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Thursday, January 28, 2016

NBA : Knicks, Raptors Both Making Money


Two of the most profitable teams in the NBA will collide Thursday night (8 PM ET, TNT) when the New York Knicks visit the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors lead the Atlantic Division at 30-15 SU and 27-18 ATS, while the much-improved Knicks are in the playoff hunt at 22-25 SU and 27-20 ATS.

Toronto gets a rare chance to strut its stuff on TNT before hosting the All-Star Game on Valentine's Day. The Raptors have won nine straight games at 8-1 ATS to climb within two games of the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the East. The team is relatively healthy and firing on all cylinders now that center Jonas Valanciunas (21.3 PER) has returned from the injured list.

New York's progress has hit something of a roadblock at 2-5 SU and ATS over the past seven games. Swingman Carmelo Anthony (20.5 PER) missed Tuesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a sore left knee; the Knicks still extended OKC to overtime before losing 122-128 as 9.5-point home dogs. Anthony is considered day-to-day for now, as is Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry (23.0 PER), who sprained his non-shooting wrist in Tuesday's 106-89 win over the Washington Wizards (+8.5 away).

NBA : Knicks, Raptors Both Making Money



NBA : Red-Hot Raptors Host Improved Knicks
The Toronto Raptors (30-15 SU, 27-18 ATS) get a rare opportunity to play on TNT this Thursday when they host the New York Knicks (22-25 SU, 27-20 ATS). Tip-off from Air Canada Centre is at 8 PM ET.
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The Raptors have won nine straight games at 8-1 ATS to move within two games of the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the East. New York is 2-5 SU and ATS in its last seven outings; swingman Carmelo Anthony (20.5 PER) is listed as day-to-day with a sore left knee, the same knee that cut his 2014-2015 season short.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

NHL: Avs-Kings in Last Game Before All-Star Break


The Los Angeles Kings (30-15-3) may have missed the playoffs last year after winning their second Stanley Cup, but they'll skate into the All-Star break with the best record in the Pacific Division. First, they'll host the Colorado Avalanche (26-21-3) on Wednesday. The puck drops at 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN.

The Kings weren't even a bad team last year. They had a plus-15 goal differential, while the Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific at plus-10. But this year's team is already at plus-17; most of that gap is based on the goaltending of Jonathan Quick (.921 save percentage) and his new back-up, Jhonas Enroth (.931 SV%). Incoming left wing Milan Lucic (12 goals, 17 assists) has helped, too, and he'll play Wednesday after serving a one-game suspension.

Colorado had definitely improved on last year's performance, but this team is still a step or two below the 2013-2014 squad that won the Central in Patrick Roy's first year as head coach. Semyon Varlamov (.918 SV%) is expected to start on Wednesday after back-up Calvin Pickard (.922 SV%) plays Tuesday in San Jose against the Sharks. Varlamov has won four straight appearances, allowing just one goal in each game.


NHL: Avs-Kings in Last Game Before All-Star Break



NHL : Kings Host Avs in Western Showdown
The Los Angeles Kings (30-15-3) will be in first place in the Pacific going into the All-Star break. But first, they'll host the Colorado Avalanche (26-21-3), who are in fourth place in the Central at press time. The puck drops at 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN.
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Jonathan Quick (.921 save percentage) is expected to start for Los Angeles, while Semyon Varlamov (.918 SV%) should get the nod for Colorado after Calvin Pickard (.922 SV%) faces the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. Varlamov is on a four-game winning streak, allowing just one goal in each of those appearances.

NCAAB : Baylor Looks to Get Back on Track at Oklahoma State


The Baylor Bears had a five-game winning streak snapped as they fell to the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday. The Bears will aim to get back to their winning ways on Wednesday when they hit the road to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The Bears (15-4 SU, 5-2 Big 12) were 13th in the rankings heading into their showdown with the top-ranked Sooners, and allowed Oklahoma to shoot 62% from the floor in the 72-82 loss at home. The Bears got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Johnathan Motley off the bench and outrebounded Oklahoma 34-19, but that didn’t matter in the e
nd.
The Cowboys (10-9 SU, 2-5 Big 12) were down by 19 in an 73-89 loss at Kansas State, led by 18 points off the bench from Tyree Griffin. KSU shot 57.7% from the field while OSU shot 41.8%. That is surely a recipe for a loss.

Baylor has won six of their last 10 meetings with Oklahoma State, who had won two in a row in the series before a 62-79 loss on January 5. However, the Cowboys are 7-3 at home so far this season, while the Bears are 2-3 on the road.

