Streak For The Cash, March 20 Picks And Analysis

The Anaheim Ducks host the Chicago Blackhawks in a great NHL Matchup in one of the picks on today’s Streak for the Cash. In this photo, right wing Corey Perry (10) scores a goal against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the shootout at the United Center. The Ducks beat the Blackhawks 3-2 in the shootout in their first meeting this season. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness officially got started yesterday with the first four underway in Dayton. Today’s Streak for the Cash features more picks from the main NCAA Tournament as well as more college hoops from the NIT which proved it can have upsets and drama aplenty last night as Robert Morris knocked off Kentucky in front of a packed (if small) house. Expect plenty more upsets and excitement tonight as the pair of NCAA Tournament games and the NIT picks are joined by picks from the NHL, NBA, Spring Training, the KHL,  and some Italian soccer.

Here’s who I’m rolling with today:

3/20 Streak Picks

11:00- 5 Goals or more: Game seven of this playoff series in the KHL (Russian Hockey League) between Bars Kazaan and Salavat Ufa should be a good one. The odds say under is the favorite although the first six games have gone over this number four times in the six games in this series including the last three. The last two games have been tied 3-3 and gone into overtime which doesn’t count for this prop. They still would have been over at six though. Defense usually is emphasized in game 7′s as teams play cautiously, but these teams have opened it up as the series has played out so I’ll go with the over but without much confidence since it could go either way. Confidence Meter: (out of 10)

3:45- Novora win/draw: Novora getting the draw is a solid pick according to odds-makers and its easy to see why. They are three spots behind Varese in Serie B Italian soccer but have earned a win or draw in their last seven matches. They also played to a 1-1 tie earlier this season with Varese who has only one win in their last six matches. Novora is playing better and getting the draw which makes them the pick. I’d be more confident if I was more familiar with the league but all indicators say to take the draw. Confidence Meter: 5

6:40- LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds: The Blackbirds from the NEC take on James Madison from the Colonial in the first of the two NCAA first round games today. In an unusual twist, Madison’s leading scorer Rayshawn Goins will sit out the first half on a team suspension. The team will look to keep it close without him and continue their recent momentum after knocking off regular-season champion Northeastern in the tournament final for their fourth straight win. LIU Brooklyn may have the game out of reach by that point though if their high-flying offense is clicking on all cylinders. The Blackbirds rank fifth in the country in scoring offense and have won 15 of their last 18 games. In  all but one of those wins they’ve scored more than 75 points including 90+ in their last four. The Dukes of James Madison on the other hand have reached 90 exactly zero times this season. While that doesn’t guarantee anything, I don’t think the Dukes can spot the Blackbirds a lead because once they get going they’ll be hard to catch. Brooklyn is favored by 2 and I think they make a very solid pick. Confidence Meter: 6

7:03- Iowa Winning Margin: Iowa is favored by 12 1/2 at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City as they host the Indiana State Sycamores. Iowa is a solid home team with a 16-2 home record and their only home losses were to Indiana and Michigan State early in the Big 10 season. The Hawkeyes have won their last seven home games including wins over Wisconsin and Minnesota. Their last five wins at home have all been by double digits. Indiana State had a decent season but have won just two of their last eight and went 4-9 on the road this season. The Sycamores do average 15.5 FT made per game which is why it’s a tricky pick, but I think Iowa wins easily since they are at home and will get the cover in this prop. Confidence Meter: 4

7:35- Detroit Red Wings: The home team has won both of the first meetings between Detroit and Minnesota as they meet for the third and final game which will also determine the winner of the season series. Both teams are good at home with the Wings coming into tonight’s game 9-4-3 while the Wild are just 6-7-1 on the road. Minnesota comes in having won three in a row and five of six while the Wings have won their last two and two of their last three at home. Detroit has an extra day of rest coming into this one but neither team is playing on back-to-back nights. It’s a tough one to call, but only because of home ice advantage I’m going with the Wings. Confidence Meter: 3 1/2

8:03- Mercer win or single-digit loss: The Tennessee Volunteers are nine-point favorites as they host the Mercer Bears from the Atlantic Sun Conference. Mercer is a defensive-minded team that finished the season atop the regular season standings with a 14-4 conference record. They lost in the tournament fo Florida Gulf Coast who is the only team to beat them in their last 13 games. Tennessee is solid especially at home but crashed out of the SEC Tournament by losing to Alabama by 10. They have been good at home but did lose to Georgia in Knoxville before winning their last four home games. I think they’ll win, but I also think they won’t cover against an underrated Mercer team that went on the road to Alabama and FSU in non-conference play and got wins. Confidence Meter: 5

