Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

Larry Ness

Pennsylvania vs. Princeton
Pick: Princeton

The final game of the Ivy League schedule takes place tonight, although NEITHER Penn nor Princeton will be representing the 'Ancient Eight" in the "Big Dance..."

The final game of the Ivy League schedule takes place tonight in New Jersey between long-time rivals, the Penn Quakers and the Princeton Tigers. However, unlike for the better part of the last few decades, NEITHER Penn nor Princeton will be representing the 'Ancient Eight" in the "Big Dance." In fact, Penn is concluding a miserable season in which the Quakers are just 8-19 overall, including 5-8 in Ivy League play.

Penn features four double digits scorers on the season, although the team's best player, guard Tony Hicks (15.5-2.7-3.0), missed the team's last game due to a suspension. He is expected to play here but considering Penn's 2-11 SU record on the road (3-8-1 ATS), I doubt his presence will change the outcome. Penn's lone Ivy League road win came in a 69-65 win at Cornell (2-26 overall, including 1-13 in Ivy League play) but Penn was 0-5 SU and ATS in its other five Ivy road games.

Princeton opened 11-2 in its non-conference schedule, turning some heads. However, a Jan 11 loss at Penn (Ivy League opener), sent the Tigers spiraling to an 0-4 start to league play. Princeton's recovered to win SEVEN of its next nine Ivy games and went 5-2 ATS in those seven SU wins. At 19-8 overall, Princeton will be playing in one of the 'three-lettered" posteason tourneys.

The 6-5 T.J. Bray (18.3-4.7-5.1) has been Princeton's leader all season, joined in the backcourt by freshman Weisz (9.3-4.9) plus two solid frontcourt players in the 6-8 Brase (10.9-5.6) and the 6-10 Barrett (10.8-3.3). Princeton gets win No. 20 here and considering the long-standing rivalry and the fact that the Tigers lost at Penn to open Ivy League play, the victory should come with "room to spare!"

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

Jack Jones

Oklahoma City Thunder -4

Off back-to-back losses, the Oklahoma City Thunder (46-17) really need a victory tonight to stem the tide. I look for them to play with a chip on their shoulder as they try and fend off all comers for the top seed in the Western Conference.

The Thunder have uncharacteristically played poorly over the past couple weeks, dropping five of their last eight overall. However, I believe that has created some line value here as they should be at least a 6-point favorite in this one. They have owned the Rockets, winning by 12, 31 and 9 points in their last three meetings, respectively.

While Oklahoma City is undervalued right now, Houston is overvalued due to a stretch of solid play. It has won five straight coming into this one, including victories over Miami, Indiana and Portland during this stretch. While that is impressive, it is now time to fade the Rockets as they'll be up against a team that simply wants it more tonight.

The Thunder are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. OKC is 9-1-1 ATS in its last 11 vs. NBA Southwest Division opponents. Mark Brooks is 72-42 ATS after having lost two of their last three games as the coach of Oklahoma City. Brooks is 54-29 ATS off an upset loss as a favorite as the coach of Oklahoma City. Bet the Thunder Tuesday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

Dave Price

Memphis Grizzlies -3

Here we have two teams headed in different directions, and I'll take the one on the upswing. Portland has cooled off considerably since its red-hot start. The Trail Blazers have lost two straight and are just 9-10 in their last 19 games. Memphis, meanwhile, is finding its groove. The Grizzlies have won two in a row and are 21-7 in their last 28. Portland hasn't been a good investment recently when checking in without momentum. The Blazers are just 12-23 ATS the last two season following two or more consecutive defeats. The Grizzlies are off a decisive 111-89 victory over Charlotte and are 27-13 ATS the last two seasons after a win of 10 points or more. Memphis has won four straight over Portland by an average of 11.5 points while holding the Blazers to 84.8 points on average. Clearly, the defensive-minded Grizzlies know how to shut down Portland's offensive attack. You want to fade underdogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points that are seeking revenge for a home loss to an opponent if they are off two or more consecutive road losses. Doing so has produced a 76-43 ATS mark the last five seasons. Lay the points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

SPORTS WAGERS

PHILADELPHIA +130 over New Jersey

Regulation only. The Flyers are one of the NHL’s hottest teams right now. They have won seven of their past nine games and have picked up points in eight of those. Additionally, Philadelphia has played five games since the break and has scored three goals or more in all of them, totaling 21 goals over that span. Prior to the break, the Flyers had won four in a row by scores of 2-0, 5-2, 3-1 and 2-1, suggesting that this team can adjust to playing any style. Right now, however, these Philadelphia snipers are hot and when a team is scoring goals, they can’t wait to get back on the ice. Rested and ready to go, the Flyers get to face Martin Brodeur here.

