Thursday, December 31, 2015

NHL Recap: Nashville Predators (1) vs. Dallas Stars (5) - 12/31/2015

NHL Recap: Nashville Predators (1) vs. Dallas Stars (5) - Date: 12/31/2015 Rookie Mattias Janmark's sixth December goal broke a tie late in the second period and Tyler Seguin scored twice in the third period goals as the Dallas Stars beat the Nashville Predators 5-1 on Thursday night. Jamie Benn and Patrick Eaves also scored for the Stars, who moved one point ahead of the East-leading Washington Capitals in the overall standings. Dallas and Washington, which lost on Thursday night, share the league-lead with 28 wins. Only the Stars, who lost on Tuesday night at Columbus, and the Capitals haven't lost consecutive games this season. Craig Smith scored his ninth goal of the season for the Predators in the second period, giving Nashville a lead that lasted about a minute and a half. Janmark's goal, his ninth of the season, came at 17:28 of the second period. Sports Handicap ping Sites. The play began with Jason Spezza beating Nashville's Mike Ribeiro to the puck near the Predators' blue line. Spezza skated in on the net and passed across to Janmark, who took the puck off his skate and shot over Pekka Rinne into the net's roof. On Benn's goal, he skated in slowly to the right of Rinne with defenseman Ryan Ellis situated between Benn and the net. Ellis dropped to the ice to prevent Benn from passing to Seguin in front of the crease. Benn instead wristed a shot over Ellis and past Rinne's stick side at 12:53 of the second period. Seguin's goals came at 8:03 and 15:56 of the final period. Smith had given the Predators a 1-0 lead at 11:22 of the period with a backhander that beat Antti Niemi to his stick side. Rinne, the NHL leader in goaltender minutes, hasn't won on the road since Nov. 5. He's 0-6-2 in away games since then. NHL Hockey Handicappers.  ;The Predators had the best scoring opportunity of the scoreless first period in the final minutes, when Spezza lost control of the puck right in front of his own crease. Nashville's Filip Forsberg collected the loose puck and flipped a backhand shot at Niemi, who brushed it aside. NOTES: Dallas has hosted a New Year's Eve game for 17 straight years. Soccer Picks. The franchise is 20-12-3 all time on New Year's Eve, including its previous 35 seasons in Minnesota. ... Shea Weber appeared in his 723rd career game for Nashville. Free NHL Hockey Picks. That tied him with Martin Erat for second place behind David Legwand (956). ... Dallas extended a home shutout streak to 167:08 before Smith's goal. ... Nashville's Cody Hodgson was a healthy scratch for the third straight game.

NBA Recap: Portland Trail Blazers (96) vs. Utah Jazz (109) - 12/31/2015

NBA Recap: Portland Trail Blazers (96) vs. Utah Jazz (109) - Date: 12/31/2015 Trey Burke scored a season-high 27 points, and the Utah Jazz cruised past the Portland Trail Blazers 109-96 on Thursday night. Burke made 12 of 19 shots, and Gordon Hayward had 23 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Rodney Hood finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Utah had dropped three of four. Top Rated Sports Handicappers. The Jazz grabbed control in the second quarter, outscoring the Blazers by 18 after the game was tied at 25 after one. Utah hit four 3-pointers during a 21-3 run. Portland's C. J. McCollum scored 32 points, including six 3-pointers. Meyers Leonard had 17, and Allen Crabbe added 15. NBA Basketball Handicappers. The Blazers are 2-3 in their last five games. Utah pla yed without Derrick Favors, who has been hampered by back spasms and missed his fourth straight game. Point Shaving. The banged-up Jazz also are missing Rudy Gobert (knee) and Alec Burks (lower leg) due to significant injuries. Free NBA Basketball Picks. TIP-INSTrail Blazers: Portland was held to 14 second-quarter points, the third-fewest it has scored in any quarter this season. ... McCollum has scored 20-plus points in nine of his last 12 games. Jazz: Utah was coming off a 94-80 loss at Minnesota on Wednesday night. It improved to 4-2 in the second game of back-to-backs. ... Elijah Millsap had seen an increase in court time due to injuries, but didn't enter until there was 2:03 left in the game. ... Utah shot 35 percent from the floor in the loss to the Timberwolves, and then 50 percent against Portland. FAVORS UPDATEFa vors has been receiving treatment and traveling with the team. He went through a pregame shooting routine Thursday. MISSINGPortland played without Damian Lillard, who missed his sixth straight game with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. MUCH NEEDEDHood's 18 points were his best total since he scored 23 on Dec. 13. Sports Handicapper Leaderboard. The Jazz need him to be a more consistent scorer, especially with Burks out. UP NEXTTrail Blazers: Visit the Nuggets on Sunday. Jazz: Host the Grizzlies on Saturday.

NHL Recap: Chicago Blackhawks (4) vs. Colorado Avalanche (3) - 12/31/2015

NHL Recap: Chicago Blackhawks (4) vs. Colorado Avalanche (3) - Date: 12/31/2015 Jonathan Toews scored a power-play goal at 3:29 of overtime, Patrick Kane extended his NHL points lead with a goal and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Thursday night. Artem Anisimov and Andrew Desjardins also scored for Chicago, which snapped a four-game losing streak to Colorado. Scott Darling, meanwhile, filled in for starter Corey Crawford and had 26 saves. Colorado erased a 3-1 deficit as Erik Johnson tied the game with less than 5 minutes remaining in regulation. Sports Handicapper Scams. Toews then answered on a man advantage after the Avalanche were called for too many players on the ice. Carl Soderberg and Cody McLeod scored for Colorado. Semyon Varlamov had 39 saves for Colorado and suffered his first loss in nine consecutive decisi ons against Chicago. Before Toews' game-winner, Kane provided much of the spark. He ended 2015 with 56 points in 39 games. On Thursday against the Avalanche, the same team that ended his 26-game point streak earlier in the month, he had two assists, including on Toews' goal. He also finished a 2-on-1 power-play chance early in the second to extend the lead to 3-1. NHL Hockey Handicappers. The Blackhawks (22-13-4) are now 22-8-4 when Kane gets a point and 0-5-0 when he doesn't. Anisimov was the first Chicago player to beat Varlamov this season. Free Winning Sports Picks. The Colorado netminder had 29 saves in a 3-0 win over the Blackhawks on Dec. 15 and nine stops on Thursday before Anisimov tied the game at 1-1 with 1:28 left in the first period. Desjardins and Kane followed suit and scored in the first 4:20 of the second period to ext end the lead to 3-1. Soderberg had a power play goal at 4:04 of the first period for the Avs, who scored first for the 11th consecutive game. McLeod cut the lead 3-2 in the second period with his first goal since Nov. 23. Notes: Jarome Iginla didn't score on Thursday and remained at 599 goals for his NHL career. ... Darling made only his second start of the month. ... Free NHL Hockey Picks. The Avs have scored first in 26 of 38 games this season, the most in the league.

NHL Recap: Minnesota Wild (3) vs. St. Louis Blues (1) - 12/31/2015

NHL Recap: Minnesota Wild (3) vs. St. Louis Blues (1) - Date: 12/31/2015 Erik Haula broke a third-period tie, Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves and the Minnesota Wild beat the St. Louis Blues 3-1 Thursday night. Nino Niederreiter and Thomas Vanek also scored to help the Wild start a four-game trip with just their sixth road win of the season. Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues' leading scorer, sat with a stomach ailment. St. Louis had won seven of its previous eight home games against Minnesota. Haula scored his third goal of the season and first since Nov. 10, a span of 18 games. He converted from a bad angle on the right side, slipping the puck past Jake Allen with 8:32 left in the third period for a 2-1 lead. Vanek added an empty net goal with 1:37 left. Dubnyk won his second start in a row. He made 29 saves in a 3-1 win over Detroit on Monday night. Niederreiter tied the game by jumping on the rebound of a shot by Justin Fontaine late in the second period. Allen made a kick save, but the puck went right to Niederreiter, who tallied his eighth goal of the season. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk gave the Blues a 1-0 lead earlier in the period with a power-play goal. Shattenkirk took a cross-ice pass from Alexander Steen, skated into the faceoff circle, and drilled a hard wrist shot into the upper-right hand corner past Dubnyk. Shattenkirk has seven goals and 16 assists in his last 24 games. NOTES: Minnesota LW Zach Parise missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury. He also missed eight games in November with a knee injury. ... St. Louis D Carl Gunnarsson played in his 100th game as a member of the Blues on Thursday. ... Sports Betting Handicapping. The Blues played 11 home games in December, the most of any team in the NHL. ... NHL Hockey Handicappers. Tarasenko entered the ni ght tied for second in the NHL with 22 goals. He also sat out the Oct. 31 game against the Wild with a knee injury. ... Sports Free Picks. The Wild lead the league with six shutouts.

