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March 21st 2014 - Updated at 05:00 PM Eastern Time

After 4 incredibly lucrative weeks which brought in 12 units, 4 units, 11 units and 8 units respectively, it would be only natural to finally have a losing week and suffer a temporary setback. Nonetheless, we haven't given up on this week and have a track record of bouncing back. Regardless of how tonight goes, SPS is fully confident of a successful NCAA Tournament.


Clients are reminded that picks will be posted at 12:00 PM ET tomorrow instead of the usual 11:00 AM ET.

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#1: Take Memphis U at -4 spread against George Washington risking 2%

A matchup between the number 8 and 9 seeds this evening as the George Washington Colonials take on the Memphis Tigers. Besides having to prep for their opening round match in the biggest tournament of the season, the Colonials have had to deal with quite a few off-the-court issues which we feel may play a role in their mindset and confidence coming into this contest. 

A somewhat public spectacle was made and George Washington seemed to take offense to the fact that President Obama had actually picked the Memphis Tigers to defeat the Colonials in this contest despite being "right down the street" from campus. To make matters worse, the official NCAA tournament T-shirts actually got the George Washington logo wrong. Instead of placing their logo, they accidentally used the logo of their cross-town rivals! The Colonials haven't gotten a lot of respect recently but the fact that they made public statements shows that they are somewhat distracted and perhaps feeling insecure. It's worth mentioning that the Colonials have made it out of the first round just three times in their entire history and not once in the last 20 years!

Memphis is an extremely athletic and veteran team. The Tigers are led by four senior guards who combine to average nearly 44 points per game! Joe Jackson who averages a team best 14 points per game, was the 2012 Conference USA player of the year and can be especially tricky. They have shown some inconsistencies this season but they have also showed reseilience. When this team is on their game, they can defeat anyone in the country and proved so by sweeping the defending champions, Louisville Cardinals! Memphis thrives on playing transition basketball and if they can lull George Washington into playing their style of game, it could be hard for the Colonials to keep pace. The Tigers are second in the nation with 21 transition points per game! Something that neither one of these two teams excels at are free throws. Both teams shoot just around 65% from the charity stripe and this has plagued them this season. 

Looking at a side by side comparison of these two teams' schedules, there is no doubt that the Tigers played the much tougher competition!
Memphis played the 19th most difficult non-conference schedule going 10-2 and 3-1 in neutral site games. The fact that this team is battle tested and has taken not only the steps up in competition but that they have even been able to hold their own and win a majority of those battles shows just how tough they are. This can be a challenging game but the Tigers have risen to the occasion many times and should do it again tonight.

The wild card in this game might just be Memphis' David Pellom and his insider knowledge. Pellom a 5th year senior transferred from George Washintong to Memphis during the offseason and averaged 4.3 points and 2.9 assists with the Tigers this season. He sat out last season with the Colonials due to injury but knows this team and their system extremely well. Two years ago he set a school record by making 68.5 percent of his shots with the Colonials. Pellom showed that he can be efficient with the basketball and the fact that he knows not only the players tendencies but the coaches tendencies as well instantly gives the Tigers an advantage. With all things considered and all the distraction that the Colonials have had to deal with prior to this game, we expect Memphis to come out and outwork their opponents.
They are the more experienced and talented team and barring a backdoor cover should win this game and cover the 4 points.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Memphis is 4-1 ATS (Against-The-Spread) in all neutral court games this season!

  • George Washington is 0-5 ATS in NCAA Tournament games!

  • Memphis went 12-7 ATS in games against teams with winning records this season.
     

#2: Take New Mexico at -4 spread against Stanford risking 2%

This is an interesting matchup as the New Mexico Lobos are playing an arguably tougher opponent than they should be. The Lobos upset nationally ranked SDSU to win their conference tournament last week and have won 9 of their last 10 games! That has caused the Lobos to develop quite a chip on their shoulder regarding their seeding for this tournament. They have a strong case since SDSU (the team they beat in the title game) is actually a higher seed. New Mexico is an incredibly solid team on offense with 2 top scorers in Australian Cameron Bairstow (averaging 20 ppg) and Kendall Williams (averaging 16 ppg). The Lobos also have a huge presence in the post with 7 foot Center Alex Kirk. Kirk is an absolute beast down low and obviously with his height leads the team in rebounds and blocks. He has managed to pull down at least 11 boards in 3 of their last 4 games.

These three players will more than likely be playing in the NBA next year so there is no doubt that the Lobos have talent. What we believe is going to be the key piece of motivation today for New Mexico is the fact that they were in this situation last year. They had the talent and were projected by many to make a deep run in the tournament only to be upset by Harvard in this very round. There is no doubt that the Lobos and coaching staff remember that and we believe they have learned from it. We don't see them being upset again and expect an alert performance this afternoon. 

Stanford is a solid team but they have been inconsistent at best and especially so on the road. They had an incredibly poor showing in their conference tournament game against UCLA where the Cardinal players failed to shoot 40% and were also torched on the defensive end allowing the Bruins to make 65% from the field! It isn't just that one game however, they come into this tournament limping and need a much better performance against New Mexico.

New Mexico is a very experienced team and has been in this position in recent years. Experience goes a long way when preparing for this type of tournament. Stanford on the other hand hasn't been to the Big Dance since 2008 so they may experience just a few more jitters this afternoon than their counterparts. New Mexico has stepped up and answered the bell nearly every time it has rung. They have beaten Cincinnati, San Diego St, they play well on the road and on neutral courts, the venue doesn't seem to have an effect on this team. The biggest asset and probably what will be the difference in this game is the fact that New Mexico spends a lot of time at the free throw line. They know how to fool defenders and are not afraid of taking contact in order to get to the line. The fact that they shoot over 72% from the line as a team has helped them close out games at the end. 

Stanford is not a deep team. In fact their starting 5 accounts for 85% of their scoring! That is not a recipe for success in a tournament such as this and will hurt the Cardinal this afternoon. With this spread being as low as it is we feel that the Lobos are the all-around better team and will use their experience and heartbreak from last year to fuel them to a win and cover this afternoon. They have the advantage in numerous areas and should advance.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Stanford is 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall. 
  • New Mexico is 14-3 ATS in their last 17 games overall.
  • Cameron Bairstow led the MW conference in scoring largely thanks to getting to the FT line often.
  • New Mexico is 50-27 ATS when listed as a favorites the last 3 season.



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