John Bennett’s Hoop Picks

February 27, 2001 7:56 AM
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NBA
Thursday

Knicks by 7 over Celtics

Cavaliers by 2 over Supersonics

Suns by 3 over Spurs

Bucks by 8 over Rockets

Blazers by 12 over Clippers

Friday

Pacers by 4 over Supersonics

76ers by 8 over Wizards

Jazz by 6 over Celtics

Hornets by 3 over Hawks

Raptors by 9 over Nets

Magic by 7 over Cavaliers

Heat by 4 over Pistons

Knicks by 6 over Bulls

Nuggets by 2 over T’Wolves

Clippers by 3 over Kings

Saturday

Lakers by 7 over Grizzlies

Rockets by 4 over Mavericks

Spurs by 9 over Hawks

Bucks by 4 over Bulls

Nuggets by 2 over Suns

Trailblazers by 10 over Warriors

Sunday

Raptors by 5 over Knicks

Magic by 1 over Pistons

Pacers by 2 over Nets

Wizards by 4 over Jazz

Celtics by 3 over Hornets

T’Wolves by 10 over Supersonics

Heat by 6 over Cavaliers

Lakers by 12 over Warriors

NCAA
Thursday

Arizona St. by 7 over Oregon

S. Florida by 6 over Cincinnati

New Mexico by 5 over BYU

S. Cal. by 3 over Stanford

California by 4 over UCLA

UNLV by 9 over Colorado St.

Saturday

Cincinnati by 7 over DePaul

Miami Fla. by 8 over Villanova

Ohio St. by 5 over Penn St.

Seton Hall by 3 over UConn

Virginia by 4 over Maryland

New Mexico by 4 over Utah

Arkansas by 10 over Georgia

Stanford by 7 over UCLA

Iowa St. by 14 over Nebraska

Washington St. by 6 over Washington

Minnesota by 3 over Illinois

Arizona St. by 12 over Oregon St.

S. Florida by 7 over S. Miss

Boston College by 5 over West Va.

Indiana by 4 over Purdue

Arizona by 15 over Oregon

California by 3 over S. Cal.

Oklahoma St. by 7 over Oklahoma

Fresno St. by 7 over Tulsa

Sunday

Florida by 4 over Kentucky

St. John’s by 5 over Syracuse

Wake Forest by 3 over N. Carolina St.

Georgetown by 4 over Notre Dame

Duke by 6 over N. Carolina

Kansas by 12 over Missouri


Low-scoring NHL games ahead

By Bob Joyce

Tuesday

Buffalo at Ottawa: This is a big game between these two Northeast Division rivals. They face off for the fifth time this season. Buffalo holds a 3-1 edge going into this contest. Behind goalie Dominik Hasek, Buffalo shut out the Senators twice at home by 2-0 scores. Ottawa won 3-1 at home and lost in overtime to the Sabres, 2-1. Buffalo has only allowed 142 goals this season, which ranks third in the league. The Senators have only given up 145 goals. Ottawa has the third best home record in the NHL; 20-5-4-2. The Sabres are just 13-14-2-1 on the road, which ranks them 16th. This should again be another low-scoring game. Predicted score: Ottawa 2-1.

Wednesday

San Jose at Toronto: This is the first meeting between these two clubs this season. Toronto is 1-2 against the Pacific Division, 7-6-5-2 vs. the Western Conference. San Jose holds a 2-1 edge against the Northeast. It’s 11-3-1 against the Eastern Conference, which ranks No. 1 in the league. The Sharks are 17-7-6 on the road, third best in the league. The Leafs rank 17th at home, 14-9-7-3. San Jose is tops on defense, allowing only 130 goals. Toronto allowed 154 goals, 10th best in the league. Predicted score: San Jose 3-1.

Thursday

Buffalo at Philadelphia: The Flyers are 2-0 against the Sabres, winning by scores of 3-0 and 3-1. The Flyers have the fifth best home record at 17-7-3. Buffalo ranks 16th on the road at 13-14-2-1. Philadelphia has scored 188 times. Buffalo has turned on the light 160 times. The defensive ledger favors Buffalo with Hasek as Buffalo has only allowed 142 goals compared to the Flyer’s 164. This should again be another low-scoring affair. Predicted score: Philadelphia 3-1.

