Cokin’s Corner, Sunday 2/14/16

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the crazy ending of the Boise State/Colorado State game played on Wednesday night. It was not just apparent, it was crystal clear that the officials had gotten it wrong and, in the process, had stolen a win from Boise State.

The next day I received emails, a couple of text messages and some comments on various social media platforms. I was criticized for ripping the refs and the league for screwing things up. That’s because there was a statement published by Dave Hall, the official, as well as another one from the Mountain West Conference, explaining how the call was correct. Therefore people with functioning eyes like myself were wrong.

Well, just in case you missed it, the Mountain West has now done an about face and have admitted the call was incorrect and that the basket at the overtime buzzer should have counted. Of course, they’re not changing the result.

So I’m bothered on two counts. First, I still haven’t heard back from any of the folks who came after me about refusing to accept the possibility I might have been incorrect. No big deal there.

But big deal here. Hey Craig Thompson, MWC commissioner. Show some stones and do the right thing. Boise State won the game. Reverse the call and give the Broncos their win.

On the other hand, it’s somewhat comforting to see the MWC executive decision losing streak maintained. If that sounds nasty, so be it. It’s astonishing how many bad moves have been made over the last several years by the suits in this league. They kissed off ESPN because the late starting times for what would have been nationally televised games were too late. That was the beginning of the negative run, and it was a severely criticized move right from the outset. One of the more recent gaffes hasn’t gone into effect yet. The MWC intends to cut the conference basketball tournament to just the eight highest-seeded teams (not this season, but just around the bend). I’ve already ranted on why this is a stuck on stupid decision that’s strictly minor league.

In any event, the entire Broncos/Rams fiasco is just one more hit to a league suffering through an embarrassingly awful season in basketball.

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I managed to produce a profit on Saturday, although as is customary, I had a terrible beat along the way that swung the result from what would have been very nice to just okay. This time it was Idaho State -2.5. Up five late, Sacramento State hits a three, fouls, and of course, my guy clanks the free throw and the game lands on two. Aside from dealing 2-0 at the outset, the Bengals led the entire game, making the hook loser just a little more disgusting. But at least it was still a black ink day.

I’ve landed on a couple of Sunday games, and that might well be it for the day. One of those is the free play on this page. For info on my personal service, which includes all my plays plus whatever one on one consultation that’s desired, email me at cokin@cox.net.

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Butler was a bad call as the Saturday free play. They just don’t match up well with Xavier. If these teams happen to meet again in the Big East tournament, expect the same result. I’ll go the scheduling dynamics route with a big underdog for the Sunday comp.

867 NIAGARA  @  868 RIDER

Take: 867 NIAGARA +10.5

First things first, Niagara is not good at all. That means there’s always an element of risk asking the Purple Eagles to do something positive. The team is 6-20 this season and they’re now 21-68 since Chris Casey took over as head coach. So anytime I’m considering this outfit, it’s strictly hold your nose time.

But today, I’m playing against Rider. This is an awful spot for the Broncs. They’re off one of the craziest games I’ve seen all season. Rider put together a stirring second half rally to get what looked like a sweet upset against MAAC frontrunner Monmouth on Friday evening. Rider was up 14 inside the four-minute mark. But they fell apart down the stretch, and I put the blame squarely on the coaching.

This absolutely drives me wild. It’s the college basketball version of the football prevent defense. In this case, it’s prevent offense. Team gets ahead and rather than run the offense that got them ahead, they start milking the clock WAY too soon, end up with horrible percentage shots and allow the other team an opportunity to catch up. When I rant about overcoaching, this is the prime example of what I mean.

In any event, Rider blew the entire lead and then after going back up two, they got burned by a Justin Robinson three and it was game, set and match. Great win for Monmouth when it looked like they were dead, and a truly brutal beat for Rider.

I don’t know how the Broncs get fired up for this game. They’re going from the all-out effort and throughly demoralizing loss against the MAAC leaders to a rematch against a bottom feeder they already handled on the road just nine days ago. It’s always somewhat of a guess to assess what a team’s mindset is going to be, but I just can’t see Rider being razor sharp here. I might not be in love with the idea of taking the downtrodden Purple Eagles, but I feel as though this is a solid play against spot for the Broncs. I’ll take the double digits with Niagara.

