CBB Picks ATS 2.23.19

Tennessee Volunteers at LSU Tigers

Tennessee was primed to make a statement last week in Lexington. They had control of the SEC and could bury the “mighty” Kentucky Wildcats.  Instead they saw an end to their 20-game winning streak and found themselves just one game up the aforementioned Wildcats and their opponents on Saturday the LSU Tigers.

This is a matchup of offensive teams both ranking in the top ten in scoring in all of college basketball.  The difference on Saturday will be the ability of either team to establish themselves on the defensive end.  In LSU’s loss to Florida on Wednesday night the Tigers were unable to adjust to a Florida that tried to slow down the pace. If Tennessee is able to establish a slower pace and dominate the ball control LSU will not be able to adjust.

We have seen the Volunteers win scrappy games when they have to.   I like Jordan Bone holding Tremont Waters in check and the Volunteers to prevail on the road.  I’m not going to worry about last week or the Rick Barnes curse.  Give me the Volunteers in a huge SEC game.

Pick: Tennessee -1

Ohio State Buckeyes at Maryland Terrapins

Every week I look at Maryland and see a potential second weekend team.  It could be my love for the traditional big that you really only see in college basketball.  Bruno Fernando is a throwback to the basketball I watched as a kid.  Throw it to the big man and impose your will.  The sophomore center enjoyed his matchup in Columbus putting up 13 point and 15 rebounds.  He will be on the attack early against Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson whom was no match in the first meeting.  If Wesson gets into foul trouble the deficiencies of Ohio State’s depth will show.

Neither team will bring a potent offensive attack, but if Maryland is able to avoid a sluggish start that they are known for they should be able to coast to an easy victory at home.  They also have to find a way to cut down on their turnovers.  If they play smart and feed Fernando early it will open up looks for the slick shooting freshman guard Aaron Wiggins whom has hit 9 of 18 from behind the arc over the teams last 3 games. 

Maryland is 3-0 ATS in their last three home games.  Give me Maryland to cover. Take care of the ball!

Pick: Maryland -6.5

Duke Blue Devils at Syracuse Orange

We all know Duke without Zion Williamson is going to cause some problems.  What is being ignored is that a healthy Tre Jones is back in the lineup for the Blue Devils.  In the first matchup his injury forced the Blue Devils to run the point with RJ Barrett and company.  With Jones as the helm Barrett will be free to work inside the Syracuse zone.  His ability to create at the top of the key will be a huge factor.  I assume Coach K will utilize one of his big’s in Zion’s spot, while that may be the game plan to start don’t be surprised to see a lot of sharp shooting sophomore Alex O’Connell. 

Syracuse shot lights out in the first matchup, Frank Howard will have the defense of Tre Jones hounding him all night which will lead to more turnovers not allowing the Orange to set their press.  Duke has the superior athletes even without Zion.  If utilized correctly they should cover the spread.

Pick: Duke -4.5

Other games I like:

Illinois/Penn State Under 145.5

MO State/ Indiana State Under 131.5

Purdue -5

Marquette -3

Texas +3.5

Kansas State -10.5

SLU +6.5

Isaac Bruce should be in Canton

Isaac Bruce spent 16-years in the NFL as one of the most underrated players of his generation.  When Bruce retired not only was he arguably the best player in the history of the St. Louis Rams but was also second all-time in receiving yards (15,208 yards) behind only the great Jerry Rice. Bruce has been treated the same way as the city of St. Louis has been treated, like an afterthought.

Bruce seems to be penalized for a couple factors:

Bruce played on alongside another Hall of Fame hopeful Torry Holt

It is widely believed that Holt’s presence somehow made Bruce’s accomplishments less impressive. Holt however was drafted in 1999 a whole five years into Bruce’s career.  He was a complement to the greatness of Bruce.  Still, there is a group of people that believe Holt and Bruce are splitting votes.  This notion is absurd, while Holt is worthy of a finalist spot it was always clear who was the alpha dog in the pack of Rams receivers his whole career.

Bruce didn’t make the all-decade team. 

This one seems stupid to me, but I have seen comments about it.  Bruce was never really the best wideout of his time, being overshadowed by greats like Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss.  If Bruce’s number had been from 1990 to 2000 he would have had a better chance of making one of these teams, but he was right in the middle of both of those time periods. 

The Greatest Show on Turf inflated his numbers.  