Mar 18, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) dunks the ball during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at FedEx Forum. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

8:05- Memphis Grizzlies: The Oklahoma City Thunder are 1 1/2  point road favorites as they take on the Grizzlies in Memphis. The Grizz are formidable at home having won their last eight at the FedExForum. The Thunder are also playing for the second night in a row after losing at home to Denver yesterday. The Nuggets dominated the Thunder down low and won by 10 which could be a template for the Grizzlies to have success tonight as they do some of their best work down low as well. Memphis and Oklahoma City are both playing well and this should have a playoff feel to it. With the crowd behind them and the Thunder a little worn out, I think the Grizz have a good chance to get a win against the two-seed as they try to hold onto the three-seed. Confidence Meter: 4

8:05- Boston Celtics: Boston goes on the road after almost ending the Heat’s streak in their last game at home. This matchup is getting lopsided streak picks at this point, but remember the Hornets knocked off Boston earlier this year in the TD Garden and the Celtics lost their last road game to the Bobcats by a bunch. I do think they’re the pick in this one though since they should be healthy and ready to play with Kevin Garnett back, Paul Pierce back in the lead, and Jeff Green emerging as a legitimate offensive option. The Hornets meanwhile are 2-8 in their last ten and have lost seven of their last eight. Their win did come at home against the road-challenged Blazers, but I don’t think they’ll catch Boston unaware this time as the C’s avenge their earlier loss. Confidence Meter: 5

9:05- Baylor wins by Double Digits: The Bears are 12 1/2 point home favorites but have been inconsistent throughout the year. The Bears finished their season strong beating then-#4 Kansas by 23 at home. They almost knocked off Oklahoma State (then #14) in the Big 12 tournament, but had some ugly games throughout the year as well. At home, the Bears can definitely win by ten; the question is just their motivation and whether the good Baylor or the bad Bears show up. Confidence Meter: 6

Mar 2, 2013; Boise, Idaho, USA; Boise State Broncos guard Derrick Marks (2) drives the lane over Colorado State Rams forward/center Colton Iverson (45) in the second half at Taco Bell Arena. Boise State defeated Colorado State 78-65. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

9:10- Boise State Broncos: BSU is favored by two as they take on La Salle in the last of the first four in Dayton. La Salle has had a myriad of struggles since its last tournament bid, but the Broncos won’t be giving them anything easily. Both teams play four-guard lineups on a regular basis and both are from emerging conferences. La Salle made the tournament despite losing their last two games by 24 and 11 to Saint Louis and Butler. This should be a highly entertaining and high-scoring game, but since Boise State  averages more points per game and is used to shootouts coming from the Mountain West, I give them the slight edge. Confidence Meter: 4

10:05- Anaheim Ducks: The Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks meet as the top two teams in the Western Conference. The Ducks have won 12 in a row at home and are 8-0-3 in their last 11 overall. They also beat Chicago when the two faced off in mid-February in Chicago. Both these teams are exceptional, but since the games at the Pond I’ll take the Ducks. Confidence Meter: 5

10:05- Phoenix Suns: The Suns host Washington tonight in the NBA late game featured as a Streak pick. Phoenix is 16-17 at home and are coming of trouncing the Kobe-less Lakers on Monday. On the other side of the equation, the Wizards went to Charlotte and lost by five dropping their road record to 5-26. The game before those two, Washington beat Phoenix by 22 in Washington, but I think we’ll see a different script as they head west. Confidence Meter: 4

10:00- Detroit 3-Pointers Made or Tie: Arizona State hosts Detroit in the last NIT game of the night. The Sun Devils are favored by four, but Detroit can score with any team in the country when they’re on and in this prop get their three-pointers made. They average over seven per game and I think they have a good shot to win outright or if not to keep it very close right to the end. The Titans have won just two of their last five but rank in the top ten in scoring. They didn’t play a Pac-12 team this season, but did play Syracuse, Pitt, and Miami early in the season. ASU won just won of their last five but it was an overtime thriller over Stanford in the Pac-12 tournament. Both teams can score, so it should be a fun one to watch, and ultimately I think it comes down to who makes plays down the stretch. Since I think it’s close, I’ll take the points. Confidence Meter: 6

Streak Scoreboard-March

Yesterday’s Record: 7-7  

Total Record for the month: 147-116-2

Confident Picks (6+): 57-25 (2-1)

Longest Personal Streak this month: W6

Current Personal Streak: W6 (Robert Morris University’s big win got me to #6)

Topics: College Basketball Picks, NBA Picks, NHL Picks, Soccer Picks, Streak For The Cash Picks

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