Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:05 PM
Dinero Tracker - March 8
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Last night's ATS Records
NBA: 3-5 | NCAA BB: 14-17
The locks split and the freebie came through again, but the night ended with a thud thanks to Oregon underachieving in the Pac-12 tournament and the Nuggets and Cavs failing to come through in the second half after the first 24 minutes had us all set up for another guaranteed win. It was another mediocre night in college hoops, where the lock failed to get off the ground fast enough. Here is Wednesday's recap, complete with some of the highlights (and lowlights):
THURSDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Miami +6
The Hurricanes have been solid down the stretch despite losing talented guard Bruce Brown, a likely pro. He won't be around for this tournament but should be back for the NCAAs, potentially getting there with a higher seed after tonight's game. With wins in seven of 10 without Brown, including four straight, the 'Canes put themselves in position to make a run in Brooklyn by earning a top-four seed, which means they're rested while getting to play a Tar Heels team that had to toil against Syracuse last night. Take the points and ride Miami.
WEDNESDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: South Carolina ML -135
The Rebels were able to win Tony Matlock's debut taking over on an interim basis for Andy Kennedy, but have dropped games against Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, failing to cover each time. Look for a quick exit in the SEC Tournament against a less talented but grittier Gamecocks squad that has given opponents problems with their defensive intensity down the stretch. Ride South Carolina on the money line to advance in St. Louis, drawing Arkansas next.
Result: This game is a perfect example of why affordable money lines are the way to go in tournament games. South Carolina was in control down the stretch due to Frank Booker's 3-point shooting and Chris Silva's free-throw parade, but Ole Miss never quit, hit 3-pointer after 3-pointer to stay in it and didn't stop until they drilled one more at the buzzer to come within 85-84. My heart bleeds for freebie followers that laid the points since the money line moved. Basketball gods can be cruel.
The pick: St. John's/Georgetown OVER 143.5
Marcus Derrickson will play after nursing an ankle injury the past few games, so you can expect the Hoyas to try and challenge St. John's at the Garden in a game where offense will decide matters with Shamorie Ponds back. Ride the over in this Big East Tournament first round clash, guaranteed
Result: Once news came down that Derrickson was good to go, I pulled the trigger on this total play as Wednesday's lock. SJU won 88-77. We were sitting pretty at the break after the teams combined for a 90-point explosion.
LOCK THAT DIDN'T CLICK
The pick: Cavs/Nuggets OVER 230
Even after being hammered by the Mavs last night, the Nuggets are in a great bounce-back spot against the visiting Cavs. The disappointing loss in Dallas shouldn't linger since they'll be stepping into a packed house looking forward to making LeBron James' lone visit of the season an unpleasant one. The Cavs are light on numbers and can't afford foul trouble, so there's no chance they won't be running here. Ride the over, guaranteed.
Result: This looked spectacular at the half too. The Cavs put up a 70-bomb and exposed Denver's porous defense, but the deeper Nuggets figured to have more left in the tank come second half and would make this interesting. All that happened, but the shots dried up in enough spots that we just never got there. The Cavs won 113-108. After 128 first-half points, the teams combined for just 93 to finish up and finish us.
BAD BEAT BULLETIN
The pick: UNLV -9
The Rebels have often lacked a pulse in conference play, appearing bored at their best and disjointed at their worst. They've dropped five straight games after winning five of six, getting blown out by double-digits in four of the games. After sweeping Air Force in the regular season, Marvin Menzies knows he's got the better team. Can he get is guys motivated to play to their full potential? Being at home should help. Expect a double-digit win and ride UNLV.
Result: In fairness, calling this a bad beat is a stretch since we needed OT to be in position to cover, but the fact is that the Rebels overcame a late 3-point barrage from the Air Force that trimmed a comfortable lead and ultimately led to an additional five minutes. Up 10 points after a dominant extra session, we were one Air Force miss away from getting hope despite losing out on a bucket when potential lottery pick Brandon McCoy missed a breakaway dunk, but Caleb Morris hit a 3-pointer to close the scoring out. He misses, we cash.
