Dave’s Free Play, Friday 11/28/14

Back to regular blogging tomorrow. This is one of my mini-breaks as far as the daily commentary is concerned. But there are no days off for the free play portion, so here’s an opinion on  Friday college basketball game.

11/28 12:00 PM   CBB   (809) IPFW  at  (810) DARTMOUTH

Take: (809) IPFW +2

I lost track a long time ago at the number of times I’ve read or heard pre-season reports on Dartmouth that always begin the same way. “This is the year the Big Green finally start to show some progress” is the general tone. Then the campaign gets rolling and Dartmouth does what they always do, which is lose way more often than they win.

Same old story heading into this year, with the typical dose of optimism. I guess I kind of get it, as big Gabe Maldunas is healthy again, and there’s a corps of returning starters that often does indicate good things might be about to happen. They’ve got some size and perhaps a little more depth than is usually the case for the Big Green. I’m not going to rule out Dartmouth being better this season. But they’ll have to prove it to me, and until that time, count me as a skeptical observer.

IPFW is off a terrific season, and while the Mastadons probably won’t get to 25 wins again, I think they’ll be just fine. In spite of losing some key contributors from that team as well as the head coach, there’s still ample talent and experience on hand. As for the new coach, Jon Coffman moved up from assistant to head man, so he knows all these players well and chances are he recruited several of them, or at least played a part in doing so. IPFW has been just fine out of the gate, winning three of its first four with only a respectable loss to Georgia Tech.

IPFW was one of the most accurate shooting teams in college basketball last season, and it appears as though they’ve barely skipped a beat as far as that aspect of their game is concerned. The Mastadons are not a big basketball team, but they’ve been good at playing to their strengths snd camouflaging their weaknesses.

Dartmouth does have the height to cause some problems here. The Big Green might have some success on the glass at both ends of the court and IPFW needs to make sure the home team doesn’t do much damage on second chance baskets. But Dartmouth doesn’t have the offense to exploit what could be a shaky IPFW defense, and the Big Green have lots of ball security issues in opening the season 0-2.

The fact the Big Green have only played the two games so far is not a positive. In terms of a potentially negative on the IPFW line, I’m a little concerned that they’re off a win this past Monday against their former coach, and the Mastadons also defeated this opponent with ease last season. But I definitely see the visitors as the better squad and I’ve basically never had a problem trying got beat Dartmouth. I’ll go that way again here, with a call on IPFW plus the small number to collect the cash.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Thanksgiving Day, 11/27/14

No blog today, just the free play for the day. Enjoy your holiday!

11/27 03:00 PM   CBB   (539) CAL STATE FULLERTON  vs.  (540) WRIGHT STATE

Take: (539) CAL STATE FULLERTON +6.5

If you look at the pre-season projections, Wright State is much more highly thought of than is Cal State Fullerton. The Raiders figure to reside in the upper half of the Horizon, while the Titans are projected to be at or at least near the bottom in the Big West. That might well be the case, but thanks to the matchups we’ll see today in this game, I believe the underdog has a decent chance to get the mild upset.

Wright State coach Billy Donlon’s game is pressure. Wright State was one of the best teams in the country last season at forcing turnovers. But the current edition of the Raiders has zero starters back from last season, and the defense is not where it needs to be just yet. That’s key here. Fullerton has definite shortcomings, but the strength of the team is its backcourt tandem of Alex Harris and Lanerryl Johnson, and that combo should be able to handle whatever Wright State throws at them.

Harris is off an especially awful game by his standards, so I would expect him to enjoy a bounce back to at least some extent today. Johnson is a jaycee transfer who has stepped right into the lineup and is playing well. I believe they can neutralize the Arceneaux/Hopkins combo and if that’s the case, I don’t know where the big advantage is for Wright State.

The Raiders are off to a 3-1 start that includes a win over a respectable Belmont entry plus a good road win at Charleston Southern. That’s not bad, especially considering that Wright State is without a couple of key bench guys, so their depth chart is a bit depleted.

If you’re just playing off the power rankings, Wright State is definitely the chalk here, so no argument with the number being where it is. But when breaking down the personnel and the team tendencies, I expect the Titans to take away what the Raiders want to implement defensively, and that should out this game into the coin flip category. That being the expectation, Cal State Fullerton plus a fairly generous spot looks like the right side to me.

Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 11/26/14

Here’s this week’s Wise Guy Wednesday Report for the colleges. This will be the final report for season, as it’s the last full card of the year. Info gathered from various sources within Nevada, as well as underground shops stateside plus offshore outlets. Comments are not mine, and these are not necessarily plays I’ll be on. Hope this report has been enjoyable and helpful!

316 Virginia Tech has gotten some fairly steady sharp money since the opener on Sunday night. The Hokies are at home in a rivalry battle with Virginia.

Heavy wise guy action on 320 Western Michigan, and the Broncos went through key numbers in a hurry as they prep for a showdown with Northern illinois.

327 Nebraska is drawing a bit of pro dough. But a couple of my sources believe that Iowa money will show between now and Friday.

There has been some wise guy support for 349 Old Dominion as road dogs at Florida Atlantic. It’s not heavy, but steady according to what I was told.

Sharps have been trying to beat 352 Duke for much of the season, and succeeded the last two weeks. But it’s an about face this week, with the Blue Devils finally attracting some professional action as they host Wake Forest.

The smarts are backing 363 North Carolina State in the Wolfpack’s rivalry clash with North Carolina.

Nothing much showed early, but wise guy dollars started to trickle in on 367 Purdue on Tuesday. The Boilermakers are small road dogs at Indiana.

383 Utah State is attracting some support from the sharps as a good sized dog against Boise State.

The sharps lost with 387 Washington State last week, but the Cougars are again drawing some action for the Apple Cup game with Washington. But not nearly the avalanche of dollars that showed last week.

403 Florida is a very popular play. The sharps hit the opening number decisively and the steam chasers are out in force as the Florida State fade machine rolls on.

