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NCAA Thursday Night Basketball: Gonzaga/St. Mary's Preview

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, Feb 18, 2021

The number one team in the nation is showcased on ESPN in a battle of West Coast Conference rivals at 9 PM ET.Gonzaga improved their record to 20-0 this season on Saturday with their 100-61 victory at San Francisco as an 18.5-point favorite. Freshman Jalen Suggs led the way with 28 points in only 22 minutes of play. He is scoring 14.2 points-per-game while adding 5.4 rebounds-per-game and 4.8 assists-per-game. Sophomore Drew Timme leads the team with 19.4 points-per-game and 7.3 rebounds-per-game marks. Senior Corey Crispest scores another 19.2 points-per-game. All three players are National Player of the Year candidates. The number one team in the AP poll lead the nation with a 93.0 points-per-game scoring average. The Bulldogs are second nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They make 64.5% of their shots inside the arc, second nationally, and they are second nationally in effective field goal percentage. Gonzaga ranks sixth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. They are 36th with a steal rate of 11.2%, and they limit their opponents to rebounding 23.4% of their missed shots, 26th nationally. Mark Few’s team is 11-0 in the West Coast Conference. Their closest game was last week when they defeated BYU on the road, 82-71. The Bulldogs have racked up impressive non-conference victories against Iowa, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kansas, who are all are ranked 23rd or higher in the kenpom ratings.Saint Mary’s had not played in three weeks before last Saturday. The Gaels rallied from a 14 point deficit with 7:35 left in the game to even the score with seven seconds remaining but ultimately lost at Pepperdine, 60-58, as a 1-point underdog. Randy Bennett’s team was rusty from not having played since January 23rd as they shot 37.5% from the field. Six games have been postponed on their schedule this season. Four players score in double-digit,s with Tommy Kuhse leading the team with a 14.1 points-per-game scoring average. This group is not as proficient a scoring team as in recent seasons for the Gaels. Saint Mary’s ranks 137 in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. Their 28.9% shooting percentage from 3-point range in conference play is last in the West Coast Conference. The Gaels’ are 34th in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They hold their opponents to rebounding 21.1% of their missed shots, seventh-best nationally. Saint Mary’s is 11-6 with their highest-profile victory against Colorado State, ranked 68th at kenpom. The Gaels are 2-4 in conference play with losses against Santa Clara, BYU, the Wave on Saturday, and these Bulldogs earlier in the season. They also lost to Memphis and San Diego State in non-conference play. Gonzaga won the first meeting between these two teams on January 16th at McKeon Pavilion, 73-59, as a 16.5-point favorite. Bennett has a career record of 11-41 in his tenure at Saint Mary’s against the Bulldogs.Gonzaga returns home for the first time after playing their last five games on the road. With easing health restrictions in the state, the parents of players will be in attendance at McCarthey Athletic Center for the first time this season.BookMaker lists Gonzaga as a 20.5-point favorite with the total set at 141.5.

