Feb 25, 2018
Dinero Tracker - Feb. 25
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Last night's ATS Records
NBA: 8-1 | NCAA BB: 29-11
There won't be too many days better than Saturday in this business, so I'm confident entering March of a college basketball season where there truly isn't a favorite. Come along on the ride. Customers got a near-perfect night in the pros and got down on four separate college in-game parlays. Both guaranteed plays came in for the second straight night. Of course, there was drama. Always is. Saint Mary's/Santa Clara came in as an in-game parlay I really liked but didn't get around to posting. There were a pair of brutal losses, which you'll read about in detail below. Mostly, however, we simply cashed. From noon to after mindnight, we went all in, buffet-style. 4-0 in SEC and ACC games. 2-0 on Big Ten, beginning with a Michigan/Over winner. Here is Saturday's recap, complete with some of the highlights (and lowlights):
SUNDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Rockets/Nuggets OVER 228
Houston opens a stretch where it will play seven of its next eight games on the road, so the NBA’s current longest winning streak (11) isn’t likely to be extended too much longer since it will be up against three Western Conference playoff contenders over the next four nights. Denver opened with a clutch win over San Antonio and has won seven of eight outright, the last six of which have all come in games that eclipsed the posted total. There have been at least 223 combined points scored in each of the Nuggets’ last eight contests, a run which includes a 130-104 loss in Houston on Feb. 9. The Rockets also won at home 125-95 on Nov. 22, but will find this first venture into the Mile-High city this season to be far more challenging. They’ll still score a bunch, but Denver is better suited to keep pace, especially with Nikola Jokic dominating, having posted three straight triple-doubles. Expect both teams to fill it up in a competitive affair and ride the over.
SATURDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Oregon -2
With Allonzo Trier sidelined, DeAndre Ayton's recruitment under scrutiny and Sean Miller potentially having already coached his last game given the taped conversations the feds have reportedly uncovered to doom him, Arizona is in shambles. Dana Altman's Ducks are in the midst of a successful l run as they try to land on the right side of the bubble and and won't have any sympathy for the plight of the Pac-12's leader. Ride Oregon.
Result: This line grew to as much as 5.5 after the expectation that Miller wouldn't coach came to fruition, but Ayton played and dominated amid taunts, finishing with 28 points and 18 boards. Oregon managed to rally from a double-digit second-half deficit and then survived squandering the lead in regulation to win 98-93 in OT, cashing for most everyone since the line closed in the 4-to-4.5 range.
The pick: Heat -8.5
Look for Erik Spoelstra to exact a little revenge for his buddy David Fizdale, as it definitely appears the Grizzlies will be in trouble here. Dwyane Wade is expected to partake and the Heat will remain locked in after coming up just short in an OT marathon against New Orleans. The Grizzlies will be without Tyreke Evans and Wayne Selden, so getting much done on the perimeter will be an issue. Ride Miami, guaranteed.
Result: We got a bonus here since this pick was made with no knowledge that Marc Gasol would sit on the second night of a back-to-back, so the Grizzlies had little chance of hanging around for 48 minutes with their depleted group. .
SATURDAY'S OTHER LOCK
The pick: Duke -14
Marvin Bagley III will return today and the program hasn't been severely impacted by college basketball's scandal thus far, which despite implicating Wendell Carter, Jr., probably will lack the concrete evidence to dump Coach K's empire. Celebrate with a rout of an overmatched Syracuse squad that is too light on quality depth. Lay the points and ride Duke, guaranteed.
Result: I went all-in on this contest as my favorite game of an enormous college card once the Bagley news came in, since it helped bolster Duke's edge in quality depth over a Syracuse squad whose biggest issue all season has been finding enough bodies capable of taking the floor without being exposed. Although the Orange hung around more effectively than expected, a perfectly-timed offensive rebound allowed the Blue Devils to run out the clock on a 60-44 win despite shooting just 2-for-18 from 3-point range. This shouldn't have been that close, but a winner is a winner.
BAD BEAT BULLETIN
The pick: Wichita State -7.5
It's definitely strange to be confident in any team that has to lay points at Moody Coliseum since the Mustangs are typically so good there, but the Shockers are a road favorite for a reason here given SMU's depleted state. With Landry Shamet good to run the point after a bout with a bug, we're all in here. Ride Wichita State.
Result: With 1:37 remaining, Conner Frankamp's two free throws put Wichita up 82-65, so all we had to do was run out the clock here. Instead, SMU closed on a prideful 13-2 run, calling timeouts and everything. It looked like my winner would still survive since star point guard Landry Shamet had the ball in his hands as the final few seconds ticked away, but he was pressured unnecessarily, fumbling the ball away. SMU picked it up with 2 seconds left and was immediately fouled, making a pair from the stripe to make the final score 84-78, which matched the closest the game had been since before the second half's first media timeout Bru-tal.
