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The Portland Trail Blazers have won four of their last five games. The Los Angeles Lakers have won their last five games. Two teams on the right track will meet each other this Friday night.
Portland Trail Blazers @ Los Angeles Lakers – Friday, December 28
Sport betting line: no line
Why Portland Will Win
With an online horse betting guru or a college football betting expert, the calculus of a given event can sometimes depend on the way the field is performing, or on how the opponent is shaping up when game time arrives. In this contest, though, the case for the Trail Blazers depends not on the opponent, but on the Blazers themselves. Portland is very much hanging in; the Blazers are staying in the thick of the Western Conference playoff hunt. A young team is learning how to play together, showing an admirable degree of cohesion at the offensive end of the floor. Portland ran out of gas this past Sunday against the Sacramento Kings, but that loss was partly a result of mental fatigue accrued in the process of producing a four-game winning streak. Portland will play this game on Friday against the Lakers having played only twice in a five-day stretch. The Blazers should be physically and mentally fresh for this game. Given the performances of point guard Damian Lillard, one of the bright young stars in the world of professional basketball, the Blazers have the speed and the dribble penetration that can break down the Lakers’ inconsistent defense. Portland beat the Lakers in the first week of the season, and that was when Steve Nash – who will play for Los Angeles on Friday – was a part of the Lakers’ lineup. Surely, Portland can repeat the feat this weekend on the Lakers’ home court.
Why Los Angeles Will Win
Online football betting students, not just basketball junkies, will be cognizant of the fact that the Lakers are beginning to figure things out at the defensive end of the floor. Defense has been the Lakers’ weak spot this season under head coach Mike D’Antoni. The process of adjusting to D’Antoni’s system after the firing of head coach Mike Brown has necessarily forced the Lakers to take a few steps back before being able to move forward. People in and around the organization, not to mention people in and around the NBA as a whole, knew that things were going to get worse in Los Angeles before they got better.
Well, things did get worse, and now they are in fact getting better.
The Lakers held the potent New York Knicks to just 16 fourth-quarter points, thereby winning a big Christmas Day showdown in Los Angeles. Steve Nash is back on the floor and in the lineup, and since Nash runs D’Antoni’s offense better than any other player in the league (dating back to his days with the Phoenix Suns), the Lakers should indeed gain a lot more continuity at both ends of the court. The Lakers are finding themselves and are shrugging off the distractions and other disjointing moments they’ve had over the first two months of the season. This newly-discovered form should enable the Lakers to dispose of Portland on Friday.
Who Will Win?
The sense here is that with two teams playing well at the same time, the Lakers’ quality and talent should win the day. Playing at home will help the Lakers as well – they are on their way back to the top tier of the Western Conference, it seems.
Click here to get more information on the latest basketball betting odds.
NBA Betting Pick: Los Angeles Lakers
One of the biggest sports betting debates that seemed to center around the SEC this season was the legitimacy of calling the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats the best team in the country based on the fact that they completed their conference schedule with a perfect record. On the one hand, there were those that pointed out how incredibly rare it is for a team to win all 16 games on their conference schedule and finish No. 1, which is understandable. On the other hand, the fact that the Wildcats had only one SEC victory that came by a margin of less than six points, including a pair of blowout wins over the No. 19 Florida Gators that came by a combined 25 points, is proof that Kentucky really just didn’t have any true competition in the SEC and was able to benefit from playing in a conference void of top national contenders. The fact that the Wildcats beat both Kansas and UNC earlier in the year will keep critics from attacking their place at the top of the national rankings regardless of the timing of those wins, but looking forward to the SEC tournament there may not be much reason to even bother watching.
