November 23, 2015 (2:00 PM ET)
There is an NBA and a college basketball pick tonight.
1) Take Orlando Magic at +9 spread against Cleveland Cavaliers for 3% of the bankroll.
The Cavaliers are back in the good grace of Joe Public after covering the spread in consecutive games but are not likely to continue that tonight. Let's not forget that prior to their last couple of games, they had gone 7 straight games without covering the number despite 6 wins in those contests! That's because the oddsmakers often put a premium price on them by laying a couple of extra points. The Cavs covered the last 2 games because they had a point to prove but tonight, they're in danger of overlooking the Magic. After dropping back to back games, LeBron James had called out his teammates and that led to a big bounce back against the Milwaukee Bucks, whom they had revenge against! In the following game, Cleveland was hosting the team that they faced in the East finals last year, Atlanta Hawks and so again played with a huge chip on its shoulder. As for tonight's matchup against lowly Orlando? The Cavs have taken the last 10 meetings and may well look past their opponents! Complacency is a killer in sports and while we believe the Cavaliers will get another home win, asking them to continue to win games by double-digits is unreasonable.
That is especially true right now since David Blatt's side has 4 important players out injured. As if missing All-Star PG, Kyrie Irving, was not bad, they will have to do without veteran Mo Williams as well who had been starting in his place. Even if Williams plays tonight, he won't be 100% and will likely have a minutes-restriction given that he's missed the past 3 games. Former Knick, Iman Shumpert continues to be out while towering Russian Center, Timofey Mozgov will be sidelined for another 10 days! That means Matthew Dellavedova who is bothered by a couple of niggling knocks himself, will have to get extended minutes once again and deal with the athleticism of Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton! We believe the Magic will have the back-court edge tonight and Vucevic will be a handful at the Center spot as well. That means while LeBron James and Kevin Love will likely have another solid performance, it won't be enough to win this game by double-digits.
Tristan Thompson will no doubt be a strong presence on the boards but Dewayne Dedmon and Vucevic have the size advantage over him and will challenge him for those rebounds. The man from Montenegro has quick skillful feet and is capable of outplaying most Centers. LeBron will put this team on his shoulders as he often does and at some point will help this squad go on a big run but this won't be an easy game for Cleveland by any means. Orlando is coming off a loss and they are determined to bounce back. Not only that, they can get back to a .500 record with a win! Playing against LBJ and the Cavaliers will require little motivation for Tobias Harris and company but the same can not be said about the hosts. The Cavs will be interested in winning but gain nothing from a potential blowout. Their goal will be to simply get the W while minimizing risk of further injuries.
Orlando Magic will be more up for this game and has numerous edges. The inflated spread and the complaceny factor combined with banged up bodies means that the Cavaliers will likely win but not cover the line. Scott Skiles' side has dropped 10 in a row to Cleveland including a 3-0 sweep last season and remembers that! They would love nothing more than to get some manner of revenge! Their efforts should see them remain at least competitive in this contest. Even if this game isn't close however, there is always chance for a backdoor cover when a team lays that many points. Whether it's through an outright win, staying within the generous 9 points or through a backdoor cover in the 4th quarter after key players are being rested, Orlando has 3 different ways it can cover the spread for sharp investors.
2) Take North Carolina at -10 spread against Northwestern for 3% of the bankroll.
In his third season as head coach, Doug Collins brings his Northwestern Wildcats into this event with an unblemished record and that is likely to really get under Roy Williams and his teams skin, knowing that his team was also 'expected' to head into this tournament undefeated as well and were ranked #1 in the country. UNC lost in somewhat shocking fashion in their last contest as they dropped a game on the road against the Northern Iowa Panthers. Northern Iowa had been a program on the rise over the last couple of seasons however the unexpected loss was due more to the play of North Carolina than it was the play of the Panthers. North Carolina led by as many as 16 in the second half before the Panthers took charge with an impressive 29-8 run. UNC turned the ball over 12 times and went just 5 of 18 from beyond the arc. Guards Nate Britt and Joel Berry II also combined to go just an abysmal 3-of-13 from the field. It was essentially a perfect storm of events that led to the upset and we don't expect the Tar Heels to allow that to happen two games in a row.
Even though North Carolina came up short in their last outing, this is still a team that needs to be taken with the utmost respect. UNC is a daunting team because they play fundamental ball extremely well and has 5 guys averaging double figures scoring with big man Kennedy Meeks leading the way averaging 14.8 points and 10 rebounds per contest. This is a team that is ferocious in the paint and rebound extremely well which are two big keys to victory. Northern Iowa may be undefeated, but they have had some lackluster performances as of late and a couple of close calls. They narrowly came away with a 79-72 home victory over Fairfield as 15 point home chalk, a team that the Tar Heels blew out 92-65 and then they needed overtime on Friday to get past Columbia 83-80 as 5 point chalk. North Carolina is not Columbia and the Wildcats will take a huge step up in competition in this contest.
Roy Williams was extremely vocal after the loss to Northwestern, blaming himself for not properly coaching his players due to the amount of mistakes made on the court. We don't believe Williams will allow his players to put in two consecutive poor performances. This team was the top ranked team in the nation for a reason and we believe they will have a huge bounce back performance in this contest. The Tar Heels no doubt are fully motivated and have a lot of pent up aggression that they are going to want to let loose in this contest and it will be Northwestern that is the recipient of it. Today will not be a good day to be a Wildcat and believe the Tar Heels will make this one look easy, coasting to a convincing double digit victory.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Northwestern is 2-6 ATS in their last 8 neutral site games.
- North Carolina is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games!
- North Carolina is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS loss.
- North Carolina is 60-28-2 ATS in their last 90 games following a straight up loss!
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