GREG GAMBLE’S 2008-09 HARDWOOD Picks: 66-50 ats…57%
NBA 47-36 - NCAA 13-12 - Teasers 6-2 - Church League 69-0
ORLANDO MAGIC (-2.5) @ CHICAGO BULLS
Coach Stan “the Adult Hedgehog” Van Gundy’s floor-spacing and tall-shooters surrounding Superman is a recipe for disaster for a team like Chicago. If you remember their last match-up at the United Center on New Year’s Eve, Orlando opened a 65-38 halftime lead before coasting to an easy victory. And the only difference tonight, they’ll be catching Mr. Howard playing with a Bron-Bron/Kobe type swagger, rested, and looking to dominate the house that Michael built & Madison Square Garden on a back-2-back (fyi, Michael Jordan not Ruffin).
Especially with rookie headmaster Vinny Del Scott Baio still trying to integrate his shaky defensive game-plan to a bunch of newcomers, this has the makings of a Courtney Love in a bikini-type of dreadful performance. While Tyrus Thomas has been extremely active protecting the bucket of late, with pseudo-PF Rashard Lewis spending 90% of every possession behind the arc, I’m guessing you’ll see more action from the other Thomas…Timmy “No-D” Thomas.
While Rose against the newly acquired Skip to my Lou (but skipping much slower) & AARP Anthony Johnson scares me a little, with the Magic Freakshow protecting the basket and Derrick looking a lil gased of late, I’m guessing the only way they pull an upset is if Ben Gordon blows-up for 40. But trust me, 6-5 rookie Courtney Lee is a solid defender, has the length to disrupt the miniscule Huskie, and can knockdown his fair share of shots (46-fg%, 43-3pt%) if defensive guru Mickael Pietrus (wrist-quest.) is unable to go…MAGIC BY 7-13 PTS
BAYLOR BEARS (-2.5) @ IOWA STATE CYCLONES
While both teams have been a disaster of late, the (16-10, 4-8) Bears four-guard attack opened the season 15-3 before the big-boys of the Big 12 decided to simply pound them underneath. But luckily, my alma mater’s only scoring big-man, 6-10 So. Craig Brackins (20 ppg & 9 rpg), does the majority his scoring from outside the paint. While I’m sure (13-14, 2-10) ISU will try to keep Brackins inside tonight, he has absolutely no help underneath or on the glass...as for some proof, a 6-1 white senior (did I mention he’s 6-1 & white?) is the team's second leading rebounder (Bryan Peterson 6 ppg 4 rpg 39fg%).
Speaking of the rest of the Clones...TOUCH ME HERE
Speaking of the rest of the Clones, only So. G Diante Garrett (10 ppg, 5 apg, 40-fg%) has the quickness to stay in-front of the Bears lethal 4-guard attack, and trust me, Coach Drew will have those boys running & gunning all night. Even with the horrible stretch Baylor is on, I promise you Drew has them convinced they still have a shot at the Tourney & desperately needs this game to get things rollin'.
On ISU’s side, after losing a heartbreaker at home this weekend to Kansas State, they're down-n-the-dumps and just waiting to hear that Brackins is going pro at year’s end. As for that thing they call “Hilton Magic” in Ames, IA…sorry Homeboys, I just don’t see the same swagger for the players or from those crazy farm-boys in the crowd…BEARS BY 6-10 POINTS