Articles

2023 Nascar Race Win Totals Betting Preview

by AAA Sports

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023

The roaring of the engines, the smell of exhaust, and the sounds of the crowd all say one thing: Nascar is back for a new season in 2023. The season kicks off with an exhibition race, Clash at the Coliseum (Sun, Feb 5, 2023.) The "silly" season showed a lot of action and drivers moving into different cars. A few notable offseason moves include Ryan Preece returning to the Cup Series who will be replacing Cole Custer in the 41 for Stewart-Haas. AJ Allmendinger has moved up to Cup full-time and will be racing with Kaulig in the 16-car, a rig that he is familiar with. Noah Gragson is moving up to Cup from the Xfinity Series and will be driving for Legacy Motor Club in car 42. Kevin Harvick announced that 2023 will be his final full-time season. We knew the move to 23XI was coming, but we weren't sure which car he’d acquire, we now know that Tyler Reddick will be taking over the 45 car for Kurt Busch. The biggest news of the offseason was Richard Childress Racing signing Kyle Busch who will now be driving the 8-car. The contract distractions for Busch will be gone and I expect him to have a good season. While we wait for The Clash Sunday, we can look at some futures for the upcoming season. All odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook. Martin Truex under 1.5 (+150)Truex missed the playoffs last year. Father time may be the culprit. Truex spoke of retirement last season but ultimately decided against it. Joe Gibbs Racing is going through a lot of changes. Kyle Busch has left, and Ty Dillon comes in. Denny Hamlin is getting up there in age as well. Truex’s long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex is having health issues which will have him focusing on things outside of Nascar. Truex won no races in the Next Gen car and is open about his distaste for the new one. I don’t expect him to get back to his old form. One win is attainable, but I think two wins are too much of a task. We’ll take the value on the under.Kyle Busch over 1.5 (+100)The Kyle Busch vs Joe Gibbs Racing saga was very public. Contract talks were a distraction. People were thinking Busch quit on his team at Martinsville where he was the slowest car. Busch signed with Richard Childress Racing and the contract negotiation is no longer a distraction. Busch won one race last year (Bristol Dirt Race). Kyle Busch is a two-time champion and he wants to prove to people that he is still in the prime of his career. I expect Busch to be in contention for the Cup Series Championship. From 2015-2019 Kyle Busch was dominant. He hasn’t won multiple races since 2019. The fact that he doesn’t have to worry about his future in Nascar is a huge lift off his shoulders. I expect the move to Richard Childress racing to energize Busch. He knows how to win and he’ll be motivated to prove the doubters wrong. I expect Kyle Busch to win multiple races and cash this ticket.

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Anatomy of a 22-1 Winner: Handicapping Max Homa at the PGA Farmers Insurance Open

by Hollywood Sports

Monday, Jan 30, 2023

Max Homa began Sunday of the PGA Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines trailing by five strokes to Sam Ryder. But about after a half hour after CBS-TV was interviewing Ryder’s mother about his potential victory, Homa birdied the 16th hole while the pressure got to Ryder who double-bodied the 15th hole — and that three-stroke swing gave Homa the lead that he would not relent. Homa went on to birdie the Par-5 18th hole to finish a five-under-par round to soon win the tournament by two strokes over Keegan Bradley who finished in 2nd place. And Homa rewarded Hollywood Sports’ PGA Tour regulars with the win at 22-1 odds. That was our sixth 1st place winner in our last 16 PGA Tour events. Now those are 16 consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour. I do take the fall from handicapping golf after the PGA Tour Championship at the East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta. It takes me three or so hours to research and handicap each PGA Tour event — and that is time I desperately need for football in the fall. Besides, most of the professional golfers take the fall schedule with a grain of salt without any of the majors on the schedule — so it is a good fit to forego this event during the height of the football season. There are only so many hours in the day. When the PGA Tour picks up again in early January, I begin handicapping golf again which is a nice fit with football winding down to just the NFL playoffs. It was nice to get our first winner under our belts for 2023 in the fourth tournament of the new year — and it continues a good run we were on to close out the 2021-2022 PGA Tour season. Homa looked intriguing at 22-1 odds for this event set just outside San Diego. Success at Torrey Pines requires the golfers to use all 14 clubs in their bags. The rough grows out to four inches. The North Course plays much easier than the South Course — and it actually ranks as one of the easiest tracks on the tour. At 7258 yards, the pros on the North Course shot an average of three shots better there than on the South Course which consists of 7765 yards with narrow fairways and small greens. The Poa Annua greens on the South Course play slower and can be more of a challenge than the Bentgrass putting surface on the North Course. Furthermore, heavy winds were expected on Thursday for the second round — and that will impact our strategy. We wanted to avoid golfers playing the easier North Course on Thursday since they will have to deal with these winds; instead, we wanted to want to target golfers who can take advantage of the easier North Course in better weather conditions on Wednesday. Jon Rahm was the clear favorite at this event given his red-hot form and excellent cause history here — and he was listed at a mere +450 at DraftKings to win this event. But he got the North Course on Thursday — giving us another reason to fade him (besides his odds being simply too small relative to the strong field).I always recommend three golfers per golf Betting Report. Our Top Overlay Bet for the PGA Farmers Insurance Open on the golfer who offers the most value relative to the odds is on Max Homa who was listed at +2200 odds at DraftKings. Homa was born and raised in Southern California before playing his college golf at the University of California-Berkeley — so he is comfortable and experienced in this environment. He likes putting on Poa Annua greens. He had nine top-20s in his last 11 tournaments with Poa Annua putting surfaces — and that includes three wins. He ranked 6th in the field in Adjusted Scoring the last two years on courses with Poa Annua greens. Homa is in good form with his last event being at the PGA Sentry Tournament of Champions last month where he finished tied for 3rd place. Homa is well-rounded with good ball-striking skills. For the 2021-22 season, he ranked 13th on the tour in Shots-Gained: Total while ranking 24th in Shots-Gained: Tee-to-Green. So far for 2022-23, Homa ranks 7th in Shots-Gained: Total and 21st in Shots-Gained: Tee-to-Green. Homa finished tied for 18th at this tournament in 2021 after a tie for 9th place in 2020 — and I expected that he should be feisty in his return to La Jolla this year after missing the cut at this event last year. Homa also got to play the easier North Course on Day One before the winds amped up for everyone on Thursday (Day Two).For the three golfers I endorse for a golf tournament, I also recommend a head-to-head prop bet as an avenue to take more advantage of the golfers I have identified that have value for that event. Homa was linked with Taylor Montgomery in tournament matchup head-to-head props. Montgomery finished in the 57th place at the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2021 before a tie for 11th place at the Farmers last year. While that is a great finish for the rookie this season, I noted that 12 of the last 14 winners of this tournament had previously finished in the top-ten at this event — and Homa met this qualification with his 2020 performance. Montgomery is an early favorite for the Rookie of the Year this season after making all nine of his cuts with eight top-15 finishes. But his ball-striking is not elite. Montgomery ranks 157th on the tour for 2022-23 in Shots-Gained: Approach-the-Green and 84th in Shots-Gained: Tee-to-Green. Five of the last six winners at this event finished in the top-16 in Shots-Gained: Tee-to-Green for the week. Montgomery is an outstanding putter — but the long distance and the smaller greens at the South Course are a mix that does not fit his game. Montgomery ranks tied for 94th this season in his Approach from 200 yards or farther. Homa ranked 25th in that metric last season. Montgomery finished in 31st place by shooting even par for the four rounds, leaving us with an easier winner. Our Best Bet to win this event is on Will Zalatoris who was listed at +1800 at DraftKings. He did not fire well after a second round of 77 which led to him missing the cut. Our Long Shot Bet on a golfer outside the top-ten favorites was on Maverick McNealy who was listed at +3500 odds at DraftKings. He finished tied for 31st at even par — but he did outperform J.J. Spaun who was our tournament matchup head-to-head prop with him. With two of three prop bet winners on top of the 22-1 winner on Homa, the PGA Tour was very profitable for us this week. But long-term success betting gold requires close attention to money management principles. Here are my money management recommendations for regulars. I like to consider the three "to win" prop bets as lottery tickets. If your typical bet is X, then I am fine if you wager 10-30% of X into each golfer to win - -just be consistent with that method from week to week. I am also fine if you are more ambitious with these bets and wager up to X on each golfer per week. Throughout the season, we have been profitable -- so I preach consistency with the investments each week. I am also OK with a slow uptick in the initial investment if the bankroll warrants -- maybe go from 20% of X to 25%.  For the head-to-head prop bets, treat them as either 10* or 20* bets (if you choose to invest in them) -- and stay consistent from week to week. Regulars now have over 44 weeks of free rolls from previous PGA Tour winnings since last summer -- meaning they could invest their X into our Best Bet, Top Overlay, and Long Shot each week for the next 44 events and still keep a profit. That'll work. Best of luck — Frank.

