NBA PICK: Orlando (to win) -110 @ Washington

Game time: 7PM EST

I like the Magic to win this game. Here are my reasons why;

-The Wizards will be without their starting center, Thomas Bryant, due to a stress reaction. Their backup center has been out the entire season in Ian Mahinmi, and Mo Wagner, the 6’11 small forward, is also out tonight, meaning the Wizards don’t have many big men left. Bryant and Wagner are 2nd and 6th on the team in points per game, respectively, and Bryant leads the team in rebounds. The Magic should get plenty of second chance opportunities in this one.

-The Wizards played 4 games on the west coast before returning home Sunday evening/Monday morning. This is a situational spot that I believe in, especially when you factor in this team is just not that good to begin with. I think the Wizards will look lethargic in front of a lackluster Tuesday night crowd in DC.

-The Wizards don’t play any defense, and with the issue I just mentioned above, I don’t expect that to just magically change. They gave up an average of 131 points on the 4 game road trip, and I don’t expect them to have much success stopping the Magic either. The Wizards are going to simply have to win this in a shootout because they aren’t stopping anybody.

-The Magic will be without their starting center in Nikola Vucevic, but they did just get back Aaron Gordon, and the combination of him, and 6’11 forward Jonathan Isaac, will overwhelm this undersized and thin front court of the Washington Wizards.

-Playoff mentality. What do I mean by that? The Magic made the playoffs as a 7 seed in the Eastern conference last season, and are currently in the 8th spot in the Eastern conference despite being without the aforementioned Nikola Vucevic for an extended period of time. They know these are the games that they have to win if they want to get back to the playoffs. The Wizards know they are a long shot to make it to the postseason (sorry Wizards fans), so the sense of urgency will naturally be lower for Washington than it will be for Orlando, in my opinion. While the Wizards may technically only be 1.5 games behind the Magic for the 8 spot, so are three other teams in the Bulls, Hornets, and Pistons. The eastern conference is a jumbled mess from the 7 seed on down. I expect the 8th spot to come down to the Magic and the Pistons when all said and done, with the Wizards and everybody else hoping for a solid draft pick at the end of the day.

OFFICIAL PICK: MAGIC (to win) -110 odds (per Bovada)

NBA Pick: Houston -6.5 @ San Antonio

Gametime: 8:30PM EST

These are two teams going in complete opposite directions. The Houston Rockets are rolling, winning 7 out of their last 10, behind their dynamic guard tandem in James Harden and Russell Westbrook. All 3 losses were to playoff teams. The Rockets destroyed the Hawks in their last game, winning 158-111, with Harden scoring 60 points in just 3 quarters of basketball. On the other end, we have a struggling Spurs squad that is going to be without their second leading scorer in LaMarcus Aldridge. Rudy Gay filled in for him last game, but the Spurs lost to a mediocre Pistons team by 34 points. The Spurs are 7-14 right now, and if they continue down this path, it will be the first time they will have missed the playoffs since 1996. All good things must come to an end, and it just doesn’t look like this Spurs team has the pieces to make a turn around. They play very little defense, and I don’t think they will magically be able to just flip a switch and all of a sudden be able to stop two of the most explosive guards in the NBA. For the Rockets, having the ability to keep either Harden or Westbrook on the floor at all times is a wonderful luxury to have, as both players have the ability to create for themselves and others from just about anywhere on the floor. The Spurs have lost 10 of 12 games, and in that period, the average margin of defeat has been over 10.5 points. This is a struggling Spurs team that I believe will have no answers for this explosive Rockets offense. I think this is simply another double digit loss for the Spurs at the very least, especially without their second leading scorer. There just isn’t enough on this Spurs roster to overcome any major personnel losses. My only argument against this one would be James Harden and (or) Russell Westbrook deciding to sit this one out for “load management” purposes, but I don’t think that happens as the Rockets would like to take care of business against what is now viewed as one of the weaker western conference teams, at least for the time being. The Spurs, and legendary head coach, Gregg Popovich, will have their work cut out for them in this one.

