Articles

NCAA Monday Night Basketball: Texas Tech/Oklahoma State Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Feb 22, 2021

The Big Monday college basketball doubleheader on ESPN concludes at 9 PM ET in a battle of Big 12 foes jockeying for seeding in the NCAA Tournament.Texas Tech returned to action on Saturday after not playing for ten days in a 76-71 loss at Kansas as a 3-point underdog. The Jayhawks nailed a 3-pointer with 24 seconds to take the lead for good in handing the Red Raiders their second-straight loss. Kevin McCullar and Marcus Santos-Silva both scored 12 points. McCullar is second on the team with a 10.6 points-per-game scoring average, while Santos-Silva is fifth with his 8.4 points-per-game clip. Chris Beard’s team is ranked 15th nationally by the Associated Press with a 14-7 record. This group is likely his most talented team in his five years as head coach of this program. While he lost three starters from the team that finished 18-13 last season, he was aggressive in attracting some high-level transfers while bringing in a good freshman class to join junior Kyler Edwards and sophomore Terrence Shannon. Some of the depth Beard had established diminished when five-star freshman Nimari Burnett decided to leave the team to transfer to another school. He was averaging 17.7 minutes-per-game but only scoring 5.3 points-per-game. Georgetown transfer Mac McClung has adapted to Beard’s system to lead the team with a 16.9 points-per-game scoring average. Shannon is second on the team by scoring 12.6 points-per-game. The Red Raiders are once again an outstanding defensive team under Beard. They are 24th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom. Texas Tech is eighth in the country by forcing turnovers in 24.8% of their opponent’s possessions. This team thrives in getting second-chance shots as they pull down 34.1% of their missed shots, 26th in the country. They also get to the free-throw line as they rank 13th in free throw rate. The weakness of this team is shooting the basketball. The Red Raiders make only 33.8% of their 3-pointers and 48.2% of their shots inside the arc, ranking 163rd and 227th, respectively. Kenpom ranks their adjusted offensive efficiency at 31st nationally. Texas Tech fell to 6-6 in the conference with the loss on Sunday, leaving them in seventh place in the Big 12. They have been defeated twice by Kansas and West Virginia, with additional losses to Baylor and these Cowboys. They lost to Houston in non-conference action. Their highest-profile wins are against Texas and Oklahoma (twice), and LSU in a non-conference victory. Oklahoma State scored the final nine points last Tuesday in a 76-58 victory against Iowa State as an 11-point favorite. Cade Cunningham scored 21 points while pulling down five rebounds and dishing out seven assists. The freshman phenom leads the team with an 18.5 points-per-game scoring average. The 6’8 freshman point guard might be the number one pick in the NBA draft in June. Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe added 17 points. The freshman is fourth on the team with a 9.4 points-per-game scoring average. Last year’s leading scorer, Isaac Likekely, will be a game-time decision tonight after not playing on Tuesday. The 6’5  junior point guard is second on the team with a 10.2 points-per-game scoring average. He is contributing 7.0 rebounds-per-game and 3.8 assists-per-game.Oklahoma State, 14-6, have high-profile victories against Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, and these Red Raiders. The Cowboys are in sixth place in the Big 12 with a 7-6 record with losses to Baylor, West Virginia, Texas, and Kansas. Two conference losses to TCU dog their resume. The Cowboys are 85th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. Their 51.1% shooting mark inside the arc is 119th. They rank 19th at kenpom in adjusted defensive efficiency. Their opponent's effective field goal percentage of 45.9% ranks 23rd nationally.Oklahoma State upset Texas Tech on the road in Lubbock on January 5th, 82-77, as an 8-point underdog. BetAnySports lists the Red Raiders as a 3.5-point road favorite with the total set at 138.

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MLB Baseball Futures Bet: MInnesota Twins to Win 2021 World Series

by Al McMordie

Monday, Feb 22, 2021

It's that time of the year again when I pull out my crystal ball to select a team to win this year's World Series.  And my success the last several years with Futures wagers is likely unparalleled.  Here's a quick review for newcomers.  In College Basketball, we cashed Virginia as our Preseason Futures wager (at 22-1 odds) to win the 2019 Title.  Also in 2019, we cashed our Futures wager on the Washington Nationals in Baseball, at 18-1 odds.  This past season we followed up the Nationals with our Preseason Futures pick on the Dodgers, at 4-1 odds.  And that made it three winning MLB Futures in four seasons, as we had Houston, at 10-1 odds, in 2017.  In hockey, we delivered with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season, at 7-1 odds.  And we cashed the Spurs (14-1, 2014), Warriors (5-1, 2016), and Warriors again (-160, 2018) in the NBA.  Our preseason pick on the Baylor Bears (12-1 odds) in College Basketball will also have a decent shot to cash in the upcoming March Madness tournament.  Let's take a look at the upcoming 2021 baseball season.  It's my belief that the two best teams (Los Angeles Dodgers; San Diego Padres) reside in the National League West division.  But having the best team is not the same thing as winning the Championship.  In 2019, for example, we went with the Nationals who weren't the best team, but (at 18-1 odds) I believed they would always have a puncher's chance (or, more specifically, a "Pitcher's chance") with the 1-2 combination of Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer.  For this 2021 season, I don't believe there's enough value for me to take either the Dodgers (+370 at BetAnySports) or the Padres (8-1 odds at BetAnySports).  So, instead, I will look at backing an American League team.  And the Minnesota Twins stand out to me as having the best value.  Currently, the odds on the Twins to win the World Series are 22-1 (at each of Bovada, BetAnySports and BetOnline).  And the odds on the Twins to win the American League pennant are 9-1 (at each of BetAnySports and BetOnline).  In contrast, the World Series odds at BetAnySports have the New York Yankees at +625 and the Chicago White Sox at +1000.  By my numbers, neither the Yankees nor White Sox rate better than Minnesota, so it's an easy decision for me to go with the Twins as the best value play.There's no doubt that the White Sox are everyone's darlings in the AL Central division.  Last season, the division title went to the Twins, who went 24-7 at home, which was the best home record in baseball.  But they faltered at home in the playoffs against the Houston Astros.  So, perhaps due to last season's flame-out, a lot of pundits are looking past Minnesota.  But not me, as I believe this will be the year that the Twins finally back up a strong regular season with some success in October.   Chicago does have a lot of talent, but it might be a year away from being post-season contenders.  And if Chicago stumbles, the division is clearly Minnesota's to lose.  But regardless of whether the Twins win the division, it should make the post-season.  The Twins' line-up is a solid collection of mostly veterans (Kepler, Cruz, Buxton, Donaldson, Polanco, Sano) with a very talented rookie outfielder in Alex Kirilloff ready to step up.  But it's the pitching that will tell the story for this team.  The top three starters of Maeta, Berrios, and Pineda are sneaky good.  And the Twins addressed their bullpen issues with a huge Free Agent signing which not only should help them immensely, but also hurt their main competitor.  Somehow, the White Sox let veteran closer Alex Colome get away, only to sign with their division rivals after arguably his best season (2-0 with a 0.81 ERA and 12 saves).  Even if Colome isn't the Twins' go-to man in the 9th inning, he will still be a big boost to their bullpen.  Don't be surprised when the Twins finally come together this October.  Take Minnesota at 22-1 odds to win the World Series and 9-1 odds to win the American League pennant.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL, NHL, NBA and NCAA Basketball Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Feb 22, 2021

