1. #1
    Point Blank
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    PB (2/12): The NCAA Month Before the Madness - is Anybody Any Good?


    The NCAA Month Before the Madness, and is Anybody Any Good…Will North Carolina be on their ‘Heels’ tonight…Have you noticed just how good that 76er defense has become (I didn’t think so)…


    Point Blank – February 12, 2018

    The week ahead brings us the final finishing leg for the NBA prior to the All-Star break, some teams in a sprint mode to position themselves for the playoff chase (Raptors, 76ers & Jazz), while for some worn out sides, the break just can’t come early enough (Knicks/Grizzlies). And yes, the Cavaliers sure as hell have become interesting again; more on them coming tomorrow.

    Juxtaposed against that annual break are the colleges, which look far different in mid-February than at any time I can recall, and it is worth bringing them into the lead today because there is so much shuffling ahead. Is there anything even close to a dominant team? No, and that matters to the shrewd handicapper in sorting across the narratives that will be out there.

    In the search for clarity amidst chaos I am going to stay on the jukebox theme from Friday, and will make this week a bookend tribute to the late John Perry Barlow, who was behind the words for so many Grateful Dead classics. The connection is easy today, because the team cutting down the nets in San Antonio come April may indeed be one that was merely a “Saint of Circumstance”. This is from the old Giants Stadium back in 1991, Bruce Hornsby sitting in on the keyboards:




    I'm still walkin', so I'm sure that I can dance
    Just a saint of circumstance

    And yes, per requests from the weekend thread, I will be bringing Brent Mydland into the lead on Friday. Now time to roll up the sleeves…


    Item: Every season ends with a championship; every season does not produce a champion

    The focus today is more of a general approach as the NCAA season becomes more chaotic, after a week in which seven of the Top 11 teams in the AP poll lost, and half of the teams in the Top 20. What made it more compelling from a handicapping standpoint is that if you were watching those games there were few that genuinely looked like upsets. That is where we are as the teams gather around the 25-game plateau, and that is where we are likely to be the remainder of the way.

    How can we take advantage at the betting windows? First is to understand why this has happened. For this particular season some of the one-and-done experiments are failing (Kentucky), or behind schedule (Duke). That has left the upper tier open to the kind of teams that can be strong in the regular season because of experience and savvy, Villanova, Virginia and Purdue moving up to the top three spots last week, before each of them lost.

    What is a common denominator for those teams? Veteran leadership on the floor that provides a big edge over the competition during the regular season. In November, December and January, seniors beat newcomers, even if they are less talented. But by February younger players have had time to develop, and after the first pass through conference play a case can be made that many freshmen are already sophomores. By the Sweet 16 on, I am not sure if any player should be classified as a freshman.

    Note that a lot of this will go against narratives you will read/hear across the Sports Mediaverse into the Madness of March, the notion that experience matters. Yes, it obviously does, but not to the degree that many pronounce it because experience comes with a downside – if a team has a bunch of seniors in the starting lineup, it means that they have a lot of guys that weren’t good enough to go pro yet. Those veterans grind wins early in the season, taking advantage of less-experienced opponents, but come March they often find themselves up against players that are better than they are, even if they haven’t played nearly as many games.

    Purdue was Exhibit A for that last week, which became a discussion point in the threads. Matt Painter has had the benefit of four senior starters that play well together developing an unselfish mindset that has led to terrific team basketball. But is there an NBA-level go-to guy for the end of close games? No.

    Last Wednesday it was Purdue 58-51 over Ohio State with 6:18 remaining, and the Boilermakers only scored five points the rest of the way. On Saturday it was a 59-59 tie at Michigan State after Isaac Haas scored with 5:23 remaining, and there were only two Purdue field goals the remainder of the game.

    Painter has size, depth and experience with his team, but none of the seniors are projected to be an NBA draft pick (someone might opt for Haas near the end or the proceedings). Who made the final tip-in to beat them on Wednesday? Keita Bates-Diop, who will play in the NBA. Who took the game-winning shot for Michigan State? Miles Bridges, who will likely be around the #10-#12 player drafted.