Friday

Carolina at New Jersey: This is the fourth time these two Eastern Conference rivals meet. They skated to a 3-3 tie the first time, while the Devils prevailed in Game 2 with a narrow 3-2 (OT) victory. Game 3 was played last Friday night as the Panthers turned the tables on the Devils with a 3-2 win in Carolina. The Devils are 15-9-6 at home. The Panthers are 10-13-4-3 on the road. The Devils have been plagued by injuries and are in the midst of their worst slump of the season. Predicted score: Carolina 4-3.

Saturday

Buffalo at Colorado: This is the third game of a tough five-game road trip for the Sabres. They face the high-powered offense of the Avalanche for the first time this season. Buffalo is 8-7-2-1 vs. the Western Conference, 2-2 against the Northwest Division. Colorado sports the third best record in the league when facing the Eastern Conference at 11-3-4, and 2-1-1 vs. the Northeast Division. Colorado leads the league in goals scored (206), compared to Buffalo’s 160 goals. Colorado sports the league’s second best home record of 22-5-4-1. Buffalo is third in the league in goals against (142). However, Colorado is fourth, allowing only 144 goals. Last week the Avalanche just got stronger on defense with addition of Rob Blake from the Kings. It’s definitely the best club in the league on both sides of the ice. Predicted score: Colorado 4-1.


Hoops’ rivalry week here

ACC is gearing up for league tournament

By: Ramon Scott

A week ago, Duke and North Carolina faced similar situations heading into this Sunday’s rematch of an earlier meeting won in upset fashion by the Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Blue Devils went on the road last Saturday to take on Tobacco Road neighbor Wake Forest. Although the Deacons gave Duke one of its stiffest tests of the season, the visitors prevailed on a buzzer-beater.

The Tar Heels, meanwhile, went in to meet a surging Virginia team and were seemingly no match for the hosts after halftime, losing by 20 points.

Revenge might give the edge to the Devils, since Duke had covered four straight meetings in the series before the ‘Heels knocked them off in the first game.

The Duke-UNC series is certainly one that the previous records between the two could be thrown out, but prefer to side with recent history and take the hotter club... Duke 99, North Carolina 87.

The other top teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference meet Saturday, when Virginia travels to take on Maryland.

The Cavs have been a different team on the road, failing three straight, but the Terps are just 2-5 as home favorites.

U. Va. took the first meeting, 99-78, getting an easy home cover, but this one could be much tighter... Maryland 81, Virginia 76.

More revenge Saturday is prevalent when Stanford goes to UCLA to try and avenge a home loss three weeks ago.

The Cardinal had failed six of eight heading into the week, but are 6-3 against the spread away from home. Meanwhile, the Bruins are 8-5 against the number at home, have covered seven of their last 10 overall. They’ve gone under the posted total in seven of eight at Pauley.

Stanford won here by 15 last season. This one’s bound to be closer... Stanford 83, UCLA 80.


Trades change NBA look

By: Andy Iskoe

The trading deadline has come and gone. Several contenders made major trades to strengthen themselves for the end of the regular season and the playoffs. Less than six weeks (about 25 games) remain until the playoffs.

Philadelphia continues to play outstanding basketball and by week’s end might have a double-digit lead in the Atlantic Division over rivals Miami and New York. The 76ers were involved in a major trade on deadline day. The principal acquisition was Dikembe Mutombo in exchange for Theo Ratliff and Toni Kukoc. There’s some concern that the trade might disturb the Sixers’ great team chemistry.

Coach Larry Brown has been good at handling diverse personalities and should be up to this challenge. Perhaps the concern in the trading was the status of Ratliff, whose return from injury remains uncertain. Mutombo’s shot-blocking ability and Philly’s overall strength up front with Tyrone Hill and George Lynch solidify the 76ers. But they will go as far as Allen Iverson takes them. Iverson is likely the NBA’s MVP this season.

In the Central Division, Milwaukee has extended to a five-game lead over Charlotte and has the second best record in the Eastern Conference, behind Philly. Charlotte seems to have stopped a recent skid, having won three straight as the week begins. Overall, just seven teams have winning records in the East. Indiana holds down the eighth and final seed, though they are three games below .500.

The real competition remains in the West, where both division races and the battle for the conference’s best record remain tightly contested. Utah holds the best record in the West, but has one less loss than San Antonio, Sacramento, the Lakers and Portland. Those five also are pressed by both Dallas and Phoenix. Utah’s half game lead over the Spurs in the Midwest Division will be challenged the rest of the way, but the pair have opened up a slight gap over both Dallas and Minnesota.

