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Thursday, March 31, 2016

MLB : Mets-Royals in Season Opener

After butting heads in the 2015 World Series, the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets will meet again Sunday night (8:30 PM ET, ESPN) in the 2016 season-opener for both teams. Kansas City beat the Mets in five games to win the Fall Classic for the first time since 1985. This year, New York (+1200) is a step above the Royals (+1400) on the World Series futures market.

Edinson Volquez will be the Opening Day pitcher for the home side. Volquez enjoyed something of a renaissance in Kansas City, posting a 3.82 FIP and topping the 200-inning mark for the first time, but he's still not as dominant as he was during his 2008 rookie campaign with the Cincinnati Reds.

New York will respond with Matt Harvey (3.05 FIP), who was brilliant last year in his return from Tommy John surgery. However, Harvey's brilliance only translated to a 17-12 team record and 1.27 betting units in profit during the regular season, and the Mets' bullpen coughed up both of Harvey's starts during the World Series. Volquez, who dueled with Harvey in both games, was good for 9.43 units last year on a team record of 22-11.

MLB : Mets-Royals in Season Opener

MLB : Harvey, Volquez Meet Again in Mets-Royals Opener
Matt Harvey and Edinson Volquez will renew acquaintances this Sunday (8:30 PM ET, ESPN) when the New York Mets visit the Kansas City Royals on Opening Night. They met twice in the 2015 World Series, with the Royals winning both games and claiming their first championship in 30 years.

After a somewhat disappointing offseason, the Royals (+1400) have fallen behind the Mets (+1200) on the 2016 World Series futures market. They'll also be without starting outfielder Jarrod Dyson (.691 OPS, 26 SB last year) until mid-April because of a strained oblique.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

NHL : Playoff-Hungry Flyers Host Capitals

The Philadelphia Flyers are on the verge of rescuing what looked like a lost season. At press time, they're holding down the last Wild Card berth in the Eastern Conference playoffs at 37-25-13. Philadelphia's next game is this Wednesday (8 PM ET, NBCSN) against the best team in the NHL, the 54-16-5 Washington Capitals.

The Flyers have won eight of their 13 games this month despite having to go with Steve Mason (.918 save percentage) in goal while Michal Neuvirth (.925 SV%) was ill with a stomach virus – and after Neuvirth tore his meniscus the day he returned. Mason has played reasonably well, though, and aside from Neuvirth and defenseman Michal Del Zotto (torn wrist ligaments), Philadelphia is relatively healthy for a change.

Washington is projected to start No. 1 netminder Braden Holtby (.923 SV%) on Wednesday. Holtby has enjoyed yet another strong season for the Caps after finishing fourth in last year's Vezina Trophy race. He'll be joined by winger TJ Oshie (24 goals, 22 assists), who returned to action with a power-play goal in Monday's 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets (+200 away) after missing two games with an undisclosed illness.

NHL : Playoff-Hungry Flyers Host Capitals

NHL: Oshie Back in Action as Caps Visit Flyers
He missed two games with an illness, but winger TJ Oshie was back in action for the Washington Capitals (54-16-5) Monday night, helping them clinch the Presidents' Trophy with a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Next up: Wednesday's road game (8 PM ET, NBCSN) against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers (37-25-13) have ridden a hot streak to move into the second Wild Card berth in the Eastern Conference. Can they keep it going with Steve Mason (.918 save percentage) in goal while Michal Neuvirth (.925 SV%) sits out the next two weeks with a torn meniscus?

NCAAB: Syracuse, North Carolina Square Off in Final Four Showdown

The Final Four tips off on Saturday and the nightcap in Houston features a pair of college bluebloods. The Syracuse Orange (+750 to win championship) have surprised many to get to this point as a No. 10 – the first ever to make it to the Final Four. The North Carolina Tar Heels (+105 favorites to win championship) handled their business as the top seed in their region.

