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USATSI

Greetings sports fans, it's Chris Bengel back in your inbox on this Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the second-to-last College Football Playoff rankings were announced ahead of all of the conference title games around the country. It sets up a wild weekend of pigskin that you're not going to want to miss. Personally, I'll have my eye on Utah and USC doing battle in the Pac 12 Championship Game. Utah is the only team to beat USC this season.

Anyway, enough about football. Let's get to Wednesday's picks on the hardwood.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


🔥 The Hot Ticket

Grizzlies at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. | TV: NBA.TV

Latest Odds: Memphis Grizzlies -2.5
  • Key Trend: The Grizzlies are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 road games against a team with a losing home record
  • The Pick: Grizzlies -2.5 (-110)

The Timberwolves were dealt a brutal blow on Monday when Karl-Anthony Towns suffered a calf strain. He'll be out of action for four-to-six weeks and, with the star big man slated to be out of the lineup, I'm confident in riding with the Grizzlies' here.

The Grizzlies are also dealing with the injury bug as star guard Desmond Bane has been out of the lineup due to a toe injury. But Memphis has been getting along just fine without him with three wins over their last five games. Star guard Ja Morant has had no problem shouldering the scoring load in Bane's absence, as he's scored at least 23 points in four of the Grizzlies' last five games, including two-point 30-point performances during that stretch. 

Without Towns occupying the paint, Morant can be even more aggressive with Rudy Gobert being the only "twin tower" that he'll have to contend with. Despite only having Bane for 12 games this season, the Grizzlies have still been one of the more dangerous offensive units around the NBA. Memphis is currently averaging 115.7 points-per-game (ninth in the NBA) and shooting 36.3 percent from three (12th in the NBA). Even with Towns and Gobert in the frontcourt, the Timberwolves still are giving up 116.0 points-per-game on the year, which is 23rd in the league.


💰 More NBA Picks

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Raptors at Pelicans, 8 p.m. | TV: NBA.TV

Latest Odds: Under 221.5

The Pick: Under 223.0 Points (-110)-- The Pelicans are among the league's top-scoring teams while the Raptors recently received a huge boost with the return of star forward Pascal Siakam. However, the under is still the way to go in Wednesday's contest.

The Pelicans are averaging 116.7 points-per-game, which is good for fifth in the NBA. New Orleans also ranks fifth in the league shooting the three with a 37.6 percent clip. That's not surprising when you have five players that shoot above 36.0 percent. However, the real reason I'm backing the under is because the Pelicans will be without Brandon Ingram (toe), CJ McCollum (conditioning from COVID-19 protocols) and Naji Marshall (illness) on Wednesday. It's hard to know where the points are going to come from.

In his first game back from a groin injury, Siakam scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in just 30 minutes of action. However, it's unclear if he'll still be on a minutes restriction.

Key Trend: The under is 7-1 in the Pelicans' last eight home games

Wizards at Nets, 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBA.TV
The Pick: Bradley Beal Over 22.5 Points (-137)
-- The Nets are one of the poorest teams when it comes to defending the three. That's why I'm more than confident in Wizards star guard Bradley Beal hitting his points prop in this spot.

The Nets ranked 28th defending the three with opponents shooting 38.0 percent from beyond the arc against them. Entering Wednesday, Beal is shooting 37.8 percent from long-range. In addition, the Wizards guard has netted at least 23 points in five of his last six games. Beal has also drilled multiple threes in four of those six contests during that stretch. The Nets' defensive deficiencies will likely get the better of them when attempting to guard the three-time All-Star.  

Key Trend: Beal has scored at least 23 points in five of his last six games