There is an idea that Bruce was a product of a great offense and not an elite receiver.  The greatness of the 1999 Ram’s offense is obvious, but he had already established himself as an elite receiver.  Isaac’s most productive season came in 1995 with the likes of Mark Rypien and Chris Miller throwing him the ball.  He followed that up with a great 1996 season where the Rams featured the likes of Tony Banks and Steve Walsh.  It was his precise route running and durability that inflated his numbers not an offensive game plan.

Why He should be in.

Selected in the second round of the of the 1994 draft by the Rams, Bruce began his accent to stardom in his second season catching 119 passes, scoring 13 TDs. Continuing his domination in 1996 leading the league in yards with 1338. During his 10-season peak phase, from 1995 through 2004, Bruce led the NFL in receiving yards, was No. 1 in catches of 25+ yards, was third in average yards per game, was third in receiving first downs, ranked fourth in total receptions, fifth in touchdowns and had the most yards at the point of the catch. Bruce was the definition of consistency for the Rams proving his abilities week in and week out.

By the numbers:

6th all time in receiving yards: 15,208

13th in receptions: 1,024

42 career 100+ yard games

4-time Pro-Bowler

Bruce’s story is simple, he has been plagued by the fact that no matter what he will always be connected with the city that the NFL doesn’t want. The support from fans will have to come from the city that has felt abandoned by the league.  It’s important for the fans of the St. Louis area to remember that even though the team and the league have left, Isaac Bruce has not. Bruce still runs his foundation out of the city of St. Louis and he still supports the city in any way that he can. It’s time for the city to do its part to bring him the accolades that he deserves.  We can never forget his iconic moment in Super Bowl XXXIV, Bruce grabbed six receptions for 162 yards (third most in Super Bowl history) and one touchdown. The touchdown was a 73-yard reception that proved to be the game winner with 1:54 remaining in contest.  He is a St. Louis sports icon and deserves to be in Canton.

NCAAB Picks 2.15.19

Clemson Tigers at Louisville Cardinals -4.5, Under 131.5

Louisville enter this game on the wrong side of one of the biggest and most televised come backs of the season. The Cardinals came out on fire against the highly rated Blue Devils but were unable to handle the late pressure and dynamic offensive weapons.  They face a different challenge on Saturday with the Clemson Tigers in need of a marquee victory to put themselves back in contention for the NCAA tournament.

Like Louisville, Clemson is coming off a weekday loss to the Miami Hurricanes.  The loss brought an end to the Tigers four game win streak which saw them reemerge as a potential contender in the top heavy ACC. 

Chris Mack has proven his toughness as a coach and his team will back him up on Saturday. Clemson, despite being 21st in scoring defense, has their struggles with perimeter teams as they rank a dismal 279th in three-point field goal percentage defense (35.9 percent) this season. This will be a slow-paced game that will be controlled by the superior strength of Louisville’s Dwayne Sutton and Jordan Nwora.  I like the Cardinals to cover and the under

Maryland Terrapins at Michigan Wolverines -6

First instinct says that the Michigan Wolverines are getting to many points against a Maryland team that has taken two straight from Nebraska and the red-hot Purdue Boilermakers.  The difference for Maryland will be the defensive juggernaut Michigan.  John Teske and company will look to force the ball out of the hands of Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith, packing the defense on the interior and force the guards to make plays.

Michigan is 15-0 at home, Maryland has while Maryland is 0-18 on the road against top 25 teams.  Michigan is 9-1 ATS after a straight up loss. I see Maryland struggling on the road against causing a double-digit loss.

Tennessee Volunteers +3 at Kentucky Wildcats

Despite Tennessee’s record their still seems to be some debate about whether they are at the top of the SEC pecking order.  Entering this game as a 3-point dog seems like a bit of a surprise. The Volunteers will bring their veterans into a hostile environment that they have seen before.

On the season, the Volunteers are fifth in the nation with 85.4 point per game, while also just allowing 68.5 points per contest. They are also efficient with their shots, making them even more dangerous.  Tennessee is seventh nationally with a high 57.0 effective field goal percentage.

The Wildcats have made big improvements since their beatdown on opening night. They will be a force to reckon with in March but for now this Tennessee team is on a mission to dominate the SEC.  Grant Williams will be the player to watch, Kentucky will have no answer for him on Saturday.  Bet the Volunteers, consider the moneyline.