NCAAB : Baylor Looks to Get Back on Track at Oklahoma State


NCAAB Odds: Bears, Cowboys Clash in Big 12 Contest
The Baylor Bears ended their five game winning streak when they lost to No. 1 Oklahoma on Saturday. Oklahoma State will try to serve the Bears a second consecutive loss when the Cowboys play host on Wednesday.

The Bears are one of four teams in the loaded Big 12 with a 5-2 mark in conference play, but they missed their chance to make a statement with their loss to the Sooners. Oklahoma State has lost five of their last six following their 16-point loss at Kansas State, but they beat No. 3 Kansas at home recently, so the potential for an upset is there. The Bears have won six of their last 10 with the Cowboys.

Friday, January 22, 2016

NFL: Cardinals-Panthers in NFC Title Game


From a quality standpoint, Sunday's NFC Championship bout between the Carolina Panthers (16-1 SU, 12-5 ATS) and the Arizona Cardinals (14-3 SU, 9-8 ATS) could be the best game of the entire season. The Panthers are 3.5-point home favorites at press time with a total of 48. Kick-off is at 6:40 PM ET on FOX.

Carolina earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC after nearly running the table during the regular season. The Panthers are coming off a strong 31-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks (+3 away) in last week's Divisional Round matchup; however, defensive end Jared Allen suffered a broken foot and is considered doubtful for Sunday after skipping Wednesday's practice.

The No. 2 Cardinals are relatively healthy, and they'll have the benefit of an extra day of rest after beating the Green Bay Packers (+7.5 away) 26-20 in overtime on Saturday. Arizona should have some betting value playing against likely MVP winner Cam Newton. The advanced stats suggest that Carson Palmer is the more deserving candidate, but can Palmer adjust to playing outdoors in January? Sunday's weather forecast calls for clear skies over Bank of America Stadium, with temperatures in the low 40s at kick-off.


NFL: Cardinals-Panthers in NFC Title Game


NFL : Carolina Favored by 3.5 Points Over Cardinals
The Carolina Panthers (16-1 SU, 12-5 ATS) are 3.5-point home favorites at press time for Sunday's NFC title game versus the Arizona Cardinals (14-3 SU, 9-8 ATS). Carolina is also available at –165 on the moneyline, with a total of 48 points. Kick-off is at 6:40 PM ET on FOX.

The Panthers will likely be without defensive end Jared Allen after he suffered a broken foot in last Sunday's Divisional Round win over the Seattle Seahawks. That will help the Cardinals; so will the extra day of rest they get after beating the Green Bay Packers on Saturday.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

NBA : Pacers Short-Handed in Golden State


There's never a good time to lose your starting center, but the Indiana Pacers (23-19 SU, 22-20 ATS) could be in extra-deep trouble if they don't get Ian Mahinmi back in time for Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors. Tip-off is at 10:30 PM ET on ESPN.
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Mahinmi (17.5 PER) sprained his left ankle during the first half of Tuesday's 97-94 victory over the Phoenix Suns (+6.5 at home) and did not return to the game. His status for the trip to Golden State is unknown; the Pacers are idle between now and Friday, while the Warriors were scheduled to play Wednesday in Chicago against the Bulls. Point guard Rodney Stuckey (12.5 PER) is also out for Indiana with a bone bruise in his right foot.

Golden State (38-4 SU, 25-16-1 ATS) still has the best record in the NBA, but the Dubs have run out of betting value at 9-9-1 ATS since the last time they played Indiana. That was on December 8; the Warriors took that game 131-123 as 5.5-point road favorites. Small forward Harrison Barnes (14.8 PER) missed that game for Golden State, but he'll be in uniform for Friday's rematch.

NBA : Pacers Short-Handed in Golden State


Pacers Minus Mahinmi Versus Warriors?
The Indiana Pacers (23-19 SU, 22-20 ATS) could be without their starting center Friday night when they visit the Golden State Warriors (38-4 SU, 25-16-1 ATS) in the nightcap of ESPN's double-header, tipping off at 10:30 PM ET.
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Ian Mahinmi (17.5 PER) sprained his left ankle during Tuesday's 97-94 win over the Phoenix Suns (+6.5 at home). His status for Friday is unknown at press time. Back-up guard Rodney Stuckey (12.5 PER) is out for the Pacers with a bone bruise in his right foot; starting point guard George Hill (13.5 PER) should return after missing two games for personal reasons.

Friday, January 15, 2016

NFL : Hobbled Pats Host Chiefs in Divisional Round


The defending Super Bowl champions are in a tight spot. The New England Patriots (12-4 SU, 7-7-2 ATS) host the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs (12-5 SU, 9-8 ATS) this Saturday in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs; the Patriots are 5.5-point favorites at press time with a total of 42.5 points, but Kansas City has won 11 straight games at a healthy 8-3 ATS. Kick-off is at 4:35 PM ET on CBS.

