Who is the real leader on the surprising Atlanta Hawks

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This season has definitely not looked the way many people, fans or expert analysts expected it to look this deep into the season thus far. I am more than certain no one had the Hawks, who were 38-44 in 2013 and crawled in at the 8 slot to be a playoff seed. To being a potential 60 game winning team that is scoring 103 a night and playing some great defense as well.
The Hawks have one of the deepest and most complete teams in the Eastern Conference. And with Mike Budenholzer coaching them, he has kept them motivated, playing great team ball. The Hawks have been making good teams look bad, by playing good basketball. Many naysayers have wanted to throw a lot of what they have done this season, as being a lucky team. But, after 50+ games it’s about that time to seriously look at this team as a title contender. I question if the Cavs can guard them, I don’t see the Wizards being able to outscore them. And on top of that, the Bulls have absolutely no continuity.
The sign of any good team is to handle your business vs the inferior teams as well. They have obliterated the inferior opponents they have faced. Taking down teams that the top 5 in the East should beat. And they have also compiled a pretty impressive win streak as well, with their big 19 gamer. If you have any question as if the Hawks are truly currently in the mix, do not dismiss them because of the schedule they have been handed, early in the season.
The East is wide open, so why not the Hawks this year?
They have had many guys on the team contribute, which reminds me of the Detroit Pistons in a weird sort of way, when they had Rip, Chauncy and Rasheed Wallace as their team in 2003, when they were a title winner. Where there biggest and baddest scoring threat was Rip, dropping 18 a night.
Paul Milsap has been excellent in his role. Jeff Teague has been fantastic, scoring the ball at 17 a game, and his ball distribution as well, 8 dimes. He has quick hands, making plays that are both smart and decisive. Teague has seemingly stepped in to play the “Tony Parker” type role, by his distributing the ball and scoring when needed.
They are showing some styles that are similar to some of the past great teams, playing a style like the Spurs have in the past, as well as the Pistons of the past. Playing with confidence and great teamwork. They change their game and they know the biggest threats on the court, and they then adjust to the biggest threats. And when on offense, they stay spaced out on the court, to make the right basketball play repeatedly.
As far as the team goes, the man who keeps the wheels going forward has been Al Horford, the biggest key to the teams success. Big Al has progressed from the one dimensional player from the past. He has bounced back after his torn right pectoral muscle that had him lose the majority of last season. Horford has returned this year as the anchor, on both the offensive side as well as the defensive side of things.
They would not be nearly this good without his solid shooting. He makes opposing defenses break down in the middle because of him, as well as his midrange game, spreads the court a bit as well.
Horford, has finally seemed to come into the game. He has played better than he has in 8 seasons. He gives the Hawks a big enough presence in the paint to disrupt opponents’ offenses. And, he has shown he can protect the rim as well, with his shot blocking ability.
The fact that the Hawks have so many playmakers, he may not always be able to showcase his importance, on the scoreboard and stuffing the stat lines. If he actually had the freedom to play loose every night, his numbers would be even more impressive. Al is not expected to get your typical center rebounding numbers, in the 10-12 range. They like to keep the team spacing, and rebounding has been a team effort, which is why 5 players are getting 4 or more boards a game.
Horford could easily average 24 and 10 if he played more on his own style of play, but that’s not the case. He has bought in full fledged, and is into the Hawks system. And he is with them 100%. The best players are willing to sacrifice their own stats for the team. unfortunately, it’s not often enough. Without Horford, the Hawks would be a very average team, and would not be nearly the team they are now. To put into perspective, Horford has scored in double figures all but a handful of games, including many 20 point games, this season. He has a multitude of double doubles.
Knocking down 54% from the field, which is currently at 9th best in the NBA. As far as a defender he is 21st in the league in blocks. If the Hawks keep going in this direction, with Big Al, healthy, and in the lineup, they truly are one of the most impossible teams to defend.
Written by TonyK for VegasTopDogs.com

College Hoops: Best of the SEC

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The SEC has a bunch of teams loaded with talent, depth and athleticism. Kentucky won national championships in 1998 and 2012, Florida knocked on the door in 2000 getting to the title game against Michigan State, then won it all with back-to-back titles. Here’s a look at some of college basketball’s best teams in the SEC.

