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The Hilltoppers Will Be Looking For Another Big Win

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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Army Black Knights

12:00 PM ET, November 9, 2013

Michie Stadium, WEST POINT, NY

Coverage: CBS Sports Network

Western Kentucky has made a name for themselves this season as a power running offense.  They have really shown great improvement over the last few seasons in this area and this  season  looks like it has  all come together.  Their opponents, The Black Knights,  come into this game with the best rushing offense in the nation  with an average of 336.6 yards a game between their three starting backs. This game will be a ground attacking frenzy as both teams defenses will be busy trying to stop the run at the line of scrimmage.

Western Kentucky starting rusher,  Antonio Andrews,  has accumulated over 1200 ground yards this season on 202 carries for his team.   He is their number one guy in the red zone because of his lateral skills, scoring 11 touchdowns this year. The Hilltoppers will really have to look for a receiver to step up because Army will be looking to stop the run by  loading up the box .  Western Kentucky needs to be sure they can convert on downs to keep the chains moving.

Army has also shined when it comes to their running game.   The issue they seem to have is as good as Terry Baggett is on the ground,  he has problems avoiding tackles, which makes it difficult for third down runs or goal line scoring. Western Kentucky will also look to load up the box and keep a middle linebacker back to make sure that they have an extra line of defense.  Getting Baggett down should not be that difficult.

WHAT TO EXPECT…

As well as the Black Knights run the football,  their passing game is nonexistent.  I do not see them getting around the Hilltoppers defense in the red zone.  They will have to score through the air, something they have shown to be flawed this season. Take Western Kentucky -11 in this game. They will convert the important downs and score with the run game.

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The Steelers are Falling Fast

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets

1:00 PM ET, October 13, 2013

MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

Coverage: CBS

 

This game is a must win for the Steelers as they set off to New York to face rookie QB Geno Smith and the Jets. For the 0-4 Steelers losing is not an option, they need to come out of this game with a win or they will be in for a long, unsuccessful season. The Jets bounced back from a bad loss to the Titans in a big win over Atlanta in the Dome. The Steelers really have to make sure they push the tempo and get after the Jets QB; we all know he is prone to bad decisions when he is hurried.

Pittsburgh has fallen to 0-4 for the first time in their franchise history. It’s not really the fact that they have lost but the fact that they look terrible in their losses. The offense is just not there.  QB Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked more times in these first 5 games then all of last season. It’s going to take a collective group effort for this team to turn things around and start scoring points. Injuries have contributed to the down fall but someone needs to step up and become the key guy.

The Jets have seen their last days of the Sanchez area. They seem to be heavily invested in Geno Smith and aside from some awkward moments the rookie has looked good controlling the clock and moving the ball using his legs. I expect them to pass all over the Steelers secondary as the Jets finally count on all their receivers healthy for this one. The Jets need to continue their solid defensive efforts and not give Big Ben too much time in the pocket because he still has the ability to burn teams with what he has on the field.

What to Expect:

The Jets are -3 at home in this game and they have the defense to control the Steelers as long as they can get the right production out of their offense. Smith has to have a good day and look down field for the mismatch with the safeties. Something tells me he is going to have a hard time with Troy Polimalu over the middle. Take the Steelers, I think they will surprise everyone and take this game on the road for their first win.

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Someone’s Record Will Be Affected In This One

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St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds

7:15 PM ET, June 8, 2013

Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio

Coverage:  FOX

Both of these teams have been equally great on the road as the other at home.  The Cardinals come into this game with the best road record in the League, having only lost 9 games this year, while the Reds have only lost 9 games total at home.  They have defended their home field well against top teams.  This series is a division series, these teams are not very friendly and in their last 5 meetings they have had issues with one another in three different occasions; thanks to the umpires nothing too big was ever carried out.  The Cardinals have owned the Reds this season with a record of 4 to 2 in the two series played.