New England isn't quite so healthy. Quartback Tom Brady (high-ankle sprain) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (broken foot) are just two of the Patriots who will be playing hurt on Saturday. Also, defensive end Chandler Jones was hospitalized on Sunday, allegedly after overdosing on pills at tight end Rob Gronkowski's house. Gronkowski missed Tuesday's practice, but both he and Jones were back on the field Wednesday. Despite these issues, the Patriots have drawn enough action to move from –5 at the open.

The Chiefs could be missing a pair of key players for this matchup. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back Spencer Ware both missed Wednesday's practice with ankle injuries. Maclin reportedly has a “mild” high-ankle sprain similar to Brady's, while the extent of Ware's injury has yet to be revealed.

NFL : Hobbled Pats Host Chiefs in Divisional Round


Pats in Disarray with Chiefs Coming to Town
The New England Patriots (12-4 SU, 7-7-2 ATS) are fighting injuries and off-field drama as they prepare to host the Kansas City Chiefs (12-5 SU, 9-8 ATS) in Saturday's Divisional Round matchup. The Patriots are 5.5-point favorites at press time, up from –5 at the open, with a total of 42.5 points.

Both tight end Rob Gronkowski and defensive end Chandler Jones were on the practice field Wednesday after Jones was hospitalized on Sunday. Reports allege that Jones overdosed on pills at Gronkowski's house. Meanwhile, quarterback Tom Brady (high-ankle sprain) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (broken foot) will be playing through pain.

NBA : Cavs-Spurs in Potential NBA Finals Preview

Basketball fans should be in for a treat Thursday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the San Antonio Spurs. These are two of the very best teams in the league, and they could meet in the NBA Finals again when all is said and done. Tip-off is at 8 PM ET on TNT.

The Cavaliers (27-9 SU, 15-20-1 ATS) have won nine of their 10 games with point guard Kyrie Irving back in the lineup. However, they're still having trouble shaking off the chalk at 5-5 ATS. The Cavs dropped the cash in three of their last four games, and they needed overtime to beat the Dallas Mavericks (+6 at home) 110-107 on Tuesday.

Chalk hasn't been nearly as troublesome for the Spurs (34-6 SU, 28-12 ATS). They're easily the most profitable team in the NBA this year, hiding in the long shadow cast by the 36-2 Golden State Warriors. San Antonio has won nine straight games at 7-2 ATS, including Tuesday's 109-99 victory over the Detroit Pistons (+7 at home), where ageless point guard Tony Parker scored a season-high 31 points. Going into Tuesday's action, Basketball-Reference had the Spurs valued  7.3 points higher than the Cavs using the Simple Rating System.

NBA : Cavs-Spurs in Potential NBA Finals Preview


Spurs Host Cavs in Elite Showdown
It's been almost nine years since LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. They could face each other again this summer; first, they'll meet this Thursday night (8 PM ET, TNT) in San Antonio.
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Nobody else has beaten up the NBA odds like San Antonio (34-6 SU, 28-12 ATS) has this year. The Cavs (27-9 SU, 15-20-1 ATS) have won nine of their 10 games with Kyrie Irving in the lineup, but they've split the cash at 5-5 ATS, while the Spurs have won nine straight at 7-2 ATS.

NCAAB : Blue Devils Head to Upset-Minded Clemson


The Duke Blue Devils are heating up as conference play begins in the ACC. However, they'll hit the road for a challenging trip to Clemson to face the Tigers on Wednesday.

The Blue Devils are coming off an 82-58 win over the Virginia Tech Hokies and are now 14-2 SU and 3-0 in ACC play. Duke's Marshall Plumlee had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the home victory, while Brandon Ingram added 16 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. Duke jumped to a 50-23 lead by halftime. The Blue Devils are rounding into form quickly, but Wednesday will be a difficult test.
The Clemson Tigers moved to 10-6 SU and 3-1 in ACC play with a 66-62 win at home over the Louisville Cardinals, making it their third consecutive win. Jaron Blossomgame led the way with 17 points and nine rebounds for the Tigers, who shot just 32.6% from the field and was outrebounded 53-31. They played some tough defense with 17 forced turnovers.
Duke has dominated this ACC rivalry, winning seven of the last eight meetings. The Tigers' last win in this series came in January 2014, when they beat the Blue Devils 72-59 at home. Tip-off is at 7 PM ET.

