Articles

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

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021

The Wednesday sports card features college basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the English Premier League. The college basketball card tips off at 1 PM ET, with Davidson hosting Fordham as a 17-point favorite with the total set at 120.5 (all odds from BetOnline). The nationally-televised games begin at 7 PM ET, with Creighton playing at home against Providence on FS1. The Bluejays' six-game winning streak snapped with a 70-66 upset loss at Butler as a 7-point favorite on Saturday. Creighton is now 10-3 on the season, and they rank 11th in the Associated Press poll. The Friars lost their third game in a row with their 79-69 loss at Marquette eight days ago on January 12th as a 4.5-point underdog. This contest is a rematch of the Bluejays’ 67-65 win at Providence as a 4-point favorite on January 2nd. Creighton is a 4-point favorite with an over/under of 146.Colorado travels to Washington at 9 PM ET on ESPN2. The Buffaloes won their fourth straight game to improve to 11-3 with their 77-64 victory against Stanford as a 7.5-point favorite on Saturday. The 1-11 Huskies lost their eighth in a row after an 81-76 loss at UCLA as a 14.5-point underdog on Saturday. Colorado is a 12.5-point road favorite, with the total at 144.5.Boise State plays at home against Fresno State on FS1 at 9 PM ET. The Broncos lost their opening game at BYU, but they have since won eleven straight. They last played on Wednesday, where they defeated Wyoming on the road, 90-70, as an 11.5-point underdog. The Bulldogs are 5-5 after losing two in a row with their 79-65 loss at Nevada as a 6.5-point underdog on Sunday. Boise State is a 15-point favorite with an over/under of 140.Ten games are on the NBA schedule. An ESPN doubleheader tips off at 7:05 PM ET with Boston visiting Philadelphia. These two teams last played in August in the Celtics' four-game sweep in the first round of the playoffs. Boston had their five-game winning streak snapped on Monday in a 105-75 loss at home to New York as a 7-point favorite. The loss left them with an 8-4 record. COVID has impacted this team with Jayson Tatum out given quarantine protocols. Philadelphia fell to 9-5 after their loss at Memphis on Saturday by a 106-104 score as a 2-point underdog. The 76ers are also dealing with COVID issues with Seth Curry out indefinitely. Joel Embiid has been out with a knee issue, but he hopes to take the court tonight. The ESPN nightcap has Phoenix traveling to play Houston at 9:35 PM ET. The Suns have lost three of their last four games to see their record fall to 7-5 after getting upset at Memphis on Monday as a 5.5-point favorite, 108-104. The Grizzlies have been without Dario Saric and Jalen Smith, both in the COVID quarantine protocol. They are questionable for this game. Houston has lost four of their last five games after their 125-120 loss at Chicago as a 2-point favorite on Monday. This game will be the Rockets’ fourth since the blockbuster James Harden trade. John Wall is questionable with an illness. Five games are on the NHL schedule. The NBC Sports Network has a double-header starting at 7:05 PM ET with Toronto hosting Edmonton. The Maple Leafs are -144 money line favorites with the total at 6.5. The second game has Minnesota’s visit to Anaheim, with the Wild a -133 money line road favorite with an over/under of 5.5.The English Premier League continues with a double-header on the NBC Sports Network. Manchester City hosts Aston Villa at 1 PM ET as a -1.75 goal line favorite with an over/under of 3.25. Manchester United visits Fulham as a -1 goal line road favorite with the total set at 2.75 at 3:15 PM ET.

Read more

Follow the Money to Riches in Sports Betting

by Wayne Root

Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021

Big Connections Needed Unless you’re one with big connections, you can’t easily find out how much money has been bet on each team in a particular game. Many like to think they know, and some do, but trust that a 35 year betting sports professional like myself certainly does. It’s my job and duty to “follow the money”. What I want to verify is it 2500 public bettors betting $200 each for $500,000 or three sharp players giving $500,000 in three different bets. That’s good and solid information that’s needed.  Analyzing the Marketplace  What you can find out, though, is how many bets by percentage have been placed on each team by monitoring as many sports books as you can. When we see a game in which a huge majority of the bets – 70 percent or more – are on one team we would typically expect the odds for that team to get less attractive. That’s the sign of public money coming in. But is the public money only showing up at one betting site or across all of Vegas and offshore? The books generally like to have action that is closed to balanced so that they can make profits with little risk, so they will change the lines to attract action to one team to achieve that balance. This will give you data on where the marketplace is betting. It will additionally allow you to see the line movement at different betting establishments.  Sharp Money Bets When a game moves in the opposite direction to what you would expect are you confused? Sometimes, though, we will see games in which the large majority of bets are on one team, yet the line moves the opposite expected direction to make that team even more attractive. What that tells us is that the small number of bettors on the less popular team have bet more money than the large number of bettors on the popular team.  Do you Recognize the Upset? If the team’s point spread moves significantly then we know that the sharps bet the game aggressively. It can be profitable by betting against the public in these situations as the public. This is a great way to spot teams that are ready to pull off a big upset – something that can lead to very profitable moneyline bets. Even if the moneyline bets fail, the point spread bets that I post succeed and are successful a majority of the time.  See you in the Winner’s Circle and at the Cash Window