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Early Look at 2023-24 AFC Surprise Threats

by Nelly's Sports

Monday, Jan 30, 2023

Kansas City has hosted the AFC Championship in five straight seasons and every AFC Championship game since 2011-12 head featured either the Chiefs or Patriots (or both). In that span 10 of 16 AFC teams have made at least one AFC Championship game appearance however and while a third straight pairing of Bengals/Chiefs is possible, here are three candidates that could make a surprise climb in 2023-24 as we wait for Super Bowl 57.  Baltimore Ravens (10-7, 2nd Place AFC North):  At full strength with Lamar Jackson the Ravens have looked like one of the best teams in the AFC and in his career, Jackson is 49-21 as a starter. The Ravens nearly won a playoff game this last season with Tyler Huntley at quarterback however and the off-season could provide a messy split for the Ravens and Jackson. If they keep Jackson the Ravens are immediately a top tier AFC contender but without him Baltimore will have significant cap space to bring in a quality option at quarterback and this franchise has proven it can still compete with average quarterback play.  The AFC North will remain a difficult division with Cincinnati coming off back-to-back AFC Championship appearances, Cleveland poised to be a threat with Deshaun Watson for a full season, and Pittsburgh seemingly always competitive even with low expectations. John Harbaugh’s track record is excellent however and Baltimore could be a team to buy-low in the off-season if Jackson talks are not going particularly well.  Baltimore and the rest of the AFC North will play all four AFC South teams, generally a favorable draw in recent years, and in 2023-24 that quartet features two teams in coaching transitions. The NFC division draw is the West which looks much less formidable heading into 2023-24 than it did in most of the past few seasons. The second place path for Baltimore is a difficult one and will put the Ravens at a slight disadvantage with its division peers, facing the Lions, Chargers, and Dolphins.  Baltimore has major decisions to make this offseason but has cap space to do so and will likely enter 2023-24 with less momentum in the marketplace than the other teams in the division. This franchise has been to the playoff four of the past five seasons however and Harbaugh is 147-95 in his career in the regular season and owns a Super Bowl title, as this is a team that should remain a threat no matter how an interesting off-season sorts out.  New England Patriots (8-9, 3rd Place AFC East):  The Patriots had a positive scoring differential that was sixth best in the AFC last season. New England had an uneven season that included several close and a few puzzling losses but it is not a significant leap to think this group can climb back into the postseason in 2023-24. New England will get a third place schedule which means games with Saints, Colts, and Steelers for a decent path though drawing the AFC West and NFC East will make the schedules for all the teams in the AFC East grade difficultly next season.  The key for New England will be Mac Jones, who had a significantly worse second season in the NFL compared to his solid rookie season. Jones missed three games and battled health issues as a rebound season is reasonable to expect. His backup Bailey Zappe did show some promise if things would suddenly turn poorly for Jones or if he would suffer a major injury setback as New England should remain competitive again after just missing the playoffs last season.  New England is in a good salary cap situation for next season and has decent draft capital picking 14th in the first round while having an extra fourth round pick. The AFC East will remain a difficult division as the Bills don’t expect to go anywhere as one of the AFC favorites while Miami and New York showed plenty of promise last season. New England won only four home games for a rare outcome as there is good reason to expect the Patriots will have slightly better results in 2023-24 and get back on the playoff map.  Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8, 1st Place AFC South):  The Jaguars went from 3-14 in 2021-22 to 9-8 and a division title in 2022-23. A coaching change from a disastrous season with Urban Meyer improved the team dramatically under Doug Pederson and a stunning comeback playoff win should provide this team with some momentum into next season in a favorable AFC South division.  Many thought the Colts would be AFC contenders last season, but Indianapolis had a terrible season and is now in a coaching transition with quarterback questions. Tennessee also failed to back up its recent success and will have quarterback questions as well. Houston is in another coaching change season as well and will start from the bottom as few teams will be bigger favorites in their own divisions next season than the Jaguars.  Jacksonville has extra fourth and sixth round draft picks this spring to add depth and while the Jaguars are stretched for cap space, they have a potentially elite quarterback on a rookie contract which has been the key to making a Super Bowl run in recent years. Trevor Lawrence made a dramatic leap of improvement from his rookie season and should be considered a candidate in the MVP race for next season.  Jacksonville’s schedule is going to be incredibly favorable simply due to the six AFC South games even if the 1st place draw means facing Bills, Chiefs, and 49ers teams that the rest of the division avoids. The AFC South plays the NFC South teams with all four of those teams being losing teams in 2022-23 as overall the schedule for the Jaguars will still rate favorably. Jacksonville won six of seven games late in the season to finish strong in a major transition season and rising to being a serious AFC and Super Bowl threat is in the realm of possibility in 2023-24.   

