Two Duels in the NBA’s Wild West

Coming off hefty 12-game slate from yesterday, the Association is boasting just two games today, but both feature some of the Western Conference’s top teams, so it should still be an exciting day for bettors. We’ll see the league’s best team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, battle the Memphis Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks take on the Golden State Warriors. Here’s a brief breakdown of each game and solid, no-nonsense point-spread picks that you can trust.

Memphis Grizzlies +8.5 at Oklahoma City Thunder -8.5

After officially dealing leading scorer Rudy Gay to the Raptors yesterday, the Grizzlies have made a tough game even tougher, as they march into one of the most hostile road environments against the NBA’s best team. The Grizzlies have played well without Gay in the past, including a nice run last postseason while he was injured, but the team they lost to was in fact, the Thunder.

The Grizzlies did get the better of OKC back on Nov. 15 in a 107-97, accounting for one of only three home losses all year for the Thunder, who are 19-3 in their own building.

However, the Thunder really started to pick up steam in December and have continued to play well through January, establishing themselves as the team to beat this season out West. The Thunder lead the league in scoring with 105.7 points per game.

The Grizzlies play more of a defensive game, allowing just 89.5 points per game on the year, but they’ve slipped up a bit recently, winning just five of their last 10 games.

Although you have to like the Thunder to win this one, eight and half points seems a bit generous considering the Grizzlies have already defeated OKC in their house this year and that they are still a good defensive team even without Gay. Look for OKC to earn its league-best 35th win, but for Memphis to cover +8.5 in the loss.

Dallas Mavericks +3 at Golden State Warriors -3

With a 27-18 record, the Golden State Warriors aren’t surprising anyone anymore. They’ve proved they’re for real. However, they may be without Stephen Curry as they host the Mavericks, who have picked up the pace a bit, winning six of their last 10 games with star and leader Dirk Nowitzki back in the lineup.

If Curry is not able to go, the Warriors are obviously at a disadvantage but with All-Star David Lee leading the charge and with Andrew Bogut back in the rotation, the Warriors still have an ample amount of offensive weapons they can use to dispatch of the pesky Mavs.

Both teams are averaging around 100 points per game this season, but with the Mavs allowing 103 per contest and considering they have struggled mightily on the road this year, the Warriors should take care of business tonight, with or without a healthy Steph Curry. Look for Golden State to cover -3 points in the win.


Michigan Tops College Basketball Futures

After being named the AP's No. 1 team for the first time since the days of the "Fab Five", Michigan is now considered the favorite to win this year's NCAA tournament.

Having recorded its first No. 1 ranking since 1992 earlier this week, Michigan now finds itself at the top of the College Basketball Futures list.

Michigan (20-1, 7-1 Big Ten) tops the list with 5/1 odds of winning the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March. Last week, the Wolverines were 6/1 in the same category.

Following wins over Purdue (home) and Illinois (road), John Beilein’s side remained one of only two Division I schools to continue forward with just one loss on its record, the other being Kansas.

Michigan celebrated its top ranking on the Futures list with a 68-46 drubbing of Northwestern on Wednesday night. The Wolverines will now look ahead to Saturday’s huge matchup with Indiana.

After topping the Futures list last week, Indiana (19-2, 7-1 Big Ten) now finds itself in second place. Odds of the Hoosiers winning the March tournament stand at 11/2, down from last week’s 5/1.

Indiana scored a big win over Michigan State on Sunday to follow-up Wednesday’s win over Penn State, a team winless in conference play. That was enough to see Tom Crean’s side remain a high contender.

The Hoosiers prepared for their big Saturday night showdown with Michigan by handing Purdue a lopsided 97-60 defeat on Wednesday night. Expect Saturday’s winner to top next week’s Futures chart.

After scoring convincing wins over Georgia and Mississippi State on the road last week, Florida (17-2, 7-0 SEC) finds itself moving one spot up the list to reside in third. Odds of the Gators winning the tournament currently stand at 7/1, representing an improvement on last week’s 9/1.

The Gators are the current form team in the SEC and will be looking at a big showdown this weekend with Ole Miss (17-3, 6-1 SEC). Momentum will be on the side of the Gators – unbeaten in conference play – who handed South Carolina a 75-36 defeat on Wednesday. Ole Miss meanwhile fell to Kentucky on Tuesday.

Whilst Michigan may be sitting pretty atop the AP rankings, Kansas (19-1, 7-0 Big 12) took that honor on the USA Today Coaches Poll. Bill Self’s side recorded wins over Kansas State (road) and Oklahoma (home) en route to the preferred position.