Other games:

Auburn -9.5

Drake -5         

Virginia Tech/ Pittsburgh over 133

UCF/ Memphis under 150     

NBA DFS Lineup 2.14.19

PG: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder ($11,600)

No brainer.  Highest total of the night, stat stuffer that will continue to stuff. 

SG: Jeremy Lamb, Charlotte Hornets ($5,700)

Lamb has quietly been a very reliable scorer for the Charlotte Hornets.  The type of player that will give you 20 points in a half. Coming off of two straight solid performances, surprisingly Lamb averages a whole point more per game away then he does at home.  Lamb is a solid mid-range play.

SF: Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder ($10,700)

The MVP of the first half will want to put his stamp on the final game.  George is red hot and will continue to play well against a poor defensive team.

PF: Kevin Knox, New York Knicks ($4,900)

Knox has been playing big minutes now that the Knicks finally realized they stink.

C: Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks ($4,100)

19+ points in 12 straight games.  Low cost will most likely make him very chalky tonight in a stars and scrubs lineup. Targeting centers against the Hawks is always a strong play.  The hawks will feature multiple big’s so the Knicks will need Robinson’s size.

G: Alonzo Trier, New York Knicks ($3,300)

The Knicks are always tough to predict, but Trier is coming off of his best game in weeks last night.  We know the Hawks are going to run, Trier is a great matchup in this situation to keep up with the speed of Trae Young.

F: Taurean Prince, Atlanta Hawks ($4,700)

Prince’s defense will be important against the Knicks best scorer Kevin Knox, he is diverse enough to give you point in multiple areas.

Util: Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets ($4,800)

No Bismark Biyombo tonight means more minutes for Cody Zeller.  Zeller has been back from injury for four games and has increased his DFS point total each game. Another low cost option that will at least get you high rebound totals.

Grading NL Central Offseason- Right Now

Pittsburgh Pirates: D

It was a quiet winter in the steel city adding just outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall whom you would think is just competing for a bench spot. The loss of Josh Harrison will hurt from a clubhouse perspective, while Ivan Nova’s movement will hurt from an innings eating perspective.

The Pirates would have a much higher grade if you considered the work they did at the trade deadline.  Having a full year of Chris Archer will make a difference for a team that was a surprising contender for a large part of 2018. Archer adds to their rotation that also features young stars in the making Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams, making as solid top three.   The depth of the rotation takes a little plunge after that.

Cincinnati Reds: B+

The Reds got a B+ mainly for unloading the contract of Homer Bailey.  Getting rid of Bailey seemed like only a dream at the beginning of the offseason but they were able to do it while bringing in a potential steal of talent in Yasiel Puig.  While Puig has not lived up to the original hype he still brings some excitement to a Red’s organization that needed to show their fans that they are still trying to win.

The Reds were able to add some nice pieces to their rotation with former Dodger lefty Alex Wood and former Nationals righty Tanner Roark.  Both add depth to a very thin rotation.  These players both come from winning organizations which can only help the young starters during a season the season.

While trades were the main story the resigning of hard throwing closer Raisel Iglesias is an underappreciated move.  The Reds are not going to be frontrunners for the division next season, but their moves have made them no longer a push over.

Chicago Cubs: D-

Not that there was much expectation in the Chicago offseason with a cash strapped team but making virtually no improvements is never going to grade out well.  The Cubs should be getting back the services of last season’s big acquisition Yu Darvish. They will also have a full season of Cole Hamels.  The Cubs are hoping reclamation project Kendall Graverman still has something in the tank.

The rotation will be stronger to start the season. But the bullpen will still be a problem in the back end.  Uncertainty of the injury to Brandon Morrow and thee losses of Justin Wilson and Jesse Chavez leave the Cubs very vulnerable if there are any further injuries. 

Replacing Tommy La Stella with Daniel Descalso is a nice upgrade but other than that not much to say here.

Milwaukee Brewers: C+

We you have a team with very few holes you would think they would look to fill those holes.  Added another starter was a sensible move for the defending division champs.  Instead the added to the opposite end by adding the best catcher on the market Yasmani Grandal.  An already potent lineup made themselves even more dangerous.  Grandal whose offense has always been the story of his career, but his defense has been an underrated aspect of his career for a long time.  Grandal ranked first in the league pitch framing ahead of defensive juggernauts Yadier Molina and Jeff Mathis

The Brewers chose to nontender their two lefties opening up a spot for former Rangers closer Alex Claudio.  Claudio will have to pick up the slack of a few different lost relievers. He’s held opposing lefties to a .194/.220/.278 line in 315 total plate appearances over his five-year career, thanks in part to a deceptive delivery.