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Early Look at 2023-24 NFC Surprise Threats

by Nelly's Sports

Monday, Jan 30, 2023

The Eagles went from being a 9-8 squad that was blown out in the NFC Wild Card round to being NFC Champions a year later. The team has good talent and depth and the rise was not unexpected. A big factor in the climb was a favorable schedule which Philadelphia made the most of to go 14-3 and landing in a very favorable playoff path. While we await the Super Bowl, now is a good time to take an early look at teams that could make a similar leap next season in the NFC picture.  Atlanta Falcons (7-10, 4th Place NFC South):  The Falcons are a significant threat to make a rise next season. While Desmond Ridder is still short on experience playing in only four games last season, the Falcons played better than expected last season with decent young talent reaching a 7-10 record even while projected to be one of the worst teams in the NFC in the preseason.  While the complete schedule won’t be released for a few months, Atlanta will have an appealing path next season with crossover games with the AFC South. Atlanta will play all four NFC North teams for a manageable path while getting the fourth place schedule among the three NFC South teams that finished 7-10. That means games with the Cardinals, Jets, and Commanders as well.  Add that the NFC South doesn’t look like formidable division with the Panthers in a major transition and Tampa Bay likely looking for a new quarterback. The Saints are also in one of the worst salary cap situations for next season as climbing to the top of the division after finishing just a game out of the lead last season is not unreasonable. Atlanta has the #8 pick in the draft and currently has the second most cap space in the league if they opt to be aggressive in free agency.  Arthur Smith will be in this third season with the team and have hired Ryan Nielsen to replace Dean Pees as defensive coordinator, with Nielsen doing impressive work with the Saints the past few seasons. Ridder will remain a question mark, but this should again be an impressive rushing team that has the potential to exceed expectations next season.  Seattle Seahawks (9-8, 2nd Place NFC West):  The Seahawks surprised last season reaching 9-8 and making the playoffs as Pete Carroll has still never had a worse season than seven wins despite the dire projections ahead of last season. Geno Smith finished #5 and QB Rating and #7 in QBR as a surprise pro bowl performer that provided the biggest reason for the solid results. Seattle also had an excellent 2022 draft and received strong contributions from rookies last season. The NFC West has quickly gone from being one of the toughest divisions in the league producing three playoff teams in 2021-22 to looking like one of the worst divisions in the NFL. San Francisco still has a formidable roster but in going all-in last season lost significant draft assets in the Christian McCaffrey trade. The Rams remain in a dire salary cap situation after its expenditures in the 2021-22 Super Bowl run and both the 49ers and Rams will have major off-season quarterback questions. Arizona will be an interesting team that has a chance to bounce back but it will be a team in a coaching transition.  Seattle will be a threat to compete for the division title in 2023-24 and Seattle has significant salary cap space to work with in the offseason to address a few key needs. Seattle also has two first round picks including the #5 pick from Denver for the Russell Wilson trade as the Seahawks will be able to improve its roster significantly with another strong draft class. Smith will need to prove he was not a one-season-wonder as teams will have a full off-season to prepare for him after he entered last season not even being the clear starter for Seattle but the NFC West looks like a winnable division. After facing all four AFC West teams last season the NFC West will still have a tough AFC path playing the four AFC North teams but Seattle’s 2nd place draw of Carolina, Detroit, and Tennessee is reasonably favorable as Seattle should be a threat for another playoff season in 2023-24.  Detroit Lions (9-8, 2nd Place NFC North):  The Lions will be a popular team in the futures market this summer as Detroit was by many measures the best team in the NFC North last season finishing as the only team in the division with a positive scoring differential. Detroit missed the playoffs but went 8-2 in the season’s final 10 games including beating the Packers in the season finale to eliminate Green Bay from the playoff picture.  Minnesota has an obvious regression case for 2023-24 after the incredible 11-0 record in one-score games to rise to the top of the division last season. Green Bay seems headed for a quarterback change while the Bears have young talent and draft capital, Chicago looks like a project at least a year away from materializing as a serious NFC threat. That leaves the door open for the Lions to be a significant threat in the NFC North and beyond. Detroit has some cap space to work with and got by last season with a winning record even with brutal injury luck particularly in its skill position groups. The offensive line for Detroit should be one of the better units in the league and after a tough 2021-22 season with the Lions, Jared Goff performed well last season as the Lions should have a great deal of potential as a top tier offense in 2023-24.  The NFC North teams do play the AFC West teams for a potentially difficult crossover quartet, though the AFC West did not live up to expectations overall last season. The Lions will also play all four NFC South teams which was a bad division in 2022-23 with all four teams posting losing records. The 2nd place draw includes Dallas, Seattle, and Baltimore for a difficult trio, but Detroit still looks like a candidate to take another step forward in 2023-24. 

