Free Big Dance Pick: Iona Gaels vs Iowa State Cyclones

Free Big Dance Pick: Iona Gaels vs Iowa State Cyclones at WagerTalk

The Iowa State Cyclones face the Iona Gaels in what the NCAA calls a Round-of-64 event, but we will keep with our belief that this game is one of 32 the next two days, and title it a Round-of-32 in this 2016 Big Dance event.

Iowa State (21-11) got a large number of points from their frontcourt star, including  fouls, All-Conference big Georges Niang, in the Big 12 post-season tournament opener for the ‘Clones, losing 79-76  to Oklahoma. Niang delivered 31 points but fouled out of the contest versus the Sooners with just under 5 minutes to go in the affair, ultimately costing ISU a chance to win.

Iowa State will be up and down the court today against Iona. The Cyclones average nearly 82 points per game and can rebound with the best in Division I hoops. The Big 12 schools averages 36rebounds and do a terrific job of sharing the basketball. As a group the distribute 17 assists per game and they have had their moments this season defensively allowing under 75 points per game.

Iona (22-10) qualified for the Big Tournament with a 79-76 over Monmouth.

Iona Gaels vs Iowa State Cyclones (-7.5, 167)
Time: 2:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 17, 2016
Venue: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
TV Coverage: CBS

Gaels
Like the Cyclones, Iona likes to play to the 30 second shot clock, up-tempo. The Gaels average nearly 80 points per game and are led by AJ English and his 22.4 points per game. The Gaels are in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in six seasons under head coach Tim Cluess. These two schools share similar schemes. They both like to shoot the 3-ball and the team has three players with at least 77 made 3-pointers on the season.   Jordan Washington and his 14 points and 6 rebounds per game is the key for the Gaels. He is the driving force in the paint for Iona but his Achilles is his tendency to get into foul trouble and this variable is a likely scenario today facing Niang and the ISU frontcourt. The fact that Washington averaged just over 18 minutes of court time per game this year offers evidence of just how aggressive the Gael big is.

Cyclones
The Cyclones can play at any tempo so the Gaels advantage against most of their league foes, playing in a high-octane fashion, won’t phase the Cyclones. Iowa State has seven players averaging double-digits and can play inside-out, up and down the court, and even be deliberate if the game situation calls for it. Niang matched his career high with 31 points against Oklahoma on Thursday and has scored in double figures in 41 consecutive games and 112 in his career. If opponents focus too much effort in attempting to limit Niang with double-teams, the backcourt of the Cyclones led by veteran point-man Monte Morris (13.9 points, 6.9 assists) make the opposition pay from beyond the arc.   Iowa State has made 10 or more 3-pointers in 12 games this season which closely matches that of Iona, a team that has accomplished this feat 16 times.

FREE PICK: IOWA STATE -7.5

 

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Read moreFree Big Dance Pick: Iona Gaels vs Iowa State Cyclones

Free NBA Pick: Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans

Free NBA Pick: Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans at WagerTalk

The season long struggles of the upstart New Orleans Pelicans went from bad to worse this past weekend when the team reported that shooting guard Eric Gordon is likely to miss the remainder of the season after he once again broke his right ring finger during Saturday’s loss to the Utah Jazz. Gordon, who was just recently welcomed back to active duty, is out of the lineup against tonight when New Orleans attempts to put an end to a four-game losing streak when they host the Sacramento Kings on Monday.

Gordon’s 23 points per game hasn’t resulted in wins for the Pelicans during his latest return to the lineup, a three-game span, and his first-half collision with Utah center Rudy Gobert on Saturday has again shortened the team’s bench.

The Sacramento Kings are still in contention for a Western Conference playoff slot and tonight’s contest in the Big Easy offers them an opportunity to close their current 4.5 game gap to the eight spot in the post-season bracket. The Kings have dropped five of their last six games but when examining their opponents and the peripherals of those games the Kings are playing their best basketball of the 2015-16 season. The Kings recent slide has come in road games versus San Antonio and Memphis along with home losses to the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Sacramento Kings (-1, 219) at New Orleans Pelicans
Time: 8:00 PM ET, Monday, March 7, 2016
Venue: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

Kings
Point guard Rajon Rondo wasn’t at his best in Saturday’s 104-94 loss to the San Antonio Spurs but he continues to regain his health and there are not many players, or teams, that have been successful in the Alamodome this season. Rondo continues to play through thumb, ankle, foot and toe injuries and has averaged at least 36 minutes in each of the past four games. Kings’ big DeMarcus Cousins had 31 points and nine rebounds versus the second best team in the league, the Spurs, barely missing to register his sixth straight double-double.

