A month ago, this -160 line would have seemed preposterous. Tampa Bay had a solid lead atop the NHL standings, and the Presidents' Trophy seemed all but certain. But since Jan. 11, the Lightning have been 9-8, allowing Vegas, Boston, Winnipeg, Nashville and Toronto to draw within five points as league points leader. This is an important game for Tampa, with that in mind, and Ottawa should pose little threat tonight. The homestretch is here and we'll see what the Lightning are made of. Take the -160 to win as a logical play.
107-69-5 IN LAST 181 NHL PICKS | +3033
The Maple Leafs are on an 11-2 run and have cemented their spot in the playoffs. There are worrisome signals on the horizon, such as how Toronto's brass will redo -- or not redo -- the lineup as the trade deadline approaches and who its first opponent will be in the Stanley Cup marathon. Lately, the Leafs have handled most of the teams below them in the standings, including a 5-0 blanking of the Islanders on Jan. 31. Nothing much has occurred to make me think anything but a similar outcome is looming tonight. Leafs win as prohibitive favorites.
Houston has won and covered five straight, a surge that has landed the Cougars in the top 25 for the first time in 13 years. The surge includes their signature win, a comeback victory over Cincinnati. On Thursday, they face an erratic but resurgent Memphis club looking for a milestone win of its own and the chance to forge a winning record in conference play. The Tigers have won two straight since switching to a zone defense. Houston has a good chance to win out in the AAC, but Memphis has the best chance to spoil that bid.
35-28-1 IN LAST 64 CBB ATS PICKS | +506
Improving Detroit Mercy was dealt a blow when multiple players were ruled ineligible due to academics, including senior leader Jaleel Hogan. Grab Milwaukee to take advantage and get the cover Thursday.
36-28-2 IN LAST 66 CBB ATS PICKS | +641
This matchup opened with a 10-point spread and has shrunk with forward Vince Edwards, Purdue's premier rebounder and No. 2 scorer, doubtful with a bad ankle. Despite the considerable talent difference without Edwards, the number could easily be smaller. The Boilermakers have dropped three of their previous four straight-up and and haven't covered in seven straight. Illinois is awful on the road -- 0-9 straight-up in true away games -- but decent at home. On Senior Night, the Illini should put up enough of a fight to stay within the line.
17-12-2 IN LAST 31 CBB ATS PICKS | +424
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