Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

I have something wrong with my PC today, for some reason I can't open Firefox which has all my bookmarks for free plays so till I fix PC I won't have all the usual ones.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

Alatex

Kansas at Oklahoma State
Play: Kansas Pk

Kansas clinched a share of the Big XII title in its last game at home against Oklahoma and go for the outright title this evening in Stillwater. The Jayhawks should be able to do so against an Oklahoma State team that has won two straight since the return of Marcus Smart, but is still not the team that everyone expected them to be at the beginning of the season. OSU snapped a seven-game losing skid in Smart's return against Texas Tech and followed that win up with a blowout win vs. TCU (combined 5-25 record in league play). The Cowboys are still a flawed team and had lost four straight games before Smart's suspension. They have very little depth and their defense has suffered without Michael Cobbins in the middle. Kansas will take advantage of the Cowboys in the paint and on the glass with Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid. Oklahoma State definitely has one of the strongest home courts in college basketball and should have an enthusiastic crowd but even a spirited effort won't be enough. Kansas has won in its last two visits to Stillwater and has beaten the Cowboys in six of the last seven meetings. Look for them to make it three in a row on this court and clinch the conference title outright.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

Wunderdog

Central Michigan @ Ball State
Pick: Central Michigan +2

A very forgettable season winds down for the Ball State Cardinals today. Ball State enters at a woeful 4-22 on the season, and half of those four wins were against Division-3 opponents. They own just a 3 and 4 point wins against Division-1 opponents, so they are 7 points away from being winless. The latest losing streak has reached nine games. After losing 13 of 14 games against Division-1 opponents, Central Michigan has suddenly found life, winning two of their last three, and one of those was earned by putting up 101 points vs. this same Cardinals team. They off a poor offensive showing in their last game, but they have come back strong after scoring less than 50 points, following with a perfect 6-0 ATS mark in their last six. The Cards just 7-21 ATS in their last 28 at home vs. a team with a losing road record. Make the play on Central Michigan.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

OC Dooley

Mississippi State +14.5

One can argue that Missouri is actually “under-priced” considering that in the middle of February they traveled to Mississippi State and humiliated the hosts (78-36 final score) in what was a defensive clinic.  Admittedly this is a dangerous wager siding with a horrible Mississippi State contingent who currently is on an 0-10 skid.  Even worse is that in SEC Conference games on the road Mississippi State has gone 0-7 so far with all but one of the setbacks by the double-digit variety, but as mentioned above that just brings into question why Missouri opened at most offshore locations as ONLY a fourteen point home favorite.  Despite their horrible straight-up record Mississippi State this season when shaking off a conference loss have actually made bettors brave enough to side with them (8-2 ATS) a hefty profit.  On the flipside Missouri this season when cast as a double-digit favorite (0-6 ATS) have been a financial disaster.

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Jeff Benton

Your Saturday freebie is the Nebraska Cornhuskers as the home favorite over Northwestern.

The Huskers have been as close to a sure thing as you can get this year when playing in Lincoln, as they enter this game with a 13-1 straight up mark and an 11-2 against the spread mark in their lined home games for the season.

Nebraska is also on an overall 11-2 spread run their past 13 games, and will be facing a Northwestern team whose wind has left their sails. Chris Collins' team has lost 5 in a row both straight up and against the spread.

The Wildcats losing streak started at home against the Huskers in a 53-49 setback as the -2 point home choice. That makes it the wrong side of the ledger for the Wildcats the last pair of series meetings, as last year's visit to Nebraska ended in a 64-49 win and cover for the host Huskers.

Nothing really to think about here, just back Nebraska to make it 14-1 straight up at home, and 12-2 against the spread in those home games.

4♦ NEBRASKA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

Craig Davis

Your free play of the day is on the Michigan State Spartans to dismantle Illinois as they get back on track in the Big 10 Conference.

This Michigan State team has definitely been on an interesting run this season, which has been extremely damaged by numerous injuries until just recently.

After starting the season as the #1 team in the land, Michigan State played a tough non-conference schedule, dropped out of the top 5, and then started watching their players drop like flies.

What was once an 11-game winning streak has now turned into a win-loss-win-loss pattern over the last 10 games.