Brodeur has won the past two games he’s started for the Devils while Cory Schneider was buried 7-4 in Detroit in his last start. That has the Devils brass leaning to Brodeur again and that’s a big mistake. In those two recent victories with Brodeur in net, the Devils won 5-4 and 4-3 over Carolina and Detroit respectively. Brodeur’s save percentages in those two games were .879 and .870. In two games prior to the break Brodeur posted save percentages of .714 and .889 against the Rangers and Phoenix respectively. We’re not going to go over this again. Any regular reader of this section knows how we stand in regards to Brodeur. He’s the slowest goaltender in the NHL and his reflexes are a fraction of what they used to be. The Devils can’t keep winning games with Brodeur in net. End of story.


N.Y. Rangers -½ +111 over CAROLINA

Regulation only. The Hurricanes are in big trouble and could not have picked a worse time to face the Rangers. With 18 games left the ‘Canes are eight points out of a playoff spot, which isn’t so bad but the fact that they have to climb over four other teams is. In other words, unless they pick up somewhere in the neighborhood of 28 out of a possible 36 points, they are going to be watching from the rail come playoff time. Carolina has dropped seven of their past eight games and has allowed four goals or more in five of them. Over their past two games, the ‘Canes have allowed nine goals against. This is the time of year that good teams step it up while bad teams fade away and that’s precisely what the Hurricanes are doing. Weak defensively with below average goaltending, Carolina is now asked to defeat a team that they can’t.

The Rangers have defeated the ‘Canes six straight in Raleigh including a recent 4-2 victory just last Friday. Not only are the Rangers in much better form, they have a huge psychological edge over this host which cannot be ignored. The Rangers are 3-3 since the break but even in those three defeats they were the dominant team on the ice, outshooting each team they lost to by counts of 35-31, 42-33 and 37-29. New York has outscored its last two opponents by a count of 7-2. There is no crystal ball in the world that can predict how a goaltender, who is great one night and below average the next, will perform, but if Henrik Lundqvist gets this start and plays adequately, the Rangers will put away this team like they always do. If Cam Talbot gets the start it’s not an issue, as he always plays well. The Rangers are a freight train right now and it’s unlikely that the spiraling ‘Canes get in their way.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

River City Sharps

Wisc Milwaukee +6

The Horizon League championship game takes place tonight in Green Bay as the 5th seeded Wisconsin-Milwaukee takes on 3rd seeded Wright State. The Horizon does this tournament a little bit different and these teams won their seminfinal games on Saturday as the Panthers knocked off top-seeded Wis-GB in OT while Wright State disposed of Cleveland State. But the Horizon plays the Championship game on the home court of the highest remaining seed, so this game will be played at Wright State. These teams played twice in the regular season, splitting those meetings. The Panthers lost by 16 at Wright St and then got their revenge at home on January 30th with a 4-point win. Both of these teams are playing good basketball at the end of the year. The Raiders are 5-0 in their last 5 with a 4-1 record ATS in those games, while the Panthers are 4-1 both SU and against the number. A couple of factors that are pointing us towards taking the points here. First, Milwaukee is 13-7 on the road this season and in those games, they are 13-5 ATS! The other thing we like is that the pressure of these contests seems to keep things tighter and we think that 6 points is just too many in a game of this magnitude for both squads. We are glad to take those 6 points and back the road doggie here tonight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

LT Profits

Texas-San Antonio vs East Carolina
Pick: East Carolina -5.5

The East Carolina Pirates lost four starters from the team that won the CIT Championship last season, but they still managed to salvage a winning record at 16-15 and their offense should be enough to get by the 8-21 Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, who just completed their first season in Conference USA at 4-12 in conference play. Neither of these teams is known for defense, with East Carolina ranking 279th in defensive efficiency and 231st in effective field goal percentage allowed, and UTSA grading out even worse at a horrific 330th in defensive efficiency and 337th in effective field goal percentage allowed. Thus, this game should be decided by the better offense and ECU appears to have a decided edge there with a 51.0 percent effective filed goal percentage, while UTSA is 261st in the land at 47.4 percent. Texas-San Antonio is 5-16 ATS in its last 21 games vs. teams with winning records.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

