1. #1
    Point Blank
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    PB (2/14): NBA Wednesday - On Using the Brake Before the Break


    NBA Wednesday: On Using the Brake Before the Break…A sputtering Boston offense does need some time off…Last night the Ole Miss Rebels still didn’t have a cause..


    Point Blank – February 14, 2018

    A prime focus here this week has been on studying factors beyond the box scores and stat files, and the final night of the NBA before the All Star break leads will a prime series of exercises on that front. Today is a day for the stat-based handicapper to learn to pump the brake a bit, because the players taking the court may not all play to them. There is also some tweaking to do in the Arkansas/Mississippi post-mortem, where Andy Kennedy plans to step down at the end of the season, but is his team approaching it as if he already left?


    Item: Did the Celtics need the break to begin a week ago?

    The timing of the NBA All-Star break is an awkward reality of the league in its current design, some teams already at 60 of the 82 games (Minnesota, which will play #61 tomorrow), and all teams at 56 or more. It naturally has many of them worn down, and the prospect of getting a week off brings a significant appeal. It is in incorporating that mindset into the process of developing power ratings that is a major task for the shrewd handicapper over the next two days.

    For some teams it is a pause in momentum that may turn out to hurt when play resumes – the Raptors and Jazz are on such rolls that staying on the court might generate more spark than taking time off. For others it is a major challenge for the coaches to find some any kind of motivation to keep the mind of their players in the game. How would you like to be Jay Triano (Phoenix) or J.B. Bickerstaff (Memphis) this evening?

    I will be exploring the effort/attitude measurements across the board for my own Wednesday portfolio, and there is one that is already on the shopping list – I believe one of the most fragile teams has actually been one of the best, the Boston Celtics limping into their vacation in a fashion that I don’t expect to see turn around all that much tonight.

    It has been a tremendous opening for Brad Stevens and his players, a 40-18 that is awfully close to having maximized the talent on hand. But much of that talent is young, and injuries made depth an issue, which has the Celtics looking like a tired bunch. Consider how badly they have been losing contact over the past week, a cycle in which they went 1-3 SU and ATS, gutting out an OT win vs. the Wizards (this is the biggest deficit faced in each game):

    Date Opp Deficit
    2/6 @TOR 29
    2/8 @WAS 5
    2/9 IND 26
    2/11 CLE 29

    Does that get solved tonight, with some tired young players? Kyrie Irving is well aware of the dangers: “You know, it’s inevitable as a human being to kind of think about the break, so that’s natural…I mean, you’ve got to experience it for yourself, man. I’ve gone to All-Star break and done some of the right things. I’ve gone to All-Star break and done some of the wrong things. It’s just a learning experience as a professional.”



    The key issue has been offense, which is not a new topic to regular readers. While the athleticism of wing spans of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have helped the Boston defense to earn the #1 spot across the league this season, neither of them have a developed skill set on the other end of the court, and while a team can get away with one defense-first player on the wings, it is difficult to create sets when there are two, even for someone as good with the clipboard as Stevens.

    Let’s consider the lack of progression, using PP100 as the measure, and their league ranking:

    NOV 105.5 (#18)
    DEC 106.9 (#12)
    JAN 100.5 (#30)
    FEB 100.7 (#27)

    Now there is a Team Total of 108 available in the early trading after a Celtics & Over surge in the markets, for a team that has not topped 98 in regulation over the last five games, and that is going to put #716 Boston Team Total Under (8:05 Eastern) into pocket. A key to this one is that there is a fit from the other side of the equation as well – the markets have not been reading the Clippers focus well since the Blake Griffin trade, especially on defense.

    It has been a 5-0 run to the Under for LAC since the new look, and while that needs to be taken with a grain of salt because of sample size and the competition, here is what does matter – they also went 4-1 in those games. And while they would not make the playoffs if the season ended today, they are only a half game out of #8, and even more important just 1.5 games out of #5. If you can move up to avoid the Rockets or Warriors in the first round, then the reward of making the playoffs is a real one. When you are winning, you buy in to defense.

    As for some of the other Wednesday settings, it won’t be easy playing against teams at the bottom rung of the effort ladder because either the prices will be so prohibitive (Phoenix/Utah and Sacramento/Houston), or the focus level of the favorite is a significant issue (OKC/Memphis).