Another rivalry dog getting some smart money action is 417 Kentucky as the Wildcats visit Louisville on Saturday.

Last but not least, 424 Troy is getting wise guy play as a home dog against UL Lafayette.

—————

Okay results on Tuesday with a 4-2 ledger. I also published some leans that didn’t make my card on Twitter, and those went 4-1. I can’t say I’ll be able to provide these every day, but when possible I will put these extra opinions on Twitter, so make sure to follow me @davecokin.

So far, so good this week and there could be some heavy action tonight as I like several college hoop games to at least some extent. My subscribers get all my actual plays across the board, and getting into that loop is pretty easy. Just use the “buy now” feature on this page to get rolling, and note that buying one month nets a second month as a free bonus. For additional info, just email me directly at cokin@cox.net.

————–

Hofstra blew a double digit lead down the stretch, but the Pride were able to hang on for the cover. I’ll stay in the road dog mode tonight with the Wednesday free play.

11/26 04:00 PM   CBB   (729) NORTHEASTERN  at  (730) MASSACHUSETTS

Take: (729) NORTHEASTERN +5 (Note time change to 11AM PST, 2 PM EST)

A little rivalry music, please, as Northeastern takes a bus ride to Amherst for a clash with Massachusetts. Only that rivalry music is a little off key, as these teams are not annual opponents in spite of the mere 90 mile distance between the two schools.

The last meeting between the Huskies and Minutemen was a couple years ago, and for a couple of the Northeastern seniors, there won’t be any need for a reminder of what took place. The Huskies looked to be in great shape for the win, but UMass hit a bunch of late threes and ended up winning by six.

This is a very big game for Northeastern. The Huskies don’t get nearly as much local attention as some of their Massachusetts brethren, including UMass, and they’d like to make a statement this evening. Make no mistake, this is a good Northeastern squad. They’re certainly looking as though they will be in the serious mix for the CAA title. A non-conference win over the Minutemen would look really nice on the Huskies resume.

UMass is a solid entry, although I don’t see them being as strong as the prior edition. The Minutemen are also back home off bigger name games with Notre Dame and Florida State. UMass is 4-1 out of the gate, but all the wins were pretty close and the one loss to the Fighting Irish was decisive.

I actually have Northeastern as the slightly higher rated team at this juncture, and I really like the idea of backing experienced teams with a motive early in the campaign. The Huskies have all five starters back from last year’s squad and they’re off to an excellent start, so there’s no reason I can see to not give them a play here.

Also worth noting is the time change. This is because the region is expected to get some significant snow, and with Thanksgiving tomorrow, it makes sense to get this event over and done with as quickly as possible. Is that a mitigating factor that might benefit the road team? Quite possibly, as my guess is there will not be a full house for this game and that could lessen the home court edge by a bit.

But mainly, I’m just doing what the numbers tell me to do here. If what I have as the better team is getting points, I take the points. Simple as that, basically. So mark me down for Northeastern plus the points in this one.

 

 

 

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 11/25/14

New feature starting today, and this will be on what I’ll call a mostly daily basis. I’ll be running through the previous night’s college basketball results, with the idea being to focus on games that might have had misleading scores. Looking at a final score will often not be a true representation of how the game got there. I have always found this information valuable, hopefully it will be of benefit to many college hoop bettors who read this space. Note that I said “mostly daily” as there might be some days where I just don’t get to the game breakdowns to make any pertinent comments, or if I decide I’m in the mood to go on a rant about something. Also note that I will still have the usual Wise Guy Wednesday report this week, but as it’s the final major regular season week of the college football season, this will be the last edition for this year.

Virginia Commonwealth played what might well have been its worst half of basketball since Shaka Smart arrived on the scene. The Rams lost the second half by a whopping 22 points in losing 74-53. Worth noting that VCU had only four assists in the entire game.

Freshman Melo Trimble had quite the night for Maryland as the Terrapins edged Arizona State 78-73. Trimble scored 31 in the win, and was 13/14 at the free throw line. As it turns out, the Sun Devils had just 14 FT attempts as a team.

Seton Hall led Illinois State 30-9, but the Redbirds clawed their way back and the final tally was just 84-80. Sterling Gibbs saved the day for the Pirates with a 40 point explosion that included a perfect 13/13 from the stripe.

Auburn was shorthanded against Tulsa, and ended up getting blown out 53-35. It had no impact on the result in terms of who won and lost, but the officiating in this game was absurd, as the officials basically made up their minds to call charging anytime anyone drove to the basket for either team. Auburn had no idea how to handle the Tulsa zone and Cinmeon Banks was their only effective player.

Oakland continues to struggle and the problem remains an inability to play any defense at all. The Grizzlies lost 88-79 in double OT to Western Carolina, and that’s despite attempting 18 more free throws than the Catamounts.

Indiana blew a double digit second half lead in a discouraging home loss to Eastern Washington. The visiting Eagles got almost all their production from three players as the Hoosiers seemed clueless how to stop the Big Sky invaders. A huge win for Eastern Washington, and the Indiana problems continue to mount.

Austin Peay might have gotten jobbed a bit at Indiana State. I only caught the audio feed on this one, but the Governors broadcast team was very upset with some of the calls. Considering how close this game was, the 37-26 FT attempt disparity favoring the Sycamores might mean the guys had a point.

Brown ended up getting blown out 89-68 at Illinois, but the Bears actually led this game by six in the second half. It hasn’t been against stellar opposition, but this Illinois entry is appearing to be far more explosive than last year’s edition.

—————-

3-0 college hoops night, and the customary shootout loser in the NHL. I can’t really beef about this one as the Flyers were completely outplayed for most of the 65 minutes against the Islanders. But it might be nice to actually get lucky with one of these at some point. Nevertheless, with the college basketball reads on target, it was a nice overall night.

My current special includes all my plays, the majority of which will be in college. But the main thing is that regardless of the sport, if it’s a play for me, it’s there for all my subscribers as well. There’s almost always some analysis, as I think it’s important to explain why I’m on a game. Sign up using the “buy now” feature on this page, and receive two full months for the price of one. Or, if you’d like more info, feel free to email me at cokin@cox.net.