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

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, Feb 18, 2021

The Thursday sports card features action in NCAA basketball, the NBA, and the NHL.The college basketball card tips off at 5 PM ET with Presbyterian hosting South Carolina-Upstate as a 2.5-point favorite with the total set at 133 (odds courtesy of BetOnline).The nationally-televised college basketball schedule begins at 7 PM ET. Houston visits Wichita State on ESP2 at 7 PM ET. The Cougars rank sixth in the nation by the Associated Press with a 17-2 record after they defeated South Florida, 82-65, as a 13-point favorite last Wednesday. The Shockers, 12-4, won their fourth straight last Wednesday with a 61-60 victory at Central Florida as a 2-point favorite. Houston is a 7.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 137.Iowa makes the trip to Madison to play a Wisconsin team looking to bounce back from a home loss to the #3-ranked Michigan Wolverines on Sunday.  This will be the first meeting of the season between these Big 10 rivals, and it will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 PM ET.  The game has been installed as a PK, with a total of 145.5.Vermont travels to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County on ESPNU at 7 PM ET. The Catamounts, 9-3, won their seventh straight game on Sunday in a 61-57 victory against Stony Brook as an 11-point favorite. The Retrievers, 13-4, play for the first time since February 8th, when they defeated Stony Brook, 60-48, as a 3-point favorite. Vermont is a 1.5-point road favorite with a total of 133.BYU plays at Pacific on the CBS Sports Network at 8 PM ET. The Cougars fell to 15-5 in their last game on February 8th in an 82-71 home loss to Gonzaga as an 11-point underdog. The Tigers, 6-6, lost their fifth game in six contests in their 80-76 loss at Loyola-Marymount as a 2-point underdog. BYU is a 6-point road favorite with an over/under of 136.5.Gonzaga hosts Saint Mary’s on ESPN at 9 PM ET. The Bulldogs are ranked number one in the nation by the AP with a 20-0 record. They last played on Saturday when they defeated San Francisco on the road, 100-61, as an 18.5-point favorite. The Gaels fell to 11-6 with a 60-58 loss at Pepperdine as a 1-point underdog on Saturday. Gonzaga is a 20-point favorite with the total at 143.5.Michigan plays at home against Rutgers on FS1 at 9 PM ET. The Wolverines are ranked third by the AP with a 14-1 record. They returned from a three-week hiatus from a COVID shut down by the University of Michigan athletics department with a 67-59 win at Wisconsin as a 0.5-point favorite on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights, 12-7, won their fifth game in their last six on Saturday with their 64-50 win against Northwestern as an 8-point favorite. Michigan is a 9.5-point favorite with an over/under of 136.5.UCLA is at home against Arizona on ESPN2 at 9 PM ET. The Bruins improved to 14-5 with a 64-61 win at Washington as a 9.5-point favorite on Saturday. The Wildcats fell to 14-7 on Saturday in a 63-61 loss to Oregon as a 1.5-point favorite. UCLA is a 1.5-point favorite with the total at 138.5.Winthrop travels to High Point on ESPNU at 9 PM ET. The Eagles improved to 18-1 on Friday with their 55-47 victory at Radford as a 6-point favorite. The Panthers dropped to 8-11 with a 69-68 upset loss to Charleston Southern as a 7.5-point favorite on Friday. Winthrop is a 9.5-point road favorite with the over/under at 142.5. San Diego State visits Fresno State on the CBS Sports Network at 10 PM ET. The Aztecs raised their record to 15-4 with their 77-55 victory against San Jose State as a 29.5-point favorite last Wednesday. The Bulldogs improved to 9-7 with their 67-64 win at the Air Force as a 4.5-point favorite on Saturday. San Diego State is a 14-point road favorite with the total set at 130. Stanford plays at Washington on FS1 at 11 PM ET. The Cardinal, 13-8, won their third game in their last four with their 73-66 victory against Utah as a 5-point favorite on Saturday. The Huskies snapped a five-game losing streak to improve to 4-16 with their 65-63 upset win at Washington State as a 6-point underdog on Monday. Stanford is a 9.5-point favorite with an over/under of 141.5.Oregon plays at home against Colorado on ESPN2 at 11 PM ET. The Ducks, 12-4, won at Arizona, 63-61, as a 1.5-point underdog on Saturday. The Buffaloes fell to 16-6 with their 71-63 upset loss as a 9-point favorite last Saturday. Oregon is a 3-point favorite with a total of 140.5.Three games are on the NBA slate with a double-header on TNT. Milwaukee hosts Toronto in the first game on TNT at 7 PM ET. The Bucks lost their fourth in a row on Tuesday in a 124-113 upset loss to the Raptors. Toronto snapped a two-game losing streak with the victory.The Los Angeles Lakers play at home against Brooklyn in the TNT nightcap at 10 PM ET. The Lakers won their eighth game in their last nine with a 112-104 win at Minnesota as a 6-point favorite on Tuesday. The Nets won their fourth in a row on Tuesday in a 128-124 comeback victory at Phoenix as an 8.5-point underdog. Nine games are on the NHL docket. Six games begin the card at 7 PM ET. Minnesota visits Anaheim to close out the schedule at 10 PM ET as a -125 money line road favorite with an over/under of 5.5. None of the games are on national television.

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NCAA Wednesday Night Basketball: USC/Arizona State Preview

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2021

Wednesday night basketball on ESPN2 features a battle of Pac-12 foes looking to extend recent winning streaks.Arizona State returned to the court last week after experiencing their second pause because of COVID this season. The Sun Devils had not played since January 30th before hosting Oregon last Thursday in a 75-64 loss. Bobby Hurley’s team rebounded on Sunday by defeating Oregon State, 75-73, as a 4-5-point favorite for their third win in their last four games. Remy Martin scored a team-high 23 points in the victory against the Beavers. The senior leads the Sun Devils with a 19.2 points-per-game scoring average. Arizona State had been on a six-game losing streak through most of January before winning their last two against California and the Cardinal before their most recent pause in play. The Sun Devils also experienced a three-week hiatus earlier in the season. It took three weeks for them to get back on the court after getting upset by UTEP, 76-63, despite being a 13-point favorite on December 16th. Arizona State was without four players in their regular rotation, including captain Remy Martin when they returned to the court on January 7th against UCLA. Yet the undermanned group took the Bruins to overtime before losing, 81-75. This team was considered Hurley’s most talented in his sixth year with the program. Martin and Alonzo Verge bypassed the NBA to return to the team, and Hurley added a five-star potential one-and-done recruit in Josh Christopher. COVID complications and playing shorthanded explains much of the reasons why the Sun Devils are 7-9 at this point of the season. Yet the play on the court has been a disappointment. Arizona State is last in the Pac-12 by making only 30.7% of their shots from 3-point land in conference play, which is problematic in Hurley’s run-and-gun system that prioritizes 3-point shooting. The Sun Devils take 38.0% of their attempts from behind the arc, 166th most in the nation. Yet only 29.1% of their points come from these shots, 217th nationally. Arizona State is ninth place in the Pac-12 with a 4-6 record, with a win against Stanford being their most impressive accomplishment. Hurley has lost three players due to COVID, with Taeshon Curry in the COVID being the most significant as he averaged over 16 minutes-per-game. The Sun Devils have rarely been at full strength this season. Freshmen Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley did not play on Sunday and are both listed as questionable with injuries. Christopher is second on the team with a 14.3 points-per-game scoring average, with Bagley fourth with his 11.8 points-per-game clip. USC won their sixth straight game on Saturday in a 76-65 win at Washington State as an 8-point favorite. Tahj Eddy scored a season-high 29 points in the victory. The senior transfer from Santa Clara is second on the team with a 13.5 points-per-game scoring average, and he has scored 69 points in his last four games. Evan Mobley leads the Trojans with 16.6 points-per-game and 9.9 rebounding-per-game marks. The 7’0 five-star freshman helps the team rank 11th in the nation by blocking 14.8% of their opponent’s shots. Andy Enfield’s team ranks 17th in the Associated Press poll with a 17-3 record. USC leads UCLA by one game atop the Pac-12 standings with an 11-2 record. The Trojans have defeated Arizona and the Bruins in conference play while earning an impressive non-conference victory against BYU. Their three losses were against Oregon State and Colorado and a non-conference setback to UConn.USC ranks 29th in the adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They rebound 36.5% of their missed shots, 7th best nationally, with a free throw rate that is 23rd in the nation. The Trojans are ninth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They are fifth in opponent’s effective field goal percentage with a 43.6% clip due to their stout defense inside the arc as they hold their opponents to 42.5% shooting of their 2-point shots, 2nd nationally.BetAnySports lists USC as a 10-point favorite with the total set at 147.