Head coach John Calipari’s team is expected to absolutely dominate in the tournament, and right now there isn’t even a single reason to think that they wouldn’t. With as many as six scorers that are capable of hitting double-digit point totals in a single game, the Wildcats boast unparalleled talent and depth in the SEC. Even mort importantly is the way that talent is spread out in terms of size and intangibles, with potential NBA first-overall draft pick Anthony Davis dominating down low as the top big man in the country, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist a future lottery pick out on the perimeter, Doron Lamb a steady difference-maker, and Marquis Teague the consistent playmaker that makes the offense work from the point. That all goes without even mentioning Terrence Jones and Darius Miller, and when you line them all up, a very strong argument can be made that Kentucky has the most talented per head roster in the country.
While it is important to talk about the team’s depth, it is just as important to acknowledge just how good Davis has become. The freshman forward has matured incredibly under coach Calipari, and not only leads the Wildcats in average points and rebounds as a double-double machine, but has also become an elite defender with good speed, size, and instincts. There is not a single big man in the SEC that can slow down Davis when he is at his best, and that is just one more reason to doubt that any team will stop the Betonline tournament favorites.
With so many blowout wins throughout the course of their SEC season, the Wildcats are the closest thing to a lock to emerge from their conference title tournament as champions, and it’s unlikely that it will even be close. Teams like Florida, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt are respectable, but they are nowhere near the level that Kentucky is playing at, and that should make for an SEC title tournament that goes exactly how it is predicted to go ahead of the March Madness betting action.
After coming so very close to beating out the Duke Blue Devils and capturing an ACC title a year ago, the North Carolina Tar Heels took a step back and reflected on all that they had done. Even though they may not have had the talent and depth that the Blue Devils had at the time, they still managed to take one of the three meetings against them and battle them to the end of a disappointing ACC title game. On top of that strong play, they also had the hope that this year would be different, that they would get their turn with the stronger talent and greater depth. The Tar Heels entered this season as the preseason pay head favorites to win it all, not just within the ACC, but on the national landscape as well. Despite faltering early on,North Carolina still held the lead going in to their first game of the season against Duke on Wednesday night. Then, it happened.
With time ticking down in the fourth quarter of the Tar Heels first clash of the season with their biggest conference rivals, a familiar face came up big, as Austin Rivers nailed a three-pointer at the horn to give Duke an 85-84 road win over North Carolina. A game in which the Tar Heels seemed to control until the very end slipped out of their grasp with that final shot, snapping North Carolina’s school-record 31-game home winning streak. Rives scored a season-high 29 in the contest including six three-point shots, and the last actually came over the Tar Heels’ biggest defender in seven-footer Tyler Zeller in the final seconds. A stunned crowd at Chapel Hillwatched on as Rivers and the Betonline underdogs celebrated in a game that meant so much to both teams, and just like that, the Blue Devils are now tied with UNC for first in the ACC.
To say that Duke had been looking forward to this game may be an understatement, as a tough home overtime loss to unranked Miamicould be taken as a strong indication that they couldn’t wait to leave for North Carolina. The truth is that the Blue Devils have been excellent on the road this year, with both of their ACC losses coming in front of the crowd at the Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke still faces tough challenges in a home game against North CarolinaStateand a road date at FloridaState, but the Tar Heels don’t have it any easier with a home-and-home against Virginia Tech. The end result could very well be North Carolina and Duke playing for ACC supremacy when the two teams meet on the final day of the regular season, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise regardless of what the per head experts say.
This rivalry has easily taken the spotlight as one of the biggest in college basketball betting over the past few years, one that some players fear to even wager on, and the atmosphere will be electric if these teams were to meet with an ACC title on the line. The Blue Devils drew first blood with Rivers’ dagger on Wednesday night, now the ball is inNorth Carolina’s court to respond.
While on the surface it might seem like the Big 12 is made up of a handful of top contenders that have a legitimate chance to win the conference, the fact of the matter is that there is only one team that has a legitimate chance. Even though there are four teams currently ranking the top-25, only time stands in the way of the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks and another Big 12 title. The cracks have already begun to show near the top of the conference, and while the rest of the field begins to falter, the Jayhawks will only get better from here as the college basketball betting favorites.