Pelicans
New Orleans has done their best band-aid job this season to remain in the hunt for a post-season spot under first-year coach Alvin Gentry. The head coach spoke to the media after the team’s Saturday loss addressing the injury issues and talking like a bench boss that was ready to begin giving his younger players more court time.

“At this stage it would be a miracle almost for us to make the playoffs,” Gentry told the media after the loss to the Jazz.

“We really have to start looking at developing a culture and how we’re going to play in the future and figuring out guys on this team, how they fit into the system and if they’re going to be able to fit in a system.”

The Pelicans have beaten the Kings twice this season and the Kings have talked about taking advantage of the injuries to the Pelicans by featuring their balanced and deep rotations against the Pelicans’ lack of personnel. Center D. Cousins is averaging 29 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 blocks against the Pelicans this season and New Orleans All-Star center Anthony Davis is beginning to show signs of relenting some of his playing minutes to the reserves. Davis has struggled to shoot for a high percentage in recent contests and while he recorded 29 points against Utah on Saturday night he was just 11-of-31 from the field.

FREE PICK: SACRAMENTO KINGS -1

 

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Read moreFree NBA Pick: Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans

ACC College Basketball Free Pick: Duke Blue Devils vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

ACC College Basketball Free Pick: Duke Blue Devils vs. Pittsburgh Panthers at WagerTalk

Duke and Pittsburgh are the headline act in college basketball this Sunday and both are preparing themselves for upcoming March Madness. While both are in most of the NCAA Tournament discussions the Panthers are faced with a big opportunity and can lift their 2015-16 resume with a win over 18th ranked Duke this afternoon.

Read moreACC College Basketball Free Pick: Duke Blue Devils vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

Free College Basketball Pick: Iowa Hawkeyes at Indiana Hoosiers

Free College Basketball Pick: Iowa Hawkeyes at Indiana Hoosiers at WagerTalk

The Hoosiers have quietly compiled a record of 19-5 and the squad is 9-2 in Big Ten play. Despite the schools solid records, both overall, and in league play, they continue to be close to stealth when it comes to public perceptions. It is the Iowa Hawkeyes that carry the supposed big stick. The No. 4-ranked team in the country, Iowa, enters tonight’s ESPN Big 10 event with an a season 19-4 record while suffering only one Big Ten loss (10-1) so far this year.

Read moreFree College Basketball Pick: Iowa Hawkeyes at Indiana Hoosiers

Free College Basketball Pick: Duke Blue Devils at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Duke vs Virginia Predictions and Odds

The defending national champion Duke Blue Devils have fallen out of the Top-25 and attempt to regroup in conference play with a road trip to Georgia Tech tonight when the Yellow Jackets play host from McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. Duke comes into this league tilt having lost four of its past five and have been idle since their road 80-69 defeat on January 25 at Miami. The Devils begin the week unranked for the first time since the end of the 2006-07 campaign.

The Yellow Jackets are coming off a solid outing, albeit a 60-57 loss, to the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. It was the Jackets’ sixth loss in seven conference games, all of them coming by eight or fewer points. The last matchup between these two ACC schools saw the Blue Devils defeat GT by a 72-66 margin a year ago at Cameron Indoor. This will be only the third time in the last 20 years that Georgia Tech and Duke square off with neither being nationally ranked.

Duke Blue Devils (-4, 153) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Time: 9:00 PM ET, Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Venue: McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Georgia

Blue Devils
Duke has struggled to control the paint during conference play and were manhandled by the Miami Hurricanes in their last game. The Devils shot a mere 42 percent from and saw the Miami bigs block seven shots. The duo of Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram continue to shine, despite the team’s struggles, combining for 36 points in the loss. Allen is second in the ACC in scoring (20.3 points) average while and Ingram is second among all league freshman averaging 17 points per game.

The Blue Devils are simply not the same team since losing Amile Jefferson. Duke allowed 42 points in the paint against the Hurricanes and are just 7-5 since losing their stalwart forward. Jefferson, who averaged 10.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, was lost to an injury in practice in early December with a foot fracture.

