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Free NCAA Pick Wednesday

#796 Rutgers +5.5 over Ohio State 6:00 PM CT

In starting 0-3 Rutgers has faced a brutally tough Big Ten schedule losing to Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Maryland. Those games were all mostly competitive with the 14-point loss Saturday to the Terrapins the largest margin of defeat for the 7-6 Scarlet Knights since mid-November. Rutgers has a win at Miami and has quality defensive numbers through a difficult overall schedule. Ohio State is 12-2 but they have lost by 10 and 9 in the two toughest games they have faced all season and both of those games were in Columbus. Road wins in Cincinnati and Creighton are impressive results but those games came in the first two weeks of the season and Ohio State has not played a true road game in nearly two months. Eight of the 12 wins on the season have come outside the nation’s top 100 and this will be the first Big Ten true road game of the season for the Buckeyes. Rebounding looks like an area where Rutgers will have an edge and following up the hyped Michigan State game could be a challenge for Ohio State now as a substantial road favorite.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#343/344 ‘OVER 60.5’ Rutgers at Ohio State 2:30 PM CT

Ryan Day won his debut coaching the Buckeyes with Ohio State mostly untested in a 77-31 win over Oregon State. Dwayne Haskins was productive in the passing game while Ohio State rushed for 375 yards and poured it on to earn an improbable cover with a 21-0 fourth quarter. Ohio State won 56-0 at Rutgers last season but the Knights were winners last week beating Texas State 35-7.

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The Knights had four turnovers but freshman Artur Sitkowski was productive in his debut despite the miscues against a better than assumed Texas State defense. Rutgers allowed only one third down conversion in that game however and Ohio State converted 12 of 15 3rd down plays last week against a similarly rated Oregon State squad. Last week’s opener was critically important for the embattled program after a challenging summer while next week’s game with TCU will be on a huge national stage as the intensity particularly on defense could be lacking for the Buckeyes.

Being the Big Ten opener means more for Rutgers who has covered in three of its four Big Ten openers since joining the conference while the Knights went 4-1 ATS in Big Ten road games last season. Rutgers has been outscored 114-0 the past two years in this matchup however as even with an inflated spread the Knights would be tough to support with a freshman quarterback in Columbus.

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There should be valid concerns about the Ohio State defense. Oregon State had to play with a backup quarterback with its starter hurt just a handful of plays into the game and yet the Beavers had 31 points and 365 yards in the first three quarters. Unlike the Buckeyes Oregon State shut it down in the fourth quarter of a decided game when they likely could have added more production and points with a more aggressive approach. Ohio State allowed 5.0 yards per rush to a team in a major transition that was among the nation’s worst teams last season as the Knights will have an opportunity to move the ball and break the scoreless streak in this series and Ohio State is certainly a threat to eclipse this total on its own as well.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#535/536 ‘UNDER 142.5’ Ohio State vs. Gonzaga 6:45 PM CT

Ohio State wound up with 81 points against South Dakota State in a game that was very competitive with a tie-game at 70-70 late before a few big plays from the Buckeyes. Ohio State took 40 3-point shots in the contest despite being a below average 3-point shooting team and a team that did not take a great proportion of 3-point shots most of the season. Ohio State normally plays rather slow and after watching UNC Greensboro slow the pace to a crawl making Gonzaga nearly an upset-victim on Thursday Chris Holtmann will likely also want to keep the pace slow especially with a backdrop in Boise that will feature a lot of Gonzaga support.

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Gonzaga’s offense really struggled with a long layoff and the jump from WCC competition and facing the Southern champion will be severe now facing one of the top Big Ten teams. Gonzaga shot 22 percent from 3-point range and surprisingly lost the rebounding battle on Thursday. Turnovers should be low on both sides of this matchup as transition baskets will be rare and both teams have had some inconsistency at the free throw line.

These teams met in November in Portland and Gonzaga won 86-59 for 145 points, just above tonight’s current total but that was a Buckeyes team still finding itself in just the fifth game and first major test under the new coaching staff while Gonzaga shot over 58 percent in that game. A high free throw count pushed that scoring upwards as well and while there is risk of a tight finish meaning late free throws and a slow clock in the final minutes, this game does figure to play like a defensive grind with a Sweet 16 bid on the line for teams that narrowly avoided first round upsets.

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Bobby Dalton went 4-1-1 Thursday & Friday with two 10* wins – don’t miss his early Trips-2-Win offer Saturday. Nelly’s is 4-2 in NCAA Tournament picks and we have a pair for Saturday for only $15. Big E has his next NCAA 4-Pack while Maximum has a later 2/3 offer. Point Train also has a 6-unit release for Saturday tournament action.

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Free NCAA Pick Wednesday

‘UNDER 146.5’ #747/748 Ohio State at Purdue 7:30 PM CT

After slipping by Michigan with a one-point win in early January, Purdue turned in wins by 34, 28, and 23 the next three games to establish itself as the Big Ten frontrunner. Purdue remains undefeated at 12-0 in Big Ten play but in now four straight games it has taken close calls to keep the streak alive regardless of the competition. Purdue’s last four wins have come by four, seven, eight, and two points and while this home date with Ohio State matches two teams in the first two spots in the Big Ten standings, Saturday’s game with Michigan State seems more important in the big picture.

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If you are looking for top 20 wins for Purdue there aren’t any, as beating Ohio State Wednesday would qualify as the strongest win of the season to date for the Boilermakers. Wins over Marquette, Arizona, and Louisville no longer stand out in non-conference play and Purdue has played one of the weakest Big Ten schedules so far. Purdue narrowly out-paces Ohio State in conference offensive efficiency but the top defense belongs to the surprising Buckeyes who should control the pace in this matchup and aim to grind out a tight lower scoring game.

Ohio State has not lost a true road game yet this season and while this will be by far the toughest test this team continues to impress with Chris Holtmann deserving of national coach of the year consideration in his first season in Columbus. The only Big Ten loss for Ohio State came by three points in a game where Penn State shot over 58 percent, including making 11 of 14 3-point shots. Despite Purdue’s size Ohio State is the far more impressive defensive rebounding team and Ohio State has scored at a higher percentage inside of the 3-point line. The Boilermakers are much more reliant on 3-point shooting and despite some high scoring games for both teams these are relatively slow tempo teams. ‘Under’ looks promising with high stakes in the Big Ten tonight.

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Nelly’s is 9-0-1 in February basketball picks for an amazing start to the month. Get tonight’s 2-for-1 offer for just $15 or play the rest of the month for just $179. Big E was a winner last night and is on a 17-8 run in his last 25 picks with huge gains. A 10* Biggie is available tonight for $9.94 and 20* picks are expected each of the next three days. Bobby Dalton has a guaranteed Trips-2-Win offer tonight after winning a 10* yesterday and Maximum Sports has a guaranteed 7-Up offer Wednesday in college basketball.

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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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