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NHL Handicapping: Covid Concerns

by Sean Murphy

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2021

We've seen a number of teams sidelined for extended periods in the early stages of this unique 2021 NHL season. We're beginning to gain a better understanding of what to expect from these teams following the long layoffs. Here's a quick breakdown.Dallas StarsThis was a unique situation as the Stars weren't able to start the season on time due to Covid protocols. Somewhat surprisingly, Dallas came roaring out of the gates, scoring 19 goals in four consecutive wins. Again, that situation was a little different as it came at the onset of the season, unlike those other squads that have had to abruptly stop playing. Carolina HurricanesThe 'Canes were able to start the season on time, going 2-1 over their first three games before postponing their next three contests. When they returned to the ice, they enjoyed success similar to that of the Stars, reeling off four straight wins, albeit scoring just 11 goals in the process. Vegas Golden KnightsThe Knights were forced to postpone three straight games in late January-early February. When they got back in action they also thrived, securing three straight wins, scoring a whopping 14 goals along the way. Buffalo SabresHere's where things look a little different but perhaps it's not difficult to understand why. The Sabres missed six straight games, sitting idle for the first two weeks of February. Not surprisingly, they've been sluggish since returning to play, dropping consecutive games against the Islanders while scoring only one goal. Colorado AvalancheThe Avs got back to game action after a five-game absence on Sunday in Las Vegas, and proceeded to drop a 1-0 decision. They did manage to follow that up with a 3-2 victory against the Knights on Tuesday.New Jersey DevilsThe jury is still out on the Devils as they've played just once following an extended six-game absence due to Covid protocols. That one game went well as they skated to a 5-2 win over the Rangers on Tuesday night. We'll see how they fare as the rest of the week unfolds as they'll play three games in four nights from Thursday-Sunday - a tough stretch at the best of times.Minnesota WildLike the Sabres, the Wild were sidelined for six consecutive games and when they returned to the ice they were blanked by a 4-0 score in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Based on the data we have to work from so far this season, the key takeaway is the longer the layoff the more difficult it is for teams to get going again - not exactly a groundbreaking discovery, but worth noting nonetheless. There have been four teams that have missed five games or more and three of them managed to score a goal or less in their first game back on the ice. Note that the Flyers have just started practicing again with their tally of games missed due to Covid protocols standing at four games and counting. 