NBA Recap: Los Angeles Clippers (95) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (89) - 12/31/2015

NBA Recap: Los Angeles Clippers (95) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (89) - Date: 12/31/2015 J. J. Redick scored 26 points for a second straight night, Chris Paul closed out a poor shooting performance with pivotal plays in the final minutes, and the Los Angeles Clippers capped an unbeaten five-game trip with a 95-89 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday. Paul missed 15 of his first 17 shots, but hit a 19-foot step-back jumper with a minute to go to give Los Angeles a 90-87 lead. Before and after that score, Paul assisted on baskets by Jamal Crawford. Paul, who finished with 12 assists, then added three free throws in the final 21 seconds. DeAndre Jordan had 20 rebounds and 11 points, and Crawford added 15 points for Los Angeles. Anthony Davis had 14 points and 15 rebounds for New Orleans, and Ryan Anderson scored 17 points. Before Paul went to the free throw line for the final time, Paul Pierce put his arm tightly around Pau l's shoulders as the pair walking together toward the foul line while the elated star guard repeatedly shouted, ''Hey!, Hey!'' at his teammates to punctuate what also was the Clippers' fifth straight win overall. Profitable Sports Handicappers. The Clippers were due to be in the air, bound for L. A., when the new year arrived. But they'd at least be together to celebrate a flourish to finish 2015. Profitable NBA Basketball Handicappers. Tyreke Evans had 14 points and nine assist for New Orleans, but missed 6 of 7 3-point shots. Norris Cole scored 15 points. Sports Betting Handicapping. The Clippers shot only 39 percent (35 of 90), but New Orleans was unable to take advantage. New Orleans shot 43.9 percent (36 of 82), but hit only 7 of 25 fr om long range and committed 16 turnovers while giving up 24 second-chance points. NBA Basketball Handicappers. The Clippers led by 11 early in the fourth quarter, but the Pelicans rallied to tie it with a 13-2 run that included seven points by Anderson. Jrue Holiday's put back tied it at 78 with 6:55 to go, setting up a testy, frenetic finish. New Orleans, which has played far better at home than on the road this season, led by as many as eight points in the first half, but Redick almost single-handedly kept the game from getting away from the Clippers. Reddick scored 13 of Clippers' first 15 points and had 17 in the first half, helping Los Angeles take a 50-48 lead into halftime. Free Picks Against the Spread. Through three quarters, the Clippers were shooting only 37.1 percent (26 of 70) and Paul was only 1-of-14 shooting. But Los Angele s led 71-63 thanks in large part to an 18-2 advantage in second-chance points. L. A. had 10 offensive rebounds at that point, seven by Jordan. Redick, meanwhile, was up to 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting at that point, including 4 of 5 from 3. Free NBA Basketball Picks. TIP-INSClippers: Clippers swept a trip of as many as five games for the first time in franchise history. ... Paul's record against the franchise where he began his career improved to 12-4. ... Paul's assists gave him 7,212 for his career, one ahead of Lenny Wilkins for 12th in NBA history. ... The Clippers improved to 8-0 this season when Redick scores at least 20. Pelicans: New Orleans fell to 7-7 at home while losing its second straight. ... New Orleans came in averaging 108.9 points at home and 97.1 on the road, but finished the game below even its road average. ... Eric Gordon had 10 points but made only 3 of 10 shots. UP NEXTCl ippers: Host Philadelphia on Saturday night. Pelicans: Visit Dallas on Saturday night.

NBA Recap: Golden State Warriors (114) vs. Houston Rockets (110) - 12/31/2015

NBA Recap: Golden State Warriors (114) vs. Houston Rockets (110) - Date: 12/31/2015 Klay Thompson scored 38 points, Draymond Green had a triple-double and the Golden State Warriors overcame star Stephen Curry's absence to beat the Houston Rockets 114-110 on Thursday night. Golden State was blown out by Dallas on Wednesday night for just its second loss of the season when Curry missed his first game since March because of a sore left lower leg. But the Warriors were able to outlast the Rockets thanks to the big night by Thompson, who made six 3s. Green had a career-high 16 assists and added 10 points and 11 rebounds. Houston cut it to 3 with a jump shot by James Harden with about 5 minutes left before Golden State scored the next six points, highlighted by an alley-oop dunk from Andre Iguodala to Bogut, to make it 111-102. Harden had 30 points for the Rockets. Number #1 Sports Handicapping Service. They have dropped seven straight regular-season games to the Warriors. Shaun Livingston made his second start of the season in place of Curry, who was injured Monday night against Sacramento, and finished with 13 points. Interim coach Luke Walton said Curry was feeling better Thursday, but that he was not ready to play. Before he sat out Wednesday, last season's MVP hadn't missed a game since March 13. Profitable NBA Basketball Handicappers. The Warriors led by eight entering the fourth quarter and had scored four straight points to extend their lead to 99-87 with about nine minutes remaining. Houston used a 13-5 run after that to cut the lead to 104-100 with about 6 minutes left. Dwight Howard scored four points in that stretch and Harden capped it with a 3-pointer. Sports Betting Handicapping. The game was tied after a 3-pointer by Thompson with about 9 minutes left in the third quarter before Houston used a 6-2 run, capped by a dunk from Howard, to take a 74-70 lead midway through the quarter. Houston led by 3 points about 3 minutes later when Golden State scored 10 straight points to take a 88-80 lead with less than a minute left in the quarter. NBA Basketball Handicappers. Thompson scored five points in that span and Iguodala added a 3-pointer before James Michael McAdoo capped it with a dunk following a turnover by Ty Lawson. Free Tennis Picks. The Warriors led 90-82 after three. Free NBA Basketball Picks. TIP-INSWarriors: C Festus Ezeli (toe) missed his second straight game. ... G Leandro Barbosa (left shoulder sprain) and F Harrison Barnes (spra ined left ankle) were not with the team. ... McAdoo got a cut over his right eye when he was hit by Howard on a dunk attempt in the first half. He went to the locker room soon after he was hit and returned with a Band-Aid over the cut. ... Iguodala had 20 points. Rockets: Harden received a flagrant 1 foul when he elbowed Bogut in the neck area on a charge in the first quarter. ... Former Rockets stars Dikembe Mutombo and Tracy McGrady watched the game from courtside seats. ... Howard blocked a shot by Livingston into the stands in the first quarter and shook his finger like Mutombo used to when he blocked shots, but the Hall of Famer hadn't yet arrived. ... Howard had 21 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. UP NEXTWarriors: Host Denver on Saturday night. Rockets: Visit San Antonio on Saturday night.

NBA Recap: Milwaukee Bucks (120) vs. Indiana Pacers (116) - 12/31/2015

NBA Recap: Milwaukee Bucks (120) vs. Indiana Pacers (116) - Date: 12/31/2015 Khris Middleton scored 33 points, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Indiana Pacers 120-116 on Thursday night. Greg Monroe added 23 points for Milwaukee, which shot 58 percent (45 for 77) from the field. Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and reserve Jerryd Bayless had 14 points apiece. Gambling Profit. The Bucks grabbed control with a 20-6 run in the third quarter. Profitable NBA Basketball Handicappers. The difference in the game was superb shooting from Milwaukee, and Indiana's 20 turnovers led to 35 points for the Bucks. Paul George led the Pacers with 31 points. George Hill added 15 points and six rebounds. Indiana trailed 111-95 after Michael Carter-Williams connected on a jumper for Milwaukee with 4:41 le ft. But the Pacers scored 19 of the next 25 points to close to 117-114 on George's two foul shots with 1:16 remaining. Solomon Hill's dunk trimmed the Bucks' lead to two with 7.7 seconds left, but Middleton hit two free throws to help Milwaukee stop a three-game losing streak. Basketball Handicappers. The night didn't start well for the Pacers and the Bucks made the most of their slow start. Milwaukee shot 59 percent in the first half and led by as many as 13 points on its way to a 59-52 lead at the break. NBA Basketball Handicappers. The Pacers opened up the third quarter strong, attacking the basket and driving instead of settling for pull-up jumpers and the result was an 11-2 run that put the Pacers ahead 63-61. But Milwaukee bounced right back, outscoring Indiana 28-14 to close out the third quarter. Free Sport Pick. TIP-INSBucks: All five starters scored in double figures, combining for 95 of Milwaukee's 120 points. Pacers: George scored more than 18 points for the first time since Indiana lost to Memphis on Dec. 19. GETTING OVER THE HUMPMilwaukee got its first win of the season over an opponent that shot 50 percent or better from the field. Indiana shot 50 percent (41 for 82). Free NBA Basketball Picks. The Bucks were 0-8 coming into the day when an opponent made at least half of its shots. They also improved to 3-17 when an opponent scores 100 points or more and 5-15 against teams with winning records. DEEP THREATSMiddleton and Bayless are among the best in the league from 3-point range so far this season. Middleton was 4 for 6 from beyond the arc against Indiana, and Bayless was 2 for 4. MISSING MAN IN MIDDLEIan Mahinmi, Indiana's starting center, was injure d in Wednesday's 102-100 overtime loss to Chicago and did not dress due to a sore left knee. Lavoy Allen started Thursday in place of Mahinmi and finished with 14 points and four rebounds. UP NEXTBucks: At Minnesota on SaturdayPacers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

NHL Recap: Washington Capitals (2) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (4) - 12/31/2015

NHL Recap: Washington Capitals (2) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (4) - Date: 12/31/2015 Eric Staal broke a tie 51 seconds into the third period and the Carolina Hurricanes went on to beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 on Thursday night. Phillip Di Giuseppe, Jeff Skinner and Andrej Nestrasil also scored, and Eddie Lack made 30 saves to help the Hurricanes end the Capitals' winning streak at nine games. Alex Ovechkin had his 21st goal for Washington, and Nicklas Backstrom also scored. Staal gave Carolina a 2-1 lead, and Skinner followed with his 15th of the season. Ovechkin cut it to one with 5:44 left, and Nestrasil had an empty-net goal in the final minute.