The Orange (23-13 SU, 20-15 ATS) downed top-seeded Virginia 68-62 to reach their sixth Final Four and their first since 2013. Malachi Richardson netted 23 points for Syracuse, who were down by as many as 16 in the second half, but they fought back and rode their 2-3 zone defense all the way to Houston. Syracuse has now allowed 55.7 points in the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heels (32-6 SU, 19-18-1 ATS) powered past Notre Dame with an 88-74 win as Brice Johnson had his third double-double in a row with 25 points and 12 rebounds. North Carolina shot a ridiculous 61.5% from the field and have averaged 89.2 points during the Tournament so far.
North Carolina has won three of their last five meetings with Syracuse, including both in ACC play this season.

NCAAB: Syracuse, North Carolina Square Off in Final Four Showdown

NCAAB: Tar Heels Aim for Season Sweep of Orange
The ACC will have at least one team in the title game of the NCAA Tournament as the North Carolina Tar Heels face the Syracuse Orange in the Final Four. The two meet in the late game on Saturday at 8:49 PM ET.

This will be a game of offense against defense as the Tar Heels are averaging 89.2 points in the Tournament while the Orange are allowing just 55.7 points per game. These ACC schools have met twice this season; the Tar Heels won in Syracuse in January, then again at North Carolina in February. However, the Orange held their own, losing by 11 in the first game and only five in the second.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

MLB : Cardinals-Mets in Clash of NL Titans

Two of the top teams in the National League will meet this Friday when the New York Mets (7-11 preseason) welcome the St. Louis Cardinals (8-10 preseason) to Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, Florida for some Grapefruit League action. First pitch is at 1:10 PM ET on ESPN.

After winning the NL pennant last year, the Mets (+1200) find themselves tied as the fourth-favorites to win the 2016 World Series. Their team should be even better this season with short stop Asdrubal Cabrera (.744 OPS for Tampa Bay in 2015) and second baseman Neil Walker (.756 OPS for Pittsburgh) shoring up the middle of the infield, supporting arguably the best pitching rotation in the big leagues.

The Cardinals (+1800) are coming off a 100-win season, but their World Series hopes dimmed when outfielder Jason Heyward (.797 OPS) defected to the Chicago Cubs in free agency. Their rotation also lost a key component when Lance Lynn (3.44 FIP) underwent Tommy John surgery during the offseason. For St. Louis to compete again in 2016, right fielder Stephen Piscotty (.853 OPS) and center fielder Randal Grichuk (.877 OPS) will have to deliver on the promise they showed at the plate last year.

MLB : Cardinals-Mets in Clash of NL Titans

MLB : Mets Welcome Cardinals to Port St. Lucie
Baseball fans can see a potential preview of the 2016 National League playoffs when the New York Mets (7-11 preseason) host the St. Louis Cardinals (8-10 preseason) this Friday in Grapefruit League action. Game time at Tradition Field is 1:10 PM ET on ESPN.

The Mets go into the 2016 campaign at +1200 to win the World Series, tied for fourth behind the Chicago Cubs (+500) and the San Francisco Giants (+800) and the Toronto Blue Jays (+1000). The Cardinals have fallen back to the pack at +1800 after losing outfielder Jason Heyward (.797 OPS) to the Cubs in free agency.

NBA : Bulls-Knicks in Second Leg of Home-and-Away

The Chicago Bulls (36-33 SU, 29-40 ATS) are desperately clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They can open up some breathing room with a strong performance in their home-and-away series with the New York Knicks (28-43 SU, 37-34 ATS). The second game takes place Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, tipping off at 7:30 PM ET.

Injuries have been a major factor for both teams this year. However, the Bulls are about as healthy right now as they could hope for, and they've won three straight to improve to 6-3 SU and ATS in their last nine games. As long as Chicago has both Pau Gasol (22.3 PER) and Jimmy Butler (21.4 PER) available, the Bulls can still be a force during this playoff drive.

