Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM
Dinero Tracker - March 12
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Last night's ATS Records
NBA: 5-2 | NCAA BB: 2-7
The locks split and the freebie flopped, so Selection Sunday was one to forget. It didn't make me feel any better that the NIT Selection show wound up far superior to TBS' NCAA offering or that the committee again proved that the adage that there's strength in numbers can't ever be applied to them. One of my favorite days of the entire year didn't go as I'd hoped so I'm thankful that the NBA was able to provide a little joy. Here is Sunday's recap, complete with some of the highlights (and lowlights):
MONDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Bucks -7.5
Slowly but surely, Jabari Parker is working the rust off his game and becoming a factor as new head coach Joe Prunty gets to work on experimenting with putting his best lineups out there. The Bucks have been terrible against the spread of late, covering just one of their last eight games in a 2-9 run since Feb. 13, but have won and covered in their last three games as a road favorite and should control a game against a Grizzlies team that is been held 280 or fewer points and their last two contests. Ride Milwaukee.
SUNDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Mavericks +10
The line was set to be 12.5 here, but the expectation is that James Harden sits this game out to avoid working on back-to-back nights with a home game scheduled against the Spurs tomorrow. Although Chris Paul has done just fine when he's had to carry the Rockets without his All-Star backcourt mate, there should be a letdown coming since the Raptors relieved some pressure off the Rockets by snapping their 17-game winning streak on Friday night. The Mavs are playing well and squashed Memphis easily enough last night that they should be up fro this challenge in front of a home crowd that considers the Rockets a bitter rival. Take the points and back Dallas.
Result: After surrendering an early double-digit lead 20 minutes in, I grinned like the Grinch and intertwined my fingers gleefully. I should know better and was punished by the Rockets instantly rallying to take a 1-point halftime lead that they then stretched out with six straight makes on 3-point attempts. Houston rolled 105-82 and I failed you all.
The pick: Thunder/Timberwolves UNDER 225.5
With Stephen Curry and Jimmy Butler sidelined, today's nationally televised NBA offering doesn't have the appeal that ordinarily would. Both teams are much easier to defend, so expect less of a flow and a fourth quarter the probably gets bogged down since the game should be tight. Ride the under, guaranteed.
Result: This was an early Sunday afternoon special between teams that tend to score a lot but were going to lock in for this test. The Timberwolves held Golden State to 41 second-half points, rolling to a 109-103 win. Kevin Durant missed a late layup that saved us from having to sweat out any late surge of GSW 3-pointers and subsequent fouling, which was greatly appreciated.
LOCK THAT DIDN'T CLICK
The pick: UT-Arlington/Georgia State OVER 146
Kevin Hervey and Erick Neal couldn't get their team on the same page during the regular season, which was a bummer given expectations. Everyone looks to be on the same page now, which manifested in a semifinal upset of the Ragin' Cajuns, who separated themselves as the team to beat. The teams split a pair of high-scoring regular-season games and will see the pace dictate another one here. Ride the over, guaranteed.
Result: The Mavericks failed to punish Ron Hunter's zone, allowing the Panthers to settle in and turn it into a weapon, creating turnovers and allowing them to slow the pace to a crawl once they took the lead. GSU led by enough that UT-A should've started playing the foul game earlier, but they were far too complacent and had no answers in a 74-61 loss. UT-A shot 4-for-25 from 3-point range, man. Just ran out of bullets. Get healthy, Kevin Hervey. That kid is a pro.
BAD BEAT BULLETIN
The pick: Harvard -2.5
The top teams in the Ivy League all season had an easy time of it in Saturday's semifinals. A.J. Brodeur made 10-of-3 shots and the Quakers held Yale to 5-for-25 shooting in their rout, while the Crimson got a 40-foot buzzer-beater from point guard Christian Juzang at the half and used that as a springboard to pull away from Cornell. These teams split their two regular-season meetings and although this Ivy League championship is being played on Penn's homecourt, the Palestra, the Crimson are capable of celebrating here. Take the points and ride Harvard.
Result: A game filled with wild runs saw both teams up double-digits in an Ivy Madness final that lived up to billing. Kentucky fans may disagree, but the Ancient Eight final was Sunday's best game, although it ended in terrible fashion when the official blew his whistle when there was no foul, awarding Ryan Betley free throws when he turned the ball over after being doubled in the corner. Betley shoots 77 percent and made both. Harvard won 68-65.
The pick: Lakers/Cavs OVER 228.5
Without Rodney Hood and Cedi Osman, the Cavs are going to have to go small and make sure that Larry Nance Jr. can avoid foul trouble so they have a big to run action with. The Lakers are going to be able to continue to score well without Brandon Ingram and should perform well in what should be a fun environment at Staples given James' presence and the return of Nance and Jordan Clarkson. Isaiah Thomas won't shrink either. Ride the over.
Result: The Lakers took it to Cleveland once their edge in depth materialized. What, having Jose Calderon and Ante Zizic out there didn't improve Cleveland's defense? I sadly had too much respect for LeBron James to fade him in this spot, but he didn't get enough help in a 127-113 loss. A pair of John Holland (he plays for the Cavs) free throws delivered this with 1:33 left and the teams gorged on garbage-time buckets to pile on.
The pick: Pacers +6.5
Already without talented young wing Jaylen Brown, the Celtics won't have an ill Al Horford patrolling the paint against a Pacers team that attacks the interior for easy buckets really well. Darren Collison is back, offering another option against Kyrie Irving. Take the points and ride Indiana at TD Garden.
Result: Boston led by 10 at the break, but Irving's knee soreness flared up enough the team rightfully took a cautious approach by sitting him down, opening the door for Indiana to come back and win outright. Oladipo thrived down the stretch in a 99-97 win.
SWING AND A MISS
The pick: Rhode Island ML -125, Davidson/URI OVER 138
Davidson has each of its top guns, versatile forward Peyton Aldridge and scoring guard Kellen Grady, playing at a high level and enjoying the atmosphere in D.C. Rhody had to rally past both VCU and Saint Joseph's and lost the season finale in Charlotte against the Wildcats, which may be why this spread is so small. There's certainly now value in riding Rhode Island on the money line, backing the over for the in-game parlay.
Result: Both teams shot 38 percent and scored in single-digits in both fast break and second-chance points, which didn't get it done for a total that looked appetizing. Rhody then couldn't connect on a game-winner despite dominating possession in the final minute. Fittingly, a Jeff Dowtin 3-pointer to win it was an airball, just like this parlay.
PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: Raptors -9.5
The Knicks came alive just long enough to mess up our play in Milwaukee the other night, losing by eight points when they should've fallen by double-digits but made a late push. The Raptors come off a brilliant win over Houston and are prone to a letdown situation save for the fact that Sunday afternoon games have become the norm for them and they've been extremely successful. They'll get another at Madison Square Garden -- by double-digits. Lay the points and ride Toronto.
Result: UNC felt the strain of their workload down the stretch and fell 71-63. The Cavaliers definitely flirted with giving up a backdoor cover due to miscues, but their excellent free-throw shooting helped stave off the comeback.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]