What started with a 71-66 win vs. Indiana, the Spartans proceeded to lose their next game, 80-75 to Michigan and has kept up that pattern of wins and loss. Sine their last game was a loss, it's only feasible to think they're due for a win... and this is just the team to get it done against.

Take Sparty as your free play of the day.

2♦ MICHIGAN STATE

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Scott Delaney

My free play for Saturday is on Memphis plus the points against Louisville, in a key American Athletic Conference clash.

I'm always one for the revenge factor, particularly when you're talking about the defending national champs who were treated like BB's on their own court in the first meeting. But the fact remains, the Cardinals weren't just shocked by the Tigers the first time around, they were outplayed, outhustled and outmanned.

Louisville is in after its seventh straight win and is sitting atop the conference with Cincinnati. Memphis lost 77-68 at Houston, but coach Josh Pastner didn't hesitate to use harsh word to criticize his struggling backcourt.

Now the Tigers are at home in front of a sold-out crowd and catching a tricky number the oddsmakers have laid out there, seemingly attractive for suckers who buy into the revenge theory too easily. The old Metro Conference rivals are going to get after it today, and the matchups are pretty damn even on the court. Senior guards Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson and Geron Johnson have plenty of reason to step up in this one, and redeem themselves in the right spot at the right time.

After the first meeting, Louisville coach Rick Pitino called the loss to Memphis the worst of the season for his Cardinals because they played poor defense and simply don't match up well. He knows this one will be tough, he knows his team is talented enough to pull out the win and I'm smart enough to know the defending champs in revenge are most certainly a good play.

But laying this particular number to a team your own coach has admitted has the matchup-edge, well, it's just plain dumb. I'll take the home underdog here and look for a close game. No big deal, it's a free play, so have fun with it.

5♦ MEMPHIS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

Brad Wilton

My Saturday free play release is the Hawks of St. Joseph's as they head up to visit the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure.

The high-flying Hawks hit Olean with wins in 7 of their last 8 games straight up, and they have also covered in 6 of those 8 games. Phil Martelli's team has not been bothered by playing away from Hawk Hill either, as they have won 5 of their last 6 games straight up on the road entering action for Saturday.

As for St. Bonaventure, they have split their last 6 on their home floor, and that includes losing inexplicably by 9 points at home as the -11 point favorite the last time they played at the Reilly Center against Rhode Island on February 22nd.

This is the first and only meeting of the season between the Atlantic Ten foes, and I am sure the Hawks have this date circled in red since they have lost the last 3 series meetings both straight up and against the spread.

The 20-7 Hawks get it done on the road one more time, as they get triple-revenge on the Bonnies.

3♦ ST. JOSEPH'S

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

Gabriel Dupont

My free play for tonight is Cleveland State plus the small number at Valparaiso.

It's the end of the regular season, as the Vikings (20-10 overall, 11-4 Horizon League) travel to play Valparaiso (17-13, 9-6) in a battle of top-tier teams of the Horizon.

Why Cleveland State will challenge for the outright in this game - The Vikings have won nine of their last 10 games and 10 of the last 12, and adding to the wealth of momentum they have right now, they've won five straight road games. Granted, I know they haven't played a road game since winning at Wright State back on Feb. 8, but the last thing they're going to want is to head into the postseason off a loss.

Why Valpo shouldn't be the chalk - Cleveland State won the first meeting between these teams, back on Jan. 25, a rather 19-point win in Cleveland, 69-50. The Crusaders, as much as I respect the fact they're in third place and have won six of the last nine meetings overall, couldn't contain the Vikings the first time around, as five players scored in double figures. CSU is 11-8 all-time at Valparaiso.

Basically, why the Vikings are my SMART FREE PLAY in this game - Cleveland State, which has clinched the No. 2 seed in the league tournament and already has a bye into the semifinals, leads the all-time series with Valparaiso, 29-13. The win in January snapped a four-game win streak by the Crusaders. I love the make-up of this team, and how well the Vikings play as a team. Cleveland State has shot better than 50 percent from the floor in 15 games this year, going 12-3 in those games. Plus, the Vikings sit atop the Horizon League and rank 32nd in the country in field goal percentage (.473).