The Knicks don't have much left to play for this season, but they also have no incentive to tank; their 2016 first-round pick went to the Toronto Raptors three years ago in the Andrea Bargnani trade. Carmelo Anthony (20.4 PER) is expected to play for New York after missing Sunday's game against the Sacramento Kings with a migraine.

NBA : Bulls-Knicks in Second Leg of Home-and-Away

NBA : Anthony Returns as Knicks Meet Bulls
The Chicago Bulls (36-33 SU, 29-40 ATS) will play their second game against the New York Knicks (28-43 SU, 37-34 ATS) when they meet this Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Tip-off is at 7:30 PM ET.

Carmelo Anthony (20.4 PER) is expected to play for the Knicks on Thursday; the team's leading scorer sat out Sunday against the Sacramento Kings with a migraine. New York is winless in eight games (3-5 ATS) without Anthony this year, but he was present for both games against Chicago, which the teams split home and away.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

NCAAB : Duke, Oregon Clash in Sweet 16 Madness

The NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 tips off on Thursday with the final game of the night being one of the more intriguing matchups. The No. 1 Oregon Ducks survived the weekend and will take on the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils, who powered through the first two rounds in the West.

The Blue Devils (25-10) held off No. 13 UNC-Wilmington 93-85 in the first round and then battled for a 71-64 win over No. 12 Yale. Grayson Allen has stepped up his game, posting 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the first game, and then 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting in the second.

The Ducks (30-6) rolled through No. 16 Holy Cross by a score of 91-52 in the first round, which allowed them to rest their starters. They needed all the help they could get against No. 8 Saint Joseph's as the Ducks beat them 69-64 despite being down for most of the game. Chris Boucher led the way with 20 points in the Holy Cross rout, while Dillon Brooks poured in 25 to help Oregon move on past Saint Joseph's.
These programs have met just once with the Blue Devils thrashing the Ducks 98-71 in Portland, Oregon back in November 2010.

NCAAB : Duke, Oregon Clash in Sweet 16 Madness

NCAAB : Duke Meets Oregon in Sweet 16 Showdown
The West closes out the first night of Sweet 16 matchups on Thursday night. The top-seeded Oregon Ducks will take on the fourth-seeded Duke Blue Devils with a berth in the Elite Eight on the line.

Duke had to navigate a pair of tough games in wins over UNC-Wilmington and Yale, while Oregon pounded Holy Cross and then had to come back against Saint Joseph's. This will be the second time that these two programs go head-to-head. The first was a 98-71 romp for the Blue Devils in Portland in November 2010.

NHL : Bruins-Rangers in Key Eastern Showdown

With fewer than 10 games left to go in the regular season, the Boston Bruins (39-26-8) and the New York Rangers (41-24-8) are trying to cement their playoff positions in the Eastern Conference. They'll meet Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden; the puck drops at 8 PM ET on NBCSN.

The Bruins have run hot and cold all season, and they're chilly right now after losing three straight road games. No. 1 netminder Tuukka Rask (.918 save percentage) is projected to start for Boston, but this is the front end of back-to-back games for the Bruins, so they might go with Jonas Gustavsson (.913 SV%) instead. Neither man has played all that well for Boston this year. They're also not getting enough help from their defense, which allows 30.8 shots on goal per game (No. 21 overall).

New York is expected to stick with top goalie Henrik Lundqvist (.922 SV%) on Wednesday. Lundqvist hasn't gotten much support from his defense, either, at 30.4 shots allowed per game (No. 20). However, after losing four consecutive starts, Lundqvist will skate into the Garden on a winning note following Monday's 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers (+135 away).

NHL : Bruins-Rangers in Key Eastern Showdown

NHL : Bruins, Rangers Renew Old Rivalry
This week's edition of Wednesday Night Rivalry (8 PM ET, NBCSN) sees the 41-24-8 New York Rangers host the 39-26-8 Boston Bruins in an Original Six classic. They've split two games home and away this year, leaving the Bruins ahead 291-242-106 since they first met in 1926.

