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Big Dog 2-0 Playoff Start

Bobby Dalton is 2-0 in the NBA Playoffs with a pair of Game 1 winners, including last night’s big upset with Portland.

Join Dalton for his first 10* Best Bet Top Play of the restart (66.7% in regular season 10* picks) with an afternoon 10* Best Bet Top Play Total for Game 2 action – pay only after you win!

Nelly’s Baseball had an ‘OVER’ that cashed in the 2nd inning last night, we have another great Total Domination play for Wednesday night – $15 pay after you win! We hit over 63% in the NBA regular season and we are ready to get on a roll in the playoffs as well with an afternoon selection.

Free Pick Wednesday – 971/972 UNDER 12.5 Houston Astros (Valdez) at Colorado Rockies (Castellani) 7:40 PM CT

Coor’s Field brings very high totals but Framber Valdez has been an appealing option on the mound for the Astros. He filled a vital role for Houston last season as a spot starter and long reliever and so far in 2020 has a 1.90 ERA in nearly 24 innings. His strikeout-to-walk numbers are excellent and he has kept the ball in the ballpark while featuring a great groundball rate. The Rockies have cooled off from a hot start to the season with losses in five of the last six games and have scored just 18 runs over the past five games combined. In two games in Houston Colorado managed only two combined runs and over 20 innings these teams combined for just six total runs the past two days. Colorado has positive splits vs. left-handers but overall the Rockies have just a .677 team OPS in the past six games. After a slow start the Astros have climbed back to AL contention but it has been with pitching, not with the star-studded offense. Houston has won six straight games, including the past four by a single run. The Astros have allowed only seven runs combined in those six games, winning each of the past four games despite only scoring a total of nine runs. On the season Houston has a team OPS of only .657 vs. right-handers and they have hit more home runs vs. lefties this season despite 279 fewer at bats. Ryan Castellani is making his third MLB start and he is an unlikely candidate to be in the rotation after a rough season at AAA in 2019. That was a short injury-riddled campaign however and the 2014 2nd round pick has high-ceiling stuff. So far in 2020 his ERA is 1.04 with a 10.4 K/9. He has been very fortunate so far as that isn’t a sustainable pace but he could still provide an effective start against a Houston lineup that shockingly has a worse team wOBA than the Royals and Giants. The ‘under’ is 13-9-1 in Rockies games this season and the move to Denver has brought a four-run swing from yesterday’s game that finished 2-1 in 11 innings with no runs scored until the 10th inning. Both teams have great bullpen numbers in the past handful of games including a 0.59 ERA for Houston and the great starting efforts so far in this series leaves most top relief options available today.

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Big Dog Best Bet Tonight

Bobby Dalton is 6-2 in MLB 10* Best Bets this season! He won his Trips-2-Win offer last night and he has a big TOTAL play for Wednesday’s schedule in his next guaranteed offer. Add to that 75% Best Bet run with tonight’s selection for $19!

Nelly’s Baseball has added back-to-back winning nights on the diamond and we’ll aim to win in Interleague action Wednesday with a side selection for only $15!

Dalton also has picks in NHL and NBA action for Wednesday!

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NBA Restart in 48 Hours!

On Thursday, July 30 the NBA will return with the start of an eight-game conclusion to the regular season to finalize the seeding for the playoffs. We discussed each team with notes and standings in our NBA Restart Preview Guide a few weeks ago.

While the new format with a possible play-in round for the #8 spot is alluring, ultimately the positioning changes won’t be of critical importance to most of the contenders. Most teams will simply be looking to stay healthy and get back in sync for a playoff run. That will still mean some great opportunities, particularly for certain underdog situations in games that may only carry meaning on one side.

Once the playoffs begin, it could be wild run of closely contested series. The long layoff and the lack of a home court advantage will certainly penalize the favorites that built great records before the break, and certainly this could be a second straight season with a surprise NBA champion. The NBA playoffs are notoriously chalky but that may not be the case in this unusual shortened season run where every team will be at risk to have juggle its roster in key stretches.

