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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL, FIFA World Cup and NCAAB Previews and Odds - 12/09/2022

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Dec 09, 2022

The Friday sports card features action in the NBA, NHL, NCAAB, and FIFA Men’s World Cup.The National Basketball Association has ten games on its docket. Three games tip off at 7:10 PM ET. The New York Knicks visit the Charlotte Hornets as a 4-point road favorite, with the total set at 225. The Indiana Pacers host the Washington Wizards as a 5-point favorite. The Toronto Raptors go on the road to Orlando to play the Magic as a 7.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 220. Three NBA games start at 7:40 PM ET. The Brooklyn Nets play at home against the Atlanta Hawks as a 7.5-point favorite with a total of 228.5. The Cleveland Cavaliers host the Sacramento Kings as a 5.5-point favorite. The Philadelphia 76ers play at home against the Los Angeles Lakers on ESPN. The 76ers are on a three-game losing streak after their 132-123 upset loss at Houston as an 8-point favorite on Monday. The Lakers have lost two in a row after a 126-113 loss at Toronto as a 12-point underdog last night. Philadelphia is a 3-point favorite with an over/under of 224.5. The Memphis Grizzlies are at home against the Detroit Pistons at 8:10 PM ET as a 10-point favorite with a total of 227.5. The Phoenix Suns travel to New Orleans to play the Pelicans at 8:40 PM ET as a 1.5-point road favorite with a total of 227. The Utah Jazz host the Minnesota Timberwolves at 9:10 PM ET as a 3-point favorite with an over/under of 236. The Milwaukee Bucks travel to Dallas to play the Mavericks on ESPN at 10:10 PM ET. The Bucks have won six of their last seven games after a 126-113 victory against Sacramento as a 6.5-point favorite on Wednesday. The Mavericks are on a three-game winning streak after a 116-115 upset win at Denver as a 5-point underdog on Tuesday. Milwaukee is a 1-point road favorite with a total of 223. The National Hockey League has ten games on its slate. Four games drop the puck at 7:07 PM ET. The Calgary Flames play at Columbus against Bluejackets as a -250 money line road favorites with an over/under of 6.5. The New Jersey Devils host the New York Islanders as a -195 money line favorite with a total of 6. The Pittsburgh Penguins are at Buffalo against the Sabres as a -150 money line road favorite with an over/under of 6.5. The Washington Capitals play at home against the Seattle Kraken as a -130 money line favorite with a total of 6. The Winnipeg Jets visit the Chicago Blackhawks at 8:37 PM ET as a -150 money line road favorite with an over/under of 6. Two more NHL games begin at 9:07 PM ET. The Edmonton Oilers host the Minnesota Wild as a -130 money line favorite with a total of 6.5. The New York Rangers are at Colorado to play the Avalanche as a -150 money line road favorite with an over/under of 6. The Boston Bruins play at Arizona against the Coyotes at 9:37 PM ET as a -325 money line road favorite with a total of 6. Two more NHL games start at 10:07 PM ET. The Vegas Golden Knights host the Philadelphia Flyers as a -255 money line favorite with an over/under of 6. The San Jose Sharks visit the Anaheim Ducks as a -120 money line road favorite with a total of 6.5. The college basketball schedule has 12 games involving Division I teams. None of these games are on national television.The FIFA Men’s World Cup resumes with the opening two matches of the quarterfinals on Fox. Brazil battles Croatia at 10 AM ET as a -1.5 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.5. Argentina goes against the Netherlands at 2 PM ET as a -0.5 goal line favorite with a total of 2.5.

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Bowl Season Handicapping: Three Factors to Consider