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

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2021

The Wednesday sports card features action in NCAA basketball, the NBA, the NHL, the English Premier League, and the UEFA Champions League.The nationally-televised college basketball schedule tips off at 6:30 PM ET, with Butler playing at home against Marquette, on Fox Sports 1. The Bulldogs, 7-11, ended a two-game winning streak with a 78-63 loss at Georgetown a 1.5-point underdog on Saturday. The Golden Eagles, 9-12, lost their third straight game with a 57-51 loss at Seton Hall as a 6.5-point underdog pm Sunday. Butler is a 2-point favorite with the total set at 128.5 (all odds from BetOnline).VCU hosts Richmond on the CBS Sports Network at 7 PM ET. The Rams, 15-4, won their fifth straight game on Friday with a 67-64 win against St. Bonaventure as a 3-point favorite. The Spiders defeated St. Mary’s-MD, 90-49, on Sunday. VCU is a 2.5-point favorite with an over/under of 142.5. Central Florida is at home against South Florida on ESPNU at 7 PM ET. The Knights, 6-11, lost their second game in their last three on Sunday with a 69-68 loss at Cincinnati as a 6-point underdog. The Bulls fell to 7-7 with a 62-50 upset loss to Tulane as a 5-point favorite on Sunday. The Knights are a 3-point favorite with the total at 130.USC hosts Arizona State on ESPN2 at 8 PM ET. The Trojans won their sixth straight game with their 76-65 win at Washington State as an 8-point favorite on Saturday to improve their record to 17-3. The Sun Devils raised their record to 7-9 with a 75-73 win against Oregon State as a 4.5-point favorite on Sunday. USC is a 10.5-point favorite with an over/under of 146. Seton Hall plays at home against DePaul on FS1 at 8:30 PM ET. The Pirates, 12-8, won their third-straight game with their 57-51 win agent Marquette as a 6.5-point favorite on Sunday. The Blue Demons, 3-9, lost their fourth game in a row on Saturday with their 57-47 loss to Providence as a 3.5-point underdog. Seton Hall is a 13-point favorite with the total set of 140.Boise State is at home against Utah State on the CBS Sports Network at 9 PM ET. The Broncos improved to 15-4 with their 61-59 win against UNLV as a 10.5-point favorite on Saturday. The Aggies last played on February 4th when they raised their record to 14-5 with a 69-53 victory at Fresno State as an 11-point favorite. Boise State is a 1.5-point favorite with an over/under of 137.5. Nine games are on the NBA docket. A doubleheader on ESPN begins at 7:35 PM ET with Houston visiting Philadelphia. The Rockets lost their sixth in a row on Monday with their 131-119 loss at Washington as a 1.5-point underdog. The 76ers lost their third straight game on Monday with a 134-123 loss at Utah as an 8.5-point underdog.Miami travels to Golden State for the ESPN nightcap at 10:05 PM ET. The Heat had their four-game winning streak end on Monday in a 125-118 loss at Los Angeles against the Clippers as a 6.5-point favorite. The Warriors won their third game in their last four with their 129-98 victory against Cleveland as an 8-point favorite on Monday. Five games are on the NHL schedule. A doubleheader on the NBC Sports Network begins at 7:30 PM ET with Chicago playing at Detroit. The Blackhawks won for the fifth time in six games with their 3-2 victory against the Red Wings on Monday. Detroit has lost three of their last four games. The second game on the NBC Sports Network has Edmonton hosting Winnipeg at 10 PM ET. The Oilers’ three-game winning streak ended on Monday in a 6-5 loss to the Jets. Winnipeg has won two of three and four of their last six games.Matchweek 24 of the English Premier League concludes with two matches on the NBC Sports Network. Fulham visits Burnley at 1 PM ET in a pick ‘em matchup with the total set at 2.25. Manchester City travels to Everton at 3 PM as a -1.5 goal line road favorite with an over/under of 2.75.The first leg of the Last 16 in the UEFA Champions League continues with two matches at 3 PM ET. Juventus plays at FC Porto as a -0.5 goal line road favorite with the total at 2.5. Sevilla plays at home against Borussia Dortmund as a -0.25 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.5. Both matches are available on CBS All-Access.

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The Jazz Look Great Early

by Will Rogers

Tuesday, Feb 16, 2021

The Lakers’ march to a second consecutive NBA championship has been rudely interrupted by – of all teams – the Utah Jazz.Only a few months ago the Jazz has been basically left for dead. They had departed the Orlando bubble red-faced after somehow managing to spit up a 3-1 series lead against Denver, and as they headed to the off-season everyone in the NBA thought that it might be time to make some major changes on a team that always seemed good but not good enough.Instead, the Jazz did nothing. They got a boost when Bojan Bogdanovic came back healthy after missing the playoffs because of an operation on his right wrist. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell somehow repaired whatever personal damage was caused by Gobert’s Covid issue, and the Jazz were off to the races.Monday night’s victory over the 76ers was the 8th in a row for the Jazz, who own the NBA’s best records both straight up (23-5) and ATS (21-7) heading into two very interesting games against the Clippers in Los Angeles, on Wednesday and Friday. If the Jazz can take care of business in LA, it sets up another key game against Los Angeles – at home against the Lakers next week. It’s very possible that Utah could enter the month of March only 11 wins short of beating the total number of wins (41.5) oddsmakers had pegged them for for the entire season.Utah opened the season at +4000 to win it all, with 11 teams getting better odds from the books. Those numbers have steadily melted to +1400, with the Jazz now looking up at only the Lakers (+250), Nets (+375), Clippers (+525) and Bucks (+650).Whether the Jazz can keep up anything close to their torrid pace in the strong Western Conference is anyone’s guess. At this writing, they have piggybacked those eight wins in a row with seven straight covers. They are winning more than 82 percent of their games, which would put them on a pace to go 67-15 over a normal 82-game NBA season – better than anyone since the Warriors went off in 2015-16 and set the NBA record with 73 wins.Winning cures all ills, and with the Jazz on a historic roll that brings back memories of the Karl Malone-John Stockton teams, Mitchell and Gobert are on the same page, and talk about trading either one now is met with hearty laughter. Quin Snyder is starting to hear Coach of the Year talk, and the front office is accepting congratulations for the 2019 Christmas Week steal of Jordan Clarkson from the Cavaliers – a move that solidified the bench. Clarkson torched the 76ers for 40 on Monday night and figures to at minimum be in the 6th Man of the Year conversation.So everything is pointing upward for the Jazz. Bettors who have been on Utah this season no doubt are flush, and only time will tell when – or even if – this gravy train will end.

