Dave’s Free Play, Friday 11/27/15

Back in the good old days, I used to have almost total recall when it came to nearly everything, except perhaps for items I subconsciously didn’t want to remember. This was something I took for granted. Now that the years are starting to pile up, I have a tendency to get stuck at times. I’m no longer good with names, as anyone who listens to the radio show will attest. It’s actually kind of funny, as I’ll often describe the guy, and will know the number of letters in his last name, but will be totally blank on the actual name.

Last week, while announcing our Mastrioni’s Play of the Day, a feature at the close of each show, it got a little ridiculous. All I could come up with was that the play was against Seton Hall, but I simply came up with air when attempting to name the team we were actually playing on. I actually had to very quickly open one of my betting apps, as I’d already played the game, to discover the play was on Long Beach State. (It won. It’s interesting to note that this is something I can easily recall.)

Anyway, this is a way of explanation as to why I didn’t do my current NFC playoff projections as I was  supposed to do on Tuesday. Monday’s piece was on the AFC and I said that I would get to the NFC the next day. And then I completely forgot about it. But the good news is, that for reasons unknown, this omission suddenly dawned on me as I sat down to write this edition of the blog. So here it is.

NFC East: The Giants become big favorites to capture the division with a win on Sunday at Washington. But should Washington win this game, they’re in pretty good shape, as they’re the team with the easier finishing slate. Dallas is done with the Romo re-injury and the Eagles are playing such horrible football, it’s difficult to envision them making any kind of a run. 8-8 could well be all that’s needed to get this division’s one and only entry to the post-season.

NFC North: The Vikings are back in first place with Green Bay losing last night. But I still like the Packers to finish first. They’ve got what I see as an easier schedule remaining and winning at Minnesota sets them up for a potential sweep and the tie-breaker win if this goes to the wire. The Bears  have a legit shot to get to 8-8, which to me would be a major surprise considering how bad I thought they would be, but that won’t get them to the playoffs.

NFC South: Carolina has this division locked up, and the Panthers are now solid chalk to be the top seed once the NFC playoff action begins. Atlanta is 6-4, but the Falcons are not playing well and they have two dates remaining with the Panthers. They’re in trouble. Tampa Bay has won two straight to claw their way to .500. If the Bucs win at Indianapolis on Sunday, I think 9-7 becomes a realistic expectation and that might just get them a 17th game if they get a little help.

NFC West: The Cardinals appear to have this division all but clinched. The Seahawks look like favorites to claim one of the wild cards if they can defeat the Steelers this week. They certainly should beat the Ravens, Browns and Rams, so it would seem they’re 9-7 at worst if they get through this weekend.

My calls are as follows: Division winners are Giants, Packers, Panthers and Cardinals. I’ll tab the Vikings and Seahawks as the wild cards. But watch out for under the radar Tampa Bay. If they win on Sunday, they’re in play as party crashers.


Thanksgiving turned out to very rewarding, with a 3-0 sweep. Georgia Tech and Xavier got there in hoops and South Florida was cake on the gridiron. I’m a little upset with myself for not playing the Panthers, but I just couldn’t make what I felt was a good number on Dallas as their stats got wildly skewed due to the first Romo injury. I knew I wasn’t going to be on the Cowboys, but got gun shy on playing Carolina. But obviously, no beefs with the overall results for the day.

If you want to be on the same games I’m playing every day, sent out when I play them, try my December special, which will also include the balance of this month. The +5 guarantee is included. For all the details on how everything works, shoot me an email at cokin@cox.net. I promise to get to it as soon as I weed through all the offers to become a billionaire courtesy of various people in Africa.


Georgia Tech cooperated as the holiday free play. I’ll go with an NBA call for this evening’s comp.


Take: PELICANS +6.5

I won’t say these are teams going in opposite directions, but at least for the present, they actually are. New Orleans has finally come to life following the disastrous 1-11 open and the Pelicans arrive at Staples for tonight’s duel riding a three-game winning streak.

The Clippers are currently a mess. Lance Stephenson has been horrible. Paul Pierce is finally looking his age. DeAndre Jordan is not producing as he did when he was in his walk year, playing for the contract he now owns. The team appears to have chemistry issues, which really isn’t a surprise based on the track record of a couple of the newcomers. And oh yeah, they’re 3-8 in their last 11 games, including that utter disaster where they blew a massive lead and eventually got run out by the Warriors. I don’t think they’ve recovered yet from that calamity.

As for New Orleans, they still aren’t fielding a complete lineup, and Tyreke Evans is unlikely to play until Saturday night. But they do seem to finally be settling into the system head coach Alvin Gentry wants to utilize. As devastating as the 1-11 start has to be to their playoff hopes, one good winning streak gets them right back into the fray. I see this as a team that’s now trending the right way but they really need this game with a no-rest trip to the Utah altitude on deck.

The Clippers have an impressive roster as far as talent is concerned. But they aren’t showing it right now, and they’ve been an absolutely horrendous spread team at home going well back to roughly last year’s All-Star break. I’m getting enough with New Orleans to make this a playable spot, so I’ll be looking to fly with the Pelicans tonight.

Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 11/26/15

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and here’s a cool story for everyone courtesy of Brian Bosworth.

The Boz did something outstanding last week, right before the start of the last Oklahoma home game for this season.

One of Bosworth’s teammates from the great 1985 Oklahoma team that won the national championship was Derrick Shepard. Shepard passed away from a heart attack back in 1999. Now his son, Sterling Shepard, is concluding his own terrific career with the Sooners.

It so happens that among Bosworth’s collection of memorabilia is a Sooners Illustrated magazine from that storied season, with a team photo on the cover. Bosworth brought his copy of the magazine to the 30th reunion dinner held in early October, and asked all his attending teammates to sign the cover with the intent of presenting it to Sterling at the right time.

That right time was last week, just before Derrick Shepard’s son would take the field for his final home game. It doesn’t even need to be stated that Sterlin’s reaction was something special.

Great gesture by The Boz, and a really nice story.

Happy Thanksgiving!


