We lost our play on Philadelphia +3 early last week to dip below sea level for the first time all season. The long layoff has been nice after a couple losses to start the month. We’ll try to get back on track with the Utah Jazz visiting the Cavaliers of Cleveland tonight on NBA TV.
The majority of the eyes on basketball will be among the college ranks today with the start of the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Cleveland won’t have CSU to pull for, nor Ohio State, nor Akron, but they do have their Cavs who are still holding onto a two-game lead over Boston in the Eastern Conference standings. They won and covered their last game handily against the Pistons. But of their last six, the only other win came in Orlando.
The Jazz only have six players on its roster who played in the NCAA Tournament: Hayward and Shelvin Mack with Butler, Rodney Hood, Trey Lyles on that undefeated Kentucky team, Jeff Withey with KU and Joe Johnson in 1972 with Arkansas.
Utah actually went to Detroit last night after the Cavs blew out the Pistons at the Q and took care of business. A win in Cleveland tonight is a taller order, however, especially now that Utah looks more and more comfortable in that 4-seed out West.
But the Jazz beat the Cavs when they visited Utah and are one of the more consistently tough matchups in the day-to-day NBA. Former Arizona Wildcat Channing Frye could give Utah problems with his ability to shoot the basketball, but Tristan Thompson doesn’t have the kind of range to take Rudy Gobert very far away from the basket, unlike some other centers in the NBA. As long as Gobert can stay on the floor, Utah’s team defense will remain formidable.
I’m also wondering how Cleveland will handle a lineup with both Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward without Kevin Love, which could potentially exploit Richard Jefferson. But that’s right, Hood left last night’s game with a sore knee and probably won’t play tonight. As of now, that information isn’t available on Vegas Insider but I very much believe it to be true.
With some significant firepower out on both sides, we’ll go under the total.
Free Pick: Under 211