Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM
Dinero Tracker - March 2
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Last night's ATS Records
NBA: 2-2 | NCAA BB: 6-18
Only Louisville's coaches, players and fans had a rougher evening than I did since its collapse can't be topped. I came close, though. An incredibly rough night included falling just short on my college lock, which wrapped up a night where little went right. There were a few games were bad breaks and poor free-throw shooting played a role, but mostly, it was just one of those "mama said" nights. Neither guarantee came in and the freebie failed, which has probably only happened one other time in a month's span. The key to bouncing back from a losing night is to bury the past and keep it from lingering. In that's sense, there has to be a next play/next day mentality. Time to put a brutal opening night in a month I expect to dominate in the rear-view. Here is Thursday's recap, complete with some of the highlights (and lowlights):
FRIDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Clippers/Knicks OVER 226.5
The Clippers will once again be without Danilo Gallinari and Avery Bradley, but have enough depth to handle the Knicks. What they do lack is any hope of playing perimeter defense, since their personnel on that end of the floor isn't adept at picking up Bradley's slack. That makes the Knicks dangerous since they're streaky and certainly capable of filling it up at Stpales, having scored an average of 114 points over the last four. New York has given up an average of 119.3 in losing three of those games. Ride the over.
THURSDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Oregon -7.5
Ernie Kent has gotten his Cougars to play their best basketall at home, but there is no question that his team is the less talented than most in the Pac-12 and are up against it with a Ducks team intent on making one final NCAA tournament push arriving in Pullman. After wins over Arizona and ASU wrapped up the slate in Eugene, Dana Altman's team needs to take care of business against both Washington schools and fare well in the conference tournament in order to secure a spot. Look for them to handle the first part of their objective in lopsided fashion. Lay the points and ride Oregon.
Result: The Ducks couldn't get a handle on Robert Franks and Malachi Flynn, which doesn't say much for Dana Altman's adjustments against his predecessor. The cover, barring OT, had no shot to come in once we entered the stretch run, and Oregon failed to avoid the upset altogether when Peyton Pritchard missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The pick: Heat -3.5
The Lakers have been on the road over the past few days after coming out of the All-Star break with a rout of Dallas, but this will be their toughest test since losing in Minnesota two weeks ago. L.A. will also be playing in its 12th different arena in a 14-game span since late January and has spent the last few days in South Florida, which has its ways of tempting young players. Coming off an incredible Dwyane Wade-led win over Philly, look for the Heat to continue its surge. Lay the 3.5 points and ride Miami, guaranteed.
Result: Any hopes that the Lakers would have a little too much fun with a few days to play in South Florida were instantly squashed in a 20-7 start, but the Heat had wrestled the lead back by the end of the quarter. The Lakers followed up displaying an early pulse by playing the role of rude guest with a 40-point second quarter, paving the way for a 131-113 rout. Isaiah Thomas scored 29 points off the bench in his best outing since returning from hip surgery.
LOCK THAT DIDN'T CLICK
The pick: Northern Colorado/Portland State OVER 165
It seems extremely likely that these teams will wind up on different sides of the Big Sky Tournament bracket, but the Bears clearly have more to play for as they try to catch Eastern Washington for the No. 4 seed that would get them a bye into the quarterfinals, avoiding a first-round date with league doormat Northern Arizona. This will be their first look at Portland State, which presses relentlessly for 40 minutes and has won four of their last five despite the absence of top scorer Deontae North, who is rumored to have left the program. Look for a high-scoring game in this one, since Northern Colorado has managed to pour in 79 points or more in 17 of 21 games since December began. Ride the over, guaranteed.
Result: This game started too slowly and featured brutal free-throw shooting. Ultimately, that's why we ended up a possession or two short in Northern Colorado's 85-78 win. There wasn't a point scored until 2:05 in, which combined with an 8-4 segment to open the game's final 10 minutes, proved to be a killer. The teams missed 16 (!) of 36 free throws. Disappointing.