My Wednesday is 3-1 with a late play in college basketball still to be decided. Gotta love that great Alaska Shootout if you’re a sports junkie craving some late night viewing. My only loser on the day was the hockey call on the Blues, which lost in OT. The NBA Hornets, along with UConn and Maryland were all good results.

We’re heading into December, and I’m going to keep the guaranteed special on the table for the remainder of the calendar year. For all the details on how my program works, along with costs and info on the guarantee, simply email me directly at cokin@cox.net.


Tough luck on the Wednesday comp, as the Blues got nipped in overtime by the Penguins. Here’s a college basketball comp for the holiday.



I can’t say what will happen with this Arkansas team once they get a little more experience. But for now the Razorbacks figure to be somewhat vulnerable. Mike Anderson is a Nolan Richardson disciple, and he likes to utilize that same frenetic style that Richardson made so popular years ago. But off last year’s highly successful 27-9 campaign, this year’s Arkansas entry is sorely lacking in experience and they’re a team I expect to suffer some growing pains, particularly early in the season.

Georgia Tech has a coach on the hot seat in Brian Gregory, and unless he’s oblivious to the rumors, Gregory knows it’s important to get out of the gate quickly and quite some of the critics. Mission accomplished through the first three games, as the Yellow Jackets started 3-0. But the last game was a setback as Georgia Tech was upset at home by East Tennessee State. This was not an awful performance by Tech, and it appears as though the dog just happened to play a really strong game. But it’s still a loss to a smaller conference outfit that is probably a borderline Top 200 team, and the Gregory buzz is once again underway.

I think Gregory needs a win here and I feel he has a matchup that’s favorable. One thing the Yellow Jackets are doing really well so far is taking care of the basketball. If they avoid turnovers against Arkansas, the team should get some very makable looks from close range.

Georgia Tech needs to avoid allowing this to turn into a track meet that results in long range missiles being fired at both ends of the court. If that happens, Arkansas probably wins the game and Gregory moves another step closer to the end of the plank. But I have some confidence that Georgia Tech can win the matchup duel thanks to their experience, and that being the case, I’ll take my chances laying the points in this game.


Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 11/25/15

I have been a big fan of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” ever since it debuted on the network more than 20 years ago. I’ve always found the program to be highly thought provoking. While there’s little question that the show does more than just lean to the left on the hot button topics it occasionally covers, no one can argue with the intense research and preparation that goes into each piece.

The new installment features two total extremes. There’s a terrific profile of hockey broadcasting icon Mike “Doc” Emrick, who turns out to be a really likable guy who’s also phenomenal at his job. As an aside, he’s also rather obviously an animal lover, which ties in to the main piece featured in this installment.

Props to the “Real Sports” staff for deciding to air the Emrick piece as a mood lightener following what might have been the most disturbing segment I’ve ever seen on the show. The majority of the program centered on the disgraceful and undeniable process of elimination that’s taking place in Africa, where the wild elephant is literally heading toward extinction thanks to greed, and whatever it is that drives some people to wanting to kill animals just for the joy of killing them.

The program featured some very graphic scenes, so if you’re thinking of viewing, be forewarned, it’s not at all pleasant.

The piece also included some extended conversation with a gentlemen named John J Jackson III, who loves to shoot and kill animals, with elephants being at the very top of his list. Jackson, who is the founder, chairman and president of an outfit called “Conservation Force” (possibly the most oxymoronic name I’ve ever come across). Their credo reads “A Force For Wildlife Conservation, Wild Places and Our Way of Life”. The website can be viewed at conservationforce.org.

Mr. Jackson defended his “way of life” by somehow claiming that when he hunts, it’s actually a form of self-defense. He strongly denied that, in spite of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, the elephant population is not in any kind of imminent danger. Just as a personal observation, his affection for the feel of the ivory was downright creepy and perverted. But beyond that observation, his logic was wildly convoluted and his defense of his pastime was so utterly inept it was sadly comical.

I’ll give Mr. Jackson credit for his willingness to speak his mind in a piece that he had to know going in was not going to portray him in a positive light. I think that actually took guts as this is not a stupid neanderthal with no grasp on reality.

But I’m also quite sure that Mr. Jackson probably doesn’t realize that by exposing himself in this fashion, he probably did a great disservice to those who share his views on big game hunting. Perhaps he’s simply oblivious to the phenomenal growth that’s taking place in the anti-big game hunting fraternity. As we learn more about how this “sport” survives and thrives at the expense of several now endangered species, increasing action is being taken to educate the public and in the process the numbers of those highly opposed to this activity is expanding at an amazing rate.

The piece also showed some remarkable and highly encouraging poll numbers. Not only is big game hunting now frowned upon by a whopping majority of those Americans surveyed, those numbers included a very substantial majority amongst hunters. This, of course, makes total sense. Most hunters, while enjoying the pastime, have zero desire to wipe out any species. In other words, they’re normal people who just happen to enjoy hunting. But not this form of hunting.

And let’s make this crystal clear. What Mr. Jackson and Dr. Walter Palmer and Sabrina Corgatelli and others just like them are doing is not hunting. Sorry, if you’re spending thousands of dollars to fly to a foreign country, thousands more to hire a bunch of guides to locate the prey for you and in some cases even shine a damn spotlight on the victim….you’re not a hunter. You’re just a selfish asshole who likes to kill things. That might not have been the case years ago when we weren’t educated as to the plight of these creatures. But once armed with the knowledge now widely available, if the decision is still to continue this form of murder, then the assessment holds.

To be clear, there’s far more danger to the elephants, lions and other animals from poachers who are in it simply for the money and are killing at far higher numbers. The challenge for conservationists on that count is not just daunting, it might well be impossible.

But there is at least something that can be done here to perhaps stifle what’s going on there. We can’t legislate against these individual’s rights to travel someplace where this activity is legal. In fact, I’d argue for the rights of the John Jacksons of the world to be able to continue doing this where it’s somehow considered okay, no matter how distasteful I find it. But what we can do is to ban the import of these “trophies” in any way, shape or form. You want to go to Africa and shoot whatever, Mr. Jackson? Go right ahead. But let’s make it illegal for Mr. Jackson to bring his souvenirs back to this country. My guess is that if Mr. Jackson can’t show off his “triumphs” to his buddies, the attraction won’t be as strong.

