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Free NCAA Pick Sunday

#824 George Washington +3 over Duquesne 3:00 PM CT

George Washington owns terrible offensive numbers in a 6-11 start to the season but the Colonials have posted a 2-2 A-10 record, even with losses in both home games. Those contests came with a tight loss vs. Dayton, perhaps the top team in the conference, and then a 20-point loss to Richmond for a great contrast. The overall season numbers are a bit deflated taking November losses to Virginia and Michigan and ultimately the team has capable defensive numbers while avoiding turnovers.

Duquesne sits at 12-5 overall and with a 3-1 conference record but the gap between these teams doesn’t look significant despite the contrasting records. The three A-10 wins for the Dukes have come by a combined total of 12 points while three quarters of the team’s wins have come outside the nation’s top 200. The Dukes take a great deal of 3-point shots while hitting at just over 32 percent and Duquesne has struggled with turnovers on offense. This will be a second straight road game for the Dukes after winning in Richmond on Wednesday and a big contest with Saint Louis is on deck on the schedule with the Billikens the current leader in the conference. There isn’t a single upperclassman in the current Duquesne rotation and this is the first time all season the young team has drawn consecutive road games, with Wednesday’s win the first true road win of the season. After a 2-point home loss in this matchup in the last meeting between these teams George Washington should be motivated and this is a team that could start to perform better in the coming weeks after facing a transition with Illinois transfer DJ Williams taking over a big role and the team losing Arnaldo Toro to injury early in the season.

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Free NCAA Pick Wednesday

#790 Vanderbilt -3.5 over South Carolina 6:00 PM CT

Bryce Drew’s Vanderbilt squad has slipped to 0-3 in SEC play after a promising 9-3 non-conference start that included wins over USC, Liberty, and Arizona State for three top 100 wins. Only two losses have come at home this season and both were close games while the two losses in the last week came on the road, including a nine-point loss at Kentucky last weekend. These teams met just once last season with the Gamecocks winning 71-60 in Columbia just over a year ago while Drew’s squad won by nine in the only home meeting he had in this series since taking over the program two years ago.

Frank Martin’s squad is surprisingly 3-0 in SEC play after a 5-7 non-conference start. Known for defense, the Gamecocks have pushed the pace of play this season but not with better results as this has been a high turnover team that shoots poorly from long range. The 3-0 start has featured some good fortune in SEC play with a two-point win at Florida despite committing 22 turnovers, plus an overtime home win over Mississippi State. On Sunday South Carolina beat Missouri by 10 but that was a challenging situation for the Tigers as that game originally was scheduled for Saturday but moved to Sunday as Missouri dealt with a major winter storm and travel issues.

South Carolina is just 1-2 in true road games including losing at Wyoming this season and the Gamecocks also have a home loss to Stony Brook for two puzzling defeats. The past three wins are the only top 100 wins of the season for South Carolina and this is an absolutely critical spot on the schedule for the Commodores as a loss here could easily mean a potential 0-7 start to SEC play playing Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Kentucky in the next three conference games. Vanderbilt is young but possesses great size and has battled a tougher SEC schedule to this point to create the contrasting records. Vanderbilt has featured great 3-point defense numbers and efficient interior scoring while far less prone to turnovers as home court should hold Wednesday night.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#642 Oklahoma -3 over TCU 1:00 PM CT

The Sooners are 12-3 through a schedule that ranks as the second toughest in the nation. Oklahoma is a in a key spot on the schedule at home with a 1-2 start in conference play but the losses both came on the road in competitive games vs. the top two rated teams in the conference. Oklahoma’s strong record has come with just five home games, with a 4-0 mark beating five teams all rated in the nation’s top 115 and those wins have all come by nine or more points. TCU lost by nine at Kansas on Wednesday and that is the only top 50 team the Horned Frogs have faced this season. It is also the only time this season that TCU has played a true road game outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This will be a daunting spot on the schedule for a team playing without some of its top players and a team featuring zero top 50 wins on the season. TCU went just 3-6 in Big XII road games last season and lost both meetings with Oklahoma even in a down year for Lon Kruger’s squad. Jamie Dixon’s squad has struggled with free throws and could be exposed in a second straight road game vs. an underrated Oklahoma team that has eight top 100 wins on the season.