The Cardinals are ranked as the top team in the NL Central, while the Reds are 2.5 games behind; the Cardinals have really pushed themselves this year to improving their batting average which currently stands at .269, ranking them 5th overall, as well as scoring 280 runs this season good enough for 7th in the League.  Catcher Yadier Molina leads his team with a .348 batting average as well as 8 stolen basses, most in the entire division.

The Cincinnati Reds are finally coming home after a long road trip. They are doing very well and have had little problems getting their guys on base with a .337 on base percentage.  Now the major issue they are having is their double outs, they have averaged almost one a game over the last month and they leave more runners in scoring position than almost any other team.

YOUR INSIDE SCOOP

At -140 the Cardinals seem like the sure pick, this game two will be a little more exciting as the pitches will come through a little slower and the offensive players should be ready.  I’m really not a fan of either team in this game but I have to admit that a total of 7.5 under -120 is music to my ears.  Over their last 6 games they have averaged 12 runs or more, so the over is the way I’m going.

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The Pirates Look to Keep Up the Great Play

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Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs

2:20 PM ET, June 7, 2013

Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

Nothing like an afternoon game to get the blood going while trying to get a win.  Chicago recently found out that they are now the new worst team in the MLB, after getting dominated by the lowly Marlins and picked apart by the Astros.  The Cubs actually opened the season beating the Pirates 2 of the 3 games in their season opening series.  Then a few months later, they met up again in Pittsburgh where the Pirates just took over and never looked back sweeping the Cubs, scoring 10 runs in the three games while allowing only 5.  

The Pirates have really found their momentum and this series has the ability to really kick the Pirates up in the NL Central as they are only 4 games behind division leading Saint Louis Cardinals.

The Pirates have shown that they are getting their defense in order, over the last few seasons they have fallen to the lower rankings as they averaged a minimum of 6 unforced errors a game.  Today they are down to only 2, which places them in the top 8 teams.  The stand out for this team has been their starting pitching, where they have averaged an ERA of 3.23 ranking them 3rd overall.

The Cubs are falling out of the sky like a plane with dead engines. This is a team that seems would have issues at bat even if they were given beach balls to hit.  They lost 7 games in a row last month and although they swept the White Sox recently, they have now dropped their last 2 games

YOUR INSIDE SCOOP

The Pirates are 10 and 3 when playing in the early afternoon, they seem to average a better on base percentage as well as consistently good pitching throughout the first 5 innings.  They come into this game -210 and the Cubs really won’t have much to show for it.  The total is 6.5 over -125 and I have to admit this is one of those rare moments that I actually would endorse a parlay with the Pirates and the under 7.

Look for that hook, most places will offer it and more than likely you’ll just lay a few more cents.

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The Rivalry is Reignited

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Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

3:00 PM ET, April 20, 2013

Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Eastern Conference 1st Round

Game 1 – Series tied 0-0

Coverage: ABC

From all the Eastern Conference first round matchups, this is by far the most heated and physical series of them all.  These two teams met up last season in the first round with the Celtics sweeping the Knicks in 4 games, something All-Star Carmelo Anthony says he has relived a thousand times over in his head.  The Knicks opened their season  series with a loss to the Celtics but came back strong winning the following three games.   The Knicks ended the regular season winning 15 of 17,  defeating many top ranked playoff contenders during this stretch.

This first game will come down to how well the Celtics can rotate their defense and protect the paint,  while at the same time covering the three point line.  The Knicks will try to slow down the post-game and contain Paul Pierce and KG, who seem to come alive when they play in Madison Square Garden.  Boston will need their bench to step up their game when they are on the floor, while controlling the clock will be key to their success.  As for the Knicks, they know they can score, they know they can shoot; now they need to make sure they can defend and hold off one of the most experienced teams in the League.

YOUR INSIDE SCOOP…

The Knicks have outplayed the Celtic s in their last three regular season meetings, but the Celtics own the Knicks in postseason play.  They know how to push this team harder than the rest when it is needed and they are very unpredictable. You have to shut them all down if you want to win.  The Knicks are -5 in this game and against a team like the Celtics,  I would say it is insane, take Boston.  However,  this year, the Celtics have been destroyed by injuries and are just a shell of their old selves.  So it is with a heavy heart,  that I side with the Public and advise them on New York in this opening game.