    It is a similar story with Virginia, and while there are a variety of sources out there, let’s use NBADraft for today, because they have the most recent update. There isn’t a Purdue or Virginia player listed among the 60 projected draft choices. Nor one from Cincinnati, Xavier or Texas Tech, who are also working their way up the polls.

    Keep this in mind as you do your evaluations. A wide-open field can be good for the handicapper if you work your way around the minefield carefully - there will be a championship trophy given out to the winner of the NCAA tourney, even if no team qualifies as a “champion”. It may be difficult to find a play-on team from this year’s assortment (my foray with West Virginia will is not going to bring a return), but in better sorting through some of the narratives that will get out there, you may find value in some teams that you can play against.

    There is one of them taking the court in a difficult setting tonight, and I don’t believe the markets have properly price that setting…


    Item: Will North Carolina be on their “Heels” tonight

    North Carolina will start to become a bigger part of the talk now, the notion of the Tar Heels being “defending champions”, and of veterans Joel Berry, Theo Pinson and Luke Maye having been through the pressures of last year’s run. But what don’t you find across most of the mock draft projections? Those names. They are terrific college players, and there is a moxie that can make a difference in some of the settings to come. Hell, in a field this wide open they can win it. But are they anywhere near being of a level we would define as “champion”? No, they just aren’t that good. In particular I do not expect them to play at a special level this evening.

    Television being what it is, Roy Williams and his team are playing for the third time in five days this evening, the only ACC team that will go through such a grind. Exacerbating matters in general is that the first two were against Duke (Thursday) and N.C. State (Saturday), the first time the program had played those two rivals across a three-day span since 1994. Exacerbating matters in particular is that Carolina had to rally from being down in the second half to win both games, using up a lot of energy in the process.

    Is this the typical Tar Heel team loaded with depth and athleticism that is impervious to that? No – 83.4 percent of all minutes played came from the starting cast in those games:

    Player Duke NC State
    Berry 37 35
    Maye 33 36
    Williams 32 35
    Johnson 35 31
    Pinson 30 29
    Total 167 166

    There wasn’t anything magical about the wins in terms of a Carolina resurgence – they allowed 167 points on 65-126 shooting, but controlled the boards to get those margins. Now an already vulnerable defense brings both physical fatigue and concentration issues into play tonight, and with +10 readily available in the morning trading, and hints that we might see perhaps 10.5 or 11, I will have #713 Notre Dame (7:00 Eastern) in pocket.

    The Fighting Irish could have been a Sweet 16 team, and perhaps beyond, had they stayed healthy this season, but losing Bonzie Colson significantly lowered the ceiling, and then floor leader Matt Farrell also missed five games. But while Farrell was a bit rusty in his return, an ugly loss at N.C. State, he had 47 points and 12 rebounds as Notre Dame rolled up 180 points in wins and covers over Boston College and Florida State last week.



    Let’s project the matchup flow. There is a team heavily favored despite having major defensive weaknesses, especially in terms of guarding the perimeter:

    EFG% #166
    TO% #296
    3-pt% #320

    Now they are up against an offense that takes excellent care of the ball (#17 in TO%, though better in reality because that includes Farrell’s missed time), and knocks down their shots. That would make it difficult for the Tar Heels to build a margin even at a high level of energy, which they may not have this evening, and the Fighting Irish will not be intimidated in any way, having lost only 69-68 at home without either Colson or Farrell, a late 68-63 lead getting away because their go-to guys weren’t on the floor at crunch time.

    There is also something to work with on the NBA board…


    In the Sights, Monday NBA…

    Is there a more under-the-radar story across the NBA than how much improved the Philadelphia defense has been? It is a combination of talent and tactics coming together, and as the wins pile up and effort gets rewarded, the buy-in also takes place. The 76ers are now up to #4 in the league for the full season in PP100 allowed at 102.8, and in going 3-0 SU and ATS on the current home stand it has been a miserly 91.2 rate of allowance. The Knicks don’t have the talent or savvy to solve that, and it will lead to #701 New York Team Total Under (7:05 Eastern), with 98.5 commonly available in the morning trading.