Congratulations to all at HBO who helped put this piece together. For the reporters who literally put themselves in the line of fire in one harrowing scene involving poachers, some kind of a medal is deserved along with a substantial bonus. For those of us who’d like this “sport” to cease to exist, programs like this that inform mass numbers of viewers are necessary and welcome.


Back to actual sports. 2-1 here on Tuesday, with a Vandy/Rider split in college and narrow NBA win with the Bulls. I’m already set on one CBB game for Wednesday and there could be some NHL or NBA as goalie and lineup info arrives during the day. I’m also set on two games for the weekend college football, including one that’s a 1.5x play.

For info on how to get all my plays each day, simply email me at cokin@cox.net. All correspondence is confidential as I don’t share names or data with anyone, and there’s a pretty solid guarantee that goes with the program.


The Tuesday free play was on a Saturday college football game. Tonight’s comp is on the ice.


Take: BLUES -105

I’m making this a short and sweet analysis on the game this evening between the Blues and Penguins. It’s all about the numbers for me.

I utilize what amounts to eight sets of team ratings for my NHL work. There’s an overall number and I also have a subset that’s home and away for each team. The fourth is goalie power ratings. From there, I’ve got what amounts to fast and slow numbers for each team and goalie. The fast is current form, the slow is a season-long running number.

The whole idea is to isolate underdogs that are winning most of the categories. It’s extremely rare that a dog will have the better numbers across the board.

Long story short, the Blues win several categories tonight as they take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Note that this is incumbent upon Jake Allen getting the start on goal for St. Louis, but as he’s already listed as confirmed at dailyfaceoff.com. The Blues are technically not underdogs here as they’re currently at -105, but that’s close enough for me in game in which my numbers make them the favorite.

Note that series history and trends of that sort mean less than nothing to me. The fact the Blues have won four of their last five visits to Pittsburgh is of no consequence, as this is just the sixth time they’ve gotten together here since 2006. So this is all based on what’s taking place now. This should be a terrific game between two quality entries, but I’ll be looking to side with the Blues to come away with the two points tonight.


Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 11/24/15

I’m now on what amounts to a surprise vacation of sorts from The Las Vegas Sportsline, the weekday radio show I’m a part of that airs on ESPN Las Vegas. Thursday and Friday were scheduled days off due to the holiday. But there will now be no show on either Tuesday or Wednesday, as we’re to be pre-empted by UNLV basketball.

The Runnin’ Rebels lost a close game to UCLA on Monday night, and in the process got knocked into the early sessions for the next two days at the Maui Invitational. UNLV will face Chaminade later today, and assuming they win that game, the Rebs will square off in the 5th place game on Wednesday, likely against Indiana.

UNLV did some good things against UCLA on Monday evening. Unfortunately, it was the same old story for the Rebels in two key areas. They again failed to convert free throws with enough frequency, and the late game offense lacked movement, resulting in low percentage shots that didn’t fall.

This has been an ongoing theme for some time now, and at some point, the belief simply starts to set in that it’s just not going to change. Of course, that’s just my two cents and you can decide for yourself whether mine is an informed opinion or not. But when a former player chimes in with some similar thoughts, I think it’s time to start paying attention.

Jovan “Wink” Adams enjoyed a stellar career at UNLV. He was a huge part of the last Runnin’ Rebels squad to make a real run at glory. That was the 2006-07 UNLV squad that put the program back on the map with a stirring run that ended just shy of a spot in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. That was a team that absolutely maxed out on its talent and the buzz in this city was the best it had been in many years.

Wink has become what every program should desire from its former players. He’s done playing organized basketball, but is now coaching high school kids right here in Las Vegas, thus giving back to the community that he became a part of a decade ago. And, based on his tweets last night as the Rebels lost to UCLA, Adams is still very much one who cares about his alma mater’s basketball program.

You can read what Wink had to say by following him on Twitter @jovanunlv1. I thought the constructive criticism offered was rock solid and on target. There were some who felt it was out of place. I couldn’t disagree more with that assessment. It’s fine for some to maintain a glass half full state of mind and always focus on the positives. But when the same negatives continue to prevail year after year, I really feel as though someone who is not just a fan to speak up.

Opinions from guys like me are a dime a dozen. When it comes from someone with a far greater perspective, as is clearly the case here with Wink Adams, maybe it’s time to start listening. This season might be just getting started, so I understand the argument from those who are saying it’s too soon for any flaming. But the fact is, this is deja vu, as the same issues that have stymied the program for the last few years are just not going away. Personally, I really like it that a former Rebel who wants to see his school win is speaking his mind. I hope to see more of this moving forward.


Following a terrific Saturday, my last two days have been terrible. End game issues have been a real problem for me in this nasty little run, and let’s just say that I managed to give back everything I won on Saturday. The task now is to get the picks back on track as quickly as possible. As always, a quick reminder that my monthly program includes a strong guarantee, and for info on how to get all my plays, hopefully with better results than these last couple of days, just email me at cokin@cox.net.


The Monday free play on LSU failed as Marquette played with some real fire, shot the ball well and earned the victory against the Tigers. I was on the wrong side basically from start to finish, although I still really like this LSU team moving forward. Today’s comp is on a Saturday football game that I’ve already played.


Take: MICHIGAN -1.5

Right off the top, I can offer that my numbers say Ohio State is slightly superior to Michigan. Therefore, under ordinary circumstances, there’s no way I would give points with the Wolverines. In fact, I might normally be looking to tail the Buckeyes in a bounce back scenario against their main rival. But these are clearly not your everyday, garden variety circumstances.