    One of the teams that I also though could be vulnerable was Miami, the Heat having the difficult cycle of Raptors/76ers back-to-back, but note that this is a case in which the fine print matters. If you only took a quick glance at last night’s 115-112 loss to Toronto, there might be a major fatigue notion in mind – they chased the Raptors from down 17 to down only two in the closing seconds. But the details may not be what you would expect.

    Jason Richardson was the only Heat starter to go more than 31:12, and three of the first unit players did not get to 23 minutes. Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow did not see any action at all in the final stanza, when both Wayne Ellington and Bam Adebayo went the full 12:00 off the bench. That mitigates against fatigue, which on the first glance might appear to be an issue.


    Item: About Last Night - Ole Miss were just Rebels without a cause

    Andy Kennedy announced earlier this week that he would be stepping down as Mississippi basketball coach at the end of this season despite a 245-150 record with the Rebels, including getting to at least 20 wins in nine of his first 11 seasons. That meant last night’s game vs. Arkansas going under the microscope for added study, and it appears that what Kennedy wanted to do most, create a spark for the remainder of the season with the current group, didn’t happen.

    This best way to lay it out is to use Kennedy’s own words: "This was about Ole Miss. Obviously, yesterday I tried to take about as big of ownership as you could take. I'm the man here. I'm culpable for this. After watching our performance Saturday, I thought, 'Man, this is as bad as I've seen it in my 400 games.' Until tonight. I apologize. I certainly did not want to go out like this. But as I said yesterday, my words are ringing hollow. I can't get 'em, I can't reach 'em."

    Some market segments took a stand with Arkansas yesterday, taking the Razorbacks from pick’em to -2, and got rewarded. In terms of grading the Ole Miss effort it is a conundrum because the shooting was so terrible – the Rebels were 18-62 from the field, including a dismal stretch in which they missed 25 of 27 shots. Yet they managed to claw back from an 11-point halftime deficit to get it to 40-41 with 14:46 remaining, before going flat again. Was there really a surge after halftime, or was it also the matter of Arkansas not being anything special? Kennedy did not come away with much hope:

    "We don't play. Not to the standard it takes to win real games. I certainly was not anticipating that tonight. We have games to play and I want them to compete in those games. If not for me, if not for Ole Miss, themselves and who they represent.



    At the beginning of the season, we'll put out a jersey and talk about the significance of wearing the jersey, what that represents. On the front of every one of those jerseys, it obviously says Ole Miss ... and then on the back, it's their name.

    "If you say, 'Hey man, my coach is gone and the season's been a disappointment. I don't even want to represent Ole Miss anymore.' Maybe you say that, but you can't play with pride for your name? Your family's name? You can't play for that. I'm at a little bit of a loss ... I've never been more disappointed in this profession. Never. In myself."

    There will be some detailed reading between the lines for the remaining Mississippi games, and after sorting through Kennedy’s post-game comments I also know that there was no reason to upgrade Arkansas off of that win.



    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.

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  2. #2
    Point Blank
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    I'll bring one over from the end of the Tuesday thread to get the ball rolling on the Wednesday board:

    Quote Originally Posted by benjy21 View Post
    Hey Dave,
    The market seems to be signalling that Kentucky situation is getting worse, and Calipari has lost the team. The market for the game at Auburn is now Tigers -10. What do you see in this matchup, and are they any opportunities to get involved?
    Quote Originally Posted by Point Blank View Post
    Kentucky is such a difficult grade right now because of the inconsistency, but it is a fascinating matchup in that the Wildcat starters are 3.5 inches taller across the board, and their length may give Auburn all sorts of matchups headaches. The question is whether they have the moxie to withstand a frenzied environment, but John Calipari noted earlier in the week that perhaps this is actually what the team needs, like when they stepped up at West Virginia a couple of weeks ago. My numbers say that +10 goes into pocket, so it will, but perhaps with a pinch of trepidation because the mental toughness for this team has been sorely lacking.

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  3. #3
    benjy21
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    Hey Dave,

    St. John's is a team the market seems to be a step behind in properly evaluating. They are 3-0 SU & ATS in their last 3 games, including winning on the road against Villanova. For tonight's game at DePaul, the market has taken the opener of SJ -2, down to -1. DePaul has struggled at home in conference this year, going 0-6 SU & 1-5 ATS. Is the confidence St. John's has gained in their recent games strong enough for them to get the win on the road in this matchup?