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NCAA Tuesday Night Basketball: Florida/Arkansas Preview

by Big Al Staff

Tuesday, Feb 16, 2021

Tuesday night basketball on ESPN2 features a battle of SEC foes with NCAA Tournament aspirations.Florida last played on February 3rd when they were upset at home to South Carolina, 72-66, as an 8.5-point favorite. The Gators have had three games postponed this month because of COVID complications. Head coach Mike White’s team is 10-5 this season with high-profile wins against West Virginia, Tennessee, and LSU. Florida is in fourth place in the SEC with a 6-4 record. Their four conference losses are against Mississippi State, Kentucky, Alabama, and the Gamecocks in their most recent game. They also lost to Florida State in non-conference play. The Gators are 7-4 since losing the SEC Preseason Player of the Year, Keyontae Johnson, for the season in mid-December with his heart issue. Tre Mann leads the team with a 14.5 points-per-game scoring average, and the sophomore adds 3.8 assists-per-game and 5.3 rebounds-per-game. Colin Castleton contributes 13.2 points-per-game and 5.6 rebounds-per-game. The junior transfer from Michigan is second in the nation with 2.6 blocks-per-game, and he leads the SEC with a 60.8% shooting percentage. Six players average at least 9.6 points-per-game.Florida is 19th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. The Gators' field goal percentage of 47.4% and 37.5% clip from 3-point land season marks are tops in the SEC. Florida makes 52.4% of their shots inside the arc in conference action, second-best in the SEC. The Gators are 48th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. Led by Castleton, they are number one in the nation by blocking 16.2% of their opponent’s field goal attempts. White has his team sacrifice defensive rebounding for potential fast-break opportunities. Florida is 12th in the SEC by allowing their conference opponents to rebound 34.0% of their missed shots. Arkansas has won three straight games and six of their last seven with their 86-81 upset win in overtime at Missouri as a 2-point underdog on Saturday. The Tigers were ranked 10th in the Associated Press poll at the time. The Razorbacks’ triumph was their first victory against a top-ten team since 2016. Justin Smith led the way with 19 points against Mizzou. The senior forward is third on the team with an 11.6 points-per-game scoring average, and he rebounds 6.5 rebounds-per-game. Moses Moody added 16 points, and the freshman is sixth in the SEC with a 16.3 points-per-game scoring average. Jalen Tate contributed another 14 points. The senior is one of five Arkansas players to average double-digits in scoring, with his 11.0 points-per-game clip. Then there is the 7’-3 250-lb Connor Vanover. The redshirt sophomore transfer from California is scoring 7.9 points-per-game with 5.5 rebounds-per-game and 2.0 blocks-per-game. Head coach Eric Musselman’s team ranks 24th in the latest AP poll with a 16-5 record. However, their highest-profile win this season was likely against Missouri over the weekend, 42nd in the kenpom ratings. The Razorbacks tie for second place in the SEC with an 8-4 record with losses against Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, and Missouri earlier in the season. They also lost to Oklahoma State last month. Arkansas is 32nd nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. The Razorbacks are also 26th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. They rank ninth nationally with a block rate of 13.5%. They are also second in the SEC with a defensive rebounding rate of 72.8%.Arkansas is 12-1 on their home court with an average winning margin of 21.3 points-per-game. Florida is on a two-game winning streak on the road. BookMaker lists the Razorbacks as a 4.5-point favorite with the total set at 152.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL, NCAA Basketball and UEFA Champions League Preview