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Premier League Futures (Updated)

by Amedeus Mastrangelo

Monday, Jan 30, 2023

The Premier League is more than halfway through the season now and teams are really starting to round into their season form as the contenders look to make a big push in this 2nd half of the year. The Winter Transfer Window is also coming to a close soon and teams have had plenty of opportunities to boost their squads and make some big moves that could help with a big run down the final stretch of the season. The true contenders to win the league title this year are a lot different than the clubs that were expected to have good seasons at the beginning of the year and now it is time to see which of these clubs still has a real shot at making a big run down the stretch and coming away with the title.  To Win Outright Arsenal -138: Arsenal is the current leading favorite on the board to win the Premier League title this season and this was a team that really flew under the radar at the beginning of the season. They made some big moves to boost their squad and brought in some new management but they are exceeding expectations this year as they sit 5 points above the 2nd place club and still have a match in hand as well. Arsenal has by far been the most dominant team this year with only 2 draws and 1 loss in their 19 matches and they are on pace to surpass the best season this Arsenal club has had in its history. They even suffered a big blow when they lost their star forward in the World Cup, Gabriel Jesus, and yet they have still managed to stay in such great form without picking up a replacement. They have not only been averaging over 2 goals scored per match this year with their very potent attack, but they also have the 2nd best defense in the Premier League with only 16 goals allowed in their 19 matches. Arsenal has shown this year that they are a club that is here to stay and even though they will have Europa League matches near the end of the season which will be a bit of a distraction, they may have such a big lead in the league by then that it may not even matter though. Arsenal is a true contender to win the title and has been the most dominant team in the Premier League all season. Manchester City +125: Manchester City is the 2nd biggest favorite on the board to win the Premier League title as they currently sit in 2nd place right now but they have fallen quite a bit from the beginning of the season. Man City was the big favorite at the beginning of the year as they were the only team that had odds that were not +$ and it was pretty much expected of them to win the title again with the dominance they have shown over the last few years. As deep as Man City is with their 2 full squads of players that could be starters on countless other teams in the Premier League, they did lose some big talent in the summer and so far they have not been having the greatest season. They did add Haaland to their squad who has been a scoring machine for them all year but in the few matches where he has struggled to create chances for himself the team as a whole has struggled to score goals in those matches which has led them to drop some points in their matches. Man City has been a lot more inconsistent as a team this year than they have been in previous years but this is a lot of value for them to win the title at +$ and even though they are 5 points behind the league leaders with Arsenal having a match in hand as well, they also still have both fixtures against Arsenal left this season so they have a chance to make a run at the title still. Man City could run into issues down the stretch though as they have bigger things to worry about with the next round of Champions League starting soon and that will be a big distraction to this team since that will be their main focus and they are still desperately looking for a Champions League title after years of league dominance. Man City does have some value at this price to win the title as they have the talent and squad depth to do it but it may be a very tight race in the end with Man City focusing their efforts elsewhere depending how deep a run they can make in Champions League. Manchester United +4000: Manchester United comes in as the 3rd biggest favorite to win the Premier League title this year but there is a very large gap between them and the 2nd biggest favorite. With these odds it seems like there is almost no chance of Man Utd making a run at the title this year and that will likely be the case as they currently sit in 4th place with 39 points, just 11 points behind the league leading Arsenal, but Arsenal also has a match in hand on Man Utd and with no more fixtures against them this season Arsenal would have to drop some serious points for Man Utd to get back in this. Of all the teams below the top 2 right now, Man Utd does have the best shot to pull it off though as they have been in great form for a majority of the season and are finally starting to figure things out on the pitch between their starting talent and management. Man Utd is also in the middle of a club sale right now as well so even if Arsenal did drop some major points and Man Utd continued on their run, they still do not have the depth to make a run like that and would be very content with just a top 4 spot this year to get back in Champions League as they look to really boost their squad in the summer with their new influx of cash. Man Utd may not have the squad to make a run this year and win the title but this is a club that is on the rise right now and they will only get better in the summer as they look to win a title next year, Newcastle +8000: Newcastle is the 4th biggest favorite on the board to win the title but a favorite they are definitely not. They have been having a great year as they currently sit in 3rd place with 39 points, but they are still 11 points behind the league leading Arsenal and Arsenal still has a match in hand as well. Newcastle really jumped out to a great start which propelled them up the table but they have been slowing down recently and will not be able to keep up the pace they have been on. They have the best defense in the Premier League as they have allowed the least amount of goals all season with just 11 goals allowed in their 20 matches, but as well as their defense has been playing it has led to them leaning on their defensive play more and even though they are not allowing many goals, it is not translating into wins either. They have only lost 1 match this year in their 20 matches which is very good as Arsenal is the only other team in the league with just 1 loss, but Newcastle has also only won 10 matches with 9 draws in their 20 matches played. No other team in the top 4 right now has more than 3 draws while Newcastle has 9 draws and a lot of them have come in matches where they were the dominant team but just could not score any goals. Finishing has really been a problem for them recently but this is a club that has a lot of money to buy players in the summer and they are already way ahead of schedule this season so they would be very content with just finishing in the top 4 and then addressing their needs in the summer to make them a real title contender next year. Newcastle does have a very good team this year but they have no shot at winning the title if they continue to play the way they are playing with an attack that is lacking heavily. RecommendationsWe have covered the top 4 teams in the Premier League right now and their odds to win the Premier League title with the way things have gone so far. There are a number of other big clubs that were not mentioned like Tottenham, Liverpool, and Chelsea but the reality is that those clubs are too far down the table to make a big enough run and all 3 clubs are in total disarray as they have all been trending in the wrong direction, spiraling toward self-destruction. The 4 clubs we discussed are the 4 clubs with the best chance of making a run for the title but at this point in the season with the way every team has been playing, this is pretty much a two horse race to the finish line as Arsenal and Man City look to battle it out down the stretch for the title. The best way to go with placing a future still is on Manchester City at +125 as this is a lot of value for them with the depth of their squad and the talent they have. They are also only 5-8 point behind Arsenal depending on what Arsenal does with the match in hand and they still have 2 matches against them this season so there is plenty of opportunity for Man City to make a comeback and take advantage of any slip ups that Arsenal may have down the stretch. 