Yellow Jackets
Nick Jacobs is averaging over 15 points per event over the last six games and had a team-high 14 points and seven rebounds in the team’s loss to Syracuse on Saturday. Adam Smith added 13 and Ben Lammers matched his career-high with 10 points while pulling down seven rebounds versus the Orange. The Yellow Jackets were aggressive throughout the Carrier Dome contest and the ACC battle in New York once again saw the frontcourt of the Yellow Jackets compete hard. Georgia Tech ranks third in the ACC and 22nd nationally in rebound margin (8.0), with Charles Mitchell’s conference-leading 10.7 per game.

The Jackets Georges-Hunt struggled to get a shot against the Orange zone,. He attempted a mere five field goal attempts, making just one, after shooting 24-of-47 in his previous three contests.

Outlook
Coach Mike Krzyzewski realizes that his team is depending on a short rotation to compete in a talented and deep ACC conference. Coach K told reporters after the loss in Miami, “The league is so difficult and we’re limited.”

The Yellow Jackets are just 2-6 in ACC play but those half-a-dozen losses have come by a total of 29 points.

FREE PLAY: GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS +4

 

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Read moreFree College Basketball Pick: Duke Blue Devils at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Free ESPN Big Monday College Basketball Pick: (1) Oklahoma Sooners at (19) Iowa State Cyclones

Big 12 Basketball Preview and Prediction: Texas at Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Sooners did enough this past two weeks to become the unanimous No. 1 ranked team in the Associated Press Top 25 College Basketball poll. Coming off a week with a dynamic duo of two-point wins, the Sooners (15-1) received all 65 first-place votes from the national media panel Monday. The Buddy Hield led Sooners are the unanimous number one poll holder for the first time since March of 1990

The former Jayhawks head coach, Roy Williams, saw his now North Carolina Tar Heels jump three spots to No. 2, while Kansas, which lost to West Virginia this past week, dropped two places to No. 3. Rounding out the rest of the Top 10 has Villanova ranked fourth, followed by Xavier, West Virginia, Maryland, SMU, Iowa and Texas A&M.

Oklahoma is No. 1 in the Coaches’ Poll for the second time this season. Two weeks ago, before taking the floor in Lawrence, Kansas, for the ESPN Big Monday event and following a Saturday afternoon victory over Iowa State in Norman, Oklahoma, the Sooners fell in triple-overtime at Kansas making their visit atop the Coaches rankings a brief one.

Oklahoma Sooners at Iowa State Cyclones (-1.5, 169)
Time: 9:00 PM ET, Monday, January 18, 2016
Venue: James H. Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa
TV Coverage: ESPN

Sooners
Oklahoma (15-1, 4-1 in Big 12) relies heavily on All-Conference and All-American Buddy Hield and his 26 points per game average. While the Sooners found a way to win, with a tip-in with less than a second left in regulation time over the nationally ranked West Virginia Mountaineers, the reason for the close contest was directly related to Hield being held to just 17 points in that Saturday conference tilt. It wou sooners, isu cyclones, free basketball plays, basketball picks, big monday, espn big monday, sports picks, free sports picks as just the first time in 10 games the nation’s second-leading scorer was held below 20 points.

Press-Virginia contained the Oklahoma offense holding the Sooners to a season lows in field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage, 33% for the game. The Sooners played their own helter skelter defense creating 11 steals with one of their best performances from the charity stripe this season, going 27-of-32 and outlasting the Mountaineers.

Cyclones
The Cyclones (13-4, 2-3 in Big 12) are in desperate need of a win tonight that would level their league mark at 3-3. In the first game between the two Big 12 basketball powers the Cyclones lead for over 29 minutes in the early January test in Norman. That hard fought win by the Sooners was visible in their loss as the Coaches No. 1 team at the Phog two days later in Lawrence. OU had more than a handful of opportunities in the triple OT loss to the Jayhawks to seal the deal, only to fade after leading in each of the extra sessions against the Jayhawks.

Outlook
The same scenario presents itself tonight for the Sooners in one of the Top-10 toughest venues to win at, Hilton Coliseum, in Ames, Iowa. That loss to Kansas, two weeks ago on Big Monday, is Oklahoma’s only loss of the season.

Iowa State found a way to win their two road tests this past week and did it in a style that isn’t conducive to their talent, or scheme, and found victory without Hallice Cooke, who unable to make the trip to Kansas State due to a violation of team rules,

The “Clones are as deep as the Sooners and difficult to defeat in Hilton. Cyclones coach Steve Prohm has more scoring options that does Sooners bench boss Lon Kruger. Prohm has a trio of NBA prospects led by Georges Niang who averages 20 points per game. Niang moved into fifth place on the school’s all-time scoring list this past week with 1,843 points.