Both teams are projected to start their No. 1 goalies: Tuukka Rask (.918 save percentage) for the Bruins and Henrik Lundqvist (.922 SV%) for the Rangers. Rask is coming off back-to-back road losses for the Bruins, while Lundqvist snapped a four-game losing streak Monday night against the Florida Panthers (+135 away).

Thursday, March 17, 2016

MLB : Yankees, Orioles in AL East Clash

The New York Yankees go into every new season expecting to win the World Series. That might be a tall task this year at +2500 on the MLB futures market, but at least they're doing better than the Baltimore Orioles (+4000). They'll meet in Grapefruit League action this Friday at 6:35 PM ET, with the Yankees playing host in Tampa.

In a rare bout of fiscal responsibility, the Yankees (5-8 preseason) decided to forgo the free-trade market and upgrade their roster by trading for shortstop Starlin Castro and closer Aroldis Chapman. Unfortunately, Chapman has been suspended for the first 30 games of the regular season, but he's eligible for Friday's exhibition game.

Baltimore (3-11 preseason) didn't have any qualms about dipping into the free-agent pool this offseason. The Orioles were supposed to be on the rise after years of futility, but they fell back to 81-81 in 2015 after losing some key personnel. So they signed outfielder Hyun-soo Kim from the Korean League, a three-time “Golden Glove” winner and a former batting champion. The O's also swung a pair of trades for outfielder/first baseman Mark Trumbo and right-hand pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne. That probably won't get the job done in the AL East.

MLB : Yankees, Orioles in AL East Clash

MLB : Orioles Visit Yankees in Tampa
After winning the AL East in 2014, the Baltimore Orioles fell back to .500 last year. Their long climb back to the top continues this Friday when the O's visit the New York Yankees in Grapefruit League action. First pitch from George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa is at 6:35 PM ET.

The Yankees (+2500) and Orioles (+4000) are both outsiders on this year's World Series futures market. New York has the better odds of the two after trading for shortstop Starlin Castro and closer Aroldis Chapman. Baltimore responds with former Korean League star outfielder Hyun-soo Kim.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

NBA : Quest for 73 Continues as Warriors Visit Mavs

Winning the championship isn't enough anymore for the Golden State Warriors. They're on a quest to break the NBA regular-season record of 72 wins, set by the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls. The saga continues Friday night (8:30 PM ET) when the Warriors visit the Dallas Mavericks, who are fighting to make the playoffs.

After smashing everything in sight earlier in the season, the Warriors (60-6 SU, 37-27-2 ATS) have come down to earth a little, and it's affecting them at the pay window. Golden State is 14-2 SU and 6-9-1 ATS over the past 16 games. The Dubs have also run into some rare injury problems; swingman Andre Igoudala (sprained left ankle) and back-up center Festus Ezeli (scoped left knee) are both out for Friday's game.

The Mavericks (34-33 SU, 35-31-1 ATS) have also lost a step or two, but in their case, it's costing them victories. Dallas is just 6-11 SU and ATS since the beginning of February. This is despite adding free agent power forward and former Warrior David Lee, who has played at a very high level during his 10 games in Dallas. Lee has 19.8 points and 15.0 rebounds per 36 minutes with the Mavs.

NBA : Quest for 73 Continues as Warriors Visit Mavs

NBA : Warriors-Mavs in Big D
The Golden State Warriors (60-6 SU, 37-27-2 ATS) bring their Quest for 73 to the American Airlines Center this Friday night when they visit the Dallas Mavericks (34-33 SU, 35-31-1 ATS). Tip-off is at 8:30 PM ET.

Dallas will be happy just to make the playoffs after going 6-11 SU and ATS since the start of February. Golden State, on the other hand, is trying to win 73 games to break the record Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls set 20 years ago. The Warriors are 14-2 SU and 6-9-1 ATS in their last 16 games.

NCAAB : Michigan, Tulsa Vie for Spot in NCAA Tournament

There are still four spots left for the round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament. Dayton, Ohio is the home of one First Four game and it features the Michigan Wolverines taking on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane with a No. 11 seed on the line.