by Big Al Staff

Tuesday, Feb 16, 2021

The Tuesday sports card features action in NCAA college basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the UEFA Champions League.The college basketball card begins at 2 PM ET with Akron playing at home against Northern Illinois as a 16-point favorite with the total set at 133.The nationally-televised college basketball schedule begins at 6:30 PM ET, with UConn hosting Providence on FS1. The Huskies, 9-5, defeated Xavier on the road, 80-72, as a 3.5-point underdog on Saturday. The Friars, 11-10, won at DePaul, 57-47, as a 3.5-point favorite on Saturday. UConn is a 5.5-point favorite with an over/under of 133. Arkansas is at home against Florida at 7 PM ET on ESPN2. The Razorbacks are ranked 24th in the Associated Press poll with a 16-5 record. They upset Missouri on the road on Saturday, 86-81, as a 2-point underdog. The Gators, 10-5, last played on February 3rd, when they lost at home to South Carolina, 72-66, as an 8.5-point favorite. Arkansas is a 5-point favorite with the total at 150.Tulsa hosts Temple at 7 PM ET on ESPNU. The Golden Hurricane, 9-9, lost at home to Tulane last Thursday by a 58-48 score as a 7.5-point favorite. The Owls, 4-8, lost at Cincinnati, 70-69, as a 6.5-point underdog on Friday. Tulsa is a 3.5-point favorite with an over/under of 129.5.Purdue is at home against Michigan State on ESPN at 7 PM ET. The Boilermakers, 13-8, lost at Minnesota, 71-68, as a 2.5-point underdog on Thursday. The Spartans, 10-8, lost at home to Iowa, 88-58, as a 6.5-point underdog on Saturday. Purdue is a 5.5-point favorite with an over/under of 135.5.Rhode Island plays at home against Dayton on the CBS Sports Network at 7 PM ET. The Rams fell to 9-12 after their 67-60 loss at Saint Louis as an 8-point underdog last Wednesday. The Flyers, 11-6, lost to VCU by a 76-67 score as a 1.5-point underdog last Tuesday. Rhode Island is a 3-point favorite, with a total at 132.St. John’s hosts Xavier on FS1 at 8:30 PM ET. The Red Storm, 13-8, lost at Butler, 76-63, in a pick ‘em matchup last Tuesday. The Musketeers, 11-3, were upset by an 80-72 score again UConn as a 3.5-point favorite last Saturday. St. John’s is a 1.5-point favorite with an over/under of 155.Saint Louis is at home against LaSalle at 9 PM ET on the CBS Sports Network. The Billikens improved to 10-3 with their 68-40 win at Fordham as a 17.5-point favorite on Saturday. The Explorers, 8-12, lost at St. Bonaventure, 86-73, as a 13.5-point underdog last Tuesday. Saint Louis is a 16-point favorite with the total at 143.Seven games are on the NBA docket. Memphis hosts New Orleans at 7:35 PM ET in the first game of a doubleheader on TNT. The Grizzlies have won two of their last three games with their 124-110 win at Sacramento as a 4.5-point favorite on Sunday. The Pelicans lost their third game in a row on Sunday in a 123-112 upset loss at Detroit as a 5.5-point favorite. Memphis is a 1-point favorite with an over/under of 230. The nightcap on TNT has Brooklyn visiting Phoenix at 10:05 PM ET. The Nets won their third straight game on Monday with their 136-125 win at Sacramento as a 5-point favorite. The Suns won their sixth straight game on Sunday with their 109-90 victory against Orlando as an 11.5-point underdog.Six games are on the NHL slate. Pittsburgh plays at home against Washington on the NBC Sports Network at 7 PM ET in a rematch of the Penguins 6-3 victory on Sunday. Pittsburgh is a -120 money line favorite with the total at 6.5.The first leg of the Last 16 in the UEFA Champions League begins at 3 PM ET with two matches. Liverpool plays RB Leipzig as a -0.25 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.75. COVID prohibitions in Germany forced the location of this match away from Red Bull Arena to a neutral site in Budapest. Barcelona hosts Paris Saint-Germain as a -0.5 goal line favorite with a total of 3. The CBS Sports Network has the broadcast.

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NCAA Monday Night Basketball: Virginia/Florida State Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Feb 15, 2021

The Big Monday college basketball showdown on ESPN features two top-twenty teams representing the ACC.Virginia won their fourth straight on Saturday in a 60-48 win against North Carolina. The Cavaliers went on an early 21-2 run to cruise to the victory. Jay Huff led the way with 18 points while adding 12 rebounds. Huff is second on the team with a 13.4 points-per-game scoring average. Sam Hauser leads the team with a 15.1 points-per-game scoring average, and he rebounds 7.1 rebounds-per-game. Virginia ranks ninth in the Associated Press poll with a 15-3 record. Their 11-1 mark leads the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Cavaliers hold conference foes to 57.5 points-per-game, the lowest in the ACC. Opponents are making 30.0% of their shots inside the arc. Virginia ranks 12th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They make 39.9% of their 3-pointers, sixth nationally, contributing to their effective field goal percentage of 57.5%, fifth-best in the nation. The Cavaliers rank 11th in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They hold their opponents to rebounding only 22.1% of their missed shots, ranking 14th nationally.Virginia’s three losses are against San Francisco and Gonzaga in non-conference play and Virginia Tech in the ACC. However, the Cavaliers’ most impressive victory was on Saturday against a Tar Heels’ team that ranks 43rd at kenpom. Facing the Seminoles offers head coach Tony Bennett’s team the opportunity to register their highest-profile win.Florida State won their sixth game in their last seven contests on Saturday in a 92-85 win in overtime against Wake Forest. The Seminoles had not played since January 30th after three of their games got postponed due to COVID issues. Head coach Leonard Hamilton has seen his team win eleven straight games that went into overtime to tie an NCAA record. Scottie Barnes scored 24 points with 12 rebounds. His 11.1 points-per-game scoring average is second-best for Florida State. The junior leads the team with a 6.6 rebounds-per-game average. Scottie Barnes forced overtime with a reverse layup en route to his 13 points. His 10.5 points-per-game scoring average is third-best. M.J. Walker leads the Seminoles with a 13.7 points-per-game scoring average. Florida State is 17th in the AP poll with an 11-3 record, and they are second in the conference with a 7-2 mark. Their three losses are against Georgia Tech and Clemson, with a non-conference loss to Central Florida. The Seminoles have impressive non-conference victories against Florida and Indiana. Florida State ranks 15th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They are tenth with an offensive rebounding rate of 38.5%, and they are making 38.7% of their 3-pointers, 15th nationally. The Seminoles lead the ACC with an 80.4 points-per-game scoring average. Their 50.2% field goal percentage and 41.8% shooting mark beyond the arc also lead the conference. Florida State ranks 47th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. They top the ACC by holding their opponents to 46.3% shooting inside the arc.The Seminoles are 10-1 at home this season. Their victory against Wake Forest was their 23rd straight win at home in conference play, the second-longest in league history. BetAnySports lists Florida State as a 1.5-point favorite with the total set at 128.5. The ESPN broadcast starts at 7 PM ET.