In the Pacific Division, the top four teams have opened up a sizable gap over Seattle. In fact, the playoff picture is becoming much clearer in the West. The top eight teams hold 2½-game leads over the rest of the field. Yet 11 of the 14 teams have winning records, with Denver a game over .500 and 11th in the West. In the East, that record would be good enough for the eighth seed, a half game behind the seventh team and a pair of games ahead of the next best team.

Keep an eye on the Lakers. Despite the well-publicized differences between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, coach Phil Jackson hasn’t seemed overly upset or concerned. Jackson understands about the bumps every team will encounter in a long season. The Lakers have been winning two of every three games for more than a month. They’re poised to challenge for the best record in the West once Bryant returns at full strength. They’re only three losses behind Philadelphia, which means the best overall record in the league is well within reach with a third of their regular season (27 games) remaining.

Here’s a look at three attractive matchups this weekend: Minnesota at Denver (Friday): Minnesota was the hottest team entering the All-Star break. Since then, the Timberwolves have lost five of six, defeating only lowly Golden State in this stretch. Minnesota is paced by Kevin Garnett, one of the NBA’s top five players. The backcourt of Terrell Brandon and Anthony Peeler has largely been a positive for the Wolves, but lack of depth takes its toll, as their slump shows.

Denver plays much better at home (22-7) than on the road (7-21). The Nuggets have a pair of bona fide All- Stars in Nick Van Exel and Antonio McDyess. Both teams are rested. Denver plays at Phoenix tomorrow. Denver will be a small favorite. The preference is to back them if laying no more than a trey. The Nuggets play with great confidence before their home fans. Minnesota is just under a .500 team on the road. Both teams like to run the court, which may make altitude a negative
factor for the T’Wolves in the second half. The preference is for the OVER if the total line is 200 or less, with Denver projected to win by from 6 to 9 points.

Houston at Dallas (Saturday): Houston ranks ninth in the West, 2½ games behind Minnesota for the final playoff berth. Cuttino Mobley and Steve Francis lead the offense for the Rockets. Aging veteran center Hakeem Olajuwon is still capable of big efforts. Dallas made a trade to acquire Juwan Howard. His presence strengthens the Mavericks by providing another scoring option to Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki.

Houston is playing better than .500 on the road. Dallas has one of the weaker home records of playoff-bound teams. Dallas hasn’t played since Tuesday. Houston played two nights ago. Dallas should be a small favorite in this game, perhaps around minus 4. The preference would be to play on Houston if the line is at least +6, with the Over/Under guide being 200 for determining a play on the Total.

New York at Toronto (Sunday): The Knicks and Raptors were involved in one of the major trades as the trading deadline hit. New York reacquired guard Mark Jackson, who began his career with the Knicks a decade ago. Jackson gives the Knicks consistency and reliability at point guard. He should be effective at spreading the ball around to teammates, including Larry Johnson, Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston.

The Knicks have some talented players, but struggled to find offensive consistency. The hope is that Jackson will provide the oil to get the Knicks’ machine running up to potential. Toronto is led by Vince Carter, but his supporting cast is not as well balanced as New York’s. Ex-Knick Charles Oakley has been steady as has been Antonio Davis, but the Knicks have more options. The game figures to be priced around a pick ‘em. The preference is for the visitors. The Knicks plus any points will be a bonus in a game they’re projected to win by from 5 to 8 points. If the Over/Under is no higher than 178, the OVER is also worth considering.


Bookies required to install ‘foolproof’ phone systems

BY Adam Soboleski

Nevada gaming regulators have set a Thursday deadline for sports books to implement new phone bet systems that screen illegal callers from out of state.

"We’re making sure we’re doing everything we can on this," said Keith Copher, enforcement division chief. "Technology is changing every day. (We’re making sure) wagering can only be done within the state of Nevada."

Copher and the enforcement division want to stop wagers placed from out of state. In the past, a bettor could have called from outside Nevada and call-forward through a phone instate. With older technology, a sports book might see just the instate phone number. New technology will identify the out-of-state phone where the call originates.

A Feb. 5 letter to sports books said, "Only those books that have an approved system, or have a notification on file with the board’s Enforcement Division that they are vigorously pursing the purchase and/or installation of such a system will be permitte