 

 

Cokin’s Corner, Saturday 2/13/16

The usual enormous Saturday college basketball slate means no time for any commentary today, and it straight to the daily free play. This also happens to be one of the more compelling hookups on the huge schedule, one that’s definitely likely to be worth watching.

541 XAVIER  @  542 BUTLER

Take: 542 BUTLER -3

The very bottom of the Big East might not be much with St. John’s and DePaul each having very difficult campaigns. But 1-8 this is a very good outfit, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest there are a number of teams in this conference that could do some damage come March Madness. Two of those squads get together here as Butler plays host to Xavier.

Butler will definitely be in payback mode today. The Bulldogs were beaten up at Xavier back in early January. The Musketeers exploited what on that day was a soft Butler interior and scored a load of easy buckets en route to a convincing 88-69 win. That was the early portion of what turned out to be a really lousy stretch of basketball for Butler. The Bulldogs eventually dropped all the way to 3-6 in league play, and the three wins were against the two aforementioned Big East weaklings.

But things are looking up for Butler. They’ve now mowed down three straight opponents, and it looks like whatever was ailing the Bulldogs has been remedied. They’re now flashing the form they displayed early in the season, when they were looking like a powerhouse. That Butler team earned some very impressive wins, and I’m banking on those Bulldogs to be in action today.

Xavier is obviously anything but a pushover. The Musketeers don’t figure to be in a very good mood following a bad game at Creighton. History buffs will, in fact, most likely be all over X here. They’ve pretty much owned Butler over the years, with an impressive 9-1-1 STS ledger in the last 11 meetings, including 5-1 vs. the line on this court.

But I’m putting more weight on what’s happening right now rather than what has taken place in the past. As I frequently mention at this time of the season, I’m a fan of backing avenging home teams that are coming in with positive momentum. I won’t give the exact parameters of how I break this down, but teams fitting what I look for in this scenario win far more often than they lose. This angle, if you want to call it that, has popped at roughly a 60% clip going back several seasons, and it’s 11-6 so far this year. Butler does indeed qualify as a play and my projections also have them winning the game as far as the math goes.

I wouldn’t expect this to be easy by any means, but I see Butler winning this one and with the number where it is. I’m willing to spot the points today with the Bulldogs.

Cokin’s Corner, Friday 2/12/16

The Dwight Howard sweepstakes is apparently now underway. The Houston Rockets,Western Conference finalists last season, are not even a playoff team heading into the All-Star break. Therefore, it’s not especially surprising to hear that Howard is being shopped.

Let’s just say I’m skeptical about how many teams will have even a passing interest in Howard. The risk vs. reward here just isn’t very good. Howard has stayed healthy this year, but his track record in that area is not the best. He’s still averaging a double double, but I think it’s fair to offer that Howard is not a dominant performer anymore. His points per game is the lowest it’s been since Howard’s rookie year. The problems at the free throw line are never going to go away. And then there’s that contract. Howard can opt out of his contract this summer and become an unrestricted free agent.

The one team that’s being mentioned as a potential trade partner with the Rockets is the Boston Celtics. I can understand how Howard is a fit from the standpoint of the Celtics, They have a load of draft picks and also have veterans with expiring contracts, so if they want to rent Howard for a run at the Cavaliers, they would be able to do so.

I can see Boston taking a shot here. First off, while Howard’s best days are likely behind him, he  would, I assume, be motivated to play for a team with a chance to make a playoff run, at least in the East. Howard also fits as far as being what the Celtics kind of need, which is some inside muscle. The one knock on this team is that they’re a bit on the soft side in the paint.

Another potential add for the Celtics is apparently Al Horford. The Atlanta Hawks are reportedly set to become sellers at the deadline, and supposedly there have already been talks between Boston and Atlanta regarding Horford’s availability.

This is all pretty exciting for Celtics fans as the franchise continues its climb back to contention after a few lean years. In what seems to be looming as a very quiet lead up to the deadline, Boston is certainly looking like the team most likely to add.

