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January 8, 2016 (4:00 PM ET)

There is one pick (Pelicans) tonight.

Two NFL selections were released yesterday, in advance for Saturday.

Take New Orleans Pelicans at +2 spread against Indiana Pacers for 3% of the bankroll.

The casual fan sees the lowly Pelicans and their poor 11-23 record going up against the impressive Pacers and quickly pulls the trigger on the favorite seeing as they are laying only 2 points, what they think of as a very affordable price on the clearly much better team. That is not wise. What they don't realize is that if sports-betting was that simple, most bettors would be millionaires by now! In reality, only a fraction profit over the course of a season and that's because square choices like that often lead to losses, not wins. The fact that Vegas has installed Indiana as very marginal favorites (2 points) despite the fact that they've beaten New Orleans 8 straight times says a lot to sharps. It does the opposite to the betting public however, only enticing them further to back the team with the better record. This looks like a classic Friday night trap game! Why else would the team with the much better record and one that has dominated this series be priced so cheaply? There are reasons for that.

The Pelicans are a better team than their record currently suggests and we expect them to make a run in the near future to contend for a playoff spot. The Western conference does not have as many quality teams as it did last year and is lacking depth. The injury-riddled Utah Jazz for example are currently in the 8th and final post-season spot despite a 15-20 record! Meanwhile teams like Houston and Memphis are without a doubt weaker than last year's versions and yet they also currently occupy a playoffs spot! That means despite a slow start to the season, the likes of Pelicans are still very much in with a chance to make it given that they are only a few games behind in the standings. Unlike the Phoenix Suns, the Pelicans are not in turmoil off the court. And they own far superiod quality (squad-wise) than the Nuggets, Lakers and Timberwolves. If there was one team from the West that could still make the post-season in our opinion but is not currently positioned to do so, it would be New Orleans.

The Pelicans' poor start to the season can be attributed to 2 factors. One is that they have a new heach coach in Alvin Gentry and it takes time for a new leader to instill his ideas and philosophies on a squad. And the other factor was injuries. It is no secret that New Orleans had as many as 7 players miss time due to injuries at once earlier this season! Not only their starting 5 quality but their depth was truly tested. And yet they sit only 3 games behind the Jazz for that 8th and final playoffs spot and are still very much in the hunt if they can put together a winning streak. We believe it is only a matter of time before they do and that it could start tonight. They have bought into Gentry's system and he'll be demanding a big bounceback effort from them tonight after they were beaten by Dallas reserves last time out! Anthony Davis and company know they must play better and will be motivated to do so.

Frank Vogel's Pacers are a good side but one that is considerably better at home than on the road. They had won only one of their last 8 road games before clinching a W at Orlando on Wednesday night! It should be noted that Elfrid Payton missed that contest and with Oladipo transitioning to being a PG for the Magic, George Hill and the Pacers took advantage. We don't believe they'll have an edge at the guard position against the Pelicans. We expect Tyreke Evans to utilize his size and athleticism to drive to the basket while Jrue Holiday, Norris Cole and Eric Gordon shoot the 3-ball. Both rosters have quality players and depth and are coming into this game healthy. The diffence is that this is a must-win game for New Orleans given their poor previous effort at home and we believe they'll give their fans something to cheer about on Friday night. They'll keep their playoff hopes alive by securing the win knowing they have a tough upcoming road trip ahead! It's not often that the Pelicans drop 3 consecutive games at home and we dont' anticipate that happening tonight. Especially since that would give them a big hole to climb out of before 3 road games and put a real damper on their aspirations. 

Look for the Pels to play with more urgency than their opponents tonight as their energy and home-court advantage gives them what many will consider 'an upset'. The fact that we get 2 precious points in what could be a closely contested game is a very nice bonus and one that we'll gladly take even though we believe the underdogs will win this game and keep their post-season hopes alive. New Orleans is 32-17 ATS (against-the-spread) after playing a game as a favorite over the last couple of seasons! Back the unfancied underdogs as the average bettor unloads on Indiana but regrets it at the end of the night. Let's not forget that despite their rotten record, the Pelicans have won against the likes of Spurs and Cavaliers at home this season! They have displayed their tendency to play hard against 'better' opponents and the fact that they've lost a lot of games against the Pacers recently will fuel their fire!

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