Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM
Dinero Tracker - March 17
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Last night's ATS Records
NBA: 0-1 | NCAA BB: 12-11
Only Virginia had a worst day than I did on Friday. Neither guarantee came in and the freebie failed, which is a rarity since this feature's creation to open February. After a decent day, most night games went against us, which included the total in UVa-UMBC. Here is Friday's recap, complete with some of the highlights (and lowlights):
SATURDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Trail Blazers -8.5
The Trail Blazers look for their 12th consecutive win and should have numerous backcourt advantages over the slumping Pistons, who have basically dropped out of contention for an Eastern Conference playoff spot thanks to this massive slide they've continued on. With Jusuf Nurkic playing well enough that you can count on him to occupy Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin stuck in a rut that has seen him shoot less than 45 percent from the field as he falls in love with the 3-point shot, this won't end well for Detroit. Lay the points and ride Portland.
FRIDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: New Mexico State +4.5
My expectation is that the Aggies win this outright. Brad Brownell's Tigers had to change their identity on the fly when Donte Grantham went out and look vulnerable since they're now a team that has to outscore you. With Grantham, they could lock you up. A veteran NMSU squad led by Zach Lofton, Jemerrio Jones and sophomore A.J. Harris, who is a blast to watch. Ride New Mexico State plus the points.
Result: Brownell did a nice job with his game plan, giving the right players on NMSU's squad space to hang themselves with while stifling others. Even when the Aggies trimmed a double-digit deficit to six in the second half, the Tigers were able to keep it together thanks to guards Marcquise Reed, Gabe DeVoe and Shelton Mitchell. They had an answer every time. Clemson rolled 79-68.
The pick: Missouri +2
The Tigers should be favored here, since Leonard Hamilton's team has largely shrunk in big games and Cuonzo Martin's has gotten plenty of experience due to the unexpected strength of the SEC this season. Michael Porter is finally equipped with enough practices to make a difference as an x-factor, so I've got Mizzou getting out of this matchup in Nashville, where the location should also serve them well. Ride Missouri plus the bucket, guaranteed.
Result: The Tigers took a 6-1 lead and were also excellent to start the second half, but for the other 35-plus minutes, this was a mismatch. Florida State embarrassed the Tigers. Porter, Jr. was clearly out of shape and took too shots, keeping teammates from getting a rhythm while seeking out his own. Sabotage is too strong a word, but Missouri would've been better off if he hadn't played. What can I say? It's been that type of tournament.
LOCK THAT DIDN'T CLICK
The pick: Heat/Lakers OVER 219.5
After coming up empty in Portland and, shockingly, Sacramento, the Heat look to avoid coming up empty on a three-coast Western swing as they stop at Staples for the final time this season. They beat the Clippers way back in early November but won't have Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade or Josh Richardson here, which means any success will likely have to come in a shootout. Both games on this trip have surpassed the posted total, so expect a high-scoring contest here. Ride the over, guaranteed.
Result: The game started with the brisk pace we anticipated, but never got anywhere close the rest of the way. Goran Dragic got the Heat a win with a late runner once the Lakers came up empty on their final attempt after Isaiah Thomas misfired. Miami won 92-91. We would've need at least two OTs to get where we needed to be.
BAD BEAT BULLETIN
The pick: Cincinnati/Georgia State UNDER 131
The Panthers utilize a 1-3-1 extended zone that could make life difficult for a Cincinnati offense that struggles against most in the halfcourt. Of course, the Bearcats are dominant defensively, so D'Marcus Simonds will have his hands full trying to keep Georgia State in this. Look for the under to come in.
Result: We weren't bit by this bad beat since our play actually came in comfortably thanks to Cincy's 68-53 triumph, but how about the Panthers fouling unnecessarily in the final seconds to take the cover away from backers that took the points and were about to cash. Tragic.
The pick: Virginia/UMBC UNDER 120
UMBC pulled off a Cinderella-like upset at Vermont, a place where it's low-key nearly impossible to win. They have two excellent guards, but with Virginia's pack-line and pace, won't be able to do enough on the boards to take UVa out of their element. That makes this an impossible game to win, but Virginia's pace means the way to play this is to bank on under since it seems more reliable than laying the points.
Result: Yep, I called it an impossible game to win. Jairus Lyles shot 9-for-11. The Retrievers scored 53 second-half points against the stingiest team in the country. It's as if they found a cheat code.
The pick: Marshall +12.5, OVER 166.5
Look for the Shockers to take advantage of a free-flowing contest by finding a rhythm and ultimately taking control and advancing in this matchup. I don't see them covering this number though. With Jon Elmore's ability to get three points back in a hurry or set others up due to the attention he commands, the Thundering Herd are going to hang in there. Take the points with Marshall and ride the over for the in-game parlay.
Result: I didn't have the Herd winning outright or get my over call, but Elmore came through with a 27-point outburst in Marshall's 81-75 upset.
The pick: Nevada +1.5, OVER 143.5
The Wolf Pack are going to try and attack before the Longhorns can get set and Mo Bamba becomes a major factor, so look for the pace to quicken in this one. Shaka Smart's pressures can make teams complacent once broken, but Eric Musselman's team is best when aggressive. Ride Nevada and the over for the in-game parlay.
Result: Nevada rallied down the stretch, capitalizing on Bamba's foul trouble to force OT on a late Jordan Caroline free throw that got us the extra five minutes we needed to eclipse the posted total. Cody Martin and Caleb Martin got together to help dominate OT as the Wolf Pack took advantage of Bamba fouling out to take over in an 87-83 win.
SWING AND A MISS
The pick: Creighton ML -140
The Blue Jays should benefit from a motivated Marcus Foster, who was booted from the Kansas State program as a sophomore, leading him to Omaha. The Wildcats should have top forward Dean Wade back in the fold, but he won't be at 100 percent, leaving K-State vulnerable. Ride Creighton on the money line to avoid laying the bucket.
Result: Foster shot 2-for-11, including 1-for-7 from 3-point range, and scored just 5 points when we needed him to drop 25. Wade didn't even play and K-State still won 69-59.
PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: College of Charleston +9.5
It will be up to senior point guard Joe Chealey to help handle the pressure. He's certainly capable, coming in as one of the most reliable mid-major guards in the country. Backcourt mates Grant Riller and Jarrell Brantley should give Auburn's arsenal a run for their money.
In a perfect world, the College of Charleston will be able to take Auburn out of its comfort zone by slowing tempo and limiting turnovers. Like the Tigers, the Cougars are light on depth. Take the points with Charleston.
Result: The Cougs flirted with an upset all night, capitalizing on Harper's early foul trouble and Auburn's lack of pace. It's telling that I didn't also ride the under here. I didn't believe in a perfect world last night, which is scary proof that this NCAA Tournament has scared me with how insane it is.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]