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Okay Thursday result here, with a net gain of 1.7 units. The Friday agenda looks pretty thin, but that’s the calm before the storm, as the typical massive Saturday slate should offer plenty of good opportunities. For info on my personal service, get in touch with me via email at cokin@cox.net.

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Ugly late melt by Connecticut as the Huskies got run over down the homestretch by Temple, and the Owls ended up getting the outright win. I’ll zero in on tonight’s big rematch in the PAC-12 for the Friday comp.

863 UCLA  @  864 ARIZONA

Take: 864 ARIZONA -11.5

There’s not much doubt about the marquee clash on the limited Friday night schedule. It’s round two between UCLA and Arizona, with the Wildcats looking for payback from a narrow defeat against the Bruins the first time around.

The number on this game appears to be right where it should be. But I’m going to rely on some intangibles to try and garner an advantage tonight. First off, there’s the revenge factor. As noted several times over the past couple of weeks, I have a definite preference toward backing higher power-ranked teams with positive momentum when in this role.

Arizona fits on that count. The Wildcats saw their very lengthy home court winning streak come to a screeching halt in a loss to Oregon. But Arizona rebounded from that defeat with a blowout win over Oregon State, and then scored the sweep last week on the road with wins at Washington State and Washington.

Things aren’t going as well for the Bruins. No question this team has a few nice wins this season. But there have been more bad losses, and the recent form for UCLA is less than sensational. They’ve dropped four of their last six, with the only wins against Oregon State and Washington State. Three of the four losses were by substantial margins. ‘

I think it’s entirely possible that UCLA is wearing down. The Bruins have very little depth. The UCLA bench is razor thin, and it looks to me like the major minutes might be taking some toll on the starters.

Arizona is still alive to win the PAC-12. But they need a sweep this weekend of UCLA and USC to have any real chance of catching first-place Oregon and the vastly improved Trojans. First things first, the Wildcats need to make sure there’s no second slip-up against the Bruins. I like their chances of taking care of business tonight, and if the ‘Cats come roaring out of the starting gate, this one could end up being lopsided. I’ll take my chances spotting the doubles with Arizona.

Cokin’s Corner, Thursday 2/11/16

If you happened to watch the Wednesday night end of overtime fiasco involving Boise State and Colorado State, you already know where this heading.

Boise State appeared to have won the game on a three at the buzzer. But according to the officials working the game, the shot was too late, and the Broncos and Rams had to play a second overtime. Here’s the statement from referee Dave Hall regarding the disallowing of the apparent winning basket, courtesy of themw.com.

“The protocol on any last-second shot, after the shot is made, you go to the monitor to review whether the shot was taken in time or not. We followed the protocol, we went to the monitor and we reviewed whether the shot was taken in the 0.8 seconds that was on the game clock when the ball was inbounded. We did that and we noticed that the game clock was not started upon touch. We then used a stopwatch overlay from the monitor review system to determine when he touched it and then figure out how many tenths of a second it took from the time he touched the ball until the time he released the ball and whether he was able to get that shot off in that0.8 seconds. After reviewing that several times we determined that the shot was late. It was not taken in that 0.8-second time frame, but actually closer to 1.2 or 1.3 time frame. As a result, the basket does not count.”

Heres’s my statement. You got it wrong. The shot should have counted and Boise State should have earned the victory.

That’s two results in less than one week where the stripes have stolen a win from a deserving victor. New Mexico was the victim last Saturday against San Diego State.

The Mountain West officiating has been regularly lambasted by veteran observers for quite some time. They’re certainly living down to that reputation right now.

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My Wednesday was highly enjoyable, with a substantial net profit for the evening. I’m hoping this is the start of a big February run, as this is generally my best college basketball month. So far, so good and I’ll have a big Thursday card. For info on my service, feel free to email me anytime at cokin@cox.net.

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Northern Iowa managed to get past the number in a comfortable win over Missouri State as the Wednesday free play. Here’s a shorter favorite from tonight’s schedule that I see having a good chance to get there.

709 CONNECTICUT  @  710 TEMPLE

Take: 709 CONNECTICUT -4

I know going in this doesn’t figure to be easy. I don’t think there’s much question that Connecticut is stronger than Temple. But this Owls team has proven to be very feisty at times this season, especially when cast in the role of host. The Owls have already knocked off Cincinnati, SMU and Tulsa on this court, and all three of those schools power rate higher than Temple does.