The team that appears to have the best chance at challenging Kansas for Big 12 supremacy just lost another game on Wednesday night, as the No. 2 Missouri Tigers dropped their second conference game at the Oklahoma State Cowboys 79-72. While the Cowboys have played particularly well as underdogs according to the pay head bookies against top-five ranked opponents, the Tigers have now dropped two of their last four on the road, and seem to become a little rattled in opposition buildings when things don’t go their way early on. Marcus Denmon remains one of the best players in college basketball, but he can’t do it alone and the Tigers will struggle when they are pushed by Kansas in early February.
If Missouri isn’t the team that knocks off Kansas, then it is difficult to imagine either the No. 7 Baylor Bears or No. 24 Kansas State Wildcats having a chance. The Bears have already dropped consecutive decisions to Kansas and Missouri this year, including an 18-point blowout loss to the Jayhawks at the Phog Allen Fieldhouse. The Bears built their record up by winning close games against Mississippi State and Kansas State, but the Bulldogs had gone through a stretch where they lost two of three with the other defeat against unranked Arkansas, and nobody thinks that the Wildcats are going to climb any higher than third. The emotion of the in-state rivalry between the Jayhawks and Wildcats could contribute to the spectacle of their contest, but it won’t make the difference.
The Jayhawks have the potential to be a sports betting powerhouse the rest of the way in the Big 12, as they have already beaten the Wildcats and Bears by double-digits, with two games remaining against Missouri to really prove their merit. Junior Thomas Washington has been a force with senior Tyshawn Taylor really helping him along to complete the best inside-outside tandem in the conference. Kansas will have the chance to work on some things over the next week with games against Iowa State and Oklahoma before their toughest test of the year at Missouri on February 4th, and regardless of whether or not they are listed as the Betonline favorite, look for them to win big as they continue to prove they are the best that the Big 12 has to offer.
It has to be one of the most ridiculous contradictions in sports betting, yet it happens every year when it comes to college basketbal. Perhaps it is the fact that in college football a team has to go undefeated or close to it just to have a chance at a national title, but it seems somewhat absurd that the same standard is applied to college basketball teams early on in the year. The No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels are the perfect example of this college basketball betting contradiction, as the consensus preseason No. 1 has faded in the shadow of the undefeated and top-ranked Syracuse Orange. There is no denying that Syracuse has been the best team in the country early on and deserves the accolades that it receives, but to consider the Tar Heels to be an inferior team in terms of matching the two against one another based solely on their records seems to be a ridiculous proposition.
There is no denying that at the time the stumble was a notable one, as the Tar Heels dropped a decision at UNLV by 10 points, and then lost at then-No. 1 Kentucky two games later. But losing two of three early on is no reason to doubt the long-term capabilities of a team, especially considering that North Carolina nearly came out with a win on the road against a talented team in Kentucky. The Tar Heels have followed that loss up with nine straight wins to remain at No. 3, and with two wins to open up their ACC schedule it will still be a little while before they get the chance to entertain the No. 6 Duke Blue Devils in their first meeting of the season. The pay head odds say that the North Carolina and Duke are the top two teams in the conference, and with no other team ranked higher than 17 at this point, the Blue Devils could be the only obstacle in the way of Harrison Barnes and company on their way to an ACC Championship.
Barnes and the other veterans on the team are the biggest reason to believe in the Tar Heels, as the experience and talent they have is unrivalled heading in to this year not Justin the ACC, but in the entire country. The sophomore Barnes is joined by junior John Henson and senior Tyler Zeller as three scorers averaging double-digit point totals, and as the season continues the chemistry that they continue to build will become a crucial advantage they hold over opponents. North Carolina ranks first in scoring, first in rebounding, and third in assists per game in the entire country, and to be so strong in so many areas is testament to how talented they truly are. The Tar Heels don’t just want to bring home an ACC Championship, they want to bring home a national title, and there is no doubt that they have the weapons to reach their goals. The sportsbook review sites should have North Carolina as a team that can really make some noise this year, so pay attention to their nightly lines.