The Monday sports card features action in NCAA basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the English Premier League.The college basketball card tips off at noon ET, with Liberty hosting North Alabama as a 13.5-point favorite with the total set at 133 (all odds from BetOnline). Duke plays at home against Syracuse on ESPN at 7 PM ET. The Blue Devils, 10-8, won their third straight on Saturday with their 66-65 upset win against Virginia as a 3-point underdog. The Orange won their third straight on Saturday in a 75-67 win against Notre Dame as a 1.5-point favorite. Duke is a 5-point favorite with an over/under of 149. Texas Tech visits Oklahoma State on ESPN at 9 PM ET. The Red Raiders are ranked 15th in the nation by the Associated Press with a 14-7 record. They lost at Kansas,67-61, as a 3-point underdog on Saturday. The Cowboys improved to 14-6 with a 76-58 win against Iowa State as a 1-point favorite last Tuesday. Texas Tech is a 3-point road favorite with a total of 138.5.USC is at home against Oregon on FS1 at 9 PM ET. The Trojans are ranked 17th by the AP with an 18-4 record. Their seven-game winning streak ended on Saturday in an 81-72 loss to Arizona as a 6-point favorite. The Ducks are 14-4 with five straight victories after their 67-64 win against Utah as a 9.5-point favorite on Saturday. USC is a 4-point favorite with an over/under of 138.New Mexico visits Air Force on the CBS Sports Network at 9:30 PM ET. The Lobos, 5-13, lost their fifth in a row on Friday in a 79-67 setback to Wyoming as a 5-point underdog. The Falcons, 4-16, lost their ninth game in a row after their 67-54 loss to Fresno State as a 4.5-point underdog back on February 13th. This Mountain West Conference game is a pick ‘em with the total at 126.5.Six games are on the NBA slate for Monday. The card tips off at 8 PM ET with Houston hosting Chicago as a 1-point favorite. The nightcap is at 10 PM ET, with the Los Angeles Lakers playing at home against Washington as a 6.5-point favorite with an over/under of 226. None of the games are on national television.Eight games are on tap in the NHL. Four games begin the action at 7 PM ET. The card concludes at 10 PM ET with Minnesota traveling to San Jose as a -149 money line road favorite with the total at 5.5.Matchweek 25 of the English Premier League finishes on Monday with Brighton and Hove Albion at home against Crystal Palace at 3 PM ET. The Seagulls stay at home after settling for a 0-0 draw with Aston Villa on February 13th. The Eagles are off a 3-0 loss at home to Burnley on February 13th. Brighton is a -0.75 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.25. The NBC Sports Network has the broadcast.

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NCAA Sunday Afternoon Basketball: Ohio State/Michigan Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Feb 21, 2021