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NBA: Who's Good?

by Will Rogers

Monday, Jan 30, 2023

NBA: Who’s Good?This has been a weird NBA season so far. Outside of Boston, there’s no obvious “dominant” team in the league. Also, the East now seems to be the stronger conference.Just about every team has played 50 games. So let’s see if we can make “heads or tails” of the chaos that is the 2022-23 NBA campaign.Eastern ConferenceThere are what I would call five “really good” teams here. One is great (Boston). The others are: Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Brooklyn and Cleveland. Interestingly, the Bucks fall well short in both net efficiency and point differential when compared to the other top East teams. Their net rating is more in line with the Knicks and Heat, who are vying to be the sixth team in the Conference that gets to avoid the dreaded “play-in tournament.” The Bucks are just 23rd in the league in offensive efficiency!Cleveland started very strong, but a word of caution: the Cavaliers are 6-0 in overtime games, which I view as being quite “lucky.” Just for the sake of comparison, the Celtics have played seven OT games this season and won only three. The same can be said for the Knicks.But a mark in the Cavs’ favor is that they have the most double digit wins in the league (21). That’s nine more than Brooklyn, who has benefited from a 6-1 SU record in games decided by three points or less. Milwaukee is 4-0 SU in games decided by three points or less.  My view at the present moment is that Cleveland will end up being the “odd team out” when it’s time for the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Cavs, moreso than the other four “top” teams that I’ve discussed, would really benefit from finishing top three. They do have the league’s second best defensive rating as of press time.Of the top seven in the East, only the Knicks (14th) are outside the league’s top 10 in defensive rating. Miami has the most wins by three points or less in the entire NBA (with 10).  Everyone else in the East ranges from “subpar” to “terrible.” The only two I’d give the latter designation to are Charlotte and Detroit. Teams I think are most likely to make the play-in tournament are Atlanta, Toronto and Chicago. The Bulls have four overtime losses and the Raptors are 2-9 SU in games decided by three points or less. Their respective luck should start to improve. But you must monitor how each team behaves at the trade deadline. I’d sell both Washington and Indiana. The Wizards have won five in a row entering Monday and have a good chance at making it six in a row when they visit San Antonio. But it doesn’t impress me that they are 3-8 ATS as a home favorite this season and getting outscored by an average of 2.2 points in those games. Indiana is only 7-14 SU in games decided by 10 or more points. They’ve already exceeded their preseason win total, an achievement unto itself, but don’t expect much more from them moving forward.Western ConferenceI can’t remember the last time I saw the West this wide open. While not as strong as the East at the top, the West remains deeper. The Clippers came into the year as the odds on favorite to win the NBA title. But they’ve allowed more points than they’ve scored this season. Same for Golden State, who won the NBA Finals last June.“Load management” and injuries are the respective culprits for the Clips and Dubs’ underwhelming records. But the rest of the West should be a little frightened that both have now worked their way back into the top six. Denver and Memphis have been the top two in the West so far. The former has the league’s top offensive rating while the latter is #1 in defensive rating.It’s highly probable that these four aforementioned teams (Clippers, Warriors, Nuggets, Grizzlies) end up being the conference semifinalists. Sacramento came into the season hellbent on ending the longest postseason drought in the four “major” North American professional sports leagues. They will do that, as they currently sit third in the West, a real shocker. But a losing record (11-16 SU) vs. teams .500 or above is a little concerning. Then again, the Clippers are 8-21 SU in such games. The Kings are neck and neck with the Nuggets for the top offensive rating in the league. The Clippers are just 22nd in that regard! Dallas is the only team in the West - besides Denver and Memphis - with a winning record against .500 or better competition. The Mavericks are 15-14 SU in such games. You may have noticed that Luka Doncic is "pretty good." The number of double digit wins on the resumes of the Pelicans and Suns is impressive. But both have been hit hard by injuries over the last month. New Orleans is mired in a massive slump right now. Sunday’s loss to the Bucks was their eighth in a row. Three straight wins have Minnesota up into fifth place entering Monday. This team was being written off not long ago. That’s how razor thin the margin in the West is right now as only five games separate third from 13th position. Only the Spurs and Rockets, the two worst teams in the whole NBA, are out of it. Sell on Utah even making the play-in tournament. One or more of the three teams directly below them at the moment (OKC, Portland and the Lakers) will pass the Jazz, who have the league’s sixth worst defensive rating. New Orleans, Phoenix and OKC are the only three Western Conference teams besides Memphis with a top 10 defensive rating in the league. 

