Articles

NFL Draft Betting

by Will Rogers

Monday, Apr 05, 2021

Less than a month to go until the Great Quarterback Draft of 2021. Trade rumors, actual trades, disinformation campaigns, a suspected second-round talent may be going in the top 3. And a prop betting market that will be centered around who will be the SECOND quarterback off the board.Some things for bettors to ponder:1.      WHAT WE KNOW FOR CERTAIN – Barring injury or illness, Trevor Lawrence will be under center when his Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Cincinnati in Week 1. It will be a battle between back-to-back overall No. 1 picks, assuming the Bengals’ Joe Burrow continues to make progress rehabbing his ACL-damaged left knee; surgery took place on Dec. 2, which would make the recovery approximately eight months. Pushing it a bit, but Burrow is reportedly running and ahead of schedule. There is no money to be made on Lawrence; the former Clemson is -10,000 at most books to go No. 1 overall. Passing on Lawrence would set up Urban Meyer as the guy who didn’t draft the NFL’s version of Michael Jordan.2.      THE FUN STARTS AT NO. 2 – The Jets had Lawrence in the palms of their hands last December but messed things up by beating the Chargers just before Christmas and the Browns just after – gift-wrapping him and giving him to the stunned but appreciative Jaguars. So the Jets have to settle, and the betting favorite is BYU’s Zach Wilson, who is listed at about -500 to New York in many books. There are reports that the Jets, who look ready to part ways with 2018 No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold, are locked in on Wilson.3.      WHITHER THE 49ERS AT NO. 3? – If the 49ers are trying to confuse everyone, they’re doing a great job of it. Through a trade with the Dolphins (who are now committed 100 percent to Tua Tagovailoa), Frisco is now in a position to jettison injury-in-waiting Jimmy Garoppolo and draft his successor. The question now is who gets to wear that 49ers baseball cap on April 29? If we knew a month ago that SF would somehow swipe No. 3, we would have figured Ohio State’s Justin Fields would be gold at +2000. But now word out of the Bay Area is that Alabama’s Mac Jones is the guy. Sports Betting Dime lists Jones now at +125 to San Francisco. The big question with Jones: Are his college stats a mirage because Alabama’s receivers were so good, or are the receivers’ stats so impressive because Jones is so accurate?4.      WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE FIELDS? – Say hello to the Atlanta Falcons, who could throw a grenade into the draft by moving down and out of the No. 4 spot and opt to build around veteran Matt Ryan. Might be tempting for the Falcons to move down in the first, take impact TE Kyle Pitts, and add draft capital in the process. That scenario gained some steam this past week when questions arose about Fields’s alleged poor work ethic. Denials poured in soon after, but the balloon might have already been popped. You can get Fields at +180 at No. 4, though.5.      IF NOT ATLANTA, THEN WHO? – If Fields is still on the board after Atlanta picks, the next three teams (assuming no trades) up are Cincinnati, Miami, and Detroit – all of whom are set at the QB position. The spotlight then shines on Carolina. Most mock drafts don’t see the uber-athletic Fields dropping past the Panthers, but North Dakota State’s Trey Lance is a possibility if the Fields rumors gain some traction over the next few weeks.6.      WHO ELSE IS HUNTING FOR A QB? – Denver at No. 9 looks ready to go big for a quarterback and trade talk is swirling in Colorado, though it appears their hope that Jones would fall to them appears dim. The 800-pound gorilla in the room, though, is New England. Bill Belichick has famously never drafted a QB in the first round, but there is talk about the Patriots breaking precedent and actually moving up for a QB. Belichick was present for Jones’s Pro Day workout, and the team ignored Fields’s session that was held the same day. That could be just a misdirection play called by the Pats. Whatever the strategy, everyone will be keeping a close eye on New England as the draft nears.7.      THEN THERE’S THIS – Only twice before have QBs gone 1-2-3 in the draft. Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, and Akili Smith were the first three off the board in 1999, with only McNabb finding success. This year’s teams are hoping for something like the 1971 draft, when Jim Plunkett, Archie Manning, and Dan Pastorini were first, second, and third. History tells us it is likely that at least a few teams picking QBs early this time will be asking themselves, five years down the road, “What were we thinking?” No one wants to be remembered as the guy who drafted the next Couch, Heath Schuler, Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Andre Ware, or Johnny Manziel – picks that set their franchises back for years. Caveat emptor.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NCAA Basketball, MLB, EPL and NHL Previews and Odds - 04/05/2021