by Kyle Hunter

Thursday, Dec 08, 2022

College football bowl season lines are already up. If you are a fan of college football, this is a really fun time of the year. How many bowl games are there in all? There are a whopping 43 games. Because this year January 1st is a Sunday, there are no bowl games set on Sunday since that is an NFL day. There will be plenty of games around the holidays though. If you are betting on bowl games, here are three factors to consider when placing your bet. #1- Motivation- In past years motivation was about the only thing you need to know in order to pick winners in bowl games. Things are far more complex in college football now than they were then. Still, motivation is crucial when handicapping bowl contests. Which teams want to be there the most? I’m not going to pretend deciding which team is the most motivated is always an easy thing to do, but it better be something you consider. I like to fade teams who had far higher aspirations and landed in a smaller game. Also, if a team hasn’t been to a bowl game in a long time, they are highly likely to be excited for this opportunity.#2. Opt Outs/Transfers- Here is the part that wasn’t even part of the equation looking back ten years or so. It gradually started happening more, and now it is a massive part of handicapping the game. Why would Tulane be getting hammered against USC? Why would Kansas State be getting hammered by bettors against Alabama? Obviously those bettors are assuming a lot of key players from both USC and Alabama will sit out. This is another reason why I in general am more cautious about releasing plays very early in bowl season. A lot of things can happen between the final game of the regular season and the bowl contest.#3. Location- The location of the bowl game matters for a couple key reasons. First, how far is the team having to travel and will their fans be able to get to the location easily? Second, are they traveling to a location where college players will be excited to go play? This ties back to the first point on motivation. If the game is being played in Hawaii, it is pretty easy to see why anyone would be excited to go there. What if the game is played in the middle of nowhere on the day after Christmas? Then you have to question who actually wants to be there.Good luck on all your plays in bowl season. Keep these three factors in mind! 

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World Cup Futures (Updated)

