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Posted: #76


For all of the above, for all the advantages I laid out for UCF, they are underdogs.

This is an unfamiliar role for TCU as they played the underdog all year and that certainly helped them mentally.

But now TCU is favored and they know it. And are expected to win. I like that for UCF. That is why cappers lean to dogs in part. Perception-wise TCU is better from a better conference but in reality when breaking it all down, UCF gets the edge.

But we GET points.

And in tournament games, points matter...a TON.

2.5 is a line most bettors will lay if picking a favorite and look to play the ML for when picking a dog. They think it is inconsequential.

In do or die games against closely matched teams in a Final 4, it is significant.

2.5 is really 3.5 in games like this that can come down tot he last shot. And 2.5 is far different from 3.5 is it not. 3.5 gets your attention. 2.5 not so much. This line in this spot is really 3.5

4 is a key number so I am taking this to 3 and forcing TCU to win by 4. That is my money and I am doing it. You can wait for it to move but 3 is 4 in this spot and 4 is key number.

The pick:

UCF +3 over TCU


 
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Posted: #77

Record: 9-14

It is important to dispel a very common notion about the NIT tournament made by the apathetic capper.

And I call them apathetic because they typically look to 'big games' and the limelight when they cap. Why? They want to watch the game on ESPN and they want the excitement. That is why you never see me cap Duke or UNC.

This can be costly because the lines on those games are usually ultra-sharp (look at the Wisconsin over Florida +2/+1.5 line!). The further you regress from the main feature, the better the spot and the lines. And I think we get a good line here. We are going UCF.

Relevant points:

1. "This tournament is meaningless. How do you know these teams are motivated!"

This is a farcical statement when it comes to certain teams, particularly these two.

Syracuse, a proud tournament franchise obviously regards the NIT as table scraps compared to the Bid Dance and were dispatched in the first round to prove it, but I need not recount the history of these two programs, of which success is largely non-existent.

Before this year, UCF had TWO tournament wins...except it was in the College Invitational Tournament over Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure. They've been handily dispatched from the Big Dance 4 times. They went to the NIT once ever and lost in the first round to Drexel.

This is a very big deal for them. It is far bigger than making the tournament and getting crushed by a team like Kentucky.

TCU has had far more success in the Big Dance but their last win came 3 decades ago. They have some NIT wins under their belt as well but most of that also came 2 decades ago. This is program that has a hard time even being recognized or funded by the school. They have never made a Final Four of any kind.

Both these teams regard this run and this next game as a platform to future success, recruits, investment and notoriety.

It most certainly means something. For me to copy and paste all the quotes from team members and coaches as to why this is is to waste your time and mine. The quotes are there and it is quite evident.

Establishing meaning for a game (be it honoring the deceased or a revenge game or a playoff game, etc.) is the first and most important prerequisite to have an expectation from your team. That is why I bet the NBA so much less. They won't come to play. A guy scores 70 points and his team loses by 10. Please. That could never happen in the history of college basketball now and forever.

Without meaning, if you are not compensated more than generously on the spread, you cannot depend on teams to respond. They will here. Both sides.

What is UCF offering us?

1. Defense

Obvious? Yes. But oh so good. And it's time to discard the idea that these defensive stats were all accrued in the lowly AAC. This is an tremendous defense. Defense is important because it translates into effort. When a team shows effort, they care.

And UCF, down this stretch of the season, has been showing that effort every game.

How good are they?

1st in the country in FG Defense

5th in the country in points allowed

21st in the country in 3 pt defense.

What more do you want? It's all there. On one side of the ball, this team is swarming the other, wearing them down, hawking them, making them earn each and every point. You do not need a stellar offense with that kind of defense.

How good is their interior defense? In the Illinois game in their most important game in forever, Illinois did not score a two point FG until 2 minutes left in the first half.

5 threes and 15 points only for the first 18 minutes of the game.

Why was this?

2. Tacko Fall

7 feet 6 inches.

The Knights’ defense is anchored by Tacko Fall, a 7-foot-6 sophomore who is the tallest player in major-college basketball and the American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year.

Fall has averaged 11.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game this season. He stands seven inches taller than TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky, a 6-11 junior who leads the team in scoring (13.8 avg.) and blocked shots (2.2 avg.).


Folks, Andre the Giant turns his chin up to this man.

He is nowhere near sensational on offense but is efficient when he has an open look.