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Young Guns Looking to Overpower the Veterans

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Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies

8:00 PM ET, April 13, 2013

FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN

Coverage: NBATV

This is more than likely going to be a preview of the first round in the Western Conference playoffs, as the 4th seeded Clippers take on the 5th seeded Grizzlies in what can only be described as a battle in the paint.  This game is also the last of the regular season for both teams; the Clippers look to win the series 3-1.  Memphis lost their first two games in LA but won last week at home and has all the intentions of doing it again here.

The Clippers will look to get the ball down low as they usually do, but that is where this game will get interesting.  The Grizzles have one of the best interior defenses in the West, making moving the ball and outside penetration difficult.  In my opinion, the Clippers will have to rely much more on their shooting game than their “lob city” game as they are known.  The Grizzlies are an older team that needs rest, but they also need to stay limber and gather excitement heading into the playoffs. A win in their last regular season meeting would really help them get into the feeling for round one.

YOUR INSIDE SCOOP…

I know that the Clippers younger, faster and better in transition… but they lack a lot of experience and they don’t have that outside shooter that can get red hot and burn other teams.  They are -2.5 in this game and the public is all over them and I can see why.  I also know that the Grizzlies are very talented on the inside as well as more experienced, they have a way of turning it on at the right time and I think that they will really cause the Clippers some issues in the post.  I like the Grizzlies to tie the series up and use this win as fire for their first round battle.

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Tigers Looking Shaky

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Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics

4:05 PM ET, April 13, 2013

O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California

The Tigers have the betting public very upset as they have not come out of the gates as strong as people had expected.  They have shown some great play through a few innings… but it never seems to last.  They have overthrown first base three times so far.  Also, little unforced errors have come back to cost them the game.  Oakland on the other hand, is picking up right where they left off last season - winning.  They have shown great patience at the plate and seem to be working their pitching line up very well, getting fresh closers to come in ready to go.

The Tigers signed out Justin Verlander, the best pitcher in baseball as well as the wealthiest, thanks to a new $250 million, 7 year contract.  Verlander has not had the start they expected. He has 2 games under his 2013 belt with a 2.19 ERA, only 11 strikeouts in over 9 innings to go along with a win and a loss.  They will need him in this game to come alive and really burry batters at the plate.

Brett Anderson comes to the mount for the Athletics.  He is a 5 year veteran with the team. Anderson has shown some really good improvements and had a great season last year.  In his first two games he has gone 1-1 with the loss coming at the hands of the teams closer, who allowed two runs in the ninth.  Anderson rests behind a 1.38 ERA and 16 strikeouts.  The Athletics are 1st overall in the AL West and are led by Coco Crisp, who has gotten hot with 4 home runs, 6 RBI’s and 11 runs scored so far.

YOUR INSIDE SCOOP…

The line is set and the public could not be happier; Detroit is favored -170.  Keep in mind that the line opened at -130 and has been torched all the way up, but the wise guys know why.  Playing Oakland in California is a different game and they are red hot looking to prove themselves.  Wait till game day and take the Dog at the best price you can find; this will be Verlander’s second loss of the year.

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Another Possible Bump in the Road for the Heat

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Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs

7:00 PM ET, March 31, 2013

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Coverage: NBATV

The Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich is known for resting his guys at this stage of the season, he knows the importance of healthy bodies on the floor for the postseason.  I can guarantee that this is not a game he will want them to rest.  They lost to the Heat in their only meeting of the season and they want a little revenge. There is also the fact that they need to make sure they can beat the Heat in case that they meet up in the Finals.  (If you ask me, it is likely to happen).