Rockets -6.5

NBA Pick Recap, Indiana -9.5 @ Memphis- Win

Yesterday I wrote about why I liked the Pacers to cover the -9.5 spread against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night. My main points were that Memphis already played the day before on the road, and they were without their best player, along with a couple other key pieces. My argument against the pick was that it is simply difficult winning on the road, let alone by double digits, no matter who you are playing. Still, I firmly believed that the Pacers roster continuity and relatively good health in comparison to the Grizz was going to be enough for them to cover against an incredibly shorthanded Memphis squad. While Indiana didn’t have much trouble with this one, I do want to make one note in regards to an observation I made while watching this game. As you know, there are plenty of variables and (or) factors that go in to projecting the outcome of a sporting event. I mentioned it is hard to win on the road, but why is it hard to win on the road? I could list a bunch of reasons, but one obstacle that the Pacers had to notably overcome last night? A weak crowd. Yup, kinda ironic right? Normally you’d think it would be more difficult with an amped up crowd making a bunch of noise all game, BUT, we must also be aware of how empty arenas can impact basketball players. As I was watching, I started to get worried about how seriously Indiana would take Memphis, with no crowd support, and a plethora of injuries. NOT ALL GAMES ARE CREATED EQUAL. Players are more motivated to play in the bigger games, so I was worried that the intensity might be lacking and it created some doubt with my pick, for sure! But because of all those injuries and having to play two straight days playing on the road 24 hours ago, the Pacers had the better starters, the better bench, and were consistent enough to finish the deal. Another important note, I made this pick before the news of Jonas Valanciunas being out with an illness. He was listed as questionable at the time I made the pick, but my belief was that IF he were to play, he would not be entirely 100%, potentially hurting his team more than he would’ve helped them. The Pacers are a playoff team already and they don’t even have their best player. Memphis can’t really win much WITH their best player. Two teams going in opposite directions to say the least. Stay tuned as more NBA picks will be coming, and NCAA basketball picks will start being released within the next week or two, depending on how I feel about my research. Final Score: Pacer 117 Grizzlies 104

Week 13 NFL Picks Recap, Week 14 Picks

Here is a look at the results from the NFL picks for week 13. The Seahawks were able to get it done Monday night, bringing us over 500 on the weekend. 5-4 record, 2-2 Against The Spread, 3-2 on Over/Unders.

LOSS—-LIONS UNDER 38.5
WIN—-COWBOYS UNDER 44.5
LOSS—-FALCONS +7
WIN—PACKERS -6
WIN—DOLPHINS OVER 45.5
LOSS—BENGALS OVER 40.5
WIN—BRONCOS OVER 38.5
LOSS—PATRIOTS -3.5
WIN—-SEAHAWKS -3

Overall NFL Record after two weeks: 15-11

Here are my picks for week 14 of the NFL season:

WIN—-BRONCOS +9.5
WIN—-FALCONS -3
LOSS—-BILLS OVER 43.5
WIN—-BROWNS OVER 40.5
WIN—-DOLPHINS +5.5
LOSS—-JETS OVER 45
LOSS—-CARDINALS OVER 43.5
LOSS—-RAIDERS UNDER 47
LOSS—-RAMS OVER 48
EAGLES UNDER 47

NBA Pick: Indiana -9.5 @ Memphis

We are about 20 games through the NBA season so the data is starting to pile up and we are starting to get a feel for each team and their tendencies based on roster construction and a bunch of other variables at hand. One major variable at hand in any sport pretty much, is injuries. And do we have plenty of them in this one. Indiana has been without their All-Star guard, Victor Oladipo, the entire season, as he makes his way back from a ruptured quad tendon. The Pacers have managed quite well without him for the most part, currently right in the thick of it in the eastern conference playoff picture. At 12-7, Indiana is firmly in the 6th spot, and look to be even better once their star returns to the lineup.