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Apr 05, 2021

The Monday sports card features action in NCAA basketball, NBA, NHL, MLB, and the English Premier League.The college basketball National Championship Game tips off on CBS at 9:20 PM ET. Baylor has won five games in a row with their 78-59 victory against Houston as a 5-point favorite in the Final Four on Saturday. Gonzaga outlasted UCLA, in overtime, 93-90, as a 14-point favorite in the second Final Four game on Saturday. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is the site. The Bulldogs are a 4.5-point favorite over the Bears, with the total set at 159.5 (all odds from BetOnline). Seven games are on the NBA docket. Six of the games start at 7 PM ET. The final contest on the card begins at 8 PM ET, with Phoenix playing at Houston.Six games are on the NHL slate. Two games begin the card at 7 PM ET. The schedule concludes at 10 PM ET with Arizona playing at Los Angeles. Fourteen games are on the MLB card. Four of the games are on ESPN. Minnesota travels to Detroit on ESPN at 1 PM ET. The Twins have won two of their first three games after their 8-2 win at Milwaukee on Sunday. The Tigers had their two-game winning streak end yesterday in a 9-3 loss to Cleveland. Minnesota sends out Matt Shoemaker, and Detroit counters with Jose Urena. The Twins are a -140 money line road favorite with an over/under of 8.5.Cleveland hosts Kansas City on ESPN at 4 PM ET. The Indians ended a two-game losing streak in their victory against Detroit yesterday. The Royals fell to 2-1 on the season with a 7-3 loss on Sunday to Texas. Cleveland sends out Logan Allen with Kansas City using Danny Duffy. The Indians are a -114 money line favorite with a total of 8.5.Tampa Bay visits Boston on ESPN at 7 PM ET. The Rays saw their two-game winning streak end in a 12-7 loss at Minnesota on Saturday. The Red Sox lost their third in a row with an 11-3 defeat at Baltimore yesterday. Tampa Bay will debut Michael Wacha as their starting pitcher to face Boston's Nick Pivetta. The Rays are a -122 money line favorite with an over/under of 9.5.The Chicago White Sox play at Seattle on ESPN at 10 PM ET. The White Sox have lost three of four games after their 7-4 loss at Los Angeles against the Angels on Sunday. The Mariners have won three of four after their 4-0 win against San Francisco yesterday. Carlos Rodon is the starting pitcher for Chicago as he faces Seattle's Justus Sheffield. The White Sox are a -121 money line road favorite with the total at 8.5.Matchweek 30 of the English Premier League concludes with two matches on Peacock. Everton hosts Crystal Palace at 1 PM ET as a -0.5 money line favorite with an over/under of 2.25. Wolverhampton plays at home against West Ham United in a pick ‘em matchup with a total of 2.

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NFL - How Adding an Extra Game May Change History

by ASA, Inc.

Sunday, Apr 04, 2021

With the NFL Draft less than a month away, we take a look at the NFL's decision to add an extra regular season game beginning next year.  With the addition of an extra regular season game this year (and no extra bye week), we are in for some big changes moving forward in 2021. One extra game may not seem like it would have a big impact, but the statistical metrics, record books, and the way we view players will all be different from ever before. Milestones like 1,000 rushing or receiving yards will not mean as much since it would take less than 59 yards per game to now reach. Single season records will surely be in jeopardy and some of the game’s greatest players and seasons will not hold the place in history that they should.  Records that will broken: Receiving yards: Calvin Johnson 1,964 Receiving TDs: Randy Moss 23 Rushing Yards: Eric Dickerson 2,105 Passing TDs: Peyton Manning 55  The validity of anyone that breaks these records will now be questioned. The league is only getting more talented by the year, which means that these records will eventually fall sooner than they should. There will be an asterisk in the history books to mark whether a historic season had 16 or 17 games in it. Players have a hard enough time making it through 16 games already, and a 17th feels like a money grab by the already rich NFL owners.  Alvin Kamara along with others have already voiced their displeasure with the additional game. The change in the season does hurt one position group more than others. Running Back. Maybe the hardest position to remain healthy, running backs will only be used more heavily and have an even shorter shelf life. Due to the 4 year rookie contacts that most players get out of college, many running backs are easy to replace by the time they reach their second deal. This is for good reason when looking at players like Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Ezekiel Elliott who all are on massive running back contracts yet struggled to return value to their teams this season. In a few years players should see the benefit of larger contacts and an increased salary cap, unfortunately for some current players this might be too late. Tainted records and player safety will be under close watch to see how much the 17-game season affects them.  