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Four Possible Futures Wagers to Win the Big 12

by AAA Sports

Monday, Jan 30, 2023

The Big 12 has seen one of its craziest seasons in College Basketball then we have seen in most recent years. Kansas lost 3 games in a row, Texas Tech is winless in Conference Play and Texas dismissed their head coach halfway thru the season after Domestic Assault Charges. This Conference is so close-knit it presents lots of value for the Regular Season Conference Outright Winner futures. The FOUR teams that I think present the most value are as follows:Kansas State (+400 : Odds via DraftKings)I strongly believe that Kansas State is one of the best teams coming out of the Big 12. They have an offensive-adjusted efficiency of 113.5 and a defensive-adjusted efficiency of 95.1. Their biggest issue offensively is that they turn the ball over 19.2% per 100 possessions. Per KenPom rankings they are ranked 106 or better in 3pt shooting %, 2pt shooting %, FT % and effective FG%. On defense, they are even better, holding teams to only 67 PPG. Their next game is on the road against Kansas Tuesday night. Texas (+380 Odds via DraftKings)I have been back and forth on Texas all season and especially after the firing of their head coach however, their team has shown that with or without him they are a force to be reckoned with in the Big 12. They have an adjusted offensive efficiency of 117.9 and a defensive adjusted efficiency of 95.8 - both of which are in KenPoms Top 35. My biggest fear of Tennessee is that they only shoot 33.2% from the 3pt and that ranks 208. Defensively, Texas allows 67 PPG. They have allowed 67+ in 4/7 Conference Games thus far however I look for them to toughen up down the stretch. Their next game is at home against Baylor on Monday night.Iowa State (+350 Odds via DraftKings)Iowa State has brought me by surprise this season and has put together a great squad that not many people expected to see - however they have lost 3 of their last 5 games. Iowa State has a top-ten defensive efficiency at 91.2 and an offensive efficiency of 110.8. They have a tendency to turn the ball over and do it 19.2% of their possessions. On the contrary, they force the most turnovers in College Basketball at 27.5%. They are one of the worst FT shooting teams at 66.9%. They are able to get plenty of second-chance opportunities as they have an offensive rebound % of 34.9%. If Iowa State can figure out its turnover issue they can make a deep run this season.Baylor (+650 : Odds via DraftKings)This is my dark horse team to win the Big 12 - This time of the year is all about getting hot and Baylor fits that scenario. After falling in their first 3 Conference games, they have won the next 5 straight. Baylor has the 2nd best offensive efficiency at 120.1 and has a defensive efficiency of 99.6. They have the best discipline of ball control in the Big 12 and only turn the ball over on 18.2% of possessions and have an offensive rebound percentage of 37.4% exhibiting excellent potential of maintaining the ball to score. Defensively they have some holes as teams are scoring 51.2% from 2pt however this team is hot and I see this flame igniting. Their next game is on the road against Texas on Monday night.Overall, the Big 12 is wide open with just a little over a month to play and this Conference offers bettors plenty of value on Regular Season Winner Futures. The last game of the season for Big 12 play is Saturday, March 4th with games including Kansas @ Texas, Iowa State @ Baylor and Kansas State @ West Virginia. 

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL and NCAAB Previews and Odds - 01/30/2023

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Jan 30, 2023

The Monday sports card features action in the NBA, NHL, and NCAAB. The National Basketball Association has eight games on its docket. The Philadelphia 76ers host the Orlando Magic at 7:10 PM ET as a 10.5-point favorite (all odds from DraftKings). The Brooklyn Nets play at home against the Los Angeles Lakers as an 8.5-point favorite. Three NBA games tip off at 8:10 PM ET. The Minnesota Timberwolves are at home against the Sacramento Kings as a 1-point favorite, with the total set at 236.5. The Golden State Warriors travel to Oklahoma City to play the Thunder as a 3-point road favorite. The Washington Wizards play at San Antonio against the Spurs as a 5-point road favorite. The Dallas Mavericks host the Detroit Pistons at 8:40 PM ET as an 8.5-point favorite.The Phoenix Suns play at home against the Toronto Raptors at 9:10 PM ET as a 2.5-point favorite. The Portland Trail Blazers are at home against the Atlanta Hawks at 10:10 PM ET as a 2.5-point favorite.  The National Hockey League has one game on its slate. The Winnipeg Jets play at home against the St. Louis Blues at 8:07 PM ET as a -205 money-line favorite with an over/under of 6. The college basketball schedule has six games on national television. Three games on national television tip-off at 7 PM ET. Virginia visits Syracuse on ESPN. The Cavaliers are on a six-game winning streak after their 76-57 victory against Boston College as a 14-point favorite on Saturday. The Orange lost for the third time in their last four games in an 85-70 loss at Virginia Tech as a 6.5-point underdog on Saturday. Virginia is a 5-point favorite with a total of 132.5. Colgate hosts Loyola-Maryland on the CBS Sports Network. The Raiders are on a ten-game winning streak after a 69-57 victory against Lafayette on Saturday. The Greyhounds ended a three-game losing streak in an 80-66 victory against Bucknell as a 1-point favorite on Saturday. Colgate is a 17.5-point favorite with an over/under of 137.5. Norfolk State plays at home against North Carolina Central on ESPNU. The Spartans won for the second time in their last three games in an 82-68 victory against South Carolina State as a 15-point favorite on Saturday. The Eagles are on a two-game losing streak after a 71-67 loss at Howard on Saturday. Norfolk State is a 5.5-point favorite with a total of 140. Three more NCAAB games on national television begin at 9 PM ET. Texas is at home against Baylor on ESPN. The Longhorns were on a two-game winning streak before losing at Tennessee, 82-71, as a 5.5-point underdog on Saturday. The Bears are on a six-game winning streak after their 67-64 victory against Arkansas as a 6.5-point favorite on Saturday. Texas is a 3-point favorite with an over/under of 149.5. Texas Tech hosts Iowa State on ESPN2. The Red Raiders ended an eight-game losing streak with a 76-68 victory at LSU as a 2.5-point favorite on Saturday. The Cyclones lost for the second time in their last three games in a 78-61 loss at Missouri as a pick ‘em. This contest is a pick ‘em game with a total of 130. Southern University plays at home against Jackson State on ESPNU. The Jaguars won for the seventh time in their last eight games in an 80-68 victory against Alcorn State as a 5-point favorite on Saturday. The Tigers’ two-game winning streak ended in a 78-66 loss at Grambling as a 6.5-pint underdog on Saturday. Southern is an 8-point favorite with an over/under of 147.  

