Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM

Dinero Tracker - March 4

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Last night's ATS Records
NBA: 3-1 | NCAA BB: 25-23

The last Saturday featuring regular-season college basketball was a wild one around these parts. Chronologically, only one of my first nine picks came in and it looked like it would be a dreadful day. Then 18 of the next 21 connected. I closed out the night losing six straight since action out West was unkind. It ended up being a break-even day, which is strange given the volume of plays and the wild swings. Of my six NBA selections, two pushed. Strange. Duke's rally over UNC produced the night's best moment and both guarantees connected, but obviously it would've been nice to finish strong after starting so poorly. Here is Saturday's recap, complete with some of the highlights (and lowlights):


The pick: Fairfield -3.5
The MAAC Tournament delivered three upsets in the quarterfinal round, leaving No. 4 seed Iona as the favorite. The Stags, seeded No. 6, wind up favored in this spot since they get to face a Quinnipiac team that has to play for a third time in four days. The Bobcats aren't particularly deep, while strength in numbers is part of why Fairfield has had success this season. Expect the Stags to advance to the MAAC final and lay the points.


The pick: USC -5
Controversy and depth issues have made for a difficult season for both L.A. schools, who both enter this one on the bubble and badly in need of a win. The Bruins need a big night from Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate Aaron Holiday to win at Galen Center, but Jordan McLaughlin is going to put on a show on Senior Night after going 2-for-8 in the first meeting at Pauley, which should make the difference here. Ride USC.

Result: The Trojans led throughout the first half, but UCLA made a late push to close within 43-40 at the break. The Bruins then dominated the second half behind Holiday's 31 points. Three-point shooting made the difference here. USC shot just 5-for-19, while UCLA made 13-of-27.


The pick: Rockets/Celtics OVER 212
The Celtics will be playing their third road game since the All-Star break, but games against the slumping Pistons and Knicks are a far cry from what they'll be up against tonight. Rolling to a 14-game winning streak by taking care of business on the road, the Rockets know that they have to take advantage of their homecourt edge since they'll be living out of suitcases again for over a week after this one, visiting OKC, Milwaukee, Toronto and Dallas. Boston has trended to the high side over the past month, so count on this being high-scoring. Ride the over, guaranteed.

Result: This total opened at 215 and came all the way down to provide the illusion that oddsmakers had gotten carried away, but my projected result had the teams clearing 230 points. That estimate wound up conservative too, since Houston won 123-120 and this lock came in with over six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.


The pick: Villanova/Georgetown OVER 155
The Wildcats have had issues on the boards of late, and Patrick Ewing's Hoyas might be shorthanded, but should be able to find enough offense to hang around here. There's no way they'll be able to have staying power, which turns this into a game where pace will dictate exactly where this score ends up. Considering the advantages 'Nova can put together on pick-and-rolls and switches, odds are good they'll push. Ride the over, guaranteed.

Result: This one came in rather easily too, utilizing a 95-point second-half to make up for coming in slightly behind the pace in the first half. Villanova won 97-73.


The pick: Providence -5.5
Shamorie Ponds has been ruled out of today's game, which means Kyron Cartwright gets to shine on his Senior Day. Rodney Bullock will also be honored at Dunkin' Donuts Center and gets an easier time of it against a St. John's squad that stunned Butler at home without Ponds the other night, making them awfully vulnerable here. Ride Providence and lay the points.

Result: The Friars dominated the start of the second half, building a 47-34 edge, but St. John's fought back and got bucket after bucket from Justin Simon and Marvin Clark II, creating a situation where we needed a pair of free throws from Rodney Bullock in the closing stages to cover the spread. He missed both, so Providence won 61-57, failing to cover.


The pick: Cornell +1, Cornell/Dartmouth OVER 146
The Big Red delivered on our total call for the second straight day, doing the heavy lifting in an 86-75 win by getting out to an early lead and maintaining strong execution at a brisk pace. Princeton lost to Yale in OT, which coupled with Columbia's loss at Harvard, means Cornell earned the fourth and final spot at Ivy Madness, playing top-seeded Penn.

Result: The Cougs led 62-13 at the break and won 109-58. So, yeah, 21 wasn't too many points to lay.


The pick: West Virginia -5
Not having Mo Bamba available means the Mountaineers will find it easier to score in the paint and will have opportunities to claim rebounds they wouldn't otherwise get to, which is worth valuable possessions. Even on the road, the pressure should register since the Longhorns are light on numbers and quality scorers. Back West Virginia to win going away. Lay the points and expect Canisius to win by double digits.

Result: Texas won without Bamba and survived surrendering a Jevon Carter layup just before OT that could've been demoralizing for a depleted team. Instead, Texas went out and dominated the extra session, pulling off an 87-79 upset. Shaka Smart has coached a lot of great games in his career, but this has to be among his top 10 surprises.


The pick: Oregon ML -150
The Ducks are in a dire situation after falling in Pullman against Washington State the other night, setting the stage for an immense Pac-12 showdown here against a team that owns a 20-10 overall mark and a 10-7 record in league play. Both of those numbers are one game ahead of Oregon's pace, so this would allow them to get even and deliver a head-to-head road win that could prove invaluable. Ride Oregon on the money line to avoid laying the possession on the road.

Result: Despite failing to do much down the stretch, executing terribly as possessions culminated with missed shots or turnovers, Oregon was able to keep the Huskies from making it all the way back from a large deficit. The Ducks hung on for an important 72-64 lead despite seeing a 15-point lead trimmed to just four with less than two minutes to go.


The pick: Saint Mary's -15.5
The Gaels just took down Pepperdine with a commanding first half less than 10 days ago, leading by 20 points after 20 minutes before cruising to a win. There's no way to stop Jock Landale if you're the Waves, and playing for a second consecutive night won't be conducive to much success. Even if they avoid the terrible starts that have given them no chance in the two regular-season meetings, they'll run out of gas come second half. Lay the points and ride Saint Mary's to cruise in the second WCC semifinal.

Result: LMU led 33-28 at the break and managed to hold on to the lead until Calvin Hermanson drilled a pair of late 3-pointers to give the Gaels a lead they would never relinquish. Saint Mary's won 69-66.


The pick: Trail Blazers -5.5, Blazers/Thunder UNDER 215
Although Carmelo Anthony is past his prime, his presence does command the attention of a defense, so expect his absence to hinder a Thunder squad that has largely been in a slump of late. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum should be able to help put away a weary OKC squad here, extending their Northwest Division lead. Ride Portland and the under for the in-game parlay.

Result: Neither Russell Westbrook nor Paul George hit a 3-pointer until deep into this one, which the Blazers got a hold of after a sloppy first quarter. OKC threw up a shot from beyond halfcourt to try and steal the cover but misfired.


The pick: Duke -6.5
Barring a huge shooting night from Joel Berry, the Blue Devils are going to be able to pull this win off comfortably. They have better athletes than the Tar Heels, not to mention a revenge factor going after falling in Chapel Hill, so don't expect Grayson Allen to struggle here. He's the x-factor in getting his younger teammates going, which includes sparking the hostile atmosphere that plays such a key role in this rivalry.

Result: The Blue Devils turned around a 10-point halftime deficit, winning 74-64 after catching fire from beyond the arc. Berry was held to just six points, while Allen went for 15-5-5 before Mike Krzyzewski pulled him for a curtain call with seconds left. Marvin Bagley III looked like the best player in America with 21 points and 15 rebounds.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]

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