Articles

Why Bet on Sports? Two Good Reasons (and Exposing One Bad One).

by Hollywood Sports

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

If winning a sports bet was easy, then everybody would be doing it. It is a great feeling to “love” a situation because of an insight you have on a particular game -- and then get validated by being right with the bonus of being rewarded by doubling your money. Unfortunately, easy wins are not the norm for those engaged in the long haul. When a gambler or handicapper goes on the hunt for wins on the daily sports card, the games available combined with the betting options available can seem overwhelming. Should I take the money-line instead of the point spread? What about parlaying those two plays together? Maybe teasing those two plays together would be better? I have found that answering some fundamental questions helps guide my betting decisions on a day-to-day basis. A most basic query for sports gamblers is this: Why are you betting on sports? This sentiment may sound like Jerry Maguire after eating a bad piece of cold pizza in the middle of the night. Yet finding an honest answer to this question can be quite helpful in guiding what game you bet on, what types of bets you make, and how much money you invest. I think there are three reasons to bet on sports. These reasons can overlap — but identifying what is most important for your motivation to make a bet can be quite helpful. The first two reasons below are good ones. I would be very cautious if you are motivated primarily by the third reason. (1) Bet on sports to have fun. This is a great reason. Hopefully, this means that any potential losses are manageable financially and not soul-crushing emotionally. Recreational betting to increase the enjoyment of watching a game on television or following the ESPN sports ticket can really get the dopamine firing away.(2) Bet on sports to make money. This is another great reason. However, accruing profits often means eschewing the fun-factor. It may require avoiding action on Monday Night Football. It also likely means that you should avoid the teasers, parlays, and other novelty bets that (generally) are offering less betting value than a simple straight against-the-spread bet.(3) Bet on sports to prove you are right. This is the dangerous motivation. For starters, making a prediction and then being right about does not require a financial investment. Scream away about it on Twitter or at the bar (then again, please don't do either of those because no one cares). The problem with the bettor looking to prove themselves right is that they will never find the validation they are searching for from a winning ticket. That bettor will likely continue to chase bets in the futile search to prove themselves to the world (or to themselves). The bets contain an emotional component. If you are going to bet with emotion, you should only do it for fun. A gambler betting on emotion is a gambler poised to lose. In future articles, I will get specific in how my “Mission Statement” regarding “why to bet on sports” guides me to make certain bets and avoid other types of bets. Best of luck for us — Frank.

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2020: Why is it the Year of the Struggling Blue Bloods?

by Team Del Genio

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

What do Penn State and Michigan football have in common with Duke and Kentucky basketball? These are four collegiate programs with a rich tradition of excellence. They are also four programs that have experienced unusually disappointing seasons.The Michigan football team under head coach Jim Harbaugh finished with a 2-4 record. That was the first losing season for the Wolverines in six seasons and their second losing season in the last eleven seasons. Penn State under head coach James Franklin lost their first five games this season before winning their final four games to settle for a 4-5 record. This was the Nittany Lions’ first losing football season in sixteen years going back to 2004.Kentucky has lost six straight games in college basketball. The Wildcats begin the new year with a 1-6 record which is the worst start in the eleven seasons John Calipari has been the head coach of the program. In fact, Kentucky’s six losses are already a many as Calipari has had with his teams at Kentucky in five other full seasons. These results make Duke’s 3-2 record this season seem tame in comparison. Things may have looked direr for the Blue Devils if they had not had some games canceled due to COVID. Yet with Duke’s best win on their resume being against a 3-5 Notre Dame squad, it is fair to say that the season has been underwhelming so far for head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Another thing these four programs have in common is they all have highly regarded (and well-paid) head coaches. These veterans did not suddenly forget how to coach their sport. Of course, this year has been unique for all college football and basketball teams because of the COVID pandemic. While every team has been impacted by the virus, some programs have experienced bigger challenges. What these four blue blood programs also have in common is that they were all bringing back young teams that needed the attention of their highly paid and regarded head coaches. Michigan returned only 11 starters from last year’s team that finished 9-4. Ten of their players were drafted into the NFL last April. They then had their top returning player on offense and defense opt-out of the season to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. Penn State returned 13 starters from the team that finished 11-2 last season. While eight starters were back on offense, the defense experienced turnover with six starters from last year needing to be replaced. Yet when linebacker Micah Parsons then opted-out of the season to prepare for the NFL draft, the Nittany Lions lost perhaps their most important player. Harbaugh and Franklin did not have the benefit of full spring practices. Fall practices were modified because of COVID protocols. It makes sense that the best coaches are the most impacted by disruptions in the practice schedule since that is one of the areas where they excel versus their peers.Opt-outs heightened the challenge. Because it is the blue blood programs that have more future professional players, they are the ones hurt the most when those players decided to not play this season. The pandemic helped to level the talent playing field.Kentucky and Duke are experiencing similar challenges, albeit without the opt-outs. The Wildcats lost their top six players from last season with only Keon Brooks returning who played significant minutes last season. The Blue Devils lost their top three players for last year. They are two programs that need practice and coaching. What is also not fully appreciated is the loss of coaching time college programs experienced with a full March Madness from the NCAA tournament. The Kentucky and Duke supporting cast from last year that is now being asked to take larger roles would have been better served from that postseason experience. The blue blood programs are the easiest targets. However, critics should be mindful of the ways that the COVID pandemic impacted their programs in ways that other teams did not experience. As with everything, appreciating the context can help lead to a better understanding of the circumstances. Good luck - TDG.