Bookmakers are less keen on the Jayhawks though, assigning the school odds of 15/2 to win the tournament. Whilst that’s an improvement on last week’s 9/1 odds, it’s still only good enough for fourth. That won’t sit well with a team that believes it is the best in the country.

Having won a scrappy game against West Virginia on Monday night, Kansas will host Oklahoma State (14-5, 4-3 Big 12) – winners of a close game against Iowa State on Wednesday – on Saturday.

A midweek hammering by Miami (FL) was always going to see Duke (18-2, 5-2 ACC) fall down the AP rankings, and it wasn’t a huge leap to think the Blue Devils might slip on the Futures list.

The side from Durham, N.C., did just that. Odds of the school winning the tournament marginally fell from 15/2 to 8/1, putting Coach K’s side in fifth place on the list. (Both Florida and Kansas did a spot of leapfrogging here). A win over Maryland may have prevented those odds dropping even further.

The Blue Devils posted a first true road win of the season on Wednesday, defeating Wake Forest 75-70. The side now looks to this weekend’s clash with Florida State (12-8, 4-3 ACC) to continue making the climb back to the top.

Louisville (12/1), Arizona (14/1), Syracuse (14/1), Gonzaga (20/1), and Ohio State (22/1) round out the top 10 schools on the Futures list.

Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio State are joined by a further three Big Ten sides in the top 25. Michigan State (33/1), Minnesota (33/1), and Wisconsin (50/1) each makes the list’s upper echelons, which plays out as a testament to how tough the conference is this year.

The ACC is the next most successful conference, with four teams appearing in the top 25. Alongside Duke, Miami (25/1), North Carolina State (30/1), and North Carolina (40/1) represent the conference.

Out west, Oregon (18-3, 7-1 Pac-12) may well be making tracks up the Pac-12 and AP rankings, but bookmakers are yet to respect the upstart Ducks. Dana Altman’s side has been assigned odds of 50/1 to win the tournament this year. That figure puts the side joint 21st on the list, and below conference rivals UCLA (33/1). Wednesday night’s 76-52 loss in Stanford might be enough to suggest the bookies are right to stay away from the Ducks.


Odds to Win NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

Michigan Wolverines 5/1

Indiana Hoosiers 11/2

Florida Gators 7/1

Kansas Jayhawks 15/2

Duke Blue Devils 8/1

Louisville Cardinals 12/1

Arizona Wildcats 14/1

Syracuse Orange 14/1

Gonzaga Bulldogs 20/1

Ohio State Buckeyes 22/1

Kentucky Wildcats 25/1

Miami Hurricanes 25/1

North Carolina State Wolfpack 30/1

Creighton Bluejays 33/1

Michigan State Spartans 33/1

Minnesota Golden Gophers 33/1

UCLA Bruins 33/1

Cincinnati Bearcats 40/1

North Carolina Tar Heels 40/1

Pittsburgh Panthers 40/1

Butler Bulldogs 50/1

Missouri Tigers 50/1

Oregon Ducks 50/1

UNLV Rebels 50/1

Virginia Commonwealth Rams 50/1

Wisconsin Badgers 50/1

For an extended list of odds – which includes 55 teams – visit Bovada.

Wednesday Betting Tips: College Hoops

Dwight Powell and the Stanford Cardinal are favored to hand the Oregon Ducks their first Pac-12 loss tonight. Don't bank on it.

Remember how we pointed out that last week was a bad week to be AP ranked? Well, judging by Tuesday night’s results, this week might not be any different.

#15 Wichita State, # 16 Ole Miss, and #19 North Carolina State (again!) all fell to non-ranked opposition last night. While those teams aren’t exactly at the top of the AP rankings, it makes for a pertinent reminder that ranked teams are falling faster than Roger Goodell’s popularity rating.

Tonight, no fewer than 11 ranked sides will look to avoid the fate that is apparently becoming a common trend in college basketball. We’ve picked out three of those sides and taken a look at the likelihood of them losing. Read on, intrepid bettor.


Northwestern @ #1 Michigan

6:30 PM ET

#1 Michigan (19-1, 6-1 Big Ten) will look to move to 13-0 at home this season as Northwestern (12-9, 3-5 Big Ten) comes to Ann Arbor. More importantly, the Wolverines will look to continue to pace the country, especially after #2 Kansas picked up a win on Monday night.

The Wildcats will simply be looking for a win. Bill Carmody’s side has gone 6-9 since starting the season with a 6-0 record, and is struggling in conference play. An upset over Michigan could be the catalyst to an improved season.