Here are the top contenders and the adjusted NBA title prices, some of which have changed from the numbers in our NBA Restart Preview Guide which was put together several weeks ago:

Los Angeles Lakers (+250): Everyone will be expecting a LA/LA Western Conference Finals but the Lakers are moving forward without Avery Bradley who started 44 games and was a great defensive asset. Rajon Rondo is also likely out until September. Anthony Davis may open up the restart on the shelf along with Dwight Howard, though the Lakers have very little risk of losing the #1 seed in the West.

Milwaukee Bucks (+250): The Bucks are a massive favorite to win the Eastern Conference and almost certainly will be the #1 seed in the playoffs. A franchise and city in a long title drought will have a harder path than they deserved in these circumstances as no team was likely hurt more (in terms of championship probability) than the Bucks. Milwaukee had rested Giannis Antetokounmpo consistently to prepare for this run. Adding to the challenge has been the opportunity for several quality East teams that underachieved to get healthy.

Los Angeles Clippers (+333): The Clippers have pulled a slightly easier schedule than the Lakers in the 8 games to finalize the seeding but 5.5 games is an overwhelming hurdle even if the Clippers take the opener with their rival. This group isn’t a lock to hold on to the #2 seed as Denver or Utah will try to make a run at passing them up. That is of particular importance with Houston lurking as the likely #5 or #6 seed though many seeding scenarios are still in play in the middle of the West playoff standings. The Clippers have roster issues as well with Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrel, and Lou Williams all leaving the team for various situations as this team could be vulnerable.

Given the unusual nature of this playoff season the variance figures to be higher and we’ll be looking to take a shot with some of the sleepers listed deeper in the odds. Be sure to join us for our NBA Restart Package for only $199.

Nelly’s has had three absolutely huge NBA regular seasons in a row, hitting just over 63% in 2017-18, just over 66% in 2018-19, and we were riding a 62.9% record including a 10-1 run before Covid-19 shut down the 2019-20 season. We’ll be well prepared for the resumption of the regular season and the playoff schedule in Orlando expected to span from late July through the Finals in late October (we went 4-1 in the NBA Finals last season).

Nelly’s and Bobby Dalton have both had winning starts through the first five days of the MLB season, check out daily picks or join for the rest of the MLB season!

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NBA Restart July 30

The NBA will restart on July 30 with an eight-game finish to the regular season to finalize the seeding for the playoffs, with a new possible twist in play for the final spot in each conference.

Nelly’s has had three absolutely huge NBA regular seasons in a row, hitting just over 63% in 2017-18, just over 66% in 2018-19, and we were riding a 62.9% record including a 10-1 run before Covid-19 shut down the 2019-20 season. We’ll be well prepared for the resumption of the regular season and the playoff schedule in Orlando expected to span from late July through the Finals in late October (we went 4-1 in the NBA Finals last season).

Join us for the entire duration from July through October,  featuring nearly three months of daily updates for just $199. 

We will be posting a short preview guide for the restart this week – email us at nelly@nellysports.com to receive a copy when it is sent out (likely by July 17), including a look at each remaining team and several win total predictions.

EASTERN CONFERENCE TEAMS (Odds to Win Conference):

Milwaukee Bucks (-185): The Bucks are a massive favorite to win the Eastern Conference and almost certainly will be the #1 seed in the playoffs. There is no home court advantage ahead however and the Bucks were ousted in the Eastern Conference Finals last season in six games against Toronto despite being the #1 seed. A franchise and city in a long title drought will have a harder path than they deserved in these circumstances.

Toronto Raptors (+600): No one expected the Raptors to be in same position they were last season without Kawhi Leonard but Toronto is on pace to again be the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. At +600 to win the East few are banking on another long postseason run but the restart does provide an opportunity for a team that has proven many wrong before.

Boston Celtics (+550): The Celtics are +550 to win the Eat despite being closer to falling to the #4 spot than moving up to the #2 spot at the restart. Gordon Hayward is also expected to leave the bubble in September for the birth of a child in the middle of possibly the conference finals if the Celtics get that far. Respect for Brad Stevens in these unusual circumstances is carrying some weight.

Miami Heat (+1100): The Heat are a surprise top four team and will be saddled with a tough schedule out of the restart with four difficult games including facing the three teams above them in the standings. Indiana and Philadelphia are just two games behind Miami, though the urgency in playing for seeding may be less significant in this format… this content continues in our NBA Restart preview guide.

