The Rockets recovered from their controversial loss to the Spurs with a statement 119-109 win over the defending champion Raptors on Thursday night. The Suns had been struggling after a good start to the season but have won 2 of their last 3 games and finish out their 4 game road trip in Houston after a 139-132 overtime win over the Pelicans on Thursday. Eric Gordon and Gerald Green remain out for the Rockets. Deandre Ayton remains out on suspension for the Suns and Aron Baynes is doubtful. The Sun are still a much improved defensive team despite their recent struggles and while they are in the bottom third of the league in opponent 3 point percentage, they do well to run them off the line, allowing just over 32 attempts from beyond the arc per game. The Raptors showed some success in defending James Harden and we expect the Suns to copy the formula to limit the most dynamic offensive player in the game. The Suns should use traps and double teams right away in the back court to throw off the Rockets' rhythm and we don't have as much faith in the hosts' other players who aren't nearly as efficient as Harden. The Rockets could come out flat as well after playing a hard and physical game against the Raptors and despite a fast pace, there should be enough defense to stay under this astronomical number!
The Pelicans will miss Derrick Favors with Darius Miller and Zion Williamson both out with long term injuries. Dwight Powell is probable for the Mavericks. The Mavs have dominated the Pelicans in two matchups already this season and have been on a roll with 9 wins in their last 10 games. Meanwhile, the Pelicans are looking to end a 7 game losing skid. Nevertheless, the Mavs have played a grueling schedule over the past few weeks and it's noticeable the decline in their shooting over the last 6 games. While coming off two days rest, we believe this is a prime spot for the hosts to come out a bit slow here. The Pelicans should experiment with defending Luka Doncic with the lengthy Lonzo Ball now that Ball is back healthy as Doncic is the key to the Mavs' offense. The Pelicans have found good rim protection with Jaxson Hayes inside and with a good defensive effort, we believe a win isn't out of reach though we'll gladly take the 9 point head start.
In the Big Ten Title game, Ohio State (12-0) faces off against Wisconsin (10-2) in a rematch of a late October matchup that saw the Buckeyes victorious by a score of 38-7. There are some positives to take away for the Badgers, however as the game was a bit closer than the score would indicate as the Buckeyes only narrowly had a 10-7 advantage as late as the 3rd quarter and pulled away with 4 late touchdowns. The game also took place at Columbus, Ohio and this game will take place at a neutral site, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana and on turf. It's no secret the Badgers will look to run the ball behind their All-World running back Jonathan Taylor and their dominant offensive line. The Buckeyes showed more than capable of eventually solving the Badgers with their superior athletic talent but a key point of emphasis is the health of their quarterback Justin Fields. Fields suffered a sprained MCL against Penn State two weeks ago and re-injured it last week against Michigan. While Fields hasn't shown much worse for wear, we believe his mobility will be limited and thus limit the effectiveness of the read option and his ability to create plays with his legs. We believe this is enough to warrant a play on the Badgers who can match the Buckeyes physicality in the trenches at least for a while. Fields' throwing ability may be slightly hampered too and we believe that's all that's needed to give the Badgers a chance here. While an outright win might be a bit ambitious, staying within two scores should be achievable!
It's no surprise to see the defending national champions Clemson Tigers playing in the ACC Championship Game. The Tigers returned the bulk of their offensive production, once again had superior talent on the defensive side of the ball and their competition in the continuously weakening ACC was suspect. Apart from a scare in Chapel Hill against North Carolina, the season played out much as anyone expected. For the Virginia Cavaliers, it wasn't quite so simple as Bronco Mendenhall's team was a mediocre 3-2 in conference play after losses to Miami and Louisville. Nevertheless, the Cavaliers rattled off 4 straight wins including a winner-take-all game against Virginia Tech last Saturday to clinch their spot at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Few offenses fare well against Clemson but the ones that typically have some success involve mobile quarterbacks. The Cavaliers' senior quarterback Bryce Perkins excelled as a dual threat, throwing nearly 3,000 yards and leading the team with 687 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing. The Cavaliers' offense caught fire down the stretch, amassing 165 points over their last 4 games in large part due to the play of Perkins. While the Tigers destroyed all their opponents with the exception of the Tar Heels, Virginia's aggressive defense may just be the type to cause problems against a Tigers' offense that didn't always look in sync against the likes of Florida State and Louisville with turnover issues. Tigers' QB Trevor Lawrence hasn't looked nearly as good as he looked a season ago and we believe under the circumstances, staying with four touchdowns in a championship game is within reach!