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

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Feb 15, 2021

The Monday sports card for the President’s Day Holiday features action in NCAA basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the English Premier League.The college basketball card begins at 2 PM ET with Stephen F. Austin visiting New Orleans at 2 PM. The Lumberjacks improved to 12-3 on Wednesday with their 80-68 win against Texas A&M Corpus Christi as a 17.5-point favorite. New Orleans dropped to 4-12 with their third straight defeat on January 30th in a 79-73 loss at Southeast Louisiana. Stephen F. Austin is a 10-point road favorite with the total set at 152 (all odds from BetOnline). Florida State hosts Virginia on ESPN at 7 PM ET in a battle of two nationally-ranked ACC powers. The Seminoles are ranked 17th in the nation by the Associated Press with an 11-3 record. They have won six of their last seven games after their 92-85 win against Wake Forest on Saturday as a 13-point favorite. The Cavaliers rank ninth by the AP with a 15-3 record. They have won four in a row with their 60-48 victory against North Carolina as a 6.5-point favorite on Saturday. Florida State is a 1.5-point favorite with the over/under at 129.5.Texas Southern visits Jackson State on ESPNU at 9 PM ET. The Texas Southern Tigers have won seven straight games to raise their record to 7-7 after their 75-73 win at Grambling on Saturday as a 3.5-point favorite. The Jackson State Tigers have won six straight games after an 0-5 start. They last played last Monday when they upset Southern on the road, 57-53, as a 2.5-point underdog. This is a pick ‘em with the total set at 136.5.Seven games are on the NBA schedule for Monday. Two games tip off the card at 7 PM ET. Indiana hosts Chicago as a 5.5-point favorite with an over/under of 229.5. Houston also visits Washington at 7 PM ET. Three games close out the NBA card at 10 PM ET. Golden State hosts Cleveland as an 8-point favorite with the total at 224.5. Brooklyn visits Sacramento. The Los Angeles Clippers play at home against Miami. None of these NBA games are on national television although NBA-TV has the Rockets-Wizards and Cavaliers-Clippers.Ten games are on the NHL slate for Monday. The New York Islanders visit the Buffalo Sabres at 7:30 PM ET on the NBC Sports Network. New York has won three of their last four games after their 4-2 win against Boston on Saturday. The Sabres have lost three of their last four after their 5-3 loss to New Jersey back on January 31st. Buffalo returns to the ice after a pause after a COVID outbreak. The Islanders are a -144 money line road favorite with an over/under of 5.5.Matchweek 24 in the English Premier League continues with two matches on Monday. West Ham United plays at home against Sheffield United on the NBC Sports Network at 1 PM ET with the Hammers a -0.75 goal-line favorite with an over/under of 2.25. Chelsea hosts Newcastle United on the NBC Sports Network at 3 PM ET as a -1.75 goal line favorite with the total at 3.

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NCAA Sunday Afternoon Basketball: Michigan/Wisconsin Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Feb 14, 2021

CBS broadcasts a battle of two nationally-ranked Big Ten teams at 1 PM ET.Michigan takes the court for the first time since January 22nd, when they defeated Purdue on the road, 70-53, as a 5-point favorite. Soon after that game, the Wolverines’ athletic department paused all practices and competitions while ordering all players, coaches, and staff quarantine for 14 days. Head coach Juwan Howard has resumed practice with his team, who will be at full strength for this game.  With a 13-1 record on the season, Michigan ranks fourth in the nation in the Associated Press poll. The Wolverines lead the Big Ten with an 8-1 record. Their lone loss was at Wisconsin. This contest will be Michigan’s just fifth game away from Crisler Arena this season, but they have nice wins on the road at Maryland and Mackey Complex against the Boilermakers in their last game. Michigan ranks seventh in adjusted offensive efficiency according to the metrics at kenpom. The Wolverines are sixth with a 59.2% shooting percentage inside the arc, which helps elevate their effective field goal percentage to 57.6%, also sixth in the nation. They are making 37.7% of their 3-point shots, ranking 30th nationally. Michigan registers an assist in 58.8% rate of their made field goals, 37th nationally. They are also second in the nation, with only 5.2% of their shot attempts getting blocked. The Wolverines are 10th in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They are third in opponent’s effective field goal percentage with a 43.0% mark. Michigan leads the nation by limiting their opponents to just 40.1% shooting inside the arc. These opponents make 32.2% of their 3-pointers, 112th nationally. This team does not foul as they rank 20th nationally in foul-rate. They block 12.8% of their opponent’s shots, 28th nationally. They hold their opponents to just a 43.8% assist rate, 25th nationally.Michigan’s leading scorer is Hunter Dickinson, scoring 15.1 points-per-game. The freshman pulls down 7.2 rebounds-per-game. Senior Isaiah Livers adds 14.6 points-per-game. Sophomore Franz Wagner contributes another 12.0 points-per-game. Three other players score at least 8.8 points-per-game. Wisconsin won their second game in their last three games with their 61-48 victory at Nebraska on Wednesday as an 8.5-point favorite. The Badgers earned the victory despite shooting 32.3% from the field, their second-lowest field goal percentage of the season. Head coach Greg Gard’s team has shot better than 43.9% only once in their last ten games. Wisconsin ranks 21st in the AP poll with a 15-6 record. They are in fourth place in conference play with a 6-2 mark. The Badgers have impressive wins against Penn State, Minnesota, Indiana, and (at) Rutgers in conference play, plus a high-profile victory against Louisville from their non-conference schedule. Wisconsin’s six losses are against Marquette, Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, Illinois, and the Wolverines. The Badgers rank 33rd in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They are fourth nationally in turnover rate on offense. Wisconsin is seventh nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. They thrive at limiting their opponents to second-chance scoring opportunities to just 23.65 of their possessions, 33rd in the nation.D’Mitrik Trice leads the team with a 13.5 points-per-game scoring average. Micah Potter is adding 11.8 points-per-game while leading the Badgers with a 6.1 rebounds-per-game average. Trice and Potter are two of the five seniors back from the group last year that was a co-champion of the Big Ten conference with a 14-6 mark.Wisconsin was embarrassed on January 12th in a 77-54 loss at Michigan. BookMaker lists the Wolverines as a 1-point road favorite, with the total set at 133.5.

