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Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Dave Mathews

Texas vs. Kansas
Play:Texas +10.5

Sure, Kansas is good and they are out for revenge but a double digit favorite against Texas? With the Longhorns coming off a loss? Isaiah Taylor leads Texas in scoring at 13.1 points per game, while Javan Felix (12.8 points) and center Cameron Ridley (10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 60 blocks) are key cogs in their lineup. They can match up with Kansas' size as shown in their 12-point win in the first matchup from Austin.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Freddy Wills

Syracuse vs. Duke
Play: Syracuse +6

Are we in for another classic? I think so as these two Hall of Fame coaches battle it out again. The first game could not have been any better and I'm expecting very much of the same again tonight. I was all over Duke in that first game and got the cover when I thought they really should have won outright. Duke hit 15 three pointers in that game and it's hard to see them repeating that against Syracuse's extended zone defense. An extra day of rest/preparation after a loss is definitely going to benefit the Orange here and they have been particularly tough on the road and have played better defense. Part of that is due to the fact of their competition, but one thing is for sure they stay in games and Duke in the first match up played as well as they could and still lost because their defense could not come up with stops. Syracuse won't fool around they just took 4 three point attempts in game 1. Their strength is inside the perimeter and Duke is 207th in 2 point defense. They don't have anyone that is a dominant force inside and if Jabari Parker gets in any foul trouble forget about it. Syracuse shot 28-50 from 2 point land and I expect much of the same considering Duke is giving up nearly 50% to opponents at home. Syracuse also is out rebounding opponents on the road by 7.4 and have gotten to the FT line 2 more times which continues here today.


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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

DAVE COKIN

BAYLOR AT WEST VIRGINIA
PLAY: BAYLOR +2

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. It’s also true that getting a little fortunate can be the catalyst for a team suddenly going on a run. I’m looking for that to be the case for Baylor as they hit the road for a battle with West Virginia.

The Bears have won three straight after a very ugly 1-7 stretch. Baylor pounded a bad TCU team to snap their slump, and have since had two amazing wins, getting past Kansas State in two OT’s and also needing an extra five minutes to subdue Oklahoma State.

I don’t think there’s going to be much argument that Baylor was really lucky to get those last two wins. But the team now has a little positive momentum going, and once a team starts believing in itself, there’s no telling what might happen. Baylor has loads of talent, but has underachieved dramatically. Maybe these last two wins will help change that.

West Virginia is plodding along respectably in the Big 12. This is not a typical Bob Huggins team, as they’re pretty good with the ball, but have struggled defensively. I can see that being a good thing for a Baylor squad that is very athletic, but not especially tough.

There’s also the matter of revenge in play here. The Mountaineers went into Waco and staved off a late Bears rally to score a 66-64 win. Road dogs that lost the prior meeting at home by one possession are often very nice plays.

The key to Baylor getting this one will be limiting their turnovers. West Virginia will almost certainly win that stat. If it’s anywhere near the +10 differential the Mountaineers enjoyed in the first battle, I’m in trouble with this play. But if Baylor can stay within -5 net turnovers, I think you’ll see them with a great chance to win this game.

I look at Baylor as a go with team right now. That can end in a hurry, but after playing their way out of the NCAA tournament conversation, a win today and they’re very much back in the mix. I see this one being tight and the points are hardly plentiful. But I think I’ve got the more talented team here, and off their recent efforts Baylor looks like they’re worth taking another run with today.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Mid-Major Matt

Texas San Antonio AT Tulane
Pick: Tulane -7

Tulane continues their quest to get one of the nine C-USA byes as they host UTSA. The Green Wave have won three of their last five and rely heavily on their big three of Louis Dabney, Jonathan Stark and Jay Hook. UTSA has a big three of their own in Keon Lewis, Jordan Sims and Devon Agusi. The Roadrunners have won just twice in their last eight games. Both were home victories over Rice and Florida Atlantic. They have lost every conference road game by eight points or more. They have covered just twice in 10 games against teams with a winning record. Tulane, meanwhile, has covered in four of their five games as a favorite and six of their seven games when playing with one or less days rest. I like the home team in this one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