NHL Recap: Pittsburgh Penguins (5) vs. Detroit Red Wings (2) - 12/31/2015

NHL Recap: Pittsburgh Penguins (5) vs. Detroit Red Wings (2) - Date: 12/31/2015 Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin scored goals 34 seconds apart in the third period to help lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night. Las Vegas Handicappers. The Penguins have a five-game unbeaten streak at Joe Louis Arena, going 3-0-2 in that span. Crosby got a nice pass right in front of the net from David Perron and beat Detroit goaltender Petr Mrazek at 7:48 of the third, snapping a 2-2 tie. Crosby has three goals and five assists in his last six games. Malkin quickly made it a two-goal lead, scoring his 18th of the season at 8:22. Justin Abdelkader kicked off the scoring, collecting a rebound of Dylan Larkin's wraparound attempt and beating Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff at 6:47 of the first period. Abdelkader is tied for second on the Wing s with Gustav Nyquist with 12 goals. Larkin has 13. From nearly the same spot at the left side of the net, Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith rebounded Gustav Nyquist's shot to make it 2-0 at 12:15. NHL Hockey Handicappers. The Penguins responded in the second period with two power-play goals. Mrazek made the initial save on Patric Hornqvist's shot but the puck landed in the crease and Mrazek's right skate pushed it into the net 46 seconds into the period. At 11:49 of the second, Kris Letang got the Penguins' second power-play goal, beating Mrazek with a shot from the right circle. It was Letang's first goal since Oct. 13 against Montreal, snapping a 24-game drought. It's the first time this season that the Penguins have scored two power-play goals on the road. Letang scored an empty-net goal with 1:40 remaining in the game. NOTES: Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson returned to the lineup af ter missing five games with an upper-body injury. . Forward Darren Helm played in his 400th career game. . Sports Picks Free. Tomas Jurco played just five shifts for 4:09 in the first period, leaving with an upper-body injury. ... Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury missed his eighth game with a concussion. . Free NHL Hockey Picks. The Penguins sent defenseman Adam Clendening to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on a conditioning assignment.

NCAAF Recap: Oklahoma (17) vs. Clemson (37) - 12/31/2015

NCAAF Recap: Oklahoma (17) vs. Clemson (37) - Date: 12/31/2015 So much for Clemsoning. Make Money Betting Sports. The Tigers are headed to the national championship game. Deshaun Watson turned in another stellar two-way performance, running for one touchdown, passing for another and accounting for 332 yards to lead top-ranked Clemson to a 37-17 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Thursday. Clemson (14-0) dominated the second half and shut down Oklahoma's high-scoring offense, which had averaged 52 points over its last seven contests. Profitable NCAAF College Football Handicappers. The Sooners (11-2) actually came into the game as favorites, but the Tigers showed their perfect record was no fluke. Until this season, the Tigers were known for such inexplicable disappoin tments that a term was coined for it - Clemsoning. With one more win, they'll be known as something else. National champions.'' How `bout them Tigers, baby?'' coach Dabo Swinney screamed from the middle of the field, standing with a trophy full of oranges. ''It was an awesome second half. It's been 34 years since Clemson played for a national championship. It won't be much longer.'' Watson certainly lived up to the hype of being a Heisman finalist. He got off to a slow start passing, but came back to complete 16-of-31 for 187 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow that gave Clemson some breathing room late in the third quarter. Watson carried the running load in the early going, finishing with 145 yards on 24 carries and scoring the Tigers' first touchdown on a 5-yard run. He was named the offensive MVP. Hockey Handicappers. The game went back and f orth through the first half, the Sooners jumping ahead on an impressive first possession that culminated with Samaje Perine's 1-yard drive. Oklahoma went to the locker room with a 17-16 lead after Mark Andrews hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield with 1:34 remaining, and the Sooners defense came up with a pick in the end zone on an ill-advised throw by Watson into triple-coverage. If Watson was flustered by that pick, he sure didn't show it after the break. Clemson took the second-half kickoff and breezed down the field, covering 75 yards in 12 plays to reclaim the lead on Wayne Gallman's 1-yard run, the first of his two TDs. Oklahoma's first possession was the exact opposite: three straight yards-losing plays forced the Sooners to punt, setting the tone for the struggles they would face the rest of the game. Clemson, looking to become the first team in FBS history to finish 15-0, advanced to face either second-ranked Alabama or third-ranke d Michigan State in the Jan. 11 finale in Arizona. NCAAF College Football Handicappers. Those teams met Thursday night in the Cotton Bowl.'' We're not worried about who we play,'' said linebacker Ben Boulware, named the defensive MVP. On a balmy evening in south Florida, the orange-clad Clemson faithful gobbled up at least three-fourths of the seats at Sun Life Stadium, turning what was supposed to be a neutral-site game into Death Valley South. Free Tennis Picks. They had plenty to cheer about, even after Clemson lost one of its top players, defensive end Shaq Lawson. He went out with a knee injury in the opening minutes and watched the rest of the game from the bench. His defensive mates did just fine without him. A unit that surrendered more than 30 points in its last two games sacked Mayfield five times and held the Soon ers to 121 yards over the final two quarters. Clemson piled up 550 yards in the game, sealing the victory on Gallman's 4-yard touchdown run with 10:48 remaining. Free NCAAF College Football Picks. The Tigers played loose throughout, even pulling off some special teams trickery to set up their first TD. Punter Andy Teasdall flipped a 31-yard pass to Christian Wilkins, a 315-pound freshman defensive tackle. For Oklahoma, it was a disappointing end to a comeback season. After going 8-5 a year ago, including a 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl, coach Bob Stoops shook up his staff and guided the Sooners within two victories of their first national title since 2000. This season was a huge upgrade, but it ended with the same result: a dismal loss to Clemson at bowl time.'' They played more physically than we did,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. Mayfield threw for 311 yards and was intercepted twice, the second of which ended his season. After Boulware leaped to make the pick at the goal line, Mayfield dove into the linebacker to make the tackle, took a knee to the head and staggered off the field. Clemson will be going for its first national title since 1981, having shown that it can deal with injuries and any distraction that might come its way. Two days before the national semifinal game, Swinney suspended three players for violating team rules, including speedy receiver Deon Cain, one of the team's best deep threats. The coach insisted that it wouldn't be a distraction. He was right. There's no Clemsoning with this bunch.---Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .---AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org

NCAAB Recap: Providence (81) vs. Butler (73) - 12/31/2015

NCAAB Recap: Providence (81) vs. Butler (73) - Date: 12/31/2015 Rodney Bullock scored a career-high 25 points, Kris Dunn came close to a triple-double and No. 12 Providence rallied to beat No. 9 Butler 81-73 on Thursday in the Big East opener for both teams. Dunn had 20 points, seven rebounds and nine assists to help the Friars (13-1) to their seventh straight win. Kelan Martin led Butler (11-2) with 20 points, and Roosevelt Jones had 19. Winning Sports Handicappers. The Bulldogs had won eight games in a row. Profitable NCAAB College Basketball Handicappers. The difference in the second half was Providence's outside shooting. Baseball Handicappers. The Friars were 9 of 12 on 3-pointers in the second half. NCAAB College Basketball Handicappers. The Friars charged back quickly from a 36-25 halftime deficit, using an 18-3 run to take a 47-43 lead. After Butler tied it at 59, Providence went on an 8-0 run to take a 67-59 lead and closed it out with a game-ending 7-2 spurt. A sellout crowd came was revved up as it watched the Bulldogs seize control in the first half of only the second Top 15 matchup ever at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler rallied in the first one to beat Gonzaga on a buzzer-beater in January 2013. But Dunn and Bullock made sure this game didn't end in the same, stunning fashion. Ben Bentil's 3 with 13:48 left gave Providence the lead -- and the momentum it needed to fend off each Butler charge. Soccer Predictions. The Bulldogs came back to tie the score three times, the last coming at 59. Providence with eight straight points, then allowed But ler to score seven straight right after Dunn went to the bench with his fourth foul. Free NCAAB College Basketball Picks. That made it 67-66 with 4:17 to play. But Dunn's return helped get the Friars righted and they closed it out by playing defense and making free throws. PERFECT FINISHProvidence closed out the calendar year with a perfect finish, going 7-0 in December. The Friars only loss this season came Nov. 29 when they fell 77-64 to Michigan State on a neutral court. The Spartans were ranked No. 3 at the time. Providence has now beaten two Top 15 teams this season - then-No. 11 Arizona 69-65 on a neutral court and Butler on the road. TIP-INSFriars: Providence is off to its best start since 1988-89 when Rick Barnes' team was 12-0. ... Indiana native Ryan Fazekas did not play. ... The Friars have won four of the first five games in the series - all coming in the past two seasons. Bulldogs: Hinkle Fieldhouse was sold out for the second time this season. ... The Bulldogs are 7-1 on their home court, where they are averaging 97.9 points. ... Kellen Dunham's shooting slump continued. He finished with eight points on 3-of-14 shooting and is 10 for 60 in his last six games. UP NEXTProvidence hosts St. John's on Saturday. Butler visits No. 6 Xavier on Saturday.