The stakes are always high in the SEC Championship Game and that's exactly the case once again as Georgia and LSU Meet to decide the conference title at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The Bulldogs ranked No. 4 in the latest CFB Playoff rankings and need a win to secure a spot in the top four. Barring a major surprise, the Tigers are already locked into the CFB Playoff but could potentially improve their seeding with an impressive performance tonight. LSU has done a complete 180 this season from its roots as a smashmouth running football team with an equally physical defense. Now, the Tigers bring the #1 rated offense led by leading Heisman candidate QB Joe Burrow and the Tigers have pummeled their opponents with a relentless air attack. As for Georgia, they stayed essentially the same with a pro-style offense predicated on a power running game and the #1 ranked defense by efficiency metrics. Georgia brings their top ranked defense and also their top ranked special teams to this game in what will certainly be LSU's toughest challenge to date. While the Tigers have picked apart poor defenses, it's notable the success Auburn had, limiting them to just 23 points and they did it with good speed in the back, something the Bulldogs are even superior to the Tigers. The Bulldogs should look to play this similarly and slow the game down, using their physicality to attempt to grind out a win. In the end, the Tigers may simply be unstoppable but we expect a low scoring affair for the majority of the game.
For the second straight week, the Cincinnati Bearcats will visit the memphis Tigers. Only this time, the stakes have been raised considerably with the American Athletic Conference championship on the line, as well as a potential spot in the Cotton Bowl for the first time in either program's history. The AAC has become accustomed to sending its champion to a New Year's Six bowl game in the College Football Playoff era, and it apperas likely to do so again though Apopalachian State and Boise State could also make their case from the Group of 5. Cincinnati already had its division wrapped up last week in what amounted to a 34-24 loss to Memphis. Normal starting QB Desmond Ridder was also held out with an injury and it's clear that head coach Luke Fickell held back knowing a 2nd matchup was likely the next week. Ben Bryant stepped in for Ridder and actually created much more offense than we expected, throwing for 229 passing yards with a touchdown though he would also have two interceptions as well. Nevertheless, we expect this game to have a much different texture to it and we would add the first matchup actually stayed under the number as well. Cincinnati has predicated its play with sound fundamental defense and we expect a much slower pace to prevent a shootout with tired defenses that the Bearcats aren't as equipped as the Tigers to win. Ridder is back but we're still not fully convinced he's 100% healthy and we expect more out of his legs while he still nurses his shoulder. Ridder may not even be a more capable passer than Bryant in the first place but the Bearcats' offense is predicated on the ground game at any rate. The Tigers' QB Brady White had an impressive season throwing the football but as we've alluded to many times, he does his best work against poor competition and we expect a much more muted effort against the Bearcats' defense. These teams are quite familiar with each other even if they didn't give much away last week and these situations generally breed slower more methodical games where there aren't too many surprises or explosive plays. We expect another under but we expect it to be much more comfortable this time around!
The MAC Championship held at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan features an unlikely pairing as Central Michigan (8-4, 6-2) faces off against Miami (OH) (7-5, 6-2). The RedHawks won five straight conference games from mid-October to mid-November to claim the MAC East Division but struggled down the stretch nearly losing to woeful Akron and then losing to Ball State. The Chippewas were fantastic under Jim McElwain in his first year as head coach and McElwain led a rapid turnaround after the Chippewas went 1-11 in 2018. Too keep it short, we don't have much respect for the RedHawks as they were beneficiaries of catching opponents at the right time and we believed their true form showed nearly losing to possibly the worst team in FBS. On the other side, the Chippewas have a stingy defense that was excellent against both the run and pass and would compete in a Power 5 conference in our opinion. The RedHawks one-dimensional rushing attack should prove no match for them here! Meanwhile, Tennessee transfer QB Quinten Dormady piloted an efficient Chippewas' offense that put up 45+ points over its last 3 games and their balanced attack should prove too much here for the RedHawks. Turnovers were the only crack in the Chippewas' armor and the RedHawks will have to be extremely fortunate in that area to have a chance here in our opinion. Anything under a touchdown is a must bet!
