Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:05 PM
Dinero Tracker - March 5
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Last night's ATS Records
NBA: 6-1 | NCAA BB: 12-12
Every NBA game I recommended came in except the one I liked best. Could you imagine if someone took one last-ditch in-game money line Hail Mary shot on the Knicks and watched them come all the way back from 19 down to tie it, only to have Vince Carter poke a ball out of bounds on you late? The NBA can be torturous fun. These college kids better get their act together. It's March. Time to wake up and play. Here is Sunday's recap, complete with some of the highlights (and lowlights):
MONDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Cavs/Pistons OVER 218.5
With Tristan Thompson sidelined with a sprained ankle, the Cavs will have to go small to try to outrun a Pistons team featuring Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Not having Jeff Green available limits what Tyronn Lue can do, but my expectation is that this winds up being a high-possession game. Look for the bigs to be engaged in running the floor due to their size advantages, turning this into a track meet. Ride the over.
SUNDAY'S FREE SELECTION
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.
Result: This came through as the Stags pulled away for a 74-64 win. It was a little frustrating that I didn't ride this choice for my guarantee, opting for Iona. Despite the loss, Baker Dunleavy can really coach.
The pick: Knicks ML -135
It wouldn't be surprising to see Zach Randolph sit out tonight's game since he played last night, while Willie Cauley-Stein missed last night's loss to Utah and could be too banged up to participate in this one. The Knicks are actually playing with some pace since the battle for their point guard gig has turned into an open competition. Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke have each made a positive impact in pushing rookie Frank Ntilikina, so the expectation here is that we'll see the visitors pull off a win in Sacramento. Ride New York on the money line to avoid laying the bucket on the road for Sunday's guaranteed NBA winner.
Result: The Knicks stopped trying at one point. Mike Breen and Walt "Clyde" Frazier actually pointed it out since it was so obvious. Sacramento took a 92-73 lead and then just fell apart. Kyle O'Quinn sparked the Knicks and the Kings had no legs left in the final quarter of their fifth game of the week. New York stormed back, caught Sacramento at 97 but never could get the lead and were ultimately turned away on a Skal Labissiere 3-pointer with 2.6 left. There's no way they would've beaten the Knicks in OT. They were spent.
LOCK THAT DIDN'T CLICK
The pick: Iona -5
Despite this tournament featuring mostly upsets, the Gaels handled their business against Manhattan in the quarterfinal and should handle St. Peter's in this semifinal. The Peacocks will struggle to slow down the pace effectively enough to take the Gaels out of their rhythm and will fall behind by allowing easy buckets in transition. Expect a third win over the Peacocks this season and ride Iona -5, guaranteed.
Result: The Gaels rallied down the stretch after falling behind 30-20 by halftime, riding Schadrac Casimir's big second half to a 65-62 win. We had a shot at a push, but Iona wasn't fouled late.
BAD BEAT BULLETIN
The pick: Tulane +7
The Knights did a fantastic job against Wichita State the other night, playing over their heads behind A.J. Davis and B.J. Taylor, terrific players who will give UCF a great opportunity to win on Senior Day. Oddsmakers do seem to have gotten carried away with this spread, however. The Green Wave are a live 'dog in Orlando, capable of riding Melvin Frazier to an upset. Ride Tulane plus the points.
Result: Tulane and UCF were tied at 50 points coming out of a timeout with 1:36 left, so this obviously looked great. B.J. Taylor and Dayon Griffin each hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, and after a missed free throw on a one-and-one, Tulane threw away the rebound, leading to an easy layup. They then fouled with the game already decided to lose 60-51. Go Knights!
The pick: Clippers/Nets OVER 222
DeAngelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie should each have solid games, helping push tempo and testing the Clippers lack of perimeter defense. L.A. has grown comfortable in shootouts since it suits its current personnel well, so they could very well pull away here. The best bet is to back the over.
Result: The Clippers closed on a 13-2 run to avoid an upset against the Nets despite Dinwiddie and Russell combining to shoot 1-for-12. L.A.'s 123-120 win was still the highest-scoring of the day, which tells you how easy a win this was. There were at least 59 points scored in every quarter.
The pick: Pacers +4.5
The Pacers take to the floor looking to pull off an upset against a Wizards team that won the first meeting in Indiana early last month. Victor Oladipo didn't play that night and Cory Joseph and Lance Stephenson struggled as catalysts, so this will be a much different game since Myles Turner is in better form and Joseph has had more time to get comfortable. Take the points with Indiana.
Result: The Pacers raced out to a 15-point lead through three quarters and then survived an impressive Washington comeback thanks to big shots from Oladipo, winning 98-95. Bradley Beal had a chance to send this to OT in the final seconds but missed a clean look, wrapping up a rough 8-for-27 shooting night.
The pick: Suns +1.5
It sure looks like the Hawks aren't going to play to win in this one, resting their most effective player outside of point guard Dennis Schroder in top defender Kent Bazemore. Against a Suns team featuring a sizzling Devin Booker, that's a strange development. Tyson Chandler returns to give the frontcourt a boost, while TJ Warren returned earlier this week looking no worse for the wear. Ride Phoenix plus the points.
Result: This game was tied until Warren gave the Suns a lead with 20.8 left and saw the Suns go up by the 113-112 score they ultimately won by on a Taurean Prince 3-pointer with 8.6 left. Our wager came down to Booker missing a last-second look but having the decency to ensure his shot would be the final one, leaving no time on the clock for the Hawks to add to their lead in a game I had them losing outright.
SWING AND A MISS
The pick: Houston -14.5
The books have given the Huskies this many points only three times this season. They failed to cover at Wichita State (95-74) and Cincinnati (77-52), while losing to Arizona by 15 when getting 16. UConn's players haven't quit on Kevin Ollie, but are also light on numbers and are facing a team celebrating Senior Day that has dominated at "home" despite playing on Texas Southern's floor. Ride Houston.
Result: This looked like the envisioned blowout early, but UConn fought all the way back to lead by halftime. The Cougars ultimately rolled to an 81-71 win, but they never really threatened to cover.
PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: Pelicans ML -160, Pels/Mavs OVER 222.5
Anthony Davis should have another field day against the Mavs, who will have to try and match tempo since zoning would make them far too vulnerable to Nikola Mirotic playing stretch-five. Look for the Pelicans to continue their surge and ride New Orleans on the money line and the over for the in-game parlay.
Result: This went down as anticipated, coming in rather easily with the Pelicans winning 126-109. It definitely helped that Rajon Rondo shot 5-for-7 while just missing a triple-double. Ditto for Cheickh Diallo adding 13 points and 15 boards.
FURTHER PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: Bucks/76ers OVER 207.5
Joel Embiid's skill level and length negates the impact that John Henson can have, so the Bucks will probably have to go small in running with the 76ers as they attempt to end a four-game losing streak. The 76ers are on quite the run and will be a formidable opponent, so look for Ben Simmons, Embiid and Giannis Antetokonmpo to perform well in a wide open game. Ride the over.
Result: The Bucks won when they went with a lineup including Jet Terry and pulled Henson, so credit Joe Prunty for making the right adjustments. A 43-31 advantage allowed Philly to set the fast pace and really took any mystery over whether we'd cover by halftime, but the Bucks wrestled back control with a 33-14 third-quarter edge, pulling away for 118-110 win.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]