March 7, 2016 (1:21 PM ET)
There are 3 picks tonight.
1: Take Gonzaga at -3 spread against BYU for 3% of the bankroll.
This has been somewhat of a surprising year for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. This is the first time since 2012 that the Bulldogs will enter the West Coast Conference tournament as anything but the #1 seed and now find themselves (somewhat) on the bubble in terms of the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga has made 17 consecutive appearances in the Big Dance, but a loss in this contest tonight could put their tournament hopes in jeopardy. These two teams know each other rather well as they have split the series meetings this season, with each team capturing a victory on their opponent’s home court.
This game is being played at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas so it is a neutral court game which should heavily favor the Bulldogs. Gonzaga is 19-5 in neutral site games over the last 3 seasons. Meanwhile, BYU has not performed well in neutral territory as they are just 16-35 ATS in their last 51 games on neutral turf and a woeful 1-10 ATS as neutral court underdogs of less or less points which date all the way back to the 1997 season! Given their historical performance and now with Gonzaga likely playing for their tournament lives, this is a terrible spot for the Cougars to be in.
There is no question that BYU is a quality team in the conference. They come into this game having won 6 of their last 7. Interestingly enough, their last loss was against these same Gonzaga Bulldogs in their home finale. BYU played horribly in that game, which is something that just should not happen at home in an extremely important game. The Cougars were completely dominated by both Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis who accounted for more than half of the Zags points in that contest. Sabonis was like a man possessed in the Zags most recent blowout win over Portland; putting up 24 points in the process. He has been a consistent double-double machine for Gonzaga this season and if the Cougars cannot find an answer for him early, this contest could get out of hand in a hurry. The Cougars, meanwhile, are led by Kyle Collinsworth and he is arguably a one man show out there. Collinsworth has a near Triple-Double in the most recently meeting between these two teams and even if his shot is not falling, he has the ability to make plays to those around him. We expect the Zags to key in on Collinsworth in this contest and force someone else on the team to step up and make the clutch shots when needed.
These two teams have played in extremely closely contested games already this year, but this is arguably the most important game of the Zags season. The stakes have elevated and we expect them to put in what could be their best performance of the year in this contest tonight. Gonzaga or BYU will take on the winner of the St. Mary's / Pepperdine matchup in the championship game tomorrow night. March Madness simply would not be the same without the Zags in the tournament and we expect that they will at least give themselves a shot of getting in, but they first need to win this contest in front of them. They completely dominated Portland in the opening round of the tournament and expect they will do the same to BYU tonight.
Other notable facts to consider:
- BYU is 4-13 ATS in tournament games over the last 3 seasons!
- The favorite is 10-3-1 in the last 14 meetings between these two teams!
- Gonzaga is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games versus conference opponents!
- BYU has covered the spread in only 3 of the last 12 meetings with Gonzaga!
2: Take Sacramento Kings at -1 spread (buy half a point) against Pelicans for 3% of the bankroll.
Alvin Gentry's New Orleans Pelicans have been hit by injuries all season long and have as many as 5 players current sidelined! In addition, two more have the 'questionable' status for this contest and even though they may feature, they are clearly not 100%. To say they have little depth and are thin everywhere especially in the back-court would be an understatement. The Kings, meanwhile have previously had their own such issues but are a lot healthier now than a couple of weeks ago. Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay have overcome their injury woes and are 'probable' to take part in this matchup. They already played in the last 2 games for Sacramento and will be in good game shape tonight.
The Pelicans are no longer in the playoff race. They need an absolute miracle to make the post-season and the coaching staff have admitted as much. They find themselves 7 games behind the eight placed Rockets in the Western conference standings and with a 23-38 record on the season, their hopes have evaporated. The home loss to Utah Jazz (a direct rival for a playoff position) was the final nail in the coffin. The Kings, meanwhile, also face long odds but are still mathematically in it and if they can win this game, they will very much remain in the hunt. Given that they are in double-revenge mode, look for them to walk out victorious against a depleted squad that has very few healthy bodies.
DeMarcus Cousins has averaged 30.5 points, 15.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.8 blocks over the last 4 games of this series and will look to do more damage tonight. This is an ambitious squad that has its sights set on a playoff spot and although we believe they'll ultimately fall short, they should win this game and give their hopes a temporary boost. They are coming off a loss to the Spurs and face the Cleveland Cavaliers next! They know, this is a rare chance to get an important W and pull closer to the top 8 spots.
Eric Gordon was averaging nearly 23 points for the Pels since his return from a lengthy layoff but refractured his right middle finger (same injury as before) in the game against Utah Jazz and could now miss the remainder of the season! That loss marked New Orleans' 4th consecutive defeat at a time when they were playing catch up and in fact needed to get on a winning streak. To make matters worse, Norris Cole is also banged up with a bad back and that means Jrue Holiday is the only reliable guard tonight. We believe he'll have a good game but George Karl's squad has far more weapons at its disposal and will get a much needed victory. There is value in backing them in this spot since they don't have to cover any kind of spread and our interests are aligned with the team.
3: Take LA Clippers at -5 spread against Dallas Mavericks for 3% of the bankroll.
This game was always going to be a difficult one for Dallas due to scheduling reasons but it got even tougher after the Mavs didn't do themselves any favor last night. Instead of closing out the game in Denver and getting ready for this one, Rick Carlisle's side went through a huge scoring drought in the final 5 minutes and saw its double-digit lead vanish. The Nuggets forced the game to go to overtime and then just when it looked like, we may be headed for a second overtime, Ray Felton committed a foul on DJ Augustin with just 0.09 seconds left on the clock! The veteran PG made his free-throws to give Denver an improbable comeback victory over the dejected Mavs.
Playing on back-to-back nights is always challenging but mix in the fact that Dallas played in the Denver altitude and then had to take a late flight home, and it is even more so. This is the second oldest team in the NBA with an average age of 30, heavy legs may be a factor tonight. The fact that they played 5 additional intense minutes of overtime in a high scoring fast-paced matchup and then had to travel to play another game, against an even better team, makes this an uneviable spot! Not only are they physically tired, they are mentally frustrated.
The confidence of the Mavericks can't be high either. They've now suffered consecutive losses to inferior competition (Kings & Nuggets) and suddenly have to go up against a squad that is far superior in quality and will be greatly motivated for this contest. That's because Chris Paul and company have their own loss to bounce back from after blowing a comfortable lead against the Atlanta Hawks. The difference is that they are well rested and prepared heading into Big D and are likely to perform well. Let's also not forget that the Clippers have revenge in mind when they face the Mavs, given that they lost their last visit here by 10 points!
Dallas is only in a playoff position because they've generally feasted on poor opponents while struggling mightily against quality teams. They have won only 1 of their last 7 games against teams with a winning record and are just 4-10 against Western conference teams above them in the standings! Doc Rivers' LA side certainly falls into that category. They are a good team that has improved defensively this season and will have no shortage of incentives tonight. Look for them to win this game and cover the spread in the process.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Clippers are 14-7 ATS when seeking revenge for a loss this season.
- Clippers are 18-5 ATS as a road favorite of 3.5 to 6 points over the last 3 seasons!
- Mavericks are 0-11 ATS since March 2015 following a road game in which they fewer than 10 turnovers!
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