For the second year in a row, Louisiana-Lafayette and Appalachian State will meet in Boone, North Carolina to decide the Sun Belt Championship. The Mountaineers won 30-19 over the Ragin' Cajuns in Boone to claim the conference title last season and have won all four meetings between the teams over the past two seasons, including a 17-7 win in Louisiana back in early October. Despite the Mountaineers dominance, the gap has noticeably narrowed as the Ragin' Cajuns have a roster stacked with talent this season and haven't disappointed. Even the conference game between the two was much closer than the score would indicate as the Ragin' Cajuns' defense was excellent and kept the game close throughout and were only foiled by biased officiating in the 4th quarter (in our opinion). The Mountaineers' normally efficient offense had trouble creating much of a vertical passing game and their power run game was met in the trenches by an equally physical Ragin' Cajuns defense. It's difficult for us to imagine this game playing out much differently with only the venue being the difference. We should also add that the Mountaineers will miss their top receiving threat in Corey Sutton who played back in early October but was recently lost for the season. We see another defensive slugfest playing out!
The Big 12 Title Game pits Oklahoma (11-1) against Baylor (11-1) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas with the winner almost certainly getting the 4th spot in the College Football Playoffs. Oklahoma is back in a familiar spot, going for their 3rd straight conference championship while Baylor head coach Matt Rhule has done a fantastic job building a hard-nosed program just two years removed from a 1-11 record. These teams met just three weeks ago at Waco, Texas in what was very nearly a win for Baylor but a massive 2nd half comeback by the Sooners would give the Bears their only blemish of the season. There were 65 points scored but it bears mentioning that the points and yards didn't really correlate as fortunate turnovers created scoring opportunities. Both sides are predicated on defense and running the ball despite what their reputations might hold and both sides actually play much slower than expected as well. We expect the Sooners to play a bit more cautiously to prevent what happened last time around where they were blitzed by an aggressive defense and for all the success the Bears had in nearly pulling off an upset, they were held to a paltry 307 yards of total offense. We see a lower scoring game than expected!
BIGGEST BETTING WEEKEND THIS YEAR!!! - SYNDICATE BETTING PICK - This one is on us, we have four for tonight and a load for the weekend. If you want our premium football bets (circa 100-120 per month), you can get them all for €200 per month, or €800 to end of season (7 months) — firstname.lastname@example.org ——— It’s somehow surprising that Inter top the league, but staying at the top is another topic . One thing is certain, Antonio Conti’s team will have a hard game here. From what we have been watching, AS Roma are improving fast and we half expect the visitors to win! The Giallorossi did lose back to back fixtures in Monchengladbach and Parma, but other than that they lost just 3 from their last 35 games. The two games we have liked most about Roma are the most recent against Basaksehir (0-3) and Verona (1-3). They simply looked in full control, and they didn’t need a lot of ball to get the job done! When these two met in this fixture last season, the match ended in a 1-1 draw. We remember that game well, because the visitors where supposedly going to be troubled by missing several key players. However, the opposite was true, and if anything Roma should have gone away with all three points! Inter are 12-1-1 on the season, but they failed against both Juventus (1-2) and Parma (2-2) at the San Siro. In the last fixture at home they where made to work hard by an average Spal (2-1), and it was the same against Verona (1-0). In fact, the hosts are minimalists with 8 of those 9 wins being by a single goal. Unfortunately, Kluivert is injured for the visitors. On a more upbeat note Dzeko should be back, and rising star Zaniolo returns from suspension. Pastore, Cristante and Fazio remain sidelined, but improvement came without those players. Inter won’t have Sensi, Barella, Sanchez or Gagliardini. Todays the day Inter run out of luck, take Roma to close the gap!
The Lakers will miss Avery Bradley. Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma are probable. The Blazers have no new injury concerns. The Lakers impressive picked up back to back wins at altitude against the Nuggets and Jazz on back to back nights. With just 1 day of rest coming into tonight, they will be playing their 3rd game in 4 nights and 4th game in 6 nights. This takes a toll on any team regardless of the circumstances and we believe there will be tired legs from the visitors tonight. The Blazers have good rim protection and should force jump shots from the Lakers which will tend to hit at a lower percentage as the night progresses. The Lakers play sound team defense, however, so we expect the Blazers to rely on their isolation plays and slow the game down as a result.
Otto Porter and Chandler Hutchison remain out for the hosts. The Warriors will miss Steph Curry, Jacob Evans, Klay Thompson and Damion Lee. It's clear the Warriors are tanking this year so it was a bit embarrassing for the Bulls to drop the reverse fixture at Oracle Arena last week. Furthermore, the Warriors will have D'Angelo Russell back for this game. Nevertheless, the hosts have shown improvement since that game and won consecutive games for the first time all season on Wednesday night. The talent disparity is vast and we believe Russell actually discourages good team play. The Bulls' aggressive perimeter defense should suit them well here and their poor rebounding shouldn't be too much of a factor against a team that is equally poor on the glass. Revenge should be motivation enough for the Bulls and despite a coaching edge for the visitors.