Happy Thursday! It's NBA Trade Deadline Day which means that if you're an NBA player reading this, you should definitely answer your phone if it's ringing. You may have just been traded. If you're not an NBA player, first of all, I'm sorry that you suck at basketball. That had to be difficult for you growing up. Also, make sure you keep up to date with every trade happening in the league with our trade deadline tracker. Our Jasmyn Wimbish is in there breaking it all down for you.
One of the trades Jasmyn wrote about was the one that saw the Orlando Magic send All-Star Nikola Vucevic to the Chicago Bulls. That's the trade that has caused me to be very distracted while trying to work this afternoon. The Bulls are back, baby! Well, they're back to behaving like a real NBA franchise in a major market rather than whatever the heck they've been doing for most of the last decade, anyway. It's a start!
It's also terrific news for the Bulls to make the playoffs future I took in late February. I got it at +420 then, and that number is likely to be dropping at books everywhere. So not only did my favorite NBA team get better today, but I'm probably going to win money because of it.
What a time to be alive! And what a time to catch up on today's other stories.
- The top 100 players in MLB entering the 2021 season.
- Chris Trapasso wants you to beware of these potential first-round NFL Draft picks.
- I wrote about why losing George Pickens to an ACL injury is a huge blow to Georgia's title hopes in 2021.
- My fellow soccer nerds, Serie A is coming to CBS Sports and Paramount+.
OK, so the Bulls are back and we've acquired Italian soccer. This is a great day already, but let's make it better with some winners.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Wizards at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
The Pick: Knicks -3 (-110): Remember a couple of days ago when we took the Knicks to cover the spread against the Wizards in New York, and then the Knicks went and won by 18 points? Well, nothing has changed since then. The spread is the same tonight, and I love the Knicks here just as much as I did then.
Now, I have to remind you that the NBA trade deadline can lead to a lot of chaos with team rotations, so keep that in mind before betting this game or any NBA game tonight. That said, the Knicks aren't going to trade away any core players today and instead will move on from bench players. The Wizards have already sent a couple of players to Chicago in a minor deal that will affect their bench depth, which only enhances the Knicks' value.
The Knicks don't stink. They're going to make the playoffs, and while I wouldn't expect them to get very far, they won't be an easy out. The Wizards are not nearly as good, even if they have the two biggest names in this game. Lay the points. The 18-point win wasn't an accident.
Key Trend: The Knicks are 7-2 ATS as home favorites this season.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model loves its play on this game more than I love mine.
💰 The Picks
🏀 College Basketball
No. 2 Richmond vs. No. 4 Mississippi State, 6 p.m. | TV: ESPN2
The Pick: Mississippi State -3.5 (-110) -- All right, so last week, I told you not to expect any more NIT picks from me in this newsletter. Well, what I hadn't considered when I wrote that was a small NBA slate on the night of the trade deadline, and I'm not interested in betting the NBA tonight unless it's an obvious value play like the one we have with the Knicks. So back to the NIT it is!
In short, I'm more impressed with what I've seen from Mississippi State recently than Richmond. The Bulldogs played in the SEC, which is proving to be a strong league in the tournament this season. Richmond limped to the finish line, losing its last two regular-season games before suffering an upset loss to Duquesne in its lone A-10 Tournament game. The Bulldogs come from the tougher league, played better to finish the season, and have been better defensively all year long. They're the smarter play here.
Key Trend: Mississippi State is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games.
No. 1 Colorado State vs. No. 3 NC State, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: NC State -1.5 (-110) -- The focus in the NCAA Tournament has been on how the Big Ten and Big 12 have underperformed. Well, the MWC wasn't seen as being a strong league during the regular season, and it lived up to that reputation in the tournament. Both San Diego State and Utah State bowed out quickly and quietly.
Tonight in the NIT, the Rams are taking on an NC State team that has won six of seven. The lone loss was a blowout loss to Syracuse in the ACC Tournament that looked terrible at the time but looks better now with Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Last week the Wolfpack cruised to an easy victory over a Davidson team that profiles similarly to this Colorado State team, and that only gives me more confidence the Pack will move on tonight.
Key Trend: Colorado State is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games as an underdog.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Mixed martial arts expert Ian Parker has revealed his top selections for UFC 260's card in Las Vegas on Saturday.
💸 The DFS Rundown
With the trade deadline today I'm limiting this section to building blocks. The players whose roles won't change and will not be traded before tonight's games.
PG: De'Aaron Fox, Kings
SG: Bradley Beal, Wizards
SF: Kawhi Leonard, Clippers
PF: Bam Adebayo, Heat
PF: Julius Randle, Knicks
There are no building block centers tonight! Save money there.
Full lineup advice
Get winning NBA DFS picks from SportsLine pros Mike McClure and Jacob Gibbs. McClure has won almost $2 million in daily Fantasy, while Gibbs crushed the NBA last season, cashing around 65 percent of the time in cash games and nearly 45 percent of the time in tournaments. See their DraftKings advice and FanDuel lineups here.
🏀 Final Four Futures
The NCAA Tournament doesn't resume until Saturday, so each day until then I'm going to include one futures bet on the winner of each regional. Today we look for the best value to win the Midwest
The Pick: Loyola Chicago to win the Midwest region (+170) -- Ignoring how incredible it would be if Loyola Chicago made another Final Four run, the fact of the matter is it's not a longshot right now. Loyola was ranked in the top 10 by both KenPom rankings and the NCAA's NET ratings before the tournament. That's why it was a crime the committee gave the Ramblers an eight-seed. Loyola's win over Illinois should've been a Sweet 16 win at a minimum, if not an Elite Eight game.
Alas, Loyola has persevered despite the committee's incompetence, and it gets Oregon State in the Sweet 16. It's better than the Beavers and should win that game to move on to face either Houston or Syracuse, two teams I think are a nice matchup for the Ramblers. Houston is a defensive team that's not great offensively, but Loyola's the country's best defensive team.
As for Syracuse, I don't think their zone would be a big problem for the Ramblers (it could be for Houston, though.) Cam Krutwig can pass out of the high post effectively to exploit holes in it, and the Ramblers have enough good shooters to beat it. I still think Houston is the most likely to come out of the Midwest, but the price on Loyola is more attractive.