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March Update

We wish we had NCAA Tournament picks to post for you this week but the sports world is on hold and unfortunately our successful 2019-2020 basketball season has been cut short. We’ll hope the NBA playoffs will return at some point this summer and we’ll be preparing for an abbreviated MLB season and hope that football can stay on schedule this fall.

It is a difficult time for everyone right now and our business will certainly be greatly impacted by the absence of a sports schedule. We have parked our Free Pick Phone line and PIN system lines for the time being and will plan to activate those lines when the action returns.

We do plan to move forward with a Green Sheet for the 2020-21 season and that will be an online only subscription that will start with several off-season issues in mid-April. We’ll have a $99.00 season subscription rate available until the first issue comes out in April. Support us in this lean period of the calendar by signing up in advance for next season at a greatly discounted rate.

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Free NCAA Pick Tuesday

#625 Davidson +6 over Richmond 6:00 PM CT

Richmond has won seven of the past eight games to stay relevant in the NCAA Tournament bubble chase. The Spiders turned in an emphatic 96-71 win over UMass at home on Saturday but this team has lost a pair of A-10 home games and this will be a huge game for Davidson who had a miserable shooting game in a home loss vs. Richmond earlier in the season. Coached by offensive genius Bob McKillop, Davidson can post big numbers but is reliant on hitting outside shots. On the season Davidson is among the nation’s best with a 37 percent 3-point percentage while even stronger than that in A-10 play as the top team in the conference beyond the arc. Richmond has good numbers defending the 3-point shot but the Spiders have also played one of the weakest schedules in the conference. Davidson was humbled by Dayton in its last game on Friday but has had a nice turnaround to prepare for this opportunity and the Wildcats are 8-4 since losing the first meeting against Richmond. In that span are a 4OT defeat and a one-point road loss as Davidson could easily be a few games higher in the standings. Davidson has several recent wins in this building and with good size the Wildcats are an attractive underdog with the ability to put together big scoring runs. Seven of the past nine meetings between these teams have been decided by single-digit margins as the underdog points are appealing.

Nelly’s is on a 43-24, 64% 6-Week run in our basketball selections. Join us for a huge opportunity Tuesday night.

Bobby Dalton went 2-0 last night and has a great 2/3 offer tonight with 10*, 7* , and 5* picks, riding a 14-4 run since Jan. 22 on 10* basketball selections. Also don’t miss XFL action this weekend with an 8-0 start to the season for the Big Dog!

Big E is 12-7 in his 20* Conference Game of the Year picks – don’t miss his next big play!

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NCAA Contender Concerns

NCAA Contender Concerns

Selection Sunday is less than two weeks away and some of the top contenders for the NCAA Tournament are clear. Many expect a wide open field this season however and here some possible concerns for 11 teams that have a good shot to wind up seeded in the most favorable spots on the bracket.  

Kansas: Bill Self’s past tournament failures

With a long winning steak heading into the final week of the regular season including a late February win at Baylor, Kansas is a near-certain #1 seed and currently in position to be the #1 overall seed in the tournament. The statistics are very compelling with the top rated defense in the country while Silvio De Sousa is set to rejoin the team next week. This team has great size and talent and a quality track record featuring five top 20 caliber wins, four of which have come away from home while being a one-point and a two-point loss away from being 28-1.

It is impossible to ignore Bill Self’s disappointing NCAA Tournament track record however. Kansas did win the 2007-08 championship but they had a favorable path in terms of opponents and locations on that run, including beating a #12 seed in the Sweet 16 and a #10 seed in the Elite 8. Recall they also trailed by nine in the championship game with just over two minutes to go before Memphis collapsed including missing four of its final five free throws while failing to foul up by three in the final seconds of regulation.

Since that championship season Kansas has been a #1 seed six different times while at least a #4 seed in every other year and yet Self and the Jayhawks have been back to the Final Four just twice in those in 11 seasons while failing to escape the opening weekend six different times in Self’s tenure, all as a top four seed. Kansas is a bad free throw shooting team and has limited depth with the roster getting a scare with a possible injury to Udoka Azubuike last weekend. Kansas has the profile of a top contender and this is Self’s best defense since the championship season but we’ve seen plenty of great Jayhawks teams falter in March in recent years as it will be an uncomfortable choice to write Kansas six times in your bracket.