But UConn figures to be arriving in Philadelphia with some revenge on its mind. The Huskies were upset at home by this Temple squad, in what had to be one of the ugliest games I’ve seen this season.  Connecticut endured a horrible shooting night in that 55-53 loss. Yet, they nearly still the win thanks to some horrendous foul shooting by the Owls.

This figures to be another defensive struggle, as the stop units for both schools are solid. But the Huskies are the better side on that count, and they’re also the more efficient team offensively. That’s pretty big for me, as I really like the revenge angle when the team I’m looking to back wins the stat battle on both ends of the court.

Temple will be fired up to get the sweep against the Huskies and when it comes to prepping his team for a big game, Fran Dunphy is not a coach I’m thrilled with trying to beat. The game is also huge for the Owls as far as the conference race is concerned. With SMU ineligible for the post-season, it’s Temple that currently resides in what amounts to the top spot for league tournament purposes. A win here for the Owls would be enormous.

But scheduling and standing dynamics aside, I still give the most weight to the revenge with the better team angle, and the stats are a very good fit. I don’t expect this to be a picnic for the Huskies. But in the end I like UConn to get the job done by enough to cover the road chalk impost.

 

Cokin’s Corner, Wednesday 2/10/16

Gotta love that good old, never stops churning rumor mill. There’s basically not a single day that goes by without something to dig one’s teeth into. Today it involves an old face, and anyone even remotely surprised by what’s swirling simply shouldn’t be.

The individual I’m referring to is Phil Jackson. The buzz has already started with the firing of Derek Fisher as head coach of the Knicks. Fisher was Jackson’s choice for that job, and let’s just say that not everyone believes it was Jackson’s choice to can him.

That might not be the case, but the immediate aftermath is not exactly a jolt. Rumors are already in motion that Jackson will be moving west again since this season concludes, and it’s destination Lakers.

I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility. The Lakers are going to make some significant changes following this disastrous campaign. They figure to be going after Luke Walton as the next head coach, and while Walton is a cinch to have several offers, I have to think the Lakers job is his most likely landing place. Getting Phil Jackson back on board to run the organization would clinch it as far as I’m concerned.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that Phil stays put and lures Walton to the Big Apple. But I’ll suggest that Walton, being a west coast lifer, might prefer sunny California and a chance to resurrect the franchise he won a couple of championships with is pretty compelling stuff.

I obviously have nothing other than opinion to base all this speculation on. But it kinda makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, what goes around comes around, and I think this could very well develop into a stay tuned for more details story.

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Okay Tuesday night on the college side, +1.55, although I gave back 0.6 in the NBA. I’ll take the nominal gain, and will look to add with tonight’s slate. I’m currently on four colleges, with one or two more possible adds. For info on getting all my plays, released at the same time I play them myself, send an email to cokin@cox.net for all the particulars.

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Hey, what happened? I’ve been struggling mightily in end game situations, but got one back Tuesday night with the free play winner on Toledo. The Rockets were down the entire game, but rallied at the finish line to get the win at Buffalo. Tonight, I’m giving some substantial points in what I believe could end up being a blowout.

551 MISSOURI STATE  @  552 NORTHERN IOWA

Take: 552 NORTHERN IOWA -12.5

I really cannot pinpoint the reason, other than the fact they weren’t playing good basketball. But whatever was ailing Northern Iowa for the better part of this season seems to have been remedied. The Panthers are in their best form of the campaign and I like their chances of extending the current win streak tonight.

Missouri State was an upset winner over UNI in  the earlier meeting, and that was a pretty bad game for the Panthers. They seemed to have the proceedings pretty well in hand midway through the second half. But Northern Iowa went ice cold down the stretch and Missouri State got the surprising 59-58 victory.

I’ll be very surprised if there’s anything resembling that suspense this evening. Northern Iowa is unlikely to take the Bears for granted, as they might well have done in the prior hookup. That’s bad news for the Bears, who are a gritty bunch but simply are not very talented.