On defense he is the ultimate rim protector and rebounder. If there is an errant shot, he's getting the rebound. If you watch him you need to go around him or draw him to the perimeter. Shooting over him with floaters leads to little success and he'll have your miss seconds later.

So DISRUPTIVE is Tacko Fall, TCU is simulating his low post defense WITH BROOMSTICKS in practice sessions, per Jaime Dixon. I'm serious.

Do I love the creativity from the coaches? Yes. Do I want to bet that such a simulation is meaningful? I can't bet on that. And how much practice can you dedicate to what amounts to a local protest against a political candidate with all but the cardboard missing at the top of the stick.


 
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Posted: #78

3. Coaching advantage

Jamie Dixon (TCU) vs. Johnny Dawkins (UCF)

The edge goes to Dawkins here both overall and in this tournament.

Dixon won a Big East Championship (2008) and a CBI championship (2012) at Pitt. 

Dawkins, at Stanford went to the Sweet Sixteen in the Big Dance in 2014 but this is what stands out:

He is 14-1 in NIT tournament games , near perfect as head coach, and has 2 NIT championships. YES, 10 of those wins came with Stanford, a completely different team but when it comes to coaching it is CLEAR this tournament matters and he properly motivates his players for this stage no matter how insignificant it is compared to the Big Dance.

After a 12-18 at UCF last season  he has done it once again and has this UCF team 2 wins away from another championship.

Edge: UCF.  

 
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Posted: #79

4.  Visions of Kemba Walker

There is one player who you did not want to face in UConn's NCAA Tournament run. It was Kemba. He single-handidly brought that program a championship.

I see some similar characteristics in BJ Taylor.

He's not Kemba. But he is performing at a level of 'clutch' that is Kemba-like. So while we'd need a Kemba in the Big Dance, getting a "Kemba-like" player in BJ Taylor in the NIT is equivalent given the downgrade in competition.

Here are his stats the past 3 games of the tournament:

26p 4a 5-8 3pters vs. Colorado

22p 4a 2 steals vs. Illinois State

17p 2a vs. Illinois

But where he really impresses you is at the line. Not only is he a slasher that continually gets to the line, he hits his free throws.

11-11

6-8 in the past 2.

 He's been playing much more aggressively in picking up fouls, consequently getting the other teams players reduced minutes while in foul trouble, but he also hit the two key free throws vs. Illinois State on the road in a more than hostile environment with 1.3 seconds left.

That was an incredible display of poise and is incredibly necessary in a spot like this. To have a player like this on our side is crucial to a winning cap to winning outright or keeping it ultra-tight inside the number.

 
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Posted: #80

And again, let me accentuate what it was to win in Illinois State over a #1 seed. Illinois State was looking to face Illinois at home for the first time since 1920.

To be denied that chance with BJ's two FT's with almost no time left, with that being ISU's motivation, was a win for UCF that deserves a a Gold Star.

Dispatching of Illinois thereafter was mere child's play in comparison and outside of a 1 pt lead to start the game, Illinois never lead the entire way.

 
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Posted: #81

5. TCU's path to the Final Four

To me, this was not as impressive as UCF's wins.

They beat Fresno State in the first round. Nice team but unremarkable and also from an unremarkable conference.

They beat Iowa 94-92 in Iowa. Excellent win but I'll get back to this game.

They beat Richmond in a game Richmod was outclassed in from top to bottom. This was not an adequate tune-up for what UCF will present.

Richmond has a center/forward named TJ Cline.

He scored 33 against TCU. But for everything he gives you on offense, he gives it up on defense.

Think of the burly, slightly portly, white male with a beard who comes to read your water meter. That is TJ Cline with another 6 inches.

TCU destroyed him underneath. They had their way with him on offense however they wanted. This will NOT happen with Tacko Fall. Tacko will  never score 33, but UCF is constructed to have other players make up for that.

So, and this is key, Iowa and Richmond are two teams that are not known for their defense or their rim protection.

This is PRECISELY what UCF is known for.

And that will present MAJOR problems for TCU as Brodziansky needs to work hard down low to get points. Tacko will change that in a very big way as he's 7 inches taller with an 8'4'' wingspan.

Also Alex Robinson (PG TCU) depends on slashing and floaters for points and Tacko will disrupt this as well.

TCU can hit threes but their inside game will be grossly disrupted and they will be hawked on the perimeter.

What UCF presents will be night and day from Richmond, a team TCU crushed by 20 and Iowa.

This is a very important point in terms of a tune-up for their Final Four match-up which ultimately favors UCF.

 
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Posted: #82

6. Jaylen Fisher, TCU's starting PG, broke his wrist.

He broke it three games ago.

You know who he is. The young man who is an albino (and I say that respectfully since to get to where he's gotten deserves the ultimate praise).

He broke his wrist in the Fresno State game.

He averages 9 points and ran their offense with Alex Robinson.

This is important because it explains two things:

1) Typically when one player goes down others step up (a classic capping angle we all use often).

We saw that in the Iowa game TCU won by 2. So in essence, TCU got a bit of a 'bounce' from the injury and Iowa was unprepared for Robinson who was more aggressive than he was all season and it resulted in a win.

2) Against a great D like UCF (something Iowa and Richmond weren't), Robinson will not have a reliever in Fisher to lean on. UCF's ball-hawking on the perimeter in the biggest game of Robinson's life could/should rattle him enough for us to prevail.

Robinson has played GREAT in Fisher's absence 19p/11a vs. Iowa 12p/5a vs. Richmond but this is a different team and a different spot. He will not get the same points he got off TJ Cline with Tacko standing over him.

 
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Posted: #83

One more thing about Jaime Dixon. For all the praise he's getting for 'turning TCU around' conference play is what matters.

He went 6-12 in conference. That's bad. And not only that, two of those wins came over Texas in one of their worst season's in their history. So let's be careful when he laud 'turnarounds'. When inspected they may be less impressive than previously thought.

 
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Posted: #84

7. Who is the hotter team? Who is the team with more momentum?

This one is simple but needs to be pointed out:

While TCU has won 5 of 6 including a win over Kansas, they've only won 5 of their last 13 games getting crushed in conference before a late season mini-surge.

UCF on the other hand has been on a tear for a month and a half winning 9 of 10 including beating Cincinnati.

What does that mean? While TCU is 'surging' as the same team, UCF is a 'transformed' one (for the better). This is not the typical AAC dog you kick around. They've really come together late and are playing their best basketball of the season over a significant stretch. "Hot" and "Transformed" are too different things and I posit UCF is a transformed team that TCU will have trouble adjusting to.


 
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Posted: #85

Finally a unique angle:

8. Sightseeing tours

We don't pick a winner based on this but it is worth pointing out as a capping hors d'oeuvre for us to nibble on (i.e., that little extra psychological edge that may have a remote impact).

Likewise, Dixon wants this TCU team to expect to a celebration in Madison Square Garden after Thursday’s title game. But along the path to that possibility, he’ll introduce them to multiple New York-themed experiences, staring with Sunday’s practice on the West Point campus in a gym where his late sister once coached.

"We have some things planned for them up there. I’m really looking forward to it.”

While in New York, Dixon’s schedule calls for a visit to the 9/11 memorial at ground zero and a late-night sampling of food from a street vendor. Dixon said coaches will supervise the late-night acquisition of gyros, a tradition he will carry over from his days at Pitt.

This is all fine and dandy and certainly 'lifts the soul' per se, which has advantages, but I prefer the 'all-business' approach in this game and this is not it.

And TCU will need that extra prep against a smothering defense instead of ordering Super-sized Fat Boy gyros on an NYC street corner and enjoying some of Times Square's twenty five cent peep shows (this is Texas CHRISTIAN University but, guys will be guys...).

 
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Posted: #86

9. The Line

For all of the above, for all the advantages I laid out for UCF, they are underdogs.

This is an unfamiliar role for TCU as they played the underdog all year and that certainly helped them mentally.

But now TCU is favored and they know it. And they are expected to win. I like that for UCF. That is why cappers lean to dogs in part. Perception-wise TCU is better from a better conference but in reality when breaking it all down, UCF gets the edge on the court imo.

And we GET points.

And in tournament games, points matter...a TON.

2.5 is a line most bettors will lay without hesitation if picking a favorite and look to play the ML for when picking a dog. They think it is inconsequential.

In do or die games against closely matched teams in a Final 4, it is NOT significant.

2.5 is really 3.5 in games like this that can come down to he last shot. And 2.5 is far different from 3.5 to a capper (and should be). 3.5 gets your attention. 2.5 not so much. This line in this spot is really 3.5 NOT 2.5.

I am taking this number up to 3 JUST to make TCU win in what should be an ultra-tight game by 4. You can gamble and see if it will move to 3 without some change buying it. I love having TCU beat me by 4 in a do or die game. That is a lot to ask given the above.


 
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Posted: #87

This is...

THE MONSTER.

And why do trolls hate MONSTER write-ups?

Because they can't write them themselves. And they don't like scientific and more specifically, psychological inquiry.

They want to say "Look, I did no work, made a pick but I won and you lost. Look at how great I am."

But who is still here capping folks?

A decade +. The trolls that have harassed me over a decade?

Long gone. And the trolls you see today will be gone tomorrow but I'll still be capping.

I do the research. I share the research. I hypothesize, test it through results and alter those hypothesis in the future.

Do you watch poker?

Phil Hellmuth once told Tom Dwan he was a flash in the pan. Who's standing today? Hellmuth. Where is Dwan? Over in Macau hiding out with god knows what bankroll he has left. And I LOVE Tom Dwan. A brilliant player. But Hellmuth was prescient in this regard. He's standing tall as poker's most recognizable name after all these years in the world's premiere country while Dwan goes missing in la-la land.

And the trolls you see here will end up the same way. Long gone. Their time will come. Wins, in threads just like this, will thrust them into oblivion.

The pick:

UCF +3 over TCU



 
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Posted: #88

This is...

THE MONSTER.

And why do trolls hate MONSTER write-ups?

Because they can't write them themselves. And they don't like scientific and more specifically, psychological inquiry.

They want to say "Look, I did no work, made a pick but I won and you lost. Look at how great I am."

But who is still here capping folks?

A decade +. The trolls that have harassed me over a decade?

Long gone. And the trolls you see today will be gone tomorrow but I'll still be capping.

I do the research. I share the research. I hypothesize, test it through results and alter those hypothesis in the future.

Do you watch poker?

Phil Hellmuth once told Tom Dwan he was a flash in the pan. Who's standing today? Hellmuth. Where is Dwan? Over in Macau hiding out with god knows what bankroll he has left. And I LOVE Tom Dwan. A brilliant player. But Hellmuth was prescient in this regard. He's standing tall as poker's most recognizable name after all these years in the world's premiere country while Dwan goes missing in la-la land. Dwan did just cash for 1/2 a million in a tournament but that is not a significant sum to him!

And the trolls you see here will end up the same way. Long gone. Their time will come. Wins, in threads just like this, will thrust them into oblivion.

Here's to the free and open exchange of information ONLY on Covers.com so WE ALL can profit!

The pick:

UCF +3 over TCU

 
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Posted: #89

Record: 9-15

This is an interesting spot. I looked at it from several different angles and those angles support both sides. It's up to you to choose the right angle. I went with one I thought best.

Angle #1

1. Does the Letdown Spot help us here?

The Letdown = A team is so emotionally high after a big victory, it doesn't prepare sufficiently and hasn't come down psychologically for the rigors of the following game and will lose it outright, even to modest competition.

 So we have this angle in three parts:

A) Mississippi State just snapped the longest winning streak in basketball history and two days later faces a in-conference nemesis that is a #1 seed.

This helps us. This is classic capping. Most people stop here and take the GameCocks. Miss State is not playing an average team (and this angle says you can lose to average competition) it is playing an excellent team that knows it.

Result? Miss State should lose. 

Now let's look at the second aspect of this angle

B) The books know squares will bet this way so they gave themselves points to compensate for it.

The line is -3.5 South Carolina. The books clearly were prepared for Mississippi State action and therefore expect a very tight game Miss St can win and/or cover in a nail-biter. So the 3.5 looms large here.

With this line, we can officially say this spot, this letdown theory, is no longer unique and books and squares know it well and it is in the line.

Result? Miss State should win and/or cover because we agree that the books win more often than not and have set a sharp line.

C) History

Correlation is not causation and this is only a sample size of two. But it is interesting.

I looked back at the 1974 Notre Dame team that ended UCLA 88 game win streak to see what they did the next game.

Amazingly they BEAT an excellent Kansas team that won its conference that year straight up by 2. Now I don't know what the line would have been but if, like MSU, they were getting points, they obviously cover.

I also looked back at the team that  

 
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Posted: #90

beat the Huskies women's team in 2010 to end their 90 game win streak.

That was Stanford. Not only did they beat Cal by 33 the next game (which almost certainly was an easy cover), they won their next twenty four in a row, losing in only the Final Four.

So these two significant streaks sit against us. But they could simply be anomalies. I was very surprised ND won against Kansas the next game though. That was a shocker. Having said that, this was just something I was interested in and it sits against us.

Result: Miss St can win outright.

So that is the Letdown spot dissected and you can take it several ways.

But here is what does it for me:

Angle #2

2) In Women's College Basketball, if something happens over and over, expect it to continue to happen.

111 wins. If you bet the UConn ML 111 times against them you lost. Yes you lost the 112th time but 111 times before that is almost infinite in sports compared to that one loss.

What is the streak here? These are conference rivals.

Conference rivals, just like division opponents are familiar with each other.

 
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Posted: #91

So what do we expect? Mississippi State and SC to be neck and neck in terms of heads of match-ups.

Well guess what?

That is not the case. Mississippi State has lost their last TEN in a row against South Carolina.

What can we conclude from that. It's not 111 and could never be but like UConn we can moderately conclude that Mississippi State has not found a way to beat South Carolina in over a half decade and continues to struggle against them.

And this is the angle I'm embracing WITH the potential for the square letdown spot to help us here.

Mississippi State went through the toughest bracket beat Baylor (TOP quality) and UConn, who they were supposed to be fed to, both number 1 seeds and now they face ANOTHER number 1 seed.

The Letdown Spot says they can lose to average competition. Here they face TOP

 
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Posted: #92

SEED competition that has beaten them TEN in a row.

Now I love fading streaks. But you fade them when you have a strong inclination they will lose or else you'll lose your shirt. I don't think SC will lose here.

Finally, a little wrinkle angle that can help SC.

3. The addition by subtraction angle.

South Carolina lost its leading rebounder and double-double machine Allisha Gray in the conference tournament. They've gone small since and have won out, with other players continually filling her role.

In addition, and this is key, most teams play zone against MSU. South Carolina has the defenders to play one on one and it's worked well with 2 wins over them this year, one by 3 and one by 10.

SO,

I am taking the following angles from above:

Angle #2 saying that 10 in a row should go to 11 in a row ESPECIALLY in women's college basketball

Angle #3 - Addition by subtraction.

Angle #1A - Taking on the classic letdown spot but realizing this letdown spot is against GREAT competition and knowing this angle is BUFFERED by Angle #2 and Angle #3.

So it will be a night of watching women's pro basketball on my PC and pro wrestling with Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg on the 60 incher.

Now that's one of hell of STUD right there ladies and gents! Ladies, watch out!!!


The pick:

South Carolina -3.5 over Mississippi State

 
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Posted: #93

Record: 24-26

This is the same bet as the Bucks over the Raps in Game 5 on the road.

That was a big-time loser.

But the Bucks are young, are starting two rookies, and have no playoff experience. 

We get more than that in the Jazz. We don't have the problem with the rookies starting. We get some savvy vets with a lot of playoff experience to carry some load and/or pick up the slack (in JJ and Hill). And no one here would argue Snyder was not a better coach than Kidd (leading the Jazz to 38, 40 and 51 wins over three years).

So there are big pluses here with the Jazz over the situation the Bucks were in going on the road in Game 5.

And in LA, we get some big minuses. Blake's loss can't be overstated. There is no 'rallying' around this loss at this point.

You watched Game 4. You knew the entire way, if you had the Clips + the points, even with a lead, it was tenuous.

After a 28-18 4th quarter, it all was gone.

And this, mind you, came WITH the Crawford of old going off for 25 and 5-7 threes.

THAT should have won them the game. It has many times in the past. But when the rest of your bench of Johnson, Pierce and Speights and Luc give you 11 total points on 3-17 shooting, and are poor defensively to boot, it is too much to ask Paul to make up for.

But the real culprit outside of the injuries is Redick.

He is 10-28 in the SERIES for 31 pts and 4 assists.

I've seen Redick pull this before in his final days at Duke where he lost his shooting touch. Again, he can come alive. Howard did tonight for the Hawks. Any player can at any time but Redik has shown us he can clam up at the wrong times on the big stages. He appears to be doing that. And because of that, the Clippers fell short in Game 1 and 4 and the series is tied.

Now remember this is in a Game where the team's BEST all-around player in Hayward scored 3 points in 9 minutes of play with food poisoning.

I'd venture to say many here would have taken the Clips with the points several times over (with a line that got up to -5 Jazz) having foreknowledge of that. No one had that foreknowledge. The Jazz still covered.

Both Gobert 6-6 shooting/15 pts/13 rebounds and excellent defensively is back and clearly at full strength, and Hayward will play and are on the flight to LA.

And what stands out to me is the act of desperation by Doc having his son play.

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