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NHL Central Division Preview for 2021

by Scott Rickenbach

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

NHL Central Division Preview for 2021Finally hockey is back as we are heading into the New Year and we will have the NHL season underway by mid-January in this unusually scheduled 2021 hockey season that has been impacted by the pandemic. The impact of the pandemic has also resulted in some divisional shuffling for this season. Below I give a quick hitter report on each of the eight teams in the Central Division:Central:Carolina – Losing some veteran leadership could hurt this team a little this season. But hard-nosed coach Rod Brind’Amour continues to get a lot out of this team and seems capable of pushing the right buttons at the right time. Having Jacob Slavin on your blue line is a big plus and the top line with guys like Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teraveinen make this a tough team for opponents with some high-end talent. Look for another playoff run from the Hurricanes this season as they are excellent on special teams too. Chicago – The Blackhawks will be one of the worst teams in the league this season. Goaltending questions, key veteran and leadership departures, and a young group of players still adjusting to a young coach in Jeremy Colliton. It will likely be rough season in Chicago and there is no modified playoff system this year that will allow the Blackhawks to get into the playoffs like they miraculously did last season. Columbus – It is still hard to forecast this team too high but they always are gritty under coach John Tortorella and, therefore, often end up surprising. The fact they lost more man-games to injury than any other team in the NHL last season certainly bodes well for a potential improvement this season. However, their power play was one of the worst in the league last season and overall the team generally struggles to score goals. That said, goaltending play will again be a key for the gritty Blue Jackets. Dallas – Amazing run to the Stanley Cup finals for the Stars last season but they were certainly helped by facing an Avalanche team dealing with a number of key injuries when they met Colorado in the post-season. It will be a tough climb back and the Stars did see some veteran leadership depart heading into this season. This is a playoff team but I don’t see them going as deep this season. Too many other teams are a couple notches above this team. Jamie Oleksiak makes too many mistakes to be on the 2nd defensive pairing for this team in my opinion and that says a lot about the fact this team is just a notch or two below the top teams heading into this season. Detroit – The Red Wings join the Blackhawks as a team likely to challenge for the bottom spot in the league this season. It has been an ongoing rebuild for Detroit that is catching up with them here as they went too long with hanging on to veterans in prior seasons as they wanted to maintain their playoffs streak at a cost of not building for the future. Now the Red Wings are paying for that. All is not totally lost for this season as a healthy Danny DeKeyser will certainly help the blue line plus the Red Wings did add a couple of lower priced veterans to make sure they are at least a little more competitive this season and have some veteran leadership. However, this is still a team with an eye more toward the future than this season. Florida – Joel Quenneville is an excellent coach and the Panthers are talented up front. But the problem has been inconsistent goaltending and problems with the blue line. Florida did make some defensive acquisitions and also made sure to acquire some toughness too. But how long until those guys acclimate to Quenneville’s system? I look for this to be a bit of a transitional season for the Panthers as it takes some time for their defense to jell. Nashville – John Hynes is a quality coach but too many subtractions from this roster for my liking. Gone are Nick Bonino and Kyle Turris and Craig Smith and Austin Watson among others. I know some changes were needed but did the Predators do a little too much maneuvering? Also, Saros is making a bid to replace Rinne as the #1 netminder and he started the entire playoff series against the Coyotes. However, is the sign of Saros’ ascent or Rinnes’s deciine? The fact is the Predators are likely to fall just short of a post-season invite this year in my opinion.Tampa Bay – It is so difficult to repeat in a normal season and this one is not normal and neither was last season’s Stanley Cup winning season for Tampa Bay. That said, I am expecting a bit of a slump for the Lightning this season. Of course they are still one of the elite teams in the NHL and very well coached but you know they will also have targets on their back this season. Keep in mind too that normally Columbus and Dallas would not be in their division but this season they are. That means plenty of games against a pair of revenge-minded teams in the Blue Jackets and Stars. It goes without saying that the Bolts will still be one of the best teams in the league but I do expect a bit of a dropdown this season based on all of the above factors. 

