December 22, 2015 (1:03 PM ET)
There is one NBA and one college basketball pick tonight.
1) Take Philadelphia 76ers at +10 spread against Memphis Grizzlies for 3% of the bankroll.
There is no doubt that the 76ers are the worst team in NBA! They have won only 1 of their first 29 games and might go just 1 for 30 after tonight. That doesn't mean however that there is never value in backing them. In the right situations, when lines are inflated, they have and do cash out tickets against the spread (ATS) and we believe this is one of those situations. That's because Philadelphia's futility gets so much media attention that the average sports-bettor does not want to go anywhere near them. Vegas therefore has to pad the spread by a few points on purpose to invite some money on the 76ers and that is what's happened here and yet despite that, they are getting lopsided action on a Grizzlies team that the public loves tonight even though they are not as stout as in past years.
Sports Profit System considers every imaginable factor that can impact the outcome of a matchup and handicapped this game at Memphis -7! That means the Grizzlies are about 7-points better than Philly in this particular spot considering injuries, motivation, scheduling etc. That is in all likelihood the number that oddsmakers also came up with BUT if they set this line at Philadelphia +7, they would have almost no takers! They need to balance the books and try to get at least some money on both sides so they don't have a huge liability in case one team covers. They dont' want 95% of people wagering on one side and that team covering the spread. That's bad news for them so in order to avoid that, they give a team like 76ers a few extra points to entice some action. As sharp sports-bettors that make a living off of this and have successfully wagered on NBA for years, experience has taught us that any team could be worth backing IF the price is right. This is Philadelphia's final home game of the year before the calendar flips to 2016! That should not only inspire them to perform well but also means that this is a rare chance for them to get a win as an extended road trip with tougher games is coming right up! While they may not execute well enough late in games to pull off the W, they should keep this close.
This is a very generous spread and one that gives those brave enough to back Philly in this spot a good chance of cashing out tickets. Earlier this season, we took the 76ers against the mighty Cavaliers in another game that had an inflated spread and great value and got a fairly comfortable win out of it. Profiting from sports isn't about making popular decisions; t's about making the correct ones. This is similar in some ways except that Grizzlies are not as good as the Cavs this year and there have been rumblings that they are in somewhat of a transition mode themselves as they are trying new things like bringing Zach Randolph off the bench. Dave Joerger doesn't have the support of everyone within the organization and while he's generally done a good job in our opinion, not everyone seems to be on board with his coaching style. Memphis is only one game above a .500 record this season and there are rumors that the Grizzlies owner has one eye on the possibility of bringing in Tom Thibodeau if the opportunity presents itself. Whether true or not, that type of story is never good for the unity of a locker room nor the authority of a coach. It's also worth noting that Memphis has a losing record on the road this season at 6-8 and yet they're now expected to not only win this game but do so easily by double-digits! That is a tougher task than most anticipate.
The 76ers are a poor team but they do have some important players back from the injury list. Earlier this season, they had Nerlens Noel, Tony Wroten and Robert Covington all missing games due to injuries. Wroten in particular can be an offensive spark while Noel is an important rim protector given Jahlil Okafor's impressive offense skillset but poor defense. Arguably the most important of them all however is SF Robert Covington who is a solid player on both ends of the floor and can do a little bit of everything. The bottom line is that Philadelphia have not been as healthy as they are right now for much of the season and now that they have nearly all of their pieces back, they should at least stay competitive in certain games such as this.
Whether it's through the 3-point shooting of Cannon, Wroten or Stauskas or through baskets in the paint by Jahlil Okafor and Jerami Grant, look for the 76ers to give their home crowd something to cheer about at last. They've dropped 10 in a row and have been blown out in the vast majority of those games! We believe that ends tonight as they keep this within single digits and put up a good effort against a Memphis team that may well be looking past them and play down to the level of its opponent. Brett Brown's squad has a lengthy 6-game road trip coming up after this contest and therefore know their winless streak could easily reach 17 games if they don't get a W tonight. It'll be difficult for them to outplay the Grizzlies for 4 full quarters and pull out the win but their efforts should see them put up a good fight and keep this game closer than most think. Even if we are wrong in our assumption that this game should be closely contested, there's always a chance for a backdoor cover when a team is laying double-digit points as Memphis is tonight. That's because a comfortable 13 point lead can easily turn into a 7-point win when key players get rested in the 4th quarter especially since Grizzlies have a tougher game in Washington to keep players fresh for tomorrow night! Memphis has dominated Philly in recent years and could be complacent heading into this game. There are several different ways that Philadelphia can cash out sharp bettors' tickets tonight and we believe they will as the public ends up disappointed when Memphis likely wins but does not cover this inflated number. All the value is with the precious double-digit points in this contest.
2) Take Cincinnati at -5 spread against Iowa State for 3% of the bankroll.
The Iowa State Cyclones were recently upset on neutral ground in their last contest against their in-state rivals, the Northern Iowa Panthers. While many consider that an upset, we were not completely surprised by the outcome. Northern Iowa is a tough team and already holds a win over then Number 1 ranked North Carolina. Also, the perception of the Cyclones have been somewhat skewed this season. Yes, they are a quality team with an explosive offense, but they also have some flaws in their game which has contributed to their somewhat lackluster performances as of late. The Cyclones have really struggled since their come from behind win over the Iowa Hawkeyes. They have failed to get off to a fast start and have looked extremely sluggish in the first half of their last 3 games having to come back from double digit deficits in two of their last three matchups.
Meanwhile the Cincinnati Bearcats rebounded from losses to two quality programs this season, with a win on the road against VCU Rams. Mostly known for their defense, the Bearcats rank in the top 15 in the nation in numerous defensive categories. They are 11th in defensive field goal percentage, holding their opponents to just 36.9% shooting from the field. They are 12th in adjusted defensive efficiency allowing just 92.3 points per 100 possessions and most notable are 13th in the nation in points allowed, giving up just an average of 59.4 points per game. Cincinnati is a hard-nosed physical team that places an obvious strong emphasis on the defensive side of the ball which could prove troublesome against an Iowa State team that often starts slow.
Cincinnati is also much improved on the offensive side of the ball with Octavius Ellis leading the team. Steve Pohm's squad has been extremely sloppy on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the opening minutes of games this season having allowed the Iowa Hawkeyes to connect on 6 of their first 7 shots from the field while also allowing the Northern Iowa Panthers to hit 13 of their first 17 from the field. If the Cyclones allow the Bearcats to get off to this type of start, we believe they will be hard-pressed to stay in contention in this game given the physicality of the Bearcat's defense. Iowa State cannot afford another double digit deficit against a team such as Cincinnati. The Cyclone's "finesse" offense does not match up well against this stingy Bearcats defense and we believe that will be the difference as the Bearcats out-hustle the Cyclones and roll to a win and cover on their home court.
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