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Basketball Movers and Shakers

   by ASA - 02/20/2009

Each week I will be looking at some key factors in college and the NBA that may make affect the line. Sometimes you might be able to catch an edge if the odds makers have not yet caught up with these developments.

Southern Illinois Salukis: There might be some line value against Southern Illinois on the upcoming schedule due to a key injury to senior starting point guard Bryan Mullins. The senior leader was averaging 9.3 PPG and almost 6 assist per game prior to his injury. Mullins has now missed 5 straight games with a stress fracture in his foot and the Salukis clearly miss his productivity and leadership as they are just 1-4 (SU and ATS) since his injury. Mullins had a 3.4/1 assist/turnover ratio, but since his absence the Salukis have had a total of 74 turnovers compared to just 57 assists. Southern Illinois’ increasing turnovers are the main reason that they are allowing 73 PPG the last 5 games (65 prior to Mullins injury). The Salukis lost their last road game by 26 points to Northern Iowa, and now have two road games coming up on the schedule. Mullins will be re-evaluated next week to see if he can return, but as long as he is out, you might be able to find some line value against the Salukis. Keep an eye on it though, because if he unexpectedly returns, you’ll likely find some value WITH the Salukis.

Michigan State Spartans: The Spartans were dealt a huge blow when they received news that Raymar Morgan would have to miss time due to mono. Morgan missed four games for the Spartans and they were 3-1 (SU and ATS) without him. They uncharacteristically lost to Penn State at home, before bouncing back with rather unimpressive wins vs. Minnesota, vs. Indiana, and @Michigan. Morgan returned with 14 minutes in their last game loss to Purdue, but was generally a non-factor. Morgan is a key defender, scorer, and rebounder for the Spartans and they’ll need him if they want to stay atop the standings in the Big Ten. However, he is not in Big Ten basketball condition right now and he won’t be full strength for at least another week. Michigan State has a couple big conference games coming up on the schedule against Wisconsin (0-4 last 4 match-ups), vs. Iowa and @Illinois. Watch how Morgan progresses over the next couple of weeks, as you may be able to find some line value against the Spartans if he remains unhealthy.

Phoenix Suns: With the recent firing of Terry Porter, Phoenix is back to the “Fun & Run Sunsâ€쳌 and you might be able to get some line value on the OVER with the Suns on the upcoming schedule. Interim head coach Alvin Gentry has gone back to the offense that made the Suns so successful the past few seasons. In Gentry’s first two games at the helm, Phoenix has scored 140 and 142 points. What’s more impressive is that they have shot 58.9% and 62.2%, with combined 170 points in the paint in those two games. Despite the recent eye injury to Amar’e Stoudemire that could keep him out of the line-up for the remainder of the season, the Suns are still a good bet to put up a lot of points. In fact, the injury to Stoudemire may prove to be helpful, as the O/U line on Suns games may shrink due to the All Star’s absence. With the return of the Suns high scoring offense also brings back the Suns sieve of a defense. They allowed 100 and 119 point to the Clippers, and LA was without Zach Randolph, their leading scorer. Their upcoming schedule includes three straight home games against Oklahoma City, Boston and Charlotte. Keep an eye on the O/U line as you might be able to find a lot of OVER value for the Suns.

Houston Rockets: Don’t expect the latest injury to Tracy McGrady to affect the lines of the Rockets upcoming games. The Rockets have been coping with injuries all season; 10 players have missed a total of 133 games for Houston this season including 19 games without McGrady. When star center Yao Ming broke his foot last year, Houston dealt with his loss and reeled off 10 straight wins. It is obvious that Houston knows how to deal with injuries to key players. With other key players Ron Artest and Shane Battier finally healthy, the Rockets can move on without McGrady and develop a new identity, as they did without Yao last season. They also brought in point guard Kyle Lowry from Memphis in a deadline deal. They prefer Lowry over the often out-of-control style of Rafer Alston, whom they sent to Orlando in the same trade. Lowry won’t make an immediate impact, but he will be part of the “new-lookâ€쳌 Rockets team without McGrady. Normally, injuries to key players will affect the lines greatly, but Houston has been dealing with injuries all year long and we don’t expect the lines to be affected much, if at all.

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