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NHL East Division Preview for 2021

by Scott Rickenbach

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

NHL East Division Preview for 2021Finally hockey is back as we are heading into the New Year and we will have the NHL season underway by mid-January in this unusually scheduled 2021 hockey season that has been impacted by the pandemic. The impact of the pandemic has also resulted in some divisional shuffling for this season. Below I give a quick hitter report on each of the eight teams in the East Division:East:Boston – Still one of the best teams in the league but the loss of Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara means the veteran leadership of this team has taken a bit of a hit. While the youth movement is likely to pay dividends long-term we could see this team take a small step back in 2021. The Bruins are still solid up front but the loss of two veteran defensemen will be felt some this season. Buffalo – The Sabres are growing well under head coach Ralph Krueger. Their point totals for the season have climbed from 62 to 76 to 81 and Buffalo appears poised to continue forward trajectory this season. However, the key will be newly acquired Taylor Hall performing at the level the very talented left winger is fully capable of. Buffalo looks like a playoff contender. New Jersey – This is a very young team, one of the youngest in the league, but perhaps veteran head coach Lindy Ruff can get the most out of them. Adding left winger Andreas Johnsson plus goalie Corey Crawford certainly has strengthened this team. This team is very talented but also very young. Perhaps the veteran presence of coach Ruff and goaltender Crawford will be enough to help this team through the growing pains. The talent is certainly there but this is also a very tough division. New York Islanders – The Islanders came so close last season but are likely to fall back this season. For one thing, the Isles simply clicked at the right time in the post-season last year and that fueled their impressive run. For another thing, New York lost some key guys and veteran leadership from last season’s team. It is always tough to count out a Barry Trotz coached team but this East Division is loaded for this season.New York Rangers – Of course the only way to go for the Rangers was up but the fact is they could make big strides this season. The Rangers won the draft lottery and got Alexis Lafreniere and he’ll be an immediate contributor. Also, they picked up some other key pieces heading into this season but the key with the Rangers is being consistent. When they play inspired hockey they are a tough team to face but too often they go through the motions and it shows. If coach David Quinn can encourage a little more toughness from this team the potential to fight for a playoff spot this season is certainly there. Philadelphia – The Flyers were great in Alain Vigneault’s first season as the head coach. However, he has done that in other stops too and then generally taken a step back after the first season. This time could be different however as Vigneault has a team loaded with talent and a fantastic netminder Hart whose mentor, Elliott, also signed on for another year. If the Flyers can get a little more from some veteran guys like Voracek and van Riemsdyk, this club certainly has potential for another exciting post-season run. Also, Hart needs to play better on enemy ice. He has been fantastic at home but must improve his road play.  Pittsburgh – There is a bit of an absence of toughness on this team and the core stars like Crosby and Malkin as well as Letang aren’t getting any younger! It does seem like the Penguins are on the fade as other teams in this year’s East Division have been stepping up their game while Pittsburgh has remained a bit flat and unaggressive. Yes the Penguins are going for a 15th straight season of making the playoffs but they just don’t have the roster depth anymore to make a real deep run it appears. Washington – Adding the veteran leadership of Zdeno Chara should help this team which certainly did not need a lot of help to begin with. The Capitals won the Cup just a few seasons ago when they beat the Golden Knights. However, perhaps the issue has been coaching since Barry Trotz went to the Islanders. The Caps may have resolved that now too with the hiring of Peter Laviolette. This is a physical hockey club and this team appears positioned well to make a strong push for a cup with veterans like Alex Ovechkin also fired up about the coaching change and some new faces on the roster.

