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March 8, 2016 (2:47 PM ET)

There are two picks tonight.
 

1) Take Gonzaga at -2 spread against Saint Mary's for 3% of the bankroll.

This is an interesting contest tonight. The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been a staple in the NCAA tournament for the last 17 consecutive years and in order to insure their 18th berth, they in all likelihood, need to win this game tonight. Winning likely won't be easy however as the St Mary's Gaels have seemingly had their number this season. The Gaels are the #1 seed in this tournament due mostly in part to their season sweep of the Zags. St Mary's managed to defeat Gonzaga twice this season, which was their first seasonal sweep over them in over 20 years!

It's incredibly difficult to not only complete a seasonal sweep over a team, but it's even more difficult to defeat a team three times in a season. We saw a similar instance play out last night with the Gaels as they took on the Pepperdine Waves in the semifinals of the WCC tournament. Pepperdine had completed a regular season sweep of the Gaels but Saint Mary's came out like a ball of fire in the third meeting enroute to a blowout 81-66 win. There is no question that Gonzaga is going to do everything in their power to prevent a third straight defeat but with their tournament lives on the line, that should add even more motivation for a quality performance tonight.

St Mary's doesn't need this game as much as the Zags do. As it stands, they have firmly locked in their spot for the upcoming NCAA Tournament as a projected 9 seed. Gonzaga on the other hand is not so fortunate. They are listed as Joe Lunardi's first 4 out and a loss in the title game could put their bid for an 18th consecutive appearance in jeopardy. They need this victory to secure an at-large bid and we believe they will get it. These teams are no strangers to each other as they are both at the top of their conference. This third meeting should be one of the most entertaining of the season, but the desperation that the Zags players will show will likely be the difference in this contest. Gonzaga is 8-1 ATS in their last 9 meetings with St Mary's and we expect it to be 9-1 ATS after this meeting tonight.
 

2) Take Orlando Magic at -3 spread against LA Lakers for 3% of the bankroll.

The Los Angeles Lakers are the second worst team in the NBA and are coming off a rare victory. In what will go down as one of, if not the worst ever season for this storied franchise, they own a 13-51 record and have pulled off consecutive wins only 3 times! To expect them to do that tonight is farfetched in our opinion and unlikely to materialize. That's because they are facing what handicappers call 'A let-down spot'. To beat the defending champions, Golden State, who just happen to be a California and Pacific division rival was undoubtedly their biggest game of the season! They caught them off-guard and pulled away for a double-digit victory as hefty underdogs, in what turned out to be one of the biggest upsets in NBA history! The emotional high that these young players experience after that game was unlikely anything many have gone through. And naturally after a 'high' like that, there's often a 'low' and that is this particular contest against the Magic.

Orlando is far from perfect or without its issues but they are a much better team than the Lakers this season. They play better defense, are more organized and still even have an outside chance at making the post-season! They currently find themselves 5 games behind the eight placed Bulls and that means they are mathemetically still very much in it. They absolutely need to win games such as this however if they want to remain in the hunt, as their schedule gets tougher after this. Their next eight contests after this are either at home against superior opposition or on the road against better teams than LA. That makes this particular game a 'must-win' for Scott Skiles' squad. It should be noted that the Magic are rarely installed as road favorites, but when that has been the case, they have been money-makers. They have won and covered the spread in their last 5 games in the 'road chalk' role!

The Lakers are a bad team, offensively and defensively this season. They rank near the very bottom in most facets of the game and it's not hard to see why they've struggled so much. Given that this game against a lowly non-conference team is scheduled in between their date with conference leaders, Warriors and Cavaliers, they are unlikely to be at their best. When teams have nothing to play for, they often raise their level of performance and 'get up' for 'big' games but overlook lesser opponents. With LeBron and Cleveland on deck, don't be surprised if Staples Center doesn't see the best of Lakers tonight in their attempt to save energy and put in another strong effort against a contender. It's also worth knowing that league-wide, NBA teams are just 1-4 both record-wise and against the spread after beating Golden State! That means there is often a 'hangover' effect after beating the champs and we expect to see it surface again tonight. Orlando needs this win to stay in the playoff picture and should cover the short spread in the process of securing the W.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Lakers are just 5-14 ATS after a double-digit win this season!
  • Orlando is 19-8 on the road after a non-conference game over the last 2 seasons!
  • Teams with a losing record, coming off a game where they covered the spread by +24 points, are just 22-39 over the last 5 years!



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