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December 14th, 2015 (2:40 PM ET)

There is one NBA and one college basketball selection tonight.

REMINDER: Picks will be posted between 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM ET on weekdays as noted in the Members Area last week.

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1) Take Houston Rockets at -4 spread against Denver Nuggets for 3% of the bankroll.

It's the middle of December and yet these two teams have already faced off twice and this is the 3rd and final meeting between them this season! The Nuggets surprised the Rockets in their home opener in Houston as double-digit underdogs and then got the better of them again on Nov 13th at a time when Houston was facing great uncertainty following the departure of coach Kevin McHale. Things are far from perfect in Houston but the squad has settled down and played solid basketball recently. They've pulled to an even .500 record at 12-12 on the season and will not wanna sport a losing record by the end of this game. The first, last and only time they've had a winning record this season was early on when they were 4-3! This is a roster that is used to being a playoff contender in recent years and having a winning record. Having dug deep to work hard and move up the standings, they are no doubt motivated to get a W tonight and achieve a 'winning record'.

It's not often that you see an NBA franchise get dominated by another, let alone when it's the perceived better team on the losing end. The Rockets have already dropped two to the Nuggets this season and can ill afford to avoid an embarrassing sweep! JB Bickerstaff will be reminding his team that overlooking this opponent has cost them this season and could do so again. We expect a motivated and inspired effort against Denver tonight in a bid to get revenge and deliver some payback. The Rockets were complacent heading into those two prior meetings and wrongly believed that they could get a win even without a max effort! They now know better. Denver won't have the luxury of being overlooked tonight and that does not bode well for them since this is a squad in transition and and one that is currently dealing with an assortment of injuries.

Wilson Chandler and Jusuf Nurkic continue to miss out while starting PG, Emmanuel Mudiay is currently out injured as well. As it that wasn't enough, forward Darrell Arthur sat out Friday's game and is again a game-time decision tonight. Even if he does play, he's hardly 100%. The Nuggets don't have as deep or as talented a roster as the Rockets do and should be outplayed at both the Center and guard positions! Containing James Harden and company will be very difficult as the Rockets have a number of players that are capable of creating their own shot and hitting the deep 3-ball. On top of that, Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones should win the battle of the boards against JJ Hickson and Lauvergne. Corey Brewer and Ty Lawson will be facing their old team and may well have a point to prove against the Nuggets! If the Rockets can do a good job of containing Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried, they will have an excellent chance of cruising to a victory.

The Rockets have averaged 111.7 points in their last 9 games and can make it 8 wins out of 10 with a win tonight! This is a game that means a lot more to them than the average trip to Colorado because they not only want to avenge those two prior defeats and set the record straight against this Western Conference opponent but they want to avoid falling below .500! Bickerstaff and his squad believe they are a better team than their current record shows and will be keen to prove that with this game. At this short price, back the favorites to win and cover the spread.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Rockets have reached triple digits (+100 points) in 9 straight games!
  • Nuggets are just 3-14 ATS after two days of rest over the last 2 seasons!
  • Rockets are 25-11 ATS after a double-digit win over the last 2 seasons.
  • Nuggets are just 1-7 ATS after scoring 105 points or more this season!
     

2) Take Western Carolina at -3.5 spread against Eastern Washington for 3% of the bankroll.

Looking at the initial side by side comparison of these two teams one would potentially assume that the oddsmakers had possibly made a mistake when they labeled the 3-6 Western Carolina Catamounts as the favorites in this contest against the 5-5 Eastern Washington Eagles. While there is no doubt that Eastern Washington has the better overall record on the season; we don't believe they are the overall better team in this contest. The oddsmakers rarely make such glaring “mistakes” and there are no doubt good reasons why they have made the Catamounts the favorites in this contest.

While they may only have a 3-6 record, Western Carolina is a much better team than they have showed this season and is worth noting that their 6 defeats this season have all come against quality competition. The Catamounts actually play a very fundamentally sound game and have three players averaging in double figures scoring this season with Mike Brown leading the way, averaging 16.8 points per contest. They are also a team that is great on the glass and will have a significant rebounding edge over their opponents in this contest. On their home court they are averaging 48 boards per game whereas their opponents have been poor off the glass, averaging just 27 boards on the road on the season.

Western Carolina also holds the edge from the charity stripe, hitting just over 70% of their shots from the line. While they have been criticized for their defense this season, they are actually (statistically) the better overall defensive team in this contest allowing their opponents to shoot just 44% from the floor and 30% from beyond the arc. While those are not dominant statistics they are much better compared to an Eastern Washington team who are allowing their opponents to hit a scorching 50% from the floor and 36% from deep. What is probably most impressive is not that Western Carolina has been playing the better defense, but that they have been doing so against the better competition.  

It’s also worth mentioning that the Catamounts are undefeated on their home floor and seem to thoroughly ‘up’ their game in front of their home fans. They have put up 20 points more at home than on the road this season averaging 91 points in their 3 games on their home floor! They have also clamped down defensively, limiting their opponents to just 63 points per game at home! Meanwhile, playing on the road has not been a strong suit for the Eagles as they are just 2-5 on the highway this season and have down defensively on the road giving up an average of 80 points per game. 

As we had stated, if you look past the overall records of these two teams, there is no question that Western Carolina holds the advantages nearly everywhere. This is one matchup where the initial perceptions have surely played a role and we believe the oddsmakers have gotten this one right. Western Carolina will be the better team on the court tonight and should pick up a win and cover in this contest. The value resides with the home team.




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