Gonzaga: Not a championship caliber defense

A run to the national title game in the 2016-17 season has legitimized Gonzaga as a program that can win it all and this year’s team could be a #1 seed for the fourth time in the past eight years. Gonzaga has made at least the Sweet 16 each of the past four seasons and this year’s team grades as the top offensive team in the nation. There is great size on the roster and this is an experienced veteran team even with significant turnover from last season’s squad that fell just short of the Final Four.

Gonzaga doesn’t have a ton of weight in its non-conference campaign however as wins over Texas A&M, Washington, Arizona, and North Carolina didn’t pan out to be overly meaningful results despite the past track records of those programs. A one-point overtime win over Oregon is the best non-conference win for the Bulldogs but that result was cancelled out the next day in the Bahamas with an 18-point loss to Michigan.

With BYU and Saint Mary’s expected to also be in the NCAA Tournament field the WCC is as good as it has been in several years but it will still be a big leap in competition for the Bulldogs in March. This is also Mark Few’s worst defensive efficiency team since 2010-11 when Gonzaga earned just a #11 seed and was bounced in the round of 32. The Gonzaga team that lost in the championship to North Carolina graded as the nation’s best defense, this year’s team barely cracks the top 40, a range almost no championship teams emerge from historically.

San Diego State: A long layoff without quality opposition

It took a comeback win in Saturday’s regular season finale for San Diego State to avoid losing for a second time in three games, pulling out a comeback win at Nevada to finish 28-1. Some will argue it was better for the Aztecs to not enter the tournament with the pressure of being undefeated but another issue for San Diego State is that the Mountain West tournament starts this week and there will be at least an 11-day layoff before the Round of 64 game for a team that could still earn a #1 seed if they are victorious this week in Las Vegas.

November wins over BYU, Creighton, and Iowa have put some meat on the great record for San Diego State but from a possible Round of 32 game it will have been three and half months since the Aztecs have faced a top 40 caliber opponent. The Mountain West hasn’t performed very well in recent NCAA Tournaments and this looks like a down year for the conference as whole, grading as the 10th best conference in the nation when as recently as 2012-13 the conference cracked the national top four.

That season produced five NCAA Tournament teams from the conference but those teams collectively wound up 2-5 in the Big Dance despite four of five teams being seeded #8 or better. Last year the conference produced just two teams in the field and both lost badly in the Round of 64 as favorites. This year Utah State has a shot at earning one of the final at-large bids but if the Aztecs roll through the conference tournament it will likely be a one-bid conference. The Aztecs have been a great story but the track record of success for teams from this conference has been poor. This team also often becomes too reliant on low percentage shots from Malachi Flynn while by major conference standards this group is going to have a hard time matching up size-wise against most power conference foes.

Baylor: Rebounding and free throws

The #1 team in the polls most of the season with a 23-game winning streak Baylor could still earn a #1 draw even with losses in two of past three games. Two opportunities for quality wins finish the regular season slate and the Bears will hope to fare well in the Big XII tournament, though they are 0-3 in the past three seasons in the conference tournament.

Baylor has a top 20 offensive and defensive efficiency ranking and as one of the nation’s top defensive teams this team has a championship pedigree even with some offensive lapses at times. Baylor is a bottom four team in the Big XII in two-point scoring and free throw shooting but the deliberate pace and the mix of zone defense can be challenging for opponents, particularly in a short scheduling turnaround in a tournament setting. Scott Drew’s team made the Elite 8 in 2009-10 and 2011-12 but hasn’t advanced past the Sweet 16 since but under Drew the Bears have never drawn better than a #3 seed, which they almost certainly will this season.

Baylor is not a good defensive rebounding team and opponents were handed the perfect formula for beating the Bears by a marginal TCU group last week. Keep pace with Baylor on the boards and turning the game into a free throw shooting contest with Baylor struggling at the line outside of MaCio Teague. Davion Mitchell is a primary ball handler for the Bears despite being a 68 percent free throw shooter and a 31 percent 3-point shooter and without a starter above 6’9” the Bears don’t have as imposing of a front court as they have had in years past.