The Prez

St John's +9

Villanova peaked too early as the conference schedule winds down and evidence of such is their last two performances... nearly losing back-to-back games for the first time this season and a surprising occurrence Steve Lavin has the Red Storm peaking at the right time, playing their best round-ball, and coming off a 77-52 rout over visiting Butler on Tuesday- two days after a Sunday event when St. John's took Georgetown to the woodshed beating up on the Hoyas by 22 points... and in a double surprise the Storm did such without their big in the pain, Chris Obekpa, who injured an ankle in practice Monday that is expected to sideline him for 10-to-14 days.

The Storm will go small today using forward JaKarr Sampson as s defender on the Nova bigs. SampSon put up career numbers while filling some of the shoes of Obekpa - the Big East's leading shot blocker - by scoring 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds against Butler.

Nova has become pedestrian as of late and have looked lethargic in February. Shooting guard Ryan Arcidiacono averaged a mere seven points in Villanova's last five contests before their latest test against Providence, a contest that saw Arcidiacono score a career high 21, but he had not scored a point in the first 18 1/2 minutes of the first half. The Wildcats have won 10 of the last 11 against St. John's but this current Storm troupe are on a roll, doing everything right, and in turn getting all of the bounces. Additionally,  Angelo Harrison has feasted on Nova in his career averaging 28.7 points in his last three matchups against the Wildcats.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Larry Ness

Wyoming at Colorado State
Prediction: Colorado State

Wyoming and Colorado St both entered this season having lost key players from last year's teams. Wyoming opened last year 12-0 but when leading scorer Luke Martinez (14.5) was suspended for the season due to his part in a bar fight, the Cowboys collapsed, going 8-14 the rest of the way. Also gone from LY's team are forward Washington (12.5-8.2) and guard Gilmore (12.4).

As for Colorado St, Larry Eustachy inherited five senior starters from Tim Miles, FOUR of them went on the score in double digits, while the 6-5 Hornung (8.4-8.9) may have been the team's most versatile (valuable?) player. NONE returned from last year's team, which set a school record with 26 wins, including one over Ole Miss in CSU's first NCAA appearance since 1989.

Wyoming has had the MUCH better season this year, entering this contest (the first of two meetings) 17-9 overall (8-5 in MVC play), compared to CSU's 14-13 record (5-9 in MVC play). However, Wyoming suffered a devastating blow when 6-9 star Larry Nance, Jr (15.4-8.5 on 54.4% FGs) was lost for the season with an ACL tear in Tuesday's 72-66 home win against Fresno State. The Cowboys compensated in the late going vs the Bulldogs but how can head coach Larry Shyatt can count on another 26-point effort from guard Nathan Sobey (8.0 PPG on the season) to bail out Wyoming in this one, as it marked just his ninth double digit scoring contest TY (previous high was 16)?

Guards Grabau (11.5) and Adams (11.3) will be Wyoming's "go-to scorers" the rest of the way plus without Nance, Wyoming's best big man is the 6-9 Cooke, who averages modest totals of 5.4 PPG and 5.6 RPG. The Rams come in on a three-game losing streak but 6-6 Air Force transfer Avila (16.8-7.6) should thrive inside with Nance out plus guards Berjarno and Octeus have come into their own TY. Berjarno has upped his scoring from 6.3 to 16.4 PPG (also adds 8.3 RPG), while Octeus is up fronm 4.7 PPG to 12.8!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Dave Price