The last-second loss to Michigan State on Saturday was absolutely demoralizing for the Buckeyes. The dream of a perfect season and a successful defense of their national championship is shot on one count and more than likely toast on the other as well. Ohio State obviously cannot go unbeaten, so that’s off the table. As for getting to the playoffs, they still have a pulse but it’s as faint as it gets. Ohio State would have to beat Michigan Saturday, while also having Michigan State lose to Penn State. Then the Buckeyes would have to knock off Iowa in the Big Ten title game, and would also need either Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and/or Notre Dame to lose a game. Even if all that happens, it’s up in the air as to whether the Buckeyes get the playoff invite.

Based on what took place following the loss to the Spartans, I don’t know if any of the previously mentioned scenarios matter. No doubt, emotion played a role, but the comments of Ezekiel Elliot and Cardale Jones are now a matter of record. From a team perspective, the statements made were unquestionably damaging, and I doubt that harmony is going to suddenly prevail in a matter of just a few days.

Michigan is likely to enter this ultimate rivalry game with a completely different state of mind. The Wolverines didn’t play a great game at Penn State, but they maintained their momentum with the win and are now poised for what is their most meaningful game. Make no mistake, while there’s a big bowl invite waiting, the win that Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines really want is this one. The 2015 campaign  has been sensational for Michigan in terms of exceeding expectations. But losing to Ohio State would render all of that meaningless.

I think this is a game where one should simply ignore the data and focus on the intangibles. This game could not come at a worse time for the Buckeyes, and I could say that if they were facing Michigan Tech rather than Michigan. The Wolverines, on the other hand, will have zero need for any pep talks to get prepped for this game. I’ve been around long enough to realize that almost nothing that takes place in any sporting venue should be considered shocking. But the advantages here for Michigan are really substantial. The number being where it is right now is barely a concern and I’m already on Michigan to nail the win and cover in this one.


Dave’s Free Play, Monday 11/23/15

Heading into the big holiday week of action, it’s always fun to look into the crystal ball and project what the NFL playoff picture will look like. I’ll run through the AFC today and will follow up with the NFC tomorrow.

AFC East: The Patriots are 9-0 heading into tonight’s game against the Bills. New England has some real injury issues and I suspect they’re going to lose a game at some point. But they’re in great shape to win the division and it certainly looks as though the road to the Super Bowl will go through Foxboro.

AFC North: The Bengals have lost two in a row, but unless they fall apart internally, it’s hard to see them not winning this division. The balance of the schedule is very friendly and anything less than 12-4 for Cincy would be a surprise. The Steelers appear to be in excellent shape to get one of the two wild card spots.

AFC South: This remains a very tough division to analyze, but the Colts have the inside track thanks to their earlier win at Houston. But they’d better win at home this weekend against Tampa Bay. A loss there and Houston would have an excellent chance to win the division if they can take the revenge duel at Indy in Week 15. And then there’s Jacksonville. The Jaguars are one game out, but they also have losses to both the Colts and Texans. That puts them at a disadvantage to be sure, but the Jags have a legit shot to steal this division with their remaining schedule. They face just one team with a current winning record the rest of the way, and that’s a home game with the fading Falcons. My pick is Houston, but I’m not exactly brimming with confidence on that one.

AFC West: The Broncos are three games up on the Chiefs, but they still have the Patriots, Steelers and Bengals remaining. I mention this because the surging Chiefs have a very realistic opportunity to go from 1-5 to 11-5. KC is playing outstanding football right now, and their remaining schedule is just plain easy. Next Sunday’s game at Arrowhead against Buffalo is the toughest remaining opponent and the Chiefs will be catching the Bills in a tough scheduling spot. After that, it’s nothing but losing teams that Kansas City can handle. I’ll still tab Denver to win this division by a whisker, but the Chiefs are in great position to make the playoffs.

NFC tomorrow.


I gave some of the Saturday profits back on Sunday, with two very frustrating losses mixed in. The Rams gave away their game at Baltimore, blowing a double digit fourth quarter lead in the process. Long Beach State had Oklahoma State on the ropes with about four minutes remaining, but the 49ers went stone cold from the field and the shorthanded Cowboys, despite being on fumes, managed to make their foul shots and won by 5. Tough hook loser. Good weekend overall, but still a disappointment after the 9-2 Saturday.

College basketball is now in full swing, there’s still plenty of college football (although I intend to be very selective with the bowls), add in NFL, NBA and NHL, and the next 30 days should be packed with action. Get my monthly package and collect a strong guarantee as well. Email me at cokin@cox.net for all the details.


The little free play run ended with the Rams basically giving away the game at Baltimore. Let’s see about starting a new one with a college basketball tournament game going tonight.

751 LSU  vs.  752 MARQUETTE

Take: LSU -5.5

I have yet to see LSU play, so I’m looking forward to seeing them in action tonight. The Tigers take on Marquette in the Legends Classic at Brooklyn. LSU is out of the gate 3-0 but the opposition to date has been very low level. Tonight should provide a little more info on the Bayou Bengals, and I’m very much looking forward to watching freshman Ben Simmons. Simmons has certainly not disappointed thus far. He drew rave reviews for his performance in Australia this summer, and I would expect he’s excited about his first real national exposure taking place this evening.

LSU is about as freshman-centric as it gets. Antonio Blakeney and Brandon Sampson are starting and contributing nicely, and with that trio on the court for extended minutes, there are sure to be some mistakes made. But few are doubting the talent level and potential on this basketball team.

Marquette has its own big time freshman big man in Henry Ellenson, and he has gotten his college career off to an impressive start. Unfortunately, he’s not getting much in the way of help from his teammates. The Golden Eagles are struggling big time in the backcourt thus far. They aren’t hitting from the outside and the turnover rate through the first three games has been unacceptable.

The good news for Marquette is that they don’t lack for effort. Head coach Steve Wojciechowski seemed to extract the most out of a very limited roster last season. It didn’t show in the record as Marquette ended up 13-19 and won only four Big East games. But the team played very hard and I would think that bodes well for the future as the very young current crop starts to mature.

But that’s later and for the purposes of this space, I’m only interested in tonight. Losing at home to a respectable Belmont entry wasn’t horrible. But needing overtime to put away a limited IUPUI squad and then getting destroyed at Iowa is not a great way to start the new season. I also feel the shaky guard play could be a big factor here. Marquette will not enjoy a physical advantage in the paint against LSU and if the backcourt play remains below par, it’s tough for me to see the Golden Eagles getting a win this evening.

