December 23, 2015 (5:00 PM ET)
There are 3 picks tonight.
1) Take Memphis Grizzlies at -1 spread (buy half a point) against Washington Wizards for 3% of the bankroll.
No team has more injury worries than the Wizards right now. As if missing Bradley Beal, Nene Hilario, Drew Gooden and veteran swingman Alan Anderson wasn't bad enough, the athletic Otto Porter will likely also be missing this game! That's because the versatile junior is nursing a thigh strain and sat out the afternoon shootaround. While he has not yet officially been ruled out, he's unlikely to participate tonight. To make matters worse, Gary Neal, Kris Humphries and John Wall are also carrying knocks and are banged up. We do expect those 3 to take the court but it remains to be seen just how effective they can be. Wall will have to carry this team on his back and while should have a good game, it will ultimately be too much for one man, especially one that had to leave the previous game due to a rib injury. It's also worth noting that Mike Conley and the Grizzlies have often had his number and managed to limit him to just 6 points and 2 rebounds in the Dec 14th matchup!
The Grizzlies beat the Wizards by double-digits less than 10 days ago and since then, Washington's injury woes have gotten even worse! Meanwhile, Memphis is more comfortable playing with a smaller lineup now than they were at that time having transitioned well. Zach Randolph is a bruising big man to bring off the bench while the inclusion of Matt Barnes and Jeff Green in the starting lineup has brought the Grizzlies more mobility and better perimeter defense. Gasol vs. Gortat should be a good matchup to watch as the two European C's face-off but with Gortat and Wall being the only true starting players for the team from the nation's capital, Memphis has the edge in nearly every position. The Grizzlies are not only putting out their best 5 players but have much more depth behind them and the flexibility to change schemes midway through the game while the Wizards had only 8 players available for their last game against the Kings! Rookie Kelly Oubre is likely to get his 3rd start as an NBA player while Garrett Temple or Gary Neal will likely start at the shooting-guard position and have to go up against Courtney Lee and Tony Allen! The Grizzlies have matchup advantages all over the court and have the ability to keep players fresh rotating them in and out since they have multiple options at each position.
The fact that both squads get the next two days off means they will give it their all tonight. One has only limited players available however and could run out of gas in the 4th quarter. The Grizzlies did play last night but they took a comfortable double-digit lead in to the 4th quarter and were able to give their starters some rest to not overwork them. Coach Joerger limited minutes here and there and gave veteran players like Vince Carter and Tony Allen some playing time to get them back into rhythm. Other than backup Center, Brandan Wright who's already been out for awhile, they have a healthy and deep roster ready to perform when called upon.
These two teams are both coming off consecutive wins but Memphis has a much better chance of making it 3 in a row! They have won back to back games for the first time in 3 weeks and look ready to turn the page on what was a 'transitional period' at the start of the season. On the other hand, Wall and company did well to grab back to back W's despite all the banged up bodies but can be forgiven for losing a game like this and must be eagerly looking forward to the Christmas break, spending time with the family and getting some injured players back as they rest and heal off niggling injuries. The Grizzlies are away from their families, in the middle of a road trip and will therefore be solely focused on the task at hand. The fact that they've finally turned the corner and are playing well with this new lineup also means that they are looking forward to taking the court and don't want the break as much as the depleted Wizards do. That enthusiasm and confidence should see them edge what could be a tighly contested game.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Memphis is 6-1 ATS this season when they played the night before!
- Grizzlies are a perfect 13-0 ATS since 2010 with no rest following a double-digit road victory!
- Wizards are just 16-35 ATS in recent years following a game with 5 or less offensive rebounds!
2) Take Bowling Green at -5.5 spread against Georgia Southern for 3% of the bankroll.