New Orleans Pelicans +6

New Orleans is playing its second road game in as many nights, but this line has been inflated to compensate for the situation. The fact of the matter is the Pelicans have now lost two in a row, and they're going to leave it all on the floor in hopes of avoiding a third straight defeat - something that hasn't happened in over a month. The Pelicans will draw extra motivation from a 102-96 home loss to Washington last month. Washington has a revenge game at Cleveland tomorrow so I don't expect it to give the Pelicans its full attention. The Pelicans have been a solid bounce-back bet of late at 4-1-2 ATS in their last seven games following a loss. The Wizards are a miserable 4-11 ATS in their last 15 home games and 1-8 ATS in their last nine home games versus a team with a losing road record. Take the points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Jack Jones

Syracuse +6

After getting a wake up call in a home loss to Boston College on Wednesday, the No. 1 Syracuse Orange (25-1) will respond today. I have been fading them with a ton of success of late because they got complacent during their winning streak, but now they will get back to getting after it.

This is a very tough spot for the Duke Blue Devils. They are coming off a disheartening 66-74 loss at rival North Carolina on Thursday. Getting just one day to prepare for Syracuse is a massive disadvantage, because that zone defense is very tough to prepare for.

Syracuse comes in on two days' rest, and while that doesn't seem like much, that extra day of rest it is getting here is huge. The Orange shot 57.4% from the floor and had their way with Duke's defense in their first meeting of the season. I expect more of the same in this one as their length and athleticism proves to be too much.

Duke is 0-6 ATS in home games when playing against a top-level team with better than an 80% winning percentage over the past three seasons. Syracuse is 8-1 ATS in road games versus poor pressure defensive teams who force 14 or less turnovers per game this season. The Orange are 5-0 ATS in their last five road games. Bet Syracuse Saturday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Tom Grassi

Quinnipiac vs. Niagara    
Play: Niagara +4

The Quinnipiac Bobcats have been on a roll since the calendar turned to February, winning six straight, while beating the spread in five of those contests. That actually helps Niagara’s cause, since they’ve shown a tendency the past two seasons to play their best when the good teams come to their court.

That said, the Purple Eagles have been in a rut for the last three weeks, dropping seven straight, including failing to cover in each of the last three games. They’re a home dog in this one, but they’ve covered two of the three times they were in that role in conference action.

The revenge angle will be in play for Niagara, after the Bobcats won by 14 a month ago as a 9.5 favorite. In that one, Quinnipiac absolutely dominated on the boards by better than 2-1, something the Purple Knights have to avoid if they have any chance to win, or even cover the line.

The Bobcats’ surge of late has caught the attention of those wagering early, who overwhelmingly have placed their money on them. The problem for those people is that the line has dropped already in favor of Niagara, which means Sharp money is supporting the home team, and so are we, so take the points and play the Purple Knights.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Steve Janus

Marquette Golden Eagles -7

The Golden Eagles will be extremely motivated to get back on track after Wednesday's ugly 15-point loss at home to Creighton. While Marquette failed to deliver against the Bluejays, they are still 3-1 over their last 4 games, including an 11-point road win at Seton Hall.

Given DePaul's inability to keep games competitive here of late, I see no reason why the Golden Eagles won't bring home a double-digit win. The Blue Demons have lost nine straight with each of their last 5 losses coming by at least 12 points. In fact, only once during their entire losing streak have they kept it within single digits.

Marquette outscored DePaul 40-26 in the second half of their earlier meeting this season, so they clearly have the ability to put this team away. Marquette is 8-1 ATS in their last 9 road games following a loss, while DePaul is just 6-16 ATS in their last 22 home games after trailing in each of their previous three by 5 or more points at the half.