The CBS Sunday afternoon college basketball game features a Big Ten battle between two of the top-four teams in the nation.Michigan took the court for the first time since January 22nd last Sunday at Wisconsin after a three-week pause after the athletic department shut down all activities. The Wolverines fell behind by 14 points before holding the Badgers to 7 of 28 shooting in the second half in a 67-59 victory as a small favorite. Michigan followed up that victory with a 71-64 win at home against Rutgers as a 9.5-point favorite on Thursday. Sophomore Franz Wagner scored 20 points to improve his 12.6 points-per-game scoring average. Hunter Dickinson added 10 points and eight rebounds. The freshman leads the team with a 14.6 points-per-game scoring average along with a 7.8 rebounds-per-game mark. Senior Isaiah Livers's 14.5 points-per-game average is second on the team. Three other players score at least 8.1 points-per-game for head coach Juwan Howard.With a 15-1 record on the season, Michigan ranks third in the nation in the Associated Press poll. The Wolverines lead the Big Ten with a 10-1 record. Their lone loss was at Minnesota. This contest will be Michigan’s just sixth game away from Crisler Arena this season, but they have nice wins on the road at Maryland, Purdue, and at the Kohl Center last Sunday against Wisconsin. Michigan ranks seventh in adjusted offensive efficiency according to the metrics at kenpom. The Wolverines are 15th with a 56.3% shooting percentage inside the arc, which helps elevate their effective field goal percentage to 56.6%, tenth nationally. They are making 38.0% of their 3-point shots, ranking 24th nationally. Michigan registers an assist in 57.7% rate of their made field goals, 54th nationally. Only 6.5% of their shot attempts are getting blocked, 28th nationally.The Wolverines are 7th in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They are second in opponent’s effective field goal percentage with a 43.1% mark. Michigan is also second nationally by limiting their opponents to just 40.6% shooting inside the arc. These opponents make 32.0% of their 3-pointers, 92nd nationally. This team does not foul as they rank 22nd nationally in foul-rate. They block 12.8% of their opponent’s shots, 31st nationally. They hold their opponents to just a 43.5% assist rate, 23rd nationally.Ohio State won their seventh straight game on Thursday in a 92-82 win at Penn State as a 4.5-point favorite. The Buckeyes trails by 8 points at one point but a 15-0 run in the second half propelled them to the victory. E.J. Liddell scored 23 points. The sophomore leads the team that can go eleven deep from their bench with a 15.5 points-per-game scoring average. Head coach Chris Holtmann returned five of the nine players that played at least 10 minutes per game last year for the group that finished 21-10 with nine wins in their final twelve Big Ten games. Holtmann then added three impact transfers in the offseason: Abel Porter was the starting point guard at Utah State; Justice Sueing scored 14.6 points-per-game as a sophomore at California; Seth Towns is a former Ivy League Player of the Year at Harvard.The Buckeyes opened the Big Ten season by losing two of their first three games. Yet Holtmann has seen his team win ten of their last eleven games to rise to third place in the highly-competitive conference with a 12-4 record. Ohio State has lost to Minnesota, Northwestern, and twice to Purdue. The Buckeyes have Purdue while notching two wins apiece against defeated Wisconsin, Maryland, and Rutgers. They also have a resume-building victory against UCLA in non-conference play. With an 18-4 overall record, Ohio State ranks fourth in the current Associated Press poll. The Buckeyes are third in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to the numbers at kenpom. They are 19th in free throw rate. Ohio State is 62nd in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. Holtmann’s team is third in the Big Ten by holding their opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 48.7%.BookMaker lists this matchup as a pick ‘em with the total set at 146. The CBS broadcast begins at 1 PM ET.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NCAA Basketball, NBA, EPL and NHL Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Feb 21, 2021

The Sunday sports card features action in NCAA basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the English Premier League.The college basketball card tips off at 11:30 AM ET on the NBC Sports Network with Rhode Island visiting George Washington. The Rams raised their record to 10-12 with their 91-89 win against Dayton as a 2.5-point favorite on Tuesday. The Colonials, 3-9, play for the first time since January 17th, when they lost to Dayton, 67-54. Rhode Island is a 9-point road favorite with the total set at 140.5 (all odds from BetOnline).Ohio State hosts Michigan on CBS at 1 PM ET. The Buckeyes have won seven in a row to improve to 18-4 with their 92-82 win at Penn State as a 4.5-point favorite on Thursday. The Wolverines raised their record to 15-1 with a 71-64 win against Rutgers as a 9.5-point favorite on Thursday. Ohio State is a 1-point favorite with an over/under of 146.Houston plays at home against Cincinnati on ESPN at 1 PM ET. The Cougars fell to 17-3 with a 68-63 upset loss at Wichita State as a 7.5-point favorite on Thursday. The Bearcats, 7-7, come off a 69-68 win against Central Florida as a 6-point favorite last Sunday. Houston is a 13-point favorite with the total at 136.5.St. Bonaventure is at home against Davidson on the NBC Sports Network at 3:30 PM ET. The Bonnies, 10-3, lost their second in three games with their 67-64 loss at VCU on February 12th as a 3-point underdog. The Wildcats, 11-5, won their fifth straight on Thursday with their 101-51 victory against Southern Virginia. St. Bonaventure is a 5-point favorite with an over/under of 132.5. UNLV visits San Jose State on the CBS Sports Network at 4 PM ET. The Rebels, 9-11, defeated the Spartans on Friday by a 76-60 score as a 14.5-point favorite. San Jose State dropped to 5-14 with the loss. UNLV is a 14-point road favorite with the total at 144.5.Iowa hosts Penn State on FS1 at 5 PM ET. The Hawkeyes, 16-6, won their third straight game on Thursday with their 73-63 win at Wisconsin as a 6.5-point favorite. The Nittany Lions, 7-11, lost their third in a row with a 92-82 loss to Ohio State as a 4.5-point underdog on Thursday. Iowa is an 11-point favorite with an over/under of 157. Lehigh visits Loyola-Maryland on the CBS Sports Network at 6 PM ET. The Mountain Hawks fell to 3-7 after their 92-68 loss at Bucknell as a 5.5-point underdog back on January 31st. The Leopards improved to 2-7 with their 88-69 win against LaFayette last Sunday as a 3.5-point favorite. Xavier plays at home against Butler on FS1 at 7 PM ET. The Musketeers fell to 11-4 with their 93-84 loss at St. John’s as a 7-point underdog on Tuesday. The Bulldogs dropped to 7-12 with a 73-57 loss to Marquette as a 1.5-point underdog on Wednesday. Xavier is an 8.5-point favorite with the total at 132.5.Eight games are on the NBA docket. Boston visits New Orleans on ABC at 3:30 PM ET. The Celtics won their second of their last three games with their 121-109 victory against Atlanta as a 4.5-point favorite on Friday. The Pelicans have lost five of six games with their 132-104 loss to Phoenix as a 3-point underdog on Friday. Boston is a 2.5-point favorite with an over/under of 232.Brooklyn visits the Los Angeles Clippers on ESPN at 8 PM ET. The Nets won their fifth straight game on Thursday with their 109-98 upset win in the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Clippers won their fifth game in their last six with their 116-112 upset win against Utah as a 1-point underdog on Friday. Four games are on the NHL schedule. Washington is at home against New Jersey on NBC at 2 PM ET. The Capitals won their second straight game on Thursday with their 3-1 win against Buffalo. The Devils won their third in a row with their 3-2 victory at Boston on Thursday. Washington is a -166 money line favorite. Philadelphia plays Boston in Lake Tahoe in the NHL Outdoors Series on the NBC Sports Network at 7 PM ET. The Flyers lost their third in four with a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday. The Bruins lost to New Jersey by a 3-2 score on Thursday. Boston is a -182 money line favorite. Matchweek 25 in the English Premier League continues with four matches on the NBC Peacock app. Tottenham visits West Ham United at 7 AM ET as a -0.25 money line road favorite with an over/under of 2.5. Leicester City plays at Aston Villa at 9 AM ET as a -0.25 goal line road favorite with the total at 2.75. Manchester City visits Arsenal at 11:30 AM ET as a -1 goal line road favorite with the total set at 2.75. Manchester United is at home against Newcastle United at 2 PM ET as a -1.50 goal line favorite with an over/under of 3.