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Free NCAA Pick Sunday

#810 Michigan -8.5 over Indiana 3:30 PM CT

14-0 Michigan hasn’t played a great strength of schedule but they are hard to doubt at home in a marquee test vs. Indiana, the first meeting in more than a year between these programs with Michigan’s 69-55 home win last season in this series coming in early December. Michigan has double-digit home wins over North Carolina and Purdue squads that soundly out-rank Indiana and while Archie Miller’s squad is 12-2 there have been numerous close calls. The Hoosiers lost by 21 at Duke and the only road win this season came by two points at Penn State. The 3-0 Big Ten start has featured three of the bottom teams in the conference with three wins by a combined 12 points while big non-conference wins over Louisville and Butler came by a combined total of four points as this team could easily be much closer to .500. Indiana has struggled with turnovers, rebounding, and free throws and Michigan has one of the lowest turnover rates in the nation. The Wolverines have provided fantastic 3-point defense while also hitting nearly 38 percent beyond the arc on offense. Michigan is second nationally in defensive efficiency and after a flat start vs. Penn State Thursday Michigan still won by 13. This is a game that will have Michigan’s full attention and a strong performance looks likely.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#642 Towson -2.5 over NC-Wilmington 1:00 PM CT

Towson owns a lousy 5-10 record this season but they have played one home game in more than a month spanning the past eight games. That was a competitive loss to a Charleston squad that rates as one of the top CAA squads. Now 1-2 in conference play this home date is a critical game for a Tigers team that won 18 games last season.

Towson lost in overtime in the last meeting between these teams in Wilmington last January but the Tigers won by 18 in the last home meeting in this series. NC-Wilmington won just 11 games last season and hasn’t improved its pace so far this year with a 5-10 mark. One of those wins came Thursday night in double-OT at James Madison, snapping a six-game slide. The Seahawks are now playing a sixth road game in the past seven games for a daunting spot on the schedule two days after a double-OT game.

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Free NCAA Pick Wednesday

#783 Nebraska +2.5 over Maryland 5:30 PM CT

This finally looks like the breakthrough season for Tim Miles and the Nebraska program with an 11-2 start though a good schedule, featuring wins over Seton Hall, Clemson, Creighton, and Oklahoma State. The Huskers are 0-1 in Big Ten road games however putting a lot of emphasis on this contest tonight at Maryland. Nebraska has three top 100 wins away from home this season and is one of the few teams in the nation rated in the top 30 nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

Maryland has a young squad that starts two freshmen and also features three other freshmen off the bench. Jalen Smith could return after missing the last game but the Terrapins have played a dramatically weaker schedule compared with Nebraska to reach 10-3 for Mark Turgeon. Maryland has just one top 50 win this season and that came narrowly with a comeback win over Penn State in the B1G opener. Maryland has lost twice at home already this season and has had issues on offense with turnovers.

Nelly’s is on a 27-7 basketball run since December 6 – Get a guaranteed pick for Wednesday night or join us for all of January for just $199, riding five straight college wins while posting a huge 16-2 NBA run. Nelly’s won Tuesday’s Bowl Game of the Year on Texas and we will be ready for another big NFL Playoff run hitting 70% the past five seasons in the NFL Playoffs.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#632 Georgia +3 over Arizona State 5:00 PM CT

Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State squad has started 7-1 but the team enters the season’s very first road game off a loss to highly ranked Nevada last weekend in a six-point game. The Sun Devils have a big week on tap with non-conference road games vs. SEC teams Saturday and Monday before hosting top ranked Kansas next Saturday. The seven-wins have included narrow quality wins over Mississippi State and Utah State in Las Vegas but also close calls at home vs. Cal-State Fullerton and Texas Southern. Arizona State went just 3-6 on the road in Pac-12 play last season and the Sun Devils are a risky road favorite in this game.

Georgia is just 5-3 with no wins of substance but this is a transition season for Tom Crean who looks to rebuild the program in Athens. Turnovers have been an issue but the statistical profile is encouraging for the Bulldogs and this will be a big opportunity at home for the team with by far the biggest non-conference home date on this season’s schedule. Georgia has one of the better defensive effective field goal rates in the nation and the team had had more than a week to prep for this opportunity.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#730 Seton Hall +7.5 over Kentucky 11:00 AM CT

Kentucky was blown out in the opener against Duke and hasn’t left home since. The 7-0 run has featured only games in Lexington and last weekend’s win over UNC Greensboro was the highest quality victory in that stretch. There have still been several close calls with four of those wins by 15 or fewer points as this hasn’t resembled a great Wildcats team. Turnovers have been a big problem and the defense has been vulnerable to the 3-point shot. This Madison Square Garden opportunity is one of the biggest games of the season for Kevin Willard and the Pirates, always a fierce defensive team.