————

Pepperdine hung in for the full 40 at Iowa and got the cover without too much of a sweat, though there was one Hawkeyes run that made things dicey for a minute or two. I’ll go with another college underdog tonight.

11/25 04:00 PM   CBB   (517) HOFSTRA  at  (518) SOUTH FLORIDA

Take: (517) HOFSTRA +4

Hofstra is projected to be one of the most improved teams in the land this season. Joe Mihalich didn’t just say so long to Niagara when he took the job with the Pride, he also took a couple of star players with him. I think it speaks volumes that both Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley opted to sit out an entire season as they followed their coach to his new gig.

Green and Tanksley are off to good starts with Hofstra and the Pride, while not the favorite, are looking as though they’re going to be serious title contenders in the CAA this season. Hofstra will have some occasional issues on the glass as they’re not blessed with a great deal of height. But the Mihalich touch is already evident in several other aspects of their game, and the on court chemistry is strong according to onlookers.

South Florida is also looking as though it’s a program on the rise. Orlando Antigua is a rookie head coach, but he’s been sitting next to John Caliper for the last several years. That is almost certainly going to pay off when it comes to recruiting, and the on court results thus far have been pretty good as well. Chris Perry, wo enjoyed a solid freshman season for the Bulls, has taken what sure looks to be a substantial step forward, and he’s going to be a handful inside for any team that lines up against South Florida.

There’s already a common opponent for these two teams, as each took a road loss at North Carolina State. South Florida gave the Wolfpack a tougher battle, but that could actually work against them a bit here. That duel took place on Sunday, so it’s a fairly quick turnaround for USF. Hofstra also played on Sunday, but they were able to coast some against Wagner in a game that was pretty much done at halftime.

Hofstra was a scrappy bunch last season that earned a decent dividend for those who backed the Pride on the road. That task might be a bit tougher this time around, as the big lines won’t be nearly as plentiful, and I think it’s safe to say that the major improvement being projected for the Pride is not even remotely under the radar for college hoop junkies. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be a worthwhile play in the right spots.

I’m going to be interested to see if things get better at home for USF. The Bulls have been a miserable spread team at home lately, but with the arrival of Antigua there will hopefully be a boost in excitement. But, and I don’t mean this to sound insulting, Tampa is not exactly the most intense sports town on the planet, and USF really has troubles attracting crowds to its home games. It’s just not an imposing scenario for the guests, and until that changes I’ll likely continue to give the Bulls what amounts to a minimal home court edge.

I can see tonight’s game being tight all the way, and while the power ratings indicate the number is about where it should be, I feel as though there’s still a little value to be had with emerging Hofstra. I’ll go ahead and snare the available points with the Pride tonight.

Dave’s Free Play, Monday 11/24/14

Having now lived more than half my life in Las Vegas, I’ve pretty much shed most of my old New England tendencies. Some reluctantly because I’ve had no choice (no real steamers, which is a genuine shame), others with glee (no more shoveling snow and walking through slush). In the process, I’ve become as Las Vegas as it gets. Translated, that means I have no clue about what shows to go see (so please stop asking, friends and relatives who might be visiting anytime soon) and I’m not looking for the keno runner every time I set foot in a hotel/casino restaurant (do they still have those?).

I’ve also become a big UNLV fan and make an annual contribution to the school’s athletic fund. I follow several of the school’s sports closely (basketball, football, baseball, golf) and am always pleased to hear about success being enjoyed by any of the programs. I’m ardently in favor of anything that would benefit the university, which of course includes the much needed construction of a new stadium. Said stadium would obviously be a huge improvement over what we presently have, and while the football team would clearly benefit, such a facility would also be a great venue for many other events as well.

UNLV will close out the current football season on Saturday evening as they host the battle for the Fremont Cannon against Nevada. The cannon has been painted red for the last year as UNLV traveled north and knocked off the Wolf Pack last season. The visitors are favored to reclaim the cannon this time around, and while this year has been a tough one for the Rebels, maintaining possession of this trophy would be tremendously satisfying.

It’s actually a good thing the biggest game of the campaign is taking place this weekend. Otherwise, I really don’t know how the Rebels would be able to get focused after what took place at the conclusion of the Hawaii game on Saturday night. I’ve been watching sports closely for more than a half century, and what happened to the Rebels in this game was among the most unfair things I’ve ever seen. Perhaps there’s some admitted bias because I’m a fan (no, I had no wager on the game, so it’s got nothing to do with that), but this was disgraceful.

UNLV scored with 20 seconds remaining to take a 35-31 lead, capping off a great drive and fourth quarter rally. Naturally, the Rebel players were exuberant. Perhaps a little too much so, and with the rules being what they are, I guess the refs had no choice but to flag them for excessive celebration. Had they stopped right there, no problem. But they didn’t. They actually flagged UNLV a second time for the same infraction. Like I said, I’ve been watching football for a whole lotta years. And I’ve never seen a team get flagged twice for the same thing on one play. Never. I’m not saying this hasn’t happened elsewhere, but if it has, I sure missed it.

This forced UNLV to kick off from its own 10 yard line, which guaranteed Hawaii decent field position and an outside chance to score a touchdown, as the Warriors still had all three time outs in their pocket. But UNLV was still in great shape to get the win. Or so it seemed.

Hawaii got the ball into the red zone and had five seconds remaining on the clock to run one play. The QB dropped back, and tried to hit his tight end, but the pass fell incomplete. That’s it, Rebels win! Only they didn’t, because there was still somehow one second showing on the clock. Next play, touchdown and Hawaii wins 37-35.

I was watching the game on my phone, and let’s just say the feed was not the best of all time. Regardless, I don’t know how it’s possible for the one play to have not caused the clock to expire. One person who follows me on Twitter claims he timed it with a stopwatch three times, and it took 4.15 seconds from snap to ball hitting ground (but not to official’s whistle, which absolutely matters).