We also see that home underdogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points who are revenging a a same season loss vs opponent, off 3 straight losses against conference rivals are just 54-118 (31%) ATS over the last 5 seasons!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Doug Upstone

UTEP vs. Southern Miss    
Play: Southern Miss -5½

On Saturday, Play Against a road team like UTEP that plays excellent defensive team, holding opposing teams to under 40 percent shooting, against a good defensive team like Southern Miss (40-42.5% allowed) after 15 or more games, after two straight contests making 50 percent of their shots or better. How this free play works is teams like the Miners tend to be more defensive-minded and their offense suffers after a couple of hot shooting nights, especially against a solid defensive opponent on their home court. In the past five seasons, teams like UTEP are 9-36 ATS, 20 percent, including 0-5 ATS this season.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Bruce Marshall

Boston Celtics at Sacramento Kings
Pick: Sacramento Kings

Both headed non-stop into lottery land, especially Sacto, which made only minor adjustments at the trade deadline (slumping G Marcus Thornton sent to Brooklyn for vets Jason Terry and Reggie Evans, and adding Roger Mason from Miami) in moves that do not project into a belated playoff run. And the post-All-Star break portion of the Kings' schedule began with a 9-point home loss to the Warriors. But Sacto is likely to have DeMarcus Cousins (hip) back in action by the time this one tips off, and hard-pressed to envision Boston sweeping a season series against anybody, even after Celtics won first meeting by 10 at TD Garden a few weeks ago (Feb. 7). Speaking of Cousins, he will probably want to rush back into the lineup against a Boston side against which he scored 31 and gobbled 16 rebounds a few weeks ago.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Dr. Bob

Opinion – IOWA (-5½) over Wisconsin

Iowa only lost by 4 points at Wisconsin (as a 6 ½ point dog) despite the Badgers knocking down 46% of their 3-point shots, which was an unlikely outcome given that the Hawkeyes are 8th in the nation in 3-point defense at 29.2% allowed. Iowa has had a full week off to prepare for this payback game and the Hawkeyes apply to a 53-15-2 ATS home revenge situation. Iowa is also 31-12 ATS at home the last 3 seasons, including 5-1 ATS in same season revenge games and 17-4 ATS when coach McCaffery has 3 or more days off to prepare his team. I do think the line is a bit high, however, as my ratings favor the Hawkeyes by just 4½ points – although I do get 6 points using conference games only. I’ll lean with the Hawkeyes at -6 or less and I’d take Iowa in a 2-Star Best Bet at -5 or less.

Opinion – MISSISSIPPI (+7) over Florida

Florida has won 18 games in a row but the Gators aren’t dominating their opponents (7-9-1 ATS during their streak) and Mississippi applies to a 55-17 ATS subset of a 105-40-2 ATS home dog bounce-back situation. The Rebels are also 34-16-1 ATS after a loss of 7 points or more under coach Andy Kennedy, including 20-6 ATS against a team off a win and 22-6 ATS when not favored by more than 3 points (10-0 ATS at home). My ratings favor Florida by 7 points, so the line is actually fair, but the Rebels have had trouble with efficient offensive teams this season. Ole Miss has played 6 games against teams that rank in the top 25 in the nation in compensated offensive points per possession (Oregon, Dayton, Tennessee, Kentucky twice, and Missouri) and the Rebels are just 1-5 ATS in those games while their compensated defensive efficiency in those games is 1.123, which is considerably higher than their season defensive rating of 1.006. Since those numbers are compensated, the Rebels’ defensive rating against good offensive teams shouldn’t be any different than their average defensive rating. However, the slope of Mississippi’s regression equation using their opponent’s offensive efficiency to project their compensated defensive rating for each game is 0.72, which is extremely high (the slope would be zero if there was no trend). Most of that difference between Mississippi’s relative defensive rating against good offensive teams and their overall defensive rating is just variance but there is enough evidence to suggest that the Rebels simply can’t defend good offensive teams relatively as well. Incorporating that trend and accounting for variance would lead to a prediction of Florida by 8.4 points and gives me reason to pass this game despite the very good situation and supporting team trend. I’ll lean with Ole’ Miss at +7 points or more.