Kentucky: The Wildcats have another powerhouse young team for coach John Calipari, who likes to groom them for one year before they head off to the NBA. Kentucky has a powerful frontcourt of 6-11 freshman Karl-Anthony Towns (8.5 ppg, 6 rpg), 7-0 junior Willie Cauley-Stein and 7-foot sophomore Dakari Johnson (8 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
Even the backcourt is huge with 6-6 sophomore Aaron Harrison (11 ppg) and 6-6 freshman Devin Booker (10.6 ppg). They flattened Kansas (72-40) and North Carolina (84-70) by double digits, and showed clutch ability with back-to-back overtime wins over Ole Miss and Texas A&M. The Wildcats are 7-3-1 ATS on the road and 16-7 run under the total with great defense. Just bring on March: This talented, deep group is ready.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks are getting it done by running, Top 15 in the nation in scoring and assists behind a backcourt of 6-5 senior guard Rashad Madden and 6-6 junior Mike Qualls (15.7 ppg). Arkansas leads the SEC in five categories, including scoring (80) & offensive rebounds (13.7).
The frontcourt has a force in 6-11 sophomore Bobby Portis (17.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg), and Arkansas is one of five teams in the nation with two top 30 RPI road wins. The Razorbacks have been great at home and at covering against weak teams, 17-8 ATS at home against a team with a losing road record. They play 5 of their final 8 games on the road, including a showdown at No. 1 Kentucky to end February.

Texas A&M: The Aggies are not an easy team to face with their attacking defense. They gave up just 70 points to No. 1 Kentucky in a loss — in double overtime. They held Kentucky to 28% shooting. 6-7 junior guard Jalen Jones (13.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and 6-7 junior Danuel House (13.8 ppg) anchor the backcourt and lead the team in scoring, with 6-9 senior Kourtney Roberson manning the low post.
Junior guard Alex Caruso is a terrific playmaker averaging 5.5 assists per contest. The Aggies are a great bounce back team, 51-25 ATS following a loss. And that great defense really helps on the road, where the Aggies are 46-21 under the total.

Ole Miss: The Rebels have impressed with another strong offense behind the backcourt duo of junior guard Stephan Moody (15.5 ppg) and senior Jarvis Summers (13 ppg). Like Texas A&M, they took top-ranked Kentucky to overtime, an 89-86 loss. They held Kentucky to 42% shooting. Ole Miss is now 13-102 against Kentucky! Kentucky had its worst defensive game of the season. The Wildcats allowed Ole Miss to shoot 49 percent from the floor and 53 percent from 3-point range. Kentucky was also outscored in the paint 30-26 by Ole Miss. Ole Miss has been on a recent 10-4 run over the total, including 7-2 over on the road.

LSU: It’s no secret how the Tigers win: Like the days of Shaq or Big Baby Davis they have a huge frontcourt with 6-10 sophomore Jarrell Martin (16 ppg, 9 rpg) and 6-8 sophomore Jordan Mickey (16.7 ppg, 11 rpg). Once again they are one of the top rebounding teams in the nation.
The backcourt has size, too, with 6-6 sophomore Tim Quarterman (12 ppg) and 6-4 junior Keith Hornsby (12.6 ppg). The Tigers have been better on the road than last season, pulling off victories at Ole Miss, Florida and Vandy, the latter in overtime. They even have a non-conference win at West Virginia building an impressive resume before March. LSU is 20-7 over the total in SEC play.

Georgia: Let’s call them the “Not-Quite Bulldogs,” because they haven’t quite been there when stepping up. Georgia lost to Gonzaga by 14, lost at home to Arkansas by 4 and lost in double overtime at LSU. 6-8 senior Marcus Thornton (13.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is a force at center but missed a few games recently with a concussion.
The backcourt is fine with 6-3 junior Kenny Gaines (11 ppg) and 6-5 junior Charles Mann (11 ppg). They had a showdown at Kentucky and covered as a +18 dog, but lost by 11 after falling behind at the half, 42-27. Georgia committed 16 turnovers leading to 18 Kentucky points. The Bulldogs are an impressive 30-12-1 ATS against the SEC and 19-7 under the total after a spread cover.

