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February 12th 2014 - Posted 5:00 PM Eastern Time

There are two bets risking a total of 4% tonight.

#1: Take Pittsburgh at -2.5 spread against Syracuse risking 2%

This is one of the marquee matchups on the card between the #25 ranked Pittsburgh Panthers and #1 ranked Syracuse Orange. Although Syracuse is arguably the "best" college team, it's very interesting that the line not only opened them as +1 underdogs but has since moved even further making them the clear underdog!

These teams actually know each other quite well from a time when both played in the Big East. Syracuse has historically struggled when playing in Pittsburgh as they are 0-5 in the their last 5 trips to Peterson Event Center and have not won a game there in nearly a decade! These teams squared off earlier this season in Syracuse with the Orange edging out the Panthers in a low scoring game coming out with a 59-54 victory. In that game the Orange shot a blistering 65% inside the arc, which is way above their season average! We doubt that they will be able to duplicate that shooting performance tonight. They have shown that they are a great defensive team and have relied more on their defense than offense to win close games. In fact, the Syracuse offense has been a cause for concern at times. Other than a 91 point outburst in their home game against Duke, the offense has only averaged a total of 62 points over their previous 7 games. The fact that a team that is 22-0 on the season and 8-0 on the road so far is now being listed as an underdog indicates that the linemakers are expecting a letdown and we tend to agree.

The Panthers are not a great team but they have had a solid season. They are 20-4 overall and 13-2 at home this season. Just like Syracuse, Pittsburgh has a disruptive defense and is currently holding opponents to just 58.9 points on their home floor! Against a Syracuse team with a weaker offensive side, the Panthers have the advantage. Pittsburgh is also a strong rebounding team, especially at home where they own a +8 rebounding margin this season! The Orange may also be without the services of Baye Moussa Keita, who has been a force down low in the paint as well as on the glass. Keita is a veteran player and has been a big contributor to their 2-3 zone. Not having him at 100% could weaken the Syracuse zone, opening up driving lanes to the basket for PITT. The Panthers made it to the charity stripe a total of 23 times in that game but only managed to hit 13 of their free throws. That's 53% compared to their season average of just under 72% from the line. Tonight, at home, they should fare better from the foul line.

These two teams are fairly evenly matched both offensively and defensively. Pittsburgh had an "off" night in their first meeting putting up numbers well below seasonal average while Syracuse did the opposite. We feel that the Panthers will be able to shore up some of those mistakes and have more success at home tonight.
The opening line tells much of the story and the fact that the #1 team is an underdog is tough to ignore. And although 75% of the public is backing Syracuse, the spread has moved in the other direction! Don't fall for what we believe is a likely "trap". Pittsburgh should get their revenge and cover in the process.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Syracuse is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Pittsburgh
  • Pittsburgh is 14-6 in its last 20 games when playing Syracuse.
  • Pittsburgh is 10-1-1 ATS in the last 11 games vs Syracuse!


#2: Take Washington Wizards at +9 spread against Houston Rockets risking 2%

While the Rockets have had quite a bit of success this season as expected from their high flying offense and off season acquisitions, it has been the Washington Wizards who have been a surprise team this season. These are not the same Wizards as the past and they have actually formed into quite a formidable and balanced opponent. While the Wizards have yet to post eye popping numbers, they are a capable team and not only have the talent but also the team chemistry that makes many believe they are on the brink of breaking out and gaining a playoff spot this year.

The Wizards have a slight losing record at the moment but against the spread they have been consistent for their backers with a 27-23 overall ATS record. On the road, they have been a very lucrative bet amassing an impressive 17-8 ATS record away from home! That is because even the games they've lost, they've fought till the end. Tonight is their chance to get back to the all important .500 mark heading into the All-Star break! These two teams met earlier in the season with Houston coming away with a 114-107 road victory in the Verizon Center. This is a revenge game for the Wizards and Washington has been particularly strong in this situation.

A lot of people talk about the Houston Rockets offense, but the Wizards have the play makers to put points on the board as well. Bradley Beal, Nene Hilario and John Wall could be considered a future "Big 3" in the years to come. Each player is capable of taking a game over and putting the team on their back. Beal has stepped up big since his return earlier this season and was the catalyst last night against the Memphis Grizzlies. Other nights it has been John Wall who has lifted his team to victory and Wall is always a threat to put up 25+ points on a given night. The Houston Rockets are not a team that is built around defense and will have their problems with this dynamic back-court. Few teams can keep pace with the Rockets but Washington is one and should be able to keep this to single digits.

Houston is also heading into the All-Star break with quite a bit of momentum and making a run towards a playoff spot. As for their motivation, they gain nothing special by blowing out Washington! This is their last game before they get almost a week of rest to spend time with family and heal some nagging injuries. For many teams, this night is actually more of a distraction than anything else and those are the times we see even "good" teams stumble. Washington has everything to play for in this game in its quest for a playoff spot and even though they played last night they should be okay. This is a team that is an impressive 4-2 ATS when having played the night before and back-to-backs don't hurt them as they do with most other teams. That is perhaps due to their youth and athleticism and we expect that to be on display again tonight! We feel that 9 points is simply too many to lay against a capable team that has stayed competitive. Take the generous points as even if Rockets do get a double-digit lead, there's always a chance of a backdoor cover with such a high spread.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Wizards are 24-7 ATS revenging a home loss over the last two seasons!
  • Wizards are 55-35 ATS as underdogs over the last 2 seasons!
  • Wizards are 12-3 ATS vs team giving up more than 99 points this season!
  • Wizards are 22-11 ATS when playing the second half of a back to back game the last 2 seasons.

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