NCAAF Recap: Houston (38) vs. Florida State (24) - 12/31/2015

NCAAF Recap: Houston (38) vs. Florida State (24) - Date: 12/31/2015 Greg Ward Jr. showed off his dual-threat talents on a national stage as he ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, leading Houston past turnover-plagued Florida State 38-24 in the Peach Bowl on Thursday. Ward, the nation's only player to run and throw for 1,000 yards this season, threw for 238 yards and ran for 67 yards as No. 14 Houston (13-1) scored the most points allowed by Florida State this season. Basketball Handicappers. The No. 9 Seminoles (10-3), who trailed 21-3 at halftime, tried to rally with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes by Sean Maguire. It wasn't enough to overcome five turnovers. Maguire, who was carted off the field with a lower left leg injury late in the first quarter, returned but threw four interceptions. Houston safety Trevon Stewart and cornerb ack William Jackson III each had two interceptions. Florida State star running back Dalvin Cook was held to 33 yards with a touchdown and a lost fumble. Florida State committed only 10 turnovers in the regular season. Ward, the junior who started at wide receiver early last season before becoming a full-time quarterback, had touchdown runs of 7 and 6 yards. He left the game briefly after taking a hit in the third quarter, and was shaken up again with about 4 minutes remaining. He returned to take the final snaps of the game, raising his arm in celebration before laying on his back, wallowing in the confetti which fell from the Georgia Dome roof. Houston backup quarterback Kyle Postma's 29-yard run set up Ryan Jackson's game-clinching 2-yard touchdown run with about 2 minutes left. Ward completed 25 of 41 passes with one touchdown and one interception. Houston's only loss this season, to Connecticut, came when Ward was out with an injury. He kept the Florida State defense off-balance by leading the Cougars' fast-tempo, no-huddle attack. Maguire's 65-yard scoring pass to Travis Rudolph cut Houston's lead to 24-17 early in the fourth quarter. Ward answered with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Chance Allen, who was left uncovered as Florida State sent a defensive back on a blitz. Maguire added a scoring pass to Jesus Wilson later in the final quarter. Maguire was hurt in the first quarter when hit by Houston linebacker Matthew Adams. Maguire couldn't put pressure on his left leg as he was supported by trainers before leaving the field on a cart. When Maguire was out, backup J. J. Cosentino completed only 1 of 4 passes for 5 yards. Maguire returned midway through the second quarter with a wrap around his left ankle and foot. NCAAF College Football Handicappers. The Seminoles were without quarterback Everett Golson, the Notre Dame transfer who began the season as the s tarter but was away from the team for the bowl game for personal reasons. Best Free Sports Picks. The Seminoles, held to a field goal on four first downs in the first half, finally reached the end zone on their first drive of the second half. Maguire kept the drive alive with two third-down completions to Kermit Whitfield, and his 26-yard pass to Rudolph set up Cook's 1-yard scoring run. On Houston's next possession, Florida State's Derwin James sacked Ward for a loss of 6 yards on a fourth-and-2 play, stopping the Cougars at the Seminoles 38. Free NCAAF College Football Picks. The momentum turned back to the Cougars two plays later, when Maguire's pass was intercepted by Stewart. Later in the third quarter, Stewart added another interception when Maguire tried a deep pass for Whitfield between two defenders. Maguire's last interception came with 25 seconds remaining. He completed 22 of 44 passes for 392 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.---AP College Football website: collegefootball.ap.org

NCAAB Recap: Xavier (64) vs. Villanova (95) - 12/31/2015

NCAAB Recap: Xavier (64) vs. Villanova (95) - Date: 12/31/2015 Ryan Arcidiacono hit seven 3-pointers, scored 27 points and showed No. 16 Villanova may again be the team to beat in the Big East, thumping No. 6 Xavier 95-64 on Thursday. Winning Sports Gambling. The two-time defending regular-season Big East championships and the 2015 tournament champs raced to a 20-point lead in the first half behind a 3-point happy offense and ended the Musketeers' (12-1, 0-1) undefeated season. Josh Hart scored the first 13 points of the second half for the Wildcats (11-2, 1-0) and had 15. James Farr led Xavier with 15 points. Profitable NCAAB College Basketball Handicappers. The Musketeers had a scare when freshman guard Edmond Sumner was taken off the court on a stretcher after a hard fall minutes into the game. Coach Chris Mack said Sumner was squeezing his hands and moving his legs. Villanova's only two losses had come against Top 25 teams, falling to No. 3 Oklahoma and now-No. 5 Virginia. Basketball Handicappers. The Sooners routed the Wildcats by 23 points and Virginia pulled away late in an 86-75 win. NCAAB College Basketball Handicappers. The Wildcats made 12 of 44 3s combined in those two games, a key reason they couldn't hang with either team for long. Against Xavier, the Wildcats connected with ease, making 13 of 25 overall. Arcidiacono, a 37-percent 3-point shooter, hit four in the first 8 minutes of the game for a 23-8 lead. When Arcidiacono finally missed one, Jalen Brunson swooped in for the offensive rebound and sank two free throws that stretched the lead to 19 points. Fighting Predictions. The Wildcats made 15 of their first 19 shots overall from the floor. Brunson didn't start because of a stomach virus, then made Xavier queasy with seven points in 7 minutes. Hart, Villanova's leading scorer with 14.8 points, didn't attempt a shot in the first half. No worries, he still found his points. He scored a layup off a turnover to open the second half, buried a 3, made a pair from the free-throw line and scored two more baskets for 13 points in just over 4 minutes. Arcidiacono's sixth 3 made it 72-44 and showed the road to a conference championship again goes through Villanova. Kris Jenkins scored 13 points and Daniel Ochefu had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Free NCAAB College Basketball Picks. The Musketeers, who beat two Top 25 teams en route to the best start in school history, missed 7 of 10 3s in the first half and didn't seem to reco ver emotionally from Sumner's injury. Sumner was driving to the basket when he collided in midair with Jenkins and crashed to the court. Jenkins, 6-foot-6, 240-pounds, appeared to land on Sumner's head and plow it into the court. Sumner was motionless on his back for several minutes until he finally raised his knees. Mack, trainers and teammates checked on Sumner, who is averaging 11.7 points and among the more promising freshman in basketball. TIP-INSXavier: Xavier has not defeated Villanova since it joined the Big East in 2013. (0-6). ... Xavier's 12-game winning streak was the longest since it won 16 straight in 2002-2003 season. ... The Musketeers have never been ranked higher than sixth in the Top 25 poll. Villanova: The Wildcats have a career 156-247 record against ranked teams. ... Villanova is 6-7 against top 10 teams at the Pavilion. ... Coach Jay Wright is 52-66 against ranked teams at Villanova. WHAT'S NEXTXavier: Hosts Butler on Saturday . Villanova: Plays at Creighton on Saturday.

NBA Preview: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz - 12/31/2015 - 9:00 PM EST

NBA Preview: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 09:00 P.M. EST Venue: EnergySolutions Arena   It may be appropriate for Portland Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard to return Thursday night. Sports Monitor. The visiting Trail Blazers have the league's sixth-worst record in the second game of a back-to-back and would gain a boost if Lillard is back to face the cold-shooting and short-handed Utah Jazz. Lillard has missed the last five games due to plantar fasciitis, though he went through a pregame workout before Wednesday's third straight win, 110-103 at home over Denver. Profitable NBA Basketball Handicappers. The guard, averaging 24.6 points, played in 275 consecutive games to begin his career." I haven't played since the Miami game (Dec. 20) so I gotta get my wind under me, I'm sure it won't take much," Lillard said. "It's just a matter of being comfortable." Portland � 40;14-20) will try to improve upon a 2-7 record in the second half of back-to-back contests. Utah is 3-2 in such contests and returns home after Wednesday's 94-80 loss at Minnesota. Salt Lake City is also very familiar to Lillard, who attended college at nearby Weber State. He scored a season-high 35 points in the lone 2015-16 matchup with Utah, a 108-92 road victory Nov. 4. Sports Bettors Email Leads. The Jazz (13-17) were healthy back then but don't have center Rudy Gobert and third-leading scorer Alec Burks for this rematch due to injuries. Second-leading scorer Derrick Favors has missed three straight games due to back spasms." We need to hang in there, (it's) tough on a back-to-back against a team that's playing really well that obviously beat us at home earlier," coach Quin Snyder said. "It is what it is as far as what we're looking at for our roster a nd who we've got." Utah's two worst shooting performances have come in its last two games. NBA Basketball Handicappers. The Jazz shot 33.3 percent in Monday's 95-91 win over Philadelphia before connecting at 35.0 two nights later." I think as long as we just continue to make the right play, find the open man, the open man shoots the ball (with) confidence, we drive the ball with confidence and try to get in the paint, get easy opportunities, we'll make shots the majority of our nights," said guard Trey Burke, who scored a team-high 23 off the bench. Free Sports Picks of the Day. Top scorer Gordon Hayward will be happy to be home. He's averaging 25.5 points in his last four games there compared to 8.7 on 24.1 percent shooting in his last three on the road. Portland's C. J. McCollum is averaging 26.7 points in this win streak after he scored 29 on Wednesday. He has been playing point guard with Lillard out.'' I like how he's scoring without necessarily forcing the issue. He's picking his spots well, he's running the team well,'' coach Terry Stotts said. ''He's playing with a lot of composure and confidence, not only as a scorer, but as a point guard.'' Allen Crabbe, who has moved into the starting lineup with Lillard out, is averaging 18.7 points while shooting 10 for 21 from 3-point range in the last three games.'' It's what I've been waiting for since I got into the league. A lot of hard work is paying off,'' Crabbe said. ''We're out there moving the ball, executing and the game is just fun for us right now.'' The Blazers have won seven of nine against the Jazz.