While they aren’t the only undefeated team remaining in the country, 14 straight wins including a nine-point victory over the Texas A&M Aggies in their Big 12 opener has the Baylor Bears stealing the spotlight as we welcome the new sports betting year. Coming off of a big win overMississippiState inDallas, the Bears had little trouble with an Aggies’ team that had won nine of their 13 games this season, with Perry Jones III once again stepping up to contribute 14 points and 12 rebounds in their first game since climbing two spots to no. 4 in the national rankings. Looking ahead to the next couple of weeks on the Baylor schedule, and it won’t get any easier for Jones and company with four of their next five against nationally ranked opponents, including No. 7 Missouri and No. 14 Kansas. That stretch will be a real test of just where this team belongs early on, and if the Bears’ early season play is any indication, the answer to that is right near the top.
A lot of the attention has been on Baylor and their improbable rise the past couple of weeks, college basketball betting fans that have stayed with the Syracuse Orange in spite of everything that they have gone through have been rewarded with some incredible results. TheOrange are still at the top of the national rankings with a perfect record, even though just one of their 15 wins has come against a ranked opponent.Syracuse improved to 2-0 in the Big East with victories against Seton Hall and DePaul, and while they faceMarquette coming up this weekend, they still have some time before they take on the true heavyweights in the conference, including one-lossConnecticut andGeorgetown. Both of those teams are in the top-10, and should provide a better test of where head coach Jim Boeheim’s team is.
The pay head bookies will take note that the Orange weren’t the only team that received a first place vote this past week, as the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats received one, and moved up to the second spot in the national rankings following a seven-point win over the fourth-ranked Louisville Cardinals. ShouldSyracuse follow with their tough schedule ahead, the Wildcats should be right there to pounce on the top spot given that they don’t play another game against a ranked opponent until February. The Cardinals slipped down to No. 11 with the loss, allowing the North Carolina Tar Heels to climb all the way up to three, with the Duke Blue Devils rounding out the top-five at No. 5.
There is still a long way to go before anything is determined for this year’s conferences, but for the most part the strong play from teams such as Syracuseand Baylor are strong indications for future success. Playing either team on betonline right now should be a good play, but don’t get too carried away once they get to the toughest parts of their schedules.
Sports Betting Overview
Baseball betting experts give the Atlanta Braves a lot of credit. It would be difficult for almost any team to keep pace with the best team in baseball. But the MLB standings show the Braves only three games off the pace being made by the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East. Recent MLB scores show the Braves on quite a roll while the Phillies have hit a skid. Atlanta is closing the gap with Philadelphia, and a head-to-head series is exactly what the Braves need to finally catch the hottest team in the major leagues.
The Philadelphia Phillies are starting to see why Cliff Lee cannot find a permanent home in MLB. Lee is brilliant most of the time, but he hits patches where he cannot buy a win. In this series, the Phillies need every one of their big name pitchers to step up, and that includes the struggling Lee. Luckily for the Phillies, Lee does not pitch in this series opener. Philadelphia is playing good baseball lately, but this is a door of opportunity that the Braves are desperately going to try and walk through. The Phillies will need to play their best baseball of the season to fend off the Braves in this series opener.
The Braves are 8-2 in their last 10 games and are currently riding a three-game winning streak. Starting for the Braves in this game is Brandon Beachy. Beachy has a 3-1 record and a 3.23 ERA this season. He is young, but he is showing signs of promise. One of the drawbacks to being young in MLB is the inability to finish a game. In May, Beachy had a stretch of four games where he did not get the decision. That included one game where he gave up three earned runs in two innings and did not answer the bell for the third inning. Beachy has had a good stretch in late June and early July. He is 2-0 in that span, and only gave up two earned runs total in his two wins. He is getting better, and the Phillies line-up will be quite a challenge for the youngster.