LSU should be a popular favorite with the bettors this evening. The oddsmakers realized this as well when they set the number as high as it is here. Off the pre-season projections, this figured more like LSU -1 or -1.5. The fact they’re forcing Tigers backers to pay a premium of sorts tonight is smart. But off what I’ve seen from Marquette to date, and even with LSU having faced three nobodies so far, I have to side with the favorite here. I’ll go LSU minus the points for tonight’s free play.


Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 11/22/15

The silence among those who fought tooth and nail against a college football playoff is now officially deafening. The primary argument was that it would make the regular season meaningless. This was, and still is, among the most ridiculously illogical talking points of all time. The fact is, the regular season is now better than ever.

Exhibit A for the offense keeps showing up every Saturday and this weekend’s college slate proved to nothing short of amazing. Unbeaten teams facing those with “nothing to play for” fell like flies, once-beaten playoff contenders had all kinds of trouble handling opponents they were supposed to crush, and there was one phenomenal finish after another.

Here’s a partial rundown of some of the wilder games played:

The SEC came very close to soiling itself as Georgia and Florida each needed OT to squeeze past Georgia Southern and Florida Atlantic.

Unbeaten Ohio State isn’t anymore. Neither is Oklahoma State and neither is Houston. Clemson and Iowa are now the only remaining teams with perfect records.

Oklahoma nearly played itself out of the playoff picture, barely surviving a two-point conversion attempt by undermanned TCU. Notre Dame had to hold off an inspired effort by Boston College at Fenway Park.

North Carolina completely screwed up a late two-TD lead and escaped with an OT win at Virginia Tech in Frank Beamer’s last home game. I thought Beamer should have tried to win at the end of regulation. Iowa State blew their game at Kansas State in unbelievable fashion, and my guess is that the head coach blew his job in the process.

I could go on with a handful of others, but you get the idea. The regular season is now more exciting than it has ever been, and I’m sure the upcoming Turkey Weekend bonanza will be every bit as thrilling.


Huge Saturday here. 4-2 on the football side. San Jose, UCLA, Baylor and Indiana were good, Louisville and Duke weren’t. 5-0 hoops as my early season stuff is really rolling. I didn’t have any NHL and unfortunately backed off playing the Spurs with Aldridge out. But no beefs with a 9-2 result, and I’ll be on three NFL sides today. Unknown at this point if I’ll have anything in CBB, NHL or NBA.

Get all my games, sent out as I’m playing them myself and also snare a nice guarantee that appears to be unique with my monthly package. I’ll furnish all the details via email, so get in touch with me at cokin@cox.net.


All three Saturday free plays got there, although it’s 2-0-1 for those who could not get Nevada in hoops before the line took off. Baylor and San Jose were the football winners. Here’s one for today in the NFL.


Take: RAMS +2.5

It’s 4-5 vs. 2-7 here, so from an importance standpoint, there’s not much on the line as the Rams visit the Ravens. St. Louis still has a pulse in the NFC Wild Card chase, as they’re just two games out currently. As for the Ravens, they’d have to go 7-0 down the stretch to have a chance, so let’s just say it’s wait until next year time in Baltimore.

The 2015 Ravens have also been one of the unluckiest teams I’ve ever seen. Okay, I’ll buy that some of that ill fortune has been brought on by their own blunders. But it’s also true that almost every break they’ve caught has been a bad break. The worst of all was probably last week as bad officiating on what should have been the final play of a win against Jacksonville turned into another demoralizing loss.

At some point, frustration can derail any team mentally. The Ravens are saying all the right things and I don’t think there’s any way anyone named Harbaugh is ever going to throw in a towel, so forget about Baltimore just mailing it in today or any other day. But this has been a disastrous campaign, and it actually started in the pre-season, even though those games didn’t count.

I am not going to build up a great case for Case Keenum as the potential savior of the Rams season. But if there’s a right place for Keenum to get a start, it’s here. Keenum grew up in West Baltimore, he’ll have lots of family and friends to support him and beyond that, I don’t think he’s a downgrade from Nick Foles. Expect a heavy dose of Todd Gurley here, and if Keenum can simply manage the offense and avoid turnovers, the Rams should be able to put some points on the board.

The two most reliable power rating sets I utilize each have the Rams winning the game. Not by much, to be sure, as the line off those two columns is St. Louis -1. But I generally do pretty well when I can isolate an underdog that my numbers indicate should win the game, regardless of the margin. Add in what I would say is a reasonably favorable situation, and there’s enough here for me to make a play on the Rams.

Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 11/20/15

I have long been a staunch advocate of college athletes in revenue producing sports receiving some kind of salary. The argument against this has steadfastly remained the same from the organizations amassing huge dollars who obviously don’t want to share any of those dollars. They’re worried it might corrupt or compromise integrity of these “amateur” sports, and also feel the athletes are already deriving great benefit by getting a free ride to a college degree.

The fans who disagree with me use that same rationalization. I at least get it on the part of the organizations involved. They get to keep all the money and they don’t want that to change. I have never understood the agreement among some fans, although those numbers are clearly dwindling as more people finally come to the realization of what’s really going on.

I think we all know by now how big the business of college football and basketball is. But it’s not just at that level where people are getting really rich at the expense of the kids doing all the work. Consider these numbers, courtesy of ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

The AAU is now generating upwards of $20 million annually. Here’s how some of that money has been spent by this nonprofit organization.

Bobby Dodd is a former AAU president who was forced to resign after allegations surfaced that he molested kids while he was a coach. He got paid $1.5 million as a going away present.

The AAU has an annual gala, which for several years, took place at a private club in New York City. They managed to run up a deficit of roughly $500, 000 doing so before moving the event to Orlando to save money. Evidently, they saved enough because the event has now been moved back to the Big Apple.

The current AAU president is Roger Goudy. In 2014, over the course of two weekends at an event in Hermosa Beach, CA, Goudy charged $17, 000 on his corporate credit card. There’s also some question about the hours worked Goudy has claimed on his federal tax return while also holding a full time job running an Ohio school district.

