Mar 22, 2018
Dinero Tracker - March 22
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Last night's ATS Records
NBA: 4-4 | NCAA BB: 4-2
It's been a reasonably decent week since you heard from me last. My kids were on Spring Break but I still delivered a big week in the NBA. College customers have won, which leads me to believe that what transpired last week was a bizarre joke played by the universe. Look, a lot of strange things happened in college basketball last week, as those who have been paying attention would attest. Here comes round two. Round three. Or four if you count the opening round. Welcome, foe. Here is Thursday's recap, complete with some of the highlights (and lowlights):
THURSDAY'S FREE SELECTION
The pick: Gonzaga -5.5
The Seminoles fought back from staring elimination in the face against Xavier and will try and pull off another surprise against a team favored by an identical spread. The Noles should be healthier since Terrance Mann is going to play, but the 'Zags have length and ahleticism on the wing in addition to more talented bigs than FSU with Killian Tillie leading the charge. Look for the backcourt of Zach Norvell, Jr. and Josh Perkins to make winning plays down the stretch as the Bulldogs stay alive and put themselves in position to secure a second straight national championship appearance. Lay the points and ride Gonzaga.
The pick: Spurs -5.5
The Wizards have had the flu circulating around the team, and you can't trust them for a second on the road against San Antonio. The Spurs have been solid over the past week, winning and covering in four straight despite Kawhi Leonard's continue drama-filled absence. Ride San Antonio and lay the points for tonight's guaranteed NBA winner.
Result: Although the Kawhi saga continues to unfold, San Antonio has done a nice job amid the drama of late and pulled away in the second half for a decisive win. They covered in both halves and controlled the game far more decisively than a 98-90 final would indicate since Washington scored the final seven points.
LOCK THAT DIDN'T CLICK
The pick: Jacksonville State +1.5
The Gamecocks go into the Super Pit in Denton looking to pull out another road win after getting out of Central Arkansas decisive victory to advance in the CIT on Monday night. Look for another big road win here for the Ohio Valley power, which can count on big center Norbertas Giga providing a game-changing presence inside. Ride Jacksonville State plus 1.5 points, guaranteed.
Result: North Texas got off to a fantastic start, leading 57-29 at the break thanks to a 3-point explosion that made it seem like they were playing NBA Jam on a difficulty level of easy. North Texas shot 14-for-20 from beyond the arc and rolled into the CBI finals with a 90-68 romp. Giga and fellow starters Malcolm Drumwright and Jason Burnell.
BAD BEAT BULLETIN
The pick: Bucks -5, Bucks/Clippers OVER 222.5
The Clippers gave up 121 points last Friday, 122 on Sunday and 123 last night. Obviously, the Bucks are coming up with 124 points tonight. They've topped 117 or more in five straight, all of which have gone over. Look for Eric Bledsoe to be the latest to feast on the Clips' lack of resistance at the point of attack. Ride Milwaukee and the over for the in-game parlay.
Result: The over came in, but L.A. never let its lead slip since Giannis Antetokounmpo turned his ankle and was lost in the second quarter. That's not necessarily a bad beat, but it is a rough break and I'll call it what I want to.
The pick: Saint Mary's/Utah UNDER 140.5
The Trail Blazers are on the road for the second night of a back-to-back as they look to win a 13th consecutive contest. L.A has averaged 119 points over its last five home games and will be playing at Staples for the first time in over a week before hitting the road again for four more challenging away games in a six-day span. The Clippers are very likely to extend this game and will run to see how much the Blazers have in the tank for a third game in four nights. Count on a fast pace and ride the over.
Result: Even with an overtime in play, the under was never in doubt in the final NIT quarterfinal. Both teams ended up with their best players on the bench outside of Utes standout guard Sedrick Barefield, who took the game over with three 3-pointers in the extra session.
The pick: Oklahoma State -5.5
The Hilltoppers pulled off a surprising upset over USC in L.A. on Monday night, taking advantage of Chimezie Metu's absence since he's too good for the NIT. Beating the Cowboys should be much tougher for the Hilltoppers since Michael Boynton's squad should be heading to New York City. Ride Oklahoma State.
Take a bow, Rick Stansbury. He kept a Hilltoppers team from splintering all season despite relying on young guards and transfers and did so again on the road against a talented Oklahoma State squad that trailed early but managed to rally to tie things in the third quarter. Western Kentucky will be a threat to win it all in New York despite being the lone mid-major to reach the NIT semis.
Result: The Aggies came through in an 86-65 rout where they took full advantage of their edge in size and athleticism. We missed out on nailing the in-game parlay by a half-point.
The pick: Raptors ML +100, Cavs/Raps OVER 226
Had to wait until the last minute to know what we were getting here, but it's with confidence that we can ride a high-scoring game. Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance, Jr. are sidelined, Jose Calderon is again starting at the point and limited depth means the Cavs won't be able to stop Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl from dominating second chances. DeMar DeRozan is in after resting yesterday. Ride Toronto and the over for the in-game parlay.
Result: The Raptors led by as many as 15 points nearly halfway into the third quarter before succumbing to the will of LeBron James. It took the NBA's best player over the last quarter-century setting a new record with 17 assists without committing a turnover and knocking down 11-of-19 from the field and 12-for-14 from the free throw line to help depleted Cleveland rally against the East's top team. Sure, Toronto was playing a third game in four nights, but not holding on is definitely a step backward after a period of prosperity. The over was never in doubt.
SWING AND A MISS
The pick: Pacers/Pelicans OVER 219.5
The Pelicans will have Jrue Holiday back in the mix, so look for this game to be a candidate to be the night's highest-scoring. Having another option the Pacers must worry about besides Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic means this game will be played at a fast pace. Ride the over.
Result: The Pels shot 43 percent, while Indiana came in a clip of 36 percent, shooting 7-for-22 from 3-point range. This was so ugly that we would've likely needed multiple OT periods to get where we needed to.
PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: Nuggets -9.5
Since the Bulls are laying down and making sure not to take chances with their most talented young players currently not a hundred percent healthy, the Nuggets catch a major break on a seven-game road trip that hasn't gone well thus far. Losses in Memphis and Miami put this group in must-win mode tonight considering the remainder of the trip will be spent playing against teams jockeying for postseason position. Ride Denver to roll by double-digits and lay the points.
Result: Every Denver starter scored in double-digits in the opening half, helping build up a 77-46 edge at the break that they stretched out to 43 points through three quarters. That's world-class tanking.
FURTHER PROOF OF CLAIRVOYANCE
The pick: Illinois-Chicago +4.5
The College Insider Tourney should have something in common with the NCAAs since a team from Chicago will continue an unlikely run. We'll see whether Loyola can advance to the Elite Eight, but the Flames will reach the semis of the CIT with a win over Austin Peay here. Expect Tai Odiase to slow down Averyl Ugba. Tarkus Ferguson has been solid and Marcus Ottey should be the primary difference-maker down the stretch with his decision-making. Take the points and ride Illinois-Chicago.
Result: The Flames rallied down the stretch at Austin Peay, winning 83-81 on a Godwin Boahen with 1.4 left. He drained three second-half 3-pointers to put UIC in position to win.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]