 39.4% shooting, while on defense they have allowed just 60.6 ppg on 40.9% shooting. Now on defense I expect the Badgers to be even more focused in this one, considering they allowed 81 points the last time these teams met, which is only the 2nd time all year they allowed 80+ points and it was the last time that they allowed more than 65 points in a game. The Golden Gophers have struggled on offense of late, averaging just 60 ppg (Regulation) in their last 3 games and while their defense has stepped up of late, allowing just 65 ppg (Reg) in their last 5 games and that should continue vs a struggling Badgers offense. 69-61 is about right for this one.

St Mary's/ San Diego Over 130: The first time these teams played this year there were just 108 points scored in that game and St Mary's put up just 43 points in the blowout loss. You can bet that that won't happen here. The Galloping Gaels have averaged 78.2 ppg on 47.8% shooting at home this year, plus they have hit 41.8% from long range on their home floor. They will NOT be held to less than 50 or even 65 points in this one. I can clearly see this team coming out angry and putting up 70+ points in this one, even vs a San Diego team that has played good defense this year. On defense, St Mary's have allowed just 63.6 ppg at home, but 66.7 ppg in their last 5 overall and 70.2 ppg in their last 4 WCC home games. Those last 4 conference home games have averaged 154.3 ppg. That's a huge difference from tonight's total. San Diego has averaged just 64.6 ppg in their last 5 games and just 63.9 ppg on the road, but hitting either of those number wold make us golden, cause I do expect 70+ from the Gaels in this one. 73-62 sounds about right.

2 UNIT PLAYS

Missouri/ Arkansas Under 150: These teams have played some high scoring games vs each other, but I don't see this one hitting the 150's at all, especially with the way Arkansas scores on the road. The Razorbacks have averaged 81 ppg overall this year, but away from home they have struggled, scoring just 67.8 pg on 38.9% shooting. Getting much more than that will be hard vs a Missouri squad that plays excellent defense at home, allowing just 64.6 ppg on 38.6% shooting. The Arkansas defense has struggled this year, especially away from home, but Missouri has averaged just 74.9 ppg on their home floor this year, including just 71.3 ppg (Reg) in their 4 SEC home games. Arkansas road games have averaged just 143.6 ppg, while Missouri home games have averaged just 139.5 ppg. Plenty of value here on the under and I expect a 74-69 type of game.

St John's/ Seton Hall Over 137.5: This has been a rather high scoring series of late, as 150.8 ppg have been scored in the last 4 meetings, with all 4 games putting up at least 138 points. Seton Hall has gone 8-1 to the over in their last 9 home games, while their home games this year have averaged 146.8 ppg. They score a solid 76 ppg at home and St John's allowed 69.8 ppg on the road. The Red Storm have been solid o offense of late, scoring 71.8 ppg (regulation) in their last 9 games, and they have failed to hit 69 points in just 2 of those games.Just don't see a lot here that makes me think this game can't hit at least 140 points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, February 13

OC Dooley

Nets +3.5

The last time these pair of squads met was on the Christmas Day holiday when the NBA annually takes center stage with National-TV action that lasts from noontime to the wee hours in the eastern time zone.  On Christmas Day Chicago pounded Brooklyn (95-78 final score) where the Bulls swarming defense held the Nets so a season-low shooting percentage (35) from the field.  Odds are Brooklyn in tonight TV REVENGE setup will shoot much better considering this veteran contingent in each of the most recent pair of outings has successfully hit at least 51-PERCENT of their shot opportunities.  The posted total for the TNT televised contest at most offshore locations opened at the 183 point mark which opens the door to a dynamic angle from my database research.  In the past two years when the posted total (180 to 184’ points) has been within tonight’s parameters Chicago has actually gone a disastrous 3-13 ATS in front of their HOME fans.  Here is a solid 67-PERCENT SYSTEM (56-27 the past five years with a money line between 3’-and-5’ points) which plays ON road underdogs like Brooklyn coming off an outright home triumph.  This system occurs in the month of FEBRUARY (check all calendars)

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