Written by Jim Feist for VegasTopDogs.com

December NBA Power Teams

by Jim Feist of VegasTopDogs.com

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Preseason prognosticators and handicapping analysis focuses in on what they expect to happen, based on the draft and offseason moves, but there are always surprises at the start of each season. Here’s a look at some of the early NBA teams off to impressive starts.

Raptors: With LeBron leaving Miami and Indiana losing its best player to an offseason injury, there’s a vacuum in the East. A young Toronto team has gotten off to a fast start, top 10 in points scoring and points allowed. 25-year old 6-7 DeMar DeRozan and 28-year old Kyle Lowry lead the backcourt and the team in scoring.
The middle is being manned by 22-year old Jonas Valanciunas who has been scoring and rebounding giving this team balance. They are also top 10 as a team in free throw shooting, a key edge in close games (and for late spread covers). The team has been on a recent 18-8 run over the total, including 13-5 over at home.

Wizards: The young, athletic Wizards have battled injuries the last two seasons, but appear healthy and formidable early on. Guard John Wall pushes the team while newcomer Paul Pierce is trying to teach the kids how to get to the next level. The inside game looks primed for the long haul with 7-footer Marcin Gortat and Nene Hilario.
Washington is playing some defense early on, including Top 10 in field goal shooting allowed. The one weakness, though, is they are soft at defending the three-pointer. The Wizards had a nice stretch at 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games playing on one day’s rest.

Warriors: Steve Kerr inherited a good team and they have been playing even better. Golden State can run with anyone, Top 5 in the NBA in scoring behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. This team can play defense, too, Top 5 in field goal shooting from the field and from long range.
Young Draymond Green was forced in last year and play well in the frontcourt, while 7-footer Andrew Bogut has been healthy — knock wood. Golden State was on a recent 19-7 ATS run, including 16-5 ATS against a team with a losing record. And they are better on defense than many think: The under is 39-15 in the Warriors last 54 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game.

Pelicans: 21-year old Anthony Davis has always been real good, but he appears to be developing confidence alongside his growing experience. All of which makes him an incredible inside force and this young New Orleans team is reaping the benefits.
With Omar Asik and Tyreke Evans, this team has been tough at rebounding and scoring easy buckets, Top 10 in scoring. Despite the shot blocking Davis this is still not an elite defensive team and note that the over is 35-15-1 in the Pelicans last 51 games vs. a team with a winning percentage below .400.

Grizzlies: Memphis continues to be a matchup nightmare in the low post, a defensive dynamo that is Top 5 in the league in points allowed and Top 10. Zach Randolph is a beast in the low post when his mind is focused on playing, Marc Gasol is a handful, while Tony Allen and Mike Conley anchor a deep and flexible backcourt. The Grizzlies started 9-3 over the total at home.

Blazers: Portland was all about running and gunning last year, but this year’s team looks better as they are focusing on defense augmenting a dynamite uptempo attack. This is a terrific frontcourt with LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez, Chris Kaman and Nicolas Batum, a group that can pound the glass with anyone.
They’ve been playing great defense at home, on a recent 7-2 under the total at the Rose Garden. However, are they ready for prime time? The Blazers started the season 3-9 ATS against a winning percentage above .600.

2014 NBA Finals

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by Jim Feist of VegasTopDogs.com

 Say, what happened to “Youth Must Be Served?” Last year a pair of veteran teams met in the NBA Finals, with Miami winning its second straight title in seven games against the aging Spurs. Lo and behold, the same team teams made it to the Conference Finals again, with the young Pacers and Thunder trying to break through. Two years ago it was supposed to be the time the kids stepped up in Oklahoma City stepped up. OKC came close, winning Game 1 of the Finals before Miami won four in a row. The previous year a younger Miami team came close, carving out a 2-1 series lead before collapsing, as it was those old fogies in Dallas who came away with the title – another veteran team winning the whole thing. You get the sense the NBA is suddenly an old man’s game. In fact veteran NBA teams have been on a roll, with the Celtics winning it all in 2008, the Lakers in 2009-10, the Mavericks in 2012 out of nowhere, and the Heat the last two years. This year young teams from Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington, Memphis and Golden State made the playoffs but are gone.