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NCAA Saturday Afternoon Basketball: West Virginia/Texas Preview

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, Feb 20, 2021

The Saturday afternoon college basketball game on ABC features a rematch of two nationally-ranked Big 12 teams currently tied in the conference standings.West Virginia had their three-game winning streak snapped last Saturday in a 91-90 upset loss in double-overtime to Oklahoma as a 4-point favorite. The Mountaineers missed 10 of their 21 shots from the charity stripe, and they only made 7 of 24 from 3-point land in the setback.Derek Culver led the team with a career-high 29 points with 14 rebounds for his tenth double-double this year. The junior forward is scoring 15.1 points-per-game and averaging 10.4 rebounds-per-game. Sean McNeil added 21 points and is fourth on the team with an 11.7 points-per-game scoring average. Miles McBride leads the team with a 16.2 points-per-game scoring average after the sophomore poured in 19 points.West Virginia is ranked 13th in the nation by the Associated Press with a 14-6 record. Their impending showdown with Baylor last Monday got postponed due to COVID. The team went on hiatus for two weeks after a COVID outbreak within their program in mid-January. The Mountaineers are 6-4 since losing two players in their frontline rotation at the beginning of the month. Isaiah Cottrell suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in their game against Northeastern. The four-star freshman was averaging only 5.6 minutes-per-game, but he gave the Mountaineers’ depth at forward with potential upside as their highest-rated freshman. The more significant loss was Oscar Tshiebwe, who stepped away from the program for personal reasons. The sophomore led the team with a 10.2 points-per-game scoring average last season but had taken a step back this year by scoring 8.1 points-per-game while adding 3.8 rebounds-per-game. West Virginia is tied for fourth place in the Big 12 standings with a 7-4 record. They have resume-building wins against Kansas, Texas Tech (twice), and Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers' six losses are against Gonzaga, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma (twice), and Florida. “Press Virginia” has not been effective this season for Huggins as his team ranks only fourth in the Big 12 with a 20.0% defensive turnover rate. West Virginia is 60th in the nation and seventh in the Big 12 in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. The Mountaineers are 10th in adjusted offensive efficiency because of their ability to generate second-chance scoring opportunities. West Virginia ranks 10th with a 36.2% offensive rebounding rate. Texas had lost four of five games but have since responded with two straight victories against Kansas State and TCU. The Longhorns’ game with Oklahoma on Thursday got postponed because of COVID. Shaka Smart’s team has had several games lost this season due to the pandemic, with both the players and the coaching staff missing time.The Longhorns rank 12th in the AP poll with a 13-5 record. They have several impressive victories against Indiana and North Carolina en route to winning the Maui Invitational while adding wins against Oklahoma State, Kansas, and West Virginia. Their five losses are to Villanova, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Baylor, and Oklahoma State.Smart’s job was in jeopardy last season. The team hit a low point in an 81-52 loss at Iowa State. Yet Smart rallied his team to win five of their last six games to finish with a 19-12 record in a season interrupted to COVID. Texas was on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament. Smart's team has won 16 of their last 20 games since that drubbing to the Cyclones. The Longhorns returned twelve players, including all five starters from last year. Smart added a likely one-and-done freshman in Greg Brown, who is contributing 11.5 points-per-game and 7.5 rebounds-per-game. Texas has five players scoring at least 8.4 points-per-game, led by Andrew Jones with a 15.9 points-per-game average.Texas ranks 20th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. On defense, the Longhorns are 25th in adjusted defensive efficiency fueled by their half-court defense as they hold their opponents to a 45.5% effective field goal percentage, 20th nationally.This game is a rematch of Texas’ 72-70 victory in Morgantown on January 9th as a 1.5-point underdog. The Longhorns are a 3-point favorite at BetAnySports, with the total set at 147.5. The ABC broadcast starts at 3 PM ET.