With that being said, let me cut to the chase. Memphis is going to be without their first round pick and rookie of the year candidate, Ja Morant. He is considered week-to-week with back spasms. He was averaging 18.6 points, 6.4 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game. In his previous matchup against the Pacers, Morant went for 19 points and 10 assists in a 12 point loss. He will be replaced by Tyus Jones in the lineup, who is a respectable backup, but not nearly as impactful as Morant. Memphis will also be without their other 2019 first round pick in forward, Brandon Clarke. Clarke actually was inserted into the starting lineup yesterday in their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but only played 10 minutes due to a hip injury. Why was Clarke inserted into the starting lineup, you ask? Memphis’s starting center, Jonas Valanciunas, was out yesterday due to illness, and he is listed as questionable for tonight. It is probably safe to say that IF Valanciunas does start tonight, he will not be at 100%, in my opinion, and to make matters worse, he will have to go up against one of the best defensive big men in the game in Myles Turner. Memphis will also be without Kyle Anderson due to a heel injury. Anderson contributes about 15 minutes per game off the bench as sort-of a “point-forward” kind of role. The injuries are piling up for Memphis, but on top of all that, they’ll be playing two days in a row, having played in Minnesota the day before. The combination of multiple injuries to key contributors, including their best player, along with having to play on back-to-back days/nights, is too much adversity for the Memphis Grizzlies to keep this one within 10 points in my opinion. The Pacers are a good basketball team even without their best player. Malcolm Brogdon is as steady as they come, Sabonis and Turner play well off one another, and they just play good team basketball. Look what they have been able to do without their best player in the lineup.

My argument against this pick, on the other hand, is very simple. Winning on the road is hard. I want you to read that sentence over and over and over. Winning on the road in the game of basketball is usually always more difficult than winning at home, for a variety of reasons. So if I were to have any worry about this play, it would simply be the fact that NBA teams generally don’t play as well on the road, and the Pacers could take the opponent lightly being that they will be without their best player. My belief is that the Grizzlies playing two straight days with minimal depth will create tired legs as we hit the 2nd half of play, and the Pacers having much better team chemistry with their usual lineup and bench depth, will be able to overwhelm the undermanned Grizzlies.

Week 15 NCAAF “Gut Picks”

The grind continues as we march right on through to the conference championship game slate. After the first two weeks of the “Gut Picks” being made available to the public, the ‘Against the Spread’ record for college is now 22-13 (62.85%). Over/Under record is now 15-13 (53.57%). Here are my “gut picks” for the weekend.

WIN—-OREGON +6.5
WIN—-BAYLOR +8
WIN—CINCI +10
WIN—BOISE STATE -13.5
WIN—-CLEMSON -28.5
LOSS—-OHIO STATE -16

LOSS—LSU OVER 55.5
LOSS—-CLEMSON UNDER 54

Week 14 NCAA Football “Gut Pick” Recap

The “Gut Picks” debuted last week and it was a solid start, going 25-15 overall, with a record of 15-8 on college football ‘against-the-spread’ and ‘over/under’ picks. Another positive weekend in college football as the picks go 22-18 overall, 13-9 against the spread, and 9-9 on over/under picks. I have added a few notes on some of the games as well. Against the Spread record for college is now 22-13 (62.85%). Over/Under record is now 15-13 (53.57%).

