I have been entering March Madness bracket pools for nearly my entire life. I can remember the first one I was in. It was in my sixth-grade health class. My teacher, Mr. Manley (an incredibly apt name for a man who had to teach us about the female reproductive system), created a bracket pool for my class. All of his students were in it. I did not win it. I don't think I came close, but I was hooked on bracket pools from then on.
I've been joining them ever since and usually join multiple pools every year, but this year could be a first. We have a bracket pool for the Cover 3 Podcast I co-host, and while plenty of people have UConn as their champion (I'm one of them), nobody has Florida Atlantic, Miami or San Diego State. That means if UConn doesn't win the title, the winner of a pool with over 1,000 entrants will have one without picking the correct champion.
To the best of my knowledge, this has never happened in my lifetime of March bracket pools. If that doesn't summarize how unpredictable this year's NCAA Tournament has been, I don't know what does.
- Speaking of QB trades, the Aaron Rodgers trade could finally be happening. Maybe.
- Kevin Durant is tired of Charles Barkley.
- Where does FAU rank among the all-time Cinderella stories?
Let's get this money.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Bulls at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
- Key Trend: The Bulls are 5-1 ATS in their last six games.
- The Pick: Bulls +4.5 (-110)
I find myself in a somewhat awkward position tonight. Due to March Madness, I've spent most of the last month focused on college basketball (and soccer). Given my results, I can't say I have any regrets. However, now I find myself in the precarious position of only having NBA to bet! Thankfully, the numbers I always used before are still readily available, and I'm online enough to keep up with all the NBA narratives -- and really, what's more important about the NBA regular season than the narratives?
I've chosen this game to ease myself back in because, while I haven't been as dialed in on the NBA as a league, I'm a Bulls fan, and I have paid close attention to the Bulls all along. It's better to start with what you know, and what I know is that the Bulls Are Back.
Since adding Patrick Beverley to the mix, the Bulls are 10-5 overall and rank sixth in the league in net efficiency. The Bulls have been talented all season long, but lacked a vocal leader to hold them accountable on the court. Beverley has happily stepped into that role. His impact has been profound.
Tonight the Bulls will play in the Staples Center for the second straight day after beating the Lakers by 10 in LeBron's return Sunday. There will be no return for Paul George tonight, meaning the Bulls are facing a Clippers team at less than full strength. While the Clippers won their first game without PG against OKC, they lost by 21 at home to the Pelicans on Saturday. While the Clippers are a team that must be taken seriously as long as Kawhi Leonard is playing, the Bulls will keep this one close, if not win outright.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model is staying away from the spread here, but does believe there's decent value to be found on the total.
💰 More NBA picks
Mavericks at Pacers, 7 p.m | TV: NBA TV
The Pick: Pacers +4 (-110) -- A little peek behind the scenes here: my original pick was Pacers money line, as Luka Doncic was initially suspended due to picking up too many technical fouls. However, the NBA rescinded Luka's last tech on Monday, meaning he can play tonight. That caused quite a bit of movement on the line, but I'm still taking the Pacers, only now with the points
Listen, I know nobody could've seen it coming given his history, but it turns out adding Kyrie Irving to the mix didn't solve all Dallas' problems. In fact, the Mavs rank 20th in the NBA in net efficiency since Kyrie first suited up on Feb. 8 and are 7-13 in 20 games. Their defensive efficiency of 118 ranks 25th in the league. Perhaps more important to our interests, after covering in their first two games with Kyrie, the Mavs have gone 7-11 ATS. Finally, Kyrie or no Kyrie, the Mavs have been awful as road favorites all season, going 5-12 ATS. Meanwhile, this season, the Pacers are 15-9 ATS as home dogs. All the signs point to the Pacers being the right side tonight.
Pelicans at Blazers, 10 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
The Pick: Pelicans -11 (-110) -- The Blazers are in Tank Mode. There are only four games separating the Phoenix Suns (currently the 4-seed) and Utah Jazz (currently the 12) in the Western Conference standings. Portland is three games behind Utah and, with only eight games left in the season, doesn't see much point in pushing for the play-in. So Damian Lillard is being shut down, and Portland's concentrating on amassing as many lottery balls as possible.
The Pelicans are one of those teams between Phoenix and Utah. They're currently the 8-seed, a half-game behind Minnesota for seventh and a game behind Golden State in sixth, which would get them out of the play-in. In other words, New Orleans has all the motivation to win tonight. Lillard has missed their last two games: the first was a 28-point home loss to the Bulls, and the second was a six-point loss at home to the Thunder last night. The Blazers playing shorthanded on the second night of a back-to-back while New Orleans had yesterday off can't be ignored here, either.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Lace up your skates, because the Projection Model's lone A-graded play tonight is an NHL game between the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.