GAMBLING GUIDE

Bookie busters: Some betting plays for college hoops, NBA and even soccer

The NCAA Tournament has some playable games, including Texas Tech. Getty Images

This weekend is packed with action with the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchups tipping off, along with NBA and soccer matches from the world's top leagues. Let's jump into some lines where we see some value and place some wagers.

NCAA Tournament

Friday

West Virginia  +5 O/U 152.5

Villanova

Texas Tech +2         O/U 137.5

Purdue

Syracuse   + 11.5 O/U 133.5

Duke

Clemson   +5 O/U 142.5

Kansas

Action

                    CASH | TICKETS

Villanova      71%   80%

Texas Tech   80%  53%

Syracuse       77%   54%

Kansas          58%   68%

Picks:

Villanova -5

Texas Tech +2

NBA

With under a five game separation between the 4th and 10th seeds in the Wild Western Conference, motivation and fatigue will be a key factor down the stretch.

Let's take a look at the Rockets and Blazers game for example.

The Blazers had their 13 game winning streak snapped, and the legs under the shots of the two Portland stars showed fatigue. The Dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined to go 0-12 from the 3-point line netting only 28 points while on the court for over 70 minutes.

On the opposite side, Houston's hottest tandem blew up the scoreboard accounting for 64 points, going 10-17 from behind the arch. The key is the pair managed to do this in less court time (64 minutes) but contributed in all facets of the game tacking on 14 rebounds and 13 assists

The game clearly meant more to a Blazer squad carrying a double-digit win streak as well as jousting for playoff position. Both Lillard and McCollum are playing career highs in minutes this season, and that is something we will monitor down the stretch. Heavy legs are bad news for a team that relies on their two stars two push the pace and knock down jump shots.

Harden, on the other hand, is averaging his lowest minutes per game in three years. This year he is down to 35.5 MPG, just two years ago in 2016 he was playing 38.1 MPG, almost three entire minutes more per game. Staying fresh down the stretch will be key.

Friday 3/22

Suns vs. Cavaliers

The Cavaliers need to close the season out strong to guarantee themselves homecourt in the first round. They currently have a 1.5 game cushion for homecourt, with the Pacers and Wizards proceeding within a few games putting the pressure on LeBron James crew. The only issue is there is only so much he can do, and the defensive efficiency of the Cavaliers has taken a hit. In the last ten games, Cleveland's defense ranks 25th in the NBA (112.5). During those ten games, they are 6-4, and the offense has been carrying the team. The Cavaliers are third in offensive efficiency during the time frame and are top 10 in Net Rating, Assist%, Ast/TO ratio, all while leading the league in True shooting percentage 60.8%.  So, you ask yourself, why haven't they had more success? Rebounding is your answer, and Cleveland has been horrible as of late. In the last ten games, they are 27th in offensive and 26th in defensive rebounding. How do these numbers help us handicap Friday night's matchup? These teams faced off March 13th, and Cleveland lit it up dropping 129 points in a 22-point blowout. When looking at the final score one would think the game was completely lopsided, but that wasn't the case. The Suns fell behind 20 points in the opening 12 minutes but were only outscored by 4, 6 and 0 in the following quarters. The Cavaliers offense had significant success vs. a Phoneix team that accommodates the league's fourth worse defense in their last ten contests. We like to use this sample size as some teams are mailing it in while others are fighting for their postseason lives. This sample gives us a better measure of where these teams heads are at down the stretch.

The Cavaliers need to win and LeBron has thrown the team on his back as of late. In the last meeting, he had a triple-double, and the Cavaliers scored 68 first-half points followed by 34 points in the 3rd. They would cruise to the finish line, only tallying 27 in the closing 12 minutes for a total of 129. I expect the same from Cleveland at home in a contest they would like to blow wide open and rest legs down the stretch. Phoenix is in offseason mode dropping nine straight, and this matchup will be no different.

Play

Cavaliers 1st half -7.5

Cavaliers Team total 1st Quarter over 30.5

Cavaliers Team Total Over 120.5

Over 228

(Projected spread)

Jazz +3.5 vs. Spurs Under 194.5

San Antonio is on an 8-1 under streak, scoring less than 98 points in 5 of the last 7 games. The Jazz have held opponents under 99 points in 11 of the last 13 games and are listed as a -3.5 underdogs.

Play Under 195

Nuggets vs Wizards Over 219

International Soccer

Friday 3/22 11:00AM

Brazil vs. Russia Over 2.5    

In a meaningless friendly fixture, look for both teams to play wide open soccer. The World Cup is being held in Russia this summer and leaving an exciting performance vs. one of the worlds elite is the perfect prescription for local fans to get behind their team leading up to the Cup. Imagine what a victory vs. Brazil can do for a teams morale. The Brazilians, on the contrary, will be looking to get past this match with minimal injuries, while always putting on the same offensive display as usual. Last time they were involved in friendly of the same nature, they played a thrilling 3-3 match vs. Spain in a game where defense was minimal, and both sides wanted to put on a show.  Look for the same Friday.

Play Over 2.5 goals

Official Plays

Villanova -5

Texas Tech +2

(Projected spread)

Cavaliers 1st half -8

Cavaliers Team total 1st Quarter over 30.5

Cavaliers Team Total Over 120.5

Over 228

Jazz vs. Spurs Under 194.5

Nuggets vs. Wizards Over 219

Brazil vs. Russia Over 2.5    

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on twitter.

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It's easy to blame Bill O'Brien for the Texans woes. He is a lousy GM, a below average play caller and his offense is boring, predictable and ineffective. Not once has he had a top 10 offense in the league. So he does not get a pass here.

But Deshaun Watson shouldn't, either.

Last year, Watson was in the MVP conversation entering the game in Baltimore. Four of the nine games he played before that, Watson had an ESPN Total QBR over 85, which is playing at an elite level.

Since that 41-7 debacle (where his QBR was 13.6), Watson has played 10 games. He has topped 85 just once (and barely - 85.6) in the win over the Patriots. While QBR is not the be all end all, it shows a trend. And before you blame the talent around him or the ridiculously stupid DeAndre Hopkins trade, eight of those games were with Hopkins in the lineup.

Over his last 10 games, Patrick Mahomes has done it five times (and just missed last week at 84.7). Lamar Jackson has done it six times in his last 10. Russell Wilson is six for his last 10. Dak Prescott? Three. Aaron Rodgers? Three. Ryan Tannehill? Three. Josh Allen? Two. Lamar Jackson led the league last year with an 83 for the season. Watson was sixth at 71.3. To be a top 10 quarterback, you had to average 64.1. In two games this season, Watson sits 20th, about where he was over the last six regular season games and two playoff games last year.

In essence, Deshaun Watson - who often gets compared to those players - is not on their level. Yes, O'Brien has a lot to do with it, but it's also time to start looking at Watson's performance and regression as an NFL quarterback.

In 2018, Watson had four such games. In 2017, four in six starts. And now ONE since that Baltimore game. In fact, he has topped 80 just once in that stretch, and 60 just three times.

What it tells us is Watson has been an average quarterback over his last 10 starts. The Texans invested heavily in an offensive line to protect him. They have added depth at WR but a net loss without Hopkins. Elite quarterbacks turn in performances like that roughly half the time. Getting more consistent has always been an issue for Watson. But since that Baltimore game, he has not been close. And he is being paid to be elite.

In the end, O'Brien is still the main culprit. He has hand picked all the players around Watson, he designed the offense, and he controls everything.

But it's time to quit giving Watson a pass. Right now, he is part of the problem.

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