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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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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