It is Phillies’ ace Roy Halladay’s turn in the rotation as he starts this series opening game. Halladay is being Halladay this season with an 11-3 record and a 2.44 ERA. The guy is a machine, and he looks to be a Cy Young candidate again this year. Halladay has not lost since May 15th when he gave up three earned runs in a loss to the Braves. Halladay had a rough finish to May, giving up 21 hits and seven earned runs in his last two starts of the month. But he has been on track ever since and has put up extremely impressive numbers for June and July. Halladay has not faced the Braves since Atlanta beat him on May 15th, and that could play into the outcome of this game.
The Bottom Line
This may be a very good game for the first few innings. But, eventually, the Phillies will get to the young Atlanta pitcher and Halladay will continue the dominance he started in June. The Braves will win a game or two in this series and pull closer to the Phillies in the standings. Atlanta just won’t win this game.
Pick: Philadelphia Phillies
Even with baseball betting going on, it’s never too early to start thinking about next season in the world of college hoops, and one of the biggest stories surrounds Harrison Barnes, the marvelous freshman from North Carolina who showed that he has what it takes to play in the NBA. But should he join the likes of Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams in the draft, or should he return to Chapel Hill?
Barnes made headlines for being the first freshman in history to be named to the preseason All-America team, but he got off to a slow start as he figured out how to mold his game to fit the team, and the team (and coach Roy Williams) had to figure out how to use him. There was far too much pressure on Barnes to come out and dominate, and quite simply, he was a kid who deferred to the upperclassmen, which is what we all want a freshman to do in this age of the one-and-done hoops star. But even those watching NBA scores had to notice when he started to pick up his play around the end of January, and you shouldn’t underestimate the effect that fellow frosh Kendall Marshall had on his game. Marshall was handed the starting job after Larry Drew II left the team, and not just Barnes, but the entire team, played better with Marshall at the wheel. He knew where Barnes liked to get the ball, and he also learned how to work with big men John Henson and Tyler Zeller, which opened up more space for Barnes, who became more consistent. The real Barnes started to come through, and he emerged as one of the best clutch shooters in the country, hitting several clutch baskets for the Tar Heels.
You don’t need to read 5dimes reviews to tell you that Barnes would be one of the top 10 picks in the draft, as he has an NBA-ready body and he’s getting better by the day. However, if he were to go back to North Carolina, the Tar Heels would be massive favorites to win the national title next season, and Barnes would likely be the No.1 pick in the 2012 draft, barring injury or someone coming out of nowhere. The biggest worry is that he gets hurt, because we can’t see his game regressing. In fact, we only see improvement because Barnes has to work on only two things: being more consistent on defense (and he showed he could shut down another star in his matchups against Duke’s Kyle Singler), and he has to avoid falling in love with the three-point shot. However you look at it, Harrison Barnes is going to affect a team’s odds next year, either North Carolina, or an NBA team, so beware when you’re betting online.
2011 March Madness betting is almost in the books as the Final Four prepares to tip off on Saturday night, and in what of the most unlikely Final Fours of all time (it is the first time that no No.1 seed has reached the Final Four), look for Kentucky and Butler to clash for the national championship.
VCU Butler Betting – Saturday, 6:05 PM ET
The Bulldogs are favored by 2.5 points over the Rams, and this is the highest combination of seeds to ever face each other in the Final Four as Butler is a No.8 seed, while VCU is an 11th seed. Butler lost Gordon Hayward to the NBA lottery, but coach Brad Stevens has guided the Bulldogs back to the Final Four through a number of close games as their largest margin of victory is seven points, with a one-point win, a two-point win and an overtime victory. On the other hand, no March Madness betting could have ever seen the Rams coming as they had to beat USC in a play-in game, and then they’ve beaten all four of their opponents except for Florida State by 10 points or more, including top-seeded Kansas, so coach Shaka Smart should get some offers to leave VCU. The Rams have been shooting the lights out from three-point range, and the Bulldogs have to slow them down beyond the arc. While experience hasn’t matter yet, we think Butler’s trip to the Final Four in 2010 will help them to the title game for the second straight year.
