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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 11/17/15

I already know that “purists” are going to hate this idea, but there’s not a whole lot pure about me, so here goes.

If there’s a blown call on the final play of a game that ends up costing the rightful victor the win, then the result should be reversed.

Before anyone gets nuts and says that can’t happen, it already did. Royals/Yankees 1983, the George Brett pine tar incident. Brett was called out by the umps, and the game ended with the Yankees winning 4-3. The Royals protested, the league agreed the umps got it wrong, and the game was picked up where it had left off nearly one month earlier. And the Royals got the win they deserved.

I’m not suggesting that every game where there’s an incorrect call gets restarted. I’m only saying that when it’s the final play of the game, and the league or conference admits the officials screwed it up, the result should reflect this.

In other words, Duke should have its victory against Miami. And now, the Baltimore Ravens should be awarded the win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In case you missed it, the Jaguars should never have been given a chance to kick a game winning field goal following a face mask penalty on Elvis Dumervil on a play that should never have taken place. The Jaguars had a false start on the prior play that wasn’t called and the NFL now admits the stripes blew it.

Since that penalty carried a ten-second runoff, the game should have ended right there with Baltimore ahead 20-19.

The only argument to this idea is tradition. Hey, they’ve never done it in the past, so why start now? Simple answer. Just because it’s been wrong in the past is no reason to continue a flawed tradition.


Nice bounce back on Monday with a 4-1 result. The Celtics got there pretty easily in the NBA and three of the four college basketball games ended up the right way. The Tuesday card looks like a potpourri, with a couple in the NHL, one NBA, at least one CBB, but no MACtion action on the gridiron.

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Boise State seemed a little hungover from their loss at Montana, but the Broncos shook off the cobwebs at halftime and blew out Northern Arizona as the Monday free play. I’ll head to the ice for the Tuesday comp.


Take: DEVILS +100

The New Jersey Devils were pretty much an afterthought when it came to most pre-season predictions. But the Devils would be a playoff team if the post-season were to start today, and I’m not so sure this is a fluke.

The Calgary Flames were supposed to be awful last season, but instead were probably the biggest surprise of the entire season. The Flames played the entire campaign with a serious chip on their shoulder and ended up overachieving by a pretty substantial margin.

Unfortunately, reality seems to have set in this season for the Flames. They aren’t sneaking up on anyone this time around, and perhaps a little satisfaction set in following what they accomplished last year. Calgary is struggling in a big way, and it’s not like they’ve been unlucky. They’ve just been lousy.

I made New Jersey the favorite tonight. Cory Schneider is playing well in goal and the Devils are well rested as they open a road trip following a 4-0 shutout win over the Penguins. Calgary has the worst goal differential in the league by a fairly wide margin and Karri Ramo has been more liability than asset in goal. The Flames should be happy to be back home after a 1-3 road trip where they were mostly outplayed, but playing the hosts hasn’t done the Flames much good. They did manage to win their two most recent home games prior to the just completed journey, but I’m not giving that much weight.

This one is simple enough for me. I don’t especially want to lay anything with New Jersey, but with the Devils currently at even money, I’m satisfied enough with the price to be on the Devils tonight.



Dave’s Free Play, Monday 11/16/15

Every NFL weekend is eventful to some extent. But this one was truly amazing, and that’s not an overstatement.

Peyton Manning set the all-time passing yards record on what ended up being the worst performance of his glorious career. Considering his immense likability, I don’t think there are too many football fans who enjoyed witnessing Manning playing at this level.

The Patriots managed to pull out a remarkable victory against the nemesis Giants on a very long Stephen Gostkowski field goal at the gun. This was a great football game. Unfortunately for the Giants, they were on the wrong side of one those touchdown catches that wasn’t because the NFL can’t make up its mind on what is a catch and what isn’t.

The Lions won for the first time at Lambeau Field since what amounts to forever, but they nearly found an extraordinary way to lose it. I have to tell you, I thought Mason Crosby was going to nail the field goal at the finish. I was shocked when he simply shanked it. I have a feeling the Lions probably felt the same way, though they’ll never admit it.

The Bears blew the Rams doors in at St. Louis. Chicago winning was a surprise, Chicago winning 37-13 was absolutely shocking. The Rams are now 4-5 and just don’t seem to ever get any better. I think it’s time for a coaching change.

Speaking of coaching changes, enough with Rob Ryan already. Sure, the Saints don’t have great personnel on defense and that’s not on the coach. But to be completely out of position as often as they are on a way too frequent basis is absolutely on Ryan. The Saints are off next week and I’ll be surprised if Ryan is still the defensive coordinator coming out of the bye.