by Amedeus Mastrangelo

Thursday, Dec 08, 2022

The World Cup has been filled with many surprises up to this point with some big upsets in the group stage to some more straight forward matches in the Round of 16. There have been some teams that are performing much better than expected and others who have not lived up to the expectations coming into the tournament. Now it has been whittled down to just 8 teams left in the tournament and it is time to see who has the best chance of taking the trophy home of the remaining teams. To Win Outright Brazil +170: Brazil was the big favorite coming into the tournament and they are still the favorite to win the whole thing coming into the quarter-finals. Brazil is one of the most talented teams in the tournament and they have a lot of depth on their bench with enough talent at every position for some of these bench players to even be starters. They did not play their best in the group stage as they won their group with 2 wins and 1 loss, but they put any doubters to bed in the Round of 16 with a dominant performance in the first 30 mins against South Korea as that match was well over by then. Brazil still looks like one of the strongest teams left in the tournament and even though there is not a lot of reward for taking them to win at this point in the tournament, they still have a very good chance of winning it all which puts some value in this line still.  France +400: France is coming into this match as the 2nd favorite on the board and understandably so as the defending World Cup Champions have been very dominant in every game they have played with a full strength lineup. They only had 1 blunder in the group stage with a 1-0 loss to Tunisia and that was due to the fact that they had already advanced and were looking to rest their star players. They looked even better in their knockout match against Poland as Poland had no answer for their attack the entire match, but it is still tough to find value in France here considering the route they have to go through. France has to play their next match against England which will be a very tough task and even if they do get by them, they will still have to play 2 very tough teams to win the trophy and all of those matches against good opponents could start to take a toll on them later in the competition. It is also very difficult for a country to win B2B World Cups which makes France’s chances of winning it again even worse here. France very well could go all the way and win it all but considering their side of the bracket and the injuries they have to key players, there is not a whole lot of value in France here. Argentina +600: Argentina is coming into the quarter-finals as the next option on the list and they are a side that suffered one of the biggest shocks in the group stage. They lost their very 1st match of the tournament and it was a huge upset as they lost to Saudi Arabia who was pegged as the weakest team in the group coming into the tournament. Argentina managed to pull themselves together in their next few matches as they have won 3 straight coming into the quarter-finals, but their defense has not been great in their matches and this issue could come back to haunt them later in the competition against a much better team than what they have faced. They have played 4 teams so far and none of them have been very strong teams, they were by far the best team in their group and even in the last round they got to take on Australia who just barely qualified for the tournament in extra qualifiers. They really have not faced a very good team yet but their defense showed its flaws in their last match as they got comfortable with their 2 goal lead conceding a late goal to Australia and then almost gave up another very late goal which would have tied the match. This lack of focus on defense will come back to bite them and they still have to go through some very good teams to get to the finals. They are going to be facing their 1st real test in this tournament with their next match and until they show some better play, there is no value in them going all the way with such good teams left still. England +600: England is coming into the quarter-finals as another +600 contender here but they still have a very tough road to go through to get to the finals. Their next match is against the defending World Cup Champions but this England side still has a lot of depth in their squad and they have proven to be a very tough team to beat in this tournament. England was not playing very well prior to the tournament as they were in very poor form and even got themselves relegated in UEFA Nations League. They did make a very deep run in the last Euro Cup though and this team is starting to look much different than the one that was coming into this tournament. England has still been very stout with their good defense but their attack has also looked a lot better and has been scoring a lot more goals. They really have not faced a team like France yet so this will be their most difficult match yet, but they are not dealing with as many injuries to their squad and they have a lot of depth at every position if they need to rotate players deeper in the tournament. England also has the extra motivation of being the runner up in the last Euro Cup so they have a deep hunger to make a big run and they have been one of the most in-form teams in the tournament thus far. England has a tough road to the finals but a very good team with lots of depth and there is still some real value in them making a deep run.  Portugal +600: Portugal is coming into the quarter-finals as another +600 favorite to win the trophy and they have already proven themselves to be a real threat moving forward. They were very dominant in their matches in the group stage as they were in complete control of both of their wins. They only lost the 1 match against South Korea but in a match where they had already qualified and were resting players for the Round of 16. Their strategy really worked as they came out in their match against Switzerland and completely embarrassed them with another dominant performance. They benched Ronaldo in that last match and all that did was show how much of a better team they are without him as they have a lot more pace and were able to fly by defenders quite easily to create scoring chances. Their next match is going to be against Morocco and because of this they have a bit of an easier path to getting to the finals with less powerhouse teams in their way. Portugal also has the depth along with their talent in the starting lineup to make a very deep run with the form they have been in. They have a lot of attacking power but a good defense and midfield as well which will make them a very tough team to break down even for the best in the World. With the form they are currently in, they have a lot of value at this price to win the entire tournament.  Netherlands +1600: Netherlands is coming into the quarter-finals as an even larger underdog to win the tournament than they were at the beginning of it. They were not at their best in the group stage but they still managed to win their group with a banged up squad and looked very dominant in their win over USA in the Round of 16. They were not great in the group stage but they have also been getting healthier the deeper we get into it and they have been getting better and better on the pitch in each match as they continue to play. They have finally found a solid answer for their attack in Gakpo and Depay which will only compliment their very strong midfield and defense. Even when they are not at their best, they have shown that they are a very clinical and disciplined team that does not make a lot of mistakes in their matches and they are an extremely tough side to break down defensively. They do not have the best road to the finals as they will likely have to take out the 2 biggest South American powerhouses on their way there, but both do have their flaws and considering the tactical mindset of the Netherlands when they play, they will be able to frustrate a lot of their opponents with good defense. They have a lot of value at this price as they have the talent and the skill to make a deep run and pull off some big upsets along the way.  Morocco +4000: Morocco is coming into the quarter-finals as one of the biggest longshots left in the tournament. They have played very well in their matches as they have taken down some really good opponents and their defense has proven themselves to be very tough to crack. They do have one big issue with their attack though as they have struggled to create a lot of scoring chances for themselves and even though they managed to get past Spain in the last round, they were pressured that entire match and one mistake would have cost them big. They are very good defensively but have no real attack and are just 1 defensive mistake away from being put in a hole they cannot get out of. Their defense has done very well to get them this far but now they will have to face much stronger teams with much better attacks that will make sure they finish. Morocco is a great story to make it this far but their journey will be coming to an end very soon.  Croatia +4000: Croatia is coming into the quarter-finals as one of the biggest longshots to win the tournament. They have been able to get this far using the same kind of strategy as Morocco as Croatia does have a very good defense with one of the strongest groups of midfielders left in the tournament. The problem is that they have also lacked a good attack as they have no real goalscorer on their squad and this becomes an even bigger issue since the players they do have in their lineup are much older and starting to slow down with their style of play. They will not be able to keep up with some of these much younger teams who have a lot of pace and once Croatia finds themselves down in a match, it will be very difficult for them to come back against some of these much better squads. Croatia was the runner up 4 years ago when they lost to France but they were already on the older side back then and 4 years does make a big difference for these players. Croatia has no real value to repeat what they did 4 years ago and make a deep run.  RecommendationsWhen picking from these final 8 teams to win the entire tournament there are 3 ways to go about this. For the safest bet that probably has the best chance of winning would be to take the favorites here as Brazil still has one of the most talented squads in the tournament and they showed a glimpse of it in their last match. If looking for a longshot then the best way to go is the Netherlands, even though they do have a difficult path they have the skill and the discipline to really frustrate teams defensively and if they manage to get through the 2 biggest South American powers then they will surely have the momentum going into the finals so there is a lot of value in this large number. Finally, if looking for a team with an easier path and still lots of value then Portugal would be the way to go as they have proved themselves to be a real threat with their speed and skill, also having to go through one of the easier pathways to get to the finals. 

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