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NBA Preview: Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets - 12/31/2015 - 7:00 PM EST

NBA Preview: Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 07:00 P.M. EST Venue: Toyota Center   The Golden State Warriors have survived an injury to their head coach, but they're clearly not the same without their best player. Coming off their worst loss in nearly three years, the Warriors conclude a brief road trip Thursday night against the Houston Rockets with Stephen Curry's status in question. With Curry unavailable due to a bruised lower left leg, the Warriors had by far their worst performance under interim coach Luke Walton in Wednesday's 114-91 loss at Dallas. Handicapper Return on Investment. They trailed by as many as 30 in their most lopsided defeat since a 140-109 setback at Houston on Feb. 5, 2013. Golden State shot 40.7 percent while failing to replace Curry's league-leading 30.5 points per game. Klay Thompson managed just 10 points and Draymond Green had 11 as both finished 4 of 15 from the field.'' We had great looks," Thompson said. "It was just one o f those nights.'' The Warriors (29-2), second in the NBA with a 48.3 percent field goal percentage, shot under 41 percent for only the third time during their historic 31-game start with Walton running the team as Steve Kerr recovers from back surgery. One came during the Dec. 12 loss at Milwaukee that halted their 28-game regular-season winning streak, the other in a double-overtime win at Boston a night earlier.'' He's one of those rare players in this league that affects the entire game just by being on the court,'' Walton said of Curry. ''Obviously without him the spacing won't be as good.'' Walton hinted that he may rest Curry again Thursday, a move the erratic Rockets surely won't object. Profitable NBA Basketball Handicappers. The reigning MVP averaged 31.2 points while shooting 49.1 percent on 3-pointers to lead the Warriors past Housto n in five games during last season's Western Conference finals. He then scored 25 in 27 minutes in a 112-92 rout at Houston on Oct. 30 for Golden State's ninth win in the past 10 matchups, including the postseason. Curry isn't the only Golden State player ailing. Harrison Barnes remains sidelined with an ankle sprain, reserve guard Leandro Barbosa (sprained shoulder) is expected to miss a third straight game and center Festus Ezeli (toe) also sat out Wednesday. Houston (16-17) is relatively healthy with forward Terrence Jones over an illness that kept him out of Tuesday's game against Atlanta, though it's hardly in top form. After dropping a 110-108 decision at struggling New Orleans on Saturday, the Rockets squandered a 16-point third-quarter lead in a 121-115 loss to the Hawks. Football Tipsters. The Rockets shot a torrid 69.2 percent during a 71-point first half bu t 36.4 percent after the break, and had 11 of their 20 turnovers over the final two quarters." We gave up too many offensive rebounds and we turned the basketball over," guard James Harden said. "We're kind of beating ourselves in that aspect." Harden was 6 of 16 from the field and is shooting 36.2 percent over a three-game stretch, though Dwight Howard ended 10 of 12 for a season-high 30 points and added 16 rebounds. Howard wasn't much of a factor in the teams' previous meeting, mustering nine points on 4 of 11 shooting while saddled with foul trouble much of the night.

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NHL Preview: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes - 12/31/2015 - 6:00 PM EST

NHL Preview: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 06:00 P.M. EST Venue: PNC Arena   Injuries aren't slowing down the NHL-leading Washington Capitals and recent history indicates the Carolina Hurricanes are also unlikely to do it. With at least center Jay Beagle and top defenseman John Carlson out Thursday night against the Hurricanes, the Capitals go for their longest winning streak since setting a franchise record nearly six years ago. Washington (28-6-2) is off to the best start in club annals, and it's won nine games in a row after scoring four unanswered third-period goals to rally for a 5-2 win over Buffalo on Wednesday. Sports Handicapper Leaderboard. The comeback effort was made even more impressive considering the Capitals lost Beagle (upper-body injury) and center Nicklas Backstrom (undisclosed) in the second period. Profitable NHL Hockey Handicappers. They were already with out Carlson, who has been out two games with a lower-body injury. Carlson has already been ruled out for Thursday, while Beagle will undergo surgery and miss significant time. Backstrom's status is unknown." We are pretty relentless as a team," goaltender Braden Holtby said. "(Obviously, the injuries) makes it tougher. World's Best Handicapper. Those guys play a huge role on our team but we are just going to have to find different ways to win if they are out." The Capitals are aiming for their longest winning streak since a team-record 14-game run from Jan. 13-Feb. 7, 2010. NHL Hockey Handicappers. They're also opening a five-game trip seeking six consecutive road victories for the first time since Feb. 20-March 15, 2011. Alex Ovechkin has six goals and two assists in the last six games after scoring twice in the thir d period Wednesday. Free Sport Pick. The star left wing is among the league leaders with 20 goals, but he's only netted six on the road. Ovechkin has 37 points in 30 career visits to Carolina but is pointless in four straight, including a 2-1 win Dec. 21. Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves for that victory, and he's likely to get the nod again after Holtby made 25 stops Wednesday to improve to 16-0-1 with a 1.76 goals-against average in his last 18 games. Grubauer is 4-2-1 with a 2.30 GAA, and he's allowed three goals in winning both his starts in Raleigh. Free NHL Hockey Picks. The Capitals are 7-1-1 in their last nine matchups with the Hurricanes, winning four of five on the road. The Hurricanes (15-17-5) are 3-3-1 in their last seven games and trying to bounce back from Tuesday's 3-2 loss at New Jersey. They only allowed four shots in the third period but two got past Cam Ward, with the decisive tally deflecting off Justin Faulk with 3:05 left." This one definitely hurt us," captain Eric Staal said. Staal is looking to build on his two goals from Tuesday, ending his nine-game drought. The center hasn't scored in seven straight home meetings with Washington, but he contributed an assist last week. Faulk leads Carolina with 14 goals and 30 points, but he was held off the score sheet against the Devils after totaling two goals and an assist over the previous two games. The defenseman's 12 power-play goals are the most in the NHL. He hasn't scored in his last 15 games against the Capitals and doesn't have a point in three straight.

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NHL Preview: Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers - 12/31/2015 - 9:00 PM EST

NHL Preview: Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 09:00 P.M. EST Venue: Rexall Place   The Edmonton Oilers' anemic power play is unlikely to get a boost against one of the NHL's best penalty killing teams. Sports Betting Leads. Then there's the matter of Edmonton's woeful history against the Anaheim Ducks. NHL Hockey Handicappers. The slumping Oilers have lost three in a row heading into Thursday night's division game against the Ducks, who remain on the road after beating the hottest home team in the league. Free Picks for Today. The Oilers (15-20-3) opened a six-game homestand with a 5-2 loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday, ending a seven-game winning streak at Rexall Place. Free NHL Hockey Picks. The Kings scored on Cam Talbot three times in 96 seconds early in the second period t o make it 3-0." Things were going pretty well for us, we were doing a lot of things we wanted to do against a real good team," said Edmonton coach Todd McLellan. "And in a matter of a minute and a half, the bottom falls out on us for a number of reasons. Best Sports Handicapping Services. That was disappointing." The Oilers have been outscored 26-12 while going 1-5-1 since Dec. 15. Profitable NHL Hockey Handicappers. This follows a season-high six-game winning streak during which they outscored opponents 22-15. Taylor Hall, who has a team-high 15 goals, has not scored in his last six games. Worse, their power play has been woeful. The Oilers are 0 for 10 in their last 16 games and 3 for 35 over their past 14." The thing for us is, you want to be able to generate momentum," Edmonton forward Jordan Eberle told the tea m's official website. "We don't want to create momentum for the other team by giving them opportunities or just chasing the puck back and forth and just wasting energy." Edmonton's limp power play will meet one of the NHL's best penalty killing units, as the Ducks rank near the top of the league with an 87.7 percent success rate. The Oilers have struggled mightily in the series but rallied to beat the Ducks 4-3 in overtime on Nov. 11, the first of five scheduled meetings between the Pacific Division rivals. It snapped a six-game losing streak in Anaheim for the Oilers and was the first time in 10 trips there they scored more than two goals. Anaheim has been dominating the series, winning 21 of the past 26 meetings, and the Oilers have not won consecutive matchups since 2007. The Ducks (14-15-6) are coming off a 1-0 win over Calgary on Tuesday that snapped the Flames' franchise-record 11-game home winning streak. John Gibson made 14 sav es, half of them in the final period, to post his third shutout of the season." We had a game plan to try to clog up the neutral zone, try to slow them down. We did a pretty good job of it," the 22-year-old goaltender said. Anaheim, in the midst of a three-game road trip, is 10-0-1 this season when leading after two periods. The Ducks have won two in a row overall after being outscored 17-7 during a 1-3-1 stretch. Edmonton defenseman Brandon Davidson could return to the ice after missing the past four games with a rib injury.

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NHL Preview: Los Angeles Kings vs. Calgary Flames - 12/31/2015 - 9:00 PM EST

NHL Preview: Los Angeles Kings vs. Calgary Flames - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 09:00 P.M. EST Venue: Scotiabank Saddledome   The Los Angeles Kings are unbeaten entering the final stop on a four-game road trip, which could prove to be the most challenging of the stretch. Number #1 Sports Handicapping Service. They've struggled against Calgary the last two seasons, and the Flames are looking to close out an impressive December on Thursday night as they've started to turn their season around. While the Kings (23-11-2) won 5-2 over Edmonton on Tuesday and have outscored opponents 14-5 in the last three games, the Flames (17-17-2) fell 1-0 to Anaheim and saw their franchise-record 11-game home winning streak come to an end. Even so, Calgary has gone 9-3-0 following a three-game skid to end November. Profitable NHL Hockey Handicappers. Tuesday marked the first time the high-scoring Flames failed to earn at least a point when allowing fewer than three goals, and they were limited to a season-low 14 shots." It is frustrating," captain Mark Giordano told the team's official website. "We were right in the game the whole game. We were in a little bit of a rut in the second (period) when we couldn't get through the neutral zone, and they got the majority of chances. In the third, we evened it out, but you've got to give them credit, they played a good road game." While players such as Johnny Gaudreau were cooled off - he'd scored five goals in his previous two games - the Flames have also started to play at least to a manageable level in their own zone. Sports Handicapper Leads. They allowed 3.58 goals per game through November, and with a 2.50 mark in December, have pushed their season average down to 3.22 - though that's still tied with Arizona for the highest in the NHL. Karri Ramo has been a big part of the improvement, posting a 1.90 goals-against average in a 5-3-0 span after going 8-8-1 with a 3.06 mark prior. He faced the Ducks and will again be in goal against Los Angeles as Calgary concludes a four-game homestand. Ramo is 3-0-0 with a 1.86 GAA in four career games against the Kings. NHL Hockey Handicappers. The Flames are 7-3-0 in their last 10 in the series with three straight home wins, but Los Angeles is in position for its first four-game road winning streak of the season. Best Sports Picks Today. The run is the Kings' most productive three-game stretch offensively - home or away - all season, with back-to-back five-goal efforts after they reached the mark once in their first 34 contests. Free NHL Hockey Picks. Those came on two straight nights, with Dustin Brown and Trevo r Lewis each scoring with two assists against the Oilers. Dwight King also had a goal and an assist in his season debut on a line with Brown and Lewis after missing nearly half of the season with a broken foot." I think we play to each other's strengths," King said. "Probably a forechecking line is how you'd describe us and we're hard on pucks. We were rewarded tonight for our opportunities which was nice to see, but I just like to compete and battle to get pucks and throw them to the net." Tyler Toffoli also scored and has six goals and an assist in his last four games, while Anze Kopitar has recorded a goal and six assists on the trip. The scoring has taken some pressure off Jonathan Quick, but things haven't necessarily been easy. He faced 44 shots against the Oilers, marking the third time in seven games he's seen at least 42. Quick has won all three of those and has posted a 1.89 GAA in an 11-2-1 span. However, he's won once i n his last six games against the Flames with a 2.59 mark.

