Archive for March, 2008

March Madness: Elite 8

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

The Elite 8 kicks off Saturday with the West Regional final in Phoenix where No. 3 Xavier (30-6, 16-16 ATS) will take on No. 1 UCLA (34-3, 20-14-2 ATS). The favored Bruins will lean on freshman Kevin Love, who dropped 29 points in UCLA’s 88-78 Sweet 16 payday over No. 12 Western Kentucky. Xavier will face its first big test of the Tournament after SU and ATS wins over Georgia, Purdue, and West Virginia.

No. 3 Louisville (27-8, 20-12-2 ATS) will meet No. 1 North Carolina (35-2, 23-11 ATS) in the East Regional final. The Cardinals are undefeated against the number after their 79-60 upset of No. 2 Tennessee, but will be in tough against a Tar Heels’ squad that has had no trouble covering in the Tournament.

The South Regional final will pit No. 2 Texas (31-6, 17-13-1 ATS) against No. 1 Memphis (36-1, 16-19-2 ATS). The Longhorns looked impressive in their 82-62 drubbing of No. 3 Stanford, covering easily as 1-point favorites. The Tigers roll into the matchup on the heels of a 92-74 handling of No. 5 Michigan State after leading by 30 points at halftime.

No. 10 Davidson (29-6, 22-11 ATS) and No. 1 Kansas (34-3, 21-14 ATS) will play for the Midwest Regional title and a berth in the Final Four on Sunday. Stephen Curry and the Wildcats have proven they can score against the best defenses in the country. After cashing against Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin, how will Davidson handle the Jayhawks and their balanced attack?

CBS will broadcast each of the Elite 8 games this weekend.

Saturday:
6:40 pm EDT, Xavier (+6) vs. UCLA, 130
9:05 pm EDT, Louisville (+6) vs. North Carolina, 155

Sunday:
2:20 pm EDT, Texas vs. Memphis
5:05 pm EDT, Davidson vs. Kansas

NBA: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

The Houston Rockets (49-23, 41-30-1 ATS) look for their third victory in four games against the San Antonio Spurs (49-23, 32-38-2 ATS) when the Southwest Division rivals meet on Sunday afternoon at the SBC Center.

Houston is unbeaten against the number this season versus San Antonio, having cashed for backers in all three matchups between the teams. The Rockets won 83-81 as 1-point home favorites on January 19, as the game played under the 180 ½-point total listed by OddsMaker.com.

Bettors should take note that the payday came with Yao Ming in the lineup for Houston, which got 21 points and 14 rebounds from the injured All-Star center in the win. With Ming out for the season with a fractured foot, the Rockets will need more from Tracy McGrady this time around if they’re going to cash against the Spurs. San Antonio held McGrady to only nine points on 4-of-12 shooting last time out, as the Spurs couldn’t win despite 24 points and 17 boards from Tim Duncan.

The Rockets are 3-3 SU and 1-5 ATS since having their 22-game winning streak snapped on March 18 in a 94-74 loss as 4 ½-point home faves to the Boston Celtics. The Spurs, who could be without veteran power forward Robert Horry on Sunday, have won five straight since losing four in a row earlier in the month.

Tip-off is 1 pm ET on Sunday afternoon, with ABC handling the coverage.

Major League Baseball: Atlanta at Washington

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

The Washington Nationals (73-89) look to start things on the right foot in their new stadium when they host the Atlanta Braves (84-78) on Sunday Night Baseball.

Washington will play its first game at Nationals’ Park, which replaces spacious RFK Stadium, the Nats’ home field since moving to the nation’s capital in 2005. Nationals backers are banking on the new park helping a Washington offense that ranked dead last in the National League in runs scored in 2007, as the Nats finished in the bottom third in every other offensive category.

Odalis Perez (8-11, 5.57 ERA) will get the ball for Washington in the opener. The Nationals signed the former Kansas City Royals’ lefthander during the winter to lead an unproven rotation that includes Jason Bergmann, Tim Redding, and John Lannan.

Atlanta will go with sinkerballer Tim Hudson (16-10, 3.33 ERA), with veteran ace John Smoltz expected to start the season on the disabled list with tightness in his neck and right shoulder. Braves bettors enjoyed a stellar season from Hudson in 2007, especially after the righthander went 13-12 in 2006 with a 4.86 ERA.

The Braves will be without Gold Glove centerfielder Andruw Jones, who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent in the offseason. Mark Kotsay is expected to start in center field and bat eighth behind Matt Diaz, who should get the start in left field with Perez on the mound for the Nationals.

The first pitch of the new MLB season, on North American soil at least, is slated for 8:05 pm ET on Sunday, live on ESPN.