At the very least, this play had to be reviewed by the referee, and apparently he simply refused to do so. Head coach Bobby Hauck did an amazing job of not going on tilt postgame, but he and all the Rebel players have every right to feel they got jobbed here in the worst way. The Mountain West officials working this game decided the outcome with the excessive penalizing for what amounts to players being excited, and might well have given Hawaii an extra play that they weren’t entitled to.

I don’t know what the aftermath will be on this travesty, although I would at least hope Commissioner Craig Thompson will address this personally, rather than just issuing some kind of vanilla statement. When the integrity of the game is compromised, as it may well have been here, more than a cursory comment is required.

As for Coach Hauck’s summation, I’ll be interested to hear what he’s got to say now that cooler heads are prevailing. For locals, it’s definitely worth a trip to Born & Raised for the Wednesday coach’s show, which goes live at noon and airs on 920 The Game locally (replay at 6 PM on ESPN 1100/100.9FM). I’ll be there along with former Colorado great and longtime NFL star Mike Pritchard, hope some of you can join is in person!

———————-

2-1 NFL Sunday, but I shot wide with the Blackhawks on the ice and got on the wrong side of a down the stretch fade in college hoops. This was not a good weekend on any level. The task is to get it right back together with a big run, and I’m determined to do exactly that. I’ve had five straight winning months, and would not enjoy seeing that streak end, but it’s very much in danger of doing just that, as I’m down for November.

There are still a handful of days left in this month to jump on the current special. Buy one month at the regular rate and receive a second month at no cost. That includes every play I’m on myself, and analysis is included with almost all the selections. Simply use the “buy now” function on this page to get rolling, or send me an email at cokin@cox.net for more info.

—————

Wrong side with the Sunday free play on the Texans. I’m going the big dog route tonight in college basketball for the Monday comp.

11/24 05:00 PM   CBB   (719) PEPPERDINE  at  (720) IOWA

Take: (719) PEPPERDINE +14.5

Bigger is usually better in basketball. It probably will be to some extent tonight as Pepperdine visits Iowa, and on that count it’s all Hawkeyes. Iowa is one of the tallest teams in all of D1. The Waves are at the other end of the height spectrum. But I think there’s more than just what meets the eye tonight as these teams take the court.

I’ve been impressed with what Marty Wilson has already accomplished at Pepperdine. The Waves weren’t even a ripple when Wilson arrived, and he’s helped them take small steps up the ladder in each of his first three seasons at the helm. Pepperdine has not been blessed with exceptional talent by any means, but they’ve chiseled out a reputation as a team that won’t get outworked and they’re no longer a pushover. By no means is Pepperdine ready to put fear into the hearts of the top programs in the WCC but they’re not going to be a soft touch either.

So I’m confident I’ll get the usual big try out of the Waves tonight. That should give them a chance to compete with Iowa, at least from a spread standpoint. Iowa is not in a great spot from a scheduling stance, as they’re off games with Texas and Syracuse. The Hawkeyes lost both battles and I’m just not sure about the mix on this team. Iowa was being talked about as a Final Four possibility as they got off to a dominating start last season. But the Hawkeyes fell apart down the stretch, and it looks to me like veteran coach Fran McCaffery is still searching for the right mix as far as this year’s team in concerned. Iowa was certainly not very impressive in the two games at Madison Square Garden and they’re at best a current work in progress presently.

Pepperdine has some quickness and while they’re going to have a problem contending with the Iowa size, I won’t be surprised if the Waves can hang around here. The visitors should be very excited as this their biggest name non-conference opponent in ages. I’m dubious as to how revved up the Hawkeyes or their fans will be for this game. Carver-Hawkeye Arena has been a very tough venue for out of conference road teams in the past, but I’m not sure how that pertains to this Iowa edition.

I’m not boldly calling for an upset tonight. The Waves are at a physical disadvantage and Iowa needs a win. But I don’t see this being lopsided with an under the radar dog that might be better than most think getting a big spot from a host that’s just not that sensational right now. I’ll grab the substantial points with Pepperdine tonight.

Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 11/22/14

There were statements to be made Saturday on the college gridiron. But the way I see it, opportunity knocked and no one answered for two of the schools on the outside looking in, while another pair of current Top Ten teams in the playoff rankings came up with eye opening performances that could serve them well.

I thought #6 Ohio State and #7 Baylor blew great chances to earn some valuable style points against decidedly inferior opposition. Neither impressed. The Buckeyes ended up in a shocking dogfight with lowly Indiana, and while they won the game, they might well have lost ground to the teams they’re chasing. The same can be said, albeit perhaps to a lesser extent, about Baylor. The Bears were never threatened in their win against Oklahoma State, but this was a game they could have won by a whole lot more than they did. That’s significant, as it has become quite clear that the committee is absolutely weighing margin of victory into their decisions.

The two teams that did themselves the most good were #4 Mississippi State and #9 UCLA. The Bulldogs completely avoided any letdown off the loss at Alabama by throttling Vanderbilt. In fact, with #3 Florida State barely escaping yet again, I won’t be at all shocked if Mississippi State jumps the Seminoles in the rankings.

UCLA put a beating on USC, and the Bruins are now the two-loss team that could crash the party. If UCLA can defeat Stanford on Friday night, they will have a chance to knock out Oregon in the PAC-12 title game, and I’m close to certain the winner of that game will be in the playoffs.

Florida State is becoming the big problem for the committee. The Seminoles keep winning, but their power numbers keep dropping. Their residence in the less than stellar ACC is an issue. I’d still make FSU a favorite to get one of the four spots as I just don’t think they’ll knock out an undefeated team, but the fact they’re already trailing two teams is meaningful and if Mississippi State wins out, I think the Bulldogs are jumping the Seminoles.

The system isn’t perfect and there probably needs to be an expansion to eight teams at some point very soon. But this is way more interesting than anything we’ve had in the past and these final regular season games plus the conference title clashes are going to be fascinating to watch.

