#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.
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#638 Tennessee +1 over Florida 1:00 PM CT
With 10 losses Florida has been a disappointment this season with a roster many expected could compete for a national title. A big March run remains possible for the Gators but this valuation is a bit lofty for the Gators coming off a huge win over LSU with the current 6-2 run featuring mostly the worst teams in the SEC including a pair of wins over Vanderbilt. The only three road wins in SEC play for Florida came vs. foes that grade worse than Tennessee and after a run of back-to-back huge games vs. top conference contenders this could be a flat spot. Tennessee has had a challenging season coming off being a national force last year, with the loss of Lamonte Turner as season-changing blow. Tennessee has limped to a 7-8 SEC run but not without several competitive showings and still a formidable home court. Tennessee has won its last two home games and the team enter this game off a rare lopsided loss losing badly at Arkansas Wednesday after beating the Razorbacks soundly at home earlier in the month. Tennessee has not lost three consecutive SEC games all season and this game is critical given that a road trip to Lexington is up next Tuesday night. Florida has faced the 14th ranked SEC schedule for a favorable path that inflates the numbers and Tennessee has featured an outstanding interior defense this season that is among the best in the SEC. Tennessee allows less than 32 percent from 3-point range as well as the Gators aren’t likely to hit their season averages against a bigger Volunteers lineup. Tennessee has won four of the last five in this series with Florida last winning in Knoxville in 2014.
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#841 Miami, FL +4.5 over Virginia Tech 8:00 PM CT
It has not been a strong season for the ACC and Jim Larranaga is on his way to another disappointing season at Miami. The Hurricanes have as many conference wins as last season already however and have played its best in the past week with consecutive wins. Miami does have an ACC road win and has had to play mostly heavyweights on the road taking losses at Louisville, Duke, and Florida State in ACC road games. Miami won by 10 hosting Virginia Tech with a big edge in rebounding and interior scoring and those advantages should again show up with a massive frontcourt size edge for the Hurricanes. A transition season for Virginia Tech was expected but the team picked up a big November win for Mike Young beating Michigan State. A respectable 5-3 start in ACC play followed but the Hokies have now lost five of the past six while losing four times at home in ACC play. Virginia Tech beat Pittsburgh last weekend to snap a five-game slide but offensive rebounding was a clear problem with the Hokies the worst in the conference on the offensive glass. Virginia Tech takes care of the ball but is a lousy 3-point shooting team despite being more reliant on shots beyond the arc than any team in the ACC. Virginia Tech has also struggled despite opposing teams shooting only 66 percent at the free throw line against them. Miami has played the most difficult ACC schedule at this point in the season and is only one win short of the Hokies who have had one of the lightest conference paths. Another win for the Hurricanes won’t be a surprise in this series.
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#626 Kent State -7 over Ohio 12:00 PM CT
Ohio has a top 100 road win at St. Bonaventure but that win was back on November 5. In MAC play the Bobcats are 1-4 on the road with only a two-point win at Eastern Michigan in a game that featured a big comeback and a massive free throw edge. Ohio enters this game off back-to-back wins but both games were at home against lesser MAC foes. Now back on the road the Bobcats could struggle having gone 4-7 through one of the weakest schedules in the MAC so far. Kent State is only 6-5 in MAC play but grades as a far better offensive performer through a difficult conference schedule so far. The Flashes are coming off back-to-back narrow losses and all five MAC defeats have come by single-digit margins as this team could easily have a stronger record. Kent State is 10-2 at home this season and is one of the best shooting teams in the conference, particularly from long range connecting at nearly 37 percent from 3-point range. The Flashes are also the best 2-point defense in the MAC as there should be clear advantages for the home team in this contest. Kent State has a veteran roster that is one of the most experienced teams in the nation and the Flashes won both meetings last season while winning nine of the past 12 in this series. Ohio last won at Kent State in 2014 and home court should hold again.
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#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.
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#840 Texas A&M +6 over Florida 7:30 PM CT
Many pegged Florida for national contention this season but the Gators have lost nine games while going only 6-4 in SEC play. Florida did beat Auburn but that is the only top 45 win of the season. Florida is 2-5 on the road this season and this will be a second straight road test after losing badly at Ole Miss over the weekend. Texas A&M has struggled to just 11-11 this season but this is a .500 team in SEC play in a transition season under Buzz Williams. The home loss to LSU came in overtime and the defense has offered some promise for the Aggies, grading as the second best defensive efficiency team in the conference. The offense has problems but Aggies have good size leading to good offensive rebounding numbers. Florida also rates as one of the worst defensive teams in the conference as the opportunity to best the season averages will be there. The Aggies create turnovers at a high rate on defense and have had some bad luck with SEC foes connecting at nearly 78 percent on free throws against them.
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#673 Virginia +7.5 over Louisville 3:00 PM CT
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.
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.
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#630 Texas Tech -9 over Oklahoma 8:00 PM CT
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.
Basketball is 17-5 since January 21 for a huge run in the heart of the season.
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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).
#809 Alabama +5.5 over LSU 6:00 PM CT
LSU has certainly had some good fortune on its way to a 15-4 mark, rebounding nicely amidst lower expectations after a Sweet 16 season a year ago that was marred by controversy surrounding Will Wade. After a mediocre 7-4 start to the season the Tigers have won eight in a row including a perfect 6-0 start in SEC play. The noteworthy wins over Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Florida all came at home and all came by a grand total of five points combined. LSU has now won six straight games by no more than four points including an overtime win but will lay at least five tonight hosting Alabama.
Alabama is 12-7 behind new head coach Nate Oats who led Buffalo to NCAA Tournament wins the past two seasons. Alabama has won four straight games and has six top 100 wins in the last month for a nice run that puts the Tide into the NCAA Tournament conversation. Only the season opening loss came outside the nation’s top 100 and the Tide have four wins away from home this season. Alabama defeated Auburn and lost close games with Florida and Kentucky in matchups vs. top SEC contenders.
Alabama offense that pushes the pace will go up against a LSU team that ranks 11th
in the SEC in defensive efficiency despite the perfect record while Alabama is
actually second in the conference. No team has been better in the SEC against
2-point shots while no SEC defense has been worse than LSU in defending the
3-point shot allowing over 27 percent. Alabama takes a great deal of 3-point
shots and should have favorable looks in this matchup.
LSU’s ability to close out close games makes the Tigers a worthy favorite but given the slim recent margins vs. similar or lesser caliber teams the points are appealing in this rivalry that is usually much more consequential on the football field.
Nelly’s is on a 10-2 run since January 21 and we had a pair of underdogs that both won outright last night. We went 3-0 in Wednesday’s 2/3 offer last week and we hit 83% on top plays last season. Join us for a big play tonight or sign up for all picks through Feb. 29 for $199 with Nelly’s posting a winning record in 12 of the past 15 months of February including a 53-33 combined record the past two years.
#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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