The Heat team is coming off a big time loss to the Bulls… but it’s not the loss that is a big deal.  It is the way they lost.  They frustrated LeBron to no end and showed other teams how to get under his skin and bother him.  It got to the point where he was so frustrated that he got a flagrant foul call for ramming into a set pick to his right side.  The Spurs are the same kind of team as the Bulls, they like to grind games out and make teams beat themselves up.  The only difference is the Spurs experience and their bench, two of the best in the NBA by far.

Your Inside Scoop:

This game is a pick and at this point playing the total is dangerous, because it all depends on how hard they have to play each other.  The public thinks that the Heat will get back on track and follow that loss with a win to show the world it was just one game.  I on the other hand, have seen how hard is to beat the Spurs twice in a season back to back. They don’t forget those things and they will look to capitalize on every mistake from Miami.  The wise guys are waiting for the line to move to take advantage of any plus money they can get on the Spurs.

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Sweet Sixteen Set To Begin

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(#3) Marquette Golden Eagles vs. (#2) Miami Florida Hurricanes

7:15 PM ET, March 28, 2013

Verizon Center, Washington, DC

Coverage: CBS

Every basketball fan, regardless of the condition of their bracket, looks forward to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Marquette barely made it past Butler  just a few days ago, winning by a last second shot that beat the buzzer.  Miami took care of business against Illinois who gave them a decent scare late in the game, making it past one of the remaining Cinderella teams.

Marquette will do whatever is necessary to dictate the tempo of this game. They do not want to get into a running game with Miami because they don’t have the size to keep up under the rim.  Marquette will struggle under the rim but they really have to put forth their best effort if they want to pull the upset.  Miami has been in the back of everyone’s mind for a while now but I still don’t think they get the respect they deserve.  They should have been a #1 seed heading into this tournament. They need to keep the intensity high as well as their ball movement, making the defense really over work to get something done.

Your Inside Scoop:

Miami opened -5 in this game with a lot of the public actually preferring the dog side in this one, they must think that they exposed themselves against Illinois so that will allow Marquette the info needed to beat them.  This just is not the case, this Miami team still has a lot to prove and I see them making it to the finals.  Take the -5 or buy the hook if it’s gone up; they win this game 76 to 83.

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Big East Leaders Looking to End Season With a Bang

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Louisville Cardinals vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
7:30 PM ET, November 29, 2012
High Point Solutions Stadium, PISCATAWAY, NJ
Coverage: ESPN/Watch ESPN

As the season is coming to an end and teams set out for what will be their last regular season game of the year,  two teams,  coming off weekend losses, will battle this Thursday to be sole leader in the Big East Conference. 

The Louisville Cardinals once a Top 25 ranked team, seems  to have fallen short with just a few games left to play.  They suffered their first loss two weeks ago at Syracuse.  Then,  playing at home last weekend, they lost in triple overtime to Connecticut by a field goal.  These losses dropped them in the standings and tying them with Rutgers at 9-2

Rutgers, on the other hand,  got their first lost early in the year against Kent State.   They have won out until meeting Pittsburgh last week, where they were handed their second loss of the year.

The Cardinals’ QB Teddy Bridgewater is only a sophomore, and has a few years left in him to perfect his art in Louisville.   Still, he has thrown this year  for a total of 3189 yards with 23 touchdowns and 6 picks.  Their offensive leader, running back Senorise Perry,  is a junior but I think he will be entering this upcoming NFL Draft.  So, don’t expect him back next year.

The Scarlet Knights’ QB Gary Nova really stepped up in his first year as a starter, throwing for 2282 total yards and has 20 touchdowns with 13 interceptions.  His favorite target, wideout

Brandon Coleman,  a junior, had a career high 37 catches for 563 yards and 9 touchdowns

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are coming off a difficult Conference rival loss to the Panthers on the road, but beat both schools who just beat Louisville.   They will have the advantage here, playing at home in front of their fans on the last game for the seniors on the team.  It will be a very emotional time.

I expect Rutgers to come out balling in this game in front of their home crowd.   I see them winning this game and taking the lead in the Conference, final score Rutgers 27 – Louisville 17.

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