The Jaguars ended their long road losing streak in crazy fashion. They were able to kick a field goal on an untimed down following a face mask penalty on Baltimore’s Elvis Dumervil. The Ravens are having one of the unluckiest seasons I can remember and this was the topper.

Landry Jones gets hurt and has to leave the game, so the Steelers have to go with Ben Roethlisberger off the bench. The fact Big Ben was even active for the game was somewhat unexpected. He then proceeds to break a record for the best QB relief performance ever as the Steeler blew away the Browns.

The Eagles looked like they would run Miami out of Philadelphia early and then managed to lose the game. The kicker was awful and from the it had to happen at some point category, Sam Bradford injured his shoulder and also absorbed a concussion.

Just another Sunday in the NFL? Not this time. All I can say is the Bengals had better be careful tonight. After all the insanity we witnessed yesterday, nothing in this league is ever for sure.


I went 1-2 with my Sunday NFL plays, and also had a red ink day in basketball. That wraps up one of my worst weeks in quite some time. No excuses, as this wasn’t bad beat city, as is sometimes the case when things don’t go well. I did a rotten job this week and need to get it back together, starting tonight. It’ll be a busy evening in college basketball as I’ve already played four games, and there’s a good chance I’ll be adding one in the NHL once the goalies confirmations are in.

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The Titans won for me as last week’s NFL free play, but they were no match for Carolina yesterday as this Sunday’s comp. I’ll try a college basketball game tonight for the Monday free play.



It’s not surprising to see Northern Arizona out of the gate with a loss. The Lumberjacks have enough talent to win their share of Big Sky games later this season. But they figure to have some tough times against superior opposition early. That was the case on Saturday as they were handled pretty easily at Washington State and I suspect NAU is in the wrong place at the wrong time tonight.

Boise State is rated as one of the top two teams in the Mountain West. The Broncos are a pretty talented bunch and while the MWC as a whole is not a great league, this is a solid squad that has a very good chance to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

The Broncos might also be in a bit of a foul mood after losing their opener on Saturday at Montana. It’s hard to believe that Boise State lost when glancing at some of their stats from that game. It’s not often you’ll see a team on the short end of the final score when they go 20/24, 83% on their two-point field goal attempts. Boise State didn’t shoot the three-ball particularly well, but Montana was actually even worse in that category. But the Grizzlies had an enormous edge at the foul line, and then there’s this. Montana attempted 15 two-point baskets in this game. They made all but one. That’s right, 14/15, 93%.

But the real key to what happened here was at the free throw line. There are frequently games that will end up with a big disparity in free throws because the team that’s behind has to keep fouling in an effort to catch up. That was absolutely not the case here as Boise State was the team that had the lead. Montana didn’t earn it’s first second half lead until they went up 70-69 with two minutes remaining.

To me, that makes the final free throw stats in the game amazing. Boise State was 8/12. Montana was 25/36. That’s a little ridiculous, and while Broncos head coach Leon Rice won’t use it as an excuse, it’s probably a pretty legitimate one.

I don’t think any of this bodes well for Northern Arizona tonight. The Broncos figure to be seething, and it’s not like they played a bad game at Montana. NAU, in addition to getting handled at Wazzu, also was on the wrong side of a fairly lopsided exhibition loss to Cal Baptist. It looks to me like Northern Arizona could be the hopeless victim tonight and even with the heavy impost, I’m siding with Boise State to inflict some punishment tonight.


Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 11/15/14

Call it Upset Saturday!

The most publicized shocker of the day occurred in Australia as the phenomenal run by Ronda Rousey was halted in emphatic fashion by Holly Holm. This was no lucky shot result, either. Holm dominated the proceedings and left no doubt about which fighter was better on this night.

The win by Holm was even bigger for the bettors. There were some significant dollars on the underdog, as is quite frequently the case in marquee fights. The players like to take the long shot odds and not so many are willing to risk laying a huge price for a short return. Holm closed anywhere from +525 to +800 from what I can gather, and at least one Las Vegas house got beat for six figures with this result.

The UFC stunner got the most coverage, naturally, but it was far from the biggest upset of the day. There were some nice money line dog winners in college football, and one that was an absolute monster. That would be New Mexico, which in addition to winning outright at +30.5 against Boise State, also rewarded any money line backers to the tune of +5500.

There were also a couple of spectacular near misses. Kansas at +65000 (that’s not a typo) threw a serious scare into TCU. Plus, the lowly Brooklyn Nets took Golden State all the way to OT before falling short. The Nets were +1400.

