Ness Notes

by Larry Ness

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary." 

The Lightning took 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals with a dominating 5-2 win over the Stars. Wouldn't it be "just desserts" if the Lightning won it all this year, after last season's 'disaster.' Even casual fans may remember that the Lightning went 62-16-4 (128 points) in the 2018-19 season, tying the record for most wins in a single season in NHL history. However, the Lightning then got swept in four games by Columbus in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Game 4 is Saturday (early line has Tampa Bay as a -160 favorite.

The Miami Heat have not just been the most surprising team in this year's postseason (Came in as the East's No. 5 seed) but they've also been the NBA's best team this playoff season (so far). The Heat beat the Celtics 112-109 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. All FIVE of Miami's starters are averaging in double digits, while Kentucky rookie Tyler Hero is chipping in 16.5 PPG (he had a 37 points last night!). The Heat are now 11-2 SU and ATS this postseason. The West Finals resume tonight from Orlando, as the top-seeded Lakers take on the third-seeded Nuggets. Each of the Nuggets' four previous playoff series (two last year and two this year) have gone to seven games, with Denver winning THREE of them, The Nuggets rallied from 3-1 deficits in each of their first two series this postseason and after falling in an 0-2 'hole' against the Lakers, bounce back with an impressive 114-106 win in Game 3. Are we headed to another seven-game Denver series? The Lakers are favored by six points in tonight's game. Playoff numbers to-date: Favorites are just 37-35-1 ATS , while under cashed in 44 of the 73 games (60.3 percent. For those following the "Zig-Zag" Theory (that means playing "on" the SU loser of the previous game), they've gone 26-31-1 ATS (45.6%) or minus-.8.1 net units.

MLB enters the final four days of its COVID-shortened 60-game schedule and there are still a few playoff spots up for grabs in this season's expanded 16-team field. It's no surprise that the Dodgers own MLB's best record (39-17 or that they won the NL West for the EIGHTH consecutive year. However, the Padres have secured a second-place finish in the NL West (all second-place teams are assured a playoff spot), as San Diego (just 70-92 in 2019) will participate in MLB's postseason for the first time since 2006. The surprising Chicago White Sox, off a 72-89 season in 2019, have clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2008. The Yankees were the clear favorites to represent the AL in the World Series at the start of the season, as well as strong favorites to win the AL East. However, the 37-20 Tampa Bay Rays have  won their first AL East title since 2010 and are likely to wind up as the AL's top-seed.

The 2020 CFB season has started slowly and late due to COVID-19 but the SEC (the nation's top conference) finally opens its season on Saturday. There has been just one game between ranked opponents up until now, as No. 17 Miami-Florida handled No. 18 Louisville last Saturday, 47-34. However, there are three games this Saturday in which ranked opponents square off against each other. No. 8 Auburn (-7.5) is home vs No. 23 Kentucky, No. 14 Cincinnati (-13.5) hosts 2-0 Army (note: Army was just 5-8 in 2019) and No. 21 Pittsburgh (-3) is home against No. 24 Louisville. There are 14 teams playing unranked teams this weekend and note that while ranked teams are 12-2 SU against unranked opponents so far in 2020, they are a 'money-burning' 5-9 ATS. I'll follow this trend all season here at Ness Notes.
Be back Friday at 1:00 ET.

Good luck...Larry

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