The pick: Notre Dame/Virginia Tech OVER 141
The Fighting Irish failed to get many stops against Pitt in a game where their lack of defense was glaring, so expect Virginia Tech to look to push offensively as they try to play to their strengths against at bigger Notre Dame team that should be able to feast inside. Count on points being scored in Brooklyn and ride the over.
Result: Notre Dame's brutal start doomed this pick, as it managed just 21 first-half points, digging itself a massive hole. The Irish managed to escape, scoring 50 in the second half to surpass the Hokies late, but even that explosion didn't help. Virginia Tech nursed the lead, so we fell short, 71-65.
The pick: Oklahoma ML -120
The Sooners closed the regular season with an impressive victory over Iowa State and can make life much easier for themselves in the upcoming NCAA Tournament with a run in Kansas City. Oklahoma State shined in a win over Kansas and beat Texas Tech on Feb. 21, so it is playing its best ball at the right time, but don't shoot the ball well enough to survive a Young flurry. I don't see the Cowboys completely shutting him down, so ride Oklahoma on the money line.
Result: The Trae Young show may have to continue in the NIT after he shot 7-for-21 and his Sooners were outrebounded 53-27 in an embarrassing loss.
The pick: UAB -10
The Owls are light on shooters and run into a UAB squad that it lost to by 31 points in Birmingham to open the season. The presence of bigs William Lee and Chris Cokley to help combat FAU 7-footer Ronald Delph makes this a terrible matchup for the team from Boca Raton. Look for a blowout in this final Conference USA first-round game and lay the points with UAB.
Result: The Blazers led by a substantial margin, but FAU's late push made this is a single-digit game in the final minutes. Fortunately, UAB hit just enough and was allowed to dribble out the final 30 seconds of this one, covering gloriously in an 83-72 win.
SWING AND A MISS
The pick: Syracuse +7.5 SU/UNC OVER 141
The Orange are desperate, while North Carolina is a champion. From that standpoint, both teams should be focused and engaged. The Orange need to win, and I don't believe they can do it if they aren't aggressive offensively since slowing UNC down isn't likely given how well they get out in transition. That will be the goal to keep the Orange from setting their zone. Look for Tyus Battle and Franklin Battle to play well enough on the wing to give SU a chance in Brooklyn. Ride Syracuse plus the points and back the over for the in-game parlay.
Result: The second CAA semifinal should definitely be high-scoring. The Seahawks have been at their best running, while Northeastern is very solid when they get into a rhythm since Shawn Occeus has stepped up to give the team a consistent second option behind Vasa Pusica. Since UNC-W will push and likely be playing from behind down the stretch, look for game extension via the foul game here here. Ride the over.
PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: Jazz ML -118, Jazz/Pacers UNDER 201.5
The Jazz will have Derrick Favors available to play, which really aids the cause since he'll help take away easy second-chance buckets and complicate the interior passing that gets those guys layups. Victor Oladipo comes off an off-night, shooting 5-for-19 and committing 10 turnovers, and he'll have to battle long-armed rookie Donovan Mitchell, who he lit up in their earlier meeting and will be up for this one just an hour-plus away from his old college stomping grounds. Ride Utah on the money line and back the under for the in-game parlay.
Result: Oladipo had another rough night while Gobert and Mitchell dominated in a 104-84 rout.
FURTHER PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: Bucknell -9, Bucknell/Colgate UNDER 137.5
Colgate came through against Holy Cross on Sunday, albeit in a lower-scoring game that I expected. The Raiders came up just short of pulling out an upset on Feb. 12, losing just 65-64. That game has been viewed over and over again these past few days and the Bison have typically shut down Colgate over the years, so a hostile crowd at Sojka Pavilion should make for an unpleasant night for Colgate. Lay the points and ride Bucknell, backing the under for the in-game parlay.
Result: They had themselves a party in an 83-54 win where we got to see the final 40 seconds dribbled out harmlessly. Sometimes, knocking down an in-game parlay is exactly like parallel parking.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]