LOSS—-VT -2.5: well, it had to happen at some point. Losing the coastal division title makes this one sting even more. Bryce Perkins had himself a day, so credit to him.
WIN—-ARKANSAS +11.5
WIN—WVU +12.5
WIN—CINCI +11.5
LOSS—-TEXAS TECH +9: thought they’d be able to keep it closer in a shootout. I got the shootout part right as I did correctly pick the OVER on this game, as you’ll see below. Texas was just too much in this one.
LOSS—WASH ST +6.5
WIN—TEMPLE -28.5
WIN—UGA -28: This was probably the pick I had the most confidence in going into the weekend. Georgia Tech is one of the worst teams in the country, power 5 or non power 5. They have no offensive identity and they pretty much have a running back at the QB position at the moment. UGA is a big boy school competing for a national championship. I HATE using the transitive property to make a point, but, knowing that an average football team like the Virginia Tech Hokies were able to blank Georgia Tech 45-0, I just knew GT would be so overmatched in this one against a big time SEC opponent looking to finish strong as they head into the SEC championship game. UGA won by exactly 45 points, covering this one with EASE.
WIN—-KANSAS STATE +4
WIN—-UNC -8: If you’ve followed NC State at all, you know they’ve just been bad on both sides of the ball, but especially on offense. Teams that struggle to find a QB throughout the season usually struggle and have major inconsistencies moving the ball. NC State cycled through 3 quarterbacks this season as they tried to find anybody to give them a spark. It just wasn’t happening. UNC had major motivation as a win would give them bowl eligibility. UNC had so much more to play for and Mack Brown wasn’t gonna let the in-state rivals off the hook until he buried them.
LOSS—-PENN STATE -38.5: there is no way around it, failing to score less than 30 points against Rutgers is simply underperforming. Penn State being out of the playoff and Big 10 title picture must have impacted their motivation because Rutgers is just bad.
WIN—-VANDY +21.5
LOSS—-WAKE -4.5: Wake is just not that good of a football team. Their defense is terrible and they had a QB who played well against some bad defenses when he had two of the best receivers in the country at his disposal. Without those two receivers in the lineup, Newman has been AWFUL. Syracuse was terrible this year, and this is a horrible loss to finish the season for Wake.
WIN—-ARIZONA +12.5
WIN—PURDUE +7
LOSS—LOUISVILLE +3:
LOSS—MICHIGAN STATE -21: I will be surprised if Dantonio can keep his job to be honest. The offense this season was hyped up to be “new and improved”, yet it was as horrendous as ever. Maryland is a bad football team that has given up over 35 a game to division 1 opponents this season. Michigan State struggled to score 19 points against one of the 5 worst power 5 teams in 2019.
WIN—NORTHWESTERN +10
LOSS—-OKLAHOMA STATE +12.5: Just a strange game. It appeared as though Mike Gundy gave up in the final minutes of this one, for whatever reason. Any coach that keeps all 3 timeouts in the 2nd half of a rivalry game in which they are losing is so strange to me…
LOSS—-ALABAMA -4: What a wild game, I just didn’t think Auburn had this much juice offensively, but they got it done.
WIN—OHIO STATE -9.5
WIN—-FLORIDA -17

WIN—-TEXAS OVER 63
WIN—-UVA OVER 48
LOSS—-ARKANSAS OVER 53.5
LOSS—TCU OVER 44
LOSS—UCF OVER 63.5

WIN—-PITT UNDER 51.5
WIN—GT OVER 46
LOSS—-PENN STATE OVER 49
LOSS—KANSAS UNDER 52
WIN—-MICHIGAN STATE UNDER 49: As mentioned above, MSU’s offense has been beyond pathetic. I had this game projected at about 35-0 with MSU covering the spread. I was off on that spread prediction, but 35 points was on the dot, with a 19-16 final score.
LOSS—-STANFORD UNDER 51.5: Thought and still think Notre Dame is overrated, especially at QB, with Ian Book. Thought Stanford would not be able to score at all and had this as more of a 42-7 type score. I simply did not expect Stanford to score 24 points, which they’ve only done 3 other times this season. My projection on Notre Dame was accurate, only off by 3 points (they scored 45), but Stanford’s offense did a little too much in the end.
LOSS—-SMU OVER 71.5
WIN—-TENN UNDER 45.5
LOSS—-AUBURN UNDER 50: Well damn, this was probably the one I was most off on. I thought both offenses would struggle much more, obviously. That was not the case. Great game though.

LOSS—-OKLAHOMA STATE OVER 69.5

WIN—-UCLA UNDER 51.5

WIN—-LSU UNDER 62: I’ll readily admit I thought this one was going down midway through the first quarter as the dominant LSU offense just looked unstoppable against an overmatched Texas A&M team. Luckily, the scoring slowed down in the 2nd half, but this one was a toss up all the way until the very end.

WIN—-FLORIDA OVER 53.5

Black Friday: What to Watch

College football rivalry week started off with a bang last night as Ole Miss lost in hilariously devastating fashion, missing the extra point to tie the game at 21-21 after they were penalized 15 yards for an excessive celebration on the touchdown.