  4. #4
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by benjy21 View Post
    Hey Dave,

    St. John's is a team the market seems to be a step behind in properly evaluating. They are 3-0 SU & ATS in their last 3 games, including winning on the road against Villanova. For tonight's game at DePaul, the market has taken the opener of SJ -2, down to -1. DePaul has struggled at home in conference this year, going 0-6 SU & 1-5 ATS. Is the confidence St. John's has gained in their recent games strong enough for them to get the win on the road in this matchup?
    It is getting tempting - though my ratings don't bring the chimes until +1, also respecting the uptick that DePaul has been on the last two games. The Red Storm got embarrassed 91-74 at home in the first meeting, losing the boards 40-29 (the one thing the Blue Demons do legitimately well is hit the offensive boards), so the focus should be there, and now there is a little confidence behind what have been solid efforts all season - the St. John's defense is in the Top 10 nationally in TO%, Steal% and Blocked Shots%, a tribute to how hard they have played. But I still need the markets to push this a bit more before pulling the trigger.

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  5. #5
    nri77
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    Looking to the Big East to back some underdogs tonight with both Providence and Seton Hall

    Villanova is laying 9.5 traveling to Rhode Island to take on Providence, while Xavier is hosting Seton Hall and is a 5.5 point favorite.

    I have more confidence in the Seton Hall selection. I think Xavier is an overrated team that has had some positive end game luck work out for them over the course of the last few games.

    Thoughts on either of these?

  6. #6
    rickste
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    Hi Dave in the NBA tonight 6.0 is starting to show for Orl vs. Charl.
    Charl is in a difficult spot that 4 game road trip home for 1 game to Tor and now heading to the break road game vs. Orl.
    I have this game priced at 2.0 and a legitamite shot for Orl to get a s/u win.
    Your thoughts?
    Thsnks

  7. #7
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by nri77 View Post
    Looking to the Big East to back some underdogs tonight with both Providence and Seton Hall

    Villanova is laying 9.5 traveling to Rhode Island to take on Providence, while Xavier is hosting Seton Hall and is a 5.5 point favorite.

    I have more confidence in the Seton Hall selection. I think Xavier is an overrated team that has had some positive end game luck work out for them over the course of the last few games.

    Thoughts on either of these?
    Villanova still showed some chemistry with Phil Booth and Eric Paschal vs. Butler on Saturday, but you can see how thin the margin of error is right now - Jalen Brunson/Donte DiVincenzo combined for 57 points on 21-38 shooting, but all others only contributed 29 points, and they only got 4 points in 28 minutes from the bench. Providence will scrap and claw and make it difficult to get separation, and I will bite off +10 for small, which a shopper had a good chance to find today, and +11 for something more substantial if there is a Wildcat push later on.

    I get the Seton Hall/Xavier line right on Musketeers -5. Through they have wobbled a bit lately, with the last 3 games just as easily 0-3 as 3-0, some of those positive end-games are what can happen when you have veterans like Blueitt/Macura/Kanter at crunch time. I thought Seton Hall's cast would call for better road performances than the Pirates have produced, losing contact several times on the Big East road, so I do not get any chimes there until +7, which we aren't going to see.

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  8. #8
    ikid2groove415
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    pb is there any reason why Toronto won’t ruff shot Columbus tonight ?

  9. #9
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickste View Post
    Hi Dave in the NBA tonight 6.0 is starting to show for Orl vs. Charl.
    Charl is in a difficult spot that 4 game road trip home for 1 game to Tor and now heading to the break road game vs. Orl.
    I have this game priced at 2.0 and a legitamite shot for Orl to get a s/u win.
    Your thoughts?
    Thsnks
    I have not done a good job of power rating the Magic in the absence of Gordon/Vucevic, who will both be out again tonight - they have managed to hold their own without that duo. One of the prime reading-between-the-lines issues today is whether having back-to-back off days is a plus for Charlotte, re-energizing the Hornets after a ridiculous schedule grind, or if that was an invitation to mentally drift into the All Star break already. I am more inclined to think the latter, since the playoffs have become a long-shot, and might Kemba Walker be thinking about his trip to L.A. for the All Star carnival this weekend?

    Orlando shows for me at +6 for small and +7 for a larger bite, even though my confidence in those ratings is not high, which does lower the investment amount by about 25% below what the numbers would ordinarily call for.

