Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM

Dinero Tracker - March 9

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Last night's ATS Records
NBA: 4-1 | NCAA BB: 20-23

The locks split and the freebie failed despite getting off to a great start, reminding us all that it's the finish that counts in all these games. For the second time in a week's span, I missed only one NBA pick out of a bunch and it happened to be the one I felt most confident in. Conference tournaments are in full swing. Blink and you'll miss them, so soak it in and prepare for marathon viewing you'll be doing during next week's NCAAs. Here is Thursday's recap, complete with some of the highlights (and lowlights):


The pick: Florida/Arkansas OVER
The Hogs overcame South Carolina's comeback bid in St. Louis to advance to the quarterfinals, where they'll look to challenge the rested Gators in Friday's quarterfinal nightcap. The teams met only once in the regular season, where Florida made itself comfortable in Fayetteville, immediately putting its feet up on the table with a 48-point first half. Arkansas shot just 6-for-15 from the free-throw line in that game, a season-long problem that they'll have to overcome here but likely won't be able to. Lay the points and ride Florida.


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.

Result: Despite racing out to the game's first 14 points, holding the Tar Heels without a basket for over seven minutes, the 'Canes not only lost, but failed to cover. The game was right there for both with 3:50 left and UNC up just 69-65. North Carolina scored the final 13 points to roll. I think this is the right time to break this to you. One of you reading this is a jinx.


The pick: UC Santa Barbara -10
The Mustangs beat Northridge on Feb. 22 and Joe Callero doesn't have any better shot here. The Gauchos have a motivated Jalen Canty back and were out-shot from 3-point range and still won 86-81 at the Thunderdome over the weekend. They'll fare better here. Ride UC Santa Barbara -10, guaranteed.

Result: They really should pay out extra when a guaranteed winner comes this easily. The Gauchos never trailed, led 30-10 and were up 23 at the break. UCSB won 86-61.


The pick: Timberwolves +2.5
Kyrie Irving will be back in the fold for the Celtics after resting with a sore knee, but Jeff Teague knows his game well and has been sharper with more responsibility since Jimmy Butler was sidelined. Karl-Anthony Towns should have help tonight and will lead the Wolves to a win. Take the points and ride Minnesota, guaranteed.

Result: The Celtics rallied around Irving's return, shut down Towns early and overcame a scary injury to Jaylen Brown to win convincingly in Minneapolis, crushing our spirit.


The pick: West Virginia/Baylor UNDER 140
The Bears got beat in Waco by West Virginia less than three weeks ago, managing just 18 points at the break. The entire second half was garbage time, but Manu Lecomte didn't look comfortable being his usual self and breaking the press. Look for a neutral atmosphere to make it difficult for both teams to get comfortable, so ride the under given the shot-blocking in this Big 12 tilt.

Result: This was signed, sealed and delivered as we came down the stretch of a game where I was kicking myself for not laying points with the Mountaineers like I wanted to but abstained from since the under was the more secure play. The teams combined for 52 in a first-half West Virginia won by six after Jevon Carter's halfcourt prayer at the buzzer was answered. WVU pulled away and led 61-42 with 7:01 left, which means all we had to do down the stretch was kill time on possessions and watch the seconds melt off the clock. Scott Drew had other ideas, fouling unnecessarily and applying pressure in a game he knew wasn't coming back. Combined with a couple of Lecomte 3-pointers from the parking lot, this game ultimately wrapped up 78-65 thanks to 40 points in the final seven minutes.


The pick: Duke/Notre Dame OVER 143.5
Duke is going to zone quite a bit in this game, which could be dangerous if the Fighting Irish find the range since they have multiple shooters capable of filling it up. I don't see them being able to keep the Blue Devils from enjoying second-chance opportunities despite their size, which means the Blue Devils aren't likely to get stuck in a rut. Ride the over.

Result: This went exactly as expected and was never in doubt. The Blue Devils rolled 88-70, breaking it open after a tight first half.


The pick: Creighton -3.5
The Blue Jays are likely to have Ronnie Harrell in the mix after dealing with a foot infection, so they should be able to match up nicely with the Friars. Both of these teams are safely in the NCAAs, but have eyes on a run in this Big East Tourney and can improve their seed. Look for Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas to make plays down the stretch to pull out a win. Ride Creighton and lay the points.

Result: There were no excuses for this one. I loved the Blue Jays here and paid dearly for their shortcomings at the Garden. Providence did extensive damage on the boards down the stretch and was ultimately rewarded with a 72-68 win.


The pick: Alabama/Texas A&M UNDER 137
The first of four SEC quarterfinals from St. Louis offers up another bubble battle as these two square off. The Aggies are a 20-win team already and have been excellent since getting healthy, so they're likely in, but know a win here wouldn't hurt. Look for Alabama to happily play at the slower tempo A&M also prefers, which makes the under the call here.

Result: Collin Sexton won the game at the buzzer, which you undoubtedly saw. What you probably missed unless you watched the whole game was that the score was actually 63-62 after a Donta Hall dunk with 2:39 left. With 1:16 left, Admon Gilder knotted the game at 65, making the first of what would be five (!) consecutive baskets without a miss in the last 76 seconds, the last of which was the Sexton runner. Alabama won 70-69. It was heart-breaking, but exciting.


The pick: Louisville +6.5 SU/UNC UNDER 123
It's rare that a team gets an opportunity to avenge a painful loss so quickly in the college game, but Louisville gets an opportunity to put one of the most memorable collapses in college basketball history behind them with a victory against the top-ranked Cavaliers. At this point, having defeated FSU on Wednesday, all the Cards need is a solid showing to lock up an NCAA Tournament bid, so we should see them show up to defend a team that is going to be methodical as it is. Ride Louisville plus the points and back the under for the in-game parlay.

Result: The Cards melted down again in a 75-58 loss. Failing to get stops against the Cavs doomed the under too.


The pick: Heat +1, Heat/76ers UNDER 211
This is the third and final time the teams will see each other since Valentine's Day, which is just over three weeks ago. Both games have been close, but the Heat have done a really nice job keeping Joel Embiid from overwhelming them and have actually seen him pick up five fouls in both contests. This is a huge game for the Heat after losing in Washington on Tuesday, so look for a focused effort. Ride Miami and the under for the in-game parlay.

Result: It was telling that Ben Simmons left the ball at halfcourt and walked off disgusted and frustrated, ripping off his jersey after the Heat pulled out a 108-99 win behind a 35-25 fourth-quarter. Fortunately, the under survived when time ran out on Philly.


The pick: Villanova -11, 'Nova/Marquette OVER 161
The Wildcats are back at 100 percent and are a tremendous tournament team, which spells trouble for a Marquette squad that would be home if DePaul had knocked down a clean look at an open 3-pointer late in last night's first round. On the second night of a back-to-back, look for the Golden Eagles to be outclassed and out-gunned at the Garden. Ride Villanova and the over for the in-game parlay.

Result: The 'Cats took care of the wounded Golden Eagles by 94-70 score in a game where the only drama came on the total, which was reached on a late 3-pointer.

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

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