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Free NBA Pick Monday

#603 Los Angeles Lakers +4.5 over Indiana Pacers 6:05 PM CT

It is an extreme long shot but the Lakers can’t be ruled out of the Western Conference playoff picture just yet. With 13 games to go the Lakers are 8.0 games behind Sinking Minnesota who is the last team in the field for the moment. The Spurs have also been on a great slide as it isn’t impossible for one of those teams to drop out. Of course the Lakers would also need to pass the Nuggets and Clippers to get in but with a 16-9 run the past 25 games the Lakers are playing excellent basketball. Riding back-to-back losses including Friday’s one-point miss should leave a motivated team in Indianapolis tonight with Los Angeles losing three straight games just once since early January.

Indiana is 40-30 and in the #5 spot in a tight middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Indiana has a barely positive scoring differential and a once dominant home court as loosened with the Pacers losing two of the past three home games and featuring six home losses since late December. The Lakers won by 13 at home in this matchup in January and Los Angeles is 22-17 ATS when facing winning teams. Los Angeles is 18-13 ATS as an underdog of fewer than six points as well as the points are appealing tonight.

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Nelly’s is 7-3 in NCAA Tournament picks – get all picks through April 2 to finish the tournament for only $89 as we look to build on a 54-25 run overall since Feb. 1. Bobby Dalton is 35-22 in March and you can get his complete tournament package for $129.99 featuring all NIT, CBI, and CIT picks as well.

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Free NCAA Pick Tuesday

#527/528 ‘UNDER 139.5’ Indiana at Nebraska 8:00 PM CT

Indiana has won four in a row but they have beat the four worst teams in the Big Ten in that stretch and they were fortunate in a very narrow comeback win at Iowa on Saturday winning 84-82. Indiana made 14 3-point shots in Saturday’s win hitting 58 percent from beyond the arc. Now 9-7 in Big Ten play Indiana has made a nice run back to respectability but they are 0-5 vs. the top five teams in the Big Ten which Nebraska is a part of and the recent wins with improved offensive numbers have conveniently been against the worst defensive teams in the conference.

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Nebraska’s NCAA Tournament hopes took a big blow with a loss at Illinois on Sunday, snapping a six-game streak. Nebraska is 11-5 in Big Ten play but like Indiana most of the wins came against the bottom of the conference. Nebraska is 13-1 S/U at home however with a perfect 7-0 Big Ten record at home including beating Michigan. The lone loss on the season in Lincoln came by one-point against Kansas and three of the last four home wins have come by double-digits. The season is on the line for Nebraska tonight and after allowing more than 70 points for the sixth time in 16 Big Ten games the defensive intensity should be escalated.

These teams are both in the top five in defensive efficiency in Big Ten play while being two of the worst shooting teams with both teams below 35 percent from 3-point range. Indiana is also a below 64 percent free throw shooting team and Nebraska has featured the Big Ten’s best 3-point defense and the second best effective field goal defense in the conference. These teams combined for 170 points last season in a road win for Nebraska but that was with a much different Hoosiers team under Tom Crean. Even with 84 points Saturday Indiana has averaged just 65 points per game on the road in conference play and they averaged just 60 points per game against the defenses that rank ahead of Nebraska.

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Nelly’s is 18-6 in college basketball since February 1 – get tonight’s Big XII play for $15 or get all picks through Feb. 28 for $99. Big E won a 10* Biggie last night, tonight’s 10* is just $9.94 with the Big E on a 9-4 run and a 48-28 run. His next 20* goes Thursday. Bobby Dalton is 8-2 in his last 10 Best Bets – get a 10* Best Bet tonight for just $19.99!

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#525/526 ‘UNDER 152’ Indiana at Iowa 1:00 PM CT

Iowa has lost four games in a row to fall to 3-12 in Big Ten play but they have faced some of the top teams in the conference in that run. The three road losses in that stretch have been ugly but Iowa played right with Big Ten leaders Michigan State in a three-point home loss in the last Iowa City game. Iowa also beat Wisconsin and Minnesota by double-digits in the prior two home dates with those teams rating similarly to the Hoosiers.

After some ups-and-downs Indiana is above .500 in Big Ten play in Archie Miller’s first season in Bloomington. The past three wins have come against the three worst teams in the Big Ten however with the road win at Rutgers one of just two road wins on the season for Indiana. Indiana is one of the worst 3-point shooting and free throw shooting teams in the nation as Iowa rates as the much better offensive team in this matchup. Indiana has a far better defense than Iowa in the Big Ten rankings but Iowa has had to play one of the toughest slates in the conference to weigh on the numbers. Indiana is shooting just 32 percent from 3-point range and 64 percent from the line in Big Ten play while also featuring one of the worst 3-point defenses in the Big Ten.

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Iowa’s young team has shown some growth albeit with some inconsistency and the Hawkeyes have great height for several potential matchup edges in this game especially with Indiana mostly unable to score reliably from long range this season. Iowa beat Indiana in the home meeting last season in an overtime game that helps push this total higher and despite a disappointing season overall, this is a marquee home date for the Hawkeyes in a still tough venue for foes to play in. Indiana had 18 turnovers in a rivalry win over Illinois on Wednesday and the only two Big Ten road wins came against two of the worst three offensive teams in the conference. Iowa is a bit tough to count on to secure the win but the shooting numbers for Indiana should be rough in this game and a this high total will be tough to reach.

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Nelly’s has an early start 2* Top Play today (75% on 2* picks this season) looking to build on our 19-5-1 February. Get the 2* for $25 or get it as part of a 2/3 guarantee. Bobby Dalton has a 15* in his Trips-2-Win offer today riding a 7-1 run in Best Bets. Big E is 5-1 the past three days and 46-26 since late December – don’t miss his Big XII 20* today! Maximum also has a big 6-pack of hoops picks for afternoon and evening action!