Missouri State cannot shoot the basketball. The numbers are disturbingly bad. The Bears get points for adhering to Paul Lusk’s system and working hard to get higher percentage shots. But they’re just not very good at actually getting the ball to go into the basket.

That’s likely to be a problem here as Northern Iowa is starting to find its rhythm, and if the Panthers are sharp again tonight, I don’t see that there’s much chance Missouri State is going to be able to hang in.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but as it applies here, I’ll do so again. I’m an advocate of backing superior teams in same season revenge if they have positive momentum on their side. UNI qualifies on that count, as they’ve rolled to four straight wins and covers. I like the chances for the Panthers to extend that run tonight, and I’m willing to lay the points with Northern Iowa in the process.

Cokin’s Corner, Tuesday 2/9/16

It looks like George Karl is about to be let go as the head coach of the Sacramento Kings. There’s certainly nothing even remotely surprising about this news. There was speculation that Karl was done back at the very start of the season. Perhaps the only news here is that Karl lasted as long as he did with this team.

The Kings haven’t made the playoffs for what is now a ridiculous number of years, and they’ve gone through head coaches at a rate unmatched by any other franchise in the league. There’s some talent on the roster to be sure, but there are also head cases. In other words, good luck to the next coach, whether it’s apparent interim successor Corliss Williamson or someone else who gets hired at the end of the current season.

I haven’t got the slightest idea of how this broken franchise can be repaired. I’m confident on only one count. I think this team has to avoid the retread route and must take a gamble on a young up and comer. Whether that’s a current NBA assistant or a sharp college coach doesn’t matter, but there has to be a huge effort made to zero in on someone who can connect with the players.

That’s not a knock on George Karl, who didn’t suddenly forget how to coach. But I didn’t think he was a good fit with the Kings to begin with, and he wasn’t. Personally, I think Karl should head to the college ranks if he want to stay in the coaching game. It’s my belief he needs to be heading a program where he can truly be the man in charge. I don’t see that being a likelihood in what amounts to the new school NBA, as Karl is more the old school type. But I can think of more than a handful of college programs who could benefit greatly from bringing Karl on board.

Along those lines, I’ll toss UNLV into the mix. There are already several pretty big names in the Runnin’ Rebel conversation. Karl has reportedly had past interest in this program, so it might stand to reason he’s still intrigued by the possibility of coaching in Las Vegas. While he might not be my first choice, I sure wouldn’t be likely to have any complaints if Karl turned out to be the guy. It’s all merely conjecture at this point, but speculating on what might happen is always fun.

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1-3 Monday for me, although I saved some of the juice with a small 2H wager. There was, of course, the nightly melt. This time it was the Suns. Down 4 with four minutes to play. Get outscored 16-4 at the finish line and lose by 16. Down 4, getting 13, with only four minutes remaining makes me a huge favorite. But as I’ve found out on an absolutely unbelievable number of occasions all season, the final score is all that matters. Inquiries on the service are always welcome at cokin@cox.net.

By the way, this website will be undergoing a few changes over the next month or two. I’m looking to add some content while also making some cosmetic changes. So don’t be shocked when you see the site with a different look sometime in the near future.

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Bad play on the Clippers, who mailed it in for the bulk of the game against Philadelphia. As it turned out, the Clippers came dangerously close to actually covering in the overtime. They went up 8 and back rimmed a three that would have made it double digits. Then they had three straight empty possessions, so no miracle here. Regardless, it wasn’t a very smart take on my part as it was a potential dead spot and played out that way. I’ll try a college dog tonight.

729 TOLEDO  @  730 BUFFALO

Take: 729 TOLEDO +2.5

More college same season revenge here. Buffalo was a wire to wire winner in the first meeting, as the Rockets were outplayed for all 40 minutes by the Bulls. But I like Toledo’s chances of returning the favor tonight.

There are a number of parameters I look for when sizing up whether to take an avenging squad in rematches. I don’t want to reveal precisely what I look for, but one aspect that definitely comes into play for me is the power ratings. When I can find a team that’s got the better number in that regard and also has the revenge motive, I’m generally going to at least have some interest. In this case, it’s even better as I’m going to be able to grab a basket or so courtesy of the oddsmakers.