NCAAB : Blue Devils Head to Upset-Minded Clemson


Duke, Clemson Clash on Wednesday
The Duke Blue Devils, a perennial powerhouse, is playing very well right now and will hit the road to face the Clemson Tigers on Wednesday. The Tigers will be eager to add a fourth consecutive win to their own tally.

The Blue Devils are shooting for the Top 10 and have won five in a row, powered by the great play of freshman star Brandon Ingram. The Tigers have followed up a three-game skid by winning three in a row – including an upset of then No. 16 Louisville over the weekend. However, they'll have their hands full with Duke, who have won seven of their last eight over Clemson.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

NBA : Celtics-Bulls in Eastern Showdown


The Boston Celtics just keep getting better. Boston (19-15 SU, 19-14-1 ATS) has won five of its last seven straight up and against the spread to climb within one game of the Atlantic Division lead. On Thursday, the Celtics visit the Chicago Bulls (21-12 SU, 14-19 ATS), who have won five straight games at 4-1 ATS. Tip-off is at 8 PM ET on TNT.

The Celtics have reached another level with Isaiah Thomas (21.5 PER) as their starting point guard. Thomas was expected to play in Wednesday's home game against the Detroit Pistons, despite missing Tuesday's practice with a sprained left thumb. Point guard Avery Bradley (13.9 PER) is out for the week with a hip pointer.
Chicago has played well recently despite the absence of center Joakim Noah (15.0 PER), who remains on the shelf with a torn shoulder. Nikola Mirotic (15.2 PER) has filled in admirably in his return to the starting lineup, and rookie big man Bobby Portis (17.3 PER) has taken full advantage of the extra minutes off the bench. Meanwhile, point guard Derrick Rose (10.4 PER) was back in action Tuesday after missing three games for the Bulls with hamstring and knee injuries.


NBA : Celtics-Bulls in Eastern Showdown



Rose Back for Bulls as Boston Looms
After missing three games to assorted injuries, Derrick Rose was back in action for the Chicago Bulls (21-12 SU, 14-19 ATS) on Tuesday. Rose and the Bulls host the Boston Celtics (19-15 SU, 19-14-1 ATS) Thursday night in what should be a quality matchup. Tip-off is at 8 PM ET on TNT.

Isaiah Thomas is expected to play point guard for the Celtics despite missing Tuesday's practice with a sprained left thumb. Fellow guard Avery Bradley, on the other hand, is likely to miss the next two games with a hip pointer.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

NCAAB : Duke Aims to Continue Hot Streak at Wake Forest


After winning three in a row, including their ACC opener at Boston College, Duke is ranked No. 14 in the country. They'll continue their conference play on Wednesday, when they hit the road to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

The 12-2 Blue Devils opened ACC play with an 81-64 win at Boston College, powered by freshman Brandon Ingram, who had 25 points and nine rebounds. After a slow start to his college career, Ingram has caught fire, scoring 23 or more in five of his last seven games. While Grayson Allen is the leader of the team, Ingram looks like he is taking over and that helps the Blue Devils immensely.

The 9-4 Demon Deacons fell 57-65 in their ACC opener at Louisville, shooting just 39.3% from the field. Wake Forest got 14 points each from Devin Thomas and Bryant Crawford, but they hit just three of their 12 free-throw attempts. That's not going to cut it in the ACC.
Duke has dominated this rivalry, winning nine of their last 10 against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons' last win over Duke came in March 2014 at home. The Blue Devils have won four of their last five at Wake Forest.


NCAAB : Duke Aims to Continue Hot Streak at Wake Forest



Ingram Leads Blue Devils to Wake Forest
Duke rolled into ACC play with a big win over Boston College, led by Brandon Ingram. The new star dropped 25 points and added nine rebounds as the No. 14 Blue Devils beat Boston College 81-64. Ingram is being touted as a top five pick in the NBA draft.

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons lost 57-65 at Louisville in their first ACC game of the season, shooting 39.3% from the field and even worst, 3-of-12 at the foul line. Wake Forest hasn't had much luck against Duke lately, losing nine of the last 10 meetings – including four of their last five at home. The two meet at Wake Forest on Wednesday at 7 PM ET.


NHL : Gallagher, Habs Host Devils


The Montreal Canadiens started the New Year right with a big win at the Winter Classic. Can they get another this Wednesday night (7 PM ET, TSN) when they host the New Jersey Devils ? These two teams split a home-and-home series at the end of November, with both games going past regulation tied 2-2.

Mike Condon (.907 save percentage) will get the nod for the Habs on Wednesday, after Ben Scrivens fills in for Tuesday's road game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Condon went 2-9 in his 11 December starts, but Brendan Gallagher (10 goals in 23 games) missed the whole month for Montreal with a broken hand. Gallagher had a goal and an assist while Condon made 27 saves in Friday's 5-1 victory over the Boston Bruins (–125 at home).