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL, MLB and EPL Previews and Odds - 04/04/2021

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Apr 04, 2021

The Sunday sports card features action in the NBA, the NHL, MLB, and the English Premier League.Seven games are on the NBA docket. The card tips off a 2 PM ET with Brooklyn playing at Chicago. The Los Angeles Clippers are the technical home team against the Los Angeles Lakers on ABC at 3:30 PM ET. The Clippers have lost two in a row after their 101-94 upset loss at home to Denver as a 2-point favorite on Thursday. The Lakers have won three of four after they upset Sacramento, 115-94, as a 4.5-point underdog on Friday. The Clippers are a 10.5-point favorite with the total set at 215 (all odds from BetOnline). The NBA card concludes with Orlando playing at Dallas at 10 PM ET. Six games are on the NHL slate. Tampa Bay hosts Detroit on NBC at noon ET. The Lightning defeated the Red Wings, 2-1, on Saturday. Detroit has lost three in a row. Tampa Bay is a -365 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5. Carolina plays at home against Dallas on the NBC Sports Network at 7 PM ET. The Stars have won two in a row after their 3-2 win at Carolina on Saturday. The Hurricanes have lost two of their last three games. Carolina is a -160 money line favorite with the total at 5.5. The NHL card concludes with two games at 9 PM ET. Toronto plays at Calgary as a -153 money line road favorite with an over/under of 6. Arizona travels to Anaheim as a -127 money line road favorite with an over/under of 5.The MLB card has twelve games on the schedule. Atlanta plays at Philadelphia on ESPN at 1 PM ET. The Phillies defeated the Braves by a 4-0 score on Saturday. They send out Zach Eflin to face Ian Anderson. Atlanta is a -121 money line road favorite with a total of 8.The Los Angeles Angels play at home against the Chicago White Sox on ESPN at 8:30 PM ET. The Angels defeated the White Sox by a 5-3 score on Saturday. They turn to Shohei Ohtani to face Chicago’s Dylan Cease. Los Angeles is a -117 money line favorite with an over/under of 9.Matchweek 30 in the English Premier League continues with four matches. Southampton hosts Burnley on NBC Peacock at 7 AM ET as a -0.5 money line favorite with a total of 2.25. Tottenham visits Newcastle United on the NBC Sports Network at 9:05 AM ET as a -0.75 money line road favorite with an over/under of 2.5. Aston Villa is at home against Fulham on the NBC Sports Network at 11:30 AM ET as a -0.25 goal line favorite with the total at 2.25. Manchester United plays at home against Brighton and Hove Albion on the NBC Sports Network at 2:30 PM ET as a 0.75 money line favorite with an over/under of 2.5.

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NHL Hockey: Stars/Hurricanes Preview, Odds and Prediction - 04/04/2021

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Apr 04, 2021

Sunday NBC Sports Network Preview: Dallas versus Carolina. The Dallas Stars play at Carolina against the Hurricanes on the NBC Sports Network at 7 PM ET in a rematch of their encounter on Saturday.The Stars won their second straight game for the first time in over two months with their 3-2 victory yesterday. Tanner Keno scored the winning goal at the 2:35 minute mark of the third period. Andrew Cogliano and Jamie Benn also scored goals. Jake Oettinger registered 41 saves in the victory. The 22-year old rookie has a 6-3-6 record in 18 games (16 starts). He has posted a 2.32 goals-against-average with a .913 save percentage. Oettinger may play again tonight with Anton Khudobin’s status is in doubt after he tested positive for COVID. There is hope in the Dallas camp that this was a false positive result since Khudobin has already experienced a bout with COVID in the offseason. Head coach Rock Bowness’ team finds themselves in sixth place in the Central Division with 36 points. The Stars are five points behind Nashville for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division. Center Joel Pavelski leads the team with 34 points from 15 goals and 19 assists. Defenseman John Klingberg has six goals with 19 assists. Left winger Roope Hintz has 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points. Left winger Jason Robertson has contributed eight goals with 16 assists for 24 points. Dallas is dealing with some injuries. Both Hintz and defenseman Joel Hanley were scratches on Saturday with lower-body injuries. Center Jason Dickinson only played seven minutes before skating off the ice with an injury. Carolina has lost two of their last three games after the loss on Saturday. They have still won four of six games. Dougie Hamilton and Hayden Fleury scored in the losing effort. Alexander Nedeljkovic stopped 22 of 25 shots. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour may use today’s rematch to get Petr Mrazek back on the ice. The veteran goaltender has not played since January 30th with a thumb injury. Mrazek was a healthy scratch yesterday after completing a conditioning stint in the minors. He has only played in four games this season with a 2-1-0 record, 0.99 goals-against-average, and a .955 save percentage. The Hurricanes are in third place in the Central Division with 51 points. They are three points behind Tampa Bay and Florida, currently tied for first place, and they are ten points clear of the Predators for the last playoff spot. Right winger Sebastian Aho leads the team with 33 points from 15 goals and 18 assists. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton has added four goals and 26 assists. Centers Martin Necas and Vincent Trochek have contributed another 28 points apiece. Necas has nine goals and 19 assists, and Trocheck has scored 14 goals with 14 assists. Three of the five meetings between these two teams got decided by one goal. BookMaker lists Carolina as a -165 money line favorite with the total set at 5.5.Computer prediction: Hurricanes 4 Stars 2