Though there isn't much else to play for, the Vikings will want to hold on tight to their pride and win this season-finale to sustain their momentum. Cleveland State comes into this one having covered five straight after an ATS loss, 11 of 12 on the road and seven of nin in conference play. The Crusaders, meanwhile, are mired in a 1-5 ATS slide - all in conference play.

4♦ CLEVELAND STATE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

Dave Price

Minnesota Timberwolves -3½

Minnesota has had three days to rest up and prepare for this game while Sacramento has a game last night in Los Angeles. While several good teams have been caught looking past the Kings this season, I'm willing to bet Minnesota won't be doing so. The Kings won 111-108 at Minnesota Jan. 15, and the T-Wolves will be out for payback. The Wolves are 12-3 ATS this season when seeking revenge for a home loss to an opponent. They have won these contests by an average score of 104.8 to 98.1. The Timberwolves are also 11-1 ATS in their last 12 road games versus a team with a losing home record. Lay the points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

Joseph D'Amico

Kentucky vs. South Carolina   
Play: Kentucky -9

Believe it or not, at 21-7, Kentucky has fallen short of pre-season expectations. The Wildcats come off a 71-67 OT loss to the Razorbacks on Thursday in which they shot a mere 34.2%. They do play well in the Conference at 11-4 SU and have won 4 straight road games. Overall, UK is a team that posts 77.8 PPG and own the 6th best offensive rebounding unit and the 39th best on the defensive boards. Julius Randle is a stud, posting 15.7 PPG and 10.2 RPG. He leads an athletic bunch with 4 players putting up DD's. South Carolina is 10-18 overall, and 3-12 in SEC play. The Gamecock's have been a doormat all season long and just recently dropped 3 in a row and 6 of their L8. Frosh Guard, Sindarius Thornwell has showed signs of fatigue of late after carrying the team for most of the season. They just done' have the horses to run in this one. The Wildcat's are 5-1 ATS the L6 meetings with the Gamecock's.

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Michael Alexander

Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trailblazers   
Play: Portland Trailblazers -11½

The Portland Trail Blazers look to extend their winning streak to five games when they host the injury-plagued Denver Nuggets tonight. Portland is 4-1 without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge, who is out indefinitely with a groin injury, and Damian Lillard has raised his game while averaging 27.2 points in that span. The Nuggets have been without top scorer Ty Lawson for eight games and stand 1-9 over the last 10, including four straight losses.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

Joe Gavazzi

Georgia State -7½

We will push the envelope with the Panthers for another big victory this afternoon. While much is made of the scoring trio of Hunter, Harrow, and White (over 50 PPG), it is an underrated defense that has stepped up to preserve many of the victories in the 14-1 SU Sun Belt season. Never was it more evident than in the first meeting vs. this Texas St. team, when they held the Bobcats to 41 points in a 27 point rout at the Georgia St. Sports Arena. Having a 3 game league lead against a team you have beaten by 27 points, can lead to dangerous overconfidence, especially off a 28 point win. But, this is an ego driven team who is emerging toward a league championship and feeding off the momentum. Texas St. just lost a heartbreaker to W. Kentucky on this court (51-50) for their 5th loss in the last 6 games. At 4-11 SU in league play, they could be an easy victim for the Panther.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

Jeff Alexander

Jacksonville State +8½

Now is the time to fade Belmont. The Bruins are off a 94-75 win at SIU Edwardsville. However, they are 4-13 ATS in road games following a road win under coach Byrd, and they fall to 2-9 ATS in this set if the win came by double digits. Belmont has won these 11 games on average but only by 2.1 points. Look for Jacksonville State to leave it all on the floor and keep this one within the number.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, March 1

Bill Milton

Bowling Green (+) over Akron

Since Feb 9th BGSU is 2-4 SU but the combined TOTAL of the four losses in that span is eight points, and they are getting that many in one game here. With all the close losses, it is not unreasonable to say that the Falcons are a couple of buckets away from a 5-1 or even 6-0 SU run, and here they are taking on an incredibly banged up Zips team that is 1-4 in its last five contests. Our Power Ratings on this one had the game at Akron -4, and finally note that the Zips are 4-10 ATS this season as chalk.

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