The pick: Timberwolves/Bulls OVER 219
The Timberwolves got pretty good news with Jimmy Butler likely to return for the playoffs after being diagnosed with a meniscus tear. It could've been worse. As things stand now, the Bulls will come into town with Zach LaVine in a groove, Kris Dunn back and looking to run and a very likely big game offensively to be had. Ride the over here.
Result: A 38-point second quarter helped Chicago take a 62-60 edge into the break, so Tom Thibodeau got his team's attention and rode an efficient night from Andrew Wiggins and a spark from Jamal Crawford off the bench to a 62-42 second-half run. Garbage time was kind, as Bulls guard Cameron Payne's 3-pointer with 37.8 left delivered a winner. The Wolves won 122-104.
The pick: Green Bay +2.5
The Titans should never be favored and are only laying points for the fourth time this season. Although 2-1 straight up in those games, Detroit has only covered once and will face a Phoenix squad that just comes off an upset at Oakland. Ride Green Bay and take the points.
Result: The Phoenix led 61-36 at halftime and survived what was essentially an entire second half of garbage time to win 107-97.
The pick: Notre Dame PK, Wake/ND OVER 145.5
The Irish are likely to get Bonzie Colson back soon and will need to string together wins to rescue the season. Wake Forest is prone to miscues and has routinely disappointed the fan base, so this is certainly a game the Irish can come into Winston-Salem and steal. Back Notre Dame and the over for the in-game parlay.
Result: This was certainly my favorite cover, helping atone for that awful Wichita/SMU nonsense since my in-game parlay came in under the most unlikely of circumstances. Wake led 69-60 at the under-eight, but was held scoreless for over 4 minutes as the Irish made their comeback. Both teams failed to put up a single point until Matt Farrell's immense 3-pointer with 5 seconds left, but we were still short on the total until Wake failed to get the inbounds pass in safely. Irish center Martinas Geben closed out a 22-point, 14-board night by stealing the pass when it was thrown directly into his body. He was then fouled and buried both free throws in a 76-71 win.
LATE NIGHT SNACK
The pick: UC-Irvine +1.5, Hawai'i/UC-I UNDER 132.5
Between the Anteaters being able to lock down defensively and the Warriors known for having trouble putting the ball in the basket, we should expect to see a tight, low-scoring game in Honolulu. Russell Turner's team is again fantastic on defense, which should lead to a victory. Ron UC Irvine and the under for the in-game parlay.
Result: The Anteaters controlled the pace and locked down successfully enough that even a late push didn't create too much concern as they posted a 66-57 win, sweeping the night's final wager. We also got to see popular senior walk-on Zach Buscher throw an inbounds pass alley-oop through the net as a late bonus. That's not a common occurrence.
SWING AND A MISS
The pick: Trail Blazers -6.5
The Suns are the worst team in pro basketball, so even though they should be commended for not dropping their heads in completing last night's game against the Clippers by demonstrating some pride, the fact they got down 19-0 should tell you all you need to know. Coming off a big upset over Utah that ended its 11-game winning streak, look for the Trail Blazers to continue their steady play. Lay the points and ride Portland.
Result: Damian Lillard rescued the Blazers in a 106-104 win, but Devin Booker's exploits ensured this never became the blowout I expected. This was the lone blemish of my nine Saturday NBA selections.
PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: Warriors -10, GSW/OKC UNDER 234
Now that Draymond Green is officially good to go despite his shoulder issue, expect the Warriors to squash all doubts in this nationally televised showcase, getting revenge for a pair of lopsided defeats in their first encounters with the new-look Thunder. Ride Golden State -10 and the under for the in-game parlay
Result: The Warriors held Paul George to 0-for-9 shooting in the first half. He and Russell Westbrook finished a combined 5-for-29. The Warriors closed on a 42-14 run that began when they scored the third quarter's final 14 points. In winning 112-80, this was the easiest cover in these national NBA Saturday night showcase games we've seen yet.
FURTHER PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: Virginia -18.5
Kevin Stallings knows his team has little chance of competing here, but the key to limiting the carnage is to limit possessions by being extra cautious with the ball, working clock and attacking late in the clock. It seems perfectly conducive to a game the Cavs should be able to hold Pittsburgh under 45 in. They'll win this by 20-plus since they've improved offensively. Ride Virginia
Result: Virginia held Pitt to just seven first-half points and completely controlled the pace in a 66-37 win that was slightly annoying only because I was leaning towards playing the under too but held back once it dipped to 116.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]