In 2012 the thirty-something Mavericks won it all as a No. 3 seed. Despite then 26-year old Jose Barea running all over the place, it was a veteran Dallas team behind then 33-year old Dirk Nowitzki, 34-year old Shawn Marion, Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic (both 34) and 39-year old Jason Kidd. This year the NBA’s Final Four has a pair of young teams (Pacers and Thunder) against the old men of San Antonio and Miami. While the NBA is more of an athletic game, primed for young legs, the experience of the Mavericks certainly helped them two years ago and helped the Spurs plow their way to the No. 1 seed for the second season in a row. But at some point age can work against a team, breaking down from injuries. There really haven’t been many youthful teams winning the NBA title lately. The Celtics and Lakers were veteran teams that clashed in the Finals in 2008 and 2010. The experienced Lakers topped the young Orlando Magic in 2009, blowing out the kids in Game 1, 100-75. Prior to that veteran teams like the Spurs, Pistons and 2006 Miami Heat won titles. Ahh, the Miami Heat. They really aren’t that youthful, with LeBron James the only kid at age 29, and even he’s been in the league ten years. He’s also been in the NBA Finals in 2007 with Cleveland. Dwyane Wade (age 32) already has a ring with the 2006 Heat, a veteran team that also had Shaq, Antoine Walker and Gary Payton. One thing that stands out with the NBA’s Final Four of 2014 is defense.

The Thunder, Pacers, Spurs and Heat all finished in the Top 10 in the NBA during the regular season in either points allowed for field goal shooting defense. Oklahoma City was tops in the West in FG shooting defense, while the Pacers were best in the NBA. This shouldn’t surprise. Two years ago Miami was sixth in points allowed during the regular season, Dallas was 10th; Miami was second in field goal defense (.434%), while Dallas was 8th (.450%). The Western Conference Finals was a terrific clash of Youth vs. Experience. Oklahoma City has 25-year old 6-10 Kevin Durant and 25-year old Russell Westbrook (23.7 ppg), while the Spurs are filthy with age and talent. The Spurs have 38-year old Tim Duncan, 36-year old Manu Ginobili and 31-year old Tony Parker, though the Spurs rely heavily on their bench, which leads the league in scoring for the fifth straight season. So how did defending champion Miami do against the Best of the West? They got crushed by the Thunder (112-95) at home, won at OKC (103-81), got blown out at San Antonio (111-87) and won at home over the Spurs (113-101). Which shows how little stock you should put in regular season meetings, as situational factors and injuries come into play. Are the kids ready to take over? Or will we see another bunch of old men hoist the trophy?

What is it going to take for Warriors to win the NBA title?

Golden St

The Warriors play on the road has been decent, winning 24 games during the season, and they have been strong enough to hold their own. But when playing against the best on the league, they have been not fared well in the win column, away from the home court in the Oracle Arena.

Obviously, playing in the West is a whole new world, and they won 51 games. Which alone in itself is a compliment, to any one team. In the much weaker, East they would have been top 3 likely with 55+ wins. Instead, for them, they came into the NBA playoffs a 6th seed, as a team that has players like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson both of whom are top notch deep ball terrors in the league. Curry dropping 24 a game and Klay, 18.

And then with David Lee knocking down 52% from the floor, and let’s not forget about the underrated Andre Iguodala who can drop economical points on anyone, when getting the opportunity. When Iguodala gets 10 or more shots in a game, the Warriors are 8-3. Making them, that much more of a difficult matchup for teams to deal with.

One large flaw I have with them, is at home they have to improve, they actually are not a dominant home team. They are good, but not great. To win you have to own and completely master your home court, and make teams cry before you punish them on your home floor. In 2012 when the Miami Heat won the title, they were 28-5 at home. The Lakers were 34-7 in 2010.

Over the last 5 seasons, the eventual NBA champions have 164 wins in their home arena, with an amazing 83% win pct. You simply cannot “just win” at home.

The Warriors are loaded with young athletic young stars on the team. They can score in bunches, and the team puts up big time numbers on a nightly basis, with a 10th ranked 104 a game. They also have a very beefed-up rebounding squad, with David Lee and when healthy, the 7 footer, Andrew Bogut, hitting the boards well.