The Brewers getting a C+ is based off of their previous work.  The 2018 offseason and trade deadline were clearly an A+.  I would have liked to see the Brewers bring back a second baseman that is more proven rather than have Cory Spangenberg play hold over for top prospect Keston Huira. 

Bonus points for trading away Domingo Santana, he deserved a shot to play every day.

St. Louis Cardinals- A-

The Cardinals needed a corner infield and a reliver.  They added the best first baseman in the majors for a group of players that were not going to be a part of their plans in the 2019 season. Luke Weaver had fallen out of favor, Carson Kelly was quietly becoming too old to be a prospect and I couldn’t remember the other guy’s name, but he was a 26-year old infielder. 


The Cardinals didn’t stop at Goldschmidt adding long time reliver Andrew Miller to the fold, while he is not considered a closer he gives the Cardinals a lot of options at the backend.

St. Louis gets an A- because they still have a need for a bonifide closer and there is a gap in right field.  Still the Cardinal had a very successful winter.

Each Conferences Sleeper Team

Big Ten- Maryland Terrapins

I may be more of a believer in Maryland then most, but this team seems to have something.  Bruno Fernando is an elite big that could develop into an NBA superstar if put in the right situation. Fernando is an elite player that will be drawing double teams in big games. 

Guards Anthony Cowan, Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala will have open opportunities to get wide open shots from deep.  Ayala in particular will be huge shooting 47% from three on the season.  Wiggins and Cowan bring an 80% free throw shooting rate which can be a huge asset down the stretch in a close game.  Look at the UConn team that featured Shabazz Napier a few years ago, when they had a lead in the fourth quarter the game was essentially over.

The battle tested Terrapins currently hold an RPI of 27 and SOS of 27.  Two big matchups with Michigan will show the world what the potential of this team really is.

Big 12- Baylor Bears

If you have bet against the Baylor Bears this year you have probably found yourself cursing at the TV as they pull of another underdog upset. A team left for dead after their embarrassing opening night loss to Texas Southern has emerged as a potential contender in the Big 12.  It’s all pretty much pointless as we know Kansas is going to win the conference, but the Bears can be a problem for teams come March.

The Bears have quality wins over Iowa State, Oklahoma, TCU and Alabama have put Baylor back on the map after their brutal start.  Senior leadership of Makai Mason and King McClure will be huge in during March Madness.  Baylor shoots at a staggering 45% from the field while also being road warriors. Baylor is 4-1 straight up over its last five road games. This team is experienced and efficient.  A long run could be in store for the Bears.

ACC – Syracuse Orange

The perennial bubble team Syracuse should find themselves comfortably in the dance come tournament time, despite their poor showing at home against Florida State last night. The Orange are never a team to bet against, just ask the Duke Blue Devils.  This team has a SOS of 25 with quality non-conference wins over Ohio State and an emerging Georgetown team.

Frank Howard is the difference maker for Syracuse.  Howard is currently shooting above 40% on the season while be the floor general for a team that has to keep the ball moving for a chance to score.  3-point shooting with obviously be a factor as the Orange are about as bad as they come in that attribute shooting just 32% on the season.

Despite their shooting struggle Syracuse brings an elite defense and great experience on the floor.  They will be a team that no one wants to face in March.

SEC- Auburn Tigers

Most have forgotten that the Auburn Tigers were a top ten team at the start of 2019. Losses to NC State, Duke, Kentucky, at South Carolina and at Mississippi State took them out of the rankings but outside of the loss at South Carolina none of those horrible defeats.  Currently projected as a potential seven seed would put them in a great place come tournament time.

Bryce Brown and Jared Harper are as good as it gets backcourt tandom.  They should be getting back Center Austin Wiley for the stretch run as well.  Wiley a player that can anchor the defense averaging nearly two blocks per game in just sixteen minutes played per game. 

This team is too reliant on the 3-point shooting, if they are dropping they could be impossible to beat.  Their depth and running style will be a matchup that can where down opponents that have to play multiple games over a short time period.