Dayton: Marginal defense with quality wins absent

On paper there is a lot to like about Dayton sitting at 27-2 with both losses away from home in overtime against high-quality competition. Dayton grades as one of the best offensive teams in the nation including the top 2-point shooting percentage in the nation as the Flyers rarely have scoring droughts. Obi Toppin is a future NBA lottery pick that is capable of being one of the stars of the tournament as well.

The highest rated win for Dayton is against Saint Mary’s however as while the Atlantic 10 has pretty good depth with a handful of decent teams, it ultimately is at risk to be a one-bid league should the Flyers win the conference tournament. Dayton has also been pushed with single-digit wins in six straight road games as the Flyers have had some good fortune to escape unblemished in league play.

Dayton will certainly be the worst defensive team to land in the top three seed lines in the tournament field. If the Flyers can win out they could earn a favorable venue draw with Cleveland a possible landing spot and if they end up in the Midwest the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games are in Indianapolis as the Flyers have a chance to be ahead of every Big Ten team as well as Kentucky, teams that would normally be considered to snag the top billing in Cleveland. Getting the Midwest draw would likely mean being the #2 seed in the Midwest behind Kansas however as if Dayton lands a #1 seed, they would likely land in the New York region for a more daunting path in terms of locations.

Duke: Youth and road woes

The Blue Devils haven’t resembled a #1or a #2 seed lately dropping three of the past four games but wins over Kansas and Michigan State are going to keep Duke in the mix for a great seed should they finish strong. As usual Duke seems likely to land a close-to-home draw in Greensboro, particularly with the other major Tobacco Road power not likely to even be in the field barring a miracle ACC tournament run.

It has been a down year for the ACC but Duke is one of only a handful of teams with a chance to finish as a top 10 offensive and defensive efficiency team and in great contrast to last year’s popular title contender that fizzled in the Elite 8, this year’s team is a good outside shooting team and an improved free throw shooting team. Coach K’s mixed NCAA Tournament track record deserves scrutiny but the program has made the Elite 8 four of the past seven years though Duke hasn’t won a title from outside of a #1 seed since Krzyzewski’s first championship in 1990-91.

Duke is also just not as talented as last year’s team that featured three players drafted in the top 10 of the 2019 NBA Draft. Vernon Carey is considered a borderline lottery pick but the youth of this team has shown up with very marginal results on the road in ACC play including four losses and a few other narrow escapes. New York has been kind to Duke as a Greensboro-New York draw could be very appealing for this group but a strong finish will be needed for Duke to still have a shot at a preferred seeding placement given the recent slide.

Michigan State: Inconsistent performances all season

The preseason #1 didn’t look the part most of the season with nine losses by mid-February after a stretch of losing four of five early in February including two losses in East Lansing. With three straight wins including a huge win at Big Ten leader Maryland last weekend, Michigan State has put itself back in play for a decent seed on Selection Sunday, possibly even a #2 spot even with a high loss count. With some help, Michigan State can still win a share of the Big Ten title though the remaining games with Penn State and Ohio State will be challenging.

Tom Izzo has been to eight Final Fours and most impressively is that the past five trips have come seeded at #5, #2, #5, #7, and a #2 as this team hasn’t needed a favorable path to get the job done. Less important than seeding could be locations for the Spartans as drawing a #2 or #3 seed in Indianapolis would be very appealing if the Spartans finish strong, though there will be great competition for those spots from teams like Maryland, Seton Hall, Dayton, Kentucky, and Louisville.

The Spartans have quietly joined the top 15 of the efficiency rankings on both sides of the ball to sit in rare company and the Spartans are the #1 effective field goal rate team on both sides of the ball in the highly competitive and tightly-packed Big Ten. The conference grind has hurt Michigan State’s record but could have team prepared for a March run but the inconsistency of a team that returned three starters from last year’s Final Four team will make this group difficult to trust. While Izzo’s Final Four appearances stand out, Michigan State has also lost in the opening weekend of the tournament three of the past four years.