They move the ball around very well, helping to make them a high scoring team, Stephen Curry make teams play them on the deep ball, and they have the ability to shoot well against any other team in the NBA. Curry can do whatever he wants on the offensive side of the ball, making opponents cringe when he starts to find his rhythm.

The playoffs, overall, have not been kind to Golden State, having never won a title even though making the playoffs numerous times. Having had some excellent teams, in the early to mid 90s, with Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway, and Mitch Richmond, they still never got to the big series. They never got the chance to play in the big game, or even a Conference championship, in an era that was mostly owned at the time by the Bulls and Rockets.

For the Warriors to get to the next level in the nasty Western Conference, they have to get passed the Spurs first and foremost. Which is not easy. Even though aging, they just keep moving along, and the next king in line, seems to be the Thunder. Playing in the Pacific division, they have to make sure they beat the Clippers at least 3 of the times they matchup with them.

Build a base around Curry and Thompson and make teams pay, when they settle to shoot the lights out against you.

Written by TonyK of VegasTopDogs.com

The Best NBA Playoff teams out West

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Milwaukee Bucks

Start your engines! The NBA playoffs have started, time for endless full court action every night as the league crowns another champion. Let’s take a look at the best of the West, the conference that has won nine of the last 14 NBA titles.

Oklahoma City: The team no one wants to play! The Thunder gave us a hint of their young talent two years ago, putting it all together in 2012 – at least until they imploded in the NBA Finals against the veteran Heat. It was a bitter pill, favored to win while taking a 1-0 lead before losing 4 straight. They have a dynamite offense, No. 5, 2, 1 and 5  in the NBA in points scored the last four seasons, led by the 25-year old duo of Kevin Durant (32 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Russell Westbrook (21.7 ppg).
6-10 Serge Ibaka (15 ppg, 8.6 rpg) has emerged from role play to star with over 2.5 blocks per contest. They aren’t all offense, either, 11th in the league in points allowed and third in field goal shooting defense (tops in the West) allowing .435% shooting.
They have it all, it seems – except experience. Three years ago after getting to the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder blew Game 4 at home to Dallas, 112-105 in OT, blowing a 15-point lead with five minutes to play in regulation. Dallas closed it out the next game. The 2012 NBA Finals was a failure and injuries derailed them last year.
At what point does all this painful postseason experience bear fruit?

Spurs: A juggernaut down the stretch with a 19-game win streak that wrapped up everything in the West. Last year’s Western Conference champs have not slipped despite injuries and they are healthy at the right time. Long known for defense under Gregg Popovich, the Spurs used an awesome array of depth to blitz opponents, ranking 7th in the NBA in scoring, tops in assists and 5th in points allowed.
San Antonio still has the Big Three of 37-year old Tim Duncan (15 ppg, 9.8 rpg), 36-year old Manu Ginobili (12 ppg) and 31-year old Tony Parker (16.8 ppg). Popovich has done a great job in limiting the minutes of the Big 3.  The Spurs have won 50 or more games in an astonishing 15 straight seasons, breaking the longest streak in league history behind the Lakers, who won 50 12 times in a row from 1979 to 1991.
The Spurs rely heavily on their bench, which leads the league in scoring for the fourth straight season, with Danny Green, Patty Mills and role players in 7-foot Matt Bonner, 6-11 Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw.
Coach Gregg Popovich and Duncan have 4 NBA title rings and they know defense is essential in the postseason. After ranking 17th in points allowed and 21st in field goal shooting percentage defense two years ago, the Spurs have improved to 9th and 8th in field goal defense the last two seasons. The Spurs are 27-11 ATS on the road.

LA Clippers: The new Beasts of the West? Adding guard Chris Paul (19 ppg) with Blake Griffin (24 ppg, 9.6 rpg) is certainly a nice one-two punch to upgrade any franchise, especially on offense. This team is tops in scoring. But the depth and talent is exceptional for first-year Coach Doc Rivers, who has really helped to upgrade the defense, 14th in points scored, 5th in field goal defense, tops against the three-pointer.
Jamal Crawford, Darren Collison and Matt Barnes are fine role players and Rivers got  DeAndre Jordan to focus on defense and he’s responded with 13.8 boards and 2.46 blocks per game. They will be fun to watch in the playoffs but here’s one warning: The Clippers rank 26th in free throw shooting. Well that hurt in close playoff games?