Opinion – St. Mary’s (-4½) over SANTA CLARA

St. Mary’s has had a disappointing season but the Gaels are still beating the teams that they clearly should beat. St. Mary’s is 62-25-2 ATS under coach Randy Bennett when favored by 12 points or less against a team with a win percentage of less than .545, so the Gaels tend to beat mediocre and bad teams. They’re also 48-28-2 ATS as a road favorite and Santa Clara is just 21-41-2 ATS at home. The Broncos are coming off a 20 point home win over Portland on Thursday but they’re decent at home with same season revenge. However, Santa Clara is just 1-6-1 ATS this season when they don’t have revenge and the Broncos are 0-7 ATS in their last 7 home games when their opponent has same season revenge (Santa Clara won 57-55 at St. Mary’s in early January). My ratings favor St. Mary’s by 4½ points and I’ll lean with the Gaels minus the points based on the team trends.

Opinion – Towson (-4½) over HOFSTRA

Towson has won 7 of their last 8 games (6-2 ATS) while Hofstra is just 1-8 in their last 9 games and the Tigers apply to a 20-2 ATS subset of a 97-36-4 ATS road favorite momentum situation. However, the line has overreacted a bit to recent results, as my ratings favor the Towson by just 4 points. I’ll still lean with the Tigers based on the strong situation and I’d take Towson in a 2-Star Best Bet at -4 or less.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Patrick Webb

Wisconsin vs. Iowa    
Play: Iowa -5

Iowa has covered the last 6 meetings versus Wisconsin although they were underdogs in each of those games. Wisconsin is red hot coming into this game winning four in a row including victories over MSU and at Michigan. Stylistically Wisconsin has struggled versus Iowa since Fran McCaffery arrived as Iowa has successfully into a higher tempo than they would prefer to play.

The Hawks blew an 11 point half time lead in the last meeting partially due to the ejection of Fran McCaffery and the double techs he received in the middle of the second half. Wisconsin attempted 10 more free throws than Iowa and won despite giving up huge offensive rebound margins and committing an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers. Iowa's ability to defend for the length of the shot clock and their ability to defend the three will be the difference in this game. Iowa has a huge depth advantage in this game and should avoid any silliness from its head coach in this game.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Joe Duffy

Portland +12½

Our power ratings have this as a 10-point contest. Yes, the higher the point spread there is a small point of diminishing return on the score dichotomy. For example a 2.5 point difference on a pick ‘em is “larger” than 2.5 points on a double-digit spread. Still this is a substantial scalp.

Likewise, we have found month or partitions of the season systems to be less reliable than full-season ones. A big exception is February angles in college basketball. Fellow sharps have helped convince me that it does measure a few key metrics we love to exploit: oddsmakers overreaction to over and underachieving teams and bad line moves relative to perceived postseason motivations.

Double-digit February underdogs of less than 20 points giving up less than nine rebounds per game are 428-302 against the spread, certainly of statistical significance.

BYU is in a big letdown situation just two days after a huge win against Gonzaga. It is a pretty solid is a dichotomous spread and straight up game. This means if a team is consistently winning outright but failing to cover or losing outright and covering, we ride the spread streak. This has proven to be a way to isolate over and undervalued teams.

BYU is 13-1 straight up at home, yet under .500 against the spread. Though just 3-6 straight up on the road, Portland is 7-2 where it counts.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Jeff Alexander

Colorado +4

This is a really tough spot for Arizona, which is playing its third straight road game and second game in four days. Colorado is an outstanding 16-1 at home this season, and I expect it to give the Wildcats all they want and more tonight. Arizona won the first matchup 69-57 behind a strong performance from Brandon Ashley, but it won't have Ashley available this time around. Plus, Colorado was still struggling with the loss of leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie the first time these teams played. It has since adjusted, winning five of its last six. The Buffaloes are 14-4 ATS under coach Tad Boyle when out for revenge for a road loss of 10 points or more. The Buff are also 7-0 ATS under Boyle as a home underdog or pickem, winning these games by an amazing 8.2 points. Bet the Buffs.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