I’m happy to see that Toledo has apparently emerged from a bit of a funk that had them spiraling in the wrong direction. The Rockets had lost three in a row, with the third of those defeats absorbed against this opponent. But Toledo has rebounded sharply in its last two games. The Rockets obliterated Western Michigan, and then followed that up with a very sharp effort in a convincing win at Kent State.

Buffalo is certainly no pushover, and the Bulls are off a very nice comeback win against Eastern Michigan that extended their winning streak to four games. This team loses to play fast, and on that count, they should be able to go at the pace they enjoy against Toledo.

But for me, the bottom line here is that I’m subscribing to the old theory about it being tough for one team to defeat another twice in one season, which I do think has an element of accuracy to it when the teams are as closely matched as these two seem to be. I’m on Toledo plus the small number to salvage the season split.

Cokin’s Corner, Monday 2/8/16

Well, that was thoroughly unmemorable. Super Bowl 50 is in the archives, and while it was a wonderful way for Peyton Manning to cap off his remarkable career (assuming that’s the case) the game between the Broncos and Panthers was mostly a colossal bore.

In actuality, that’s probably exactly the way the Denver Broncos wanted this one to play out. They weren’t likely to win a shootout with Cam Newton and the Panthers. Denver needed to win this by playing stellar defense, and that’s precisely what they did. Wade Phillips, who did another phenomenal job of coordinating a defense, pushed all the right buttons yet again. There’s not much doubt that Phillips would be the easy winner of the MVC (Most Valuable Coach) if there were such an award handed out in the Super Bowl.

I’m not going to climb on the Slam Cam bandwagon for his performance, either on the field or at the post-game press conference. He clearly did not have a good game, nor did he have a good press conference. But the guy had an awesome season and he was richly deserving of all the accolades that went his way. Newton still has most of his career ahead of him, and I wouldn’t bet against him getting another shot or more at the Lombardi Trophy.

As for Peyton Manning, while it was hardly a scintillating individual performance, there just can’t be a better way for one of the all-time greats to ride off into the sunset.

My result on the game was a virtual wash. My NFC -1 ticket lost, my Broncos +6 ticket won. I was thrilled with the way the game went early on, as the Broncos getting ahead early was of paramount importance. Had Denver been forced into play from behind mode, I doubt they’d have succeeded. But Carolina never could make the big play to rally from behind and I had to settle for the split on what was a terrific middling opportunity.

Congrats to all of the Broncos and their fans. It might not go into the books as a Super Bowl to remember, but the final score is all that matters and Denver is the king of the football world tonight.

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My nothing short of amazing basketball season continued on Sunday with yet another phenomenal come from way ahead non-winner. This time, it was Hofstra doing the honors. They led 81-72 at James Madison, got outscored 10-1 at the end of regulation, and then lost by three in overtime. I don’t know how else to say it, other that you just can’t make this stuff up.

For info on how you can receive all my games, along with a guarantee (the guarantee is not that you’ll lose the last two minutes of every damn game, although it might seem that way) email me directly at cokin@cox.net.

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I’ll go the big chalk route in the NBA for the Monday free play.

505 CLIPPERS  @  506 76ERS

Take: 505 CLIPPERS -9

It’s the second off back to back road games for the Clippers, following their Sunday win at Miami. Normally, that would not make laying a bunch of points the next night against a bad team the most desirable situation. But the fact this game is against the woeful 76ers creates an entirely different dynamic.

I’m not going to pretend this is a game the Clippers are going be fired up for. But unlike some past editions of the Clippers, this team has been doing a better job of maintaining the necessary focus. That’s really all it should take to dust off the pathetic 76ers.

Philly comes into this one off a rare victory. But that’s probably not the best news for the Sixers, as they are 0-7 off a win this season, and they have zero wins against winning opponents. It’s not exactly a substantial sample, but on the two occasions this season where the 76ers were at home off a win, they got absolutely mauled each time.

This is the second meeting between these teams this year, with the Clippers annihilating Philly by 31 at Staples in early January. I’ll assume the margin will be somewhat less here, but perhaps not all that much.