There have been mixed results in a 5-3 start for Seton Hall but the schedule has been difficult and losses to Saint Louis and Louisville were in very close games. In great contrast to Kentucky, Seton Hall has an incredibly low turnover rate and scores efficiently inside while not reliant on 3-point shooting. Four senior starters departed from last season’s 22-wins squad that lost to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament but four starters played with the team last season and Sacred Heart transfer Quincy McKnight has been a veteran stabilizing presence. Seton Hall shot just 17 percent from 3-point range and still nearly beat Louisville and the Pirates can slow and stall an unproven Kentucky squad into a tight game.

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Free NCAA Pick Tuesday

#711 Providence +3.5 over Boston College

Providence was a 21-win team last season that beat Boston College by 20 in a November home meeting. The Friars played three straight overtime games in the NCAA Tournament, losing to eventual champion Villanova in the Sweet 16. Alpha Diallo and Isaiah Jackson are returning starters from that squad with Nate Watson also a returning contributor taking on a starting role in the paint this season. A pair of talented freshman have joined the starting five to give Providence great size with all starters at least 6’5”.

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Providence is 6-2 including a neutral site win over South Carolina while the losses came in a tight game with Wichita State and against red hot Michigan. Providence has good numbers on both sides of the ball as an effective outside shooting team and a very good interior defense team. Boston College is 6-1 but without playing a top 50 foe yet this season. The best win was a narrow home escape against Minnesota when the Gophers had coast-to-coast travel. Boston College lost to IUPUI while five of six wins this season have come by 12 or fewer points despite playing only two top 200 teams all season.

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The Eagles are an awful 3-point shooting team at below 30 percent while one of the nation’s worst free-throw shooting squads at just 66 percent. Boston College does limit its turnovers but this is an inexperienced squad with three underclassmen in the typical six-man rotation with the Eagles offering very little depth. Boston College lost 13 home games the previous two years and already has a home loss this season as Conte has provided a minimal advantage and Providence should be a serious upset threat on Tuesday.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 14

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 14

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week from Championship weekend in college football. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

Northern Illinois (+3½) 30, Buffalo 29: The Bulls led 22-10 at halftime and scored a touchdown to open the second half for a 19-point edge. The Huskies made some great defensive adjustments as Buffalo would pick up a net total of seven yards over its next five possessions. A marginal punt handed Northern Illinois good field position and late in the third quarter the Huskies closed the gap back to 12 points. After another 3-and-out for the Bulls, Northern Illinois needed only four plays to score again to cut the deficit to just five points with most of the fourth quarter still to play. After forcing two more Buffalo punts, the Huskies had the ball back at their own 30-yard-line with just over three minutes to go. Without great resistance Northern Illinois got the go-ahead score in eight plays, connecting for a 35-yard catch with just over a minute to go. Up one, Northern Illinois went for two and fell short leaving backers of the slight favorite still with hope for a late touchdown to get past the number. Buffalo would cross midfield thanks to a pass interference call but wound up ending the game with four straight incomplete passes.

UAB (+1) 27, Middle Tennessee State 25: UAB scored three touchdowns in the span of four minutes in the second quarter but Middle Tennessee State had a chance to tie the game in the third quarter, failing on a two-point conversion attempt to sit behind 24-22 heading into the fourth quarter. The Blue Raiders would take the lead on a field goal with about 10 minutes remaining but after an exchange of punts that put UAB at midfield, the Blazers did enough for the go-ahead field goal with just over three minutes to go to lead by two on a spread that fell from +3 to just +1 by kickoff. Middle Tennessee State crossed midfield in the final two minutes but ended its threat with three straight incomplete passes.