Seton Hall: Late season health and not living up to its size

The Pirates don’t have the credentials to earn a #1 seed with seven losses and only a win over Maryland standing out on the non-conference schedule despite what will be a stand-alone Big East title with one more win. Size and experience will make Seton Hall a team that many will pencil into the Final Four even if the Pirates are in a tougher seeding position than most of the other teams on this list. Winning out could put the Pirates as a #2 seed in a favorable venue draw and Myles Powell is the kind of player the team can lean on to carry the load for a big run.

Kevin Willard has done well to put Seton Hall into the NCAA Tournament for now a fifth straight season but trusting him to advance deep into the tournament is difficult with Willard 2-4 in the NCAA Tournament including a blowout loss to Wofford last season in Jacksonville. The only quality non-conference win for Seton Hall last season was also against Maryland and this team has had a few recent ugly spells on offense, notably in the recent losses to Creighton and Providence.

Despite the experience of this team, turnovers can be a problem for this team and this is also a marginal 3-point shooting team, ranking seventh in the Big East at just 32 percent. Seton Hall also routinely struggles to dominate on the glass despite having more height than just about any team in the country. The roster could also enter March at less than full strength with Anthony Nelson and Tyrese Samuel missing recent games and Powell battling knee pain the last few weeks. The potential for a #2 seed could also be erased in the next week as well with two difficult games remaining facing Villanova and Creighton to close the regular season.

Maryland: Poor results outside the Big Ten vs. major conference foes

Somewhat via attrition Maryland looks likely to stand as the Big Ten regular season champions, though the gap with Maryland at #1 down to Ohio State and Michigan at #7 and #8 in the standings is miniscule. Maryland ultimately had one of the weaker Big Ten schedules with only single meetings vs. Penn State, Wisconsin, and Purdue, while they still haven’t faced Michigan who they will end the season against next weekend.

If you are looking for a top 25 win from Maryland in the non-conference schedule, you’ll have to keep looking as only a neutral site win over Marquette is close to that range as the overall record looks inflated. Maryland also won 12 of its 13 Big Ten wins by 12 or fewer points as this team could easily have a few more losses, notably last week’s narrow escape at Minnesota, a game the Terrapins trailed by 17 in and were still down four in the final minute.

Maryland has been patient with Mark Turgeon but in this his ninth season, the program has one Sweet 16 appearance in that span despite a lot of high-profile recruits coming through College Park. This year’s team has three potential NBA players in big roles but Turgeon’s team hasn’t held up against quality major conference foes as his four NCAA Tournament wins in nine seasons have come vs. Valparaiso, South Dakota State, Hawai’i, and Belmont while getting bounced by Big XII, Big East, and SEC teams, the caliber of teams Maryland rarely beats in the non-conference season either. It also needs to be said that despite the strong rating of the Big Ten, not since 1999-2000 has a Big Ten team actually cut down the nets, though in fairness Maryland did so as an ACC team in 2001-02.

Kentucky: Not a typical Calapari Wildcats team

Kentucky has three players that could be drafted in this summer’s NBA draft but almost certainly no lottery picks as this isn’t the usual John Calapari Kentucky team that has more talent than almost every opponent. It shows in the numbers as well as while the Wildcats have rallied to 24-5 and a SEC regular season title, the current numbers grade this unit as Calapari’s worst defensive team since the #4 seeded 2015-16 team that lost in the Round of 32 to Tom Cream and Indiana. Kentucky also hasn’t ranked this low nationally on offense since the 2012-13 NIT season. This year’s team is pretty good at everything but not great at anything even in a year where the SEC ranks as the worst of the major conferences.

The current eight-game winning streak features six wins by single-digits as there have been close calls along the way and Kentucky only had to play LSU and Mississippi State once in the league draw. Kentucky beat Louisville and Texas Tech for impressive non-conference wins but both results required overtime and damaging losses to Evansville and Utah will likely prevent the Wildcats to climbing to the #2 line unless they win out and see some other contenders for those spots stumble.

Given plenty of other teams in the mix for favorable seeds that would like to land in Dayton, Cleveland, or St. Louis it seems likely that the Wildcats could be sent to a far away spot in the opening weekend, especially with the SEC Championship not until the afternoon of Selection Sunday. The only way Kentucky would be able to claim a #2 seed would be with that title, something the committee may simply not have time to adjust for.