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NCAA Basketball Revenge System

by Al McMordie

Saturday, Feb 20, 2021

We're in the midst of the College Basketball season.  Normally, this would be the time of year when the teams would be playing a conference opponent for the 2nd time.  However, this season, the teams in many (but not all) conferences have been playing back-to-back games against the same opponent all season.  Regardless, let's talk about how we can approach these regular season second meetings.One thing I like to do is consider revenge.  And if I can play on a good basketball team at home, which was blown out in the first regular season meeting, then even better.  So, let's put all of these factors together for our College Basketball system.  What we want to do is:Play on any winning College Basketball team at home in the regular season, if it was blown out by 27 or more points earlier in the season by its opponent.Since 1990, our revenge-minded teams have gone 155-110-11 ATS (58.4%), including 6-1 ATS this season, and 7-3-1 ATS last season.And, although there's nothing wrong with 58.4%, we like to try to improve things a bit by adding another tightener, or two.   For example, if we play on underdogs of more than 2 points that lost their game right before this revenge match, then our 155-110-11 system zooms to 50-22-3 ATS (69.4%) since 1990.Today, on Saturday, one college basketball team fits this 50-22-3 ATS subset of our general system.  And that's to play on the Minnesota Golden Gophers +6 over Illinois.  The Illini blew out the Gophers by 27 points, 92-65, in December,  in Champaign, and we actually had a big play on Illinois in that game.  For the season, Minnesota is 13-9, including a powerful 13-1 at home (where it covers the spread by an average of 5.35 ppg).  And they're the only team to defeat the #3-ranked Michigan Wolverines, who they blew out by 18 points here, in Minneapolis.  Don't be surprised if the Gophers get their revenge on Sunday. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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Big Al's Daily Angle, NBA, EPL, NHL and NCAA Basketball Preview

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, Feb 20, 2021

The Saturday sports card features action in NCAA basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the English Premier League.The college basketball card tips off at noon PM ET. Central Florida plays at Tulane on ESPN2 in a pick ‘em matchup with the total set at 127.5 (all odds from BetOnline). Indiana hosts Michigan State on ESPN as a 6.5-point favorite with an over/under of 135.Villanova is at home against UConn on Fox at 1 PM ET. The Wildcats are ranked 10th in the nation in the AP poll and are 6.5-point favorites, with the total at 137.5. Tennessee plays at home against Kentucky on CBS, at 1 pm. The Volunteers are ranked 19th by the AP and are 7-point favorites with an over/under of 135.Kansas hosts Texas Tech in a battle of nationally-ranked Big 12 teams at 2 PM ET. The Jayhawks are ranked 23rd by the AP, while the Red Raiders are ranked 15th. Kansas is a 1.5-point favorite with the total at 134. Missouri visits South Carolina on ESPN2. The Tigers are ranked 20th by the AP and are 3.5-point road favorites with an over/under of 151.5. VCU plays at home against George Mason on the NBC Sports Network at 2:30 PM ET as a 10-point favorite with the total at 133.Texas is at home against West Virginia on ABC at 3 PM ET in another nationally-ranked showdown of Big 12 teams. The Longhorns are ranked 12th in the AP poll, with the Mountaineers ranked 13th. Texas is a 3.5-point favorite with an over/under of 147. BYU visits Loyola-Marymount on the CBS Sports Network as a 7.5-point road favorite with a total of 137. Stanford plays at Washington State on ESPN2 at 4 PM ET as a 5.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 134. LSU hosts Auburn on ESPN as a 4-point favorite with the total at 163. Seton Hall travels to Georgetown on the CBS Sports Network at 5:30 PM ET as a 4.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 141. Oklahoma visits Iowa State on ESPN2 at 6 PM ET. The ninth-ranked Sooners are an 11-point road favorite with a total of 142.5. North Carolina is at home against Louisville on ESPN as a 5.5-point favorite with an over/under of 139.5. San Diego State visits Fresno State at 7:30 PM ET on the CBS Sports Network. The 25th ranked Aztecs are 14-point road favorites with a total of 129.5. Gonzaga plays at home against San Diego on ESPN2 at 8 PM ET.  The number-one ranked Bulldogs are a 32.5-point favorite with an over/under of 154.5. Virginia visits Duke as a 1.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 131.5 on ESPN. Colorado is at Oregon State on ESPNU as a 7-point favorite with the total at 135.5. California plays at Washington on ESPNU at 10 PM ET in a pick ‘em matchup with an over/under of 140.5. UCLA hosts Arizona State on ESPN2 as a 7.5-point favorite with the total at 145.Five games are on the NBA slate starting at 8 PM ET, with Golden State playing at Charlotte. The Los Angeles Lakers host the Miami Heat at 8:30 PM ET on ABC. In the first meeting between these two teams since the NBA Finals, the Lakers are a 5-point favorite with an over/under of 214. The card concludes at 10 PM ET with Portland at home against Washington as a 3.5-point favorite with a total of 242.Twelve games are on the NHL schedule. Two games begin the card at 12:30 PM ET. New Jersey is at home against Buffalo as a -120 money line favorite with the over/under at 5.5. Washington hosts the New York Rangers as a -145 money line favorite with the total at 6. Vegas plays against Colorado outdoors in Lake Tahoe on NBC at 3 PM ET. These two teams played on Tuesday, with the Avalanche winning in Las Vegas, 3-2. Colorado is a -115 money line favorite with an over/under of 6. The NHL card concludes at 10 PM ET with Edmonton playing at home against Calgary.Four matches continue Matchweek 25 in the English Premier League. Chelsea visits Southampton on the NBC Sports Network at 7:30 AM ET as a -0.75 goal line road favorite with the total at 2.5. Burley hosts West Bromwich Albion on the NBC Sports Network at 10 AM ET as a -0.5 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.25. Liverpool plays at home against Everton on NBC at 12:30 PM ET as a -1.25 goal line favorite with a total of 3. Fulham is at home against Sheffield United on the NBC Peacock app at 3 PM ET as a -0.25 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.25.

