Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:05 PM
Dinero Tracker - Feb. 16
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Last night's ATS Records
NBA: 1-1 | NCAA BB: 8-15
Thursday has to go down among this college basketball's season most surprising nights. Purdue, Cincinnati, Saint Mary's and Colorado fell as road favorites. Montana, New Mexico State and Florida Gulf Coast joined the Bearcats in losing in their respective leagues for the first time. Those last two teams don't even have their games on the board. Clearly, there was something in the air. The final night of action in the pros before All-Star weekend delivered one last guaranteed winner, by far my highlight of an otherwise brutal evening. The NBA lock managed to squeak by and is now 21-for-31 (67.7%) since Jan. 11. Here's Thursday's recap, complete with some of the highlights (and lowlights):
FRIDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Penn ML -145
The Quakers look to keep pace with Harvard atop the Ivy League by winning on the road this weekend. Although the Ivy League now has a four-team tournament in place to decide who reaches the NCAA Tournament instead of rewarding their regular-season champ, the Crimson will have to come through the Palestra next Saturday, so you know that this weekend's games will be about rebounding from their first league loss in Cambridge and taking care of business as a favorite so that they're still even with Harvard come next week. On paper, this visit to NYC will be their toughest test, so it's a good thing that it's up first. Ride Penn on the money line to win at Columbia as opposed to laying the extra possession on the road.
THURSDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Arizona/ASU OVER 160.5
The Sun Devils will look to try and split the season series, but won't be able to slow down DeAndre Ayton, which is what took them down in the first meeting. With Dusan Ristic supplying yet another huge body Arizona State isn't equipped to deal with, they're going to look to run. Tra Holder scored 32 points and should have plenty of help pushing tempo, so the expectation here is that this game will wind up higher-scoring than the first meeting, an 84-78 'Cats win on Dec. 30. Ride the over.
Result: The freebie was a dud thanks to both teams suffering through dreadful shooting nights from beyond the arc, combining to make 13-of-43. Ayton dominated with 25 points and 16 rebounds as the size of the 'Cats predictably ended up making the difference. If ASU had only made a few more 3-pointers, this game could've been closer and higher-scoring. Shannon Evans shooting 2-for-12 was a major hindrance.
The pick: Timberwolves/Lakers OVER 223.5
Isaiah Thomas will come off the bench and had a strong debut in a Feb. 10 loss in Dallas, scoring 22 points in 31 minutes. He was ejected from Wednesday night’s 139-117 loss in New Orleans along with head coach Luke Walton after getting into it with Rajon Rondo in the first quarter, so he should have fresh legs to try and anchor the second unit alongside standout rookie Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers are actually 12-6 since Jan. 7 but have surrendered an average of 134.5 points over their last two losses. The over has prevailed in five straight games involving the Timberwolves, so look for that to continue here. Ride the over, guaranteed.
Result: The result came in despite Thomas shooting just 3-for-15 as it appears that his powers returning was just a temporary thing. Thomas and Kuzma combined to shoot 6-for-27, including 2-for-14 from 3-point range, which allowed the Timberwolves to rally in the fourth quarter. We rode a 39-35 first-quarter cushion that got us off to a strong start to notch the total, aided by the teams shooting 47-for-57 from the free-throw line. Thanks for the whistles..
LOCK THAT DIDN'T CLICK
The pick: Idaho -10
The Bobcats have been incredibly mediocre this season and comes off a loss to Portland State at home and have largely been playing teams less polished than the Vandals over the past few weeks. Expect Montana State to struggle at Cowan Spectrum, losing in lopsided fashion. Ride Idaho -10, guaranteed.
Result: I bit on this as my college lock once it got down to 10 from where it opened (-12/12.5), so I was fortunate to push when Victor Sanders scored the last of his 21 points in the final minute, putting the Vandals up 88-78 to complete a comeback from a 56-48 deficit with 14:38 left. It was surprising that the Bobcats didn't foul one last time since there were over 20 seconds left after they missed on their final possession, but the Sanders-led comeback was demoralizing enough that they just wanted out of there, allowing Idaho to dribble out the clock.
The pick: Utah/Washington UNDER 141
These are two of the Pac-12's top defensive teams, so it wouldn't be surprising to see a game that both teams need badly develop into a slugfest where points are hard to come by. I think the spread is right on here given the likelihood that the team that has the ball last will end up with a victory. My call is to ride the under.
Result: This was never in doubt since the teams took turns putting together ugly offensive halves. Utah trailed 32-24 at the break after missing its final eight shots, but won the second 20 minutes 46-26, coming out of the break with a 21-6 run that set this up to be a grinder down the stretch. The Huskies just never got into a second-half rhythm, struggling in part due to Noah Dickerson's rough night as he fouled out with just 3 points, nearly 13 below his average.
The pick: Penn State ML -118, Penn St./Ohio St. OVER 137.5
The Nittany Lions should be able to make the most of a great opportunity to lock up a huge Big Ten win. The Buckeyes will get Kam Williams back to aid their depth, but Tony Carr, Shep Garner and Josh Reaves should pack too much punch at home, and Keita Bates-Diop could land in foul trouble. Ride Penn State on the money line and back the over for the in-game parlay.
Result: If you're calling this an upset, please stop. The Nittany Lions closed as a 1/1.5-point favorite and used a blistering start to control this game from start to finish. My strife with this one on a disappointing night revolved around this total, since the Nittany Lions concentrated on killing time down the stretch and the Buckeyes never cut into the deficit sufficiently enough to try to extend it. As a result, we came up a 3-pointer short of cashing both ways in Penn State's 79-56 rout. We had a shot too, since Musa Jallow actually missed the shot we needed on the Buckeyes' final possession.
SWING AND A MISS
The pick: Bucks ML -135
The Bucks have been excellent at home of late, while the Nuggets haven't really had to travel much since the new year began. When you consider the Nuggets are a young team that might be looking ahead to a break, checking out is a real concern on the road. Ride Milwaukee on the money line to avoid laying the possession.
Result: Nikola Jokic had a triple-double wrapped up by halftime, ensuring that his Nuggets all felt comfortable in Milwaukee. He finished with a video game-like 30 points, 15 rebounds and 17 assists, while Denver knocked down a franchise record-tying 24 3-pointers. Despite Giannis Antetokounmpo eventually notching a triple-double himself with 36 points, 13 boards and 10 assists, the Bucks opened the fourth down 22 points and didn't get within 10 until there was 1:14 left, ultimately losing 134-123.
PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: Middle Tennessee -7
The Blue Raiders open their final road trip of the season against a Southern Miss team that has to be taken seriously. The Golden Eagles are tough at home, but too small to match up well with a team they lost to by 20 against in Murfreesboro. Kermit Davis will have his team locked in to play this one, respecting Doc Sadler's ability to find ways to hang around. Ride Middle Tennessee and lay the points.
Result: The Blue Raiders finally wore down Southern Miss after a nervous first 32 minutes. After being caught at 62 with 7:15 remaining, Middle held Southern Miss scoreless the rest of the way, forcing 11 consecutive misses. Slowly but surely, MTSU created separation and won 72-62.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]