The AAU carries a nearly $12 million budget surplus, which according to those who know about these things as they relate to nonprofits, is irresponsible and unnecessary.

There’s plenty more, and much of it is pretty troubling. You can go to espn.com to read the entire story. By the way, as if this needed to be mentioned, the AAU has refused to participate in any interviews on this topic.

Now I’m not suggesting that AAU players should be paid, it’s a different situation from what we have at the college level. But parents of kids participating in AAU events are well aware of how much they have to spend to allow their children to participate. It seems reasonable to project they’re having to spend far more dollars than they really have to, while a few suits get rich and live the high life.

Props to Outside the Lines for bringing this story to light. Hopefully, something can be done to clean things up. Keep up the good work, guys.


2-1 here on Friday. The NBA has not been good for me in this opening month and I got drilled with the Rockets last night. The good results were with the Canadiens on the ice and Indiana State in college hoops. Today’s card is packed, with five college football plays already made and the college buckets will produce at least five more wagers. I’ll wait on the goalie confirms before doing anything in the NHL, and I’ll likely leave the NBA alone.

Get all my plays, with no extra charges ever for supposedly “bigger” games and also stash a solid guarantee that goes with my monthly package. For all the pertinent info, shoot me an email at cokin@cox.net.


Two free college football plays will get decided today, and I’ll add a college basketball play taking place this evening for the Saturday comp.

741 NEVADA  at  742 PACIFIC

Take: NEVADA -1.5

Lots of excitement in the northern part of my state as far as the college baskets are concerned. Eric Musselman has been the head coach at Nevada for only three games, but it’s already crystal clear this is a program that’s ready to start making some noise. The Wolf Pack might not win all that many this season in the Mountain West, but they’re also not going to be any kind of pushover. Those days are done.

Nevada is 2-1 out of the gate, with the only defeat on a last second bucket in a 76-75 loss at Hawaii. The Wolf Pack still haven’t played a home game, but they’ve got a great chance to be sitting 3-1 when they finally get a chance to play at Lawlor next Wednesday.

The opponent today is Pacific. The Tigers figure to get better if and when they get some currently ineligible players cleared to see action. But as of now, those guys are on the sidelines. A ruling could come on two of the players at any time from the NCAA. But I’ll have to assume the players will be sitting again tonight, and their absence is of considerable importance.

Pacific simply has very little depth and size right now. That really didn’t matter much in the loss to a vastly superior Arizona squad. But I thought the Tigers wore out late in their game against Fullerton, and much not my delight as I had the Titans, Pacific melted pretty badly down the stretch in a game they appeared to have won.

Nevada should be a tough matchup for Pacific today. The Wolf Pack are already looking like a team that has several guys who can step forward as the star from one game to the next. So while this is not a deep team by any means, Nevada is also not a one-man show. AJ West has yet to have a big game, but he could explode tonight. If not, it could be Marqueze Coleman nor Tyron Criswell. The bottom line is that Musselman is already succeeding in selling this roster on the team concept. You can pretty much simply throw out the results from the last few years as things have changed in Reno.

Pacific has captured the last three meetings with Nevada, but all three were close games. The aforementioned Wolf Pack trio therefore shouldn’t need a pep talk to get ready for this battle. I’ve got Nevada winning this game on my adjusted numbers with the Pacific trio of ineligibles, and with the spread where it is, I’ll have no problem backing the improved Wolf Pack tonight.


Dave’s Free Play, Friday 11/20/15

I get loads of enjoyment watching and listening to Charles Barkley. He clearly enjoys his job and is about as quotable as it gets. To be honest, I’ll often bypass whatever the featured NBA game is and simply wait for the post-game show when it’s TNT with the broadcast honors. It’s generally terrific entertainment and one never knows what will take place with the spontaneity and great chemistry among the panelists.

When it comes to comments out of left field, Charles Barkley is the king. He’s been at it again lately with the Golden State Warriors. The reigning champs are a “jump shooting team” and Barkley has always made it clear he doesn’t like jump shooting teams. The results don’t seem to be having any impact on Chuck’s stance.

But Barkley is off the deep end with his latest rip on the Warriors. he did a guest spot with Colin Cowherd on Wednesday and declared that the NBA “would have mauled” the Warriors back in his day.

I don’t think Charles could be more wrong. He’s correct about the rule changes and the fact that defenses are not allowed to be as physical now as they were back in Barkley’s day. But he’s crazy if he thinks today’s Warriors would not have thrived in that era.

Here’s why, Charles. They’re way bigger and stronger now than they were when you played. That is simply a statement of fact that exists in every sport. I don’t care what game you’re talking about. Hockey, baseball, football, even golf… today’s athletes are simply bigger, and they’re also in better physical condition. That’s not a knock on the prior generation, it’s just a fact of life. It’s not even restricted to pro athletes. We’re continuing to evolve as a species and each generation is bigger than its predecessor. Plus, thanks to enhanced training techniques, much better nutrition and a variety of other factors, the athletes in 2015 simply blow away those from 1985.

That’s not to suggest today’s players have more natural talent. I don’t necessarily think that’s the case at all. But they’re also not necessarily less talented. If you call the talent even, then logically, you simply have to conclude that 2015 jock is superior to 1985 jock.

I hate to say it, but Charles Barkley is starting to sound like the proverbial old guy who desperately wants to hang onto the past and thinks everything was better back in the day. Some of us know better.


Winner with Long Beach, a bit of a frustrating loss with George Washington (South Florida was 2/17 on three point shots for the first 39 minutes, then went 4/5 at the finish.). I got involved late with the Santa Clara/UC Riverside game when it was announced just before tip time that Riverside’s best player had been suspended. I ended up losing both the side and total but bought back Riverside at the half, so absorbed just a small loss on that game. By the way, Santa Clara is absolutely awful.