The Wolverines (22-12 SU, 10-8 Big Ten) lost 59-76 to Purdue in the Big Ten semifinals, but an upset over Indiana in the previous round was probably enough to get them to this point. Guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 15 points in the Purdue loss. Michigan will have to shoot much better on Wednesday as they shot 37.7% from the floor, 24% from three-point land and 58.3% from the foul line on Saturday, March 12.

The Golden Hurricane (20-11, 12-6 AAC) were drilled 67-89 by Memphis in the AAC quarterfinals, but they had won seven of their last 10 going into that game. Guard Shaquille Harrison netted 15 for the Golden Hurricane, who hit just four of their 15 three-pointers.
This is the first time that these schools have ever met in any type of game. The winner will move on to Brooklyn, New York, to take on Notre Dame, who is the No. 6 seed in the East region.

NCAAB : Michigan, Tulsa Vie for Spot in NCAA Tournament

NCAAB : Michigan Meets Tulsa in First Four
The East region is still looking for a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Michigan Wolverines and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane clash on Wednesday in Dayton for a chance to claim that spot, with the winner going on to face Notre Dame in Brooklyn.

Michigan made it to the Big Ten semifinals where they were dumped by Purdue. Meanwhile, Tulsa was eliminated in the AAC (American Athletic Conference) quarterfinals by Memphis. The Wolverines are 148th in points scored while the Golden Hurricane are 152nd, so this could be a low-scoring affair. This is the first meeting ever for the Wolverines and Golden Hurricane.

NHL : Crawford, Hawks Host Rising Flyers

The Chicago Blackhawks (41-23-6) aren't in much danger of missing the postseason, but after three straight losses, the prospects for defending their Stanley Cup championship don't look quite as rosy. Chicago will try to get back on track Wednesday (8 PM ET, NBCSN) against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers, who have won six of their last eight games to improve to 32-23-12, moving within shouting distance of a playoff berth in the East.

The Flyers will be playing on zero days of rest after hosting the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. Philadelphia is expected to start Steve Mason (.915 save percentage) in both games, as Michal Neuvirth (.925 SV%) is battling a virus and hasn't played since March 3. Right wing Jakub Voracek (10 goals, 38 assists) won't play against Detroit because of a foot injury and might not play against Philadelphia, either.

Corey Crawford (.927 SV%) is projected to start in goal for the Hawks. He's working through his roughest patch of the season, losing seven of his last 11 appearances, including Monday's 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings (+120 away). Fourth-line centre Marcus Kruger (zero goals, one assist) is the lone man on Chicago's injured list.

NHL : Crawford, Hawks Host Rising Flyers

NHL : Flyers-Hawks on Wednesday Night Rivalry

The Chicago Blackhawks (41-23-6) and Philadelphia Flyers (32-23-12) have been through some battles since they were lumped together in the old West Division back in 1970. They'll meet again this Wednesday night at 8 PM ET on NBCSN.

The Blackhawks have lost three games in a row by a combined score of 13-4, while the Flyers have won six of their last eight to move back into playoff contention in the East. This will be their first matchup since October 14; Philadelphia won that game 3-0 as a +140 home dog.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

MLB : Diamondbacks-Royals in Cactus League Action

After winning their first World Series in 30 years, the Kansas City Royals went into spring training at +1400 to defend their title. Are they a bargain? We'll get a sense of what's in store for 2016 when the Royals “host” the Arizona Diamondbacks this Friday (3:05 PM ET) in Cactus League play.

The Royals (4-6 preseason) bring back most of their top position players and relief pitchers from last year, but the starting rotation is suspect with Jason Vargas on the shelf following Tommy John surgery, and Johnny Cueto defecting to the San Francisco Giants. Their farm system is also depleted after back-to-back runs at the World Series; that shouldn't be too problematic during the regular season, but it limits what the Royals can do this spring.