A Wildcats win will be tough to come by though. Michigan is one of the highest scoring schools in the nation (78.5 PPG) and ranked third overall in field goal percentage (.510). It’s seventh when it comes to three-point percentage (.411) and fifth in turnovers (9.8 per game). On top of that, the Wolverines have limited opponents to 59.2 points per game. There aren’t too many areas in which the Wildcats can be hopeful.

This Season: Michigan defeated Northwestern 94-66 in Evanston, Ill., on Jan. 3.

Last Season: Michigan won both games last season, but the Wolverines needed overtime in both to take victory.

Favorite: Michigan Spread: 19.5 Total: 130

Take: MICHIGAN – The Wolverines have more than enough to get past Northwestern and head into Saturday’s huge game against #3 Indiana with momentum on its side. However, take the Wildcats (10-8-0 ATS) to cover the spread, which looks a little generous. Take the total to go under.


#5 Duke @ Wake Forest

8:00 PM ET

Losses to North Carolina State and Miami (FL) have the Blue Devils looking almost ordinary. Almost. Tonight, #5 Duke (17-2, 4-2 ACC) needs a win on the road to put a stopper in any further poll slippage.

The Demon Deacons of Wake Forest (10-9, 3-4 ACC) may not have had the type of season to write home about but you can bet Jeff Dzdelik’s side will be highlighting Duke’s 0-2 road record on the bulletin board.

On paper, Wake Forest looks as though it has little chance of upsetting the Blue Devils. Sitting in ninth place in the ACC, the Deacons are statistically outmatched in all major categories, which means that a win would be a huge upset. Much bigger than those wins for the Wolfpack and Hurricanes.

But hold the phone. It was only last Tuesday that Wake Forest knocked off NC State at The Joel. So  don’t count the side out just yet.

This Season: Duke defeated Wake Forest 80-62 in Durham, N.C., on Jan. 5.

Last Season: Duke defeated Wake Forest in both games between the sides last season. The game in Winston-Salem was the closer of the two, with the Blue Devils scoring an eight-point win.

Favorite: Duke Spread: 12.5 Total: N/A

Take: DUKE – Take the Blue Devils to register their first road win of the season, and go some way to righting the ship again. However, take the Demon Deacons (11-6-0 ATS) to cover the spread, making Coach K and Co. sweat a little.


#10 Oregon @ Stanford

11:00 PM ET

Oregon (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12) continues to climb the slippery slopes of the AP poll. Just four weeks ago the Ducks were on the outside looking in, but three straight weeks of climbing now has Dana Altman’s side in the Top 10.

Stanford (12-8, 3-4 Pac-12) will look to halt that climb and hand Oregon its first conference loss of the year. In order to do so, the Cardinal – currently seventh in the Pac-12 – will need to overcome imbalances across the board. The Ducks rank higher this season both offensively and defensively, and offer little form of weakness. Stanford then will really need to take advantage of turnovers, of which the Ducks average 15.7 per game.

Stanford is 0-2 against AP Top 25 teams this season (Missouri, NC State), another hurdle it will need to leap.

This Season: The two sides meet for the first time this year on Wednesday. A second game is scheduled for Feb. 23.

Last Season: Oregon scored an 11-point win in Eugene last season before handing the Cardinal a four-point loss in Stanford.

Favorite: Stanford Spread: 2.5 Total: 137

Take: OREGON – It might not be an upset in terms of the polls, but with bookmakers giving Stanford the edge, this is an opportunity to grab Oregon as the underdog. Take the total to go under, as is more often the case when either of these sides takes to the hardwood.


Remaining AP Top 25 Fixtures (Wednesday)

#3 Indiana @ Purdue

South Carolina @ #4 Florida

#14 Miami (FL) @ Virginia Tech

#17 Missouri @ LSU

Texas @ #18 Kansas State

#20 New Mexico @ Wyoming

Missouri State @ #21 Creighton

Rutgers @ #24 Cincinnati

Wednesday NBA Quick Picks

With a healthy 12-game slate in the NBA today, it’s time for quick picks again. There are several big battles on the hardcourt today and we’ve got six of them covered for you, so lay your money down with confidence after checking out our picks!

Washington Wizards + 3.5 at Philadelphia 76ers -3.5

Sure, the Wizards still have one of worst records in the entire league, but their play of late has them more confident than they have been all season. The Wiz are winners of six of their last 10, while the 76ers continue to dip down in the Eastern Conference standings as losers of seven of their last 10. Take the hotter team and pick the Wizards to cover +3.5 and win outright.