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The 3-Point Shot in College Hoops

by Wayne Root

Sunday, Jan 29, 2023

There are stats that one can use to decide if the three point shot will come into play in your college basketball betting. Let’s take a look.  With both elite and awful units, there are four types of games that you can derive analytics from.  1. an elite offense versus an elite defense (at times)2. an elite offense versus an awful defense (definitely)3. an awful offense versus an elite defense (never) 4. an awful offense versus an awful defense. (never) Depending on how the year to date statistics measure, one can find the answers of the possibilities but not the results. But you certainly can logically gauge them if you put in the work.  Don’t extrapolate these results too far. If your team plays a six foot three inch center, he’s probably going to get killed by Paul George. However, based on the four factors, matchups do not necessarily guarantee you make better predictions. Offensive and defensive efficiency by adjusted points per possession does an excellent job. The three point shot is a powerful weapon. It gives the underdog an opportunity to get hot and pull off the upset. It has also propelled a favorite like Villanova or or an underdog like Butler to excel in NCAA tournament championships. I often wondered whether the offense or defense has control over the three point shot. There’s a correlation from early to late season statistics in conference play more so than the preseason where elite teams play low level competition. The later, the more acceptable.  The defense has the ability to control what type of shots an opposing offense takes. They get to choose whether to go into a zone. Defenses can limit the fraction of shots an opponent takes from three. Defenses get to decide if the opponent can shoot from downtown or whether to guard the perimeter.  However, the defense has no control once the offense puts up a three point shot. Randomness plays a big role in determining three point percentage allowed. Even more surprising, randomness also plays a big role in an offense’s three point percentage. While shooting is a clear skill, the data shows regression to the mean in three point percentage. When was the last time you looked at three point attempts in your pregame analysis? It’s how often one attempts a three point shoot. A team going 3 of 4, (75%) means very little compared to a team that jacks up 22 attempts. Three point attempt percentage is one of the most predictable shooting-related stats around. We’ve already established the defense has influence over this, but a major part of an offense’s style is how often they want to shoot threes, so they have influence, too. More influence than the defense, actually. This certainly shows that even tho the defense has their say, the offense can counter.  There are games where good shooters get a bunch of open looks and they make more than a third of their attempts. You wouldn’t call that luck. (Although, from the offense’s perspective the shooters enjoyed some good fortune to be left open.) But in the long run, that kind of stuff evens out a lot more than one would have thought. In the end, coaches have to decide how much they want to play the lottery by putting it up from 35 feet.  Sometimes, it will be advantageous for the defense to let the offense to take a bunch of shots and sometimes it won’t. The offense has to consider the same things. Each philosophy may be correct given the alternatives inside the arc. There are obviously a lot of factors for a coach to consider in making these decisions; many more than just what a team’s 2-point accuracy might be. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting way to think about how defenses (and offenses) work. And what percentage you are backing if three point shots are expected or not. One consideration I would say is mandatory to analyze is the underdog. There’s nothing like a run of three pointers to get an underdog side back into the game and covering your spread. The back door cover is accomplished from outside the arc more than a series of two point shooting.  Good Luck Wayne Root

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NFL, NHL, NCAAB and NBA Previews and Odds - 01/29/2023

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Jan 29, 2023

The Sunday sports card features action in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and NCAAB. The National Football League continues its postseason with two games in the conference championship playoff round. The Philadelphia Eagles host the San Francisco 49ers on Fox at 3 PM ET. The Eagles are on a two-game winning streak with seven victories in their last nine games after a 38-7 win at home against the New York Giants as an 8-point favorite last Saturday. Ther 49ers are on a 12-game winning streak after a 19-12 vicotry at home against Dallas as 3.5-point favorite last Sunday. Philadelphia is a 2.5-point favorite, with the total set at 45.5 (all odds from DraftKings).The Kansas City Chiefs play at home against the Cincinnati Bengals on CBS at 6:30 PM ET. The Chiefs won for the sixth time in a row and in 11 of their last 12 games after a 27-20 win at home against Jacksonville as a 10-point favorite last Saturday. The Bengals are on a ten-game winning streak after their 27-10 upset win at Buffalo as a 6-point underdog on Sunday. Kansas City is a 1.5-point favorite with an over/under of 48.The National Basketball Association has four games on its docket. The Miami Heat travel to Charlotte to play the Hornets at 1:10 PM ET as a 6-point road favorite with a total of 222. The Memphis Grizzlies host the Indiana Pacers at 6:10 PM ET as a 9.5-point favorite. The Cleveland Cavaliers play at home against the Los Angeles Clippers as a 4.5-point favorite. The Milwaukee Bucks are at home against the New Orleans Pelicans as a 9.5-point favorite with an over/under of 233.The National Hockey League has two games on its slate at 5:07 PM ET. The Carolina Hurricanes host the Boston Bruins as a -125 money line favorite with a total of 6. The Toronto Maple Leafs play at home against the Washington Capitals as a -140 money-line favorite with an over/under of 6. The college basketball schedule has nine games on national television. Four games on national television tip off at noon ET. Providence visits Villanova on FS1 as a 1-point favorite with a total of 139.5. Wichita State plays at East Carolina on ESPNU as a 3-point road favorite with an over/under of 132. Lehigh is at home against Boston University on the CBS Sports Network as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 137. George Mason hosts Saint Joseph’s on the USA Network as a 7.5-point favorite with a total of 139.5. Purdue plays at home against Michigan State as a 7.5-point favorite with an over/under of 130. St. John’s is at home against Georgetown on FS1 at 2 PM ET as a 10.5-point favorite with a total of 156.5. Belmont hosts Drake on ESPN2 at 3 PM ET as a 1-point favorite with an over/under of 138.5. SMU plays at home against South Florida on ESPNU at 4 PM ET as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 146. Memphis is at Tulsa on ESPN2 at 5 PM ET as a 12-point road favorite with an over/under of 155.