Philadelphia has just one shot to compete here and that’s if the Clippers dimply dismiss them and get very lazy. That can obviously happen. Just look back at the recent visit to this building by the Warriors. The champs got up by a whole bunch, went to sleep mentally and nearly ended up getting stunned in what would have been the season’s biggest upset.

But while I certainly can grasp the concept of how the Clippers can screw this up, I just don’t envision it happening. Even if it’s not the sharpest LA team we see tonight, I’ll take my chances they can win by doubles, and if they do that, it’ll be enough. I’ll side with the Clippers minus the points.

 

Cokin’s Corner, Super Bowl Sunday 2/7/16

A break from the usual format today as all most of us will care about here is Super Bowl 50 between the Panthers and Broncos. So I’ll fire off my quick take on the big game and get set for the action to unfold.

I have two plays on the game. I played the NFC -1 a few weeks ago, and added a play on the Broncos +6. So for me, this is sit back and hope it’s close, as I sure like the idea of middling the game.

That’s all I have as far as action is concerned. I’m not a props player, although there is no question there are probably some terrific value options available. But this is a one-man operation, and the bulk of my handicapping hours are spent on college basketball at this time of year. So to just randomly fire away without having done what for me is necessary homework, that’s just not going to happen. I’m happy enough to do the ol’ fiddle in the middle and if Carolina wins close, the drinks are on me. (Actually, they’re not on me as I’m attending a party at Fleming’s Town Square and there will be plenty of tasty beverages available for all attendees.)

Okay, here’s my take on the game. I feel as though this one gets determined very early. If the Panthers come storming out of the gate as they’ve done in two very convincing wins over the Seahawks and Cardinals, Denver is in a world of trouble. Anything is possible, of course, but the Broncos are not really built to come from behind, and if at any point they go down two scores, it could be lights out quickly for the AFC champs.

On the other hand, if Denver keeps the Panthers off the scoreboard early, I think they’re in this all the way. Obviously, the Broncos would be best served to grab an early lead. But my sense is that even if they’re down a little heading to halftime, they will have an excellent chance to win the game.

The math suggests that the line is still a bit on the high side, although with the late Denver money that’s been showing this week, the optimum Broncos line has disappeared. I suspect it might tick up a bit as we get close to post time, as Carolina is still the more popular side with the bettors.

My final score is Carolina 23, Denver 20. So officially, for the purposes of record keeping on the daily free plays, the Broncos plus the points are the play.

My best advice? Treat this game as you’d treat any other NFL game. Just because it’s the biggest game doesn’t mean it warrants the biggest bet.

Cokin’s Corner, Saturday 2/6/16

The usual quick late Friday/early Saturday blog. I will have a good-sized slate today in college basketball. That’s usually the case in February as I focus quite a bit of my attention on rematches. One of those is today’s free play.

539 DAVIDSON  @  540 DUQUESNE

Take: 540 DUQUESNE -2

I can guarantee you that had you asked me prior to the season what the betting line for a February game featuring Davidson at Duquesne might be, there’s absolutely no question the Wildcats would have been the favorite.

But fast forward to right now and the roles have changed. Davidson has had all kinds of injury issues the entire season. Only three players have managed to make it to the post for all 19 games. As a result, the usual cohesiveness that’s a hallmark of Bob McKillop’s teams simply hasn’t been there. The Wildcats still take great care of the basketball, with the lowest offensive turnover rate in the country. Put Davidson on the foul line and they rarely miss. But the other elements have been problematic.

Duquesne has made some very nice strides this season, and Jim Ferry is a serious contender for A-10 Coach of the Year. The Dukes are 15-7, and prospects for their first post-season participation since 2011 look great. Duquesne still has its flaws to be sure, but there’s no denying the improvement this program has made, and the NIT is a real possibility for this team if they can stay reasonably warm. That might not seem like the loftiest goal around, but for a program that has been steeped in mediocrity for what seems like forever, it’s huge.

The key for Duquesne here is to be more diligent defending the three-ball. Davidson has a pair of sharpshooters in Jake Gibbs and Brian Sullivan. In fact, this entire team is comfortable firing up the long ball, and three-point defense has been a notable weakness for Duquesne.