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NHL Preview: Winnipeg Jets vs. Arizona Coyotes - 12/31/2015 - 9:00 PM EST

NHL Preview: Winnipeg Jets vs. Arizona Coyotes - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 09:00 P.M. EST Venue: Gila River Arena   The Winnipeg Jets are treating the end of December as a fresh start, and one of their youngest players is in the middle of the turnaround. Rookie goaltender Connor Hellebuyck looks to continue his hot stretch as the rejuvenated Jets seek their first three-game winning streak when they visit the Arizona Coyotes on New Year's Eve. Winnipeg (17-17-2) opened the season 7-3-1 in October but is just 10-14-1 since, slumping into the Christmas break with losses in four of five games. But a 101:10 shutout streak from their 22-year-old netminder this week helped the Jets to home wins over Pittsburgh and Detroit. Hellebuyck logged his first career shutout in Sunday's 1-0 win over the Penguins and he didn't allow a goal in Tuesday's 4-1 victory over the Red Wings until early in the third period. He improved to 7-3-0 this season while lowering his goals-against average to 2.01. More importantly, Hellebuyck helped the Jets to their first winning streak sin ce the opening week of December." We had some nights going into the Christmas break that we played really well and didn't have a good result and that takes it toll," coach Paul Maurice said. "They get to feel good, a little better every day and a little more optimistic. We're keeping that faith." Jacob Trouba scored two goals in Tuesday's win as the Jets tallied more than one for the first time in four games. Winnipeg's offense was inconsistent entering the break, scoring an average of 1.2 goals in its last five losses compared to 4.8 in its last four wins." That left a bad taste in our mouth over the Christmas break," Winnipeg's leading scorer Blake Wheeler told the team's official website. "... and that allowed us to come back even hungrier." Next, the Jets will see if they can sustain success away from home. Track Handicappers. They op en an eight-day, five-game road trip on Thursday, looking to end of a five-game road losing streak. Winnipeg has lost 11 of its last 12 as visitor, the final 10 losses coming in regulation. Winnipeg's offense will draw a favorable matchup against another young goaltender trying to settle an awful stretch of defense for Arizona (17-16-3). Second-year netminder Louis Domingue has a 4.21 GAA while suffering both of the Coyotes' losses in three game since the Christmas break. Anders Lindback surrendered three goals on five shots in the first period of Tuesday's 7-5 loss to Chicago, and Domingue allowed three more on 22 shots after coming on in relief. It was the second game in less than two weeks that the Coyotes have given up seven goals, and they have allowed at least five in seven of their last 13 games. Arizona is tied with Calgary for the worst defense in the league with a 3.22 GAA, and that number rises to 3.92 since the beginning of December. NHL Hockey Handicappers. The Blackhawks scored on three of four power-play opportunities, pushing opponents to 7 of 15 against Arizona's penalty kill in the last four games.'' We need saves. Your goaltending is a big part of your penalty kill,'' coach Dave Tippett said. ''It shows us just how far we've got to go.'' Shane Doan tallied a hat trick against Chicago, tying Dale Hawerchuk for the franchise record with 379 career goals. Doan scored seven goals in 74 games with Winnipeg during his 1995-96 rookie season. Handicappers Free Picks. The Jets' seventh win in the last eight games of this series was a 3-2 victory on Nov. 21 in Winnipeg.

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NHL Preview: Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars - 12/31/2015 - 8:30 PM EST

NHL Preview: Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 08:30 P.M. EST Venue: American Airlines Center   The last time the Dallas Stars lost consecutive games, their playoff chances took a major hit. Top Rated Sports Handicappers. There's quite a bit more breathing room should it happen again. Even so, they'll try to avoid it Thursday night against the visiting Nashville Predators with hopes of ending the 2015 portion of the schedule atop the entire NHL. Profitable NHL Hockey Handicappers. Those back-to-back losses came March 30 and April 3, and a four-game winning streak to end the season wasn't nearly enough to sneak into the postseason. NHL Handicappers. They must not have liked the feeling because they've since gone 31-8-3 with an NHL-best win total, never even linking losses of any kind, though that could happen after Tuesday's 6-3 defeat in Columbus." F or some reason we think we can come in against these weaker teams and outscore them, but that's not how it works in this league," captain Jamie Benn told the team's official website after extending his point streak to six games. "You've got to play good team defense." It was a reminder Dallas (27-8-3) remains a team that can occasionally get torched in its own zone. NHL Hockey Handicappers. The Stars have allowed at least six goals four times, which is the most in the league and all have ended in losses of at least three goals." It was everything," coach Lindy Ruff said. "Our team defense was probably the worst on the year. We started off not defending, we had pockets of good defending. It was a team loss. Everybody was in on it." Kari Lehtonen allowed three goals on 14 shots in the first period and was replaced by Antti Niemi to start the second. Lehtonen hasn 't made it beyond a period in two of his last three starts, so Niemi figures to face Nashville. He took the loss against the Blue Jackets but has been the better option with a 1.53 goals-against average and .946 save percentage on a 3-1-1 span. He's posted shutouts in his last two games against the Predators, but those came with San Jose. Prior to Tuesday's defensive letdown, Dallas had outscored opponents 21-7 during a 4-0-1 span, so there's no real cause for concern. Patrick Sharp continued to come on offensively, scoring for a second straight game to extend his point streak to six games with four goals and five assists. He's been limited to two assists in his last nine regular-season games against Nashville. Colton Sceviour also tallied for the third time in four games after managing a goal in his first 31 contests. Basketball Predictions. The Predators and Stars have split 10 gam es over the past two seasons with Dallas holding a 28-27 scoring edge, though the Stars are 4-1-0 at home. Nashville (18-12-7) is coming off Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss in St. Louis but left upbeat, having overcome a 3-1 deficit in the final four minutes of regulation against the Western Conference's No. 2 team. Free NHL Hockey Picks. The Predators have followed a three-game skid with 3.60 goals per game over a 3-1-1 span." I think we were just pressing," center Mike Fisher told the team's official website. "We felt good about our game and we were getting pucks and getting chances. We felt like it was just a matter of time that we were going to get our break and we did. ... We ended up with those last two goals, which were key." Carter Hutton faced the Blues, so Pekka Rinne figures to return. Rinne hasn't won on the road since Nov. 5, going 0-5-2 with a 3.30 G AA and .880 save percentage since. He's won seven of his last 10 against Dallas with two shutouts.

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NBA Preview: Los Angeles Clippers vs. New Orleans Pelicans - 12/31/2015 - 8:00 PM EST

NBA Preview: Los Angeles Clippers vs. New Orleans Pelicans - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 08:00 P.M. EST Venue: Smoothie King Center   It was probably an unthinkable feat when they lost Blake Griffin this past weekend, but the Los Angeles Clippers have a chance to sweep a five-game road trip for the first time. Sports Picks for Today. They need only to top the last-place New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night. Griffin was expected to miss at least two weeks when he tore a tendon in his left quad in a 94-84 win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day. Instead of folding without their leading scorer, the Clippers (20-13) have extended their win streak to four and matched their 4-0 start. Free NBA Basketball Picks. The team's reserves have played a significant role, averaging 48.3 points and 17 more than in the first 30 games. Sports Handicapper King. They scored 47 in a 122-117 win over Char lotte on Wednesday. Austin Rivers had a season-high 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting while starting guard J. J. Redick hit 8 3-pointers and scored 26 to lead six players in double figures." It's by committee," point guard Chris Paul said. ''When you're missing somebody as big as Blake is for us, we're just trying to make do and stay afloat until he gets back." In their attempt to make history, the Clippers will seek to end New Orleans' season-high three-game home win streak. Profitable NBA Basketball Handicappers. The Pelicans (10-21) edged Houston 110-108 on Saturday for their lone victory in their last three overall contests. Sports Bettors Email Leads. They were beaten 104-89 in Orlando on Monday with Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans their only starters in double figures. Eric Gordon had three points on 1-of-6 shooting after scoring 26 and making 10 of 12 shots against Houston. New Orleans went 13 of 24 from 3-point range versus the Rockets and 5 of 20 on Monday." We have games where we're really locked down, very unselfish and everyone scores, but we're just not consistent with that," Gordon said. "We don't do it day in and day out each game and when things don't go right, it takes a toll on our whole team." The Clippers have won 11 of 14 over New Orleans and earned a 111-90 victory in the first meeting this season Nov. 27. Doc Rivers rested his starters in the fourth quarter of that game while Davis was forced to leave in the third after bruising his right knee in a collision with Paul. Redick had 20 points in that game and is averaging 18.3 while shooting 47.8 percent from beyond the arc in his last four matchups. NBA Basketball Handicappers. The Clippers have lost in each o f their last two visits to New Orleans, and the Pelicans prevailed 108-103 in the latest Jan. 30 even with Davis sitting out because of a strained left adductor. The closest the Clippers have come to sweeping a road trip of five games or longer was a 6-1 mark Nov. 19-29, 2014. They swept a four-game trip Dec. 11-17, 2012. Gordon is averaging 22.3 points in his last three games against his former team and had 28 points in the most recent matchup in New Orleans. The Clippers acquired Paul in the Dec. 14, 2011, trade that sent him to the Big Easy.