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NBA Live Look In: Western Conference

by AAA Sports

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

As with the Eastern Conference, the Western Conference has some of the "weaker" teams near the top. Four playoff teams from last year see themselves outside of the playoffs with some new teams replacing them. Those include the 0-2 Rockets, the 1-3 Nuggets and Mavericks, as well as the 1-2 Thunder. Now I personally don't think that the Thunder will be good this season, with  the losses of Chris Paul, Steven Adams and Danillo Gallinari, but to see those other teams struggling early in the year is quite shocking to be honest. The Phoenix Suns have looked stellar to open the year up starting 3-1. The 4-1 Clippers have also looked good, except the one loss which was a complete destruction. Picking the Western Conference Champs at this moment would be very difficult, but I would have to side with the defending champs at the moment as Lebron and Anthony Davis are still very much look like the best duo in the NBA. 

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NBA Live Look-In: Eastern Conference

by AAA Sports

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

As it stands right now, the Orlando Magic are the last team in the entire NBA standing undefeated. Not many people would have predicted that, but there you have it. Other teams like the Hawks, Pacers, 76ers and Nets have all looked very strong as well. Even the Cavs are 3-1. Looking at the bad now, the Raptors have started the year with a not so good 0-3 record. The Milwaukee Bucks, last year's #1 seed has also gotten off to a losing start with a 2-3 record. Although things look good for some of those decent teams, I still believe that the Raptors and Bucks will turn it around before the season finishes. There is still plenty of time, but who knows what's going to happen.If I had to pick a winner at this moment to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, it would probably have to be the Brooklyn Nets. At 3-2, Brooklyn has looked very strong when KD and Kyrie are draining their shots. With guys like Joe Harris, Deandre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie surrounding them, it's going to be hard to slow them down come playoff time. 

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CBB Entering 2021: Underrated Teams

by Power Sports

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

Every week, I like to take a look at the AP & Coaches Polls in College Basketball and compare them to my own Top 25 power ratings. It’s always fun (and instructive!) to spot which teams the pollsters and I aren’t necessarily in agreement on. As we get ready to turn the calendar to 2021, here are three teams that I feel are underrated by the pollsters. None are ranked in the Top 25, but all of them SHOULD be. Interestingly enough, ALL three hail from the SEC. So either the pollsters aren’t watching the SEC or my power ratings are giving too much credence to these teams’ non-conference schedules.1. Arkansas - I just cashed an SEC Game of the Month on the Razorbacks Wednesday. They went to Auburn and won by 12. That win keeps the Hogs unbeaten (9-0), yet they are surprisingly unranked. If they beat #12 Missouri on Saturday, you have to figure they’ll climb into the next poll. This is a senior laden team that plays very good defense. They are #15 in my power ratings. 2. LSU - Right behind Arkansas in my power ratings is LSU (#16). The Tigers’ only loss of the season was by four points at St. Louis. Since then, four of their five wins have been by 22 points. They’ve got a huge showdown looming with Florida (more on them in a moment) this weekend. 3. Florida - Wednesday night saw the Gators play for the 1st time since Keyontae Johnson collapsed. That very scary situation occurred on December 12th against Florida State, the Gators only loss of the season. Johnson was the Preseason SEC Player of the Year, so losing him is no “small potatoes.” But the Gators showed they can be quite formidable even without their star as they destroyed Vanderbilt, 91-72, in Nashville. I’ve got the Gators as a Top 20 team. 