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NCAA Basketball: UCLA/Gonzaga Preview, Odds and Prediction - 04/03/2021

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, Apr 03, 2021

NCAAB Saturday CBS Preview: UCLA versus Gonzaga. UCLA plays Gonzaga in the second Final Four game on CBS with a tip-off time of 8:34 PM ET.The Bruins advanced to the Final Four with their 51-49 upset victory against Michigan as a 6.5-point underdog on Tuesday. Johnny Juzang put his team on his shoulders with 28 points. The sophomore leads the teams with a 15.5 points-per-game scoring average. UCLA joined VCU as the only other team in tournament history to advance to the Final Four after playing in one of the First Four games. They won their play-in game, 86-80 in overtime, against Michigan State before defeating BYU and Abilene Christian to reach the Sweet 16. The Bruins needed overtime to advance to the Elite 8 in their 88-78 win against Alabama. The Bruins rank 15th in the kenpom rankings with a 22-9 record. They are 13th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency using the kenpom metrics. They make 36.9% of their 3-pointers, ranking 44th nationally. The Bruins are 45th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They limit their opponents to rebounding 25.2% of their missed shots, ranking 70th nationally. UCLA has an opponent’s effective field goal percentage of 49.9%, which is the 166th worst mark in the nation. The core group of players is not the same from which Mick Cronin started the season. Chris Smith suffered a season-ending torn ACL in late December. The 6’9 senior was scoring 12.6 points-per-game while adding 6.4 rebounds-per-game. Jalen Hill is not with the team in the Indianapolis bubble for reasons listed as personal. The 6’10 junior was averaging 6.1 points-per-game and 5.5 rebounds-per-game. Cronin still has plenty of talent available to him on his roster, as evidenced by their four wins in the tournament. The Bruins returned all five starters plus most of his bench players from the team that won eleven of their last fourteen games last season. Juzang joined the team from Kentucky in the offseason. Gonzaga advanced to the Final Four with their 85-66 win against USC as a 12-point favorite on Tuesday. Drew Timme paved the way with 23 points. The sophomore scores 19.2 points-per-game and averages 7.2 rebounds-per-game. Jalen Suggs added 18 points, ten rebounds, and eight assists. The freshman is scoring 14.0 points-per-game and averaging 5.5 rebounds-per-game and 4.5 assists-per-game. Corey Kispert contributed 18 points and eight rebounds. The senior averages 18.9 points-per-game and 5.0 rebounds-per-game.The Bulldogs are the last remaining undefeated team in the nation with a 29-0 record to accompany their number one ranking and top-rating at kenpom. They have rattled off 34 straight victories going back to last season, and they have won 27 in a row by double-digits. Gonzaga played a rigorous non-conference schedule that included powerhouses in Kansas, West Virginia, Virginia, and Iowa. The Bulldogs defeated Norfolk State, Oklahoma, Creighton, and then the Trojans in the NCAA Tournament.Gonzaga has the country's top adjusted offensive efficiency number according to metrics at kenpom. Their effective field goal percentage of 61.0% is tops nationally. The Zags are fifth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They limit their opponents to rebound 23.0% of their missed shots, 18th best in the nation. If there is a crack in the armor, it might start with their half-court defense. Their opponents have an effective field goal percentage of 47.0%, which is only 41st nationally. Mark Few returned three players from his seven-man rotation that finished 31-2 last season and looked poised to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament as a number one seed. This group may be Few’s most talented roster in his 22 seasons as the Gonzaga head coach. Lucas Oil Stadium is the site. BetAnySports lists Gonzaga as a 14-point favorite with the total set at 145.5.Computer prediction:  Gonzaga 80 UCLA 64