Sacramento Kings +7 at Boston Celtics -7

The Celtics will be playing their first game since it was announced that Rajon Rondo will miss the rest of the year and although they went on to beat the Heat without him, it’s unlikely that a team already as shaky as the Celts will continue to have success without their floor general. Boston may pull out a thin win here, but I like the Kings to cover +7 against a team that is only won one game of their last eight.

Toronto Raptors + 6.5 at Atlanta Hawks -6.5

Atlanta is back to playing how they were at the beginning of the season and they should be able to handle a Raptors team they’ve dominated recently. The Hawks have won 11 of the last 13 in the series. Expect that trend to continue and take Atlanta to cover -6.5 in the win.

Miami Heat -2 at Brooklyn Nets +2

I know it’s hard to bet against the Heat, but the Nets are playing better than Miami as of late and they are at home, where they 17-7 this season. Considering the Heat have been a bit shaky lately and are only 10-10 on the road this year, I like the Nets to cover +2 and win outright tonight.

Los Angeles Clippers -4.5 at Minnesota Timberwolves +4.5

Considering the dream season the Clippers have had so far, 5-5 in their last 10 games is a slump. However, things aren’t nearly as bad for the Clipps as they are for the Wolves, who’ve won just one game during that stretch. Without Kevin Love, the T-Wolves are toothless. Take the Clippers to cover -4.5 in the win.

Houston Rockets +4.5 at Denver Nuggets -4.5

Both teams are coming into this one on winning streaks — three games for the Rockets and four games for the Nuggets — but Denver has been nearly flawless on its home floor with an 18-3 record. Look for the Nuggets to continue their winning ways and pick up a win while covering -4.5 points in the process.

Early NHL Prediction Checkup

Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks have surprised all with a franchise-best 6-0-0 start to the season.

With the NHL season just a mere 10 days old, it’s far too early to accurately forecast how the season is set to play out. With each team having played between four and six games, the sample size simply isn’t big enough.

However, there’s an urgency to this season that comes with it having been reduced to 48 games. Consider this; we’re already one-eighth of the way through the season, so for those 30 teams taking to the ice, winning now is vitally important. There simply isn’t any margin for error this season.

It’s worth then taking a quick look at some of the early trends and surprises that could pay off when it comes to putting the green down.

Better Than Advertised?

It’s almost the law that any NHL early season review should start with a look at the league-leading Chicago Blackhawks (6-0-0, 12pts).

The Blackhawks opened the season third amongst Eastern Conference sides with 13/2 odds to win the conference. It’s no surprise that Joel Quenneville’s side is pacing the conference. What is surprising is that the Blackhawks are still unbeaten. Few expected that, and with games against Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Detroit, Chicago’s schedule has hardly been soft.

If Chicago is a surprise, then San Jose (5-0-0, 10pts) is a jaw-dropper. Considered 11/1 to lift the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl ahead of the season, the Sharks also unbeaten remain unbeaten, and high above their predicted eighth spot finish.

In the Eastern Conference, Boston (4-0-1, 9pts) was predicted to finish fourth in the conference, but is currently setting the pace, while Tampa Bay (4-1-0, 8pts) and New Jersey (3-0-1, 7pts) are hot on the Bruins’ skates. Tampa was expected to finish eighth in the East, while the Devils were predicted to finish outside the playoff positions.

Whilst it is early, as bettors you should be questioning whether these sides are better than advertised, or given a week or two, will they find themselves slipping down the table?

Early Woes or Something Worse?

At the other end of the spectrum, a number of high-profile sides gave struggled to start the season.

The most apparent of these is the New York Rangers (2-3-0, 4pts), a team that opened the season as the joint favorite to lift the Stanley Cup at the end of the season. The Manhattan side opened the season with back-to-back losses to Boston and Pittsburgh, before scoring a victory over the Bruins at home. News continues to circulate that the side is looking to bolster its lineup – any bolstering will not include Jason Arnott, who failed a medical this past week – which suggests that the Rangers may not be as good as advertised. It also means the side might be about to get even better.

Pittsburgh (3-2-0, 6pts) isn’t faring much better than the Rangers, which leave some wondering if those 4/1 odds to win the East might have been a little too short. But then again, the Penguins have played four out of five on the road to start the season. Even a short home-stand could quickly see the side make grounds.

Rounding out a trio of Atlantic Division slow-starters, Philadelphia (2-4, 4pts) has struggled in spite of being third favorite in the conference. The Flyers opened the season with 7/1 odds to lift the Prince of Wales Trophy, but currently find themselves in 13th place in the conference.