Rockets: Houston felt it needing one missing piece and added Dwight Howard last offseason. So far, so good. Howard (18.5 ppg, 12 rpg) handles the low post and has improved the defense, ranking 7th in field goal shooting defense.
That clears the way for James Harden (25 ppg), Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin to strut their stuff on offense, second in the NBA in points scored and on a 19-7 run over the total. Howard and point guard Pat Beverely rested down the stretch to get healthy for the postseason. It’s a tough all around team but, like the Clippers they can’t shoot free throws, ranked 26th at the charity stripe. In Game 7 do you want Howard and his 55% free throw shooting at the line down by one?

Written by Jim Fiest for VegasTopDogs.com

Has Father time has caught up with Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant has been a top notch elite player for 17 seasons, entertaining crowds for many years. Coming in at just 18 years old, he was a hall of famer waiting to happen. But now with Kobe Bryant calling it a season after his knee injury, one has to question many things about the Lakers and their approaching plans? And one has to look at Kobe as well.

Kobe has claimed he’s all about winning championships. And he has won his share, evidently with 5 in his back pocket. But yet, he took a tremendous contract at the ripe age of 35 for his 48 million and fundamentally handcuffed the Lakers organization with no room to get any talent around him. Tim Duncan showed more than his share of winning teamwork mentality for the Spurs by accepting less money so they could spend for talent around him, and they have been a changeless winning team for years, winning 55 games a season, like clockwork. Maybe Kobe should of thought about the team instead of taking that extension at his age. Realizing that taking a pay cut may have been the best thing for the team itself, and then getting pieces around him to be able to get closer to winning that ring he claims he is all about, but what does he do? The selfish thing, and takes the huge contract. For Kobe lovers and Lakers fans, can you conceive of his Lakers legacy if he had? He would have been the “Golden Child.” But Kobe more than anything proves again, Kobe is about Kobe.

But he is not just to blame, of course, the Lakers organization was implausibly foolish when they did it in the first place. And now the Lakers and Kobe both shot themselves in the foot with that very same contract. They are seeing now, the actuality off having him take up half the cap space isn’t the way you build a challenger. I would have thought the team would have been smarter than that. They should never have splurged the money to him in the first place, particularly to a player towards the end of his career.

He has been a great player, but no superstars in the league had ever wanted to play with him, going back for years. And until Kobe is retired for good, no superstar will come to Los Angeles. He seems to perpetually blame everyone else and never himself for anything that has gone awry with the team. Maybe the fact that he has shot the ball roughly 9-10 shots more than even the 2nd option scorer on the Lakers team when he plays full time. The Lakers have become a Circus and Kobe is the main attraction. “Come watch our aging player score point on 25% of the teams shots, while we lose by 12.”

This is going to take time to heal for Lakers fans. It’s going be a 2 to 3 year operation. With or without Kobe, they are going nowhere for sometime. The West is way too powerful for them. They are truly in reconstruct mode in every aspect of the word. I would not expect much from them till Kobe’s contract is done and over with. An aging player with way too many miles on those knees. Father time has caught up to Kobe, like he does to every person.

Written by TonyK of VegasTopDogs.com

The 3 Best NCAA Tournament Games to watch this week

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The coming midweek section in the world of sports will be one in which college basketball will remain the hub of activity. The NCAA Tournament will be on everybody’s mind.

NCAA Tournament Second Round – Manhattan Jaspers vs. Louisville Cardinals (Thursday)

 Louisville is the hot team that nobody wants to play in the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals breezed through the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Memphis, winning three games by an average of over 30 points. Louisville is getting balanced contributions from its roster, but what’s particularly noticeable is that the best players are all getting better.  Russ Smith is at his best right now, and teammates Chris Jones and Montrezl Harrell are rapidly improving. Everyone in college basketball is taking Louisville seriously as a Final Four threat. This begins the Cardinals’ journey.