The Devils will be idle on Tuesday, so No. 1 goalie Cory Schneider (.928 SV%) will probably get the start after facing the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. Schneider stopped 20 of 21 shots, but it wasn't enough, as Detroit (–110 away) blanked the Devils 1-0. Mike Cammalleri (14 goals, 21 assists) missed his second game for New Jersey with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.

NHL : Gallagher, Habs Host Devils



Replenished Habs Host Devils
Will the Montreal Canadiens (22-15-3) go on another winning run now that Brendan Gallagher is back in action? They'll host the New Jersey Devils (20-15-5) this Wednesday at 7 PM ET on TSN, with Mike Condon (.907 save percentage) confirmed in goal for Montreal.

Condon and the Habs are coming off a 5-1 win over the Boston Bruins (–125 at home) at the Winter Classic on New Year's Day. Gallagher had a goal and an assist in his first game back off the injured list, while Condon stopped 27 of 28 shots to secure the victory.

Monday, January 4, 2016

NCAAF: No. 8 Notre Dame vs No. 7 Ohio State


The No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1 SU, 5-7 ATS) won't get to defend their National Championship, but they do get to play in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day. Their opponents: the No. 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS). Kick-off from the University of Phoenix Stadium is at 1 PM ET on ESPN. Notre Dame is a 6.5-point underdog, and the total is 57 as we go to press.


The Buckeyes are widely expected to win this game. Sports-Reference has them valued roughly five points higher than the Fighting Irish using the Simple Rating System, and OSU head coach Urban Meyer is 9-2 in bowl games, while Notre Dame counterpart Brian Kelly is 4-4. However, the Irish should have betting value as the underdogs facing the former champions.

Ohio State will go into Friday's contest without a pair of defensive tackles. Adolphus Washington was suspended after getting caught in a vice-squad sting operation, while Tommy Schutt is out with a broken foot. Notre Dame is sixth in the FBS in rushing at 5.8 yards per carry, powered by the trio of CJ Prosise, Josh Adams, and quarterback DeShone Kizer. They've run for 25 touchdowns combined this season.


NCAAF: No. 8 Notre Dame vs No. 7 Ohio State


 Will Ohio State Show Up for Fiesta Bowl?

After missing out on the College Football Playoff, the No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1 SU, 5-7 ATS) will need to stay motivated if they're going to beat the No. 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) in Friday's Fiesta Bowl. Kick-off from Glendale is at 1 PM ET on ESPN.



The Buckeyes will also have to play without stud defensive tackle Adolphus Washington after he was caught and arrested in a sting operation. Defensive tackle Tommy Schutt is already out with a broken foot, so this could be a big game for Notre Dame's No. 6-ranked rushing attack.

NBA : Suns in Freefall as Thunder Roar


These are tough times for the Phoenix Suns. They've shaken up their coaching staff, point guard Eric Bledsoe is gone for the season with a torn meniscus, and the Suns (12-21 SU, 14-19 ATS) have lost five straight games heading into Thursday's matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder (22-10 SU, 13-19 ATS). Tip-off from the Chesapeake Energy Arena is at 8 PM ET.

Bledsoe (20.98 PER) was one of the few bright spots on a Phoenix team that has obviously tuned out head coach Jeff Hornacek. Markieff Morris (9.28 PER), who has played poorly since his twin brother Marcus was traded to Detroit, was given a two-game suspension on Christmas Eve for throwing a towel at Hornacek. The Suns were reportedly on the verge of firing their coach, but settled for firing two of his assistants instead.

Oklahoma City doesn't seem to have any problems with new head coach Billy Donovan. The Thunder have won 11 of 14 games this month; however, they're performing well below market expectation at 1-4 ATS in their last five. When these two teams met on November 8, Oklahoma City prevailed 124-103 as an 8.5-point home chalk, despite 28 points and 11 assists from Bledsoe.


NBA : Suns in Freefall as Thunder Roar



Suns Without Bledsoe for Thunder Rematch
On November 8, the Oklahoma City Thunder (–8.5 at home) beat the Phoenix Suns 124-103. They'll meet again this Thursday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Tip-off is at 8 PM ET.

Eric Bledsoe (20.98 PER) won't be there to help Phoenix. He's been ruled out for the year with a torn meniscus, depriving the Suns of easily their best player. Bledsoe had 28 points and 11 assists when these two teams met in November. The Suns also appear to be tuning out head coach Jeff Hornacek; two of his assistants were fired on Monday.