Arizona (5-3 preseason, +2500 to win the title) upgraded its rotation by adding Zach Greinke and Shelby Miller, and Patrick Corbin should be back to 100% this year after his own recovery from Tommy John surgery. The Snakes have a strong batting order, but their mediocre bullpen could cap their progress, and the farm system is also suspect. There should still be plenty of betting value in the desert this year.

MLB : Diamondbacks-Royals in Cactus League Action

MLB : Rebuilt Diamondbacks Host World Champion Royals
Two teams heading in different directions will meet this Friday when the Kansas City Royals (4-6 preseason) host the Arizona Diamondbacks (5-3 preseason) in Cactus League action. First pitch from Surprise Stadium is at 3:05 PM ET. Friday's weather calls for mostly sunny skies  and temperatures in the high 80s.

The Royals have lost a handful of key players from last year's World Series winners, including Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist, leaving them at +1400 to defend their title. Conversely, the Diamondbacks (+2800) have strengthened their starting rotation considerably with the addition of Zach Greinke and Shelby Miller.

NBA : Bulls Running out of Players; Spurs Keep Adding

The Chicago Bulls (32-30 SU, 25-37 ATS) have been a tough nut to crack this year at the United Center. They'll be back on the road this Thursday night to face the most profitable team in NBA betting, the San Antonio Spurs (54-10 SU, 39-25 ATS). Tip-off is at 8 PM ET on TNT.

The Bulls are coming off back-to-back wins straight up and against the spread at home; however, they've dropped each of their last seven away games at 1-6 ATS. On top of that, their injured list just keeps growing. Point guard Aaron Brooks (knee) and power forward Bobby Portis (eye) are both questionable to face the Spurs after leaving Monday's 100-90 win over the Milwaukee Bucks (+5 away). All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler (knee) is also considered questionable after missing Monday's game.

San Antonio is adding players, not subtracting them. Shooting guard Manu Ginobili (testicular surgery) made his return on Saturday following a 12-game absence, and the Spurs have signed both point guard Andre Miller and shooting guard Kevin Martin for their playoff push. Miller started Tuesday's 116-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (+10.5 at home) and ran the offense seamlessly while point guard Tony Parker sat out with a left toe contusion. Parker is listed as day-to-day.

Red Ink Meets Black in Bulls-Spurs

NBA : Red Ink Meets Black in Bulls-Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs (54-10 SU, 39-25 ATS) are the most profitable team in the NBA. The Chicago Bulls (32-30 SU, 25-37 ATS) have been one of the league's worst investments. They'll meet Thursday night in San Antonio, starting at 8 PM ET on TNT.

The Bulls are even stronger fade candidates at 0-7 SU and 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games. They have a number of players listed as questionable for Thursday, along with several other injuries, so keep an eye on Thursday's pre-game shootaround to get a better idea who'll be playing against San Antonio.

And what about Jazz-Heat and Grizzlies ? Hope all teams are in full power in this stage and the ignition is working perfectly well for nice battles and beautiful sports show for the audience and fans.

NCAAB : Syracuse, Pittsburgh Kick Off ACC Tournament

The Syracuse Orange and the Pittsburgh Panthers are both on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament, so a solid showing in the ACC Tournament would help improve their chances. They face off in the first round on Wednesday in Washington, DC. Tip-off is at noon ET.

The Orange (19-12 SU, 15-15 ATS) struggled to end the season, losing four of their last five, so they desperately need to avoid a loss in the first round. Michael Gbinije led the way with 21 points in a 73-78 loss at Florida State to wrap up the regular season on March 5. Syracuse was outrebounded 43-26.

The Panthers didn't fare much better down the stretch as they lost three of their last four, including a 59-63 loss at Georgia Tech. Michael Young dropped 24 points to pace the Panthers, who were 0-for-11 from three-point land and outscored 34-23 in the second half.
Pittsburgh has won six and lost four of their last 10 meetings with Syracuse. The first meeting of the season was a 72-61 win for Pittsburgh at home on December 30, then they gained the sweep with a 66-52 win at Syracuse on February 20.