If there’s one thing that might be apparent already, it’s that the Atlantic Division could well turn into a dogfight.

Shakeup in the East?

Philadelphia isn’t the only early season pick to be struggling out East. Following Monday’s games, no fewer than five Eastern Conference sides originally picked by bookmakers to finish in a playoff spot are on the outside looking in.

Philadelphia and the Rangers are joined by Carolina (2-3, 4pts), Washington (1-3-1, 3pts), and Buffalo (2-3-0, 4pts) on the list of Eastern Conference sides currently failing to meet expectations.

Their replacements currently come in the form of the Devils, Ottawa (3-1-1, 7pts), Winnipeg (3-1-1, 7pts), Montreal (3-1-0, 6pts), and the New York Islanders (2-2-1, 5pts). That’s right; the Islanders are currently faring better than the Rangers.

The Not So Wild West

The Western Conference meanwhile has a completely different feel about it.

Seven of eight teams picked by odds makers to make the postseason ahead of the season currently reside in the top eight. Only Detroit (2-2-1, 5pts) has failed to do so – losing out to an Anaheim (3-1-0, 6pts) side that looks fairly good – and the Red Wings are only short on tiebreakers.

The bookies’ prediction that Phoenix (2-4-0, 4pts), Colorado (2-3-0, 4pts), Calgary (1-2-1, 3pts), and Columbus (2-3-1, 5pts) would finish bottom is currently holding water, although the Blue Jackets are currently avoiding that 15th-place finish most expect. Calgary lounges there at this moment in time.

Of course, all of the above is likely to change. In fact, it may well change tonight. But at this point, it’s worth considering that at least one of these unlikely stories will follow on for the rest of the season – that’s how the NHL works – so it might just be worth taking some time out to consider which team is likely to continue its winning – or losing – ways.

Super Bowl XLVII Team Props

There’s no doubt bettors are gearing up for the biggest sporting event of the season right along with the two teams participating. When the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens clash at Super Bowl XLVII this coming Sunday, there will be more wagers put down than an any other game this year, but if you aren’t made of money, then you have to be more selective in the bets you place. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin, but it goes without saying that you still want to win. The spread and the over/under are the easiest and most obvious places to start, but what about team props? Sportsbooks are pulling out all the stops for the big game and offering a massive amount of prop bets, so you’ll want to take advantage. Here are a few of of the best, courtesy of

Look for the game to be more of a slugfest than bookmakers are advertising

 Will Their Be a Scoreless Quarter? Yes +240, No -300

Although both teams feature very strong offenses, I think it’s fairly reasonable to say there very well may be a scoreless quarter considering how strong the defenses also are. That’s why the margin on this prop is surprisingly high and something you should definitely take advantage of. Teams often get of to slow starts offensively in the Super Bowl, as both teams try to figure each other. Even the high-octane offense of the Patriots was held in check in their last two appearances. The mere value of this prop is just too good to pass up. Even a small bet on the No side becomes a big winner much of the time. Take the No here and reap the rewards.

Total Touchdowns in the Game – Over 5 1/2 -130, Under 5 1/2 Even

The same theory applies here as with the last prop. While bookmakers are favoring a higher scoring game with six total touchdowns or more, I’m not seeing it. It’s certainly possible, but it’s also very likely that the game will turn into a field position tug-o-war and end up being a 20-17 type game like last year. It’s also fairly likely, with all this time to prepare, that each defense will be able to contain the opposing offense enough to hold them to field goals for much of the evening. There’s no doubt that these offenses will rack up yardage, but they they combine for more than five touchdowns? I’m uncertain enough to like the Under on this one for even money.

 Team to Commit the Most Turnovers – Ravens -115, 49ers -115

Although this ins’t a extremely good value bet, it’s one of the most interesting ones. Bookmakers are obviously basing this bet on the fact that both teams had exactly 25 takeaways and 16 giveaways during the regular season and both teams have been very careful with the ball up to this point in the playoffs as well. Baltimore is three games deep into the postseason and Joe Flacco has not thrown an interception yet and Colin Kaepernick has also protected the rock while rushing and passing, but has fumbled once and thrown one pick in just two contests.

With Kaepernick still being more inexperienced and with Flacco in the zone, look for the 49ers to commit more turnovers, even if it’s only be a margin on one.


Rajon Rondo Out for Season

It’s been a rough 2012-2013 for the Celtics and even after snapping a seven-game losing streak against the defending champion Miami Heat, there was more bad news for Boston, as tests revealed Rajon Rondo tore his right ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.