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

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Feb 14, 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 noon PM ET with Vermont host on Stony Brook in the rematch of the Catamounts’ 86-78 victory as a 1-point favorite on Saturday. Michigan visits Wisconsin at 1 PM ET on CBS in a battle of nationally-ranked Big Ten foes. The Wolverines last played on January 22nd when they won at Purdue by a 70-53 score. The Michigan athletic program went on a three-week pause because of COVID soon after that game. The Badgers improved to 15-6 with a 61-48 at Nebraska on Wednesday as an 8.5-point favorite. The Wolverines, 13-1, are ranked third in the nation by the Associated Press, while Wisconsin ranks 21st. Michigan is a 1-point road favorite with the total set at 131.5 (all odds from BetOnline). South Florida hosts Tulane on ESPNU at 2 PM ET. The Bulls, 7-6, come off an 82-65 loss to Houston as a 13-point underdog on Wednesday. The Green Wave fell to 8-9 on Friday in a 53-49 loss at Central Florida as a 4-point underdog. South Florida is a 6-point favorite with an over/under of 124.5.Loyola-Chicago plays at Drake on ESPN2 at 3 PM ET. The Ramblers handed the Bulldogs their second loss of the season on Saturday in an 81-54 victory as a 3.5-point favorite. Arizona State plays at home against Oregon State on ESPN2 at 7 PM ET. The Sun Devils, 6-9, last played on Thursday when they lost at home to Oregon, 75-64, as a 1-point underdog. The Beavers, 10-9, lost at Arizona on Thursday, 70-61, as a 12.5-point underdog. Arizona State is a 5.5-point favorite with the total at 141.There are ten games on the NBA card. Boston plays at Washington at 1 PM ET to tip off the schedule at 7:30 PM ET. The Mavericks won their fourth game in a row with their 143-130 victory at home against New Orleans as a 3-point favorite on Friday. The Trail Blazers won their third straight on Friday with their 129-110 win against Cleveland as a 3.5-point favorite. Dallas is a 4.5-point favorite with an over/under of 237.The nightcap on ESPN has the Los Angeles Lakers visiting Denver at 10 PM ET. The Lakers won their seven straight games on Thursday with their 115-105 victory against Memphis as an 8.5-point favorite. Denver has won two in a row after their 97-95 win against Oklahoma City as an 11.5-point favorite on Friday. Two games make up the slate in the NHL, with both on national television. Pittsburgh plays at home against Washington on NBC at 3 PM ET. The Penguins snapped a two-game losing streak on Thursday with a 4-3 win on the road against the New York Islanders. The Capitals lost their third straight game last Sunday in a 7-4 setback to Philadelphia. Pittsburgh is a -126 money line favorite with an over/under of 6.5.Vegas hosts Colorado on the NBC Sports Network at 7:08 PM ET. The Golden Knights defeated San Jose on the road on Saturday, 3-1. Colorado returns to action after a COVID pause. They last played on February 2nd when they defeated Minnesota at home, 2-1.Matchweek 24 of the English Premier League continues with four matches. Southampton hosts Wolverhampton at 7 AM ET on the NBC Peacock app as a -0.25 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.25. Manchester United visits West Bromwich Albion at 9 AM ET on the NBC Sports Network as a -1.5 goal line road favorite with an over/under of 3. Arsenal plays at home against Leeds United at 11:30 AM ET on the NBC Sports Network as a -0.5 goal line favorite with an over/under of 3. Everton is at home against Fulham at 2 PM ET on Peacock as a -0.5 goal line favorite with the total at 2.25.

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