NCAAB : Syracuse, Pittsburgh Kick Off ACC Tournament

NCAAB : Syracuse, Pittsburgh Square Off in ACC Tournament Opener
The ACC Tournament tips off with the Pittsburgh Panthers taking on the Syracuse Orange on Wednesday. A win would go a long way for both teams' NCAA Tournament chances.

Both teams had their problems down the homestretch. The Panthers lost three of four heading into the ACC Tournament, and the Orange have lost four of the last five. The Panthers have the edge in the head-to-head series as they've won four straight against the Orange, but it is incredibly tough to beat a team three times in one season. The losing team will have a nerve-wracking time on Selection Sunday.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

NHL : Fallen Maple Leafs Host Islanders

The Toronto Maple Leafs (21-33-11) might not be the best team in the NHL, but at least they play hard. Monday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres (–115 away) made it five straight games that Toronto has lost by a single goal, all since the February 29 trade deadline. Next up for the Leafs is Wednesday's game (7 PM ET, TSN) against the visiting New York Islanders, who are back in playoff position in the East at 36-20-7.

Toronto has been alternating goalies since the deadline; if the pattern holds, Jonathan Bernier (.897 save percentage) will get the start at the ACC. Bernier hasn't played as well between the pipes as his new co-pilot, Garret Sparks (.913 SV%). However, the Maple Leafs are starting fresh in front of Bernier with a new crop of blue-chip prospects, including right wing William Nylander (drafted No. 8 overall in 2014) and right wing Kasperi Kapanen (No. 22 in 2014).

The Islanders are 10-2-1 in their last 13 games, but they'll be playing on zero days of rest Wednesday night after hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. At press time, it's believed that Jaroslav Halak (.917 SV%) will start both those games for New York.

NHL : Fallen Maple Leafs Host Islanders

Leafs in Tough Versus Islanders
The Toronto Maple Leafs (21-33-11) have played with some extra vigor since the February 29 trade deadline. They've lost all five of their games, but only by one goal apiece. The New York Islanders (36-20-7) are Toronto's next opponents. The puck drops Wednesday night at 7 PM ET, with TSN providing the coverage from the Air Canada Centre.

The Islanders are on a major roll at 10-2-1 in their last 13 games, climbing back into playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Jaroslav Halak (.917 save percentage) is projected to start Wednesday night against Toronto's Jonathan Bernier (.897 SV%).

Thursday, March 3, 2016

NBA : Cavs Seek Revenge on Re-Tooled Wizards

The Cleveland Cavaliers (42-17 SU, 25-31-3 ATS) are still the best team in the Eastern Conference. At press time, they're –400 to win the East. But things haven't gone very smoothly for the Cavs as of late. They're 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS in their last five games, including a loss to the team they'll face Friday night, the Washington Wizards. Tip-off is at 8 PM ET on ESPN.

This past Sunday, the Wizards beat Cleveland 113-99 as 3-point home dogs; the Cavs were favored by 6.5 points before LeBron James was given the day off to rest. James will presumably play in the rematch. Meanwhile, the word on the street is that Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland, and that morale on the team is generally low.

Washington (29-30 SU, 31-28 ATS) is working its way back into playoff contention in the East after being hampered by injuries earlier this season. The Wiz are 8-4 SU and ATS over their past dozen games; new arrival Markieff Morris made his first start at power forward in Monday's 116-108 win over the Philadelphia 76ers (+13 away), putting up 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists with a pair of steals.

NBA : Cavs Seek Revenge on Re-Tooled Wizards

NBA : Wizards-Cavs in Possible Playoff Preview
The Cleveland Cavaliers (42-17 SU, 25-31-3 ATS) are in first place in the Eastern Conference. The Washington Wizards (29-30 SU, 31-28 ATS) are just a few games out of the No. 8 seed. They'll meet this Friday in Cleveland; tip-off is at 8 PM ET on ESPN.