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MLB 2023: Significant Roster Moves for AL East Teams

by Will Rogers

Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

Now that the NFL is winding down, and in spite of some serious winter storms where I  reside,  It is less than a month until spring training begins .  So, time to give some thought to who went where over the winter  among MLB possible contenders.  I'll begin with the AL East, starting with B for Blue Jays.Anyone who watches the Jays at all realizes that the boys in the dugout have a really good time.  After their quick playoff exit, one wonders "perhaps too good a time?"  The Jays brass might have been thinking along those lines.  Gone are Gurriel and Teoscar, two of the Jays talented and popular jokesters.  Hernandez especially will be a hard bat to replace, but the pair did have defensive limitations in outfield defense.  The Jays paid a ton  to bring in Varsho, losing also a prized catching prospect, but he will be a much needed left-handed presence in the line-up, with a big defensive upside and a huge potential on offense.  Veteran Kiermeier adds another left-handed defensive presence in the outfield (if not on offense), IF he remains healthy.  Kiermeier has been a thorn in the Jays' side as a Ray for years, so it will be nice to have him on the home side.   Adding Brandon Belt is a high-risk, high-reward gamble.  Belt, yet another left-handed addition in a previously right-centric line-up, is on a "show me" contract after a serious knee injury limited his playing time last year.On the pitching side, the Jays lost a rock in Ross Stripling and an often used reliever in Phelps.  The fine addition of premium starter Chris Bassitt will ease the pain.  The Jays have two acquisitions from last year, Kikuchi and White, who remain question marks as to usage, and will have Ryu possibly returning. The Jays bolstered their bullpen, trading with Seattle for Swanson, who will improve their late inning relief pitching, an area of concern last year.The young, carefree, if not goofball Jays' style seems on its way out.  Adding Mattingly as bench boss is just another sign the the Jays mean to be taken much more seriously this year.B also for Baltimore. The Orioles were a surprise contender last year and a real thorn in the side of the other AL East contenders, finally falling out of contention late in the season.  Have they done enough to improve on, or even equal, last year's Cinderfellah team? Maybe not..  As far as pitching goes, the Orioles lost Jordan Lyles, who overachieved last year, to free agency, and lost Means to Tommy John. They recently brought in Cole Irvin, losing a decent infield  prospect only, and added veteran Kyle Gibson.  Cole Irvin is a very dependable control starter who throws for a ton of innings.  Gibson is at best  a wild card.  He had some good moments, but could be shockingly poor at times last season.  The Orioles still really need another major league-ready starter to compete.Otherwise the Orioles disappointed the fan base and mostly stood pat.  They did add some veteran presence in catcher McCann and infielder Adam Frasier but these are not earth-shaking moves.  The Orioles will have their trio of very fine young stars, Henderson, Rutschman and pitcher Rodriguez for the full season, and are likely banking on further additions from their well-stocked larder in the minor leagues.  Chances for a post season berth? Definitely, wait and see. I'll check out the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox next..

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Regardless of Sunday's Results, an Epic Super Bowl Awaits

by Vegas Writer

Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

Postseason emotions fuel motivation, and both work in strange ways.Regardless of sport - be it football, baseball, basketball, or hockey - it takes the players to feed off them. Whether in your favor or against your mojo, momentum is a commodity for every team participating.In Sunday's NFC Championship, we have the top two seeds battling it out, with the San Francisco 49ers visiting the Philadelphia Eagles. And it's hard to dispute the NFC's top seeds will be riding emotional highs into Sunday's 3 pm pacific kickoff.Then there's the AFC Championship, in Kansas City, where the Chiefs play host to the Bengals, who won the regular-season matchup, 27-24, in Cincinnati.I expect both games to take all four fanbases on emotional roller coasters, and no matter what happens in these conference championships, I know the Big Game on Feb. 12 will be epic.In the NFC, we're getting a pair of dominating defensive units that, per TeamRankings.com, faced two of the three easiest schedules this season. San Francisco ranks 30th and Philadelphia is dead last at 32nd, in terms of the schedule of strength.When you look at the divisions they hail from, the 49ers come out of the NFC West, which has an overall average ranking of 16.75. The Eagles rolled through the NFC East, which has an overall average ranking of 21.25.Edge to Frisco with a +4.5.So what will it mean Sunday?Both teams are eccentric on offense, with the 49ers bringing coach Kyle Shanahan's offensive gloss behind young Brock Purdy, and the Eagles' unpredictable ways keeping opposing defenses guessing.The answer to the NFC riddle is which defense will be able to limit the big plays and come up with the big stop at the right time.The Eagles had five players with at least 35 pressures, and they recorded 54 sacks when rushing four or fewer defenders. The 49ers led the NFL in total defense (300.6), scoring defense (16.3), and turnover margin (+13) while ranking second in rush defense (77.7).In the AFC, the storyline is glaring, with the Chiefs in triple-revenge since Joe Burrow entered the league.Back to TeamRankings.com, where the Bengals rank second in the strength of schedule and the Chiefs sit 13th.Again, looking at the divisions they hail from, the Bengals come out of the AFC North, which has an overall average ranking of 5.25. The Chiefs dominated the AFC West, which has an overall average ranking of 20.5.Edge to the Bengals with a +15.25.For this game, the question is whether or not Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be mobile enough to lead Kansas City's offense and keep up with a Bengals offensive unit that ranked fourth in the league with 378 yards per game.Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow has three touchdowns against no interceptions with a 100.8 rating this postseason and aims for his fourth straight playoff game with no picks. Burrow is 3-0 with nine touchdowns vs. one interception and a 121 rating in three career starts versus Kansas City.Mahomes, who led the NFL with 5,250 yards passing and 41 touchdown passes this season, has 32 touchdowns and only three interceptions with a 116.7 rating in 10 career home playoff starts, with two touchdown passes in each of his last five. Mahomes has a 90+ rating in each of four career starts versus Cincinnati, including the playoffs.One thing is for sure, no matter what happens in these conference championships, I know the Big Game on Feb. 12 will be epic.

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