    This concept was put into play on Thursday at Toronto, when the Knicks could only get 88 points on the board despite none of the Raptors starters even getting to a full 29:00, the outcome having been decided so early. Now it is back-to-back road games for a team that badly needs time on the practice court to re-build their offensive schemes without Kristaps Porzingis, and that is not available for this setting.

    Philadelphia brings both freshness and momentum – the 76ers have been home for nine straight days, and are just 2.5 games out of getting up to the #4 seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs, and a first-round home court. The practice time they have had on this home-stand should continue to pay dividends on the defensive end, and can frustrate a New York offense that is easily frustrated these days.


    If you want to know when PB is ready to go each day, as well as following along for some of the most important Sports Betting news as it unfolds, make @Vegaspointblank a part of your routine.
    Last edited by Point Blank; 02-12-18 at 10:59 AM.

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  2. #2
    catsanddogs
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    Hi Dave,

    Any thoughts on Clippers/Nets Under 221? Line has shot up this morning.. Nets worst shooting team in NBA vs Clipper team that’s gone under 7 straight since trading Blake Griffin.

  3. #3
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by catsanddogs View Post
    Hi Dave,

    Any thoughts on Clippers/Nets Under 221? Line has shot up this morning.. Nets worst shooting team in NBA vs Clipper team that’s gone under 7 straight since trading Blake Griffin.
    My LAC power ratings and pace ratings are still listed as "incomplete" right now post-Griffin, the problem of a small sample size, and also home games vs. Chicago and Dallas teams that were short-handed. But I am struggling to find much of anything within the realm of basketball handicapping logic that would have led to the market push this morning, outside of Milos Teodosic returning, with one key precinct up to 221.5 now. The two games on this road trip have played 26.5 below the closing projection, so I may bite off a small piece later, even with the concern of just how bad the Nets defense has been of late (a horrific 115.0 PP100 over the last 10 games).

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  4. #4
    catsanddogs
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    Someone loves the Nets Horrid Defense... total keeps soaring.. 223

  5. #5
    shakey12381
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    why the huge surge on under tcu wvu

  6. #6
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by shakey12381 View Post
    why the huge surge on under tcu wvu
    That may be some WVU revenge money in play with the Side going up (-6 to -8) and also some physical realities for the Total coming down (159 to 154), perhaps an indication that Shawn Olden, who did not play for TCU on Saturday, will be a no-go again. Olden has only been averaging 11.5 minutes per game in Big 12 play, but those minutes may be badly needed on the road - the Horned Frogs are paper thin right now, the starters going 184 of 200 minutes vs. Texas on Saturday, including the full 40 from Alex Robinson and Enrich Williams. Jamie Dixon may have to go out of his way to slow the tempo, not having enough bodies to stand up well at a brisk pace, and also having few fouls to give.

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  7. #7
    Jspidey
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    5dimes is up to nyk tt100. Total up to 211. Any reason or markets jus liking the over?

  8. #8
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jspidey View Post
    5dimes is up to nyk tt100. Total up to 211. Any reason or markets jus liking the over?
    There may still be market segments lingering behind a it in terms of 76er characteristics - since December 1 they have gone 10-3 to the Under in regulation when favored at home (one game did swing to Over in OT), the defense getting better by the month as the key corps learns to play together. But that isn't necessarily how they are viewed yet across the entire marketplace.

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  9. #9
    nri77
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    Took a bit of Magic +5 as they head to Chicago to take on the bulls. Coming off a 3 game homestand, no concern with the travel, and I like how this team has played with a solid 7-3 ATS stretch in their L10.

    Edit: Iím also tempted to take a bite of Spurs ML (currently priced +150) as this situation where the Spurs sit stars brings out the best in everyone else. Add to the fact, Utah played on the road last night, it looks like an enticing bet. Thoughts?
    Last edited by nri77; 02-12-18 at 05:53 PM.