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NHL Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues - 12/31/2015 - 8:00 PM EST

NHL Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 08:00 P.M. EST Venue: Scottrade Center   Generally strong defensive play and timely offense has the St. Louis Blues rolling toward the new year. Make Money Betting Sports. The Minnesota Wild appear to be returning to their elite form in their own end - which seems to point to a low-scoring affair in Thursday night's matchup at Scottrade Center. St. Louis (23-12-4) defeated Nashville 4-3 in overtime Tuesday, winning for the sixth time in eight games on Alexander Steen's goal with under a minute remaining. Profitable NHL Hockey Handicappers. The Blues, though, blew a two-goal lead when the Predators scored twice in a 2:20 span late in the third - the second goal coming with 1:32 remaining.'' It's hard to have to check all the time,'' coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''Sometimes with our team when we get comfortable, that's when we get our selves in trouble. We got comfortable.'' Nashville outshot the Blues 33-18 in regulation, but St. Louis outshot the Predators 6-0 in OT.'' This team, when they get a lead, it's so hard to come back because they collapse and they block a lot of shots,'' Predators defenseman Shea Weber said. St. Louis bounced back from Sunday's 3-0 loss to Central Division-leading Dallas, by far the highest-scoring team in the league. Jake Allen didn't start that game and has gone 7-2-0 with a 1.76 goals-against average in his last nine starts after making 30 saves Tuesday. Allen, expected to be in net Thursday, has split a pair of starts against Minnesota this season. He won 3-2 in overtime in the most recent one Oct. 31, making 29 saves. Soccer Handicappers. The Wild (19-10-6) gave up nine goals in back-to-back losses Dec. 19 and 21 - a season-high six against the Stars in the second of t hose - but have since won two of three, giving up one goal in each victory. Minnesota's 1.77 GAA since Dec. 1 is among the top marks in the league. Its 2.40 GAA overall is among the top 10 in the NHL, close behind St. Louis' 2.36. NHL Hockey Handicappers. Top goalie Devan Dubnyk provided a spark Monday, starting in place of the injured Darcy Kuemper despite a cut on his arm and making 28 saves in a 3-1 home win over Detroit." It says a lot," captain Mikko Koivu told the team's official website. "The way you show that you have character is to step in, and even if you're not probably 100 percent, you want to be there. For the teammates that's a sign you want to see." Dubnyk had allowed 10 goals in his previous three starts - all defeats. He's 3-8-1 with a 3.79 GAA in 12 career starts against St. Louis, taking the loss Oct. 31 but beating the Blues 3-2 at St. Paul on Oct. 10. He made 30 saves and gave up one goal in the third, when Minnesota was outshot 13-1. Free Picks Against the Spread. The Wild are tied for the fewest road games this season with 15, but the schedule is about to start evening that out. Minnesota's four-game road trip opens a stretch in which it plays 12 of 17 away from home. Free NHL Hockey Picks. The Wild have gone 3-5-5 in their last 13 on the road, scoring two or fewer goals in the past six. Steen, with two goals in his last three games, has recorded four goals and nine assists in his past 10 in this series. Blues rookie center Robby Fabbri has scored four goals in his last five games.

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NBA Preview: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers - 12/31/2015 - 6:00 PM EST

NBA Preview: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 06:00 P.M. EST Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse   An inability to defend the 3 has been one of the biggest reasons for the Milwaukee Bucks' struggles on the roadThat's not a good sign for facing one of the league's top 3-point shooting teams in the Indiana Pacers, who have already bombarded the Bucks from deep once this season. Sports Handicapping Monitor. The Pacers, however, have the disadvantage of playing on a second straight night Thursday when they face a Milwaukee team trying to avoid losing for the 15th time in 16 road games. Profitable NBA Basketball Handicappers. The Bucks (12-21) are allowing opponents to shoot a league-worst 40.1 percent from 3-point range on the road and surrendering an average of 10.0 made 3-pointers during a 1-14 stretch outside Milwaukee. Indiana (18-13) made 15 of 30 3-pointers in a 123-86 home win over the Bucks on Nov. 2 1, their most lopsided victory of the season. Free Sports Handicappers. The Pacers had six players score at least 12 while Milwaukee's leading scorer was Greg Monroe with 11. Indiana has won 11 of 13 at home and shoots 36.7 percent from 3-point range, but Milwaukee may be catching a break with the Pacers finishing up a back-to-back after Wednesday's tough 102-100 overtime loss in Chicago. After storming back from 14 down, Indiana looked like it was going to win as it took a seven-point lead with just over 2 1/2 minutes to go, but the Bulls closed regulation on an 11-4 run. Chicago answered Monta Ellis' game-tying 3-pointer with 3.7 seconds left with Jimmy Butler's alley oop with 1.2 to go, and Butler then defended Paul George's tip-in attempt as time expired. Coach Frank Vogel was irate there was no foul called on Butler on the game's final play but that wasn't the only reason why the Pace rs lost.'' We were up seven and pretty much in control before we got to OT," George said. "We let this one get away.'' George had another poor shooting night, going 7 of 20 - the eighth time in 10 games he shot less than 40 percent - and matched a season high playing 42 minutes. NBA Basketball Handicappers. The quick turnaround seems problematic for George, who is shooting 29.1 percent - including 4 of 25 from 3-point range - in the second half of Indiana's last three back-to-backs with the Pacers being outscored by an average of 15.3 points in losing each. Ellis is averaging 7.0 points on 37.5 percent shooting in the second half of Indianapolis' last four back-to-backs and C. J. Miles has totaled seven points on 3-of-16 shooting in the last two. Miles, second on the team in scoring at 14.6 points per game, was scratched about an hour before Wednesday's tipoff due to a sore lower back. He had a team-high 21 points against the Bucks last month as the Pacers won for the eighth time in nine meetings in Indianapolis. Khris Middleton had a career-high 36 points and made 6 of 9 3-pointers Tuesday in Milwaukee's 131-123 loss at Oklahoma City.'' We're not going to be able to win with just one man doing everything, though," said Middleton, who also had seven assists. "We need to play as a team and figure it out.'' Over the last five games, Middleton is shooting 57.1 percent while averaging 23.6 points - 7.8 better than his season average. He had eight points on 3-of-11 shooting against Indiana last month. Giannis Antetokounmpo also had a huge game Tuesday, finishing with 27 points and 10 rebounds after totaling 15 points and 11 boards in his previous two contests. He scored nine in the first meeting with Indiana. Hockey Picks. The Bucks have lost three st raight and six of eight. Free NBA Basketball Picks. This is their fifth three-game losing streak of the season and haven't lost four in a row since March.

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NCAAB Preview: Providence vs. Butler - 12/31/2015 - 2:30 PM EST

NCAAB Preview: Providence vs. Butler - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 02:30 P.M. EST   Hinkle Fieldhouse has held its share of big games over its 87-year history. Track Handicappers. The next one could top them all. NCAAB College Basketball Handicappers. The historic venue will pit top 15 teams for only the second time ever when No. 9 Butler hosts 12th-ranked Providence Thursday afternoon in a marquee Big East opener for both surprising programs. Hockey Picks. This is a matchup of two of the nation's hottest teams. Butler (11-1) has won eight straight since losing to No. 13 Miami in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off title game on Nov. 22 and Providence (12-1) six in a row since falling to top-ranked Michigan State in the Wooden Legacy championship on Nov. 29. Each owns signature wins as well, with the Bulldogs handing then No. 9-Purdue it s lone defeat on Dec. 19 in Indianapolis and the Friars dealing eighth-ranked Arizona its only loss Nov. 27 in Anaheim. Free NCAAB College Basketball Picks. Those impressive credentials have created arguably the most anticipated matchup at Hinkle Fieldhouse since Butler's memorable 64-63 triumph over No. 8 Gonzaga on Jan. 19, 2013. Leading Handicappers. The Friars' success has been less expected, having been picked fifth in the Big East preseason poll after losing 2014-15 conference scoring leader LaDontae Henton. Profitable NCAAB College Basketball Handicappers. They've done it largely by taking care of the ball and taking it away from the opposition, with reigning co-Big East Player of the Year Kris Dunn leading a group that's committed just 10.2 turnove rs per game and forced 15.3. Reaching that standard figures to be tough against a Butler team that's been one of the nation's most efficient. The Bulldogs, picked third in the conference, rank second in Division I at 89.9 points per game, sixth in fewest turnovers (9.8 per game) and seventh in field goal percentage (51.2). The Bulldogs, led by accomplished seniors Kellen Dunham (15.6 ppg) and Roosevelt Jones (13.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg), have five wins by at least 27 points, the latest Monday's 92-54 blowout of IUPUI that improved them to 20-3 at home since the start of last season." Our older guys have shown great leadership throughout this non-conference portion of the schedule," coach Chris Holtmann said. "They've had the right approach and that has led to a terrific non-conference record. We're proud of that. But we also know what's coming. We have some of the best teams in the country in the next few weeks." Providence's rise has been made possible by the emergence of sophomores Ben Bentil (18.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg), Rodney Bullock (13.6 ppg, 7.5) and Jalen Lindsey (8.7 ppg) to help ease the burden on Dunn, whose 3.18 steals per game is second nationally. The Friars come in off a 10-day break following a 90-66 rout of Massachusetts on Dec. 21 in which Bentil posted a career-high 32 points and 12 rebounds." To Ben's credit he's really developed and is playing with a purpose,'' coach Ed Cooley said. ''He's a tough matchup. Anybody who can go off the bounce and go inside and out, those are some scary numbers he put up.'' Dunn added 14 points and 11 assists after missing the previous two games due to illness. The All-America candidate tallied 20 of his 25 points in the second half to rally Providence to a 66-62 victory at Butler on Jan. 6, the Friars' second win at Hinkle in as many years. They' re 3-1 in the series since the Bulldogs joined the Big East in 2013-14. Butler held Henton to eight points and went 20 of 20 from the foul line to win 68-64 at Providence on March 7.