UConn Kentucky Betting – Saturday, 8:45 PM ET
Betting services have the Wildcats as a 2.5-point favorite against the Huskies, who have won two of three over Kentucky since 2006. UConn beat Kentucky by three in the second round of the 2006 Tournament, then the Wildcats avenged that with a three-point win at UConn in 2009. They met again earlier this season in the final of the Maui Invitational and the Huskies rolled to a 17-point victory over the Wildcats, who were still getting their game together after losing five players to the first round of the NBA draft. We’re going to bet that the Wildcats will not let that happen again, although they’re going to have to slow down Kemba Walker, who dropped 29 points for the Huskies, while Brandon Knight struggled badly with six points on 3-of-15 shooting. The Huskies are 12-0 this season in a tournament setting, but they have to run out of gas at some point, and we think the Wildcats’ athleticism will wear UConn down with their array of perimeter players, while Josh Harrelson holds it down in the post. Go with Kentucky in your sports betting picks.
Take a look at the teams that have reached the Final Four in this year’s NCAA national title tournament. Among the four teams that have reached Houston, there is zero No. 1 seeds, zero No. 2 seeds, and just one player that was voted to the AP All-American team. None of the teams were among the betting favorites to win the tournament when the initial odds were released, but there was one element that has been underappreciated for far too long in the Madness. The national rankings are the biggest factor in determining the favorites to win it all, while the individual superstar never goes unrecognized as most play for the teams seeded the highest when the tournament opens. The one element that has made the biggest difference so far in the tournament however has been coaching, as evidenced by the four teams remaining.
The Virginia Commonwealth Rams are the team that nobody expected to be in the Final Four, and they have the coach that is the least recognized among the remaining names. Shaka Smart is just 33-years old and is in the head coaching position for the first time in his career after serving as an assistant since 2003. However, it’s his passion and temper that have ignited a fire under his VCU players, and his strategies have helped a team that nobody expected to win through the round of 64 emerge as one of the best shooting teams in the tournament. The Rams have been able to hit from beyond the arc almost at will throughout the Madness, and often it’s because players are staring down open shots.
VCU will play a Butler team that has reached the Final Four for the second straight year, and is no longer considered a Cinderella sports betting bonus team under head coach Brad Stevens. Stevens is in his fourth year as coach of the Bulldogs, and has made leaps with the program in NCAA national title tournament appearances in every season. Stevens admitted to changing up his team’s practice schedules to make sure they peaked at the right time and didn’t burn out due to fatigue, and after winning the Horizon league championship it appears as though his strategy is working once again.
The other Final Four March Madness betting matchup will feature two of the most recognized names in college hoops today in Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun and Kentucky’s John Calipari. Calipari has led the Wildcats to SEC titles in each of his two years with the program, while Calhoun has reached the Final Four for the fourth time in his career. While enough can’t be said about the accomplishments of these coaches, a look at the other side of the pendulum shows a coach that has struggled mightily in the big dance. The Kansas Jayhawks were eliminated from the tournament in the Elite Eight by VCU, pushing head coach Bill Self’s record to 1-5 all-time in the tournament. While Self isn’t on the floor missing the shots that his players miss, the fact that he has won just once in six tries with some of the most talented teams in the tournament has to be alarming. The Jayhawks looked flat in the first half of their loss to VCU, and part of that has to be in the preparation.
While the game is ultimately decided on the floor, in college basketball more than any other sport, coaching has a massive influence. That has undoubtedly been true in this year’s March Madness tournament, and may ultimately be the key factor in determining which pay per head team comes out on top.