The 21-23 Celtics haven’t nearly lived up to their own lofty expectations, but even a playoff berth is in serious doubt now that Rondo, their floor general, is out for the season.

According to, the initial injury report listed Rondo as having a hyper-extended knee, but later tests confirmed that it was in fact an ACL tear and will require surgery, which will keep Rondo out of action for a year. Although there is no date set for surgery, team spokesman Brian Olive confirmed that Rondo’s season is over.

“Obviously the Rondo news is tough,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after the game. “I knew before the game, but I didn’t tell anyone. Obviously it was pretty emotional.”

Rondo was averaging 13.7 points, 11.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game this season and was selected as an Eastern Conference starter for this year’s All-Star game, as was teammate Kevin Garnett, who will miss sharing the moment with Rondo on Feb. 17, but more than that, will miss playing with him for the remainder of the Celtics’ playoff chase this year.

“It was a big blow to everybody in here, me included,” Garnett said. “Man, that hurt. It’s tough. We had a tough game, came in, and he told the whole team in the locker room. It’s tough, tough on everybody.

“(Rondo is) becoming the heart and soul of this team. He’s coming into his own. Had some bumps in the road, but we’re just trying to be supportive for him.”

After learning of the news, Rondo was a late scratch from the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Heat, but Boston still managed to pull out the 100-98 victory in double-overtime. The Celtics won the game without him, but Celtics President Danny Ainge knows that the real test will be winning without him for the rest of the year.

“We’ve had success playing without Rajon during short periods of time, but we’ve never had to play without him during long periods of time,” Ainge said. “It should be an interesting test for us — not a test we wanted. Frankly, I’m worried about that test.”

For bettors that were counting on the Celtics to compete this season, things aren’t looking good. The team was already struggling and now may not even make the playoffs.


Monday Betting Tips: NBA

Indiana and Denver will tussle again on Monday, this time in the Mile High City.

Sunday night saw the top picks for this year’s NBA Finals – Miami and Oklahoma – fall in upset fashion to Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers respectively, reminding everybody in the process that this is a fairly unpredictable season in the Association.

Unpredictability was the buzz word for basketball at both collegiate and professional level this past weekend and the same may well prove to be true in this upcoming week.

Casino Review has picked out three of the key fixtures on Monday’s NBA schedule to see if any more upsets are on the horizon.


Memphis Grizzlies @ Philadelphia 76ers

7:00 PM ET

Memphis (28-15, 11-8 road) arrives in the City of Brotherly Love on Monday looking to continue to keep within touching distance of the pacesetters out west. Memphis currently occupies the #4 spot in the Western Conference, but the Spurs, Thunder, and Clippers are extending the gap.

Philadelphia (18-25, 12-10 home) would simply be happy with a playoff spot at this juncture. The Sixers – without new signing Andrew Bynum all year – have had a rough time of it, currently finding themselves 2½ games back of the #8 spot in the East.

At a glance this one is a major mismatch. Memphis has limited opponents to a league best 89.2 points per game while Philadelphia has struggled scoring and shooting. However, this might not be as easy as many would think for the Grizzlies.

Philadelphia defeated Memphis 99-89 on Dec. 26, the only time the sides have met this season. What’s more, Memphis is playing in the second night of a back-to-back series, having lost at home to New Orleans at home on Sunday night. The Grizzlies have not been a solid side on the road either. Philadelphia will be in with a chance.

Favorite: Memphis Spread: Total: 178

Take: MEMPHIS – Whilst Philly has a chance, the Grizzlies are 12-4 against Eastern Conference opposition this season, and will be looking for payback following December’s loss, which came during a period of four losses in six games. Take Memphis (25-17-1 ATS) to cover the spread against an inferior Philadelphia (19-24-0 ATS). Take the total to go under, as it has done in 27 of 43 Memphis games.


Houston Rockets @ Utah Jazz

9:00 PM ET

With the season series tied at 1-1, Houston (24-22, 9-14 road) and Utah (24-20. 15-4 home) will be looking to gain an advantage over their opponent as well as continue on the winning path.

Houston has won two straight, and three of four, following a season-long seven game losing streak. The Rockets currently sit at #8 in the Western Conference.

Utah won in last outing and has scored four wins in five, and eight in 11. The Jazz have also taken six straight home games, moving up to the #7 spot in the process.

The two sides meet at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday night, with Houston looking to continue its high-scoring ways. The Rockets average 103.6 points per game, good enough for second in the league. The high-scoring, fast-paced offense has come with some consequences though. The Rockets give up 102.9 points per game (27th) and have turned the ball over more than any other side in the league. Utah meanwhile will look to hold off the run-and-gun Rockets, something the side achieved the last time the two sides met in Utah, a game that finished 102-91 in favor of the Jazz.