SPORTS WAGERS

Louisville -3½ over CINCINNATI

The Bearcats defeated the Cardinals back in Louisville on January 30th and that’s the first thing we love about this game. It’s difficult for an inferior team to defeat a superior team once, let along twice within a month. The Bearcats have had a season in which every bounce has gone their way. Cinci’s season is filled with fringe victories over fringe teams and a few single digit victories over complete dregs. The Bearcats three losses this season is a miracle that is on par with the USA’s 1980 Olympic Hockey team. This is not a 24-3 team and their #7 ranking is a complete joke because the Bearcats aren’t even a top 30 team. The Bearcats have one player they can rely on in Sean Kilpatrick and after him production dips to the point of being near non-existent. if the Cardinals show up here, and we assure you they will, they will roll over these imposters in the much the same way Xavier and SMU did.

Louisville is ranked lower than Cincinnati. Not only is that ludicrous, it’s enough motivation for the Cardinals to bring it all here. Louisville is 1½-games behind the Bearcats in the American for the top seed in the Conference. When they lost to Cinci, the Cardinals dug themselves a huge hole by falling behind by 17 points. They rallied and took a one-point lead but they also failed to score in the final five minutes and ended up losing by just three. Louisville is a defensive-minded powerhouse that has seen Kilpatrick and will make all the adjustments to take him out of his comfort zone. We’re not big on laying road points in big conference games but let’s look at that for a sec. Cincinnati is ranked #7, Louisville is ranked #22, yet #22 is favored by 3½ on the road. You do the math. The oddsmakers did and they know that the Bearcats are incorrectly ranked. The truth is revealed here.     


La Salle +4 over RICHMOND

The Spiders 7-4 conference record and 17-9 overall record is better record than the Explorers 4-7 conference mark and 12-13 overall mark. Are the Spiders that much better than the Explorers? We say nay. Richmond has defeated the teams they were supposed to beat but its out-of-conference schedule was filed with victories over a bunch of cream puffs that includes Fairfield, James Madison, Air Force, Coppin State and Old Dominion among others. The Spiders also lost to Northeastern (9-19) and every decent team they’ve played against this season that includes, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Minnesota, the Bonnies, Saint Louis and VCU. In fact, Richmond doesn’t have a signature win this entire year unless you want to include UMass, a game they won by three. The Spiders are a poor rebounding team, their guard play is not even average and they don’t shoot too well either, ranking 2o8th in the country in FG %.

La Salle is the forgotten team in the A-10 and there is good reason for that. The Explorers have lost an incredible four in row and seven of its past eight conference games. How can that be? This is a team that reached the Sweet-16 last year and brings back just about every key member from that squad, yet they keep losing. La Salle doesn’t have any signature wins either but they have played a tougher schedule than the Spiders (ranked 54th to Richmond’s 96th) and they’ve also underachieved the entire year. La Salle is going to get warm at some point before the season ends. This team has too much talent to keep losing at this pace and the oddsmakers haven’t made them very enticing here by spotting them just four points. That prompts us to buy low and step in on these Explorers in a game in which the line tells us they have a great chance of winning outright. 

St. John’s +9 over VILLANOVA

We get an inflated price here on the Johnnies for two reasons. The first reason is that the Wildcats are ranked #9 in the country and ranked programs are almost always overpriced. Secondly, St. John’s is without forward Orlando Sanchez because of the birth of his daughter and they could be without their starting center also, as Chris Obekpa sprained his ankle last week, although he’s a game time decision. The oddsmakers have this information also and in a high profile game like this, an overreaction to injuries by the public forces the oddsmakers to inflate the number and that applies here. What we like is that Villanova may not be as jacked up as the Johnnies here. The Wildcats have secured their spot in the tournament and have already played the toughest portion of their schedule. Villanova’s last two games of the season against Xavier and Georgetown are still a couple weeks away and the team could be a little out of focus until then. Villanova is coming off a blowout loss to Creighton (they’ve been blown out twice by Creighton this season) and a subsequent double OT win in Providence against the Friars on Thursday night. The Wildcats have done a ton of traveling lately, playing their last three and six of their last eight on the road.