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NCAA Friday Night Basketball: Utah State/Boise State Preview

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Feb 19, 2021

Friday night on FS1 features a rematch from Wednesday involving two teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble battling for first place in the Mountain West Conference.Boise State defeated Utah State two days ago, 79-70, as a 1.5-point favorite. Derrick Alston led the way with 26 points. The 6’9 senior is scoring 17.4 points-per-game while making 42.6% of his shots from 3-point range. Marcus Shaver, Jr. added 12 points, with the junior third on the team with an 11.6 points-per-game scoring average. Senior forward Abu Kigab is the Broncos’ second-leading scorer with a 12.5 points-per-game scoring average.Head coach Leon Rice has built a consistently strong program in Boise. After failing to register at least 20 wins for the first time since the 2011-12 season two years ago, the Broncos’ rebounded with a 20-12 campaign last year that would have likely concluded with an invitation to the NIT. Rice returned four rotation players from that group, including Alston, who earned second-team All-Mountain West Conference honors. Alston may be the top NBA prospect in the conference. Kigab was a 20-game starter last season who averaged 11.1 points-per-game. Rice brought in six transfers, including Shaver, who averaged double-digits in scoring for two seasons at Portland. Two former top-100 recruits transferred from Arizona, Emmanuel Akot and Devonaire Doutrive, are averaging more than 20 minutes-per-game. Akot is finding a role with the team with three double-digit scoring efforts in his last five games. Doutrive is questionable tonight with a dental issue. Boise State, 16-4, leads the Mountain West Conference with a 13-3 record. The Broncos may need the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as they are ranked 60th in the current kenpom ratings. They have a quality non-conference victory against BYU. Their four losses are against Houston in non-conference play along with Colorado State and twice to Nevada. Rice has a balanced team that ranks 59th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 54th in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. Boise State makes the most of its offensive possessions. They are fifth in the nation, with only 5.5% of their shot attempts getting blocked. They only turn the ball over in 15.9% of their possessions, 26th nationally, due to opponents only registering steals in 6.9% of their possessions, 14th nationally. The Broncos limit their opponents to rebound only 22.1% of their missed shots, ranking 13th in the nation.Utah State got 32 points and ten rebounds on Wednesday from Neemias Queta. The 7’0 junior is scoring 13.5 points-per-game while adding 9.2 rebounds-per-game. Marco Anthony added 11 points against Boise State. The junior guard, a transfer from Virginia, averages 11.2 points-per-game. Justin Bean scored another 10 points. The junior forward scores 10.1 points-per-game and pulls down 7.2 rebounds-per-game.The Aggies, 14-6, are tied with Colorado State for second place in the Mountain West Conference with an 11-3 record. They have two quality wins against San Diego State. Their three losses in conference play are against UNLV along with the Rams and Broncos. They have non-conference losses against BYU, VCU, and South Dakota State, with the latter being the most significant liability in their NCAA Tournament resume. Craig Smith’s team ranks 52nd in the kenpom ratings.Led by Queta and Bean, Utah State is 20th in the nation with a 34.9% offensive rebounding rate. The Aggies rank 110th in adjusted offensive efficiency. This team is elite on the other end of the court. Utah State is 16th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. Queta’s presence down low helps them block 14.7% of their opponent’s shot attempts, 11th nationally. These opponents make only 42.7% of their shots inside the arc, fifth nationally. Utah State also holds their opponents to second-chance scoring opportunities in just 20.9% of their possessions, fifth-best in the nation.The weakness of this Utah State team could be their lack of a traditional point guard. That is the role Sam Merrill embraced while scoring 19.7 points-per-game. Queta is second on the team with a 2.8 assists-per-game mark. Freshman Rollie Worster leads the team with a 3.4 assists-per-game average.Boise State hopes to extend their home winning streak to eleven games in tonight’s rematch at 10 PM ET. BetAnySports lists the Broncos as a 1.5-point favorite with the total set at 142.

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Ness Notes: Feb 19 NBA "State of the Union"