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CBB Entering 2021: Overrated Teams

by Power Sports

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

Every week, I like to take a look at the AP & Coaches Polls in College Basketball and compare them to my own Top 25 power ratings. It’s always fun (and instructive!) to spot which teams the pollsters and I aren’t necessarily in agreement on. As we get ready to turn the calendar to 2021, here are three teams that I feel are overrated by the pollsters. All are ranked in the Top 25, but none of them SHOULD be. We’ve got one from the SEC, a conference I covered extensively in my underrated College Basketball teams column. The other two are from the Big 10. 1. Missouri - The Tigers are ranked #12 in the country, but I flat out disagree with that assessment as I’ve got a number of SEC teams rated above them. I had no issue laying a short number against the Tigers, in Columbia, when they faced Tennessee in a battle of unbeatens Wednesday. Sure enough, the Volunteers crushed the Tigers 73-53. Up next for Mizzou is a date with Arkansas, a team that made my underrated list. A loss there and the Tigers could tumble out of the Top 25.2. Michigan State - I bet a lot of you wish I would have written this column prior to Monday as that was when Sparty suffered a humiliating 81-56 defeat in Minnesota. It was their third consecutive defeat, all of those coming in Big 10 play. That’s dropped Tom Izzo’s team down to #17, but my power ratings say they shouldn’t even be ranked. Their best win is the lone time I played them (vs. Duke), but Duke is another team that has no business in the Top 25. Neither the KenPom ratings nor my own consider Michigan State a top 50 team in the country right now.3. Northwestern - Get ready to “sell high” on the Wildcats. Their current #19 ranking is the program’s highest this “late” in the season since 1969! It’s only the 7th time they’ve ever been ranked! After opening Big 10 play with three consecutive upsets (Mich St, Indiana, Ohio St), N’western lost at Iowa (by 15) on Tuesday. Look for that to start a downturn. The upcoming schedule is BRUTAL with the next four games all against legit Top 25 competition. 

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Ness Notes: Thursday Dec 31

by Larry Ness

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

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." Happy New Year to all, as I believe I speak for almost everyone in wishing "good riddance" to 2020! I can honestly say I'm thankful that both the NBA and NHL were able to complete their respective seasons plus MLB was able to survive a couple of significant COVID issues (Miami and St Louis) to give us a "Short but Sweet" season. The 2020 NCAAF season was surely a challenge for all involved (even us handicappers and bettors) but I don't know about you, but I never thought we'd get this much of the season completed. The NFL has done a GREAT job, as ALL 32 teams have played their 15 games through 16 weeks. Only Week 17 remains, as we '"cross our fingers" regarding the recent troubling news coming out of Cleveland and its COVID issues.On this New Year's Eve, I will take a break from Ness Notes on Thursday. I will preview the Jan 1st and 2nd bowl games on Friday (plus recap bowl numbers thru Dec 31) and then have a "special" Saturday edition of Ness Notes to cover NFL Week 17.Stay smart and safe tonight and through 2021. COVID is far from 'done with us!'Again, Happy New Year to all.Good luck...Larry

