#528 Detroit Pistons +7 over Dallas Mavericks 8:05 PM CT @Mexico City
Detroit is 10-14 but currently the Pistons are the first team out of the Eastern Conference playoff field and just a game back of the Magic. The Pistons also have a positive scoring differential despite the losing record. Detroit has quietly won four of the last five while also winning six of the past 10 for a solid stretch of play in recent weeks with two of the losses in that timeframe to the East leading Bucks. Detroit has clearly turned a corner in recent weeks and the Pistons are 5-6 S/U against the league’s top 16 teams, competing well against quality competition. The Pistons are finally healthy and this team is playing with some confidence with a narrow win in the last game via a Derrick Rose game-winner. Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway have taken huge strides this season to make the Pistons a more complete group behind Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Markieff Morris in the formidable frontcourt. Griffin missed much of the slow start for the Pistons and has been a big boost to a roster that is currently stronger than the record suggests. This is a big stage for a Dallas team that suddenly has transformed into a serious contender. Dallas is 16-7 on the season with great offensive numbers but this Mexico City spotlight game is not something the team is used to. Dallas has played the NBA’s weakest schedule to produce the great results and is barely .500 vs. quality teams this season. Detroit has just as many top 16 wins as Dallas has and the Pistons were a seven-point favorite the last time these teams met last January in Detroit. Drummond is listed as questionable tonight to keep this game at Free Pick level as his defensive presence will be important in this contest.
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#622 Virginia Tech +7.5 over Duke 6:00 PM CT
As usual Duke looks like one of the most talented teams in the nation and the 8-1 record through nine games features a pair of very impressive wins at the bookends, beating Kansas in the opener and besting Michigan State on Tuesday with both of those games away from home. Going from Tuesday’s huge win in East Lansing vs. the preseason #1 to facing the ACC opener on the road will be a difficult turnaround for the young Blue Devils who have struggled with turnovers and free throw shooting. Virginia Tech also beat Michigan State and is already 1-0 in ACC play for new head coach Mike Young who took over after Buzz Williams left for Texas A&M. The longtime Wofford coach won 30 games last season including a NCAA Tournament win over Seton Hall last March. A 6-0 start with the Hokies has spoiled to 6-2 but the team has had a long layoff of more than a week to prepare for one of the biggest games of the season. The Hokies lost only twice at home last season including beating Duke 77-72 before ultimately ending its season with a two-point Sweet 16 loss to the Blue Devils as there will be no shortage of motivation even if the roster has turned over considerably. The Hokies are starting three freshman but Young’s impact has been instant with some of the best numbers in the nation shooting and taking care of the ball, including an over 43 percent 3-point shooting clip so far. Cassius Stanley is out of action for Duke to take out a possible matchup edge against a smaller Hokies team and at +7 one of the best shooting teams in the country is worth a look at home with Duke coming off a huge win on the national stage.
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North Dakota +6.5 over Milwaukee 7:00 PM CT
won just nine games last season including closing the season with 11
consecutive Horizon League defeats. That was a veteran team and only two
starters have returned. Illinois transfer Te’Jon Lucas was a big addition for
the program and the team has much more promise this season.
The 3-1 start has featured two non-division I wins however and also includes a home loss to Western Michigan. The only division I win came Friday vs. UMKC, a nine-point result despite a big rebounding and free throw shooting edge. North Dakota rates similarly to the two teams Milwaukee has split with but is 1-2 on the season having had to play road games with Gonzaga and Valparaiso.
numbers are meaningless for the Fighting Hawks so far this season given the
tough assignment with Gonzaga and this is a team in a coaching transition after
a long run under Brian Jones as Paul Sather is leading the team this season.
This squad has a mix of experience with two seniors and two freshmen in the
starting five but this year’s team is less reliant on 3-point shooting and should
have opportunities against the shaky defense for the Panthers.
presence of Lucas has overvalued Milwaukee so far this season and he can’t do
it all and the limited size and depth for the Panthers could be a problem in
this matchup as another close game looks likely.
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#460 Minnesota Vikings -10 over Denver Broncos 12:00 PM CT
After surviving a dramatic finish for a prime time road win the Vikings could be at risk this week facing a rested Broncos team. Outside of the Thursday loss to the Chiefs, every Denver loss has been a competitive game and Brandon Allen’s debut was a success. Minnesota’s run defense figures to put more pressure on him this week and Mike Zimmer’s home record will be difficult to test even with lesser results priced this high. The Broncos have allowed fewer than 19 points per game this season as it won’t take a huge performance from the offense to hang within this number but ultimately Allen isn’t worth the risk vs. this defense. The Broncos have merit as a popular underdog at 10 or fewer points, Minnesota is the lean.
#360 Oregon State +2.5 over Arizona State 6:30 PM CT
Oregon State has covered in six of the past eight in this series but has lost by double-digits each of the past two seasons. Jayden Daniels wound up not playing last week with a knee injury but after falling behind early the Sun Devils made a late charge behind Joey Yellen. Oregon State’s rise to respectability this season took a hit hosting Friday night TV action with a loss to Washington that was a far worse showing than the score revealed with the Beavers held to 119 yards. This is still the team second place in the Pac-12 North and winning this game is a must for a bowl bid with a finale at Oregon still ahead for the upstart Beavers. This line camping out at +2.5 to attract action on the road favorite looks favorable and the Beavers are worth a shot to get the job done today for a fourth Pac-12 win for the first time since 2013.