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NHL Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings - 12/31/2015 - 6:00 PM EST

NHL Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 06:00 P.M. EST Venue: Joe Louis Arena   Sidney Crosby acknowledged that the Pittsburgh Penguins' unsteady performances of late will likely make it stressful on the team in the closing months of the season. Number #1 Sports Handicapping Service. The Detroit Red Wings are also searching for consistency as they close out the 2015 portion of their schedule Thursday night. A 3-7-2 mark in its last 12 games has pushed Pittsburgh out of playoff position, and the Penguins (17-15-4) fell to 2-5-1 under new coach Mike Sullivan with a 3-2 shootout defeat to Toronto on Wednesday." We know down the stretch it's going to be tight," Crosby said. "I don't know how it's going to work out in the end, but every point is important. Our desperation level has to be there every night now." The Penguins are also 3-6-1 in their last 10 road games heading into the first of three matchups this season with Detroit. Profitable NHL Hockey Handicappers. The Red Wings (18-12-7) are 2-4-2 in their last eight and 1-2-1 at home since winning a season-high four in a row there. Football Tipsters. They scored one goal in each of their back-to-back losses to close out a three-game road trip and only avoided a shutout against Winnipeg on Tuesday when Pavel Datsyuk tallied a power-play goal in the third period. Detroit had six opportunities with a man advantage and outshot the Jets 34-25." We had a lot of good chances," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "You've just got to keep believing in yourself. Once you get that chance, you have got to really bear down and take advantage of it." Jimmy Howard struggled again in net in that 4-1 defeat, allowing four goals on 14 shots before he was pulled in the second period. He's 0-1-3 with a 3.77 goals-against average in his last five games. NHL Hockey Handicappers. That likely means that Petr Mrazek, 3-3-0 with a 1.79 GAA in his past seven appearances, will start Thursday. Mrazek has split his two starts against the Penguins and made 42 saves in a 5-1 victory March 15. Pittsburgh has played without starting netminder Marc-Andre Fleury since Dec. 14 and Fleury returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since suffering his concussion. Matt Murray made his fourth career start Wednesday and Jeff Zatkoff could be in net for the finale to this back-to-back set. Zatkoff is 0-4-1 with a 2.97 GAA in his last five starts but is coming off a strong 27-save performance Sunday in Winnipeg. He matched a career high by giving up six goals in a loss to Boston in his prior start Dec. 18. Zatkoff won his only start against Detroit on Dec. 14, 2013. Sports Handicapper Picks.  ;The Red Wings have alternated wins and losses in their last eight games against Pittsburgh and won two of three last season. Free NHL Hockey Picks. They have needed overtime to claim each of the past two matchups at Joe Louis Arena. Zetterberg has nine goals and nine assists in 14 career regular-season games against Pittsburgh with at least one point in each of the past 10. Niklas Kronwall has three goals and seven assists in an eight-game point streak against the Penguins. Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin has eight goals and 14 assists in his past 18 matchups with Detroit including the postseason.

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NCAAB Preview: Xavier vs. Villanova - 12/31/2015 - 12:00 PM EST

NCAAB Preview: Xavier vs. Villanova - Date: 12/31/2015 Time: 12:00 P.M. EST   Villanova has been the class of the Big East in the past two seasons, while Xavier has merely been trying to make its presence felt in a new conference. Now the Musketeers hope to prove their historic start hasn't been a fluke as they face their toughest test in the league opener against the Wildcats. In their first meeting since the 2015 Big East tournament title game, sixth-ranked Xavier looks to remain one of the nation's four unbeatens Thursday night when they try to end No. 16 Villanova's 33-game winning streak at The Pavilion. Free Guaranteed Sports Picks. The Wildcats have won the past two Big East regular-season titles while the Musketeers have finished third and sixth since arriving from the A-10 in 2012-13, reaching the NCAA Tournament both seasons. Free NCAAB College Basketball Picks. The Musketeers appear poised to make a run at toppling Villanova this season after earning their highest AP ranking during their school-best 12-0 start." (Xavier) is a Sweet 16 team (2015) that has most of the team back," Wildcats coach Jay Wright told the team's official website. "That experience for a team is really valuable. ... You're seeing all that really evolve in their team this year." A talented young backcourt has keyed Xavier's success. Sophomore Trevon Bluiett is averaging a team-high 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds, while freshman Edmond Sumner ranks second with 11.7 points per game. Sumner scored 13 of his season-high 21 points in the second half Dec. 22, and Bluiett had 14 of his 17 after halftime as Xavier rallied back from a 18-point deficit by shooting 59.0 percent in the second half of a 78-70 win at Wake Forest. Sports Handicapper Tracker. The Musketeers are averaging 81.4 po ints - more than five better than Villanova - with five players scoring in double figures. Profitable NCAAB College Basketball Handicappers. They've also been dominant on the boards, ranking in the top five nationally with a plus-12.9 rebounding margin. Mack's club, however, will be tested by the Wildcats, who rank in the top 15 nationally with 59.1 points allowed per game and are in the top 10 with a 37.1 defensive field-goal percentage. Top Rated Sports Services. They only have a plus-1.0 rebounding margin, but amassed a 80-58 advantage on the glass over their past two." They challenge you when they're on the defensive end," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "They're pecking at the ball. NCAAB College Basketball Handicappers. They fly to penetration and take charges." Villanova (10-2) has regrouped following an 86-75 loss at then-No. 8 Virginia on Dec. 19 by topping Delaware and Penn by a combined 50 points at home. This will be the first time a top 10 team has visited The Pavilion since No. 4 Pittsburgh defeated No. 9 Villanova 57-54 on Feb. 12, 2011. The Wildcats, however, have won there on 11 of the 14 occasions when both teams have been ranked. Xavier has dropped five straight in this series by an average of 14.4 points, including a 69-52 loss in the Big East tournament title game March 14.'' As soon as the ball goes up, we're going to be ready,'' Villanova forward Daniel Ochefu insisted. ''Everyone knows, the Big East is a whole different beast.'' Freshman Jalen Brunson is gaining confidence for the Wildcats, shooting 9 for 18 from 3-point range over his last four games. He scored 20 of his season-high 22 points in the second half of Monday's 77-57 home win over Penn in Big 5 play and is third on the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game. Brunson has helped pick up the scoring while Kris Jenkins deals with a sprained right knee he suffered against Delaware. The junior forward finished with just two points on three shots in 19 minutes off the bench on Monday.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

NHL Recap: Philadelphia Flyers (2) vs. San Jose Sharks (4) - 12/30/2015

NHL Recap: Philadelphia Flyers (2) vs. San Jose Sharks (4) - Date: 12/30/2015 Joe Pavelski scored twice in the third period to help the San Jose Sharks snap a four-game home losing streak by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Wednesday night. Pavelski scored the tiebreaker just after a power play with 6:15 left and added a power-play goal in the final minute. Brent Burns and Joe Thornton added power-play goals for the Sharks, who entered with the worst home record in the league at 4-10. Martin Jones made 17 saves. Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers. Philadelphia has one win in its past 19 meetings against San Jose. Steve Mason got the late nod to start in goal in place of the sick Michal Neuvirth. He made 29 saves. Sports Picks Today. The game got chippy at times with one fight, a few other scuffles and a hard hit by Burns on Chris VandeVelde duri ng a third-period power play for San Jose. Free NHL Hockey Picks. The Flyers took exception to the hit and VandeVelde had to be helped to the dressing room. Best Sports Picks of the Day. Then just as Shayne Gostisbehere came out of the penalty box, Pavelski knocked in a one-timer off a cross-ice feed from Justin Braun to give the Sharks the lead. Burns helped give the Flyers the lead with a turnover and then tied it with a power-play goal in the opening minutes of the third period. Profitable NHL Hockey Handicappers. The giveaway came near the offensive blue line, sending the Flyers on a 2-on-0 breakaway that Couturier turned into a goal. But after R. J. Umberger was called for slashing in the offensive zone, Burns converted at the other end on a nice feed to the slot from Lo gan Couture. Couture had two assists in just his fifth full game of the season for the Sharks. Couture missed eight weeks with a broken right leg and then got hurt again in his second game back and underwent emergency surgery Dec. 10 to repair a bleeding artery in his right thigh. Couture also got an assist on San Jose's first goal when Thornton beat Mason high from the side of the net on a power play midway through the second period with Nick Schultz in the box for hooking. Sports Picking Services. That extended Thornton's point streak to seven games. But the Flyers tied it late in the period with an unusual goal. Giroux was taking a faceoff against Thornton in the circle to the left of Jones and whacked the puck instead of trying to win it back to a teammate. NHL Hockey Handicappers. The puck hit an unsuspecting Jones in the c hest, fell to the ice and trickled into the net for the equalizer. NOTES: The team that has scored first has won the past 21 games at the Shark Tank. ... Flyers D Mark Streit returned to the lineup after missing 19 games with a groin injury. ... Philadelphia D Michael Del Zotto sat out with an injured left wrist.