—————

My weekdays are going great. But my recent weekends have been terrible and Saturday was a massive disappointment for me. I ended up 3-3 in football, but lost the 2x play on Baylor that I made my Game of the Year. I have to say that less than three minutes into this game, I thought I was gold as the Bears were up 14-0 in a blink. But they then turned it over, leading to a TD for Oklahoma State and then surrendered a damaging TD right before the half to make it 28-14 at the break. Baylor expanded the lead to 42-14 in the fourth quarter, but gave up a long pass and then allowed another TD before tacking on what turned out to be a meaningless late score for the final 49-28. All that matters is the win or the loss, so regardless of how it happened, it’s a bad result.

I also took a miserable beat on Washington State as well as a disastrous finish to a basketball play on UC-Davis. So all in all, a very discouraging day and I managed to return all the profits I’d earned over the past several days.

I’m determined to get right back in the win column today, and I’ll be on three NFL games, plus at least one in college hoops and one in the NHL.

The monthly special is still on, which is two full months for the price of one. Subscribe via the “buy now” feature that’s on this page or shoot an email my way at cokin@cox.net.

—————-

A split on the Saturday free plays as Louisville knocked off Notre Dame and SMU won but did not cover against gritty Eastern Washington. Here’s one I like today in the NFL.

11/22 10:00 AM   NFL   (261) CINCINNATI BENGALS  at  (262) HOUSTON TEXANS

Take: (262) HOUSTON TEXANS -1.5

If you can figure out the Bengals, congratulations. They’re as Jekyll and Hyde as it gets this season, which basically explains to a large extent how the Bengals were favored at New England earlier this season and are now dogs at Houston. Granted, the Patriots were struggling at the time that game took place, but Cincinnati was also looking like a serious contender at the time. In spite of winning three of their last four, I’m pretty sure most observers don’t consider the Bengals to be anything more than mere pretenders right now.

Regardless, the Bengals are 6-3-1, they’re leading their division and they’re in good shape to make the playoffs. Yet here they are, cast in the underdog role against a 5-5 Houston entry and whose wins are against the Redskins, Raiders, Bills, Titans and Browns. In other words, zero wins against a team that currently would own a playoff position.

Maybe the oddsmakers are seeing the Texans like I am, however. It’s as small a sample as it gets, but Houston looked like a totally different team last week with Ryan Mallett stepping under center in place of Ryan Fitzpatrick. It’s just perception on my part, but I thought I saw an energized team playing with confidence last week. They won impressively at Cleveland and I’m counting on that momentum rolling into today’s game.

Make no mistake, this is no cinch. The Bengals have lost just twice when AJ Green plays and they’re very good when they’re right. But I also feel as though Andy Dalton can be dominated by good defenses, and that’s really the key here. The Houston defense is capable of containing opposing offenses and we all know that Dalton is not exactly Mr. Consistency.

In terms of data, this is very close. I utilize a couple of formulas to come up with NFL lines, and while I’ll admit these are not all that reliable during the first half of the season, they generally do quite well late. Both sets have Houston winning, albeit by extremely slim margins. Thus, if we’re talking value, there is none to be had here as Houston is indeed the small favorite.

My take is more on the feel I’m getting with Mallett now the QB for the Texans. If he bounces off the impressive debut, so be it, and I’ll probably lose this play. But if Mallett can build on that performance, or just manage to maintain, I like the home team’s chances. I think this could be one of the better games on the Sunday NFL slate, and my money will be on the Texans to emerge with the win and cover.

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 11/22/14

Quick takes from the three Friday night football games:

UTEP earned its bowl eligibility last week and the Miners weren’t especially sharp in their 31-13 loss at Rice. The Owls are now 7-4, so they’ll be playing someplace this post-season. Will David Bailiff still be the coach? His name has surfaced as a potential replacement for the full time gig at SMU. The rumor clearly was not a distraction is the decisive Rice win.

Air Force was dominated at San Diego State, much more than the score might indicate. The Aztecs own the Falcons and that Air Force option was reduced to rubble for the most part by Rocky Long’s staunch defense. No doubt the Falcons missed talented RB Owens, but there was little doubt about the right side here. SDSU needs help, but they still have a chance to win their division in the MWC.

Utah State toyed with San Jose State for the most part in a 41-7 romp. Spartans QB Mitch Ravizza was under siege all night and save for an early second quarter TD that briefly tied the game 7-7, this was all Aggies. Kent Myers is looking very comfortable under center for Utah State, and that defense is dominating.

—————

I lost what was a bad football read on Air Force, but collected a profit for the night thanks to some positive results in college basketball. Big action today, with six football plays, including the College Game of the Year selection. I’ve also already played three college hoops games and have two NHL plays in ink so far.

Purchase any of my packages and get all my plays in all the sports I work. That includes the big football play today, of course. If you’re looking for just the one game, I don’t sell those individually. But you can head to pregame.com, jimwins.info, vegasinsider.com or theswami.com for just that one play if you wish. The pricing is left up to the sites, as I simply provide plays and analysis. I don’t do any of the marketing at these sites. It’s not something I’m especially adept at, and I have more than enough work to do trying to find good plays.

Thus, the only marketing I actually do myself is right here, and it’s pretty minimal. If you’d like to subscribe to my personal service, just use the “buy now” feature that’s on this page, or shoot an email my way at cokin@cox.net for more detailed info.

—————

Modest free play win streak came to a halt on Friday with Toledo coming up short at Oregon. The Rockets got killed at the free throw line in this game, but those are the perils of taking road teams at times. I’ll try a good sized chalk piece for the Saturday comp.

11/22 4:00 PM   CBB  (795) EASTERN WASHINGTON  at  (796) SMU

Take: (796) SMU -15

This number is still mostly -14.5 as I’m writing this, but it’s trending up and given that it’s Big Sky on the road, my guess is that it won’t be heading back down.

That’s not meant as an insult to Eastern Washington. The Eagles are off to a good start and they could make some noise in conference this season. Jim Hayford is building something in Cheney, and I like his very confident approach. Hayford has been pumping up his team’s confidence and insists they’re looking to win and not just show up as they visit both SMU and Indiana over the next few days.