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  10. #10
    straface23
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    Dave, thoughts on Portland/GSW tonight? Interesting tactic by Kerr last game letting the players coach themselves... all for show or did it actually accomplish anything? I think Portland at home could be providing some value tonight

  11. #11
    spargament
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    You see the Wizards suffering without a PG against NYK (assuming Satoransky is still a no-go)?

    I don't think the Knicks have the personnel to make them pay.

  12. #12
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by straface23 View Post
    Dave, thoughts on Portland/GSW tonight? Interesting tactic by Kerr last game letting the players coach themselves... all for show or did it actually accomplish anything? I think Portland at home could be providing some value tonight
    I think it was a savvy move by Kerr because he sensed his team was just grinding recently, and needed some kind of spark. Now not only was there that catharsis, but getting a big margin also meant that none of the starters got to a full 30:00, which should mean fresh legs tonight. As opposed to being able to coast home the past two seasons they are in a legit fight with Houston for that #1 seed, enough of a factor that I do expect Draymond Green to be out there tonight, instead of being given an extended break.

    I can't do much with the Trail Blazers here because of the unclear status of Jusuf Nurkic, who is battling a couple of minor injuries, and left early vs. Utah on Sunday, only playing 13:34. Portland got slapped around 58-37 on the boards in that one, much of that an on-going issue when Nurkic was not on the floor. And in terms of defensive presence there has been a big On/Off difference with him this season:
    Min PP100
    Nurkic In 1426 102.8
    Nurkic Out 1325 107.2

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  13. #13
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by spargament View Post
    You see the Wizards suffering without a PG against NYK (assuming Satoransky is still a no-go)?

    I don't think the Knicks have the personnel to make them pay.
    While back-up PG Tim Frazier won't play, Satoransky is with the team on the trip, so it will be up to the team doctors to determine if he gets clearance. Although the Wizards have had three days off since winning at Chicago, which ordinarily would have meant some practice time to develop some flow without their PGs, this made the files:

    Both Markieff Morris and Jason Smith were ruled out with illnesses and all-star Bradley Beal deserved a day off after averaging 37.4 minutes over the last five games, so the team practiced with only seven healthy players. The Wizards had to use Kamran Sufi, a player development manager, as a point guard while forwards Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. also took on ballhandling responsibilities.

    I don't have any confidence in my ratings for Wizards/Knicks, so have already saved time for the day by sticking the game in "The Drawer".

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  14. #14
    shakey12381
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    at what point do the lakers pelicans under go in pocket 232 now available

  15. #15
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by shakey12381 View Post
    at what point do the lakers pelicans under go in pocket 232 now available
    Now that it looks like the move has stalled, there will be a piece of that going into pocket. Since the Lakers have to play again tomorrow I don't think this turns into one of those "matador" final games before the break - they still have reason for staying inside of their basketball structures.

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  16. #16
    The Gooch
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    Originally Posted by The Gooch
    Dave you highlighted Minny's defensive improvements as the team accumulated experience. Will it be enough to hold off Houston who is riding an 8 game winning streak or does that only ramp up the incentive in this spot?



    The highlights stopped early - all that they have managed to get out of adding Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, and having another year in the Tom Thibodeau system, is moving up from #26 to #24, which means some back-tracking of late. What has been downright horrific is this:

    4th Q D PP100
    MIN 114.1 (30)
    BRK 110.8 (29)
    ATL 110.8 (28)


    Not only are they last in 4th quarter defense, but they are literally in a league of their own. They have been winning more games because the offensive talent is so good, but that defense might be a problem area if this one is close late. Thibs may be a good tactician, but might he lack some of the communications skills to develop young players?

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Wonderful bit of handicapping involving weighted 4th quarter statistics. The Nebraska angle continues to intrigue and produce.

    I have fallen hard with Oakland twice this season. Tonight I am plotting another Giant Slalom face plant versus Youngstown St.

  17. #17
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Gooch View Post
    Originally Posted by The Gooch
    Dave you highlighted Minny's defensive improvements as the team accumulated experience. Will it be enough to hold off Houston who is riding an 8 game winning streak or does that only ramp up the incentive in this spot?