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A Quick Look At The NBA After One Week

by Will Rogers

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

Repeat after me.It’s early.And it’s a weird season – perhaps the weirdest in NBA history.But maybe, just maybe, there is some money to be made on some early-season games before the inevitable reversion to the mean takes over, or at least until oddsmakers start adjusting their numbers.Orlando, Cleveland, and Atlanta were all figured to bottom-feeders in a beefed-up Eastern Conference this season, but as of New Year’s Eve they were a combined 10-2 against the spread and making money for bettors savvy enough to stay away from teams that had extended stays in the Florida bubble a few months ago.The Magic do have a nice early-season win over Miami (which barely had time to catch its breath after getting to the Finals last season), but its other three wins have come against slow starters Washington (twice) and Oklahoma. Still, quite a turnaround for a franchise that was reportedly considering a teardown. Orlando is being led by reclamation project Markelle Fultz, who after a slew of injuries is finally starting to figure out what the NBA is all about. He’s averaging better than 18 points a game. Bettors would be advised to make hay quickly, though, because the Magic’s schedule gets tougher in mid-January.Cleveland is 3-1 straight up and ATS, also benefitting from a soft early-season schedule. And a bucket of ice water was tossed on the entire team when it somehow managed to find a way to lose at home to the Knicks. Injuries are also starting to take a toll, as first-round pick Isaac Okoro is out with a sprained ankle and vet Kevin Love is down for close to a month with a calf injury. Caveat emptor there, too.In the West, Sacramento may be at long last ready to make money for its backers. The Kings were 3-1 ATS going into their game against Houston on New Year’s Eve, and appear to have a real keeper in Tyrese Haliburton, who fell to them at No. 12 in the draft. The Kings have young legs and a decent foundation. Hopefully, they can avoid wilting when everyone in the Western Conference starts to get serious.On the other end of the spectrum, if you know what’s going on with the Raptors, send a text to HC Nick Nurse ASAP. Toronto (playing home games in Tampa due to Covid) is winless SU, winless ATS, and looks like a very different team than the one that was one or two possessions from reaching the Eastern finals last season.

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NCAA Football Liberty Bowl: West Virginia/Army Preview

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

The final college football game of 2020 takes place at 4 PM ET on ESPN. West Virginia initially thought they were playing Tennessee in the 62nd Liberty Bowl. But the Volunteers were hit with a COVID outbreak and pulled out of this event. Army qualified for the Independence Bowl midseason but lacked an opponent amidst many programs declining to participate in bowl games. The Black Knights became a logical fit to replace Tennessee in this bowl game, with the decision becoming official on December 21st. This game is at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee.Army closed out their season with three straight wins after they upset Air Force by a 10-7 score as a 1-point underdog. That victory gave the Black Knights their third Commander-in-Chief trophy in four years. Army’s only two losses were against Tulane and Cincinnati by 38-12 and 24-10 scores. While those are both teams that qualified for bowl games, the strength of schedule for the Black Knights remains a question mark, with two of their victories coming against FCS opponents in Abilene Christian and Mercer. Army has some of the best defensive numbers in the nation. The Black Knights rank second in the nation by allowing 14.0 points-per-game, and they rank second in the country by only giving up 271.2 yards-per-game. Army led the nation by allowing only 149.9 passing yards-per-game. Critics will be quick to point out that the Black Knights played four opponents that featured run-first triple-option attacks. Yet Army picked off 13 passes this season. They also ranked 20th in the country by allowing 121.2 rushing yards-per-game despite facing four run-heavy opponents.Army is a run-first triple-option team themselves that was fourth in the nation by averaging 281.3 rushing yards-per-game. With 22 different ball-carriers this season, the Black Knights registered 33 rushing touchdowns. Army did not play in a bowl game last year, but this will be their fourth bowl game appearance in five seasons under head coach Jeff Monken.West Virginia opened their season by winning three of their first four games, but they lost three of their last five games to close their regular season. They last played on December 5th when they lost at Iowa State by a 42-6 score. Junior quarterback Jarret Doege completed 21 of 41 passes for 209 yards in the loss to the Cyclones. The former Bowling Green transfer completed 64.2% of his passes for 2428 yards, which were second best in the Big 12. Doege passed for 13 touchdown passes with only three interceptions. He is supported by running back Leddie Brown, who rushed for 945 yards with a 5.3 yards-per-carry average and nine touchdowns to earn All-Big 12 honors. He added 31 receptions for 202 yards and another two touchdowns in the passing game. The Mountaineers are 43rd in the nation by averaging 422.7 yards-per-game to accompany their 26.8 points-per-game average. Second-year head coach Neal Brown has brought a defensive mindset to the program. West Virginia ranked fifth in the nation by allowing only 297.2 yards-per-game while also ranking 21st in the country by giving up 20.4 points-per-game. The Mountaineers held opposing rushers to 3.6 yards-per-carry and 126.2 rushing yards-per-game, which was the 13th best mark in the FBS. But West Virginia has not faced a triple-option offense since 2015, and Brown has had only ten days to prepare for the Army offense.BookMaker lists West Virginia as a 6.5-point favorite with the total set at 41.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NCAA Basketball and NCAA Football Preview