If you happened to miss it, Ole Miss receiver, Elijah Moore, scored a touchdown late in the 4th quarter to get Ole Miss within 1 point… but his celebration penalty made the extra point 15 yards longer… and, well, the rest is history. We have plenty of college football on today, but it really is the college hoops action that I’m excited for if we are being honest. Here is what I’m watching throughout the day (all times in EST):

NCAAB 11:30AM: Oregon vs UNC, ESPN: Both teams losing for the first time this year, how will they bounce back. The battle of point guard in this one will be fascinating to watch. Oregon is lead by Senior, Payton Pritchard, while UNC has arguably the top freshman NBA prospect in Cole Anthony running the show.

NCAAF 12PM: Virginia Tech @ UVA, ABC: I don’t expect much from UVA in this one, so I’ll be impressed if they can keep it close. UVA just doesn’t have much talent. Both teams pretty much had the easiest schedule in power 5 football this season, so it is hard to tell just how good either of these teams are, but UVA being down to mostly 2nd stringers in the secondary has me believing it will be a struggle to stop the Hokies today. Bryce Perkins is going to have to play out of his mind, but I don’t think Bud Foster is gonna allow that in his last game against UVA. I think Virginia Tech wins easily to bring the streak to 16.

NCAAF 12PM: Texas Tech @ Texas, FOX: Has there been a more disappointing team in college football than the Texas Longhorns? Per Horns247, major staff changes will be coming, potentially on both sides of the ball. This team struggles to score and struggles to stop other teams from scoring. I’m not sure how much motivation the Texas players will have, and I’m not sure how much motivation a bunch of potential lame duck assistant coaches are going to have to finish the season strong.

NCAAB 2PM: Gonzaga vs Michigan, ESPN: Juwan Howard has impressed early on as head coach of the Wolverines, especially after serving notice to the entire country with a big win over UNC yesterday. On the other side, Gonzaga is simply still Gonzaga. With the talent they lost from the previous season, it would be reasonable to expect them to take step back this year, but that doesn’t look like it will be the case. Even with the loss of elite forwards, Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura, to the NBA (both first round picks), 6’11 Filip Petrusev has shown he’s got next, putting up 22 points and 15 rebounds against a top 15 ranked Oregon team in the win.

NCAAB 7PM: Seton Hall vs Iowa State, ESPNU: Two of the best college players in the game will be facing off in this one. Seton Hall’s Myles Powell is as good of a scoring guard as you will find in Division 1 hoops, while Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton is probably the best passer in the country, averaging nearly 10 assists per game. He had 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists in the win over Alabama yesterday, but the scary part about Haliburton is he still has a ton of room for improvement in my opinion.

NCAAB 10:30PM: Texas Tech vs Creighton, FS1: Tech lost a tough one to Iowa last night, but the bigger issue could be the availability of their leading scorer, true frosh, Jahmi’us Ramsey. He had an apparent knee issue in the 2nd half which kept him out down the stretch. Averaging over 17 points per game, it would be a major blow for the Red Raiders if Ramsey were to be out for an extended period of time. Creighton got blown out vs San Diego State last night, and they’re still without senior guard, Davion Mintz. Both teams could be shorthanded, but there is still plenty of talent for both coaches to make use of to try and squeak out a W.

Virginia Tech vs BYU Preview

11:30PM EST on ESPN2

BYU: 4-3

Head Coach Mark Pope: First season at BYU after a 77-56 record in 4 seasons at Utah Valley, winning 23 and 25 games in each of his final two seasons, respectively. Was a BYU assistant from 2011-2015.

Virginia Tech is 0-2 all time vs BYU

Virginia Tech and BYU are looking to bounce back Wednesday evening as both suffered double digit losses in the semi-finals of the Maui Invitational. Virginia Tech, falling from the ranks of the unbeaten, simply didn’t have the ability to match Dayton’s Obi Toppin in the post, or really anywhere for that matter, but the Hokies do get to face this BYU team without arguably their best player, 6’8 forward, Yoeli Childs. Childs nearly averaged a double-double last season, scoring over 21 points and grabbing just under 10 rebounds per game, on about 51% shooting, and 32% from 3 on about 3 attempts per game. Childs is suspended for the first 9 games of the season due to a violation of NCAA rules. You can’t replace Childs, obviously, but the production has to come from somewhere. A trio of guards have shouldered the majority of the scoring load in Child’s absence, including two senior guards in TJ Haws and Jake Toolson. Take a look at the per game individual numbers for this BYU squad through 7 games.