I’m relatively pleased with the start in college basketball, but that’s not all I’m playing as there are good spots to play across the board. Get all my plays, released with analysis at the same time I get on them myself, and also receive a solid guarantee with my monthly package. For all the applicable info, simply shoot me an email at cokin@cox.net.


Thursday’s free play was on a Saturday college football game, and I’ll also go that route with the Friday comp.



It’s not normally a great idea to be laying double digits on the road with a 4-6 football team. But that’s what I’ll be doing here as San Jose State takes a trip to the islands to face Hawaii.

The Spartans have a very misleading record. They’ve absorbed some very tough losses along the way this season, and probably ought to be more like 6-4 or maybe even better at this point. They had second half melts at Air Force and Oregon State. San Jose actually won the stats in a very respectable loss at Auburn. The Spartans gambled and went for the deuce at the finish against BYU, couldn’t convert and lost by one. Last week at Nevada, San Jose gave up a late regulation score that forced OT, then after taking a three-point lead against the Wolf Pack, couldn’t hold it and lost by 3 in the extra session.

It’s possible that at some point this team could go flat, but as it hasn’t happened yet, I don’t anticipate it will here. In fact, the Spartan players have been talking up still getting bowl eligibility by winning their final two games. That won’t be easy with Boise State on deck, but this one sure looks winnable for San Jose State.

The flip side is a Hawaii entry that kind of looks as though they’ve tossed in the proverbial towel. The Rainbow Warriors are enduring a disastrous season. They’ve lost a ridiculous number of players to season ending injuries. The head coach got fired a few weeks ago, and while that sometimes generates a positive response, it certainly hasn’t here. Hawaii hung around against UNLV before getting blown out late, but that was in reality a game that the Rebels pretty well dominated.

Last week Hawaii simply bottomed out. They were humiliated at home by a Fresno State squad that had been playing miserably. Not only did Hawaii lose by four touchdowns, they also played with zero discipline, racking up a whopping 132 yards in penalties.

In the past, these late season journeys to the islands have frequently been really tough for visitors from the mainland. But the Hawaii program is a mess right now and local enthusiasm appears to be at an all-time low. I see San Jose State as the superior team by a pretty decent margin and I just don’t know if the Hawaii players care very much at this point. If the Warriors that showed up last week make another appearance here, this looms as a lopsided result. Even if there’s better focus, I’m still not sure Hawaii has enough to hang in for 60 minutes. It’s also a potential spot for the Spartans to take out some of the frustration from all those near misses by throttling an opponent that’s struggling badly. I’ll be laying the points in this one with San Jose State.

Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 11/20/15

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just a handful of months ago, the Houston Rockets were playing for the Western Conference title against the Golden State Warriors. Head coach Kevin McHale had been rewarded just a few months earlier with a lucrative three-year contract extension, and all systems seemed to be go in Houston.

Eleven games into the new NBA season and McHale is the first coaching casualty of the new season. The Rockets were clearly not playing well, having lost seven of eleven games, and looking pretty lethargic in some of those losses.

Still, it’s kind of hard to believe Houston GM Daryl Morey would make a radical move like this so quickly, especially given the success the Rockets enjoyed last season. Reaction around the league was swift, with perhaps the strongest comment coming from Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, who called the firing “preposterous.” Of course, it should be noted that Carlisle and McHale were teammates three decades ago in Boston.

I don’t think there’s any question that Morey was motivated to can McHale because the players wanted him gone. James Harden, who last spring was raving about how great it was to be playing for McHale, an “actual player to talk to”, apparently no longer felt the same way, and neither did his teammates.

McHale had been critical of the team’s play to date, and openly questioned their effort after a game in which they were blown out by the Celtics after leading big early. It at least seems that the verbal scolding by McHale was not well received by the players, and that Morey decided he’d have to scuttle the coach or risk losing the season in November.

J.B. Bickerstaff is now the interim coach, with the job reportedly his for the remainder of the season. We’ll see how the Rockets respond. They did manage to put together a very impressive rally against Portland last night, eventually winning the game in overtime.

My reaction is simple enough. I’ve never been a fan of allowing the inmates to run the asylum, and it appears that’s the case here. But at the same time, if the coach can’t connect with the players, the GM cannot fire all the players and something has to give. My guess is the Rockets will probably show some life over the next handful of games. But the roster is flawed to begin with, and I don’t have much faith in any team when it becomes clear they’re in charge and the coach probably isn’t.


2-2 here on Wednesday. Oakland was a college hoops winner, I split a pair of 1H wagers and lost by the hook with the Magic in the NBA.

I’ll likely have two or three college hoops plays tonight, there’s a good chance I’ll have a side in an NHL game, and I won’t be involved in any of the three football games. The weekend college slate is now taking shape with four games standing out to me, and I’ll likely be playing them today. I send out all my selections at the same time I’m making the wagers myself.

For info on how to receive all my games along with a dynamite guarantee, drop me an email at cokin@cox.net.


Orlando ended top winning in OT on a Fournier trey with just a few seconds remaining. Great shot, but as I was spotting 3.5, a tough result. I’ll go with a huge Saturday college football games for today’s free play.



The stakes are as high as they get this weekend at Stillwater as Oklahoma State hosts Baylor. The Cowboys are looking to maintain their perfect record as well while also enhancing their chances of being a very big surprise entry in this year’s college football Final Four.

There are two schools of analysis butting heads here. The stats indicate one thing, while the situation would seem to point the other way.

Baylor owns the edge on paper. The Bears have better numbers on both offense and defense, at least in terms of the digits I have a tendency to weigh most heavily. That’s not to suggest Oklahoma State is a fraud as some are saying. I think this is a very solid Cowboys entry, although I’ll agree with the skeptics they’re not quite as good as their current standing in the polls.

The other side of the debate is that Oklahoma State has more to play for than a Baylor team that likely saw any playoff hopes vanish last week when the Bears lost at home to powerful Oklahoma. I’m not putting much stock into the Cowboys barely getting past Iowa State. Oklahoma State was in a sandwich spot to be sure coming off the TCU win with two monster games on deck.