UCF (-1) 56, Memphis 41: The spread on this game opened at -4½ and fell to just -1 by kickoff with the injury to McKenzie Milton putting the UCF winning streak in jeopardy. Memphis had a 24-7 lead in the first quarter and led 38-21 at halftime. As they did in the regular season meeting, UCF battled back in the second half and cut the margin to just six points by the start of the fourth quarter. The Knights took a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter and Milton’s replacement Darriel Mack would wind up with three fourth quarter touchdowns as the Knights pulled away for a second straight AAC title and will head to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

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Oklahoma (-9½) 39, Texas 27: For very little of this game Oklahoma appeared in position to cover a spread that climbed from -7½ to -9½ as they led 20-14 at the half after overcoming an early deficit and the game was tied 27-27 through three quarters after the Sooners blocked a PAT on a late third quarter Longhorns touchdown. That kept overtime as a serious possibility but that changed when Oklahoma got a safety after hitting an early fourth quarter field goal. Texas was pinned deep following a fumble that thwarted a Sooners scoring opportunity but a blitz put Sam Ehlinger down in the end zone for a five-point edge for Oklahoma. Getting the ball right back Oklahoma converted three third downs and scored with two minutes to go for a 12-point edge to slip past the favorite spread. Texas looked like they would get back within the number with a new set of downs inside the 20 in the final minute but an interception sealed the win and cover for the Big XII championship for Oklahoma.

Fresno State (+1) 19, Boise State 16: The Bulldogs didn’t have much production in Boise Saturday night looking to avenge a tight loss in last season’s conference championship game as well as a regular season defeat this season. Fresno State managed field goals in the two middle quarters for a 13-7 edge but Boise State would complete an 87-yard touchdown drive with about eight minutes to go to the tie the game. The PAT was blocked as Boise State failed to go in front for what would have been a one-point win to match the closing spread on the game with the Bulldogs even briefly favored at some outlets late in the week. Neither squad posed much of a threat to score on late game possessions in regulation as overtime was needed. Boise State stalled inside the 10-yard-line and settled for a 23-yard field goal going first. Fresno State hit two big gains early and then on the second try from the one-yard-line rushed into the end zone for the win.

Clemson (-28) 42, Pittsburgh 10: The statistics suggested a blowout but this was a 14-10 game early before Clemson scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes before halftime. That 18-point edge was well short of the four-touchdown spread and Pittsburgh held Clemson off the scoreboard in the third quarter. Early in the fourth the Tigers put the game away with another touchdown but still seemed unlikely to slip past the favorite spread until Pittsburgh fumbled at the Clemson 30-yard-line with six minutes to go. Clemson broke a 31-yard run on second down and then a 28-yard run a few plays later, eventually putting the result-flipping touchdown on the board with just over three minutes to go.

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Ohio State (-16½) 45, Northwestern 24: Ohio State took advantage of a few big plays for a 24-7 edge at the break, just past the favorite spread in Indianapolis. Northwestern battled back in the third quarter with two touchdown drives as the heavy underdog sat within three with the ball back. An interception halted that momentum but Ohio State didn’t add points until late in the third quarter for a 10-point edge. Early in the fourth Ohio State missed a field goal and Northwestern succeeded on a kick to get within seven and two scores within the underdog spread. A broken coverage allowed Ohio State a 63-yard pass to set-up a Buckeyes touchdown for a 14-point edge with nine minutes remaining. Northwestern crossed midfield but eventually had to go for it on 4th down and came up short, allowing Ohio State to play with a short field and the Buckeyes added a late score for a 21-point edge in the final minutes. Northwestern was sacked twice on its final possession and ultimately opted to punt facing 4th-and-19 as Ohio State was able to win and cover despite being soundly out-rushed and only leading by a single-score much of the second half.

South Carolina (-28) 28, Akron 3: In rainy conditions South Carolina had a 28-3 edge at halftime with the help of a defensive touchdown that followed-up a red zone interception. The Gamecocks had turnovers on three consecutive possessions at one point in the second half while Akron was stopped on downs in South Carolina territory twice while having another fumble near midfield. Ultimately neither team added points and Akron held on to the narrow underdog cover with the scoreless second half in a game with seven turnovers and minimal offensive production on both sides.

Stanford (-3) 23, California 13: Down 13-6 at halftime California dominated the second half of this rivalry game as Stanford had 34 net yards on its first four possessions after halftime. Cal meanwhile had an empty drive into Stanford territory, an interception in the end zone, and a missed 34-yard field goal. The Cardinal would go up two scores after the four-minute mark in the fourth quarter and the Bears would wind up with another interception that with a long return put Stanford at the three-yard-line. The Cardinal scored to go up by 17 before allowing a late touchdown to the Bears in the final minute.

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