Bob Balfe

North Texas -5.5

Rice won the earlier game this season, but North Texas has come a long way since February and simply put there is nothing Rice does well. This Owls team can’t shoot and it is hard for them to grab rebounds. North Texas has improved enough for me to give them the nod tonight as the small favorites. Take the Mean Green

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

John Ryan

San Antonio Spurs vs. Chicago Bulls    
Play: San Antonio Spurs -5

The simulator shows a high probability that the Spurs will win this game by at least 6 points and more likely win by double digits. Supporting this graded play is a proven system posting a 45-16 ATS mark for 74% winners since 1996. Play on dogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points (CHICAGO) an average offensive team scoring 92 to 98 PPG and is now facing a suspect defensive team allowing 98 to 102 PPG and after allowing 90 points or less 2 straight games. Spurs run an up tempo style of game and this matches up very well against the Bulls. Bulls are just 17-30 ATS (-16.0 Units) in up-tempo games where they attempt 84 or more shots over the last 2 seasons. Of the numerous projections produced by the SIM, one shows that the Bulls will shoot between 32 and 38% from beyond the arc. Spurs are a rock solid money making 42-19 ATS (+21.1 Units) when their opponents make 32% to 38% of their 3 pointers in a game over the last 3 seasons. Take San Antonio.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

Jeff Alexander

Minnesota Timberwolves -14½

Off Sunday's upset loss at home to Toronto, the Timberwolves will have no problem getting up for this game. That spells bad news for Milwaukee because it was crushed by 22 points the last time it faced the T-Wolves. This is also a terrible scheduling spot for the Bucks, who are playing their 4th game in 5 days. They are 1-11 ATS the last 3 seasons when playing a 4th game in 5 days. The T-Wolves are 9-1 ATS the last 2 seasons versus poor teams that are losing by an average of 6.0 points per game or more on the season. They have kicked these teams by 17.5 points on average. Bet Minnesota.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

Joe Williams

Trail Blazers at Grizzlies
Play: Trail Blazers +3.5

Portland heads to Memphis looking to keep up their dominance against the number in this series. The Blazers are 13-3-1 ATS in their past 17 trips to Memphis, and the road team has covered six in a row in this series. The dog has also cashed in five of the past seven meetings. Portland is 6-1 ATS in their past seven road games, while Memphis is 4-1-1 ATS in their past six overall. However, the Grizzlies have gone just 1-3-1 ATS in their past five games against Western Conference foes.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

David Glisan

Mavericks / Warriors Under 209.5

My score projection is in the 203-205 range. Both head to head meetings this season have gone UN as have 4 straight in series. Golden State now UN in 9 of L11. Team can play decent defense now and market is slow to catch up to team's changing identity.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

David Glisan

Chicago +5

Bulls have been playing excellent basketball lately due to their nasty team defense and they're exactly the kind of team I want to use taking this many points at home.  Spurs do have 'revenge' for 96-86 home loss to the Bulls in late January but that concept hasn't really been successful with this San Antoion team YTD--Spurs are 5-12 ATS overall in revenge games and 1-6 ATS when 'avenging' a home loss.  You can't even count on the Spurs to 'pick their spot' as they're just 12-14 ATS against opponents with winning records YTD.  Bulls are 16-12 ATS as an underdog, have covered 7 of their L10 against opponents with records above .500 and have won 12 of 16 SU/ATS.  Spurs playing good ball as well but in what looks like a very evenly contested game I'd much rather be taking a possession plus with the home team that plays better defense.  Plus you never know when Greg Popovich will decide to rest his starters meaning this game could be won before it begins.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

OC Dooley

Spurs / Bulls Over 190

Most who have taken the time to read this analysis are aware that Chicago despite extending mighty Miami into an OVERTIME session in one of Sunday’s national telecasts still held UNDER the spot as they held the Heat to just 88 points on the scoreboard.  This past Thursday in another nationally televised encounter involving the two-time defending champions San Antonio held Miami to just 87 points.  Of course the Heat are not involved in this particular contest which to me opens the floodgates for the respective offenses.  Ever since suffering a loss versus Chicago back in January, San Antonio’s offense in a sixteen game stretch has averaged a whopping 106 points per game.  Since the beginning of February San Antonio is 11-5 OVER the total in that sixteen game span.  More importantly for the entire season to date when shaking off a prior “spread” defeat San Antonio is 12-4 OVER the number.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