Free Pick:
IOWA STATE CYCLONES -1.5

 

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Read moreFree ESPN Big Monday College Basketball Pick: (1) Oklahoma Sooners at (19) Iowa State Cyclones

Free NBA Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers at Dallas Mavericks

Western Conference Free Pick: Golden State at Dallas

The history between future Hall of Famers LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki have favored King James on an individual basis while the Mavericks as a team have gotten the best of the Cavaliers. Recently, both players have been a wrecking ball for the opposition but tonight one of the two will have to give way to the other as the Cleveland Cavaliers take the hard-court at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas to take on the streaking Mavericks. just one trend climbing.

James has registered terrific numbers against Dallas in his career while Nowitzki looks to improve on his so-so numbers against Cleveland when they meet in Dallas on Tuesday night. James is coming off a season high with 37 points in a game against the NBA LEastern Conference worst, Philadelphia on Sunday Night. James was 15-of-22 from the field and dished out nine assists while pulling down seven rebounds as the Cavaliers won their seventh straight and 13th in 15 games.

Cleveland is the only team in the league that Mavericks Nowitzki has averaged fewer than 20 points against, in his career. The veteran big forward has scored 19.7 per game in 28 regular-season matchups while shooting just 43 percent from the field in his career versus the Cavaliers. The aforementioned numbers are the poorest marks for Dirk than versus any other league opponent. However, the recent form of the Mavericks perennial All Star has been stellar and his teammates have been singing his praise.

“Classic Dirk,” point guard Deron Williams told the Dallas Morning News. “Hitting shots from everywhere, making big shots, big plays. That’s why he’s one of the greatest.”

Cleveland Cavaliers (-6, 198) at Dallas Mavericks
Time: 8:30 PM ET, Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

Cleveland
The improved form for James has come with the return of Kyrie Irving to the lineup. James was shooting a mere 38 percent from the field and averaging less than 20 points per game over the Christmas holiday, in late-December’s four affairs. Those number have skyrocketed with the improved health of Irving. James has averaged 28 points and shot 58 percent in his last six, overall. The Cavs went 2-2 through their MVP forward’s slump but are 6-0 since, including three wins to open a season-high six-game trip.

No other Cavaliers player scored more than 15 against the 76ers. Kyrie Irving has shown glimpses of his top form since returning from knee surgery in mid-December, but he made just 3 of 15 shots for eight points in 31 minutes.

Dallas
This Mavericks have been surprisingly good on the defensive end of the floor in the first half of this 2015-16 season, considering the average age of their starting five. And those five will be tested tonight with King James and company in town for a Tuesday night Association featured event. In his career, James has dominated Dallas, especially most recently when LeBron has averaged 35 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in his last four against the Mavs. Dallas, the current and the past, have struggled to contain arguably the NBA’s best player. James and has scored 30 or more in nine of 23 regular-season meetings.

Nowitzki was struggling during the team’s holiday schedule. Dirk averaged a mere 12 points per game on 30 percent shooting in the three games over Christmas. That slump included a season-low seven in a Christmas win over Milwaukee where the Dallas forward shot a porous 3-of-15 from the field. How much of an aberration was this for Nowitzki? The outing against the Bucks tied for his 15th lowest shooting percentage in 1,286 career games in which he’s played at least 10 minutes.

Outlook
The Mavericks have won eight of the last 10 in this series and the big German is rolling. Nowitzki has been hot in January and the Mavericks have won their three of their last four, and have done so with terrific offensive efficiency. Nowitzki was rested in Wednesday’s 100-91 win at New Orleans will be primed to play nearly 40 minutes tonight against Cleveland’s healthy troupe.

Free Pick
It isn’t a stretch to consider this a soft spot for the Cavaliers. Cleveland is will be taking the court for their fourth of six road games and are in a look-ahead spot as they take on one of the West’s best in the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday. Both James and Nowitzki are in great form, offensively, and neither of these two starts, nor their teammates, will be defensive mind tonight. The visiting team took each of the two meetings last season, with Cleveland earning a 127-94 win in Dallas on March 10, 2015.