NCAA Tournament Second Round – Wofford Terriers vs. Michigan Wolverines (Thursday)

The Michigan Wolverines made the national championship game last season. They lost star guard Trey Burke to the NBA draft, and they also lost Tim Hardaway, Jr., to the pros as well. Early in the season, big man Mitch McGary was taken out of the lineup due to an injury that has never fully healed. This has been a shorthanded team throughout the Big Ten season, but the Wolverines have simply adjusted. They are tenacious, and they contest rebounds really well despite a lack of quality size in the paint. The three-point shooting of Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert makes Michigan hard to defend on the perimeter. The Wolverines can spread the court. They’ll be hard to beat in March.

NCAA Tournament Second Round – North Carolina State or Xavier vs. Saint Louis Billikens (Thursday)

Saint Louis was headed for a very high seed in the NCAA tournament, and then everything fell apart for the team that still managed to win the Atlantic 10’s regular season championship. Saint Louis had only two losses heading into its final game in the month of February. The Billikens were the owners of a 19-game winning streak and had everything going their way. Suddenly, though, they have lost energy. They appear to be tired and worn down as a result of all the hard work they did in the middle of the season. Saint Louis has lost four of five games and crashed out of the quarterfinals in the Atlantic 10 Tournament against Saint Bonaventure. Will this team bounce back?

March Madness is here and we have your winning tips!

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This is the most exciting time of the college basketball season and the most anticipated and watched event in sports next to the Super Bowl.

I have correctly pegged 2 of the 4 teams who made it to the FINAL FOUR in eight straight years.
This year I am giving you some of my top advice on what it takes to be a champion. Of course, you can never foresee injuries, suspensions, foul trouble, poor officiating, etc. throughout the big dance.
Everyone likes underdogs and Cinderella teams but you have to look at the team records, their strengths and the conferences that they play in. There is usually one team that surprises everyone but fails to win it in the end, such as Utah in 1998 vs. Kentucky and Butler coming up short in 2010 and 2011.

Since 1998, the Championship team has not been seeded lower than a #3 and in 1997 Arizona was a #4 seed and won it all. As you can see in the past 15 tournaments, the top teams usually go all the way. Digging even deeper you have to go back to 1988 when a #6 seed Kansas team coached by Larry Brown won it all, but things were different back then as players didn’t bolt to the NBA after one season in college. As much as I like to select a solid #4 or #5 to go all the way, it’s not a smart idea. Nineteen of the last 22 National Champs have been a #1 or #2 seed.

Before I start to bore you with all of my numbers and trends, let me share some of my top tips for picking your brackets. Great teams do not lose more than 7 games in a season, so if a team has 8 or more losses, stay away from them. Also, each of the past 15 champs were from one of the major 6 conferences (Big East, SEC, PAC-12, BIG 12, ACC, BIG 10). The teams in these conferences play the toughest games night in and night out on a regular basis and have been more battle tested. Mid majors/small schools tend to make it to the Sweet 16 or Elite 8, but not the FINAL FOUR.

So, if you are like me and really like the way Gonzaga, SD State, St Louis, Memphis and Wichita Stare playing this season, you might want to think twice about advancing them deep in your brackets.
Looking at the teams who lost 7 or fewer games this season, play in a major conference, and are seeded #3 or better this year, you can narrow down your Final Four selections from this list of nine teams.

FLORIDA

ARIZONA

VIRGINIA

SYRACUSE

IOWA ST

CREIGHTON

WISCONSIN

MICHIGAN

VILLANOVA.

From here, I would look at how these teams faired on neutral courts and on the road during their season. It is also important to consider each team’s starting guards, their defensive strength, team rebounding, and if they can make their foul shots.

From my 21 years of experience, I offer you my professional advice and helpful tips. My hope is that this article has fed your excitement for the tournament while giving you a competitive edge to turn some heads in your company pools! Enjoy the tournament and remember, pick with your head, not with your heart!

Follow Tony Karpinski for more updates and information throughout the tournament at VegasTopDogs.com.

2014 College Basketball March Madness Contest

MarchMadn

The field for the NCAA Tournament will be announced on Sunday March 16th, as March Madness is about to take center stage for the next 3 weeks.  When you look for some extra excitement this time of the year, its best to visit VegasTopDogs.com.  College basketball frenzy will be crazy this week with the brackets and office pools.  There will be a huge amount of games to wager on starting this week which makes this a favorite time of year for casual fans, office workers and . . . sports bettors.

