Wizards vs. Jazz Pick NBA – March 11th

It’s a college hoops weekend, with Selection Sunday looming and a bevy of amazing matchups and conference tournament games. The NBA almost seems to relish relinquishing the spotlight for a few weeks – there aren’t a ton of great games save for tomorrow night’s ABC blockbuster, Oklahoma City and San Antonio (have to get good ABC numbers in the inaugural Saturday Night Game initiative). It is probably good for the Association to get some marquee attention for the soon-to-be crop of new employees.

However, just because more of the attention shifts to the college guys for a few weeks, it doesn’t mean there aren’t some nice NBA wagering opportunities during these “dog days” on the pro hardwood. We came up a bucket shy last night, but will try to bounce back and start off a winning weekend tonight.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Washington Wizards at Utah Jazz -4

I’ve been fading the Jazz a lot lately, and with pretty good success. I loved this team in November – I thought they had a great blend of young talent and raw defensive ability. The early number backed it up. They were one of the most efficient defensive teams in the NBA. But injuries ravaged their season, and even now that they are healthy(ier), they can’t seem to get it back together. It is another Lottery-bound season for a team that can frankly use one more piece if they want to get back to their postseason aspirations.

They are just the 13th most efficient defensive team now, and coupled with their 20th ranked offensive efficiency, it is easy to see how things have unraveled. They are just 2-8 in their last ten games, 1-4 in their last five home games and 1-9 ATS in their last ten overall without a single cover at home.

And tonight, if you still like the Jazz, you have to lay four points for the privilege.

No thanks. I’ll take the visiting Wizards who have been playing better basketball and haven’t abandoned hopes of crashing the playoff party. They currently sit just losses behind both Detroit and Chicago (8th and 9th positions, respectively) and with fifth place Miami just four games further up, Washington has no reason to abandon hope yet. They’ll need a 13-6 or 12-7 or so finish, but with just a home and home with Atlanta on the schedule in March, they face no other playoff teams. So don’t sleep on the Wiz.

I think they take a big step tonight with a nice road win over a slumping Jazz squad. There is a good chance Bradley Beal plays tonight (he made the trip) which gives the Wiz another boost. Utah has allowed 104.5 points per game in their last six contests (five losses and a 117-114 win). Expect Washington to score, and Utah’s struggles to continue. He isn’t a household name, but the Jazz really miss Rodney Hood’s perimeter defense. That’s especially bad news with John Wall coming to town (and maybe even a dose of Bradley Beal)

Free Pick: Washington Wizards +4