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

The Thursday sports card features three college football bowl games along with action in the NBA and college basketball. The Texas Bowl in college football between Arkansas and TCU planned for an 8 PM ET kickoff on ESPN was canceled due to the COVID outbreak in the Horned Frogs program.The Armed Forces Bowl kicks off the final betting day of 2020, with Tulsa playing Mississippi State. The Golden Hurricane finished with a 6-2 regular season record after they lost at Cincinnati on December 19th by a 27-24 score as a 13.5-point underdog.Mississippi State raised their record to a 3-7 mark with their 51-32 upset win against Missouri on December 19th as a 1-point underdog. That victory snapped a three-game losing streak for head coach Mike Leach in his first season in Starkville.Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, is the site for this bowl game. Tulsa is a 1.5-point favorite with the total set at 44.5. Ball State plays San Jose State in a battle of conference champions in the Arizona Bowl at 2 PM ET. The Cardinals won the Mid-American Conference Championship Game on December 18th with their 38-28 upset win against Buffalo as a 12.5-point underdog. Ball State began their season with a 38-31 loss at Miami (OH) but then won six straight games going into this game. San Jose State is one of the four remaining undefeated teams in the FCS after winning the Mountain West Conference Championship Game with their 34-20 upset win against Boise State as a 6.5-point underdog. The Spartans won all seven of their games this season against conference foes.Arizona Stadium in Tuscon is the site of this game broadcast on CBS. San Jose State is a 9.5-point favorite with an over/under of 64.The final college football game of 2020 takes place at 4 PM ET on ESPN. West Virginia initially thought they were playing Tennessee in the 62nd Liberty Bowl. But the Volunteers were hit with a COVID outbreak and pulled out of this event. Army qualified for the Independence Bowl midseason but lacked an opponent amidst many programs declining to participate in bowl games. The Black Knights became a logical fit to replace Tennessee in this bowl game, with the decision becoming official on December 21st. This game is at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee.Army closed out their season with three straight wins after they upset Air Force by a 10-7 score as a 1-point underdog. That victory gave the Black Knights their third Commander-in-Chief trophy in four years. Army’s only two losses were against Tulane and Cincinnati by 38-12 and 24-10 scores. While those are both teams that qualified for bowl games, the strength of schedule for the Black Knights remains a question mark, with two of their victories coming against FCS opponents in Abilene Christian and Mercer. West Virginia opened their season by winning three of their first four games, but they lost three of their last five games to close their regular season. They last played on December 5th when they lost at Iowa State by a 42-6 score. The Mountaineers are a 6.5-point favorite with the total set at 41.The college basketball card tips off at noon ET with Gardner Webb playing at Hampton.The nationally-televised schedule begins at 4 PM ET with Utah State visiting Air Force on the CBS Sports Network in a Mountain West Conference clash. The Aggies are 11.5-point road favorites with a total of 129.5.At 7 PM ET, UCLA hosts Utah on FS1 in a Pac-12 showdown.The Bruins are 7.5-point favorites with an over/under of 136.5. Michigan travels to Maryland for a Big Ten battle on ESPN. The Wolverines are ranked 16th in the nation in the Associated Press poll and are laying 2 points with the total at 142. USC hosts Colorado at 10 PM ET on ESPN. The Trojans are 1.5-point favorites with an over/under of 140.Seven games are on the NBA docket starting at 3:05 PM ET. None of the games are on national television.

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