Today's Top Picks: The Suns deserve better than this 15-point spread, plus a hot NIT pick
Also, watch SportsLine on CBS Sports HQ live at 6 p.m. ET for all today's best bets
After four straight days of non-stop NCAA Tournament action Monday shows up and smacks you in the face with a whole lot of nothing. The NBA schedule features only four games on the docket, while non-NCAA Tournament action offers a limited slate as well, and it's not exactly a who's who of teams playing.
The good news is there are nine NHL games to choose from on Monday, but the bad news is, when it comes to picking winners and totals in NHL games, you might as well be asking me to translate ancient Sumerian texts.
Thankfully, despite the limited options available, I do have three picks for tonight that I like. Two involve basketball of the professional variety, while the third is of the unpaid-professional variety. All odds listed are via Westgate.
We're nearing the end of the NBA's regular season, and every game takes on a bit more significance for teams in the playoff hunt. The Sixers seem locked into the No. 3 seed in the East no matter what happens, but the Magic currently find themselves a game out of the No. 8 seed, behind Miami. Orlando is only 35-38, and says everything you need to know about the depth of the Eastern Conference, but hey, somebody needs to be cannon fodder for the Bucks.
Anyway, as for this game, I like the under because Orlando is a pretty decent team defensively. You might be surprised to learn it ranks eighth in the NBA in defensive efficiency, ahead of the Sixers who are eleventh. Furthermore, the under has been a strong play in certain situations with the Magic this season. In Orlando's conference games the under is 27-16. When Orlando's an underdog, the under is 27-20. As for Philly, it's totals trends are pretty balanced across the board, but the under has gone 5-2 the last seven times the Sixers played on a day's rest.
Phoenix at Utah NBA, 9 p.m. ET (watch on fuboTV with the NBA League Pass extension)
I know the idea of counting on the Suns is daunting, but I assure you they've been better ATS than they are on the court. They're only 34-40 ATS overall, but they come to Salt Lake City having gone 6-0 ATS in their last six road games, as well as 8-3 ATS in their last 11 overall. My theory for this is that, with it being so late in the season, and the Suns being so bad, lines are becoming a bit too inflated, and it's providing value. This game is one of those times I believe that to be the cast. Also, Utah is returning home after a four-game road trip, and just beat the Bulls by 31 on Saturday. While the Jazz are 39-32-2 ATS overall this season, they're only 19-22-1 ATS coming off a win.
3. Norfolk State at Colorado: Colorado -14
NIT second round: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Are you pumped for some NIT basketball? Of course you are! Who wouldn't be? Norfolk State is facing a Colorado team that is just better than the Spartans are. Colorado is bigger and better offensively and defensively and should have a decided advantage on the glass.
Furthermore, what makes Colorado more attractive here is the free throw line. Norfolk State's defensive free throw rate of 42.7% ranks 338th nationally. They send opponents to the line a lot, and Colorado makes them at a 75.1% clip. All of which adds up to what should be a comfortable win for the Buffs.
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