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2021 NCAA Tournament: An ATS Review of the First Four Rounds

by Al McMordie

Saturday, Apr 03, 2021

The 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournament has been the most predictable, and least predictable at the same time.  On the most predictable end of things, it is no surprise that the two best teams - Gonzaga and Baylor - are in the Final Four, and rank as the favorites to be playing on Monday in the championship game.  On the least predictable side of things, this tournament has had 14 upsets by a team seeded at least 5 spots worse than its opponent, which is the most such upsets in the history of the tournament.  Likewise, this tournament has had the most wins by teams seeded 10 (or worse), as there have been 16 (not including the four "First Four" games).One of those double-digit seeds, #11 UCLA, has reached the Final Four, along with #1 seeds Gonzaga and Baylor, and #2 seed Houston.Let's take a look at first four rounds of this tournament, from a point spread perspective.  We'll not include the First Four games in this analysis.  And the other thing to take note of is that the 1st round game between #7 Oregon and #10 VCU was cancelled due to COVID-19, so there have been 59 games played, rather than the usual 60.Notwithstanding the fact that the double-digit seeds have done well, underdogs have only gone 30-29 ATS in this tournament, overall (34-29 ATS if you include the First Four games).  Here is a breakdown by seeds:#1 seeds:  12-2 SU, 10-4 ATS#2 seeds: 7-3 SU, 3-7 ATS#3 seeds: 5-4 SU, 3-6 ATS#4 seeds: 3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS#5 seeds: 5-4 SU, 4-5 ATS#6 seeds: 4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS#7 seeds: 2-4 SU, 2-4 ATS#8 seeds: 4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS#9 seeds: 1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS#10 seeds: 2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS#11 seeds: 6-3 SU, 6-3 ATS#12 seeds: 3-4 SU, 5-2 ATS#13 seeds: 2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS#14 seeds: 1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS#15 seeds: 2-4 SU, 5-1 ATS#16 seeds: 0-4 SU, 2-2 ATSAnd here is a breakdown of point spread ranges:Underdogs of +3.5 or less:  7-6 ATSUnderdogs +4 to +7.5:  10-15 ATSUnderdogs +8 to +11.5:  8-2 ATSUnderdogs of +12 or more:  5-6 ATSThe games have tended to go under the total, as the unders are 34-24-1 through the first four rounds (37-25-1 if you include the "First Four games).Let's take a look at some other point spread situations:Teams that won their conference tournament (against foes that didn't win their conference tournament):  17-12 ATSTeams off a straight-up loss (against foes not off a loss):  9-9 ATSTeams off back-to-back losses (against foes not off back-to-back losses):  3-0 ATSTeams off ATS loss (against foes not off an ATS loss):  12-11 ATSTeams off back-to-back-ATS losses (against foes not off back-to-back ATS losses):  10-3 ATSTeams off back-to-back ATS wins (against foes not off back-to-back ATS wins): 20-13 ATSTeams off 3 SU/ATS wins (against foes not off 3 SU/ATS wins):  15-7 ATSTeams playing with revenge:  2-3 ATSGood luck, as always...Al McMordie 

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Big Al's Daily Angle: MLB, EPL, NBA, NHL and NCAA Basketball Previews and Odds - 04/03/2021

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, Apr 03, 2021

The Saturday sports card features action in the EPL, NBA, NHL, MLB and NCAA Basketball.The college basketball Final Four tips off with Houston playing Baylor on CBS at 5:14 PM ET. The Cougars won their eleventh straight game with their 67-61 win against Oregon State as an 8-point favorite in the Elite 8 on Monday. The Bears won their fourth straight with their 81-72 victory against Arkansas as a 7.5-point favorite on Monday. Lucas Oil Stadium is the site. Baylor is a 5-point favorite with the total set at 134.5 (all odds from BetOnline). UCLA plays Gonzaga in the second Final Four game on CBS with a tip-off time of 8:34 PM ET. The Bruins won their fifth straight with a 51-49 upset win against Michigan as a 6.5-point underdog on Tuesday. The Bulldogs continued their perfect season with an 85-66 victory against USC as a 12-point favorite on Tuesday. Lucas Oil Stadium is the site. Gonzaga is a 14-point favorite with an over/under of 145.5.Eight games are on the NBA docket. None of the games are on national television. The card tips off at 7 PM ET, with Dallas playing at Washington at 7 PM ET. Two games conclude the card at 10 PM ET. Milwaukee visits Sacramento as a -6.5 point road favorite with the total at 239. Portland plays at home against Oklahoma City as a 12-point favorite with an over/under of 228.Eleven games are on the NHL slate. None of the games are on national television. Two games begin the card at 1 PM ET. Boston hosts Pittsburgh as a -107 money line favorite with the total at 5.5. Tampa Bay is at home against Detroit as a -375 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5. The last game on the schedule is at 10 PM ET, with San Jose visiting Los Angeles. Fourteen games are on the MLB schedule. The card begins at 1:05 PM ET with the New York Yankees at home against Toronto. The Bronx Bombers send out Corey Kluber to face the Blue Jays’ Ross Stripling. The Yankees are a -165 money line favorite with the total at 9. A doubleheader on FS1 begins at 4:05 PM ET with Atlanta playing at Philadelphia. The Phillies won their opening game of the season in a 3-2 win in ten innings against the Braves on Wednesday. Charlie Morton pitches for Atlanta against Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler. The Braves are a -107 money line road favorite with an over/under of 8. The Dodgers visits Colorado in the second game on FS1 at 8:10 PM ET. Los Angeles won the second game of this series by an 11-6 score on Friday. Walker Buehler pitches for the Dodgers against the Rockies’ Jon Gray. Los Angeles is a -221 money line road favorite with the total at 11.5. The MLB card concludes at 9:10 PM ET with San Francisco visiting Seattle. The Giants send out Logan Webb to face the Mariners’ Chris Flexen. San Francisco is a -114 money line road favorite with an over/under of 8.5.Four games begin Matchweek 30 in the English Premier League. All four games are on the NBC Sports Network. Chelsea hosts West Bromwich Albion at 7:30 AM ET as a -1.75 goal line favorite with a total of 2.75. Leeds United is at home against Sheffield United at 10 AM ET as a -1 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.75. Manchester City visits Leicester City at 12:30 PM ET as a -1 goal line road favorite with the total at 2.5. Liverpool travels to Arsenal at 3 PM ET as a -0.25 goal line favorite with a total of 2.75.