I want to get back to the New Mexico/Boise State game. The Mountain West is probably at its lowest point ever since coming into existence in 1999. There’s not a single Top 40 team in the league. The old “no respect” cries never get heard anyone, because there’s no longer any question this is a strictly a mid-major FBS league at this point.

But it shouldn’t be. This is a conference with leadership that, quite frankly, has never gotten it as far as generating exposure is concerned, and now the league is paying a heavy price.

Back in my “DC & The Sunshine Man” days with Steve Cofield on ESPN Las Vegas, we were very critical of the Mountain West for its decision to basically give ESPN the boot. The league didn’t want to play weeknight games. The excuse given was that some of the schools felt the weeknight games were a bad deal for the students who needed to be up for class the next day. (I’m not making this up. The league commissioner actually said that on the air when we asked him about it.)

There was never any doubt in Cofield’s mind, nor mine, that this horrible decision would come back to haunt the MWC, and it has. They now have multiple games that aren’t televised (yeah, they’re streamed, but it’s simply not the same). And all those weeknight games have ended up getting the MAC and even the Sun Belt exposure they never dreamed of enjoying.

College football fans across the nation now tune in regularly for their weekly dose of MACtion. This was a league that previously might have one team that stepped up as a giant killer of sorts every now and then. Take a look at the 2015 MAC. Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and Toledo are all teams that now have national followings and by the way, you can make a strong argument that any of those three would be the favorite this year if they resided in the MWC. That ought to at least be embarrassing to the MWC, although I suspect the powers that be are too oblivious to what’s taking place to grasp that concept.

I might as well also throw in that the MWC has not exactly distinguished itself in recent NCAA Tourney basketball action. So it’s not just football. Yet I imagine there are still some within the league that actually believe the conference is on the wrong end of some imagined national bias, and deserves more attention and respect than they’re receiving. Sorry, simply not the case. That excuse sailed some time ago.

So I’ll say again what I said several years ago. The conference needs new leadership. College sports are big business, like it or not, and the league’s lack of national exposure is costing every member of the league big dollars.


I haven’t done especially well the last few days, and lost another unit and change on Saturday. Washington blowing a 17-0 lead at Arizona State was the critical blow. I’ll look to reverse the trend today with three NFL plays and whatever else might be added in the other available sports.

In any event, the grind will continue and if you’re looking for an advisor who offers a strong guarantee, get in touch. My monthly package carries what I think is as good a warranty as you’ll find. Complete info furnished by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net.


Utah had every opportunity to put away Arizona in the second half, but they sure didn’t do so and eventually lost in two overtimes to the fired up, but shorthanded Wildcats. Terrible loss for the PAC-12, which is now virtually dead as far as being part of the FBS Playoff series goes. Stanford and Utah each absorbing a second loss yesterday was great news for the Big 12 in particular. Let’s see about getting the free plays back in a groove with a live home dog today.


Take: TITANS +4.5 (lots of +4 right now as well)

The Titans were very good to me as last Sunday’s free play in the NFL, and I’ll cast my lot with them again today. The reasoning is pretty much the same, but I’ll also add there are a few other variables I find attractive as well.

First, the confidence and energy levels for the Titans are both as high as they’ve been in some time. That happens sometimes when a team makes a coaching change and gets an immediate good result. It’s as if the past just melts away. These spikes don’t generally last all that long, as the regression to the norm is usually inevitable. But I lost track long ago of the number of times I’ve decided to jump on a team that makes a major organizational change, and I’ve been rewarded more often than not.

The Titans should certainly be revved up for today’s game with the Panthers. They’re off a thrilling win at New Orleans and have a chance to knock off one of the three remaining unbeaten entries in the NFL.

As for Carolina, it’s a dangerous spot. The Panthers are obviously playing well and are the superior team. But there’s a reason almost no one stays perfect in the NFL. That target on the jersey gets larger by the week and the pressure to remain spotless continues to build. The Panthers also have to be wary of falling prey to a letdown today. Carolina is off a statement win against Green Bay, and going on the road to face an also-ran like the Titans is the type of spot where road chalk can get knocked off.

If you’re just working off the math, it’s difficult to generate much support for backing the Titans here. But it beating the NFL was simply all about the math, the favorites would never lose and the sports books would cease to exist. On this particular game, the masses will be on the Panthers, especially now that the number has gone down to a point where Carolina really looks inviting. But I will look to ride the Titans train after cashing a ticket with them last week. I expect them to battle the Panthers tooth and nail, and I’ll take the points today with Tennessee.