Hayford has reason to feel good about his Eagles. They’ve got most everyone back from last year’s entry and they’re off to an impressive start, albeit against less than stellar opposition. I don’t think this team is going to show any fear tonight, and that can make for a dangerous underdog.

But this might not be the right night to be facing SMU. The Mustangs are back home off a two-game trio that could not have gone much worse. They didn’t play well at Gonzaga, although the Bulldogs aren’t losing to anyone in their present form. Much more troubling was what amounted to a giveaway game at Indiana that left head coach Larry Brown feeling “sick to my stomach” and with good reason.

SMU shot it beautifully at Indiana and they completely dominated the glass. But the Mustangs exerted little pressure on defense, allowing Indiana way too many open looks from deep and they did a terrible job in the turnover category, losing that battle by a whopping -12. Winning anywhere is going to tough with those numbers.

The Mustangs were a bit overrated coming into the new season. A stud recruit opted to play as a pro in China and Markus Kennedy being ineligible for the first semester was another critical blow. I think you’ll see a different SMU team once Kennedy returns and this team should be at its best come March.

Nevertheless, I believe we’re going to get a big effort out of SMU tonight, in spite of the rivalry duel with Arkansas being on deck. Had SMU won at Indiana, I probably wouldn’t be getting involved here. But they didn’t and with the coach not real happy right now, it sure ought to be a spot where the Mustangs come to play.

I’ve got some respect for this Eastern Washington entry. But I’m a notorious Big Sky fader when I believe the other team is going to be focused, so I’ll be in that role right here. The number is certainly a concern, but if the Mustangs decide to play a full 40 off the bad trip, it’s likely to be fairly lopsided. I’ll go ahead and lay it with SMU tonight.

Dave’s Free Play, Friday 11/21/14

Quick takes from the college football games already played this week:

Massachusetts was a popular betting choice against sliding Akron. But the Minutemen were without their top QB and the backup was not good at all. The Zips finally got their offense cranked up and dominated from start to finish in the easy 30-6 victory. As bad as it’s been for Akron, they can get to .500 with a win in their finale at Kent State.

Northern Illinois and Ohio ended up as a tossup with the Huskies getting the 21-14 win. NIU can win its MAC divisional race if they can get past Western Michigan next week. They’ll probably need to play a better game there than they did here. As for Ohio, the Bobcats will need to beat Miami Ohio next week to get to six wins.

Bowling Green is heading to the MAC title game in spite of dropping a 27-20 decision at Toledo. The Rockets nearly let this get away thanks to three turnovers, but managed to survive. Toledo is still in the mix to win a division title, with what ought to be an easy win at Eastern Michigan remaining.

Kansas State’s loss to Baylor eliminated the Wildcats from any realistic playoff consideration. But while other teams have had bad hangovers off that type of loss, Bill Snyder made sure it didn’t happen to his squad. The Wildcats faded a bit late, but held on for the 26-20 win over West Virginia. The Mountaineers have shown some improvement this season, but aside from the Baylor upset this team is still coming up short in the big games.

North Carolina played its best game of the season in a 45-20 rout at Duke. Huge win for Larry Fedora as the Tar Heels are now bowl eligible. Duke will also be bowling, but they will not be playing in a second straight ACC title game as the loss means Georgia Tech has clinched the Coastal Division.

Robert Lowe put on a show as Texas State looked like anything but a home dog in a decisive 45-27 win over Arkansas State. That’s six wins for the Bobcats, which equals last year’s total. But after getting shut out of the bowls, expect Texas State to be all out to get an important seventh win next week at Georgia State.

—————

A bit of a bounce off the Tuesday/Wednesday 8-1 as I went 1-3 yesterday. Split a couple on the ice, but lost both college hoops plays. I know SMU outshot Indiana by a tremendous margin, but they committed way too many needless fouls and were -13 in turnovers. That’s gonna result in a definite most every time, and it sure did here. Plenty of good looking possibilities in college roundball tonight, and the free play below is going to make the card.

Purchase either my weekly or monthly package and get everything I’ve got on a daily basis, and that will include my College Game of the Year that kicks off tomorrow. The monthly package also features a great bonus, which is a second month at zero additional cost. Buy now by utilizing the “buy now” tab on this page or contact me via email at cokin@cox.net.

————–

The Anaheim Ducks earned a shootout win at Vancouver as the Thursday free play. I’ll take a look at one of tonight’s college hoop battles for the Friday comp.

11/21 4:00 PM   CBB  (529) TOLEDO  at  (530) OREGON

Take: (529) TOLEDO +7

Let’s get the bad news out of the way right off the bat. This is not an easy travel spot for Toledo. The Rockets played at VCU on Tuesday and have now had to endure the Atlantic to Pacific trip as they prep for this game with Oregon. So I know I’ve got that against me tonight. But hopefully there’s enough fuel in the tank of these Rockets to allow them to play their game tonight. If so, I think there’s a chance of an upset and I’d at least expect a competitive duel.

Toledo is expected to be one of the top MAC entries this season, and with good reason. They’ve got the core of last year’s 27-7 team back and as far as the power rankings are concerned, they’re the favorite to snare the MAC’s NCAA automatic come March Madness. Of course, winning a big non-conference game certainly wouldn’t hurt the Toledo resume, and that makes this a serious test for the Rockets.

Toledo gave Virginia Commonwealth a great game on Tuesday. Don’t be misled by the nine-point final margin. This was a one-point game inside three minutes, before VCU broke away with a 9-0 run. The narrow loss was a disappointment for sure, but Toledo should come out of that game loaded with confidence that they can compete with just about anyone.

Oregon is off to a 2-0 start but the win over Detroit was less dominating than the 83-66 final score. This was a three-point game midway through the second half. The Ducks broke it open after Juwan Howard Jr. picked up his fourth foul, and it got out of hand late. But the Titans certainly exposed some potential Oregon issues in this game, and I’ll be interested to see if a good offensive team like Toledo can exploit those potential soft spots tonight.