TJ Haws was in a major shooting slump before finding his way against UCLA on Monday. He shot over 85% from the free throw line last year and about 35% from 3. I expect to see some positive regression (is that how you phrase it?) for Haws in the near future, but hopefully not against the Hokies. Toolson and sophomore guard, Alex Barcello, have been lethal from 3 point range so far, and the Hokies will need to be sure to contest their attempts as much as possible. Speaking of Toolson, what an interesting career it has been for him, to say the least. Toolson was originally at BYU, but he transferred to Utah Valley State to be with Mark Pope (BYU assistant). When Pope got the BYU job, Toolson, who had the opportunity to choose UVA or Duke as a graduate transfer… chose BYU. Pretty cool story if you ask me, certainly not something you see very often in college sports.

Projected Starters:
6’2 SO Guard: Alex Barcello, AGE-21
6’4 SR Guard: TJ Haws, AGE-24
6’5 SR Guard: Jake Toolson, AGE-23
6’7 SR Forward: Dalton Nixon, AGE- 23
6’9 SO Forward: Kolby Lee AGE- (19 or 20 can’t confirm)

Bench:
6’6 SO: Connor Harding- shooting 57% on threes at the moment, but on only 14 attempts
6’7 SR: Zac Seljaas
Nobody else averages more than 6 minutes a game

From a talent perspective I think that this game is pretty even, but BYU will have a major experience factor in this one, plain and simple. Will that experience help? Nobody knows. It didn’t help Michigan State much. But that’s why you play the game, aint’ it? Because anything can happen when you step in between those lines under those bright lights. This isn’t a massive BYU team, and it simply isn’t the best version of their squad due to the aforementioned Childs issue. If Tech can contest shots and contain BYU’s shooters, I like Virginia Tech to win a close one. I think BYU will have trouble guarding the Hokies, especially considering the fact BYU played the late game yesterday, giving them a few less hours to recover and prepare for their next game. For the Hokies, how will they respond to their first loss of the season? Is the energy and effort going to be there? I see some similarities between these two teams in that they want shooters at all 5 spots for the most part. Forwards Nixon and Lee are a combined 10-25 from 3 this season, so Tech will have to respect them from outside, along with the trio of Barcello, Haws, and Toolson. If you are lucky enough to be on the east coast like me, good luck staying up for the 11:30PM tip off, may the force be with you! Time for me to get some coffee.

Prediction: VT 71 BYU 70

Dayton, Toppin, Dominate Hokies, 89-62

Virginia Tech came out of the under-8-minute TV timeout with a Landers Nolley triple to cut the Dayton lead to 3 with 7:36 remaining in the first half. That would be the closest they would get to taking down a downright dominant Dayton team as the Flyers finished the half on a 20-5 run to take an 18 points half-time lead. Guess who started that run for Dayton? You guessed it. Obi Toppin was as good as advertised for Dayton, just an absolute matchup nightmare for the undersized Hokie front court. Toppin showed off his versatility throughout. He was 3-5 from 3, hitting three straight 3-point field goals in a 1 minute, 17 second span to spark the Flyers run to close the first half. He showed his ability to just get whatever he wanted on the block with undersized and inexperienced defenders on him. He had three straight spins baseline for easy dunks in the 2nd half as the Hokies just had no answer for him. It was a tough game for Tech, but they’ll have to forget about this one quickly because they’ll need to give either Kansas or BYU their full attention. BYU would probably be the slightly better matchup primarily because their best player (Yoeli Childs) has to sit out the first 9 games due to an NCAA violation of rules regarding agents (it is a bogus rule, but it is what it is). The Hokies will play Wednesday night, 11:30 PM on ESPN2 in the 3rd place game.