Happy Monday. Welcome back. Last week’s tally: -0.33 units on NBA and +3.90 units on CBB. We’ll take that. Let’s keep it rolling this week. But first, a quick look at where we stand in the NBA heading into the final few weeks and a look at where we are in the NCAA tourney…
- Milwaukee’s magic numbers: 2 (Cavs), 5 (Sixers), 7 (Celtics)
- Thursday’s Boston @ Milwaukee game will be huge. The winner gets the tiebreaker. It will be incredibly difficult for the Celtics to catch the Bucks if they don’t get that one.
- Three losses in four games have sunk the Sixers’ 1 seed hopes. They’ll have trouble getting the 2 seed at this point too. The better question might be if they can hold off the Cavs for the 3 seed. Cleveland finishes with @Atlanta, New York, Indiana, @Orlando, @Orlando, Charlotte. If they take care of business there and get to 52-53 wins (4-2 or 5-1 finish), there could be some real pressure on the Sixers, who still have to visit Denver and Milwaukee, host Boston, and play the Heat, Mavs, Raptors, Hawks, and Nets. That’s significantly more difficult than Cleveland’s closing schedule.
- The Knicks have lost any chance they had at grabbing home court advantage in the first round, and they haven’t closed the door on a guaranteed playoff spot either with three straight losses. They’re still in a good spot with a two game lead over Brooklyn and Miami, but beating Houston at home tonight is important, especially with the Heat coming to town on Wednesday night.
- The Nets and Heat are neck-and-neck for the 6 seed with seven games to go. Brooklyn winning by 29 in Miami over the weekend helped their chances, but they gave that lead away as soon as they possibly could with a loss to the Magic yesterday. They finish with six of seven games at home and get both the Rockets and the Pistons while Miami still has five road games to go. You’d have to lean Brooklyn based on that, but the Nets are also in significantly worse form than the Heat at this point.
- The Hawks, Raptors, and Bulls will likely round out the play-in given the three and a half game gap between the Bulls and 11 seed Pacers. Seeding is still up for grabs though, and it will matter quite a bit. The 8 seed gets double elimination in the play-in and a home game if they lost the first one. The 9 seed gets to host the first game. The 10 seed has to win two road games. The Hawks own the tiebreaker over the Raptors. The Raptors own the tiebreaker over the Bulls. The Bulls will own the tiebreaker over the Hawks if they either beat the Hawks on April 4 or finish with a better conference record (currently 25-23 vs 23-23 with games against the Hornets and Pistons making up two of their final four inner-conference games). It should be an interesting race to the finish.
- The Pacers, Wizards, and Magic are all pretty much dead. They all need to win out (more or less) and hope for some help. Given how Indiana and Washington have been playing lately, I don’t love their odds.
- The Hornets are very likely locked-in to the league’s fourth-worst record.
- The Pistons haven’t quite locked up the bottom spot yet, but they’re getting there. They’re a game and a half back of the Rockets.
- Denver’s magic numbers: 4 (Kings), 5 (Grizzlies). They stepped up with some big wins last week after a slide left them vulnerable.
- The Grizzlies are still rolling, but they’ll likely fall short of pulling all the way back to the Nuggets. Beating Orlando at home tomorrow night is probably a necessary start to keeping the 1 seed in play.
- The Kings have fallen off the Grizzlies’ pace, but they’re still going to end up with a top three seed.
- The Blazers are likely done.
- The Spurs and Rockets should both finish in the bottom three, but the exact placement is still up in the air. They’re only a game apart from each other. The ordering doesn’t affect #1 pick odds, but it does affect how far down the lottery you can theoretically fall.
- 4-12 is a mess. The Suns and Clippers have been in the top six for a while now, but they don’t exactly have a ton of separation from the rest of the pack. The Warriors are still floating around the top six. The Timberwolves and Pelicans have both won some games to move up the ladder. The Lakers and Thunder are both playing fairly well and hold play-in spots. And then there’s the sliding Mavs and Jazz, who sit outside of the play-in but are still within reach. It’s going to be a chaotic finish out West.
- San Diego State is in the Final Four for the first time ever after a really impressive run through the South Region. They handled a really good Charleston team, smashed a good Furman team, survived an early second half punch and shut down an Alabama team that has often looked like the country’s best, and then edged out another really good team in Creighton. It’s been a great run, and it’s a big step forward for the program. They’ve won 20+ games in eighteen of twenty-four years since Steve Fisher took over in 2000. That includes all six of Brian Dutcher’s seasons. They even won 30+ games in three of those first twenty-three years. But they had never made it past the Sweet 16. Those 30-win seasons ended in a Sweet 16 loss to eventual champ UConn (2011), a Sweet 16 loss to 1 seed Arizona (2014), and a COVID-cancelled tourney (2020). Now we have a fourth 30-win season to go along with the trip to the Final Four, and we have a postseason step resembling the likes of Gonzaga and Houston. The Aztecs have a ton of vets on this roster, which might make next year a challenge. But this also might be the kind of tourney run that can turn the Aztecs from a rock solid program into a perennial national threat.
- FAU is also in the Final Four for the first time in program history. To make it crazier, they had never even won a tourney game before this season. But this has been a great team all year long, and they’ve found a way to get the job done every step of the way so far. Memphis, Tennessee, and Kansas State were all tough outs, but the Owls made it happen. Don’t start counting them out now. Kansas State was seeded higher than any of the teams remaining in the tourney.
- UConn is the clear favorite to cut down the nets. They’re looking every bit the team that absolutely destroyed their non-conference schedule. Back on December 20, their 84-73 win over Georgetown gave them thirteen straight double digit wins to open the season. Now they’ve won four straight by 15+ to open the tourney. That includes a good Iona team, a St Mary’s team that beat Gonzaga this year, an Arkansas team that had just beaten Kansas, and Gonzaga, who had just beaten UCLA. They’re just smashing teams, and an uneven Big East showing is suddenly a distant memory.
- That doesn’t mean you should count out Miami though. They fought past a good Drake team in the first round, crushed a really talented Indiana team, handled one of the best teams in the country in Houston, and then fought back to topple what might have been the most talented team in the country in Texas. This is a really good basketball team, and they’ve also earned their program’s first ever Final Four trip just one year after making it to the Elite 8 for the first time ever. Their guard play is fantastic, and Norchad Omier has been jumping off the screen. Saturday should be a lot of fun.
NBA record: 199-168-7 ATS, 31-57 ML, 102-84-3 O/U, 1-9 parlay, 0-1 props, -12.62 units
- Pacers +4
- Mavs Pacers U238.5
- Bucks -13
- Knicks -13.5
- Jazz +7
- Sixers +7
- Kings -5.5
- Pelicans Blazers O226.5
CBB record: 252-228-12 ATS, 55-82 ML, 5-5 O/U, 16-25 parlay, -20.03 units
CBB regular season record: 198-181-8 ATS, 47-75 ML, 4-4 O/U, 12-24 parlay, -30.85 units
CBB conference tourney record: 34-31-4 ATS, 7-10 ML, 0-0 O/U, 4-3 parlay, + 5.87 units
NIT record: 4-4 ATS, 0-0 ML, 0-0 parlay, -0.4 units
NCAA Tourney record: 16-12 ATS, 6-6 ML, 1-1 O/U, 0-0 parlay, +5.35 units
CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT CHAMP PICKS
Record: 11-21 (10 losses in title game)