    The highlights stopped early - all that they have managed to get out of adding Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, and having another year in the Tom Thibodeau system, is moving up from #26 to #24, which means some back-tracking of late. What has been downright horrific is this:

    4th Q D PP100
    MIN 114.1 (30)
    BRK 110.8 (29)
    ATL 110.8 (28)


    Not only are they last in 4th quarter defense, but they are literally in a league of their own. They have been winning more games because the offensive talent is so good, but that defense might be a problem area if this one is close late. Thibs may be a good tactician, but might he lack some of the communications skills to develop young players?

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Wonderful bit of handicapping involving weighted 4th quarter statistics. The Nebraska angle continues to intrigue and produce.

    I have fallen hard with Oakland twice this season. Tonight I am plotting another Giant Slalom face plant versus Youngstown St.
    I am going to have to bring the T'Wolves back in as the lead topic for Thursday, since they are the TNT game against the Lakers, because their 4th Q defense vs. the Rockets rivals anything that I have ever charted. You come away with a number that makes you go back and re-check to make sure there wasn't a mistake, and then the same bottom line number shows again...

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  18. #18
    The Gooch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Point Blank View Post
    It is getting tempting - though my ratings don't bring the chimes until +1, also respecting the uptick that DePaul has been on the last two games. The Red Storm got embarrassed 91-74 at home in the first meeting, losing the boards 40-29 (the one thing the Blue Demons do legitimately well is hit the offensive boards), so the focus should be there, and now there is a little confidence behind what have been solid efforts all season - the St. John's defense is in the Top 10 nationally in TO%, Steal% and Blocked Shots%, a tribute to how hard they have played. But I still need the markets to push this a bit more before pulling the trigger.

    This is my game of interest tonight. To say the market is a bit behind overlooks glossy wins over Villanova, Marquette & Duke which should command an instant market correction. That happened vs Duke. I was a tic behind. Tonight could be the over- correction.

  19. #19
    The Gooch
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    The thread still seems a bit loose. I am in on Oakland -5. I recommend the same.

  20. #20
    The Gooch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Point Blank View Post

    It is getting tempting - though my ratings don't bring the chimes until +1, also respecting the uptick that DePaul has been on the last two games. The Red Storm got embarrassed 91-74 at home in the first meeting, losing the boards 40-29 (the one thing the Blue Demons do legitimately well is hit the offensive boards), so the focus should be there, and now there is a little confidence behind what have been solid efforts all season - the St. John's defense is in the Top 10 nationally in TO%, Steal% and Blocked Shots%, a tribute to how hard they have played. But I still need the markets to push this a bit more before pulling the trigger.
    ---------------------------------

    This discussion calls to mind a scene from the "Color of Money" in which Newman and Cruise walk into an aging Philladelphia pool hall. Cruise asks for a table and the owner who had been there from its inception says: "That is fast Eddie Feltson stake-horsing you. What are you the end of the world?".

  21. #21
    The Gooch
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    bengy21 is not the end of the world - but he did highlight a really good talking point. I am hyper-focused on Xavier and S. Dakota coming up.

  22. #22
    The Gooch
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    Dave - would you subscribe to a play on the Orangemen at -5.5 who I still deem underrated?

  23. #23
    The Gooch
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    In honor of Derrick Coleman & John Wallace:

    Ticket Wager Detail

    Ticket Number:
    384130875
    Accepted Date:
    2/14/2018 - EST
    Graded Date:
    1/1/0001
    Wager Type:
    Spread (or run line)
    Wager Status:
    Pending
    Risk:
    $444.00 (USD)
    To Win Amount:
    $403.64 (USD)
    Description:
    Basketball - NCAA - NC State vs. Syracuse - Syracuse
    Item #:
    1
    Wager Type:
    Spread
    Outcome:
    Pending
    Sport / Period:
    Basketball NCAA / Game
    Line:
    Basketball - NCAA - NC State vs. Syracuse - Syracuse 2/14/2018 9:00:01 PM- (EST)
    -5 -110


  24. #24
    The Gooch
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    I feel as though some late game analysis could prove positive. Dirtydog1 - another alcolyte in this chamber of critical thinking and self destructive tendencies - is there support for South Dakota?

  25. #25
    Point Blank
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Gooch View Post
    Dave - would you subscribe to a play on the Orangemen at -5.5 who I still deem underrated?
    My own numbers put that one just about dead on (Syracuse about -4.8, to be exact), but the one things I do not have a feel for is how Kevin Keats will attack Boeheim's zone on the first look. Hence it becomes something I get the opportunity to learn from this evening.

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