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Thursday NCAA Football Preview

Thursday Night College Football – Ohio State at Indiana

The Big Ten will be in the spotlight on the first Thursday night of the college football season with a rare conference game in August. Ohio State visits Indiana to kick off the night in a nationally televised game with some intriguing storylines despite the large spread. Here is a preview of the first big game of the season for Thursday night college football.

Match-up: Ohio State Buckeyes at Indiana Hoosiers

Venue: At Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana

Time/TV: Thursday, Aug. 31, 7:00 PM ET

Line: Ohio State -20½, Over/Under 58

Last Meeting: 2016, at Ohio State (-28) 38, Indiana 17

In five seasons at Ohio State Urban Meyer has cemented his legacy as an all-time great in the college football coaching ranks with a 61-6 record. He led the team to a perfect season in 2012 while ineligible for the postseason and delivered a championship in 2014 in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Surprisingly Ohio State has only won the Big Ten championship once in that five-year run and this year’s team is the favorite to accomplish that feat this season while being considered a prime national title contender.

J.T. Barrett is fewer than 1,200 yards short of becoming the all-time passing leader at Ohio State and he is certainly considered a potential Heisman Trophy finalist after throwing for over 2,500 yards last season while also rushing for 845 yards, accounting for 33 touchdowns. The top rusher from last season Mike Weber is also back for his sophomore season and the Buckeyes have an experienced squad with plenty of motivation to redeem a narrow loss to Penn State as the lone blemish in the 2016 campaign and more notably an embarrassing 31-0 defeat in the national semifinal matchup with Clemson.

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Ohio State has a relatively favorable schedule but next week’s home game with Oklahoma looms large in the national picture. While Ohio State hasn’t lost to Indiana since 1988, the recent meetings have featured competitive games with Indiana actually covering each of the last six seasons in this series, albeit as a hefty underdog each year with a +19½ number in 2012 the lowest in that span.

A big storyline heading into this game is Kevin Wilson as the new Ohio State offensive coordinator. Wilson was Indiana’s head coach the past six seasons before a break-up late last season with Wilson taking the Hoosiers from 1-11 in 2011 to back-to-back bowl appearances the past two seasons. Wilson’s defensive coordinator Tom Allen moved up to the head coaching position for the Foster Farms Bowl last December and he leads the Hoosiers moving forward. Allen was previously the defensive coordinator at South Florida before moving to Indiana last season and he was also previously an assistant at Mississippi and Arkansas State.

Indiana hasn’t had a winning season in 2007 as they lost narrowly in bowl games the past two seasons after 6-6 regular season campaigns. Residing in a very competitive Big Ten East has made it tough for Indiana to make big strides but four conference wins last season was the most for the program since 2001. This year’s team has 15 starters back in action while pulling both Illinois and Purdue from the West draw for a relatively favorable path while all three non-conference games are winnable contests.

Richard Lagow had a productive season for the Hoosiers at quarterback in 2016 with the now senior throwing 438 times for over 3,300 yards. He had just 19 touchdowns against 17 interceptions while completing short of 58 percent of his passes as there is room for improvement. Indiana lost its top two rushers from last season but leading receiver Nick Westbrook returns while three of five offensive line starters are back with the team.

Allen led big improvement on the Indiana defense last season cutting the points allowed by the Hoosiers 10 points per game while slashing the yardage average from 509 yards per game allowed to just 380 yards per game allowed, including surrendering only 3.8 yards per rush. The Hoosiers have a reputation as an air-it-out offensive team but this year’s success could hinge on the defense playing well again with nine starters back.

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Indiana should have nothing to lose taking a shot at big upset in a spotlight that certainly brings the most attention to an Indiana football opener in many years. Ohio State has a bigger game up next week but also knows it can’t slip up against a foe that has played them tough in recent years while Wilson will perhaps want to make a statement against his old team after a somewhat messy unexpected departure last fall.

Last Season: Indiana opened the Big Ten season with an upset win at home over then #17 Michigan State, at the time the defending Big Ten champions. The next week the Hoosiers had to go to Columbus to face an undefeated Buckeyes team that was ranked #2 in the country. As a four-touchdown underdog Indiana held its own, closing to within seven points with an early third quarter touchdown before Ohio State answered and then sealed the game in the fourth quarter after Indiana went for it on 4th down in its own territory. Ohio State had just a modest yardage edge at 383-281 but the ground edge was dramatic with the Buckeyes posting 290 rushing yards on 5.8 yards per carry while Indiana netted just 99 yards on 2.5 yards per carry. Both teams had a pair of turnovers as neither squad was at its best on offense.

Historical Trends: Since 1980 Ohio State is 30-2-1 S/U and 18-13-2 ATS in this series but after a 8-0-1 ATS run from 1998 to 2010 Indiana has covered in the past six meetings, though at +28, +19½, +33½, +36½, +21, and +28½. Two of those games did feature single-score final margins including the 2015 meeting in Bloomington. Since 1980 Indiana is just 43-63-1 ATS as a home underdog, though they went 12-8-1 in that role the last six years under Wilson, including going 5-2 ATS when dogged by 14 or more points. The last outright upset for Indiana as a home underdog of this magnitude came in 2006 with a 31-28 win over Iowa at +20. Ohio State is 28-16-1 ATS as a road favorite going back to 2005 though they are just 11-9 ATS under Meyer since 2012 with the lone S/U loss last season’s loss at Penn State as a 17½-point favorite. Ohio State is just 5-11 ATS in the last 16 instances playing as a favorite of 20 or more points with that record only going back to November of 2014 as the Buckeyes are used to this type of favorite pricing.

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