GREG GAMBLE’S 2008-09 HARDWOOD Picks: 75-64 ats…54%
NBA 50-47 - NCAA 19-14 - Teasers 6-3 - Church League 69-0
RUTGERS KNIGHTS vs NOTRE DAME IRISH (-10)
With a veteran & disciplined starting line-up, opening the season winning 12 of 15 what was most expected from the Irish. But after a few tough loses in January, the confidence & swagger was quickly replaced by panic as their Big Dance chances began slipping away amist a 7-game losing streak. While Coach Brey’s squad pulled-out five of their final eight, the regular season results mean they need an unbelievable showing in the Big East Tourney to sneak into the party.
While some believe this will have Notre Dame extremely tight for their opening tilt with Rutgers, I’m guessing they’ve already dealt with the drastic disappointment of the season and will be more relaxed than ever. As for some forshadowing…for some reason my drunken threesome dream involving Kobe Tai & Spud Webb was interrupted by visions of sharp-shooting seniors Kyle McAlarney (16 ppg, 43-3pt%) & Ryan Ayers (12 ppg, 44-3pt%) raining in bombs from deep, and Jr. Luke Harangody (24 ppg, 12 rpg) absolutely dominating the paint. And you know what, I think it'll happen!
As for the Scarlet Knights, they’ve lost 17 of their last 19, and even though they played Notre Dame somewhat tough a few weeks ago (Rutgers lost by 5), that was when the veteran Irish squad was still in disbelief over what their season had become…ND BY 20-25 PTS
UTAH JAZZ (-3) @ INDIANA PACERS
While the Jazz currently sit in the dreaded 4th seed (1st round CP3 – 2nd round Kobe), their 11-game win-streak has them just two games behind the Spurs for the two seed. Especially with the well-rested AK-47, Boozer (questionable-ankle), & Harpring combined with the development of Coach Sloan’s youngsters because of those injuries (Brewer, Millsap, & Miles), Utah is as deep & physical as any team in the Association. I know D-Will & Co. have been absolutely awful on the road the past few seasons, but because of that, Sloan has been stressing the importance of this road-trip for the team’s psyche and opened things-up Sunday with a nice win at Toronto (109-101). While Boozer missed the contest with a minor ankle injury, the Jazz are hopefully he’ll able to play tonight.
And tonight, while the Pacers have been playing extremely well of late considering they’re without their top two scorers (Granger & Dunleavy), I honestly believe this is more smoke-n-mirrors as teams have taken them lightly. While PG Jarrett Jack (last 5 games: 22 ppg) has been the superstar for Larry Bird’s squad since he’s joined T.J. Ford in the backcourt, I expect the 6-3 career back-up to struggle with the length of 6-7 Ronnie Brewer on perimeter. Throw-in the mismatches for the Pacers immobile bigs (Rasho, Foster, & Hibbert) against the sharp-shooting Okur out top and the power of Deron Williams against little T.J. Ford, and the Jazz should control the tempo and easily extrend their win-streak tonight…UTAH BY 7-12 POINTS
DALLAS MAVERICKS (+6.5) @ PHOENIX SUNS
While The Diesel’s provided a week or so of dominance once Amare went down...TOUCH ME HERE FOR MORE INFO & HOTTIES
DALLAS MAVERICKS (+6.5) @ PHOENIX SUNS
While The Diesel’s provided a week or so of dominance once Amare went down, he returned to the AARP giant struggling to make it up-n-down the court for more than 30 minutes. With Shaq gassed, Nash back from injury offensively but getting destroyed on D, and playing with a true PF, the Suns concluded their four game road trip Sunday in San Antonio the same why the other three contests had fared…with a loss. As a result, the Suns headed home now four games behind the Mavericks, and honestly, looking completely defeated & overwhelmed.
I know Mavs have been far from spectacular and probably will be without Josh Howard, but I just don’t see how the Suns will be able to stop PF Dirk Nowitzki (last 5 games: 27 ppg, 9 rpg, 5 apg) with a combination of Grant Hill & Louis Amundson…and honestly, I expect the active PF Brandon Bass to look like an All-Star tonight against the Suns non-existent frontcourt (outside of Shaq for a couple four minute stretches). In addition, while Jason Kidd struggles against the speed-demon PGs of the Association, Nash is more of a crafty at this point in his career and should provide the bigger Kidd with a favorable match-up. Throw-in the streaky J-Terry coming off a 33-point last Saturday, I expect Dallas to pull even farther away in the standings from the mess Stevie Kerr made…MAVERICKS BY 4-8 PTS