There is no question that the Georgia Southern Eagles are an explosive offensive team. They led the country in rushing yards (355.6 per game) and touchdowns on the ground (47) this season with 47. As good as the Eagles ground game is, the fact that they solely rely on running the football makes them an extremely one-dimensional offensive team. A big reason for the Eagles success this season is because their style of running attack is extremely difficult for teams to prepare for during the regular season with less than a week between contests to come up with a game plan. The Falcons have had a couple of weeks to prepare for this contest and will no doubt have a game plan in place to slow down this vaunted rushing attack.
They are severely limited in their abilities and options when they fall behind the down and distance as well as when they find themselves down on the scoreboard. Eagles quarterback Kevin Ellison has only attempted 84 passing attempts this season and 5 of those results in interceptions. He is not a prolific passer having completed just 44% of his passing attempts this season. This is not a team that is built to come from behind and that may be an issue in this contest against an extremely prolific and explosive Bowling Green passing attack. If the Falcons manage to build a lead in this contest, that will surely take them out of their comfort zone.
Bowling Green is a team that loves to throw the football and have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation to do so in Matt Johnson. Johnson has thrown for 4,700 yards and 43 touchdown passes this season. They have numerous capable receivers on their squad that can hurt an opposing defense as 4 players have caught 55 or more passes this season and have over 600 yards receiving. They also are a team that has no issues throwing the deep ball down field as they rank 4th in the nation in plays over 30 yards this season with 47.
Unlike their opponents, the Falcons are an extremely balanced team as when they are not throwing the ball with Johnson, they have a potent and extremely sneaky ground game led by Travis Green. Green has rushed for over 1200 yards this season and 14 touchdowns. With the threat of the passing game and the big play downfield, defenses are often cautious in coverage and that has led to openings in the ground game and something that Bowling Green has been able to exploit.
Georgia Southern has had issues with high powered offenses this season, getting completely blown out by West Virginia 44-0 in the early part of the season and once again in their final game of the season against Georgia State. The Eagles went down on the scoreboard early in both contests and were forced to change their game plan and on the passing game (or lack of) in order try to get back in the game and it did not work out well for them. The Falcons will be by far the most explosive offense they have seen all season long and while things may be close in the early going, Matt Johnson will simply continue to take shots down the field and pour in points on the scoreboard. If Ellison is forced to take to the air, it could be disastrous for the Eagles. Georgia Southern simply does not have the weapons or structure to survive an offensive shootout. Bowling Green should win this one by double-digits.
3) Take Wisc Milwaukee at +4.5 spread against Minnesota for 3% of the bankroll.
The Wisconsin Milwaukee Panthers pose an interesting problem for the Golden Gophers tonight. They have picked up some solid wins this season against teams like Central Michigan and Wisconsin. A big reason for their success so far this season has been their ability to put up big offensive numbers. This is a team that likes to push the pace and moves the ball well ranking 64th in the nation in scoring average and 18th in assists. They have numerous shooting threats on the team with 5 players averaging in double figures with veteran big man Matt Tiby leading the team averaging 15.6 points and 9 rebounds per contest.
Minnesota may play in the much tougher conference but they lost some veteran pieces in the off season and have yet to find the kind of chemistry needed to put together solid showings. They currently rank 168th in the nation is scoring average which likely won't bode well against a high efficiency team like the Panthers. Minnesota has also shown that they are beatable at home this season with home losses already coming against mid-major foes South Dakota and South Dakota State. The Golden Gophers have not been kind to their backers, dating back to even last season as they are just are 8-21 ATS in their last 29 games overall.
Milwaukee has shown that their offense can thrive no matter what venue they play in. They are 9-2 in their last 11 game on the road and already have a big road win this season over another Big 10 team in the Wisconsin Badgers. After suffering a close, somewhat surprising loss in their last contest as a hefty favorites, we expect the Panthers to rebound and get up for this contest. This could be another resume building win over a team from a Power 5 conference and we expect the Panthers to be motivated for this one. With their offense, they should be able to keep this game competitive and stay within the point spread if not win outright.
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