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NCAA Basketball: Houston/Baylor Preview, Odds and Prediction - 04/03/2021

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Apr 02, 2021

NCAAB Saturday CBS Preview: Houston versus Baylor. Houston plays Baylor in the first Final Four game on Saturday on CBS with a tip-off time of 5:14 PM ET.The Cougars have won 11 games in a row after their 67-61 win against Oregon State as an 8-point favorite on Monday. Houston held a 17-point lead early in the second half before the Beavers knotted the game at 55 with under four minutes to go. The Cougars pulled away on the free-throw line to overcome a 29% shooting percentage in the second half. Marcus Sasser paved the way with 20 points. The sophomore is second on the team with a 13.5 points-per-game scoring average. Junior Quentin Grimes added 18 points to match his 18.0 points-per-game scoring average. Senior DeJon Jarreau contributed 10 points with eight rebounds and eight assists. The American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 10.8 points-per-game, 5.5 rebounds-per-game, and 4.4 assists-per-game. Kelvin Sampson returned five of the top seven scorers from the group last year that finished 23-8 and 13-5 in the AAC. The Cougars finished the regular season with a 14-3 record. Sampson has a veteran group with four seniors and two juniors in his rotation. Houston ranks third in the kenpom rankings with a 28-3 record. Their three losses were against Tulsa, East Carolina, and Wichita State.The Cougars are seventh in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom, and they are second-best in the country by rebounding 39.8% of their missed shots. Houston ranks eighth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom, and they lead the nation with an opponent’s effective field goal percentage of 43.3%. They have top-11 marks in both defensive 2-point and 3-point shooting percentages. The Cougars force turnovers in 21.3% of their opponent’s possessions, ranking 53rd nationally.Baylor won their fourth straight game with an 81-72 win against Arkansas as a 7.5-point favorite on Monday. MaCio Teague led the team with 22 points. The senior is scoring 15.9 points-per-game. Davion Mitchell added 12 points, with ten coming in the second half. The junior is scoring 14.0 points-per-game, and he leads the team with a 5.3 assists-per-game average. Junior Jared Butler is the team’s leading scorer with a 16.5 points-per-game average. Scott Drew has a deep rotation with nine players averaging at least 10.9 minutes per game. Six players returned from the Baylor rotation that finished 26-4 last year.The Bears rank second in the kenpom ratings with a 26-2 record. They finished 13-1 in the Big 12 regular season before getting upset in the conference tournament semifinals to Oklahoma State, 83-74. Baylor has wins against Illinois, Texas Tech (twice), Wisconsin, Villanova, and Arkansas, who all rank in kenpom’s top-twenty. The Bears’ two losses were against Kansas and the Cowboys. Baylor is third-best nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to kenpom. They lead the nation with a 41.1% shooting percentage from 3-point land. They rank seventh in offensive rebounding by grabbing 36.6% of their missed shots. Drew’s team is the 28th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They force turnovers in 24.7% of their opponent’s possessions, ranking third nationally. If there is a weakness to this team, it is with their defensive rebounding. Baylor allows their opponents to rebound 30.6% of their missed shots, 273rd in the nation. The Bears do not get many freebies on the charity stripe, given a free throw rate that ranks 295th nationally.BookMaker lists Baylor as a 5-point favorite with the total set at 134.5. Lucas Oil Stadium is the site. The victor plays the winner of the UCLA-Gonzaga contest for the National Championship on Monday.Computer prediction:  Baylor 70 Houston 65

