March 21, 2016 (4:00 PM ET)
There are a total of 3 picks tonight.
The lone college selection on San Diego State was released earlier, at noon.
1) Take Minnesota Timberwolves +13 spread against Golden State Warriors for 3% of bankroll.
This is the type of matchup that looks a lot easier on the surface than it actually is. The talented Timberwolves are healthy, rested and full of confidence after playing well recently and will no doubt be up for this game. Afterall, they won't be making the playoffs and so this game against the defending champions is their version of a 'Game 7' in the NBA finals! To host a squad that is chasing history presents an opportunity for these young Wolves to make some noise of their own. As the world will be watching, we believe the strong starting lineup of Rubio, Lavine, Wiggins, Dieng and Towns will hold their own against a Golden State team that won't be at its best.
The Warriors are the favorites for the title and rightly so. They are an incredible team and one that remains the team to beat in our opinion! Nonetheless, certain factors that the casual NBA fan overlooks has dampened the prospect of them covering this inflated spread. One of the biggest strengths of Steve Kerr's side has been their bench and depth. But the Warriors are missing some very important players now and that creates a couple of matchup problems for them tonight. The absence of Australian rim-protector, Andrew Bogut, for example is a bigger deal than most think and especially so against the dominant Karl-Anthony Towns! The #1 draft pick is set to win the Rookie of the Year award and deservedly so. He's given opposing Centers trouble all season long and will now be properly going up against either Mo Speights and Anderson Verejao, both of whom have aging legs and lack his athleticism or Draymond Green who is considerably smaller in size! Towns will pose issues for this team and if they decide to double-team him, that's when others like Wiggins and LaVine will have more room to operate and so it becomes a 'pick your poison' type of problem.
The loss of Bogut wouldn't be as much of an issue if Festus Ezeli wasn't sidelined but he is and has been for much of the season. And let's not forget that Andre Iguodala would normally get the defensive assignment to contain someone like Andrew Wiggins but he too is out injured! The NBA finals MVP is the leader of the second unit for Golden State and has been sorely missed in recent games. The Warriors are missing some of their best defenders in this matchup and going against an under-rated Minnesota side that has a lot of offensive talent! We believe they'll find a way to win this game as that's what champions do but will it come easily and convincingly? We highly doubt it.
The Timberwolves are much improved and are being spotted far too many points here. This is the biggest game of the season for them! They have been dominated on their home court (8 straight losses) against this franchise and will no doubt be motivated to snap that skid. While that'll be tough to do, they have a better chance of putting up a fight in this game than most believe. It's worth noting that Minnesota is 47-26 ATS when seeking revenge for a home loss, over the last 3 seasons! They don't win many of those games therefore but they do put up competitive efforts that cashes in tickets.
They've enjoyed two full days of rest after their most recent game, which is something the Warriors would've loved to have. That's because Golden State is not only playing its 3rd game in 4 nights but is doing so in the 3rd city of this road trip! The short turnaround is challenging enough but add in the fact that they have had to travel as well, and this is an unfavorable situation for them. This is a game for which they could've really used some of the players that are missing or at least an extra day of rest but all of these factors have combined to make it a tough spot for the Californians. And yet the public doesn't care about any of that. All they know is that Warriors should roll and that T-Wolves are poor and so whether this spread was -10 or -15, they would side with the favorite! We handicapped this game at Minnesota +10 and are getting 3 extra points because of skewed public perception. We'll gladly take the generous 13 points as we find this spread quite inflated.
2) Take Denver Nuggets +12 spread against Cleveland Cavaliers for 3% of the bankroll.
The Nuggets still have a slim outside chance of making the playoffs and are not yet mathematically out of it. While they will in all likelihood watch the post-season from their living rooms, they haven't yet thrown in the towel. Michael Malone has built a determined team that continues to battle. They gave Miami a run for their money while beating the red hot Hornets in Charlotte! They are far from perfect but the fact that they tenaciously leave it all out on the floor makes them competitive in most games and this one should be no different.
The Cavaliers will want to bounce back from the ugly defeat to LeBron's former team, Miami Heat but while we believe they'll do that, we don't anticipate it coming easily. It's one thing to do enough to register a 'W' and another to completely blow out the opposition! Denver is a plucky underdog that is being spotted too many points in this game. They have certain matchup advantages and tend to get up for the 'big games' and facing the #1 team in the East certainly falls into that category. Keep in mind that the Nuggets are a perfect 6-0 ATS when installed as a road underdog of 9.5 to 12 points this season! This is certainly a situation then in which they've been profitable to wager on.
