Bruce's Picks (3 Live)
Bruce's Past Picks
Someone put a lid of the hoop when VPI was shooting the ball on Sunday vs. FAU at Disney World, especially when the Hokies were firing three-pointers. In particular, normal sharpshooters Hunter Catoor and Sean Pedulla were a combined 0 for 12 (!) from downtown. Mind, both were better than 40% on their triples beforehand, but Mike Young's team is going to have to hit on all cylinders to hang around tonight vs. a potent Auburn. Bruce Pearl has the Tigers growling since that close opening loss to Baylor, as three-point shooting, an issue last season, has improved to better than 36%, with FIU transfer G Denver Jones (47.1% triples) providing a welcome new threat. Play Auburn
Three wins in four games suggests a mini-revival of sorts for the Blue Jackets, but must note that nine consecutive losses preceded this brief uptick for Columbus. Defense has been laboring for most of the season and the GAAs of both Jackets goalies (Elvis Merzlikins, in the nets tonight, and Spencer Martin) have each risen above 3. Thus, being favored looks a risky position for Columbus, and Montreal's road form hasn't been all that bad, winning three of the last four away, and usually with a decent chance when Sam Montembault (2.81 GAA, .908 saves) is in goal. Play Canadiens on Money Line
The power has just gone out for the Caps, who were zipping along with a five-game win streak before getting stonewalled at home by the Oilers and then suffering the ignominy of a loss to the Sharks as this road trip commenced on Monday night. Considering recent offensive form, this one staying beneath 6.5 at Crypto.com doesn't seem a bad idea, especially with the hot Kings allowing just five goals in their current five-game win streak, and scorelines only once clearing six goals in the last six games. Play Caps-Kings Under
Humbled in their last game by the Sabres, the Rangers get a mulligan after winning seven of their previous eight games and thirteen of their preceding fifteen outings. Included in that stretch was 5-3 win over the Red Wings at MSG on November 7, a night in which Vincent Trochek scored twice and NY was ahead 5-0 before a belated Detroit rally. New York has rebounded with win following eachof its rare losses this season, and Peter Laviolette gives Igor Shesterkin another shot in goal to redeem himself from the Buffalo loss. Tthe Wings go back in goal to Ville Husso, whose has not been especially sharp latelym as his GAA has risen to 3.47. Play Rangers on Puck Line
Houston's pointspread win streak came to a very painful conclusion last night when a needless foul by Alperen Sungun in the final 0.00.10 of the game in Dallas allowed the Mavs to push the final margin to six points in a game that was sitting 117-115 with just six seconds to play. Hardly a sell signal on the Rockets, who had covered their previous 11 games, even though they've yet to win outright (0-6) on the road. Denver looking to avenge a 19-point loss at the Toyota Center last Friday, but the pattern has been erratic, much of that coinciding with the ongoing absence of Jamal Murray, ut for three weeks and counting with a hamstring strain. Play Rockets
This has been a good idea to ride with the Magic lately, so no reason to change course. Especially with the visit of the Wizards, who have fallen into the abyss after nine consecutive losses, the fall only broken by a win vs. the lowly Pistons on Monday. In the las6t six games of the recent slump, Washington allowed almost 130 ppg as the defense continues to be a jumbled mess for Wes Unseld, Jr, who looks to have no ideas on how best to stop the bleeding. Orlando has been the polar opposite, winning and covering in seven straight, and 9-1 vs. the line the last ten games.Play Magic
Monty Williams must wonder what he has gotten into with the rebuilding Pistons, who have now lost 14 in a row after being humbled by the Wizards at Little Caesars on Monday. The wheels have come off in Motown, with the losing streak the second longest in team history. Williams called out his team after the effort vs. Washington, as did LeBron (who didn't play) following the Lake Show's embarrassment in Philly the same night. LeBron remains iffy tonight with his calf strain, and AD might not be at 100% with lingering goin/hip issues, but can expect both teams to at least bear down on the stop end after the respective poor efforts in their last games. Play Lakers-Pistons "Under"
Perhaps first game at Mott Gym since November 6 will buoy Cal Poly, which has started a bit slowly once again for HC John Smith. In this day and age of college hoops, it's difficult to keep pace when shooting barely 40% from the floor and 30% beyond the arc, but the Mustangs are proceeding with an arm effectively tied behind their backs, with 6-8 sr. wing Kobe Sanders (16.2 ppg) the only consistent scoring threat. Meanwhile, Tim Miles has SJSU further along, as the Spartans have just won and covered three straight vs. Cal Poly-level opposition, and well=-balanced with four Spartans (Fs Tibet Gorener and Trey Anderson, Gs Myron Amey and Alvaro Cardenas) tallying between 13-15 ppg. Play San Jose State
Steve Alford's Nevada has made as strong 4-0 break from the gate mostly featuring components who helped the Wolf Pack into the Dance last March. The Jarod Lucas-Kenan Blackshear backcourt duo, which flourished a season ago, is combining for better than 36 ppg, and rates as perhaps the best in the Mountain West if not the entire region, with 6-9 soph PF Nick Davidson has progressed into a double-digit scorer for Afford as well. Nevada is scoring 89 ppg and hitting better than 50% from the floor, and looks too much to handle for what appears to be a very modest Montana entry which has absorbed some heavy losses in November. Play Nevada
It is not always easy to bring in new pieces, even with experience, to coagulate right off of the bat. After leaning more heavily on frosh a year ago, Arkansas has gone back to Eric Musselman's more-familiar upperclassmen newcomer formula, but three losses in four and no spread covers since the Gardner Webb opener suggests this is going to take some time in Fayetteville. Problems in November seem to be more on defense, however, as the Porker offense still hums at 81 ppg. Duke looks a bit further along as Jon Scheyer has plenty of pieces from last season still in the fold, though the angle to note here is "over" (6-1 for Hogs thus far). Play Duke-Arkansas "Over"
The offense has started to hum for Richard Pitino's New Mexico, off of scoring 90 or more points in all three wins at the Henderson, Bv Dollar Loan Center tourney last week. More impressive as key threat G Jaelen House has been out with a hip injury suffered in the opener vs. Texas Southern and backcourt mate Jamal Mashburn, Jr was out for last Friday's 90-71 win over Pepperdine. Both might miss tonight, but Pitino isn't worried because soph G Donovan Dent has emerged as an 18 ppg scorer and already seems to have a connection on the high ball-screens with 6-9 frosh JT Toppin, who has been hitting at 73% from the floor. Play La Tech-New Mexico "Over"
Mountain West sources have issued an alert on New Mexico even as the Lobos have been minus star G Jaelen House since the opener and could again be minus backcourt mate Jamal Mashburn, Jr, who missed Friday's win over Pepperdine. But Lobos fans are excited as UNM scored 90+ in all three wins at Henderson and have watched various newcomers coalesce around soph G Donovan Dent, who has emerged as an 18 ppg scorer. La Tech's current 5-game win streak has been compiled vs. much-lesser opposition. Play New Mexico