#454 Buffalo Bills -10 over Washington Redskins 12:00 PM CT
In an opportunity to affirm itself as a playoff team the Bills failed miserably hosting the Eagles last week. The schedule remains very favorable as a double-digit win season still looks likely in Buffalo with this week’s game another great opportunity. Washington is off an extended week and the defense has played respectably the past two weeks holding San Francisco and Minnesota to only 28 combined points. Washington is adequate against the run and the Bills seem likely to be kicking field goals often as well. Turning to Dwayne Haskins to start could be a problem as Case Keenum avoided big mistakes against elite defenses to keep Washington in those games and Haskins hasn’t proven that capability. Against Buffalo’s quality defense a big play the other direction seems more than likely. Buffalo isn’t accustomed to this type of pricing but the number is sure to climb even further by kickoff.
Western Kentucky +1 over Florida Atlantic 3 PM CT
The Owls had 576 yards and pulled away in the second half at home in this matchup last season, sending the Hilltoppers to 1-9 in a challenging 2018 season. FAU dominated Old Dominion last week 41-3 for now five wins in the past six games to sit on the edge of bowl eligibility after missing out last season. FAU has scored at least 28 points in six straight games but now will face a Western Kentucky defense that may be the best in the conference. The Hilltoppers have held five opponents to 14 or fewer points this season while allowing only 70 points combined in five conference games. Western Kentucky lost by three at Marshall last week as the Herd made a 53-yard field goal as time expired after the Hilltoppers tied the game in the fourth quarter. That loss opens the door for Marshall and FAU in the division race but the oddsmakers are showing a lot of respect for the home team with Tyson Helton posting one of the more impressive first-year coaching performances in the nation so far. With the line dropping from -3 all the way to +1 with action on the more popular and well known Owls behind Lane Kiffin, the time is right to jump in on the Hilltoppers at home.
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#368 Washington +3 over Oregon 2:30 PM CT
Oregon won a thriller last season at home in this matchup, getting six in overtime for an upset of then #7 Washington. At 5-1 the Ducks looked headed for the Pac-12 title last season but they lost three of the next four. Washington only has two S/U wins and three ATS wins in the past 15 meetings since 2004 but the Huskies are a very serious threat this week to spoil any remaining national hopes for Oregon, while potentially opening back up the Pac-12 North race. Both teams won convincingly last week ahead of this big matchup that could again play a major role in the Pac-12 North race. Oregon had a closer game with Colorado than it looked Friday with a couple of a huge swing plays before halftime while Washington caught some turnover breaks to pull away in Tucson, but still is one of the best two-loss teams there is. The Ducks are often good for an occasional blowout to pad the stats but in closely-lined games Oregon is on a 5-13-1 ATS run since 2016 in games with a spread between +7 and -7. Mario Cristobal doesn’t have nearly the credentials of Chris Petersen who hasn’t been a home underdog since his first season at Washington in 2014 while the Huskies are 22-2 S/U at home since 2016. Had this line pushed to +3.5 it likely would have made our card but Washington is still worth a look as Saturday’s Free Play.
Nelly’s has a rare 3* top play today (53-35 run), Bobby Dalton has a 15* Best Bet, Point Train an early 6-unit Total, Big E has his next 20* Conference GOY, while Maximum has a big 8pack today!
#347 Oregon State +6 over UCLA 8:00 PM CT
Oregon State has clearly made a lot of progress to close the gap in the Pac-12 but ultimately three competitive losses vs. quality teams still add up to 1-3. The Beavers made a great late rally hosting Stanford last week and this game will be another winnable opportunity vs. a struggling UCLA game off back-to-back close finishes to start the conference season. Surprisingly Oregon State has won two of the past four visits to the Rose Bowl while UCLA is on an 8-16 ATS run as a home favorite since 2014.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson was injured last week late in a productive showing after a leg injury, replaced by sophomore Austin Burton who did give the Bruins a chance at tying field goal on the final drive. A big edge in the rushing potential certainly looks possible for the road underdog, averaging 5.3 yards per carry compared to only 2.7 for UCLA, 119th nationally. This line immediately fell from an opener of +8.5 to take it off our radar as a rated pick but the Beavers are still worth a look as Saturday’s free pick with another competitive effort in store.
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#365 Appalachian State +2.5 over North Carolina 2:30 PM CT
The Tar Heels weren’t far from a third straight underdog comeback win as they rallied from a 21-0 deficit and had the ball late down six last week in prime time vs. Wake Forest. That was following stunning wins over South Carolina and Miami in the first two weeks. The Tar Heels could continue a run of competitive exciting games with a suspect defense and an erratic young offense but laying points may be discouraged with Mack Brown’s squad.
Appalachian State has impressed on offense with 98 points in two weeks as Eliah Drinkwitz is living up to his billing as a great offensive coach in the making. Getting a chance to face the Tar Heels for the first time in many years will be alluring, especially off a bye week. This was a circled game for us several weeks ago but the projected spread of +8.5 did not become reality and the oddsmakers clearly marked their ground on this game with an opener of only +4.5. Now down to only +2.5 the Mountaineers are still certainly the preference but not more than a Free Play recommendation.
Nelly’s had a huge weekend last week going 3-0-1 Saturday and 3-0 Sunday for huge gains. It has been a great September so far and this week we have our first 3* Top Play of the season plus college and pro 2/3 offers.