December 19th, 2015 (11:00 AM ET)
There is one NBA and two college football selections today. The bowl picks were released back on Thursday.
1) Take NY Knicks at +1 spread against Chicago Bulls for 3% of the bankroll.
Only 13 games in NBA history have gone to quadruple-overtime! The last one was over 3 years ago when the Hawks outlasted Jazz on March 25, 2012. The Bulls are up against it tonight. That's because their best players not only logged 45+ minutes in last night's nail-biter against the Pistons but ultimately fell short and lost! The physical fatigue is a definite factor that will impact them today but what makes it worse is that they will be emotionally devastated as well after giving everything they had to get the W but failing to do so on homecourt. Had they won the game, they would still be very tired but at least have that enthusiastic attitude and swagger thanks to a morale-boosting hard fought victory but that is not the case.
Playing back-to-back games are tough enough but taking the court less than 24 hours after a big battle that went to 4-overtime is an unenviable task! The Knicks played last night as well and yet they will be the much fresher team of the two. That's because they led by as much as 30 points against the lowly 76ers and rested their stars in the 4th quarter. So in this situation, you have a team that had no players going for more than 28 minutes facing one where many players logged 40+ minutes and two even going for 54 and 52 minutes respectively! It wouldn't be as big an issue if the Bulls had a couple of nights to rest and regroup but the fact that this is such a short turnaround and also involves travel, makes it nearly impossible to recover. Chicago may be okay at the beginning but should run out of gas in the second half as the Knicks pull away.
Derek Fisher's team is much improved over last year's squad. Young players like Lance Thomas and Galloway have learned a lot while the emergence of Latvian rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis has given the New Yorkers a boost! The towering youngster stands above 7 feet tall and is a shot-blocking and rebounding machine. In addition, his offensive set of skills are above those of other rookie imports in the sense that he's not as raw a talent as many others are this early in their careers. After a rough start to the season, Carmelo Anthony has recently found his groove and he's a player that Chicago's tired legs will have a hard time stopping. If the rebuilding Knicks were ever going to beat the Bulls, this is their ideal opportunity to do so! Having been dominated by Chicago in recent years (13 losses vs. 3 wins), New York has revenge in mind and is eager to get one back over their old rivals.
As if the Knicks did not have enough motivation to beat a quality team in Bulls, they will be even more pumped up knowing they can get back to a .500 record with a win tonight! In what is a closely contested Eastern Conference this year where only a few games separate the top 10 teams, every club but perhaps the 76ers and Nets still has a chance to make the playoffs! Phil Jackson would love nothing more than to get one over his old franchise and knows that his Knicks will gain the belief that they can perhaps make the post-season if they can get a confidence-building win over the Bulls and pull themselves to an even 14-14 record on the season! Arron Afflalo and company come into this game having won their last 3 games and now have a chance to introduce themselves as a playoff contender against an extremely tired and deflated Bulls team, and we expect them to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
The last time Chicago played a four-overtime game was back in 1984! Such games are tough to overcome and shake off especially when they result in a heartbreaking home loss but what makes tonight even more daunting is that the Bulls take the court for the 7th time in 11 days! Fred Hoiberg is gonna have to rely on his bench players a lot tonight and we wouldn't be surprised if he gave one or two starters the night off to rest them or decided to severely limited their minutes. The last thing they want to do is risk injuries to exhausted players that are not 100% and have logged heavy minutes recently. If the Knicks don't capitalize on this huge edge tonight, they will only have themselves to blame as this is the type of intangible edge that comes around once a decade at best! Look for them to continue their recent surge at Madison Square Garden where they have won 3 of their last 4 games.
2) Take BYU at +3 spread (buy half a point) against Utah for 3% of the bankroll.
These two teams will likely have a completely different mindset when they take the field for this year's Las Vegas Bowl and we believe that will be the difference in this contest. The Utah Utes finished the season with a very respectable 9-3 overall record. They had the best record in the South and were in a tie with the Oregon Ducks for the second best conference record behind Stanford. The Utes managed to blow out Oregon in Eugene earlier this season and what kind of reward to they get for their otherwise impressive season; an invite to the conference's 6th ranked bowl!
The Las Vegas Bowl could not have been more of a slap in the face to head coach Kyle Whittingham and he was pretty vocal about it in the media, stating that "We had the best record in the South overall, and the second-best record in the conference overall. We were tied with Oregon but we beat them head-to-head. So that being the case and then being in the sixth bowl, that was…that was unique. So we’ll leave it at that, I guess. It was just how the cards unfolded". Whittingham doesn't seem too pleased with playing in this game and we believe that type of mindset will likely trickle down to his players as well. Enthusiasm is a big part of winning bowl games and while some teams are happy to be there, some are not and that often makes the difference.
Meanwhile the BYU Cougars had an impressive season themselves considering they lost their superstar QB, Taysom Hill once again for the season in the very first game. The loss of Hill was a big blow, but the team responded and may have actually found their next superstar QB in the form of Tanner Mangum who tossed a school record 3,062 yards and 21 scores in his freshman season.
This will also be BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall's final game as the coach of the Cougars. He has accepted the head coaching job at Virginia, but unlike many coaches, has elected to stay with his team and coach them in their Bowl game. That is something that we expect to pay dividends as there is no doubt the players are going to rally around Mendenhall in order to give their coach one final win to end his career in Provo.
The Utes will likely lack motivation in this contest, feeling that they were snubbed for a much better bowl game and that will translate onto the field. They will also be without their star running back and playmaker Devontae Booker for this contest as well. Without Booker on the field, Utah will likely have a tough time moving the football against an opportunistic and physical BYU defense. The Cougars are simply in the better position in this contest and we believe they not only cover the spread, but manage to win this game outright.
3) Take Appalachian State at -7 spread (buy half a point) against Ohio for 3% of the bankroll.
This game will certainly have a special meaning to the Appalachian State Mountaineers as this will be their first appearance in a Bowl Game at the FBC level. Not only will they have the motivation of picking up their first Bowl win in program history, the Mountaineers also became just the second Sun Belt team ever to win ten games in a season and will have the chance to set the Sun Belt record for victories in this contest.
Quarterback Tyler Lamb has been exceptional as both a passer (29 TD, 8 INT) and a runner, combining for 33 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions in his sophomore season behind center. After being named Sun Belt Freshman of the Year last season, the Mountaineers’ QB will have a chance to best all of his numbers from a season ago with a solid performance in this contest.
The Mountaineers are an incredibly well rounded team on offense and have one of the best ground games in the nation. They average 269.7 yards on the ground in what can may be best described as a 'stretch run' offense! The offensive line stretches the field and allows the running back to go laterally while blocking defenders downfield. It is an incredibly difficult run formation to stop which is why the Mountaineers rank 6th in the FBS in yards on the ground.
As potent as their ground game has been, their defense has been superb as well as they rank 12th in the country in total yards and 13th in points allowed per game, giving up just an average of 18.2 per game. Special teams has also played a big role in their success this season as Kicker Zach Matics has converted 13 of his 14 field goal attempts which is tied for 2nd best in the country and has converted all 57 of his extra point attempts so far this season. There are a number of ways Appalachian State can hurt a team and we believe they will simply overwhelm their opponents in this contest.
There are very few holes in the Mountaineers game and with the exception of a couple of game at the end of the season; the Ohio Bobcats have been far too inconsistent this year. This game no doubt means much more to the 22 seasons on this Mountaineers team and we expect them to put forth one of their best all-around efforts this season in order to secure the victory.
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