The top experts at VTD (VegasTopDogs.com) search across the Web for Basketball news stories about teams, players, injuries, or game results, and makes them available on the site. “VegasTopDogs” is a great idea for both the die-hard and casual sports bettor,” says Las Vegas expert, TonyK. “There is no question that VegasTopDogs.com is the hottest spot in the world for College & NBA action. In order to win you have to bet using their head and not their heart…  Let VegasTopDogs be your sports financial consultant and sports guide.

According to figures released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, sports bettors annually wager $2 billion in Vegas. For the 2014 Super Bowl, $91.7 million was wagered (up from $71.6 million in 2001, $73 million in 2003 and $81.2 million in 2013) and average $85 million on the NCAA College Basketball Tournament (“ March Madness ”). These two events alone account for nearly 10% of the legal sports gambling action throughout the entire year.

The Gaming Control Board also estimates that more than $3.5 billion is illegally wagered on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament alone.

VegasTopDogs will help to better understand and increase your chances of winning on sports and in college basketball wagers during March Madness  They feature some of the Nation’s best handicappers from New York to Las Vegas. The gentlemen featured on this site were hand-picked professionals that have made a career in the sports gambling industry.
A recent study conducted by Directions Research, found that of the people who bet on sports, 78% said they gambled on the NFL, 45% on horse racing , 36% on NCAA football , 36% on NCAA basketball , 22% on Major League Baseball and 20% on the NBA.

“With so many major events tempting the sports bettor between now and the end of March Madness in April, it’s only fitting to declare this time period as ‘Gambling Season,’” said expert veteran handicapper at VegasTopDogs, Tony Karpinski, who also serves as Director of Operations. “The casual bettor is easily seduced by the opportunity to bet on the college football bowl games, Super Bowl or their favorite college hoops team. It’s important for any bettor to ‘know before you go,’ that VegasTopDogs is a great tool to learn how to play smartly without risking any mortgage payments.”

And, this is also the final shot that many players take at their favorite gambling outlet until next football season. It is also a last gasp for online sportsbooks who often suffer through the doldrums of summer and baseball. Thus, sportsbooks offshore offer March Madness bonuses and bracket contests galore so make sure you take advantage. VegasTopDogs.com has your answers with plenty of recommendations and college basketball game previews.

March Madness also means that the MLB baseball season is just around the corner and while baseball doesn’t attract the same betting attention as football or basketball, it is the most profitable betting sport for a number of gamblers. VegasTopDogs offers a lot of value for the baseball players.
Too many people just look at the starting pitchers and pick the team,
but there are many factors of picking winners of value.  Just look at
how much you could have won over the past several years by following one of VegasTopDogs expert handicappers Tony Karpinski.

Tony Karpinski from VegasTopDogs.com has held the #1 MLB ranking for several years and showing his dime players a season profit of over $64,800.  That title is just the tip of the iceberg, as Tony was the

2003 champ $28,380 net profit    Top-rated 10* gems= 47-38

 

2004 champ $11,678    Top-rated 10* gems= 54-48

 

2007 champ $16, 465  Top-rated 10* gems= 53-34

 

2010 champ $19,550

 

Tony Karpinski has won several handicapping contests especially in football, as he finished in the top 10 in the renowned NFL Las Vegas Hilton $500,000. SuperBook Contest. TonyK is the former odds-maker and also won the Ultimate Handicapper Challenge finishing #1 in College Basketball & Football. He also has several SportsNow Handicapping Contests Wins (baseball, football, hockey, and basketball) and at the Sports Monitor, which have made him a sought-after expert and a regular guest on several weekly sports talk radio stations throughout of the country. With over 21 years of experience providing sports information services to sports fans around the world.

Tony reviews scores, personnel, coaches, stats, trends, past history, game conditions and current strengths and weaknesses to create the most comprehensive picture of likely outcomes. As a former multi-sport college athlete, Tony Karpinski. Has a keen eye for, and understanding of, athletic performance. Tony uses this knowledge to publish a weekly newsletters, which has attracted a national following and led him to his success.