Kevin Love is dealing with an illness and missed shootaround earlier today. He was also limited to just 16 minutes in their visit to Miami and has not been at his best recently. He's doubtful to play in this contest but even if he does take the court, he's clearly not feeling 100% and may end up with a negative plus/minus, aiding Denver backers! Love is not a very good defender but he's an important part of this offense and also helps out big time with rebounding! If he's absent or not feeling well, Cleveland will find it tough to win this game convincingly.
Coach Ty Lue is experimenting with different lineups (going small) and strategies at this point to try and find the ideal setup. That kind of tinkering can pay dividends in the long run and make a squad more versatile but in the short run, it has hurt the Cavs' execution and is preventing them from performing optimally. The fact that his side have allowed 106.8 points per 100 possessions over its last 15 games compared to just 100.9 points in the prior 54 games says a lot about their current efficiency, especially on the defensive end! LeBron James should find a way to win this game for his team but Cleveland is unlikely to do so by double-digits. This is a tougher game than it looks at first glance and we expect Denver to stay within the generous pointspread.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Nuggets are 13-6 ATS when the total is set at 210 or more points!
- Cavaliers have covered just one of 6 games after a double-digit loss!
- Nuggets are 11-4 ATS against teams with winning records in the second half of the season!
3) Take San Diego State -5 spread against Washington for 3% of the bankroll.
This is a matchup of offense vs. defense as the Washington Huskies travel to take on the San Diego State Aztecs in the second round of the NIT tournament. The outcome of this contest will likely be decided by which team is able to impose their will and control the tempo of the game. The Washington Huskies comes into this contest ranked 9th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 83.4 points per game this season. They play and run and gun style and while they certainly put up a ton of points, they are not the most proficient offensive team in the country, as they average just 42.7% shooting from the field. The Huskies score a majority of their points in transition and the teams that have given them the most problems this season are the ones who play solid, disciplined defense and that is certainly the Aztecs style of game.
The San Diego State Aztecs bring the nation's 4th best scoring defense into this contest as they have been limiting their opponents to just 60.3 points per game on 36.9% shooting on the season. They have also been impressive at defending the perimeter, holding teams to just 29.4% from beyond the arc. They are one of the best teams in the nation defending the rim as they rank 14th in the nation in blocked shots, averaging 5.41 blocks per game! What has been most impressive with the Aztec's defense this season hasn't been their ability to shutdown opponents offensively, but their ability to do so without fouling, which is something that few teams can do. They have held their opponents to just 17 trips to the charity stripe this season which means that SDSU’s opponent have to earn their points the hard way and are rarely given ability to grab those free points at the line.
While San Diego is locked down on the defensive end, Washington has severe issues defensively. They come into this contest ranked 331st in the nation in scoring defense as they give up an average of 79.8 points a game on 43% shooting from the field. They are also very undisciplined with their defending which results in teams spending a lot of time on the foul like as they allow their opponents to shoot an average of 28.3 free throws per game! Washington's run and gun style worked well against another up and down team like Long Beach State in their opening round contest, however completely shifting gears and trying to do that against a team as tough as SDSU is another story, especially on the road. Washington was not a team that traveled well this season and was just 3-6 in true road games. Their three wins also came against the bottom three teams in the Pac-12. SDSU meanwhile was impressive at home this season going 14-4 overall.
The Aztecs were snubbed by the selection committee for the NCAA Tournament after losing the Mountain West Championship game against Fresno State and appear to be taking their frustrations out in the NIT. They cruised past a very good IPFW team, 79-55 in their opening round contest. This is also a revenge game for the Aztecs as well. These two teams met last season in and the Huskies came away with the win, 49-36! Those 36 points were a season low for the Aztecs but it's also worth mentioning that that contest was played in Washington. This year's Huskies team is not as good as last seasons and SDSU is much better. With this game being played at Viejas Arena, it gives the Aztecs a significant advantage. This game really shouldn't be close and we expect the Aztecs to win this comfortably by at least 6 or 7, if not double digits!
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