Washington won this matchup 113-99 on Sunday as a 3-point home dog, but LeBron James was given the day off for the Cavs. While James should be fresh for Friday's rematch, rumor has it Kyrie Irving is unhappy in Cleveland – and he's not the only one.

In 2015 we have seen Cavaliers improved so we can expect something good this season as well.

NCAAB : Miami, Notre Dame Face Off in ACC Clash

The ACC steps into the midweek spotlight with an intriguing matchup in South Bend. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish host the No. 7 Miami Hurricanes at the Joyce Center on Wednesday.

The Hurricanes (23-5 SU, 17-9-1 ATS) beat Louisville 73-65 at home on Saturday to end a tough stretch in their schedule that began with a 25-point loss at North Carolina, and then a 3-point win over Virginia. Davon Reed and Angel Rodriguez both scored 17 for the Hurricanes, who outscored Louisville by 10 after halftime.

The Fighting Irish (19-9 SU, 12-13-1 ATS) were routed 56-77 at Florida State for their second loss in a three-game road stretch, which included a loss at Georgia Tech and a win at Wake Forest. They started the season 14-5, but are just 5-4 in their last nine contests.

Note Dame has won three of their last five meetings with Miami, but the most recent matchup resulted in Miami winning 79-70 at home as 5.5-point favorites on February 3. The Hurricanes perform better at home as they've lost their last three trips to South Bend; their last win there came back in January 2000. Wednesday's game starts at 7 PM ET with coverage on ESPN.

NCAAB : Miami, Notre Dame Face Off in ACC Clash

NCAAB : Hurricanes Head to Notre Dame on Wednesday
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have fallen out of the Top 25 rankings, but they're still only two ACC games behind the No. 7 Miami Hurricanes, who are tied for the fewest losses in the conference.

The Hurricanes have rebounded from a bad loss at North Carolina with wins over Louisville and Virginia, but four of their five losses this season have been on the road. The Fighting Irish were thumped at Florida State for their second loss in three games, but they've won three straight at home over Miami. The Hurricanes won the first meeting of the season by a score of 79-70 at home in early February.

And what about Georgia and Florida ?

NHL : Hawks-Wings in Original Six Battle

Rivalries don't get much older than this. The Detroit Red Wings (32-20-11) host the Chicago Blackhawks (39-20-5) for this week's episode of Wednesday Night Rivalry, starting at 8 PM ET on NBCSN. This will be the 730th time these two Original Six teams have met since joining the NHL in 1926. Detroit has the healthy advantage at 355-279-84-11.

Wednesday's game will be the first time Detroit and Chicago have faced each other this year – they'll meet again at the United Center on Sunday. The projected starters at Joe Louis Arena are Corey Crawford (.928 save percentage) for the Blackhawks and Jimmy Howard (.909 SV%) for the Red Wings. Crawford is in a bit of a slump, dropping seven of his last 13 starts, while Howard is 1-7-4 in his last dozen appearances.

Detroit might not have much choice but to go with Howard. No. 1 netminder Petr Mrazek (.927 SV%) suffered a mild groin injury last week and didn't dress for Monday's 3-2 overtime win over the Dallas Stars (–150 at home). Mrazek is listed as day-to-day; rookie Jared Coreau has been called up from the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins to back Howard up in goal.

NHL : Hawks-Wings in Original Six Battle

NHL : Blackhawks Load Up for Detroit Trip
The 39-20-5 Chicago Blackhawks will have some new faces when they host the 32-20-11 Detroit Red Wings for this week's edition of Wednesday Night Rivalry (8 PM ET, NBCSN). Chicago swung a number of deals in advance of Monday's trade deadline, while Detroit was largely silent.

Chicago welcomed left wing Andrew Ladd (17 goals, 18 assists) back to town last week in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets; left wing Tomas Fleischmann (10 goals, 10 assists) and right wing Dale Weise (14 goals, 12 assists) were also acquired from the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, although Weise might not be ready for Wednesday's game.