Louisville: Reliance on 3-point shooting and struggles vs. top teams.

Chris Mack is clearly a good coach and he has Louisville back in the mix as a contender in just his second season with the Cardinals even after stepping into a difficult situation following the toxic exit of Rick Pitino leaving the program in a tough position for a few years. Mack was a #1 seed and a #2 seed at Xavier however and didn’t win in the Round of 32 either year however and Mack’s postseason debut at Louisville was a bit of a humiliating result with a double-digit loss to Minnesota and Richard Pitino a year ago.

Louisville played one of the weakest non-conference schedules among teams in the mix for top seeds in the field and that metric could keep the Cardinals out of consideration for a top two spot barring titles in both the ACC regular season and the ACC tournament. Louisville has also played one of the weakest ACC paths with the entire resume built on the big win at Duke in January, a game Wendell Moore didn’t play in.

Louisville is ultimately 2-5 vs. top 40 caliber teams this season and without a defense that grades as championship caliber it is very difficult to envision this team running off several high quality wins in a row in March. Louisville is one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the nation with Jordan Nwora a 40 percent shooter beyond the arc but relying on those outside shots in unfamiliar venues can be a risky formula.

This feels like a year where the eventual champion could come from anywhere as top seed lines may not be as strong as usual and there will be contenders lurking all over the board. There are concerns with each of the teams currently in play for #1 and #2 seeds though the past five champions have all been seeded #1 or #2 with 10 of the past 13 champions being a #1 seed. The jockeying for those top four spots in the next two weeks will likely be critical in determining the champion in Atlanta April 6.

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Free NCAA Pick Friday

#877 Illinois-Chicago +11 over Wright State 8:00 PM CT

Illinois-Chicago owns an ugly 12-14 overall record but the Flames have found some rhythm in Horizon play with a 6-2 run with one of those losses coming by just a single point. On the run of solid play Illinois-Chicago has been on the road a lot with five consecutive road games at one point but as it stands the Flames have won four of seven road games in league play with only one loss coming by more than two points with that being the first conference road game of the season. Illinois-Chicago stunned Wright State at home in mid-January with a 76-72 win despite a sloppy effort with 19 turnovers and a deficit at the free throw line. Illinois-Chicago scored inside with ease with a front court with three starters 6’8” or taller as Michael Diggins, Jordan Blount, and Braelen Bridges combined to make 19 of 28 shots. Wright State shot just 36 percent in that game as the interior points were very difficult to find. The small Raiders lineup is likely to have problems again in this matchup and this is a hefty home favorite price in Dayton. Wright State has lost two home games this season and while the team is 7-0 at home in conference play there have been some close calls along the way with six of those games decided by 13 or fewer points. Scott Nagy’s team has drawn the second weakest schedule in the league so far and Illinois-Chicago grades as the second best defense in the conference though a tougher schedule despite sitting in the middle of the pack. Turnovers are a concern for UIC in this matchup but the Flames look likely to hold their own on the boards while scoring inside with success against a lineup that is the worst in the conference defending 2-point shots. Illinois-Chicago has won three in a row in this series and Wright State has just one win in by more than seven points in the past seven meetings.

Nelly’s is on a 26-13 run for 66.7% the past 24 days. Don’t miss Saturday’s selections or consider joining for March Madness or the rest of February. Nelly’s is on a 178-123 6-year run in March and April college picks including three straight huge March runs. We are 34-18 in the NCAA Tournament the past three seasons including 13-5 in the Round of 64!

Bobby Dalton is 2-0 in XFL action and his first 10* of the season is ahead for Saturday! Counting the NFL, Dalton is on an 11-0 football streak in sides and totals after a big finish to the playoffs. Dalton has also gone 10-1 in his basketball 10* Best Bets since January 22!

Big E is back on track posting 20* winners Wednesday and Thursday, now 11-5 on the season in 15* and higher picks. Don’t miss a 20* in the Big Ten on Saturday or check out Friday’s 10* Biggie!