by Larry Ness

Friday, Feb 19, 2021

The 2020-21 NBA season tipped off on December 22, meaning we are just about two full months into the current season, which consists of a 72-game schedule, not the usual 82-game one. The NBA All Star break is rapidly approaching, as the first half of the season ends March 4. The All Star break will last from March 5-10 (All Star game will be played Mar 7 in Atlanta), with games resuming on March 11. The NBA trade deadline is Mar 25 and the regular season ends May 16.A Play-In Tournament will run from May 18-21 with the following format. The seventh and eighth seed in each conference will play each other for the seventh spot in the playoffs. The ninth and 10th seed teams will play each other for a chance to play the loser of the seven/eight game. The winner of that final matchup will get the eighth spot in the playoffs. The playoffs are scheduled to start May 22 and run through July 22. So where are we as of Feb 19? Glad you asked.Starting in the West, which features the league's three-winningest teams. Back on Opening Night (Dec 22), the Clippers and Lakers met in Staples Center with the Clippers beating the defending champs by the score of 116-109. The Staples Center co-tenants were expected to be the West's top teams this season and the Lakers are 22-8 (.733) overall while owning the NBA's best road record (13-3). The Clippers check in at 21-9 (.700), just one game back of the Lakers. The Clippers own a slight edge over the Lakers in point-differential, leading with a plus-6.8 PPG average to the Lakers' plus-6.5. The Clippers are 17-13 ATS, while the Lakers check in at just 14-16. Each team owns a pair of Superstars. For the Lakers it's LBJ (25.9-8.2-7.9) and A.D. (22.5 & 8.4) and for the Clippers, it's Kawhi (26.7-5.9-5.0) and Paul George (24.4-6.2-5.5). No one will be surprised that LBJ hasn't missed a single game (he's averaging 34.6 minutes at age 36) but the health status of the remaining three will have a lot to do with how the two LA teams fare the rest of the way. A.D, has already missed seven games for the Lakers and just last night had his injuries reevaluated by team doctors and the word is he will be out four weeks. Kawhi has already missed seven games and George 10. Both are listed as out for Friday's game with the Jazz (more in a bit), Kawhi with a leg injury and George with a foot injury. Only time will tell.The second half of ESPN's Friday doubleheader will feature the Clippers hosting the Utah Jazz. The teams just met Wednesday night at Staples Center, with the Jazz routing the Clippers (minus Kawhi and George) 114-96. Utah has 'quietly' built a juggernaut in Salt Lake City in the 2020-21 season. The Jazz ended last season by blowing a 3-1 lead in the Opening Round of last season's playoffs to the Denver Nuggets and after eight games of the current season, Utah was just 4-4. However, "look at them now!" Wednesday's win over the Clippers was Utah's 20th win in its last 21 games (19-2 ATS). NINETEEN of the team's 20 wins in its current streak have come by double digits, giving the Jazz the league's best overall record (24-5, .828), it's best ATS record at 22-7 and the league's top point-differential (plus-9.6 PPG). Guards Donovan Mitchell (24.2-4.4-5.1) and Mike Conley (16.5 & 5.8 APG) plus center Rudy Gobert (14.2 & 13.4) are All Star quality players, while Jordan Clarkson (18.2) will surely be in the running for Sixth-Man-of-the-year. Then there is Quin Snyder, who may be the best NBA head coach no one has really ever heard about.Moving over to the Eastern Conference, I'll start with a trio of disappointments. The Miami Heat entered last season's playoffs as the East's No. 5 seed but made it all the way to the Finals, before falling to the Lakers in six games. Miami went a MONEY-MAKING 16-5 ATS in the postseason but a check of the current standings (through Feb 18) show the Heat at 12-17, leaving them a half-game out of the top-10 (see above for the "Play-In" format). What's more, last postseason's MONEY-MAKERS are the current season's MONEY-BURNERS, as Miami owns the NBA's worst ATS record at 9-18-1. The Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA title and last season, even after Kawhi left for the Clippers, the Raptors' 53-19 regular season record was second to only Milwaukee's 56-17 mark (more on the Bucks coming). Toronto opened the season 2-8 but have rebounded somewhat (12-7 its last 19) but remain a sub-.500 team with a 14-15 record. The Boston Celtics were considered a real contender to win the Eastern Conference and opened 8-3 but Boston is currently just 14-14 (6-11 since its fast start) and word around the league is that the Celtics are mulling trade options as the deadline approaches.While the West's top-three teams all own winning percentages of .700 or better, the East's top-three teams are the 19-10 (.655) Philadelphia 76ers, the 19-12 (.613) Brooklyn Nets and the HUGELY disappointing 16-13 (.552) Milwaukee Bucks. I don't know what to make of the Bucks. Milwaukee was 60-22 in the 2018-19 regular season and 56-17 in last year's pandemic-shortened one but flopped in the playoffs both times. The Bucks haven't looked 'right' all season but won FIVE straight (also 5-0 ATS) to open February and sat 16-8. However, the Bucks have followed by losing FIVE in a row (also 0-5 ATS) and despite owning the East's best point-differential (plus-6.5), what should we make of a team that's seen its winning percentage drop from .748 the last two seasons, to .552 this season (Bucks are just 13-16 ATS).The 76ers own the East's best overall record on the strength of the team's 12-2 home record (Sixers are 7-8 on the road). Embiid's a load' when he plays (he's missed six games), averaging 29.7 & 10.8, while PF Harris (20.8 & 7.7) and PG Simmons (15.2-8.3-8.0) form an excellent trio That said, Philly's point-differential is a sorry plus-2.9 and the 76era are 14-14-1 ATS. Many questioned Steve Nash taking over in Brooklyn as its head coach (no previous experience) but all-in-all, he seems to be doing a pretty good job. Then again, he does have three future HOF players on his roster. K.D.'s health continues to be a question, as Durant (29.0-7.3-5.3) has missed 12 of the team's first 31 games (and counting) plus Kyrie (27.7-4.7-5.6) will NEVER win teammate of the year honors. He's missed 10 of Brooklyn's 31 games, as well. Then there's James "No Ring" Harden, who has averaged 24.2-8.2-11.7 in his 17 games with the Nets, after he 'pouted' his way out of Houston. Fact is, the Nets are 12-5 since Harden arrived (were 7-7 without him) and are currently on a five-game winning streak SU & ATS. It's not a stretch that the Nets just could be the East's best team. However, it's still a LONG way to May 16 (end of the regular season). Good luck...Larry

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NBA Weekend Shootaround: February 20-21