For the Johnnies, this game is huge. St. John’s is on the bubble right now and could get in with some key victories down the stretch. The Red Storm is smoking hot right now. They have won six in a row and nine of their past 10 with only loss over that span occurring in Creighton by just three points It was the closest the Bluejays have come to losing on their home floor all season and in the rematch game back at St. John’s, the Red Storm defeated Creighton by five. The Johnnies can afford a losing a player or two because they operate with a nine-man rotation and every player is as important as the next. Steve Lavin has this team peaking at the right time and in perhaps its biggest game of the season and in a much better situational spot than the Wildcats, we like the Johnnies to stay well within this margin and perhaps even pull off the upset.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAYS

Notre Dame/ Virginia Under 126.5: Early in the year these teams played at Notre Dame and that game produced just 121 points. Notre Dame home games are much higher scoring than Virginia home games, yet here were are with an OU line of 126.5 at a place where just 117.5 ppg have been scored. The Virginia defense has been very tough all year and at home they have been even better, allowing just 51.8 ppg and I don't see the Irish scoring much more than that, considering they put up just 53 points on Virginia in the first game at South Bend. The Irish have scored 69 ppg on the road this year, but just 62.5 ppg in their last 4 road games and they have scored just 61.6 ppg in their last 5 games during regulation. The Viginia offense has been struggling of late as they have averaged just 61.3 ppg in their last 4 games and have scored just 65.7 ppg at home this year. The Cavs really like to slow the pace and Notre Dame will play that way as well. The Irish don't have the pop to score a bunch at Virginia and Virginia knows that, so I do not see them going all out  trying to put up 70+ here. I see this as a 65-52 type game.

Indiana/ Northwestern Under 125: Just like the game above, this line is a bit puzzling. In the first game, which as played at Indiana, the two teams combined for just 101 points. Now the scene shifts to Northwestern, where their home games have averaged just 115.8 ppg. Ok so Indiana allows 72.4 ppg on the road, but in Evanston the Cats have averaged just 58 ppg, while in their Big 10 home games they have averaged just 47.2 ppg (Regulation only) and they haven't scored more than 50 points, during regulation, in any of their Big 10 home games this year. This team loves to slow the pace and even if they put up 55 points in this game I just can't see Indiana really coming all that close to 70 points here. The Hoosiers have really struggled on offense of late, averaging just 61.6 ppg in their last 5 games and they have scored just 65.1 ppg on the road this year, including 61.3 ppg in their last 4 Big 10 road games.  This struggling offense will face a Cats team that has allowed just 57.8 ppg on their home floor this year. It is very hard to expect more than 115 points in this one, especially at this venue.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Ken Thomson

Oklahoma -5

Payback for Kruger's Boys...in the six point loss in Manhattan, KS...the Sooners got 16 more shots.  They also shot only 33%...and their go to guys....Clark ( 1 of 9 ), Woodard ( 1 of 5 ) and Hield ( 5 of 16 ) were pathetic.  Big man Ryan Spangler should have another solid game in the paint where he scored 21 points and grabbed 14 boards...9 on the offensive glass.  K-State went 11 of 21 from behind the Arc on their home court and that percentage should drop big time in Norman.  I like the Sooners by double digits.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, February 22

Kyle Hunter

LA Monroe at W. Kentucky
Play: W. Kentucky -8

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers have been an NCAA Tournament team the last two years. It is getting down the wire now, and Western Kentucky has looked shaky of late. I think this is where they start the turnaround. They have beaten LA Monroe by at least 14 points each of the last three times they have played them. That includes an 18 point road win earlier this year. Monroe is the perfect opponent for Western Kentucky to get their confidence back against. Monroe will be dominated on the boards here. LA Monroe is 0-7 ATS in their last 7 games vs. Western Kentucky. The favorite is 7-0 in the last 7 meetings between these teams. A 14-0 angle. Take Western Kentucky.


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