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#673 Virginia +7.5 over Louisville 3:00 PM CT

At 11-1 Louisville appears to have control of the ACC but the path has been one of the lightest in a down year for the conference. The Cardinals are balanced but there are few things in ACC play that the team has been the best at among the 15 teams. The one exception is an outrageous 45 percent 3-point shooting rate that won’t be sustainable. That is five percent better than the 40 percent season average for Louisville that checks in at fourth nationally.

Louisville has played many of the worst teams in the ACC already and still is mostly playing close games with five of the past eight games decided by 10 or fewer points including a big comeback on Wednesday night at home vs. Wake Forest. Virginia has won three in a row to climb back into the NCAA Tournament discussion while still a viable threat to finish in a top tier spot in the ACC. As usual this is one of the nation’s best defensive teams holding foes to 29 percent 3-point shooting. Virginia has five wins away from home this season including three ACC road wins while the team’s four ACC defeats are by 7, 8, 4, and 2 points respectively.

Virginia is 14-3 all-time vs. Louisville with nine straight wins in this series including four straight wins on the road. Only once all-time has Louisville defeated Virginia by more than three points and that was back in 1990. The offensive numbers for Virginia are problematic but the Cavaliers will slow the pace of this game to a crawl to minimize the possession count. Louisville has had trouble scoring inside this season and the 3-point shooting rate for the Cardinals looks certain to go down in this contest as the points will be appealing.

Nelly’s Basketball is on a 20-8 run the past 17 days – join us for our college 2/3 offer today!

Big E has his next 20* in the Big West tonight to build on a 6-3-1 run in those big picks.

Don’t miss the XFL opener from Bobby Dalton as well as a great offer in basketball!

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Free NCAA Pick Tuesday

#630 Texas Tech -9 over Oklahoma 8:00 PM CT

Beating Oklahoma State isn’t overly consequential this season but the Sooner bested their rival 82-69 on Saturday for an impressive home result, leading wire-to-wire and leading by 20 at one point in the second half. A lot went right with 12 3-point makes and a 50 percent shooting game overall against a Cowboys team that has slide to 0-8 in the Big XII. Oklahoma is 4-4 in league play but the wins have all come against the bottom half of the league. The Sooners have lost three straight road games and are 2-6 in true road games this season with the last road win nearly a month ago.

After last season’s near national title, Chris Beard had significant work to do this season at Texas Tech, needing to replace a number of key players. The Red Raiders have eight losses already but five of those defeats against top 20 caliber teams. The two home losses came by five points vs. now #1 Baylor and in overtime by two points vs. Kentucky. Last Saturday Texas Tech lost by only three in Lawrence vs. highly-ranked Kansas and in the last home game the Red Raiders blasted a highly ranked West Virginia team with 89 points.

The line on this game has been adjusted a bit too high but the Red Raiders have won by a combined margin of 63 points in three Big XII home wins and while these teams are both 4-4 in the conference the records and numbers suggest dramatically different teams. Texas Tech is a top four team in both offensive and defensive efficiency despite a much more difficult schedule so far and the Red Raiders are #1 in the Big XII on offense and defense in 3-point shooting percentage. That will be critical against a Sooners team that is second in the conference in 3-point attempts. The Red Raiders are five percent better at the free throw line and much better at creating turnovers as well. Some evening buy-back looks possible with this line jumping from 7.5 to 9 and if it slips back downward the Red Raiders may be play-able at more than a free pick level.

Nelly’s Basketball is 17-5 since January 21 for a huge run in the heart of the season. We won our first top play of the season last week and have another great college 2* opportunity ahead Tuesday night. Pay after you win for $25 or join us for the rest of February for $199. We’ve won in all three months this season and have a winning record in 12 of the past 15 months of February historically.

Bobby Dalton also had a big January and has won six consecutive 10* Best Bets – get a 10* as part of a Trips-2-Win offer for Tuesday night.

The Big E is on a big basketball run the past seven weeks, winning again last night. A 10* Biggie will be up for Tuesday before huge games Wednesday and Thursday. His 15* Game of the Month is scheduled for Wednesday (3-0 in 15* picks) and his 20* Big Sky Game of the Year is scheduled for Thursday (6-2-1 in 20* picks).