Both of these two squads have a great shooting night, in particular due to lack of defensive effort and put on a show for the Dallas crowd.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are cruising along with seven straight wins, and have scored 120 points or more in three of their last four games. Irving is still battling through some inconsistency as he rounds back into shape but his presence alone has made this Cavaliers group dangerous, offensively. Irving isn’t 100 percent but his ability shined in the team’s contest against the Wizards on January 6th when the guard scored 32 points to begin the team’s current road trip.

TOTAL OVER 198

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Read moreFree NBA Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers at Dallas Mavericks

Free NFL Pick: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos

2016 AFC West Team Previews and Handicapping Tips

For longtime NFL fanatics it isn’t a secret that the Oakland Raiders have lost their Silver and Black swagger over the years but the fact that this team, any NFL franchise for that matter, hasn’t been to the playoffs in 12 years, is staggering. Make that 13 seasons in a row of not making the playoffs after blowing a fourth quarter lead last week against division rival Kansas City and falling outside of the playoff picture in the AFC.

The Denver Broncos and the Raiders hook up today in a key AFC West matchup at Sports Authority Field at Mile High

The Broncos can ultimately clinch their fifth straight AFC West title with a home field victory today in one of just two late Week #14 starts this Sunday. Only the Raiders versus Broncos and Dallas Cowboys visiting the Green Bay Packers will cover the 4:00 PM ET starts in the league today.  A victory by Denver coupled with a loss or tie by Kansas City will wrap up the division for the Broncos. Denver can clinch one of the six AFC playoff slots with a win today or a loss by either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the New York Jets.  The Raiders are still mathematically alive in the postseason race but are a long shot due to losing four of their last five affairs.

Both AFC West franchises are suffering from a multitude of injuries and while the Raiders have allowed 30 or more points in five games this season and in three of their last five, overall.  Additionally,  the Raiders have lost eight straight to the Broncos which includes a 16-10 defeat in Week #5 this season in Oakland.

Oakland has become competitive on both sides of the ball and for the first time in almost five seasons have won at least  three road games.  However, the improved Oakland team, one that showed promise early in the season under second year quarterback Derek Carr, have  lost four of their last five games and head into Mile High with a number of player personnel issues.

The Raiders makeshift offensive line has seen their health improve over the last couple of week and should be expected to focus more on their running game against a good Denver defense. Carr has limited weapons to throw to and rookie wide out  Amari Cooper is suffering from a large number of nagging injuries.

Oakland held Denver without an offensive touchdown in the first game between these two AFC rivals and are improved enough to keep this game close despite their wealth of injuries. In truth, both teams have a large number of personnel issues to deal with in this Mile High battle so expect to see a game that is sets a priority on field position from both offenses and coaching staffs.

Denver starter, and backup quarterback Brock Osweiler, is a game manager and head coach Kubiak will continue to simplify the offense without Peyton Manning behind center.

The Broncos most dangerous offensive weapon, WR Demaryious Thomas, has been neutralized this season due to injuries, primarily that of future Hall of Fame signal-caller, Manning, has caught just two touchdown passes in his last nine games.

The Raiders injury list isn’t as long or deep as the Broncos but like Denver, they had a long list of “did not practice” on the injury report this week. To give you an idea of just how many Denver players missed at least one practice in preparation for today’s event in Denver;. [QB] Peyton [Manning], [S] T.J. [Ward], [ILB] Danny Trevathan, [S] David Bruton [Jr.], [TE] Vernon Davis, [RB] C.J. Anderson, [RB] Ronnie Hillman, [S] Omar Bolden were held out of at least one day of drills and players that were at limited at least one practice this week were [WR Andre] Bubba Caldwell, [NT Sylvester] Sly [Williams], [WR] Bennie Fowler, [G] Evan Mathis, [DE] Vance Walker, [S] Darian Stewart, [TE] Owen Daniels, [T] Michael Schofield, [OLB] DeMarcus Ware.

Denver is a touchdown favorite today and have managed to survive and thrive under the leadership of backup Brock Osweiler. Denver is 3-0 SU and 2-0-1 ATS since Osweiler replaced Peyton Manning and have found this success with their top ranked defense. The combination of Oakland regressing and Denver’s No. 1 stop-unit make this a prime candidate for one of the top over/under investments on this NFL Sunday Week #14.

Points will be at a premium in Denver on Sunday afternoon.

PREZ’ FREE NFL PICK:
TOTAL UNDER 44.5

 

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Read moreFree NFL Pick: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos