Today’s Selections

We begin the new season with a $1000.00 beginning balance. Each unit is $100.00.

4/05/10 Beginning Balance $910.00 (139-126-4) We’re still wondering how West Virginia failed to cover those Duke sharpshooters.

NCAA Finals

Butler +7.5 over Duke For our final bet of the season, we’re going with an old football adage – take the better defense + points. We don’t know if Butler’s defense is actually better than the Dukies, but we know that they’ll play it, and hard. The Bulldogs forced 12 of Michigan State’s 16 turnovers by sniping at the ballhander and generating steals. The refs ignored the hand slaps and other miscellaneous contact, and let them play. Duke has more size than Butler up front, but the Bulldogs will make up for that by zeal and hard work. We do not expect Duke to dominate the boards as they did against WVU, nor to have the same open looks. Our only concern is whether Butler will be able to work its offense effectively. If Matt Howard is healthy, he has the tricky low post game which can get Zoubek in foul trouble. If he can’t play effectively, the big geek may have his way inside. Two units.

4/03/10 Beginning Balance $930.00 (137-124-4) Our conclusion tonite is that the Butler(s) do it.

Final Four

Butler -1 over Michigan State Make no mistake. This is a depleted Michigan State squad. Against Tennessee, Korey Lucious was running on fumes, as replacement for injured point guard Kalin Lucas. You just can’t take a player of Lucas’ quality out of the lineup and expect to win indefinitely. And Butler, with its ball hawking defenders, is just the opponent to turn the Spartans over. The big advantage for MSU is their bulk up front. Butler has no one with the size and strength to contend with Dramont Green and Delvon Roe down low. But these guys are not prolific scorers. At best, they’re good for 10-14 each, so it’s not clear that they can exploit their advantage. As we see it, the key for the Bulldogs will be how well undersized center Matt Howard contends with Green, and how accurate the Bulldogs are from 3-point land, where they hold an advantage. The only player on the court capable of scoring 20 points or more is Butler’s Gordon Hayward. After their decisive victories over Syracuse and Kansas State, it’s time to discard the perception of Butler as an underdog. Two units. WW

West Virginia +2.5 over Duke Admittedly, this selection is colored by the ten to one play I’m holding on the Mounties to win it all. But I don’t have to try too hard to come up with the supporting analysis. Looking at Duke’s improvement over the past month, it is clearly attributable to the offensive rebounding of Brian Zoubek. At least 3-4 times a game, Zoubek has garnered a Duke missed shot and forwarded it to a shooter beyond the stripe for the 3-pointer. That’s 9-12 extra points/game. They did it twice late against Baylor and it turned the game. Plus, they were helped by some questionable calls in their favor. Take the 3-point shooting of Singler and Scheyer out of the equasion and Duke’s an ordinary team. Of course, that’s no small order. But the Mounties will get after them, with hands in the Dukies’ faces and bodies against their chests. And they attack the boards with ferocity, holding a 39-32 rebounding edge over their opponents. But do they have the bulk to hold off Zoubek? Da’Sean Butler must continue to provide the heroics for WVU, but their hole card may be Devin Ebanks, who will be the most athletic player on the court. If Ebanks chips in with 15 or more, Mounties punch their ticket. Two units. LL

3/28/10 Beginning Balance +$950.00 (135-122-4) Double dose of two unit losses has Bard reeling.

Michigan State +2 over Tennessee Two units. WW
Baylor +5 over Duke Two units LL

3/27/10 Beginning Balance +1390.00 (135-118-4) See today’s post for analysis

Kansas State -3.5 over Butler Two units. LL
Kentucky -4 over West Virginia Two units strong> L L

3/26/10 Beginning Balance +$1500 (134-116-4) See today’s post for analysis

Baylor -4.5 over St. Mary’s One unit W
Ohio State -4.5 over Tennessee One unit L
Northern Iowa P over Michigan State One unit L

3/25/10 Beginning Balance +$1510 (133-115-3) See today’s post for analysis.

Syracuse -6 over Butler One unit. L
Kansas State -5 over Xavier One unit. T
West Virginia -4 over Washington One unit. W

3/21/10 Beginning Balance +$1630.00 (132-113-3) Wildcats (of the Kentucky variety) have clear sailing to finish line.

Pitt -1 over Xavier These two teams are cut from the same cloth, premised on slashing guards, tenacious defense, and workmanlike front court players. But the Panthers have more players and greater balance. Take Crawford out of Muskies’ mix, and they have few others who can put in the hole. Panther quartet of Dixon, Brown, Gibbs, and Wanamaker gets it done. Two units.. LL

Michigan State +1.5 over Maryland Maybe we’re caught up in tradition, but feeling here is that Sparty will find its way against a Maryland team which should be overwhelmed by MSU front liners. Terps have no counter for Roe, Green, Summers, and Morgan up front, and Lucas can more than compete with erratic Vasquez. One unit. W

3/20/10 Beginning Balance +$1520.00 (130-112-3) This is no time to be mediocre, but that’s the only way to characterize recent performance.

St. Mary’s +5 over Villanova The Gaels have won six straight, and ‘Nova has lost five of eight. St. Mary’s has nice mix of inside efficiency, with 7’ Samhan, and outside shooting. Underdogs outshoot Villanova in every department. One unit. W

Ohio University +8.5 over Tennessee The unheralded Bobcats bear little resemblance to their regular season version, when they lost 9 of 16 in conference play. Remember, in college, it’s what’s happening now. And Ohio just played a remarkable game in upsetting Georgetown. Why shouldn’t the stellar play continue against a less than overwhelming Vol squad? One unit. L

Kentucky -9 over Wake Forest Wake was fortunate to escape inept and poorly coached Texas. The Deacs will wish they were elsewhere today. Kentucky is cooking on every burner, including the recently red hot (from 3-pt land) Bledsoe. 3-pt shooting was the one area where the ‘Cats were suspect. We suspect this will be a blowout. One unit. W

3/19/10 Beginning Balance +$1770.00 (129-109-3) Yesterday’s Missouri, Louisville plays carry over to today.

Utah State +3 over Texas A & M Utah State often gets overlooked because they’re in the Big West. But they won 17 in a row before their conference finals, have an ave. margin of victory of 14 pts, and shoot the lights out: 49.1 FG%, 76.3 FT%, and 42% from 3-point land. Aggies will have slight edge in athleticism and are veterans, but can’t ignore Utes’ stats. One unit. L

Memphis +4.5 over Mississippi In this NIT affair, we like the character of the Memphis team under new coach Josh Pastner. Plus, they have several carrovers from the last two years’ tournament teams. Tigers want to show their mojo didn’t disappear with John Calipari. Rebels have been uninspiring all year. One unit. L

Oklahoma State -1.5 over Georgia Tech In two earlier match-ups, the Big 12 and the ACC have split. The Techsters enjoy a hugh height advantage, but the best player on the court will be James Anderson, the Big 12’s leading scorer. Remember, OK State handed Kansas its only conference loss. The Big 12 is coming on strong in this tournament. One unit. L

3/18/10 Beginning Balance +$1790.00 (127-107-3) Enough with this NIT, CBI bullshit. Now comes the real stuff.

St. Mary’s +2 over Richmond The Gaels have been knocking on the door of notoriety for some time now, and with their blend of size and 3-point shooting, are likely to prove too much for the game Spiders. St.Mary’s enjoys a 14 pt ave. margin of victory, shoots ft’s at 76.4%, the 3-ball at 41%, and has five double figure scorers. Richmond has noone to contend with 7′ center Samhan. One unit. W

Notre Dame -2.5 over Old Dominion The Irish have added two contributors to their rotation (Nash and Scott) and have a healthy Harangody. Ben Hansbrough has become the leader in the backcourt. This is a dangerous team.
One unit. L

BYU -5 over Florida Here comes the Mountain West, with four teams in the tourney. BYU is the best shooting team in America, and sports an 18 pt. ave. margin of victory, against decent opposition. Florida was lucky to make the tournament, and has few bonafide scoring threats. Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin has emerged as its leading front court scorer, which should tell you something. One unit. W

Missouri+1 over Clemson Missouri has its 3-guard nucleus back from its Elite 8 team of a year ago, and this may be enough to dismantle Clemson, which has rarely answered the bell this season. Booker is a wonderful player, but he has little companionship. One unit. W

Marquette -1.5 over Washington The Huskies have surged lately, but Marquette plays hard every time. Darius Johnson-Odom was brilliant in the Big East, and if he contributes, he and Hayward will be a lethal twosome. Back the Big East teams until further notice. One unit. L

Louisville P over California This is familiar territory for Rick Pitino, who can be counted on to draw the most from his players. California has suspended one of its starters for the game. The Bears are dangerous from 3-point land, but may have no answer for Samuels inside. One unit. L

3/17/10 Beginning Balance +$1910.00 (126-105-3)

Boston University +7.5 over Oregon State Oregon State should not be favored by this much over anybody. They relinquish more points than they score on averaqe and shoot a pathetic 29.2% from 3-point land and 67% from the stripe, compared to BU’s 35.9% and 73%, respectively. BU was 11-5 in decent America East conference. One unit. W

Weber State +10.5 over Cincinnati Visitors went 13-3 in the Big Sky and lost by a point to Montana in conference championship. They outshoot the Bearcats in every category. Cincy only scores 68 ppg, and with its shooting woes, will be hard-pressed to cover this lofty spread. One unit. L

Troy +13.5 over Mississippi Just like the point spread, Troy went 13-5 in the competitive Sun Belt conference. Old Miss, which had advance billing, lost virtually every big game it played this year, including a blowout loss in the first round of the SEC tournament. Rebels are not likely to be too psyched for this one. One unit.

3/16/10 Beginning Balance +$1710.00 (124-105-3) Ignominious end to conference play detracts from an overall successful season. Tonite the NIT.

William & Mary +8.5 over North Carolina In pre-conference play, W&M defeated Maryland, Wake Forest, and Richmond. That’s more than enough of a resume to cover this lofty spread against underachieving ‘Heels. One unit.

North Carolina State +3.5 over South Florida Bulls are nice in a “taking situation,” but it’s a different story when they assume the role of the favorite. Wolfpack have been playing better of late. One unit.

3/14/10 Beginning Balance +$2040.00 (124-103-3)

Duke -8.5 over Georgia Tech Despite its stops and starts against Miami, Duke is functioning on all cylinders. The addition of Zoubek to the starting lineup has allowed the Blue Devils to convert 2-3 offensive rebounds/game to backbreaking 3-pointers. Scheyer and Singler are deadly. The Engineers are lucky to have made the finals, having played poorly in victories over Maryland and North Carolina State. One unit. L

Kentucky -7 over Mississippi State The Bulldogs were pesky in a six-point defeat to KU earlier this year in Starksville, but that was when the ‘Cats were still suffering from freshman jitters. Now, this team has molded into a powerhouse. The Kentucky faithful will be 14,000 strong for this Nashville encounter. Only one team in the country can play with Kentucky, and it’s 1500 miles away in Kansas. One unit. L

Richmond +4 over Temple We know one thing about Richmond – they hang. Earlier this year, the Spiders defeated Temple 71-54; and in two games with Xavier, they lost by two on the road, and won yesterday’s encounter in overtime. There’s no reason to believe they won’t play this one close. One unit. T

Minnesota +4 over Ohio State The Gophers absolutely need this one to make the NCAA’s. Other tournament results suggest this is a powerful motivation. The Buckeyes have needed miracles to get this far (buzzer-beater over Michigan, 2 OT squeaker over Illinois). With victories over Michigan State and Purdue, both conference elite, Minny seems to be peaking. And we know they’re well-coached. One unit. L
3/13/10 Beginning Balance +$1960.00 (121-101-3) 3 and 4 not getting it done.

UTEP -7 over Houston UTEP has been the class of the conference, going 14-1. Houston was 7-8 in Conference USA and shoots 41.9% from the field while relinquishing 46.1. Not good numbers. Barely cracking the top 25, the Miners may be underrated. One unit L

Temple -3.5 over Rhode Island The Rams experienced late season decline, and their two wins in the A-10 tourney don’t change anything. They give up 47.2% from the field and were beaten twice by the Owls in regular conference play. Spread does not reflect talent differential. One unit. W

Kentucky -4.5 over Tennessee Vols have been scrappy against UK in two meetings, the latter a victory in Knoxville. And ‘Cats have been slow to pounce on teams, often waiting until the late stages to pull out a victory. But the issue is when John Wall and company turn up the heat, not if. Do you really think Tennessee can beat the ‘Cats two of three? One unit. W

Vanderbilt -1.5 over Mississippi State In earlier meeting at Memorial Gym, ‘Dores blew a 15-point lead and held on late to win by three. With the improvement of sharpshooter freshman John Jenkins (who erupted for 25 yesterday), Vandy is better now, and will have a home town advantage. Mississippi State is probably off the bubble, and tends to falter when its three-point shooters are off. One unit. L

Georgetown +2.5 over West Virginia Hoyas are at the top of their game, and playing as they are, may be contenders for a national title. WVU won earlier contest 81-68 at Morgantown. They’ve struggled to eke out victories against Cincinnati and Notre Dame while Hoyas have romped against stronger foes. GU outshoots WVU from 3-point land 39.2% to 33.8%. And who will slender Mounties employ to guard Monroe? One unit. W

3/12/10 Beginning Balance $2060.00 (118-97-3)

Xavier -3 over Dayton This line may be influenced by Flyers’ 90-65 dismantling of Xavier in January. However, teams’ fortunes have changed: Dayton lost four of last five to finish 8-8 in conference, and Muskies ran seven in a row to tie Temple for first at 14-2. Plus, Xavier is used to being here and is poised for its typical NVAA tourney run. This time, they’ve got a prolific scorer (Crawford) to go with their fundamentally sound squad. One unit. W

Maryland -4 over Ga. Tech Look at the records – Maryland was 13-3 in the ACC, Ga. Tech, 7-9. Plus, Tech had a tough game last nite against N. Carolina. Tech played Maryland tough two weeks ago at Comcast, and needs the win for NCAA consideration, but they don’t handle the ball well enough to eke out the close ones. One unit. L

Georgia +8 over Vanderbilt Vandy has a home court advantage of sorts because the tournament’s being played in downtown Nashville. But they’re playing a team which has played it extremely tough twice already this season, a defeat in Athens and a desperate, come-from-behind OT win at Memorial 2/25. The lesson to be derived from the early tournament results is that conference tail-enders can battle the higher seeds to a standstill. Familiarity breeds closer outcomes. One unit. L

Georgetown -3.5 over Marquette Hoyas played a great game against Syracuse and are cooking on all burners, getting new production from Jason Clarke and Hollis Thompson to go with the outstanding play of Wright, Freeman, and Monroe. Marquette gets the most out of its players, but they’re undersized and will need a lot of things to go well to stay with taller, and more talented Hoyas. One unit. W

Michigan State -3 over Minnesota Spartans will be missing reliable guard Chris Allen, but they’ve enough left to cover this relatively short spot against middling Gophers (9-9 in Big Ten). Senior Raymar Morgan has been a recent contributor to MSU’s offense after taking the year off. With Kalin Lucas and a powerful front line, Spartans should outscore tenacious but uninspiring Minny. One unit. L

Notre Dame +5.5 over West Virginia As mentioned, Notre Dame has revamped its team, and they’re stronger than ever. Slender Mountaineers may have trouble on the boards against Harangody, Abromaitis, Nash, and Scott.
If Notre Dame can slow the pace to its liking, it’s hard to imagine WVU besting them in a half-court game. One unit. W

New Mexico -2.5 over San Diego State The Lobos are 29-3 over all and were 14-2 in conference. San Diego was 11-5 and 22-8. Lobos seem like a good investment at this moderate price. One unit. L

3/11/10 Beginning Balance +$2200.00 (115-93-3) Marquette woes at foul line cost Bard a 3-1 sked.

Syracuse -6 over Georgetown This spread is way too high for our taste, but how can we not pick this game, their third of the season. We know all the cliches about the difficulty of beating one time thrice, but a) ‘Cuse is one of the top two or three teams in the country, and has demonstrated the ability to open big leads on the Hoyas; b) Georgetown has found a way to lose nine games this season and can fall into horrible shooting streaks; and c) Austin Freeman’s condition in a back-to-back scenario is uncertain. One unit. L

Marquette +5 over Villanova Quietly, without fanfare, Marquette has won ten of last twelve Big East games. Villanova lost four of its last six. King, their best rebounder, has been suspended. Lazar Hayward will be the best man on the court. Marquette plays close games, and this should be another. One unit. W

Notre Dame +2 over Pitt Since Harangody’s injury, Notre Dame has re-grouped. They’ve got a strong seven-man rotation with new and vital contributors Nash and. Abromaitis is a stud, Hansbrough is all over the court. They may shoot Panthers out of the game. One unit. W

Texas A & M -7.5 over Nebraska. Prior to their upset of Missouri yesterday, Huskers had won two of their last sixteen Big Twelve regular season games. They’re going up today against the rested Big 12 sleeper team, composed mostly of seniors who are determined to leave their mark. One unit L

Baylor P over Texas The Bears have beaten Texas twice this season, most recently last week when Quincy Acy registered twelve dunks against a lazy Longhorn defense. Like UConn, Texas has fallen into a mystifying stupor of late. Can they turn it back on against a team riding a wave of emotion and momentum? Not so fast. One unit W

Wake Forest -3.5 over Miami Why is this line so low? Wake was 9-7 in conference compared to the Hurricanes’ 4-12. Plus, it’s a friendly North Carolina site. We agree that Wake is overrated and hardly worthy of an NCAA spot, but this is Miami. One unit. L

Marshall +1 over Tulsa The Thundering Herd are a well-kept secret, but they may snare an at large berth. They’ve got that rare jewel – a shot-blocking center – and shoot 48 % from the field. Freshman Hassan Whiteside blocks 5.5 shot/game in just 25 minutes/game.One unit. L

3/10/10 Beginning Balance +$2210.00 (113-91-3) Today we begin the post-season in earnest.

Georgetown -6.5 over South Florida There’s a lot going for Georgetown today – revenge for the humiliation proferred by the Bulls at Verizon Center last month, and the crest of emotion surrounding the return of Austin Freeman to the line-up. With Greg Monroe and Freeman firing on all burners, a Hoya romp. One unit. W

Marquette -3.5 over St. John’s St. John’s has struggled at home against the Big East elite, though they pushed Marquette to 61-63 two weeks ago. The Golden Eagles are one of the best-coached and best-shooting (from 3 pt land) teams in the country. ‘Quette should separate late. One unit. L

Colorado over Texas Tech After a 10-0 start, Tech has been abysmal, finishing 16-14 overall and 4-12 in conference. Colorado breezed against them 91-80 not long ago and has held its own against Big 12 notables. One unit. L

Oklahoma State -7 over Oklahoma The Sooners have fallen apart. The Cowboys recently quashed Kansas’ conference unbeaten string in-conference and are capable of shooting the lights out led by star James Anderson. State is stretching for an NCAA berth and would love to stick it to its in-state rival and former abuser. One unit.W

3/09/10 No Selections

3/08/10 Beginning Balance +$2210.00 (112-90-3) The Bard ends the regular season up $1210.00. Not bad.

Gonzaga -4 over St. Mary’s The ‘Zags have had the Gael’s number for years, and we so no reason for the dominance to cease. Bulldogs won both regular season meetings decisively. Gonzaga is led by senior Matt Bouldin, but has several different ways to score. St. Mary’s will probably still qualify for an NCAA berth even if it loses. One unit. L

William & Mary +9 over Old Dominion The Tribe had a strong early season, including victories over Richmond and Maryland, and a respectable conference sked, at 12-6. If they can slow the pace and hit a few three’s, they should stay within hailing distance of the more talented Monarchs. One unit. W

3/07/10 Beginning Balance +$2220.00 (111-89-3) Syracuse double dip costs the Bard a big day.

Old Dominion -1.5 over VCU Third game in three days for VCU. Monarchs have been class of the Colonial all year, and are too good to pass up with this tiny spot, notwithstanding VCU home confines. One unit.

Clemson +2 over Wake Forest We are not at all impressed with Wake Forest, which appears to be in free fall after home loss to Carolina. Aminu has been missing in action lately. Most dominant player on court will be Tigers’ Trevor Booker, who is sharpening his game for the next level. One unit.

3/06/10 Beginning Balance +$2160.00 (106-85-3)

Richmond -1.5 over Charlotte Spiders are still in contention for top slot in A-10 and are nursing revenge for 59-71 home loss to Charlotte. Richmond has taken on all comers all season. See no reason for slip up here against plummeting 49ers. One unit. W

Kansas -3 over Missouri Jayhawks stormed by Kansas State on Wednesday after being tied at 45. They’re making better use of the massive Aldrich in the low post, where Missouri has no one to challenge. Missouri still has the back court from its Elite 8 team of a year ago, but has not found substitutes for departed frontliners Carroll and Lyons.
This is a relatively benign spot for one of the nation’s best teams. One unit. W

UConn +1 over South Florida I know. We said we’d never bet UConn again. But I just can’t believe that a team this talented can continue to play so badly. The Bulldogs have cooled off since their mid-season run. At 7-10 in the Big East, Huskies would have to win next three games, including at least two in conference tourney, to get NCAA consideration. It’s not impossible. One unit. L

Syracuse P over Louisville What makes Syracuse so imposing is the continuing improvement of their big men, Onuaku and Jackson. Over the last several games, they’ve both posted multiple games in the high teens or 20’s. Now ‘Cuse can score from any place on the court with any one of the seven in their rotation. Not only are they ranked no. one, but they look like the best team in country. And they’re harboring revenge for the Cardinals’ inexplicable win at Syracuse February 23rd. Two units. LL

Notre Dame +7.5 over Marquette These are two of the Nation’s best 3-pt. shooting teams. Irish are still chasing NCAA spot while Golden Eagles seem secure, thanks in part to a weak conference schedule. Since Harangody’s injury, Irish have defeated UConn, Georgetown, and Pitt and lost by two at Louisville. It appears they’ve made the adjustment. One unit. W

St. Louis +11.5 over Dayton Why do the Billikens get no respect? They’re 10-5 in the conference compared to Dayton’s 8-7 and they beat Dayton at home 2/13. That’e enough for me. One unit. W

UTEP -6 over UAB The Miners have been head and shoulders over the rest of Conference USA at 14-1. UAB is the nearest pursuer, but the Blazers have come up short in their biggest games this season. UTEP is aided by transfer Derrick Caracter, the 6’9″ moose formerly of Louisville. Randy Culpepper is their second star. Miners won at UAB by 11 1/30. One unit. L

Washington -3.5 over Oregon State The Huskies were rated best in the PAC-10 pre-season and have been a big disappointment, standing at 10-7 in third place. They’ve got two bonafide stars in Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas and are playing better of late. Now is their time to save their season. The Beavers, coached by Craig Robinson, cannot compare talent-wise. One unit. W

3/05/10 Beginning Balance +$2060.00 (105-85-3)

Bradley +3.5 over Creighton Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals. The Blue Jays hold two regular season victories over Bradley, the most recent one last weekend. Our view is that this kind of history works in favor of the Braves, who have better balance than Creighton and fare slightly better on the road. Stinnett, one of Creighton’s leading scorers, is suspended for rest of season. One unit. W

3/04/10 Beginning Balance +2060.00 With what I’ve lost on UConn this year, I could buy a small condo.

Richmond -4 over Dayton Spiders have answered the bell all year and still harbor a chance to tie for A-10 Division lead. Dayton is 2-5 on the road in conference. Flyers probably need to win out to snare at large bid, but hurdle is too high. One unit. T

3/03/10 Beginning Balance +$2180.00 (105-85-2). We won’t even try to explain Gophers’ abysmal performance. Suffice to say that’s a pony I won’t be riding again.

Wake Forest +7.5 over Florida State There’s little to choose between in this battle of ACC middle-of-the -packers, which is why the 7.5 is so attractive. Florida State has beaten only one ACC team (Miami) by this spread at home this year. Deacons have lost 3 straight. It’s a point spread play, similar to last nite’s Ga. Tech-Clemson affair, but we hope with different results. One unit. W

Georgia +8 over Kentucky Word’s out on how to defense the Wildcats. Stop Wall’s penetration and double team the post, because the ‘Cats are anemic from 3-point land, where they’re shooting no better than 20% in their last several games. The Bulldogs have beaten Tennessee and Vandy at home and have just missed several other conference opportunities. One unit. L

UConn +2 over Notre Dame I’m always a sucker for talent, and the Huskies have it, ‘tho they’ve let me down several times this season. Problem is when I look at their starting five, I’m completely beguiled. Dyson and Walker will run rings around the Irish backcourtmen in a game UConn must have for NCAA consideration.
One unit. L

3/02/10 Beginning Balance +$2190.00 (104-84-2)

Minnesota P over Michigan All you need to know about this one: Minny 47.1 fg%, 39.3 def fg%, 39.9 3fg%. Michigan 41.1 fg%, 44.2 def fg%, 29.8 3fg%. Plus, Gophers are upwardly mobile with wins over Illinois and Wisconsin and a 1-point loss to Purdue in their last four games; and they are nursing revenge for an inexplicable home loss to these pathetic Wolves last month. One unit. L

UNC -4 over Miami Can you imagine what this line projected to be two months ago? – probably Carolina -13. It will be senior night at Chapel Hill, and one would think that tradition alone would carry the Heels against this sorry Miami team. One unit. W

3/01/10 Beginning Balance +$2090.00 (103-84-2) We head into the home stretch of the regular season in strong position.

West Virginia -6.5 over Georgetown This line jumped from 6 to 6.5 with the news that Austin Freeman would not play. In many of GU’s big victories, and in their near-comeback against Syracuse, it was Freeman who provided the spark. There is no one who can replace Freeman’s 15 ppg. The Mounties are always tough at home, and need this one to insure top 4 seeding in the Big East tourney. One unit. W

2/28/10 Beginning Balance +$2000.00 (101-83-2) With a break or two, yesterday’s 3-3 could have been 5-1.

Richmond +7.5 over Xavier These teams sit atop the A-10 (with Temple) at 11-2. Muskies have an impressive home record, and Spiders have won 8 in row and play tight defense. Richmond is always underrated, but manages to play everyone tough, including Xavier today. One unit. W

UConn – 4 over Louisville Cardinals collapsed at home against Georgetown earlier this week while Huskies are making NCAA surge. Aside from win at Syracuse, Cards have not distinguished themselves on road and cannot match scoring punch of UConn’s big three. We look for Huskies to continue their uptick and to be a factor in the Big East tourney and the NCAA’s. One unit. L

Michigan State +4 over Purdue Before injury to Purdue star Robbie Hummel, we viewed the Boilermakers as the best in the Big Ten and a number one seed. But without Hummel, they lose their best and most reliable player. He was the glue to their game. We don’t feel that this line reflects his loss. Plus, Spartans are nursing revenge for an earlier home loss to Purdue. Look for the outright Sparty win. One unit. W

2/27/10 Beginning Balance +$2030.00 (98-80-2) For a late season Saturday, today’s board is weak.

Notre Dame +10.5 over Georgetown Notre Dame showed lots of resolve in Thursday’s trouncing of Pitt without Harangody, who will also miss today’s encounter. The Irish have an outside chance at the Tourney, and can be expected to pop 3’s with abandon. One unit. W

Georgia Tech -7.5 over Boston College The ‘Jackets defend at 37.2 %, BC at 43%. GT needs strong push to ice NCAA bid. Their massive front line will make things tough for vertically-challenged Eagles. One unit. L

Arkansas +2 over Vanderbilt How much gas do the Commodores have left in their tank, after gut-wrenching games against Kentucky and Georgia, the latter an OT affair Thursday night? The Hogs are athletic; and after two road losses, need a win here to nail down bye in SEC tournament. Vandy’s second place slot in SEC West is virtually secure, and they’re ripe for a letdown. One unit. L

Pitt -2 over St. John’s Do not expect the Panthers to come up lame two games in a row. Against up-and-down Johnnies, Pitt will bring its A-game and do a better job from 3-point land. One unit. W

New Mexico +8 over BYU This is for the Mountain West regular season championship. UNM has won 12 straight, including wins over BYU, SD State, and UNLV. BYU is near perfect at home, but how can you turn down the red hot Lobos + 8?One unit. W

Va. Tech -1 over Maryland They Hokies played well at Duke in a loss and awful at BC. Before their rabid home crowd, and needing the win for NCAA certainty, you can expect them to attack from the start. Expect Jeff Allen to rebound from recent sub-par performances against the weak Maryland front line and Malcom Delaney to shine. One unit. L

2/25/10 Beginning Balance +$2030.00 (98-80-2) The Thursday night boards, featuring Pac-10 match-ups, have been particularly uninspiring this year. Tonite being no exception, we’ll take the night off

No Selections

2/24/10 Beginning Balance +$1840.00 (95-79-2) The beat rolls on. Bard is 16 of last 21.

Maryland -4.5 over Clemson Prior to their escape over Ga. Tech, Maryland’s average home conference victory was 17 points. Plus, they nurture revenge for a disappointing loss at Clemson in January. Clemson normally swoons in February so there’s little reason to back the Tigers in this one. One unit. W

Temple -4 over Dayton The Owls rest atop the A-10 while Dayton has been in free-fall, losing Sunday to Duquesne. The Flyers, returning their entire starting five from a year ago, were predicted to win the conference, but they may have gone stale. You can count on Temple to put forth a disciplined effort every time. And this spread is reasonably short. One unit.W

Pitt -1 over Notre Dame The Steelers, I mean the Panthers, bring it every nite. They will need their toughness to overcome a decisive Notre Dame height advantage. Harangody returns for the Irish, but we look for the slashing and dashing Panthers to take it to the rack and mix in a sufficient number of 3-balls to secure the victory. One unit. L

Texas A & M +7 over Baylor The Aggies have been under the radar in the Big 12, but they’ve won three in a row on the road in-conference, and their only conference defeat beyond 7 points was a road encounter at Kansas State. Baylor is good, but we don’t see a blow-out. Another point spread play. One unit. W

2/23/10 Beginning Balance +$1640.00 (93-79-2) Huskies are en route to 10-8 conference record and NCAA berth.

Illinois +3 over Michigan Michigan is a hapless crew which in its last two games has beaten Iowa by two and lost to Penn State. Their best player, Manny Harris, is having a bad year. With Illinois, you know you’re going to get a hard-fought effort and tenacious D. Illini are playing for post-season position. Wolves are playing for the NIT. One unit W

Georgetown +4 over Louisville The Hoyas are far more balanced than Louisville – four double figure scorers to two. Cardinals, though ahead of Georgetown in the Big East, have faced a much softer schedule and until shocking Syracuse ten days ago, lacked a signature win. Hoyas rely a bit too much on the three, but unless they’re shooting blanks, are primed for the outright win. One unit. W

2/22/10 Beginning Balance +$1540.00 (92-79-2) 13-5 run has Bard chirping.

UConn +2.5 over West Virginia Judging by their last two games, Huskies realize the urgency of their situation. They can’t afford to lose another game in-conference. As good as they are, the Mounties have game lapses where they give up big chunks of leads. Huskie front-liners – Oriaki, Majok and Okwandu – ‘tho raw, will have a substantial size and bulk advantage over slender Ebanks, Jones, and Smith, and may well push them around. One unit. W

2/21/10 Beginning Balance +$1140.00 (88-79-2) Vandy-UK game one for ages. Defense was fierce on both sides. The difference was Wall’s defense on the perimeter where he blocked three shots and held ‘Dores to 2-20 3-pt shooting. Today we go with four road warriors.

Marquette +2 over Cincinnati The difference is from 3-point land where the Golden Eagles shoot above 40 and the Bearcats below 30. ‘Quette is undersized compared to Cinci bulwarks, but they’re scrappy and better ballhandlers. One unit. W

Virginia Tech +13 over Duke You can’t make a living betting against Duke at Cameron, but the Hokies will not be fazed by the mystique. They’ve got three major weapons offensively and they hit the boards hard. Plus, they’ve been battle tested all season, surviving several close encounters. One unit. W

Ohio State +4 over Michigan State Notwithstanding the great Kalin Lucas, the Buckeyes score with greater ease than Michigan State. With Turner, Buford, and Lighty, they’re more explosive than the plodding Spartans who try to bull their way inside. Since Turner’s return from injury, Bucks’ only Big Ten loss was by 3 at Purdue. One unit. W

Arizona State -2 over Arizona State keeps in hunt for Pac-10 title and exacts revenge for home whooping at hands of Wildcats last month. One unit. W

2/20/10 Beginning Balance +$1160.00 (86-77-2)

South Florida -4.5 over St. John’s Any hope of an uptick for St. John’s vanished with their home loss to Seton Hall. The Bulls, ‘tho, are upwardly mobile, and feature two big time players – Jones and Gilchrist. This seems like a small price to pay for a much needed home victory. One unit. L

Illinois +12.5 over Purdue This line is certainly influenced by the Illini’s home blowout loss to Ohio State. But they’re better than that and played Purdue tough in a home loss one month ago. We like Purdue as the best in the Big Ten, but Illini are not going to roll over. One unit. W

Tennessee -1.5 over South Carolina After disappointing road losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky, the Vols best chance for victory is now, against a team they roundly defeated three weeks ago. Everybody but Tyler Smith has returned from suspensions, and there are no excuses. The Gamecocks have been sinking since their win over Kentucky.One unit. W

Vanderbilt -1 over Kentucky What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? It’s about the same as John Wall taking on Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym magic. There’s no question that Kentucky has the far more talented roster, but Vandy has all the intangibles – first, the gym, secondly their depth, and third their ability to get to the foul line. The sense here is that the ‘Dores will look to get Cousins in early foul trouble by feeding Ogilvy in the post. On defense, Vandy has the sub big men to send Cousins to the foul line, where he is awful. In a game like this, Vandy poise may outlast the talented but young Wildcats. One unit. L

2/19/10 Beginning Balance +$1160.00 (86-77-2) Syracuse, after leading by 21, almost fumbled it away. Can’t explain Wisky letdown. Pitt, Vandy as represented.

No selections

2/18/10 Beginning Balance +$1180.00 (84-75-2) Purdue is Big Ten’s best.

Georgetown -1.5 over Syracuse The Hoyas are not the better team, but they generally hold serve in the big games at home. Witness their pummels of Duke and Villanova in the same week, and their come-from-behind betterment over UConn in early January. The Orangemen have had some narrow escapes on the road; but at this stage, are undefeated away from the Carrier Dome. The ‘Cuse zone befuddles many teams, but the Hoyas are familiar with it and often shoot 3’s well against it, as when they burst out to a 14-0 lead in game 1, which Syracuse won. Revenge + home cooking sends Orange to its first road defeat of the season. One unit. L

strong>Wisconsin P over Minnesota We’re pleased to back the much better team without a point spot. Minnesota has not delivered on its early promise while the Badgers are peaking. Plus, they may be bolstered by the return of their best big man, Leuer. Wisky has been good to us all season. One unit. L

Pitt +6.5 over Marquette We were actually looking to bet the Golden Eagles, but not at this spread. Both teams are guard-oriented. The Panthers like to slash and dash while Marquette is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the land. Defensively, Pitt is better. We just see a brawl with the points making the difference. One unit. W

Vanderbilt +4 over Mississippi The feeling persists that Vandy is not as good as its record, but they do the little things well. They draw and hit their fouls. And they are deep. Ogilvy has become more aggressive offensively and is parading to the foul line. Sophomore Lance Goulbourne has become a factor on the break and with dashing moves to the hoop. Jeffery Taylor is finally living up to his promise. The ‘Dores have played well on the road this season with victories at South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. A loss here would take the sting out of their big matchup with Kentucky Saturday and deflate their season. It would not be good business. One unit. W

2/17/10 Beginning Balance +$1090.00 (82-74-2)Purdue +3.5 over Ohio State These are two of the best teams in the country, each riding conference winning streaks. In the first encounter, at Purdue, the Buckeyes rode a second half surge by Evan Turner to victory. Purdue has one of the most tight-knit starting fives in the country. They’ve all played together for three years. Hummel, Moore, and Johnson are best in show at their positions. Ohio State has a bit more explosion. Revenge + points = Purdue. One unit. W

Arkansas -4 over South Carolina Out of nowhere, the Hogs have stormed to the top of the SEC West division. They’d won five in a row before losing at Alabama and feature four scorers of 12.7 or more, including star point guard Courtney Fortson. South Carolina relies on 5’9″ Devan Downey for its charge, and the tiny one can’t be expected to light it up on the road. One unit. W

St Johns -1 over Seton Hall The Red Storm are fresh off a blowout over Louisville, and a road win at Notre Dame. They’re playing better. Setonia has not won on the road in conference, though they’ve played the top teams. This game is at the on-campus Carnasecca Hall, where the home court advantage is pronounced. In a match-up of relative equals, we’ll side with the home-standers in a virtual pick’em affair. One unit. L

2/16/10 Beginning Balance +$790.00

South Florida -2 over Cincinnati The Bulls heralded their emergence as a Big East worthy with four wins in a row, including conquests of Georgetown and Pitt. They did all this without former best player, Augustus Gilchrist, who was out with injury. In his absence, Dominique Jones has become a star. This two-pronged threat gives the Bulls an edge over a poor-shooting Cincy squad which may be giddy over its win at UConn. One unit. W

Kentucky -3 over Mississippi State Pundits are primed for an upset here, but the Bulldogs simply do not have the goods to pull it off. They are overly reliant on the jump shot and are prone to long shooting slumps. This is a critical point in the Wildcats’ season with four of next five on the road, including Saturday at Vanderbilt. Kentucky has two talented bigs to throw at shot-blocker Varnado and the world’s greatest point guard, John Wall, to bail them out. If the ‘Cats lure the Human Rejector into foul trouble, it won’t even be close. One unit. W

Wake Forest + 5.5 over Virginia Tech This is a pure point spread play. We see little to choose between these squads and foresee a close back-and-forth game. Demon Deacons seem to be improving at a faster pace as they weave freshmen Harris and Stewart into their production. And they still have Aminu. One unit. W

2/15/10 Beginning Balance +$790.00 (79-74-2) How does one explain Syracuse losing at home to Louisville, which lost by 19 to St. John’s? With Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State, and Wisconsin all showing strong, the Big Ten has established itself as the second best conference in the country, behind the Big East.

No selections

2/14/10 Beginning Balance +$800.00 (78-73-2) The Bard, like UConn’s season, is slip-sliding away. Tennessee, utilizing a zone, provided a blueprint for controlling Kentucky; but the Vols undid themselves by hasty 3-point shooting and 3 charging calls which negated baskets.

Syracuse -7.5 over Louisville For reasons unknown, Louisville added no scorers to replace departed Earl Clark and Terrence Williams. They were blown out by St. John’s earlier this week. All that can stop the Orangemen is complacency. They are getting better and better. One unit. L

Ohio State -1.5 over Illinois Both teams have been red hot of late; but with the return of Evan Turner from injury, the Buckeyes have a clear edge in scoring power. The Illini like to move at a turtle’s pace while the Bucks will try to open up the floor. If the game is played in the high 60’s or more, it will be bad news for the homestanders. One unit. W

2/13/10 Beginning Balance +$1030.00 (77-70-2) Those West Virginia intangibles we talked about were in evidence last night when the Mounties blew 6 of 7 from the stripe late.

UConn -6.5 over Cincinnati The Bearcats have not fared well on the road in the Big East, beating only Rutgers. Record-wise (14-10,4-7), the Huskies have been a disappointment; but they have one of the best starting fives in the country, and with Calhoun back, can be expected to make a run. Count on them to make the NCAA’s. One unit. L

Maryland +10 over Duke Credit Maryland’s abundance of senior and juniors and a deep bench for their fast start in the ACC. Terps are fortunate to catch Duke off their emotional triumph at UNC Wednesday. Duke gets a disproportionate amount of its punch from Singler and Scheyer. That was enough against the Hapless Heels; but unless Devils can come up with a third contributor, they won’t blow out Maryland. One unit. L

Arkansas +6 over Alabama Arkansas has won five in a row, including both Mississippis. Alabama has lost four in a row. Hogs beat Tide in previous encounter 71-59. Teams seem to be moving in opposite directions. Plus, we get a half dozen. One unit. W

Tennessee +10 over Kentucky Kentucky has the best point guard in the land (Wall), and two of the best big men (Cousins, Patterson), but they are young and do not take great care of the rock. The Vols are a veteran team with lots of different ways to score. This game may be more important to them than to Kentucky since it’s an opportunity to redeem what has been a lost season, their upset of Kansas notwithstanding. The ‘Cats have had trouble putting teams away. They’d be advised not to let the Vols hang around. One unit. L

2/12/10 Beginning Balance +$930.00 (76-70-2) The Bard does not like the view from south of the Mendoza line, though it is warmer,

Pitt +3.5 over West Virginia. The Panthers have had an up-and-down season, primarily because they struggle to score in a half-court setting and have no low post game. The Mounties blew them out two weeks ago at Morgantown, and have more weapons on offense. West Virginia falls short of being a great team, however, and their imperfections are likely to show up against a Pitt team which battles and will have a voracious home crowd behind it. One unit. L W

2/11/10 Beginning Balance +$1040.00 (76-69-2) Bard is reeling, beating a slow path to the Mendoza line. In an effort to reverse things, we’ll resort to a staple – revenge.

Mississippi +4.5 over Mississippi State Revenge in the 3rd degree is working in this battle between evenly matched same-state rivals. The Bulldogs won at Mississippi in January. Ole Miss has one revenge count for the loss, one for the loss on its home court, and one for the loss to a traditional rival. With all of the mental working for them, all Rebels must do is contend with State’s Jarvis Varnado, who is on the verge of setting an NCAA record for shot blocks. Oneunit.

2/10/10 Beginning Balance +$1160.00 (75-67-2)

UConn +10.5 over Syracuse We vowed not to back the Huskies again, but here we are in the belief that they’ve got one big game in them. Their bigs match up well with Onuaku and Jackson, and Dyson, Walker, and Robinson take a back seat to nobody. Orange may be due for a slight letdown, and they’re not great from the charity stripe. One unit. W

Baylor -2 over Nebraska At 4-4 in-conference, the Bears have yet to cash in on their talent, losing narrowly on the road to Kansas and Texas A & M. They’ll get far less resistance from a Cornhusker squad which brings up the rear of the Big 12. One unit. T

Georgia +4.5 over Auburn Georgia holds five major victories this season, and lost three conference games narrowly. The Bulldogs are much better than their record. Auburn is its record. One unit L

North Carolina +6 over Duke Duke has won only one true road game this season by more than six points. Their front line is undersized compared to Carolina’s. With a strong performance tonite, ‘Heels can make up for a lot of indignities suffered this season. Look for 20 or more from Ed Davis. One unit. L

2/09/10 Beginning Balance +1280.00 (74-65-2) Villanova was very strong, and deadly from the foul line, in its demolition of WVU.

Illinois +9.5 over Wisconsin The Badgers have been a moneymaker, and we’re loathe to go against them. But we foresee a tight, half-court game with a score in the high-fifties, where the nine points come in very handy. Illinois has a pair of freshman guards, Paul and Richardson, who are rapidly improving, and their point guard, McCamey, took over against Michigan State. 7′ Tisdale is an annoying all-elbows type that we usually see in a Wisconsin uniform. Both teams are patient and play gritty defense. This one should be hard-fought. One unit. W

Michigan State -2.5 over Purdue If Kalin Lucas comes back strong, this line is a bargain. If not, the Spartans have enough left to fight Purdue on even terms, particularly since the Boilermakers continue to rely on the Hummel, Moore, and Johnson trio for all of their points. Purdue has won five straight since losing three straight in conference. Michigan State has lost two straight for the first time in two years. This is the game of the year in the Big Ten. One unit. L

Tennessee +3 over Vanderbilt The Bard hopes he’s wrong because he has warm feelings for the Commodoresand well appreciates the special powers of the Dores’ Memorial Gym. But the mental is all with the Volunteers on this one. First, Vanderbilt beat the Vols in Knoxville in January in a poorly played game which Tennessee should have won. Secondly, Vandy has been playing poorly lately, almost blowing a 14 pt lead to Mississippi State at home and then losing at Georgia Saturday when frosh shooting star John Jenkins shot 0-9. Third, Tennessee has many more offensive weapons. Chism, Prince, and Hopson are all peaking while Vandy has had to rely on point guard Jermaine Beal to bail out its offense. One unit. L

2/08/10 Beginning Balance $1290.00 (73-64-2)

West Virginia -5 over Villanova The Wildcats looked worn in their blowout loss to Georgetown. The Mounties shot lights out in their comeback win at St. John’s, and previously against Pitt, and may be a gathering storm after an indifferent start. They certainly have more talent than ‘Nova, and this home court advantage is real. One unit L

Kansas -1.5 over Texas This could certainly be a trap. Longhorns have lost four of six, including a home loss to Baylor, and a bad loss at Oklahoma Saturday. You’ve got to figure that the Jayhawks are going to lose a conference game at some point. But at this relatively cheap price, how can you pick against them? One unit. W

2/07/10 Beginning Balance +$1520.00 (72-61-2) Wisky money in the bank. Spartans missed Lucas.

Indianapolis -4.5 over New Orleans This is a bet based on history, looking forward. First, Super Bowl history tells us that the spread rarely factors into the victory by a favorite. Secondly, Peyton Manning, as the greatest quarterback ever, is certainly going to achieve multiple Super Bowls. The second one comes tonite. Colts have not lost a game using their starters all year. Freeney’s status is certainly a question mark; but there are question marks with both teams. New Orleans was lucky to escape Minnesota. What is certain is that Manning will deliver an impeccable performance and that the Colt defense will prove sturdy. Two units. LL

Syracuse -4 over Cincinnati We’re normally hesitant to lay on the road in-conference, but Syracuse has so much balance and firepower – and Cincy is so dreadful from 3-pt land – that we’re taking the plunge. As well, ‘Cuse will likely remember its close call last week against Depaul. The Bearcats are physical underneath, but Onuaku and Jackson are more than enough to stifle the burly Yancy Gates and frosh Stephenson. The emergence of Kris Joseph off the bench gives the Orange another super-athletic weapon to go with Wes Johnson. One unit. W

North Carolina – Maryland under 157 Neither team has played over this number in either of its last five games. Average total of these games is 139. With Larry Drew II at the helm, Carolina’s offense bogs down. Terps are certainly no offensive powerhouse. One unit. L

2/06/10 Beginning Balance $1450.00 (68-58-2) Power outage delayed today’s entries. On this record snowfall day, we’ll try to make up for a lack of quality with quantity.

Gonzaga +5 over Memphis This annual inter-sectional tilt is important for seeding purposes. Memphis had a big win Wednesday over UAB, and may have found a second scoring threat in Wesley Witherspoon. The ‘Zags have several ways to score and will be out to avenge four straight losses in this rivalry. Elias Harris is beginning to shine for Gonzaga. One unit. W

Virginia Tech -1.5 over Clemson These are two evenly-matched teams battling to stand out in a closely-packed conference. Clemson has not fared well on the road in the ACC, beating only NC State, Tech has recently developed a third scorer (Dorenzo Hudson) while Clemson seems to rely more and more on Booker. Slight edge in athleticism plus home court gives Hokies the advantage. One unit. W

Wisconsin P over Michigan Bard is dumbfounded that this line is so slight. We figured Badgers by three.
It’s true that Michigan has played well on its home court this year; but on the road, they’ve been helpless, which is one sign of a flawed team. Wisconsin played a near-perfect game against Michigan State Wednesday. They have ample size to survive the absence of injured big man Leuer; and for the first time in years, they’ve multiple scoring threats. Unlike Michigan, the Badgers are careful with the ball, and are very efficient on key possessions. This should be easy. Two units. WW

UCLA +3.5 over California Both teams are 6-4 in the Pathetic-10, but UCLA seems to be improving after a horrible pre-conference start. California, with a veteran team, was expected to be better. UCLA won at Cal earlier. In what should be a fiercely contested battle, we like the comfort of the home team with something to prove + points.One unit L

Arizona +2.5 over Washington State Wildcats have come together under first year coach Sean Miller, winning three of their last four road games in conference. Cougars are languishing, going 6-13 ats. Plus, ‘Cats have revenge working, to avenge earlier home loss. One unit. L

Michigan State -1.5 over Illinois Sparty will be without star guard Kalin Lucas, which doesn’t help matters, but they have enough depth and athleticism to counter pedestrian Illini. Illinois has adequate bigs, but MSU wing players – Summers, Green, Morgan – will be attacking from all corners. MSU hasn’t lost two straight in two years. After each of their losses this year, they’ve won by an average of 23 points. Illinois can outwear the Big Ten’s lesser lights, but against Purdue, Wisconsin, and MSU, they’re without resources. One unit. L

2/05/10 No Selections

2/04/10 Beginning Balance +1460.00 (67-57-2) Pitt’s dearth of front court scoring signals hard times.

Arizona +10 over Washington Wildcats have played better of late (won last 4), and beat Huskies in earlier meeting 87-70. They’ve got some good players and are well coached. Washington has not met expectations, and is 6-14 ats. One unit. W

Portland +8.5 over Gonzaga The sense here is that Gonzaga is finally losing a bit of its edge over conference opponents. An average San Francisco team beat them the other day, which Portland trounced 74-58. Portland shoots 40.5 3FG%, and narrowly lost to Zags at home earlier, 81-78. Revenge lurking? One unit. L

2/03/10 Beginning Balance +$1680.00 (67-55-2) 3-0 spurt provides Bard with separation. In a non-wagered affair, Wisconsin emphatically routed Michigan State, which lost star guard Kalin Lucas for the last ten minutes with a sprained ankle.

Pitt +10.5 over West Virginia Something is missing in Morgantown, perhaps a point guard. Mounties have failed to cover in last four home outings. Star soph Ebanks has been pouting. We know what Pitt is missing – a low post game. Dreadlock McGhee is a competent space eater and defender, but you can’t feed his post. With their four slashing guards, Panthers must rely on the dribble drive and 3-pointers, not a bad combo if the 3’s are falling. But you know Pitt will play hard to the finish. One unit. L

UAB +7 over Memphis In our first foray into Conference USA, we like the conference-leading Blazers to
battle Memphis on even terms, or better. The Blazers, coached by Mike Davis, formerly of Indiana, are 8-2 on the road and faced a tough early-season schedule, with victories over Cincinnati and Butler on their resume. Memphis does not hold a signature win and just lost to weak SMU. Their only proven scorer is Duke transfer Elliott Williams. Conference USA opponents have been waiting for years to get at Memphis. Now is the time. One unit. L

2/02/10 Beginning Balance +$1380.00 (64-55-2) Somebody stop me the next time I suggest betting the Huskies,

Northwestern -2 over Michigan Northwestern is a cerebral team which gets the most of its talent. The Wolverines are undisciplined by comparison and are overly reliant on two players – Harris and Sims. Wildcats won by a point earlier at Ann Arbor and need this win to bolster their NCAA credential. One unit. W

Wake Forest -6 over Miami ‘Canes are fresh off a surprise home win over Virginia Tech, but on the road in-conference, they’ve been blown out three straight times. Demon Deacons are not what they were a year ago, but enjoy a sizable height advantage and should handle this relatively comfy spot. One unit. W

Kansas State -3 over Nebraska Huskers beat Oklahoma Saturday for their first conference victory (1-5), but they average just 66 ppg to K. State’s 83 ppg. Wildcats need to bounce back from heartbreaking ot loss to Kansas, but if they’re a bonafiide top ten team, covering the 3 pt spread should not be a problem. One unit. W

2/01/10 Beginning Balance $1490.00 (64-54-2). Maryland end game pathetic.

Connecticut +6.5 over Louisville Both teams have been early season disappointments, but UConn has the talent to turn it around. They simply need more contributions from their young frontcourt. In Dyson, Walker, and Robinson, they have three of the most talented performers in the land. The Cardinals are still searching for an offensive focal point. Look for UConn to win it outright; but for the less adventurous, the six + points will do. One unit. L

1/31/10 Beginning Balance +$1610.00 (63-52-2) Bard backers had easy pickin’s yesterday.

Maryland +4.5 over Clemson We don’t usually favor the Terps, but they trounce the Tigers on virtually all the statistical measures: FG%, def FG%, 3 pt FG%, FT %, and margin of victory. Plus, they’re getting contributions from several sources. Stop Booker, stop Clemson. One unit. L

Virginia Tech +2 over Miami After a decent early start, including wins over Minnesota and South Carolina, the ‘Canes have revealed themselves to be the worst of the ACC. Cannot see battle-tested and deep Hokies succumbing to this woeful tailender. One unit. L

Florida +8 over Tennessee Tennessee was dreadful against Vanderbilt. Florida most recently drubbed a decent Georgia team. In the dog-eat-dog SEC, where virtually every team can beat the other (exclude Kentucky, LSU, and Auburn from this theorem), eight points is a fortune. One unit. W

1/30/10 Beginning Balance +$1410.00 (61-52-2) Miracle marksmanship by Oregon in OT cost UCLA the cover and the Bard a 2-0 night.

Georgetown +2 over Duke If Duke can lose to horrendous N.C. State on the road, how are they going to beat an extremely competent Georgetown squad fresh off its beatdown by Syracuse? We feel Wright and Freeman are more than equal to Smith and Scheyer and Monroe should overpower Singler and/or Zoubek. Look for a big game from Hoya Julian Vaughan. One unit. W

Kentucky -8 over Vanderbilt Incredibly, Vanderbilt leads Kentucky in the SEC East with a 5-0 record, having fattened up on the lower half of the conference. And they have not played that well in the process, often relying on second half comebacks. Now comes the tough part – back-to-back encounters with Kentucky and Mississippi State. The mental is with the Wildcats. Kentucky cannot afford to spot Vandy two games in the division, and will be out to avenge its recent loss to South Carolina. Up front, big men Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins will be too much for Ogilvy and whoever plays the four spot for Vandy, and John Wall will run rings around the unexceptional Vandy backcourt. This one could be over early. One unit. W

1/29/10 No Selections

1/28/10 Beginning Balance +$1420.00 (60-51-2) Vanderbilt was more lucky than good in victory over Tennessee. Unless stars Ogilvy and Taylor undergo rapid improvement, the ‘Dores will get their lunch handed to them by Kentucky on Saturday.

Wisconsin +9.5 over Purdue We’re struck by this high line since Badgers handled Purdue easily three weeks ago. Injury to front liner Leuer makes a difference, but he only scored four points in 1st encounter. Badgers, though undermanned, have a way of sticking to the opposition. One unit. W

UCLA +4 over Oregon Since sweep of Washington schools on road three weeks ago, Ducks have lost five in a row by ave. margin of 17.4 pts. Hard to see them in favoritism role against improving Uclans, who feature five in double figures and a 4-3 conference record. One unit. L

1/27/10 Beginning Balance +$1430.00 (59-50-2) Tonite we plunge into the SEC with two road warriors.

Vanderbilt +6.5 over Tennessee Vanderbilt has fattened up on the SEC underbelly and leads the West division, which includes Kentucky and Tennessee, with a 4-0 conference record. They’re not that good. And the Vols are not as good as their victory over Kansas would indicate nor as poor as their recent road loss to Georgia. They are undermanned, however, and the suspension of Tyler Smith and burly sub center Williams leaves them thin up front. If Vandy pivot Ogilvy asserts himself, not a given, he should be able to have his way underneath. We can’t pick a winner in this fierce intra-state rivalry, but with a 6.5 cushion, we don’t have to. One unit. W

Georgia +9 over Florida With new coach Mark Fox, formerly of Nevada, Georgia has fashioned victories over Georgia Tech and Illinois, and played Kentucky and Mississippi State within the number on the road. In their last outing, they dominated Tennessee. With this resume, they should be able to give the Gators a handful. One unit. L

1/26/10 Beginning Balance +$1440.00 (58-49-2)

Baylor -2.5 over Kansas State Baylor has been knocking on the door of respectability for two years now, and seems poised to achieve a break-through victory. It should come tonite against a Kansas State squad which may be hung over from its win over Texas last week. At least, it appeared so as the Wildcats played poorly in a loss to Oklahoma State Saturday. The Bears feature a powerful trio in LaceDarius Dunn, Tweety Carter, and 6’10” Michigan transfer Ekpe Udoh, who averages 10.8 rbs and 4.4 blocks. We resort to a tried and true formula. In conference match-ups between quality teams, take the homer less a short spot. One unit. L

Northwestern +11.5 over Minnesota Wildcats continue to get no respect, but they hold wins over Purdue, Illinois, and Notre Dame and hold the opposition to 63PPG. Plus, they make 70% of their charity tosses. Minny is a defensive squad with little firepower. One unit. W

1/25/10 Beginning Balance $1340.00 (57-49-2) Peyton Manning is simply the greatest QB ever. Jets can’t be faulted for their best effort. Key to game occurred when Colts scored with ease to go from 6-17 to 13-17.

Syracuse -5.5 over Georgetown. It’s tough to lay wood against such a fundamentally sound Georgetown team, but this Syracuse team is loaded. An odd confluence of events has enabled the Orange to soar to a 19-1 record notwithstanding the loss of 65% of their offense to the pros. First, Scoop Jardine (out last year with an injury) and rookie Brandon Triche have solidified the backcourt. Senior Andy Rautins has emerged as a productive player and deadly 3-point shooter. Third, soph Kris Joseph has shed 20 pounds and is lightning off the bench. And most importantly, transfer Wes Johnson, formerly of Iowa State, is one of the best players in the country. Georgetown will try to slow down the game and limit Orange possessions; but if ‘Cuse can get out on the break, Johnson and Joseph are quite capable of putting on a dunk show. Only hope for the Hoyas is to be hot from 3-point land because they can’t match the Orangemen in the paint. One unit. W

1/24/10 Beginning Balance +$1460.00 (56-47-2). Whoever said this wasn’t a tough business? Each game came down to the gut-wrenching wire. The result was an only fair 1-1-1.

NY Jets +8.5 over Indianapolis. We’ve backed the Colts all year, and they’ve delivered (but for the 12/27/09 laydown against these very Jets). But it’s time to join a new bandwagon. The Jets are riding an emotional high and a defense which will take away Indy’s running game. With the entire defense keying on Peyton, it’s possible the Jets can actually impede Manning’s forward progress. The Jets were lucky last week. San Diego’s senseless penalties and Nate Kaeding’s improbable field goal famine made the Jets look better than they were. But an ancient adage says take the better defense + points. And in a conference championship 8.5 is a bundle. Two units. LL

Pitt +3 over Seton Hall Pitt is coming off its first conference loss, at home against Georgetown after three straight road wins. The Panthers are smart and gritty, and can be expected to shoot a lot better from 3-point land then they did against the Hoyas when their 3-15 marksmanship cost them a winnable game. The Setons are talented, but prone to cold streaks which turn the game against them. Against Pitt, such lapses can prove terminal. One unit. T

Georgia Tech +3.5 over Florida State The Yellowjackets have one of the most dominating front court twosomes in the land – Derrick Favors and Gari Lawal. Their ability to pound the boards will be somewhat diminished by the Seminoles front line, which is also very tall and imposing. Both teams suffer from spotty guard play. Tech has revenge in its favor since it lost at home to Florida State in OT on 12/20/09. In what is likely to be a close game, we’ll take the points + revenge. One unit. W

1/23/10 Beginning Balance +$1470.00

Michigan State +2 over Minnesota The Spartans are 6-0 in the Big Ten, and improving with each game. Gophers will miss suspended point guard Al Nolen. Minny has lost its last two, including at Indiana, and has few distinguished wins on its resume. Two factors work in favor of Minny – they’re particularly tough at home and they’re bearing revenge for tough loss at MSU just ten days ago; but feeling here is that Sparty’s speedy guard combo of Lucas and Allen, in combo with talented and improving front liners Green, Summers, and Roe, provide clear talent edge. One unit. W

Ohio State +5.5 over West Virginia Return of Evan Turner gives Buckeyes one of the most talented starting fives in the country. Since Turner’s return, they’ve beaten Wisconsin and Purdue, which trounced WVU earlier this season. Something is missing with the Mounties, who were expected to do great things this year. Perhaps it’s defense – they give up 43.5% from the field. Considering the Bucks hit at 49.8%, we expect them to spring for at least 75 points, more than enough to cover. One unit. L

BYU -2 over San Diego State Something’s got to give in this match-up of Mountain West conference elites – either BYU’s 14-game winning streak or the Aztecs’ 14-game home winning streak. The Cougars are 19-1 and sport a FG% over 50%. They make 40% of their 3’s. SD State last lost at home last February against BYU. A repeat seems in order. One unit. T

1/22/10 No selections

1/21/10 Beginning Balance +$1370.00 In the Big East, the competition is so fierce that one hot player can make the difference. Last night, it was Chris Wright for Georgetown. Panthers went cold from 3-point land.

Seton Hall +1.5 over Louisville This is a down year for Louisvllle.They lost two All-Americans (Williams and Clark) and added noone of significance. This is the year the Hall was expected to make its move, but a brutal early-season schedule saddled them with tough home losses to Syracuse and West Virginia and road defeats to UConn and Georgetown. They’re due for a coming out party, and my guess is that it will occur tonite. One unit. W

1/20/10 Beginning Balance +$1380.00 Ga.Tech a fortunate cover. Yellowjackets’ guard play does not measure up to powerful front line.

Pittsburgh -1.5 over Georgetown Pittsburgh’s strength is its relentless guard play, led by Gibbs,Dixon, Wanamaker, and Brown. Their big man, McGee, is a plodder who knows his place. His job will be to contain Greg Monroe. If he keeps Monroe under 20, look for the Panther guards to do the rest. One unit. L

Baylor +14 over Kansas Kansas has demonstrated its mortality in a close win over Cornell and a loss to Tennessee. Baylor, after a strong start, disappointed us in a road loss to Colorado. If the Bears are truly to take a step forward this year, as we suspect they will do, they will play the Jayhawks tough and play well within this big spread. One unit. W

1/19/10 Beginning Balance +$1180.00

Georgia Tech -1.5 over Clemson The early season lesson in the ACC is that when two decent teams meet, take the home squad less a short spot. Georgia Tech has a powerful front line which only needs a bit more seasoning to be dominant. Their guards must do a better job of feeding the post. Clemson is fresh off a blowout win over UNC, but they’ve not shown the poise necessary to win on the road against a worthy foe. One unit. W

Tennessee -2 over Alabama The Vols, now ranked no. 8, have revitalized following the suspension of four players, including the dismissal of star Tyler Smith. They’ve been able to do so because they had one of the deepest squads in the country and an inspirational coach, Bruce Pearl, who loves the underdog role. The Tide could not close out Vanderbilt at home last week. They’ll have a lot more to handle tonite. One unit. W
1/18/10 Beginning Balance +1080.00 Huskies’ hunger was less than Wolverines’ appetite.

Syracuse -3 over Notre Dame Orange shoot 53% from the field and relinquish 39%. All they need do is shut down Irish from 3-point land to coast to an easy victory. One unit. W

1/17/10 Beginning Balance +$1300.00 UConn -1.5 over Michigan Huskies have far too much weaponry for understaffed Wolverines. Plus, they’re hungry after three straight losses. Two units. LL

1/16/10 Beginning Balance +$1320.00

Baltimore +6.5 over Indianapolis We’re loathe to bet against Indy, which has been a big breadwinner this year, but the better defense + points is too great an attraction. We expect the Ravens to run virtually at will against the pedestrian Colt defensive line run defense and to control the clock in similar fashion to their victory over New England. Colts have come from behind all year, but today their luck runs out. Two units.LL

Virginia -3 over Miami Cavs have registered impressive home victories against UAB and Georgia Tech, and there’s no reason not to do the same against undistinguished Miami quintet. One unit. W

Virginia Tech +6 over Florida State Hokies have two bonafide stars and compete hard every nite. Seminoles have not gotten untracked. One unit. W

1/14/10 Beginning Balance $1330.00 Cincinnati handed St. John’s the game with two pathetic in-bounds passes inside twenty seconds. Carolina could be headed for double digit losses. Pitt is greating great guard play from Gibbs, Dixon, and Wanamaker.

Indiana +14 over Michigan Wolverines are not that good. It’s Harris, Sims and little else. Hoosiers can be counted to battle hard every game. One unit. L

Gonzaga +4.5 over Saint Mary’s The Gaels always play Gonzaga tough at home, but I’ll take the point cushion with the more talented squad. One unit. W

1/13/10 Beginning Balance $1450.00 The Bard looks to stem his five game college basketball slide.

Cincinnati P over St. John’s The Red Storm, 0-3 in the Big East, needs this game desperately to save its season, but they’re facing a tough, tested Bearcat squad which already holds wins over UConn, Vanderbilt, and Maryland. Cincy Freshman star Lance Stephenson will be making his debut college appearance at the Garden, where he led Rice to four straight city high school championships. One unit. L

Pitt +6.5 over UConn Huskies hold big talent edge, but we saw what that did for them against Georgetown, where they blew a 19 point first half lead. The Panthers are smart and tough and their disciplined guard play allows them to control the pace of the game. The return of Gilbert Brown gives them just enough athleticism to keep up with the big boys. UConn’s spotty foul shooting could prove fatal to the spread late in the encounter. One unit. W

North Carolina +5 over Clemson. The Tarheels are being discounted in some circles, primarily because of Larry Drew’s deficiencies at point guard. But they should have enough to play Clemson close. Remember, Clemson blew a 22 point lead to Illinois earlier in the year. One unit. L

1/12/10 Beginning Balance +$1780.00

Baylor -3 over Colorado Bears have been on the cusp of breaking through for three years. Now could be the time. With 6’10” Michigan transfer Ekpe Udoh teaming with veteran guards Lavarius Dunn and Tweety Carter, they feature a formidable trio. Already they’ve beaten Xavier, South Carolina, Arizona State and blew out Oklahoma. Buffaloes were picked 12th in the Big 12, and they’re playing like it. Two units. LL

Illinois -8.5 over Penn State Nittany Lions do far better work on the football field. Illinois has its typical more than decent team. They showed great character by storming back from 22 down to beat Clemson; and they’ve got two great freshman guards who team up well with big men Tisdale and Davis. Illini pull away at the end to win by 10-14, One unit. L

1/11/10 Beginning Balance +$1890.00. Ravens were an easy cover. When do you see a team dominate a game with only 34 yards thru the air? Look for Ravens to employ the same hard-nosed formula for success against Indianapolis.

Oklahoma State +1 over Oklahoma Am hesitant to take traditionally poor road warrior (Cowboys) with short spot against home-standing Sooners in rivalry game. There you go. I almost talked myself out of it. But Sooners have their weakest team in years. Recent blowout losses to UTEP and Baylor, amid reports of dissension involving star Willie Warren, make them ripe for their seventh loss of the young season. One unit.L

1/10/10 Beginning Balance +$1910.00 GU-UConn game a classic. Huskies are ultra-talented, and will be there at the end, but lost focus. Someone stop me next time I tout the Buckeyes.

Baltimore +3.5 over New England It’s hard to pick against Brady (8-0 in home playoff games), but the Ravens are the most underrated team in the NFL. Their run game, headed by the great Ray Rice, goes 3-deep, and Ed Reed returns to the secondary. Pats must suffer from absence of Welker, and their defense is likely to be shredded at the point of attack. If Flacco can play a clean game (not a certainty), Baltimore will shock the world. Two units. WW

Western Kentucky +2 over Denver. Don’t know much about Denver, also of the Sun Belt, but do know that Hilltoppers have played their usual big-time pre-conference schedule, and own victories over Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. They are a veteran crew which usually finds itself atop the Sun Belt at season’s end. One unit.L

Washington State +8.5 over Arizona State See little to choose between these two middle of the Pac-10 squads, but Cougars have a big time player in Klay Thompson, and Arizona State was held to 37 pts by USC. One unit. L

1/11/10 Beginning Balance +$1730.00 Bard backers are lining their wallets.

Cincinnati -2.5 over Jets The pundits are jumping all over the Jets, but who exactly did they beat down the stretch? -two teams who didn’t care. Against Atlanta in week 15, at the time a must game, they were inept. Must believe that Carson Palmer, in what is in effect his first playoff game in a 9-year career, is going to bring a lot more punch than Jet QB Sanchez. Loved Bengals effort against San Diego 3 weeks ago. One unit. L

UConn +5 over Georgetown Jerome Dyson is the best two guard in the Big East, if not the country. He single-handedly lifted Huskies over Seton Hall Wednesday. Hoyas have no one to match him. Hoyas will be challenged off the boards as young, but massive UConn front line rounds into form. One unit. W

Florida +6 over Vanderbilt Vandy has yet to find its stride. 7′ center Ogilvy has only recently been returned to the starting lineup after being benched for indifferent play. Taylor is the only other consistent scoring threat. Gators pummeled ‘Dores last year at Memorial. One unit. L

Marquette +8.5 over Villlanova Bard followers know how much we love revenge situations. Golden Eagles are fresh off a 1-point loss in Wisconsin a week ago. They stuck with WVU and Georgetown. No reason why they can’t keep this one close against less than overpowering foe. One Unit. W

Ohio State +5 over Minnesota Return of Evan Turner marks return of Buckeyes to elite status. Gophers play good “D” but can’t match firepower of OSU. One unit. L

Wake Forest +5.5 over Miami Miami (14-1) has beaten only Minnesota of Note. Deacs have played a tough early schedule and have wins over Xavier and Gonzaga. Plus, they have Aminu. One unit. W

USC +10 over California Trojans have either won or lost by a point in last seven games. Bears looked awful against UCLA. Spread way too high. One unit. W

Gonzaga -2 over Portland Gonzaga owns this conference. Until they show signs of cracking, count them to win in-conference with a small spot. One unit. W

1/08/10 Butler +1 over Wright State We’ll take Butler straight-up against any Horizon League foe anytime. Gordon Hayward is one of the best players in the country. One unit.W

1/07/10 Beginning Balance +$1630.00 Hall led 57-54 before questionable decision-making and outburst by Dyson permitted Huskies to pull away. Setonians may be the best 0-4 team in the history of conference play. No selections.

1/06/10 Beginning Balance +$1350.00. Harangody intentionally missed a free throw with two seconds on the clock to cost ND the cover. Tonite, with a decent cushion and a monster board, we’re going to open the floodgates. Caution: We’re feeling loose.

Charlotte +13.5 over Tennessee. Visitors are fresh off a monster win vs. UNC, and Vols have been decimated by arrests and suspension of four players, including Tyler Smith and Cameron Tatum. There’s still a lot left on this talented roster,and we can expect the local crowd to be sky high. Charlotte has beaten Louisvlle away and must be feeling confident. Unless Charlotte has a complete letdown, they should stay within this large number. One unit. L

Richmond -1 over Duquesne Spiders have played a big-time schedule with wins over Mississippi State, Missouri, Florida, and ODU. Dukes are respectable, but Spiders should win. And winning = coverage. One unit. W

Syracuse -7.5 over Memphis. Orange must be seething after home loss to Pitt. Their best effort is likely, and it should be enough to swarm over thin Tigers. One unit. W

Marquette -1.5 over Georgetown. This is a hunch play based on view that ‘Quette is due to win after excruciating losses to West Virginia and Villanova. Georgetown is good, but winning on Golden Eagles’ turf is a lot to ask from a young squad. One unit. W

Seton Hall +6.5 over UConn. Here’s another hunch play. Hall has played West Virginia and Syracuse tough at home,but is 0-3 in Big East after loss to Virginia Tech on the road. They’ve been revitalized by transfer Herb Pope, and Hazell is the league’s most prolific scorer. Huskies are still trying to blend in a new front court. One unit. L

USC +1.5 over Stanford Trojans were red hot before self-imposed sanctions which will keep them from post-season play. The regular season is all they have to play for, and they’ll take out their angst against average Cardinal. One unit.W

UCLA +14 over California You didn’t think UCLA would stay down all year, did you? They’re getting players back and California is not that good to warrant this huge spot. One unit.W

1/05/10 Beginning Balance +$1360.00 Panthers get a big boost from SF Gilbert Brown, who became eligible 12/22/09.

Notre Dame -1.5 over South Florida It’s nice to know as a fan of the Irish that Harangody will give you 24/10 without fail. Together with transfer Ben Hansbrough (Yes, Tyler’s brother) and 6’8″ Tim Abromaitis, who missed last year with injury, Our Lady has more than enough firepower to edge this lower tier foe on the road. One unit.L

Rhode Island P over Akron Rams have demonstrated ability to win on the road and defeated tough Oklahoma State squad last week at home. Plus, as a native of Staten Island, I must cast my lot with a team with starters named (Orion) Outerbridge and (Akeem) Richmond. One unit. W

1/04/10 Beginning Balance +$1260.00. Sports Bard now 10-2 in posted pro football picks.

Pittsburgh +4.5 over Cincinnati The last time these schools met was December 5 when the Bearcats eked out a 45-44 win….. on the football field. That could well be the final score tonite when these two physical squads bang bodies. Pitt, which was devastated by the loss of four year starters Levance Fields and Sam Young and the departure of DuJuan Blair to the NBA, scored an incredible 82-72 win at previously unbeaten Syracuse Saturday. The win was manufactured by a 9-bucket edge in 3-pointers. The Bearcats shoot the 3 miserably (28.4%), but will enjoy a sizable productivity edge up front. Pitt gets little scoring from its front court, but the guess here is that skilled mentor Jamie Dixon will find a way to avoid a letdown and play this game in the high forties to low fifties. If so, Pitt’s skilled backcourt + the points is a nice combo. One unit. W

1/03/10 Beginning Balance +$1170.00

Atlanta -2 over Tampa Bay Falcons are likely to play their first stringers in their quest for a winning season. Notwithstanding their win over Saints, the Bucs are still a 3-12 team. One unit. W

Pittsburgh -3 over Miami Steelers are better and have a slight chance to make the playoffs. Ricky Williams is injured, which means game rests on Chad Henne’s arm, a dubious proposition. One unit. W

Ohio State +2 over Michigan Buckeyes hit a low ebb in trouncing by Wisconsin, but they have four offensive weapons to two for Wolverines. When Turner returns, they will be a force. Buckeyes shoot 51% from the field while Wolves shoot 42% and relinquish 43.9%, not a harbinger of success. One unit.L

1/02 Beginning Balance+$980.00 Purdue’s defense smothered Mounties, who demonstrated serious weakness in guard play. Hummel looks like Larry Bird redux.

Baylor +2.5 over South Carolina Always reluctant to take short helping on the road, but Bears, featuring Michigan transfer 6’10” Ekpe Udoh, could be the surprise team in the Big 12. Plus, Gamecocks are lacking two of their original five starters, suspended forward Mike Holmes joining injured leading scorer Dominique Archie on the bench. Bears already hold wins over Xavier and Arizona State. One unit. W

Gonzaga +3 over Illinois. Game played at United Center. ‘Zags have handled a typically brutual non-conference schedule with victories over Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Wash State, and Oklahoma. Only debacle came in blowout loss to Duke at Garden. Illini stumbled against Missouri, Georgia, and Bradley, no worldbeaters. They rely heavily on an all-freshman backcourt (Richardson and Paul), which is talented but mistake-prone. For years, Bulldogs have been less than advertised. This year’s version, which lacks superstars, may be better than its advance billing. One unit. W

Oklahoma State +1.5 over Rhode Island. This neutral site affair is played at the Mohegan Sun facility in Connecticut. Rams are off to a 10-1 start, but they’re stepping up in class against a talented Big 12 foe and they relinquish an awful 47.4% from the field. Cowboys are well-coached (Travis Ford) and have two bonafide stars in Anderson and Muonelo. It seems like they’re always in the hunt at season’s end. One unit. L

USC -1.5 over Arizona State Trojans have turned their season around with addition of two-time 23-year old transfer point guard Mike Gerrity, who has keyed successive wins over Tennessee, St. Mary’s, UNLV, and Arizona. No reason why they can’t keep it going against plodding Sun Devils who are still trying to fill holes left by early departers Harden and Pendergraf. One unit. W

1/01/10 Beginning Balance +$1090.00 Turnovers could hurt Tennessee down the road. Buckeyes can’t get Turner back fast enough.

West Virginia +5 over Purdue. This is a battle of unbeatens ranked 6 and 4, respectively. Notwithstanding some early season struggles (needed buzzer beaters to best Cleveland State and Marquette), Mounties have great height in the backcourt (every starter 6’7″ or above), a deep bench, and All-American talent with Butler and Ebanks. Plus, freshman Kevin Jones is a big contributor. Purdue gets most of its scoring from its junior trio of Hummel, Johnson, and Moore. If either of them slumps, there’s no one to pick up the slack. Boilermakers play tough defense and are economical with the ball. Can’t fault either squad in any area, but like the nickel cushion in a game which should play to the wire. One unit.L

12/31/09 Beginning Balance +$108