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NBA Weekend Shootaround: April 3-4

by Sean Murphy

Friday, Apr 02, 2021

It's hard to believe we've already reached the first weekend in April and with it comes a full slate of NBA action as the regular season stretch run heats up. Here's a look at several matchups to keep your eye on as the lines are released on Saturday and Sunday.SaturdayTimberwolves at 76ers, 8 pm etWe saw the 76ers rise to the occasion in what could have been a flat spot at the end of their long road trip in Cleveland on Thursday. Of course, Philadelphia was looking to snap a two-game skid in that situation so perhaps it wasn't all that difficult for it to get up for the game, even if it was against the lowly Cavaliers. Here, the 76ers face another league bottom-dweller in the Timberwolves. It's advantage 76ers here as Minnesota plays in Memphis on Friday night. In face, this will be Minnesota's fourth game in the last six nights, in four different cities no less. Should Philadelphia jump out to an early lead Minnesota might already start packing its bags for home as it hosts the Kings in a more winnable contest (relatively speaking) on Monday. Thunder at Blazers, 10 pm etThis might be a tricky spot for the Blazers as they play the second of back-to-back nights after returning home to host the Bucks on just one day of rest following a four-game road trip on the opposite end of the continent. That's not to mention the fact that their opponent, the Thunder, aren't going to draw a great deal of motivation, noting that the Blazers already exacted revenge for an earlier-season loss at home against Oklahoma City, winning by double-digits in OKC back on February 16th. Portland rarely blows anyone out here at home - in fact, it has been outscored by 1.5 points per game on average here in the Pacific Northwest this season (entering Friday's action). Just something to keep in mind should we see a crooked number in favor of the Blazers on Saturday.SundayNets at Bulls, 3 pm etThe Bulls have been reeling lately and wrap up a disappointing road trip against the league-leading Jazz on Friday night before returning home for this matinee affair with the Nets on Sunday. This could actually serve as a sneaky-good spot to back the Bulls should they be catching enough points against a Nets squad that has been rolling. Brooklyn enters the weekend on a four-game winning streak, stringing together six consecutive quarters of incredible basketball against the Rockets and Hornets over its last couple of contests. Is this a spot where we'll see the Nets bring their 'A' game though? I'm not so sure. While the Bulls have been struggling, they're not short on talent and the new faces they brought in prior to the trade deadline have had ample time to get acclimated. You'll need to keep your eye on the injury report for both teams as James Harden has been banged-up for Brooklyn while Zach LaVine has missed time for Chicago. Magic vs. Nuggets, 10 pm etThis is a tough scheduling spot for Orlando as it plays the second of back-to-back nights, in altitude, against the Nuggets on Sunday night. We've seen some promising play from the Magic on this trip - surprising to most after their roster was gutted prior to the trade deadline. Of course, there's a chance Orlando is already satisfied enough with its performance on this five-game western swing that it checks out should it fall behind early against the superior Nuggets. Denver has been frustratingly inconsistent at times this season, especially given the talent it has on hand, but we have seen it round into form lately, reeling off four straight wins heading into the opener of a five-game homestand. You can be sure Aaron Gordon will be looking to show up and show out against his former squad. While we're likely going to be looking at a steep number in favor of the Nuggets here, it might just be warranted in a game that has true blowout potential. 

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NHL, MLB and NBA Previews and Odds - 04/02/2021

