Paul Nicholls runner PERSIAN DELIGHT might be debuting over fences at 8 years old, but he’s very lightly raced. In fact, he ran in just two bumpers and 6 hurdles before today. For the record, he won a race apiece in both sphere’s and he appears to bring a fair mark of 128 for this h’cap chase. SAN PEDRO DE SENAM was an easy winner at Plumpton last time out, albeit after the 1/7 fav had fallen. Suffice to say we didn’t learn anything new about him that day, but prior to that he had appeared average. Valhalla is a simple no, so that’s why 15/8 in a three runner race is fair!
Appalachian St has struggled in conference play after beginning 3-1 as they enter this match up having lost 5 of their last 6 against Sun Belt opponents. However, the Mountaineers have proven useful to back as an underdog as they are 4-3 ATS in the conference including an outright win over the Mavericks in the reverse fixture earlier this season. The Mavericks have taken a step back this year and actually have a losing record in the Sun Belt at 4-6. In fact, they've lost 3 of their last 4 and are coming off a bad 74-59 loss to Georgia Southern over the weekend. The Mountaineers have proven they can compete with the Mavericks and we see no reason the spread should be this large aside from reputation!
Morehead St had a rough go of it last game against Austin Peay much as we predicted but it's important to understand that the Governors were a difficult matchup for the Eagles. Tonight presents a better opportunity for the hosts as they face a Tennessee St team that we don't rate all that much higher than Morehead St and also prefer to play at a much slower pace. The Eagles have thrived at home over the years and nearly pulled off an upset over Jacksonville St earlier in the month. The Tigers have a top 100 defense but we see nothing that warrants equal footing in this match. In fact, the Eagles should hold a significant edge on the glass which is quite important when dealing with 2 poor shooting teams!
As the season has wore on, we've been less and less impressed with Temple and their early season non-conference wins. Despite winning 3 of their last 4, we feel the results are a bit misleading as they barely got by Tulsa as 8 pt favorites and won against a Penn team that beat themselves. Their blowout win over Connecticut was impressive but that was as much an indictment on how far the Huskies have fallen than anything else. In any case, the Owls face a legitimate top 10 team in Wichita St and particularly troubling is the Owls defense which has been progressively getting worse. The Shockers hold advantages in all the key areas and are deadly from outside and we have a hard time seeing the hosts keep this within reason!
General rule of thumb with Elon is that they like to play up and down to their competition so I think they're always worth backing as an underdog. And in fact, as an underdog in conference play, the Phoenix are 4-2 ATS with outright wins as 9 pt and 5.5 pt underdogs. William & Mary is good to back against certain type of teams but I think this isn't ideal match up. The Tribe have one of the worst defenses in the country and Elon should be able to keep up here. I don't see too much separation for either side. Take the points with the visitors!
We will gladly take on the 49ers again, especially after they failed to cover last game against one of the worst teams in Division I (CS-Northridge). UC-Irvine brings one a top 100 defense to this game and used it to easily win the reverse fixture 86-73. Of course, this is a different story at Long Beach but the 49ers defense ranks in the bottom 75 and the Anteaters should slow the game down and use their size advantage in the interior to dominate the glass and take away any 2nd chance opportunities. Visitors should be able to keep this a 1 possession game all the way through!
UCF and UConn face off for the 2nd time this season though this will have a much different feel than the game from just a few weeks ago. In the reverse fixture, a situation that we thought was ideal for Johnny Dawkins' squad to finally get a win over their American rival, the Huskies dominated from start to finish en route to a 62-53 win that wasn't even as close as the score would indicate. To make matters worse, in the very next game against Cincinnati, the Knights lost their giant in the middle, 7'6'' Tacko Fall for the season and their top 10 defense subsequently took a tumble, surrendering 69 points to extremely poor South Florida and nearly losing that game in the process, then 81 points to Wichita St in a 19 pt blowout loss. On the bright side for the Knights, they do get BJ Taylor back and he should provide a boost for their plodding offense. In any case, without Fall, this turns into a much different game with a faster pace in our opinion, and we expect the Huskies to have more success on the offensive end as well. This total is much too low in our opinion!
It's been a disaster in conference play for the Demon Deacons as they sit in 14th place in the ACC at 1-8 and only Pittsburgh below them in the standings. While a tournament bid is likely out of the cards, we believe we can get their best effort tonight against a rival whose recent form of 4 wins in 5 games is a bit misleading in our opinion. In fact, the Seminoles were quite lucky to get not just a win but also a cover over the weekend against Miami as they won 103-94 in overtime in a game the Hurricanes led throughout. One thing the Demon Deacons do well is rebound the ball which should serve them well against a Florida St team that loves to dominate their opponents on the glass. Though they haven't shown it this season, the Demon Deacons generally enjoy one of the better home court advantages and we expect a desperate team to give it their all tonight.
We don't rate these teams all that much different which is why we're a bit surprised to see the Crusaders getting less than the standard 3 points for home court. Valaparaiso's offensive numbers are down but have been dealing with some personnel issues as Joe Burton remains academically ineligible and Tevonn Walker was out for parts of the season with mono. The reverse fixture was won by the Sycamores but it was Walker's first game back and he clearly struggled with stamina issues. While the Crusaders haven't done too well in conference play with just 2 wins total and on a 5 game losing streak, the Sycamores have struggled the last 2 games, allowing 50% shooting or better both times. We like the hosts to get back on track tonight!
We'll go against the market on this one as we believe Davidson is a bit overrated and in fact have lost their last 2 games to Dayton and Richmond. La Salle has struggled in conference play and it's probably why we're getting such a generous number but we believe the Explorers have the offense to keep up with the Wildcats. Pookie Powell is the Explorers' leading scorer and he is considered a game time decision but we feel we have a shot even if he is unable to go. La Salle has lost by 9 points or more just once in conference play and that was to Rhode Island.
If Tottenham are going to stay in touch with the Champions league places they will need to win this match against second placed Manchester United. Afterall, Mauricio Pochettino’s side are trailing the top four by 5 points and they are currently 8 points off United. Spurs actually come into this on the back of two draws, and the one against lower league Newport (FA cup) means they will face a replay. With Champions league looming the North Londoner’s are facing a busy schedule and could pay the price. United are still a fair bit behind Man City in terms of quality, but with Jose Mourinho extending his contract they shouldn’t be long in getting there. In the meantime, the visitors arrive here in solid form and they are certainly good travellers. Team news isn’t an issue for either side, but the bookmakers odds certainly are - Take United with draw no bet at 2.28!
We can’t be adamant about this bet, because Alize Cornet wouldn’t be the most reliable player on tour. However, the French girl appears to mean business this season, and she’s already beaten the likes of Julia Goerges (Aussie open) , Caroline Garcia (Brisbane) and Mona Barthel in the first round here. Daria Kasatkina could have been expected to start the season well, but she lost to Kanepi (Brisbane) and Barbora Strycova ( Sydney) in early season fixtures. Furthermore, the 20 year old was terrible against Magda Linette in the second round of the Aussie and needing three sets to get past Viktoria Kuzmova tells us she’s coming up short.