There’s also some history to consider here, as Baylor has had a very tough time of it at in this series. Oklahoma State has won 15 of the last 18 meetings, and the Cowboys own a nifty 13-3-2 ATS slate in those games. So it’s tough to argue against those who are going to make their case for Oklahoma State here.

But I’m one who has a tendency to adhere more to the numbers than the scenario when all the digits indicate the same side. That’s the case for me here. I run several sets of stats when breaking down a game, and in this instance, it’s a unanimous decision. Baylor comes out on top right across the line. It’s not by any means a blowout, but the bottom lines are all Baylor for me.

One intangible that might also point to Baylor is what I like to call the pressure meter. The Bears could be in a down spot mentally, but they’re at least saying all the right things. As for the Cowboys, there’s no doubt about it. They’re the team that now has the proverbial pot of gold staring them in the face. But that can also create a very tight collar situation and I’ll be interested to see how the team responds with all the college football eyes watching.

My choice is to trust the data and also the oddsmakers. Oklahoma State will be getting the bulk of the public dollars here, particularly with the game priced as it is. In games of this magnitude, I’ve never got a problem going the other way if my numbers agree and that’s the case this time. I’m on the Baylor side to ruin the Oklahoma State dream on Saturday.

Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 11/18/15

The new College Football Playoff rankings are out. If you’re a Big 12 fan, as the late Yogi Berra once said, it’s deja vu all over again.

The Big 12 has three schools in the current Top Ten, with Oklahoma State at #6, Oklahoma #7, and Baylor weighing in at #10. That means there’s a chance for all three teams to move up and get to the Final Four. It also means that there’s an even better chance the conference  will again be on the outside looking in once the dust settles.

The team with the best chance to crash the party is Oklahoma State because they basically control their own destiny. If the Cowboys win out, it would be really tough to argue against their inclusion. Wins against Baylor and Oklahoma would be huge and even without a conference title game victory, they’d have an overwhelming argument.

The bad news is Oklahoma State’s chances of knocking off both Baylor and Oklahoma in back to back weeks, even with each game taking place in Stillwater, is a daunting task. They probably catch a break of sorts facing Baylor off a loss that likely kayoed the Bears from the playoff race. But Oklahoma looks like an ever tougher assignment. The Sooners are playing at an extremely high level right now and while it’s clearly no guarantee they’ll win, Oklahoma will be the favorite next week at Oklahoma State.

If the Cowboys don’t run the table, they have no chance to get in. TCU appears dead in the water as they simply have way too many teams to climb over in the rankings. Baylor is a long shot, though they at least have a pulse residing in the Top 10.

That brings me to Oklahoma. On my ratings, the Sooners are absolutely one of the four best teams. But my numbers don’t matter and the fact is that a one-loss Oklahoma squad will need help to crack the Final Four.

And that brings me back to a column I wrote last season at this time. I predicted the Big 12 would get shut out because they don’t have a title game and there was a a good chance they would not even have a true league champion. Sorry, tie breakers don’t count.

The argument has been made almost everywhere that the conference needs to add two teams, so they can split into two divisions and have a winner take all game on Championship Saturday. Obviously, that hasn’t happened yet.

But I just don’t understand why the powers that be in the Big 12 couldn’t come up with an easy alternative that they could have put into place this season. It was really a piece of cake from a scheduling and logistics standpoint. Take the top two teams in the league, with descending tie-breakers in place should more than two finish with identical records, and play a championship game.

This would have been a winner on three huge counts. One, the league gets to crown an actual champion. Two, major visibility on a day where the viewer numbers nationwide will be enormous. And three, it would be a cash cow for the entire league.

The only fly in the ointment would have been if someone runs the table and grabs the title outright in the regular season, which could still happen. But after what took place last season, better to err on the side of caution, and in the process, avoid the likelihood of a 2014 rerun. Unfortunately for the Big 12, there’s a good chance that’s exactly what’s about to take place.


2-0 college hoops on Tuesday, but I went 0-2 with a pair of NHL dogs. The swing game was Golden State, and that looked like a cinch at halftime. But the bet was full game and the Warriors did not play well at all in the second half, resulting in a net loss of 1.1 units for the day.

My Wednesday slate is thin right now, although the one college hoop game I have already played is one I like quite a bit. Get all my plays each and every day along with a powerhouse guarantee that goes with my monthly package. All details furnished when you email me at cokin@cox.net.


The Devils came up one goal short at Calgary as the Tuesday free play. Credit to the Flames for a good performance, although they certainly got a bit of surprising help from NJ goalie Cory Schneider, who allowed a couple of shaky first period goals. Tonight’s play is on a game that is currently off the board. But it should make the card if the injury updates provide the expected good news.



Some decent scheduling dynamics are in play tonight as Minnesota continues its Florida swing with a stop at Orlando.

The Wolves are off a spectacular fourth quarter rally that vaulted them past the Heat. That was certainly an encouraging win for this Minnesota team, but there’s certainly a possibility the residual effects could show up tonight on the second of back to backs.

Orlando, on the other hand, will be very well rested as they have enjoyed a few days off that really came at the right time. Had the Magic been in action in any of the last three days, they would have had to take the court pretty shorthanded. But the early info is that almost everyone on the walking wounded list should be back tonight.

Victor Oladipo was back at practice yesterday, and while it was a non-contact session, he appeared to come through it okay. Speculation is that Oladipo will be able to clear the concussion protocol and get back in uniform tonight. The days off are also good news for Evan Fournier, who was dealing with a fever on Monday. But as he was not even mentioned in the late Tuesday update I received, I will assume he’s good to go tonight.

The Magic are also expected to get Jason Smith back in action this evening as his knee has responded to treatment. The only missing link figures to be CJ Watson, who is listed as questionable presently, but from what I’m gathering is unlikely to play tonight.

The play here is contingent on both Oladipo and Fournier being healthy enough to play, so I might be waiting for some time before I actually go ahead and play this. But assuming all systems are go, it’s the type of scheduling spot I like to play and with Orlando playing well at home thus far, I’ll be looking to side with the Magic.

(I’ll update whether or not this makes my card on Twitter. Be sure to follow me @davecokin for an update.)