I’m banking Ferry to have his team prepped properly for what they will see from the Wildcats. I really think it comes down to whether or not Davidson is given open looks in transition. The Dukes have done a better job lately in that area, although the caveat is that those results came against lower-level A-10 competition.

From a technical standpoint, I like the way the Dukes are playing at home. They’ve been earning dividends for their backers on this court this season, and Davidson has been struggling on the road. Make no mistake, I don’t expect this to be easy. But it’s a very big game for the home team, they’re on a bit of a roll and I like backing home favorites with revenge when they’re off at least back to back wins and covers. I’ll spot the basket here and will go with Duquesne.

 

Cokin’s Corner, Friday 2/5/16

No doubt about the topic this time. I just finished witnessing some of the dumbest basketball I’ve ever seen at the conclusion of the Utah/Oregon State game.

Just in case you missed it, here’s what took place. Oregon State is up 68-66 and one of the Beavers commits a three-shot foul with 2.2 seconds remaining. Utah guy steps to the stripe and knocks down all three. Utah 69-68.

Oregon State’s only shot is to get really lucky on a very long shot. Kid launches one from midcourt, and it’s no good. Game over and a really tough loss for the Beavers.

But wait! Utah guy gets whistled for a three-shot foul with .01 on the clock, and Oregon State kid goes to the line and nails all three. Absolute miracle win for the Beavers.

As an impartial observer, this was top notch entertainment. Pure slapstick comedy to be sure, but belly laughs galore. I didn’t mention the actual names of the players involved, but let’s just call them Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp, because if those aren’t their real names, they ought to be.

Here’s the downside, however. I keep on saying this, and I keep on getting validation on a far too regular basis. I’ve never seen worse basketball at the major college level than I have seen this season. I’m not speaking about the athleticism of the players, that’s outstanding. But from the neck up, it’s beyond horrible. Either the coaching is terrible, or the players just don’t pay attention, take your pick. The result is a seemingly endless display of just plain really bad basketball.

I don’t know what the solution is, but there has to be one. Regardless, assessing the on-court intelligence of the various teams is turning out to be perhaps the ultimate deciding factor as to the winners and losers. You can be sure it’s becoming a major consideration as far as any analysis is concerned.

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Very nice Thursday here, with a 6-2 finish. I’m enthused about the start to the new month, and considering the performance in December and January, it’s about damn time. Now the task is to keep it rolling in the right direction. For info on how my service works, along with rates and guarantees, email me at your leisure. My email is cokin@cox.net.

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Texas State battled Georgia State to the wire, and while the Bobcats let a nice lead get away, they stayed within the number for the Thursday free play winner. I’ll head to the NBA for the Friday comp.

885 BUCKS  @  886 JAZZ

Take: 886 JAZZ -7

I’m not what one would refer to as a history buff when it comes to sports betting. But some numbers are a  little hard to ignore. Take as an example the series results between the Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz. Talk about beyond lopsided. The Jazz have covered 21 of the last 26 against Milwaukee, including a nifty 13-3 spread ledger at home.

That doesn’t mean another ticket gets cashed on the Utah side tonight. But it’s not the worst starting point of all time. Some in-season trends add a little fuel to the fire. Milwaukee has struggled playing on the road off a loss, while the Jazz have been pretty good playing at home off a win.

But for me, the nuts and bolts here is the matchup. It looks to me like the Alec Burks injury has been some addition by subtraction for the Jazz. I’m not a big Burks guy, and some of his metrics back up that opinion. I don’t think it’s over the top to suggest this team is simply better with Burks not on the floor for meaningful minutes.

On the Bucks side, they’ve had some injury issues, and while the sidelined players are not stars, I have to believe the thinned out bench is contributing to the recent poor play by Milwaukee.

In any event, Milwaukee heads into Salt Lake City having lost six of seven. That contrasts unfavorably with Utah’s form, as the Jazz have won four straight. The recent surge by the Jazz has vaulted them into the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

In power rate the NBA with two sets of numbers, one full season and the other a fast rating based more on recent play. As a rule I put more emphasis on the latter, for what I think are fairly obvious reasons. In tonight’s game, I make Utah -11.5, so I don’t have a problem in terms of value. Add in the extras, such as that crazy series history, and I’m willing to lay the points this time with the Jazz.