BAD BEAT BULLETIN
The pick: Monmouth ML -150
These New Jersey-based rivals have never met in a MAAC Tournament and split this season's meetings, each winning at home. This rubber match in Albany is for the right to face this season's state champ, top-seeded Rider, tomorrow. The team most likely to make a surprise run are King Rice's Hawks, who have Micah Seaborn healthy again and have been knocked into this position by some tough breaks that likely have them looking at this MAAC Tournament as an opportunity to make up for everything that's gone wrong. Ride Monmouth on the money line to avoid laying the three points and flirting with a push or a loss if it's tight.
Result: This is where the day swung, in my opinion. After a slow start, the Hawks were up big most of the game and were going to set the tone for the rest of the night. They accomplished that, but it was by completely collapsing. Monmouth left the door open with brutal free-throw shooting and blew a 47-33 edge with seven minutes left when Nick Griffin nailed his fourth straight 3-pointer down the stretch to lift the Peacocks to a wild 60-58 victory thanks to his last one in the closing seconds.
The pick: Cavs/76ers UNDER 223.5
The Cavs have better defensive personnel than they've had when their run of poor defensive outings became an epidemic, so even though there are still issues, the perception that they simply can't stop anybody is going to be preyed on by line-setters. With Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons able to score efficiently, I think we've seen this number inflated, so ride the under in a game where both teams will be taking precautions in ensuring they don't get embarrassed by locking in defensively.
Result: This looked terrible out of the gate since the 76ers held a 32-29 after the first 12 minutes, but the action slowed down significantly the rest of the way. Aided by an 18-15 third-quarter output, the under was never in doubt down the stretch. Philly pulled the 108-97 upset.
The pick: UC-Santa Barbara -7
Forward Jalen Canty has finally served his penance and had his suspension lifted, which means one of the top two-way big men in the Big West will be back to make a difference. His presence makes life so much easier for Max Heidegger and Leland King, not to mention giving the Gauchos a strong option to help contain Gabe Levin. Lay the points and ride UC-Santa Barbara.
Result: The Gauchos didn't play well enough to come anywhere near covering in Canty's return, but a 13-4 run did give them a 69-68 lead with seconds remaining. Like everything else on a wild first day in March, Deishaun Booker pulled off the improbable, zooming down the court for a game-winning layup as Long Beach State won by a single point at the buzzer, cashing as 3-to-1 underdogs.
The pick: Louisville +5, Virginia/'Ville UNDER 124.5
Indy native Kyle Guy should have plenty of support in the stands, but the Cavs' top wing and leading scorer has been nursing a back issue that could keep him from being his normal self. Considering points will be hard to come by, that could make the difference as the Cardinals look to pull off a home upset at the Yum! Center. Ride Louisville plus the points and the under for the in-game parlay.
Result: Louisville covered, but wouldn't have even been in position to notoriously blow this game in the manner in which it did if Ty Jerome hadn't drilled a wild, step-back fadeaway 3-pointer that destroyed our total, pushing the game over. If he misses, the game would've ended at 64-59 if the final few seconds would've been dribbled out. Instead, Jerome drilled a remarkable shot, the Cardinals added two more free throws and then went on to make history by surrendering five points in less than a second due to asinine decision-making.
SWING AND A MISS
The pick: Lafayette +7.5, Cornell/Lafayette OVER 143
Lafayette will look to try and pull the upset of the No. 2-seeded Raiders and should come in confident since they've proven twice that they can play with the Raiders. In Matt Kilnewski and Alex Petrie, the Leopards have to terrific offensive threats that could help pull the outright upset. Back seventh-seeded Lafayette plus the points and ride the over for the in-game parlay in this Patriot League quarterfinal.
Result: The Leopards didn't show up. Klinewski led the team with 12, while Petrie managed just 4 points as Colgate dominated 76-54. Complete whiff.
PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: Missouri State -1.5
The second MVC quarterfinal going off tonight marks Valpo's first appearance in Arch Madness after coming over from the Horizon League. With a terrific wing like Alize Johnson to contend with, this should be a tough baptism for the Crusaders. Ride Missouri State to win and cover.
Result: This wound up closer than expected, but we'll take any victory in March. That's the takeaway after Day 1. After leading by as many as 14 points in the second half, the Bears had to sweat out the closing stages, but Johnson's 22 points and 18 rebounds were too much. Told you so. Took a lot of L's. Time to bounce back.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]