Harry Bondi

GONZAGA (-4) over BYU

Great spot here for Gonzaga, which not only will be very comfortable in this game tonight since it's the school's 14th-straight conference title game, but they also had a much easier time of it in last night's semifinals. The Zags cruised to a 16-point win over St. Mary's while BYU had to go to overtime and have four starters play big minutes in a 2-point win over San Francisco. That non-covering win for the Cougars was no surprise as it dropped the team's record to 8-20 ATS in conference tournament games since 1997. The Cougars are also just 7-14 ATS in their last 21 games as underdog and they were a different team away from home this year. Lay the short number as the Zags punch a Big Dance ticket.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAYS

Wright State/ Wisc- Milwaukee Under 129: Normally championship games breed tightness and a slower paced games and i see that here. The teams met twice this year and both games had an OU line of 128 and both games, went over tyhe total, but barely as one game put up 130 points and the other put up 132 points. Now the previous 6 in the series went 5-0-1 to the Under, with no more than 116 points scored in any of those games. This one should revert back to those games. Wright State is already a slow pace team that really relies on their defense to win games. They come in allowing just 63.5 ppg overall, 59.7 ppg in neutral site games and just 60 ppg in their last 5 games overall. On Offense they have scored just 66.7 ppg overall and just 68.2 ppg in their last 5 games. They do not push tempo all that much. The Panthers come in playing solid defense right now as they have allowed just 63.5 ppg (Regulation) in their last 4 games, plus they have allowed just 61.2 ppg in the last 10 meetings with the Raiders. The Panthers are not a strong offense, scoring 70.4 ppg overall, 69.8 ppg on the road and 68 ppg in neutral site games. The Wright State defense should keep them under those numbers. This game should be a grinder, with both  teams not taking chances and relying on their defenses to win it. Look for a game of right around 120 points being scored. 

IPFW/ North Dakota State Under 142: Both of these teams have been playing excellent defense of late, so I will be looking at the Under here. IPFW has allowed 60 points or less in 4 of their last 5 games, while NDSU has allowed 57.3 ppg in their last 8 games. Both defenses have played very well on neutral site games this year as the Mastodons have allowed just 58.2 ppg in their 4 neutral site games, while the Bison have allowed just 59 ppg in their two games on neutral courts. Both offenses do score in the mid 70's but it will be hard for them to get there in this one vs these tough defensive teams. Also we not that this is a finals games, which should have a slower pace to it. 3 of the last 4 in this series has put up just 127 points or less and the under is 7-2 in NDSU's last 9 vs the Summit league and 11-4 in their last 15 neutral site games. I feel this will be a tightly contested game with both teams walking the ball up the court for much of the 2nd half, while the first half should be a bit lower scoring thanks to tightness. Lower 130's at best here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, March 11

Dr. Bob

Opinion - North Texas (-5½) over Rice

North Texas and Rice are both bad teams but North Texas won 4 of 5 games before point guard Chris Jones sprained his ankle early in the regular season finale against Tulsa. Jones is expected to be ready to play tonight, as the Mean Green hope to avenge a 70-75 loss at Rice back in early February, which was the last game that the Owls have won (they’ve lost 7 straight games since). North Texas applies to a 49-10-1 ATS conference tournament revenge situation and my ratings favor North Texas by 6 ½ points with Jones playing. My concern is that while Jones may play, his mobility might not be as good as usual, which would affect his normal stellar defense (he averages 1.7 steals per game). That concern is enough to keep me off the Mean Green as a Best Bet but I’ll lean with North Texas at -6 or less.

Opinion – Dallas (+5) over GOLDEN STATE

Dallas has been consistently good on the road under coach Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks are 39-14-2 ATS as a road dog of more than 2 points with rest over the last 4 seasons, including 18-3 ATS if they’ve won their last 2 games, which is the case here. The Warriors are also on a winning streak but the Warriors are not as good after a win (53-60-2 ATS) as they’ve been after a loss (64-42 ATS) under coach Mark Jackson and they’re just 21-32-1 ATS in regular season games after 2 or more consecutive wins. My ratings favor Golden State by 5½ points, so the line is now a bit low but using the Mavericks’ road games against the Warriors’ games off a win gives me a line of 3½ points. I’ll lean with Dallas at +5 or more.

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