NBA Picks: March 21st 2012
New York Knicks vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Pick: Philadelphia 76ers -4
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The Knicks are now 4-0 under interim head coach Mike Woodson following their 19-point win over Toronto on Tuesday. It has been a complete turnaround for New York which had lost its previous six games under former head coach Mike D’Antoni. The Knick have won all four of these games by at least 14 points but it is nothing to get over excited about. Wins over the Raptors and Blazers are nothing special and while two wins over the Pacers are better, Indiana has been in a freefall.
The Sixers had a very rough weekend with three straight losses against Indiana, Miami and Chicago before rebounding in their most previous game, a 25-point win over Charlotte. A victory over the Bobcats is far from a quality win but it got Philadelphia going back in the right direction. The Sixers continue to lead the Atlantic Division as they are a game and a half ahead of Boston and four games ahead of the Knicks. That makes this showdown a big one and one that gives the edge to the home team.
The Sixers are 6-16 against teams ranked within the top 16 in the league but the Knicks are not part of that group which is a good sign for Philadelphia here as it is 20-4 in its 24 games against teams ranked worse than 16th. New York is 6-10 against the top ten and while Philadelphia may be a little overvalued with its ranking of fifth in the Sagarin Ratings, it is still a legitimate top ten team. It doesn’t help the fact that the Knicks have played the easiest schedule in the NBA.
New York is just 5-10 this season when playing with no rest and that includes a 3-8 record when the second of the back-to-back games is on the road. The Sixers fall into a great situation here as we play against underdogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points that are revenging a home loss of 10 points or more while coming off a home win by 10 points or more. This situation is 106-55 ATS (65.8 percent) since 1996. Philadelphia is 17-5 ATS in its last 22 home games against teams with a road winning percentage of less than .400. 3* (752) Philadelphia 76ers
NHL Picks: March 20th 2012
New York Islanders vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Pick: Toronto -114
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Toronto is coming off a pretty embarrassing lost last night in Boston as it was hammered 8-0. By the end of the second period, the Bruins had seven goals while the Maple Leafs had managed just seven shots. Boston completed a 6-0 season sweep with those six wins coming by a combined score of 36-10. A quick turnaround should do Toronto good here as it heads home in search of its own season sweep. The Maple Leafs have taken the first three meetings with the Islanders this season and look to go 4-0 here.
The Islanders won their last game on Saturday against Montreal with a 3-2 shootout victory which snapped a two-game road losing streak and moved to 14-16-5 on the season away from home. While they have shown some positive signs, the Islanders know a fifth consecutive last-place finish in the Atlantic Division is all but certain. New York has won consecutive games only once since early February and it is now 1-7 in its last eight games following a win.
The loss last night was the worst for the Maple Leafs in four years and while they have struggled at home of late, their last six home games have come against teams in the playoffs or right on the edge of getting in. they had won three straight including two shutouts against the Islanders and Penguins and a convincing 6-3 over Edmonton before things started falling apart. Toronto is still a respectable 16-13-6 on home ice this season with six of their final nine games taking place at home.
Revenge will be in play for New York tonight but that is not necessarily a good thing here as the Islanders are 11-26 this season when playing with revenge including 5-19 revenging a game where the opponent scored four or more goals. There is also a league-wide situation going against the Islanders as we play against road underdogs that are revenging two straight losses where opponent scored three or more goals, off a road win by one goal. This situation is 63-14 (81.8 percent) over the last five seasons. 3* Toronto Maple Leafs -Matt Fargo
College Basketball Picks: March 20th 2012
Massachusetts vs. Drexel
Pick: UMass +6.5
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I will gladly take the 6.5-points in tonight’s NIT Quarterfinal showdown between Massachusetts and Drexel. The Minutemen have been undervalued in both their NIT games so far. They won at Mississippi State 101-96 as a 7-point underdog and at Seton Hall 77-67 as a 6.5-point underdog. Drexel easily covered in their 81-56 win over UCF, but barely held on for a 65-63 win against UNI as a 7-point favorite.
The Minutemen should not be catching this many points. UNI absolutely killed Drexel on the boards, outrebounding the Dragons 32 to 24. Massachusetts figures to also hold a big edge on the glass. The Minutemen outrebounded Miss St 56 to 41 and Seton Hall 42-35.
While most teams play their best at home, I think the Minutemen are really in a groove on the road. They are 22-8 ATS as a road underdog of 6.5 to 9 points since 1997, 12-3 ATS in road games after playing a road game over the last 3 seasons and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games vs. a team with a winning home record. BET THE MINUTEMEN!