Favorite: Utah Spread: 3 Total: 209½

Take: HOUSTON – Take the Rockets – who have breached the 100-point mark in 21 of the last 30 games – to continue scoring big, upsetting the Jazz in the process. Take the total to go over.


Indiana Pacers @ Denver Nuggets

9:00 PM ET

Still embroiled in a tough Central Division chase with the Chicago Bulls, Indiana (26-18, 10-15 road) will look to gain some ground on Monday. That might be a tough task though. The Bulls play the hapless Hornets at the United Center, and the Pacers face a tough trip to the Mile High City.

Denver (27-18, 17-3 home) has taken three straight against Indiana, including a 92-89 victory in Indianapolis on Dec. 7. Furthermore, the Nuggets gave won six of the last seven against Indiana when playing at the Pepsi Center. Things get a lot worse when you consider that Denver has lost just three home games all season.

Indiana shouldn’t bow down just yet. Of those three losses, one was to Washington and one to Minnesota, both sides that are not as good as the Pacers. For the record, the other loss came to Miami; a team Indiana beat 87-77 on Jan. 6. The Nuggets have also struggled against Eastern Conference opponents this season, compiling a 7-6 record. The Pacers meanwhile have gone 12-8 against the West.

Indiana also happens to be the best team in the league at limiting an opponent’s field goal percentage (.419), and has given up just 89.9 points per game. Only Memphis has bettered that number. Add to this the fact that these are the top two rebounding teams in the league and you have the blueprint for a punishing game of basketball.

Favorite: Denver Spread: Total: 196

Take: DENVER – Winners of nine of the last 11, the Nuggets will take advantage of the fortress they call home. The side simply has too much firepower, even for the rough and ready Pacers’ defense. However, expect this to be a tight game with the Pacers (22-22 ATS) covering the spread and the total going under.

2013 Pro Bowl Preview

Since the Pro Bowl is the least competitive of even pro sports’s all-star games, it can be frustrating at times to put money down on a team that doesn’t really care. However, with talk surfacing recently that this could be the last Pro Bowl, many of you may want to get those wagers in because this might be your last chance to get action on the game. You can also treat it like a little warm-up before the big one–the Super Bowl–which is of course, a week from today.

Since the Pro Bowl is just for fun and is always high scoring, one easy bet for you to win is the over/under, which has been set at 80 points by Bovada. I don’t think there’s any doubt the teams will go over, as the AFC and NFC has combined for around 100 points several times in recent years. Last year the AFC beat the NFC 59-41.

The spread, though, is pretty much a toss up. Bovada is giving a one-point edge to the AFC today, even though Tom Brady has pulled out of the game due to injury, giving way for Andrew Luck to make an appearance in his rookie season. One thing that’s true about the Pro Bowl is that QBs and receivers usually have a field day against defensive backs who aren’t playing tight coverage in the secondary. So, quarterbacks that can throw the deep ball and have good communication with their targets will rack up big stats and big points for their teams. I’d have to give the QB edge to the NFC, which has Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson Eli Manning.

Of course, both teams are stacked at every position, but in the backfield, it looks like the NFC’s got the edge again with Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin against the AFC’s Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles and C.J. Spiller. Since Ray Rice is a Super Bowl participant, he will not be suiting up.

Although it may be a hard one to call because both defenses will basically be allowing the other team to score, I have to like the NFC in this one. They have a better core of quarterbacks and running backs and I’m sure they will be a little hungrier since they are coming of a loss from last season. Look for the NFC to cover +1 and win outright today and don’t forget to take the over on 80 points. It’s going to be a shootout in Hawaii today.




It’s a Bad Week to Be AP Ranked

#5 Louisville fell to non-ranked Georgetown on Saturday, continuing a trend that has become prevalent over the past few weeks of college basketball.

In what has become the most open race in recent years, college basketball was blown wide open again on Saturday as a slew of AP-ranked sides fell by the wayside.

Whilst the likes of Duke and North Carolina State returned to winning ways, Saturday’s schedule saw no fewer than six Top 25 teams fall to non-ranked opposition, with the most high-profile upsets coming in the Big East.

#3 Syracuse 71, Villanova 75 (OT)

#3 Syracuse (18-2, 6-1 Big East) was the first side on Saturday to come up short against a non-ranked opponent. The Orange had been flying high with an 18-1 record and an unbeaten tally in the Big East. Jim Boeheim’s side had relished in Louisville’s shortcomings over the last week.

That was until a trip to Villanova (13-7, 4-3 Big East). The Wildcats picked off Syracuse in overtime, just four days after knocking off the Cardinals. The Orange had been favored by 5½ points going into the game, but ended up losing for the first time in conference play. Despite the result, Syracuse remains at the top of the Big East, just ahead of Marquette and Pittsburgh.

#5 Louisville 51, Georgetown 53

#5 Louisville (16-4, 4-3 Big East) followed up two straight losses with more disappointment on Saturday, this time in D.C.

Georgetown (14-4, 4-3 Big East) covered a +5 spread and scored a narrow win over the luckless Cardinals, who now find themselves sixth in the conference just two weeks after being the top-ranked team in the nation. This poor run of form could see Rick Pitino’s side plummet down the AP poll on Monday.

#11 Kansas State 67, Iowa State 73

#11 Kansas State (15-4, 4-2 Big 12) followed up Tuesday’s loss to #3 Kansas with another loss, this time to Iowa State (14-5, 4-2 Big 12). Whilst Iowa State might not have been ranked heading into this one, the Cyclones were the bookies’ pick to win the game, opening with as the favorite with the spread at 3. This loss alone might not have had a huge factor on Kansas State, but coupled with Tuesday’s loss it could see the Wildcats drop a long way down.

#12 Minnesota 44, Wisconsin 45

Like Kansas State, #12 Minnesota (15-5, 3-4 Big Ten) wasn’t favored by bookmakers headed into this one. The Golden Gophers (+1½) had lost three straight, and were in free fall. That free fall just got a whole lot worse, as the Badgers scored a one-point victory on Saturday.

Wisconsin (14-6, 5-2 Big Ten) snapped a two-game losing streak, scoring its first win since defeating a #2 Indiana side on Jan. 15. The Badgers have now won three games against ranked opposition since the turn of the year.

#15 New Mexico 34, San Diego State 55

#15 New Mexico (17-3, 4-1 MWC) head coach Steve Alford criticized the lack of support for the Mountain West Conference in the AP polls earlier this week, stating that there were four sides that should have been ranked. One of those sides made mincemeat of the Lobos on Saturday.

San Diego State (16-4, 4-2 MWC) made a push for this week’s AP poll with a 21-point win over New Mexico, as decisive victory as you’re likely to see between the sides. Bookmakers certainly expected something a lot closer, setting the spread at 3½. Vegas did get one thing right though; they had the Aztecs as favorites.

La Salle 69, #19 Virginia Commonwealth 61

Notice any trends above? That’s right; all of the ranked teams that came up short on Saturday were playing on the road. Now, welcome Virginia Commonwealth.

The Rams of Virginia Commonwealth (16-5, 4-2 A 10) had already experienced one loss this week – a 86-74 defeat at Richmond – before the side came up short at home on Saturday. La Salle (14-5, 4-2 A 10) meanwhile scored its second victory over ranked opposition of the week, after defeating Minnesota on Wednesday.

With two losses this week, expect the Rams to drop out of the AP poll completely this week.

A Week of Upsets

The six ranked sides that fell to non-ranked opposition on Saturday brought this week’s total up to a staggering 13.

Things started on Monday when Georgetown defeated #24 Notre Dame, a win that, coupled with Saturday’s win, will almost certainly see the Hoyas make this week’s Top 25.

On Tuesday Villanova upset #5 Louisville while Wake Forest handed #18 North Carolina State a loss.

On Wednesday, La Salle beat #12 Minnesota and #17 Creighton fell to Drake. The big news that day was #25 Miami’s demolition job of Duke, which whilst it was a game between ranked opponents at least deserves mention here.

Thursday saw Richmond defeat #19 Virginia Commonwealth, and UCLA had #6 Arizona a loss.

Avoiding Defeat

Three more ranked sides will be looking to avoid losing to non-ranked opposition on Sunday, the highest profile of which will be #2 Michigan (18-1, 5-1 Big Ten). A win for the Wolverines could very well put the side at the top of the poll. A loss will all but assure Kansas takes that spot.

Meanwhile, #25 Miami (14-3, 5-0 ACC) could be primed for a huge leap, providing the Hurricanes can add Florida State (11-7, 3-2 ACC) to its list of scalps this season.


Sunday’s AP Top 25 Schedule

#2 Michigan @ Illinois

#13 Michigan State @ #7 Indiana

#17 Creighton @ Southern Illinois

Florida State @ #25 Miami (FL)