Oregon has a big game on deck as the Ducks are taking on Michigan on Monday in the star studded Legends Classic taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That’s a potential look ahead and that can be a factor in analyzing early season non-conference hookups.

My expectation is that the public money will be on Oregon tonight. That’s not a deal maker or breaker for me, but I’m never unhappy if square cash shows up on the chalk and I’m on the dog. I’m high on this Toledo squad and I’m expecting them to come up with a strong effort tonight. If the Rockets play to their potential, they can pull off an upset this evening. The number actually looks shaded a bit to the dog side, as I thought it might come a bit higher. Thus, it appears as though I might be siding with the house tonight by playing Toledo plus the points.

Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 11/20/14

I’m here to sell the NHL today. This is not about buying my plays, it’a about buying the product that’s currently being offered by what at times in the not so recent past has been referred to as a “garage league”. To be honest, that wasn’t an inaccurate tag. But while the league is far from perfect, the same can be said for the bigger three (NFL, NBA, MLB) and I am very bullish about the direction of the NHL right now.

The league is saddled with a couple of really bad franchises to be sure, and they need to fix that. But what I’m seeing on the ice this year has been close to exceptional. I think the replay system is about as good as it gets when implemented properly. There are some great young players in action now, and more stars are on the way.

Perhaps best of all, thanks to big screens and high-def TV, it’s no longer an exercise in futility to try and follow the action. Even for a lifer like myself who’s been around the game for more than a half century, I had to admit that the game lost a ton in translation from in person to home viewing, but that has now dramatically changed. I no longer have to be sitting rinkside to enjoy what’s taking place on the ice.

Full disclosure, this is all about doing whatever I can to help Las Vegas secure an NHL franchise. I’ve always felt the NHL was a good fit for this city, and with a brand new arena now under construction, the NHL and Las Vegas are a marriage that needs to happen. It would be great for the city to finally land an actual major league franchise. The market is sizable enough to support it, and fans of other teams, particularly those in lousy weather locales, will schedule vacations to coincide with their team’s visits to Las Vegas. But make no mistake, whatever league lands here first is going to have a huge advantage over the next arrival, and I’m not positive the city can support both the NHL and the NBA. So it’s in the NHL’s best interests to get a franchise here quickly, and if they can do so in time to help open the new arena, that’s even better.

I don’t care whether it’s an expansion franchise or one that already exists (hello, Panthers?) but the time is right for the city to go big league. Of course, there’s one caveat here. The NHL must incorporate a 21st century mentality and not sweat the legal sports wagering. If they fight that and insist that the games involving the local franchise not be available to the sports books, they’re dead before they even play one game. This is really important, NHL. If you go that route, you’re going to alienate a substantial segment of your potential local base that will look upon this as an insult to the way we do things here. Do not make that mistake. Beyond that, it’s archaic thinking that has no basis in reality.

Anyway, while the NHL to Las Vegas is not yet a reality, there’s ample reason to be very optimistic that they’re on the way. As far s as I’m concerned, the sooner the better!

——————

2-0 Wednesday with Siena and Gonzaga, so that’s 8-1 the last two nights and all is right with the world again. Gonzaga was possibly the easiest winner I’ve ever had. As for Siena, the final margin was three with the underdog Saints winning outright. But if you want an illustration of how quickly things can go nuts in a basketball game. consider this. Siena led by 12 with about 20 ticks remaining and won by three. St. Bonaventure went on a 9-0 run just that quickly, as they nailed a trio of treys and the Saints missed a couple free throws.

My College Game of the Year is now available. If you want to buy it directly from me, there are two options. One is to purchase either the weekly or monthly package, which includes all my plays across the board. The current special is two months for the price of one, and you can subscribe easily via the “buy now” option on this page.

If you only want the one game, it’s available at pregame.com, jimwins.info, the swami.com, and vegasinsider.com. Those sites set the prices so you can choose your favorite or shop around. Personally, I don’t really recommend the all the eggs in one basket approach, but that’s up to each individual.

The current college football card, by the way, is seven deep. I’ve also got two college hoops games I’m set on for today, as well as an NHL play. Whether or not there will be any adds is unknown right now, but the yes would be a favorite.

—————

Since I focused on the NHL in today’s commentary, I will got the hockey route for the free play as well. Note there is no current line on this game, but if the price is right and I’ve got the right goalies, it will end up being added to my personal card. I’ll update that at some point on Twitter (@davecokin).

11/20 7:05 PM   NHL  (67) ANAHEIM DUCKS  at  (68) VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Take: (67) ANAHEIM DUCKS

Following a spectacular start to the season, things have leveled off somewhat of late for the Ducks. But I see Anaheim being in a good spot to garner a road win tonight as they head to Vancouver.

There’s good news on the injury/illness front for Anaheim. Corey Perry returned to action on Sunday, and they will apparently get Francois Beauchemin back to bolster the blue line tonight. It also looks good for Devante Smith-Pelly, who has been doing a good job for the Ducks in spite of being well under the radar.

Vancouver played at Edmonton last night and managed to come away with a 5-4 win as Ryan Miller raised his career record against the Oilers to an amazing 11-0. But on each of the previous four instances where the Canucks have had to go back to back, Eddie Lack has gotten call on night number two. Lack is an okay goalie, but he’s a downgrade from Miller and the Canucks are only 1-3 when he starts.

I think Vancouver might has one of the more misleading records in the league thus far. They’re really a very average team in numerous categories, and while they’re getting by pretty well, I’m not sure they’re more than a back end of the conference playoff entry, if even that.

The Ducks are having some issues once the game gets past 60 minutes, so they might need to win this in regulation. But they grade out as the superior squad here by a pretty decent margin, and they have a definite scheduling advantage going their way tonight. Freddy Andersen has done stellar work in goal, and while it’s very small sample, he sure seems to like playing against the Canucks.