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Apr 02, 2021

The Friday sports card features action in the NBA, NHL, and MLB.Ten games are on the NBA docket. None of the games are on national television. The card tips off at 7 PM ET with Golden State playing at Toronto. Boston hosts Houston, and Dallas plays at New York at 7:30 PM ET. Charlotte visits Indiana at 8 PM ET. Memphis hosts Minnesota at 8 PM ET as a 7-point favorite with the total set at 231.5 (all odds from BetOnline) at 8 PM ET. Atlanta travels to New Orleans, and Chicago visits Utah at 9 PM ET.  Phoenix plays at home against Oklahoma City at 10 PM ET as a 12.5-point favorite with an over/under of 219.5. Milwaukee visits Portland as a 3.5-point road favorite with the total at 237. Sacramento is at home against the Los Angeles Lakers as a 4.5-point favorite with an over/under of 223.5.Six games are on the NHL docket. None of the games are on national television. Washington visits New Jersey at 7 PM ET. Winnipeg plays at home against Toronto at 8 PM ET as a -141 money line favorite with a total of 6. Edmonton hosts Calgary at 9 PM ET as a -141 money line favorite with an over/under of 6. Colorado plays at home as a -230 money line favorite with the total at 5.5. The Los Angeles Kings is at home against San Jose at 10 PM ET as a -125 money line favorite with an over/under of 5.5. Arizona visits Anaheim as a -116 money line road favorite with the total at 5.5.Seven games are on the MLB schedule. Boston is at home against Baltimore at 2:10 PM ET in the makeup of the rain out of their Opening Day yesterday. The Red Sox send out Nathan Eovaldi with the Orioles countering with John Means. Boston is a -170 money line favorite with an over/under of 9.5.Tampa Bay visits Miami at 7:10 PM ET. The Rays send out Ryan Yarbrough with the Marlins giving the ball to Pablo Lopez. The Rays are a -109 money line road favorite with the total at 7.5. The Los Angeles Dodgers play at Colorado at 8:40 PM ET. The Dodgers have Trevor Bauer making his debut for them while Antonio Senzatela takes the mound. Los Angeles is a -258 money line road favorite with an over/under of 11.5. The Los Angeles Angels are at home against the Chicago White Sox at 9:38 PM ET. Andrew Heaney takes the mound for the Angels, while Dallas Keuchel is the starting pitcher for the White Sox. Los Angeles is a -120 money line favorite, with the total at 8.5. Oakland hosts Houston at 9.40 PM ET. Jesus Luzardo takes the hill for the A’s, with Christian Javier making the start for the Astros. Oakland is a -145 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.5. San Diego plays at home against Arizona at 10:10 PM ET. The Padres’ debut Blake Snell who faces Merrill Kelly. San Diego is a -230 money line favorite with the total at 8.5. Seattle is at home against San Francisco with Yusei Kikuchi dueling against Johnny Cueto. The Mariners are a -122 money line favorite with an over/under of 8.5.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: MLB, NBA and NHL Previews and Odds - 04/01/2021

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, Apr 01, 2021

The Thursday sports card features action in the NBA, the NHL, and MLB.Seven games are on the NBA docket. The card tips off at 7 PM ET with two games. A doubleheader on TNT begins at 7:30 PM ET with Charlotte visiting Brooklyn. The Hornets have won four of their last five games with their 114-104 win at Washington as a 5-point favorite on Tuesday. The nightcap on TNT has Denver playing in Los Angeles against the Clippers at 10 PM ET. The Nuggets won their third in a row with their 104-95 win against Philadelphia as a 5-point favorite on Tuesday. The Clippers had their six-game winning streak end with a 103-96 upset loss at home to Orlando as an 11.5-point favorite on Tuesday.Nine games are on the NHL slate. Five games begin the card at 7 PM ET. A doubleheader on the NBC Sports Network at 8 PM ET with Carolina traveling to Chicago. The Hurricanes’ three-game winning streak ended on Tuesday in a 2-1 loss on the road against the Blackhawks. Chicago ended their two-game losing streak with the victory. Carolina is a -156 money line road favorite with the total set at 5.5 (all odds from BetOnline).The NHL card concludes with Vegas hosting Minnesota on the NBC Sports Network at 10:30 PM ET. The Golden Knights had their two-game winning streak end on Wednesday in a 4-2 loss at home to the Los Angeles Kings. Vegas registered 40 shots, yet it was only William Karlsson and Shea Theodore who scored. Marc Andre-Fleury made 26 saves. The loss ended a six-game winning streak on their home ice at T-Mobile Arena, and it was just their third loss at home in regulation this season.The Wild have lost two in a row after a 4-2 loss at San Jose on Wednesday. This defeat came on the heels of a 4-3 road loss in a shootout against the Sharks on Monday. Kirill Kaprizov and Matts Zuccarello scored for Minnesota.Opening day in Major League Baseball has 15 games. ESPN broadcasts four games. The first pitch takes place at 1 PM ET, with the New York Yankees hosting Toronto. The Yankees send out Gerrit Cole to battle against the Blue Jays' Hyun-Jin Ryu. New York is a -172 money line favorite with an over/under of 7.5. The Los Angeles Dodgers visit Colorado on ESPN at 4 PM ET. Clayton Kershaw takes the hill for the World Series champions while German Marquez pitches for the Rockies. The Dodgers are a -210 money line road favorite with a total of 11.5.The New York Mets play at Washington on ESPN at 7 PM ET. Jacob DeGrom pitches for the Mets, and Max Scherzer takes the mound for the Nationals. New York is a -147 money line road favorite with an over/under of 6.5.The MLB card concludes on ESPN at 10 PM ET with Oakland playing at home against Houston. The A’s send out Chris Bassitt to face the Astros' Zack Greinke. Oakland is a -106 money line favorite with the total at 8.5.

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