  10. #10
    golfnutt67
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    Its too bad I did see this would have posted yesterday, but 45 years ago (yesterday) at the Fillmore East the most amazing show took place. I can't to it justice so I've added the link. Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Peter Green and Danny Kirwin (that's just on guitar lol) all on the same stage. It ended with an epic "Turn on your Love-light" that had Gregg and Pigpen sharing vocals, and lasted about a half an hour.

    These tapes have circulated in the tape trading circles for years, and you can find them on you tube if your interested. I tried to add an image as there are some great pics of the crowded stage, but I could get the link to work. Anyway i figured there might be a little interest in this show within in the group.

    https://www.jambase.com/article/flas...thers-superjam





  11. #11
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by nri77 View Post
    Took a bit of Magic +5 as they head to Chicago to take on the bulls. Coming off a 3 game homestand, no concern with the travel, and I like how this team has played with a solid 7-3 ATS stretch in their L10.

    Edit: I’m also tempted to take a bite of Spurs ML (currently priced +150) as this situation where the Spurs sit stars brings out the best in everyone else. Add to the fact, Utah played on the road last night, it looks like an enticing bet. Thoughts?
    This is an awfully tricky setting for the Spurs, given the way that Pops manages things - the Spurs are in the first of what is ever-so-rare in the NBA, the altitude of Salt Lake City and Denver on back-to-back nights. That makes you ML a good move if someone does like the SA side - if they are in position to win tonight they will give it what they have, but should they lose contact, Popovich might be quick to wave a white flag to hold some energy on the shelf for tomorrow. Hence the ML makes more sense than taking the points for someone on the Spurs side (and anyone involved in In-Running tonight keep those game management ideas in mind).
    Last edited by Point Blank; 02-12-18 at 07:48 PM.

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  12. #12
    jakedittler
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    Hey Dave. I took a lead on WV last night at the -6. Thinking back to the article you laid out the last time they played, with their pg still out. That line was -2 at tcu. Now we had -6 in Morgantown. I know they haven't panned out like you thought they would. But would -6 still make sense in a little bit of a revenge spot? I see as high as 8.5. Would it be better to play a pct back at that number? It was a small lead. Nothing that's gonna break the bank.

  13. #13
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakedittler View Post
    Hey Dave. I took a lead on WV last night at the -6. Thinking back to the article you laid out the last time they played, with their pg still out. That line was -2 at tcu. Now we had -6 in Morgantown. I know they haven't panned out like you thought they would. But would -6 still make sense in a little bit of a revenge spot? I see as high as 8.5. Would it be better to play a pct back at that number? It was a small lead. Nothing that's gonna break the bank.
    I don't have a great feel there, and when I don't I usually opt for conservatism (i.e., taking a small piece back). TCU may be ripe for a KO because of the depth issues, but WVU has not been intimidating anyone of late.

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  14. #14
    benjy21
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    Hey Dave,

    With Nebraska at -3 at home tonight against Maryland, the markets are saying the Terps are better than the Cornhuskers. I don't see it, and wanted to know what I am missing, and if you see value on Nebraska -3 in this spot?

  15. #15
    jimminn
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    After watching NC last night I made a futures bet for them to be the NCAA champions

  16. #16
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by benjy21 View Post
    Hey Dave,

    With Nebraska at -3 at home tonight against Maryland, the markets are saying the Terps are better than the Cornhuskers. I don't see it, and wanted to know what I am missing, and if you see value on Nebraska -3 in this spot?
    That one has already come into the lead in the Tuesday Edition, with the markets doing what they have been doing for a month and a half now, playing against Nebraska one more time. We accept the opportunity.

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  17. #17
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimminn View Post
    After watching NC last night I made a futures bet for them to be the NCAA champions
    The tar Heels showed a lot of resolve last night, and one of the advantages of having a shorter rotation than usual is developing a higher chemistry. But the prime weakness noted in the lead topic remains - the defense just doesn't take the ball away often, only causing six Notre Dame turnovers. But in a season in which all of the contenders have flaws, the Tar Heels have the big-game moxie to be there to the end once again.

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