It’s all about the stats I focus on and the scheduling and those factors nearly all indicate Anaheim as the side tonight. I’ll be looking to play the Ducks tonight as long as the price is right and there’s no bad news on the lineup front.

Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 11/19/14

Here’s this week’s Wise Guy Wednesday Report. The usual note that the info is gathered from contacts I’ve got in Nevada as well as via underground books in major cities, plus offshore sources. These aren’t to be confused with my plays, and the commentary is from the contacts. Enjoy!

There’s some wise guy action on 113 North Carolina, but this is not the usual flood of cash that’s consistently shown against Duke.

117 UTEP is getting plays from the sharps as they head to Rice for a Friday night battle with the Owls.

One of the first games hit by the wise guys this week was 126 Virginia in the home dog role against Miami.

Plenty on the line for Missouri this week, but the smart money has been showing on 128 Tennessee.

Some wise guy action on 137 Vanderbilt, but it’s not heavy. One of my guys said that “it’s like they know they’re supposed to take the dog here, but they’re having trouble actually doing it.”

142 Michigan has gotten some pro dough, although it’s not a landslide was the Wolverines host Maryland.

Pretty heavy sharp cash showing on 148 Purdue, and the consensus is that number could continue to drop.

Early dollars from some sharps on 150 Central Michigan, but one of my sources thinks the visitors from Western Michigan might get some buy back as the game approaches.

Sharp/square duel appears to be unfolding as 160 UAB entertains unbeaten Marshall, and the wise guys are playing the home dog Blazers.

The pros and the joes are also split on a Mountain West matchup, with the sharps on 168 Wyoming in the home dog role against Boise State.

Steady smart money on 179 Louisville, with more than one of my contacts saying they’re also getting public dollars on the Cardinals.

193 Washington State has already gotten some pro money and more is expected on the Cougars as large dogs against Arizona State.

The sharps have done well when they take 200 Connecticut and they’re lining up on the Huskies once again this week.

Finally, some but not major sharp action on 210 Hawaii as they play host to UNLV on Saturday evening.

—————–

A big 6-1 on Tuesday night, with a pair of winners on the ice, and 4-1 in the college hoops. That was a welcome result here as the weekend was ugly, and a big night was needed to right the ship. I’m already on a couple of college hoop games for this evening.

I’m not a huge fan of Game of the Whatevers, but when one is in the business of selling selections, a Game of the Year is basically a must if the intention is to turn a profit. Fortunately, I’ve done quite well with my annual College Football Game of the Year, and it will take place this Saturday. I’ve already sent it out to my subscribers, as they get it first.

That game is included with the current special, which is two months for the price of one. The package includes all my plays in all sports and can be purchased using the “buy now” feature on this page.

For those interested in just getting the one game, I’ll probably make it available here on Thursday and it will definitely be up by the weekend on the sites that market my games.

Just one cautionary note. I’m playing two units on this game, so I obviously like it quite a bit. But please don’t go insane on this game if you get it. There’s no such thing as a sure thing in betting and trying to get rich on one game is not a good idea.

————–

Nice job by DePaul as the Blue Demons had an easy time of it against a Drake team that isn’t good at all right now. Here’s a look at one of Saturday college games that made the Wednesday Wise Guy Report and I like it as well.

11/22 12:30 PM   CF  (179) LOUISVILLE  at  (180) NOTRE DAME

Take: (179) LOUISVILLE +4

The best time I ever had at a college football game was on my one and only visit to South Bend, Indiana. This was back in the 1970’s, and a good friend of mine back in Rhode Island was a graduate of the school. He took annual pilgrimages back to Notre Dame for a football game, and he decided to invite me this one year.

Understand that weekends were crazy for me as I was running a good sized shop back in those days and my initial response was thanks, but no thanks. But my friend was pretty insistent, and almost demanded that I accompany him to South Bend as it would be a phenomenal experience.

I finally gave in, assigned the duties of running the book to one of my more trusted associates, and off we went to Notre Dame. One of the better decisions I’ve ever made, actually. I had no allegiance to the school, and in fact on most football weekends I was sure to be rooting against the Irish for financial reasons. But this was an awesome time. The pep rally was incredible and the atmosphere leading up to and including game day was sensational. It’s still one of the best times I’ve ever had. And as it turned out, my players ended up getting mostly hammered that weekend, which was icing on the cake.

Anyway, that story has absolutely nothing to do with this football game, just thought I’d throw it in. As for Saturday’s game between Louisville and Notre Dame, I’m looking at the underdog.

Louisville showed me something in its win at Boston College. The Cardinals were in a really bad scheduling spot, coming off the gut wrenching loss to Florida State. I was surprised at how they went into Chestnut Hill and blew up the Eagles. BC stayed in the game thanks to some staunch red zone defense in the first quarter, but this was basically a blowout, and that told me quite a bit about the character of this Louisville squad.

Notre Dame might not have that same internal engine. The Irish got kayoed at Arizona State, ending whatever playoff hopes they might have been entertaining. They then proceeded to mail it in last week against a Northwestern entry they should have handled without much difficulty. The fact it was a close game that the Wildcats won in overtime means little to me. I thought Notre Dame was dead in the water and showed no real fire.

Perhaps the Irish get back on track as they return home for this game, but I’m not counting on it. And in fact, I think Louisville is the better team regardless. I’m a big fan of backing underdogs that hold their opponents to less than 100 yards per game on the ground, and the ‘Ville qualifies on that count. I also believe the Cardinals will be able to crank up a pretty decent running game of their own here as that Notre Dame defensive front can be exploited.

But the big deal here is that Notre Dame is going to have to prove to me they’re not a broken team right now. That includes the coach, who made one of the silliest decisions I’ve ever seen last week from a math standpoint and cost his team the game in the process. In case you missed it, Brian Kelly went for two following a TD that had put Notre Dame up by 11. Huh?

I’d much rather have the team that proved its mettle off a tough loss, and the Cardinals are also well rested to boot. This line has been dropping, but getting more than a field goal still tells me that Louisville plus the points is  the way to play.