Pac 12- Washington Huskies

There was really no other option.  They are ok in a PAC12 that is brutal.  They could win a game or lose in the first round.  Only other option was maybe UCLA. 

NBA DFS 2.4.19

PG: Bryn Forbes, San Antonio Spurs, $4,000

Derrick White has already been ruled out for this game. Assuming Forbes takes the starting spot at the point Forbes will be an important player in a paced up game against the Kings.  Patty Mills is $100 more expensive, whomever starts should get the start in your lineup.  I like Forbes because unlike Mills he can give you more than just scoring.

SG: D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets, $7,900

Russell gets the matchup with the Bucks, both teams will play at a high pace.  Russell at $7,900 is a must start with Spencer Dinwiddie on the shelf. 

SF: Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns, $4,400

Bridges has seen a huge uptake in usage since the injury to TJ Warren.  Playing over 30 minutes per game over his last four games.  Following two straight 35+ fantasy points Bridges should be in a great spot in a matchup with the Rockets. Most likely he will see the defense of James Harden and Gerald Green.  That should lead to so nice spots for him.

PF: John Collins, Atlanta Hawks, $8,100

Two high paced teams playing a game that should be easy full of fantasy points.  All centers for Atlanta should be in play, Collins is the one that fits the fast style more than Len or Dedmon

C: Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks, $5,400

Centers versus the Nets is always a play.  Lopez will put up at least 30 points if given 20+ minutes.  Which he will.

G: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards, $9,100

Beal versus the Hawks is a play of the day for pretty much anyone.  He and point guard Satoransky should both be chalky tonight.

F: Marvin Bagley, Sacramento Kings, $5,500

As Bagley’s minutes have gone up so has his production.  Neman Bejlica is still getting the starts but Bagley has been getting the real minutes.  The #2 overall pick is starting to really play the way everyone though he would.  Tough matchup but production will be easy at his cost.

Utl: Malik Beasley, Denver Nuggets, $5,500

Beasley is red hot.  Monitor the injuries to Jamal Murray and Gary Harris. If they play his minutes may go down.  Beasley can score and will be given the chance to put up big minutes if the injuries are still in effect.

Who should make Cardinals Hall of Fame?

The Cardinals announced their hall of fame candidates for 2019, Keith Hernandez, John Tudor, Matt Morris, Jason Isringhausen, Edgar Renteria and Scott Rolen. Each player is deserving of the nomination as well as eventual inclusion.  St. Louis fans will have their opinions on each, but I see three of them as the obvious choices.

Matt Morris

The imposing presence of Matt Morris was dominant force in the Cardinals rotation from 1997-2005.  Racking up wins during a time period where the team had great success.  Most notably during the 2001 season where Morris accumulated 22 wins and a 3.16 ERA.  Morris was a top of the rotation starter with a dominant secondary pitch. His curveball was one of the best Cardinals fans had seen until Adam Wainwright showed up on the scene and froze Carlos Beltran taking the mantle of best curve thrower of my generation.

Morris wasn’t just a short-term answer accumulating over 101 wins in his Cardinals career while winning 62% of his games, Tommy John surgery took a year away from the Cardinal hurler right as he was beginning is accent to the top of the rotation. Morris had two All -Star appearances as a Cardinals starter, Morris is by far a deserving inductee to the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

Scott Rolen

Scott Rolen was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2002, making an immediate impact on the organization. Over his six years with the team Rolen was a human highlight reel at third base winning three gold gloves during his tenure with the organization.  Rolen also added depth to the Cardinals lineup that made them trued contenders for world championships.  His protection of Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols was an undervalued asset during his time with the Cardinals. 

Rolen, whom doesn’t get the consideration for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame that he should was a complete player and quiet leader on a very good team.  If he hadn’t played with Albert Pujols he would most likely be given more credit than he already gets during his legacy with the Cardinals.

Jason Isringhausen

Izzy should be the easy choice for all voters.  The Cardinals franchise record holder with 207 saves during his tenure was the definition of stability for the organization.  Those save numbers alone along with pitching in over 400 games for the organization.  From 2002- 2006 Isringhausen established himself in Cardinal greatness. 

Look at the state of Cardinals closer since his departure.  Outside of a few years with Trevor Rosenthal, there has been no consistency in that position.  Izzy is still active in the St. Louis community, that should be taken into account when determining a true Cardinals Hall of Famer.