by Sean Murphy

Friday, Feb 19, 2021

We went 4-1 on leans recommended inside this column last Friday so we'll try our luck again this week with a full slate of games on deck Saturday and Sunday. Here are five situations to consider as you handicap the weekend board.SaturdayPacers at RocketsThe Rockets should be thrilled to get back home following a tough road trip that saw them go winless in three games. In fact, Houston hasn't posted a victory since back on February 4th in Memphis. As much as I'd like to back the Rockets in this clear bounce-back spot at home, the matchup doesn't suggest such a play. The Pacers will undoubtedly get up for this one after scuffing their heels in their last two games, losing at home against Chicago before needing overtime to defeat the lowly T'Wolves in Minnesota. Dealing with a number of key injuries and struggling to find any consistency with the personnel they have in place, the Rockets just appear unworthy of our dollars right now. Suns at GrizzliesPhoenix recently went through a rebuilding phase of sorts similar to what Memphis is in the midst of right now. The Grizzlies have made positive strides this season, entering last night's action with a .500 record. With that being said, I see this as a tough back-to-back spot, even with the Suns in the exact same situation (except needing to travel as well after playing in New Orleans on Friday). Phoenix will be looking for revenge here after letting down their guard in a 108-104 loss in Memphis back in January. SundayT'Wolves at KnicksThis looks like a layup for the surging Knicks at home against the T'Wolves on Sunday. I'm just not convinced they take the matchup seriously enough to cover what is likely to be an inflated pointspread. New York had a wrench thrown in its schedule with Saturday's game against the Spurs postponed. The last time we saw New York play it got off to a fast start but couldn't keep it up and ultimately got squashed by 18 points in Orlando. While Minnesota still isn't winning many games, it has been competitive in virtually every contest since late January (entering Friday's action at least).Nuggets at HawksThe Hawks have played well for stretches this season but limped into their two-game set in Boston earlier in the week. Give them credit for rising to the occasion in the first of those two contests, winning on the strength of a huge night from Trae Young. I like the spot for them here, returning home to host an uneven Nuggets squad that might already have one foot on the plane, looking forward to returning home after a four-game road trip out east. Denver will host Damian Lillard and the Blazers on Tuesday night. Nets at ClippersBrooklyn is rolling along right now but most will be anticipating a letdown here after a couple of days off in La-La Land following Thursday's win over Lebron and the Lakers. I'm not sure that letdown will be in the cards against a Clippers squad that has had so many key pieces in and out of the lineup in recent games and comes off a tough two-game set against the red hot Utah Jazz. As long as Kawhi Leonard is in the lineup the Clips will undoubtedly earn the 'favorite' tag for this one but I wouldn't count out the Nets as they're finally playing a cohesive brand of basketball. 

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL, NHL, NBA and NCAA Basketball Preview

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Feb 19, 2021

The Friday sports card features action in NCAA basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the English Premier League.The nationally-televised college basketball schedule begins at 7 PM ET. Iona hosts Monmouth on ESPNU. The Gaels, 6-5, lost their second-straight game on Wednesday in a 74-70 upset loss at Quinnipiac as a 7-point favorite. The Hawks, 10-5, take the court for the first time since February 6th when they defeated Manhattan, 71-69, as a 4.5-point favorite. Iona is a 2-point favorite with an over/under of 150.5. Saint Louis travels to Dayton on ESPN2 at 7 PM ET. The Billikens improved to 11-3 with their fourth straight victory on Tuesday with their 78-57 win against La Salle as a 16.5-point favorite. The Flyers dropped to 11-7 on Tuesday in their 91-89 loss at Rhode Island as a 2.5-point underdog. Saint Louis is a 6-point road favorite with an over/under of 136.5.Akron visits Ball State on the CBS Sports Network at 7 PM ET. The Zips raised their record to 13-4 with an 81-76 victory against Northern Illinois as a 15.5-point favorite on Tuesday. The Cardinals, 7-10, lost their fifth game in their last six in a 75-62 loss to Bowling Green as a 4-point underdog on Tuesday. Akron is a 4.5-point road favorite, with the total at 143.Wyoming plays in Lubbock, Texas, where New Mexico is playing their designated home games on the CBS Sports Network at 9 PM ET. The Cowboys, 11-9, defeated the Lobos at this site on Wednesday, 83-74, as a 6.5-point favorite. Wyoming is a 5.5-point favorite with an over/under of 139. Buffalo is at home against Toledo on ESPN2 at 9 PM ET. The Bulls improved to 9-6 with their third straight win in an 86-54 win against Western Michigan as a 14.5-point favorite last Friday. The Rockets improved to 17-6 with an 87-75 win against Miami (OH) as an 11-point favorite on Tuesday. Buffalo is a 14.5-point favorite with a total of 161.5. Boise State hosts Utah State on FS1 at 10 PM ET. The Broncos improved to 17-4 on Wednesday in a 79-70 victory against the Aggies as a 1.5-point favorite. Utah State fell to 14-6 with the loss. Boise State is a 2-point favorite with an over/under of 140.5 in the rematch. UC-Santa Barbara plays at home against Cal-State Bakersfield on ESPNU at 11 PM ET. The Gauchos, 13-3, won their tenth straight game on Saturday with their 81-74 victory at Hawai’i as a 5.5-point favorite. The Roadrunners, 14-7, won their third game in a row last Saturday with a 65-50 win against Cal-San Diego as an 8.5-point favorite. UC-Santa Barbara is an 8.5-point favorite with a total of 130.5.The NBA has ten games on the docket. A doubleheader on ESPN tips off at 7:30 PM ET with Chicago playing at Philadelphia. The Bulls won their second straight game on Wednesday with their 105-102 victory against Detroit as a 3-point favorite. The 76ers’ ended a three-game losing streak with a 118-113 win against Houston as an 8.5-point favorite on Wednesday.The nightcap on ESPN is a rematch of Utah’s 114-96 win in Los Angeles against the Clippers as a 7-point favorite on Wednesday. The Jazz won their ninth straight game with that victory. The Clippers had their four-game winning steak snapped with the loss. Four games are on the NHL schedule. Two games begin the slate at 7 PM ET. Carolina hosts Chicago as a -186 money line favorite with a total of 6, and Florida visits Detroit as a -171 money line road favorite with an over/under of 5.5. The card concludes at 10 PM ET with Vancouver playing at home against Winnipeg as a -109 money line favorite with a total of 6.Matchweek 25 of the English Premier League begins at 3 PM ET with Leed United traveling to play Wolverhampton in a pick ‘em matchup with the over/under at 2.5. The match is on the NBC Peacock app.

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