Read more

NCAA Tuesday Night Basketball: LSU/Alabama Preview

by Big Al Staff

Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021

The nightcap for ESPN’s Super Tuesday college basketball double-header involves two red-hot teams from the SEC that play fast and score lots of baskets.Alabama is off to their best start in conference play scene 1987 with a 6-0 start. The Crimson Tide have won seven straight games to lift their record to 11-3, and they rank 18th in the Associated Press poll. Nate Oats’ team comes off a 90-59 victory against Arkansas on Saturday, which was the largest margin of victory against an SEC opponent in eight years when they defeated Mississippi State, 75-43. John Petty, Jr. led the way with 17 points. The SEC Players of the Year candidate bypassed the NBA in the offseason to return to Tuscaloosa. The senior is second on the team with a 13.5 points-per-game scoring average while adding 5.3 rebounds-per-game. Sophomore Jordan Shackelford leads the team with a 13.6 points-per-game average. Oats has four starters back from his first year with the program, where they finished 16-15. He fortified this core by bringing several talented players, including former five-star recruit from Villanova, Jahvon Quinerly, and Jordan Bruner, a graduate transfer from Yale. Oats also recruited three four-star freshmen to the program to give this team depth. Alabama is scoring 80.1 points-per-game executing Oats’ “pace-and-space” scheme that plays fast and shoots plenty of 3-pointers. The Crimson Tide are 14th in the nation in possessions per game, and their average possession length of 14.2 seconds is third quickest. They average 30 shots from behind the arc, with these 3-pointers representing 46.1% of their shots from the field, 22nd in the nation. Their 34.1% shooting mark from downtown for the season is ordinary, but Oats has seen his team improve that mark to a 39.4% clip in conference play. The Tide also rebounds 32.4% of their missed shots, 64th in the country. Their offense ranks 22nd in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency by kenpom for the season. The Alabama defense ranks 16th in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They force turnovers in 21.5% of their opponent’s possessions, 72nd. They also hold their opponents to a 30.6% shooting mark from 3-point land, 75th. However, Oats’ team is vulnerable to opponents committed to crashing the offensive glass. The Crimson Tide allow their opponents to rebound 29.8% of their missed shots, 239th in the nation. This group earned a signature victory against Tennessee. They also have quality wins against Florida, Arkansas, and Kentucky during their seven-game winning streak. Their three losses are against Stanford, Clemson, and Western Kentucky.LSU has won their last four games after their 85-80 win against South Carolina on Saturday. The Tigers are scoring 86.1 points-per-game, which has helped them earn a 5-1 record in conference play. Head coach Will Wade has three starters and an additional rotation player back from the group that finished 21-10 last season. This program is two-years removed from winning the SEC title, so expectations remain high in Baton Rouge. Impact freshman Cameron Thomas leads the team with a 22.1 points-per-game scoring average. Sophomore forward Trendon Watford is adding 18.7 points-per-game along with 7.0 rebounds-per-game. Junior point guard Ja'Vonte Smart is scoring 15.2 points-per-game while dishing out 4.0 assists-per-game. Junior forward Darius Days is scoring 13.7 points-per-game while pulling down 8.0 rebounds-per-game.The Tigers do not play as fast as the Crimson Tide, but they will likely embrace the fast pace. LSU ranks fifth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They are second with a 56.9% shooting percentage inside the arc. The Tigers also rebound 34.1% of their missed shots, 31st. Yet the play on the other end of the court continues to a weakness for Wade-coached teams. LSU ranks 107 in adjusted defensive efficiency. Opponents make 52.0% of their shots inside the arc, 240th in the country. The Tigers also let opponents pull down 31.5% of their missed shots, 286th in the nation. COVID has impacted the LSU season with games postponed and re-arranged due to outbreaks inside and outside their program. Wade did not coach two games given quarantine protocols, which have kept this team at full strength. The Tigers’ two losses were against Saint Louis and Florida. Their highest-profile victory is against Arkansas. Hosting Alabama is this LSU team's biggest test of the season. BetAnySports lists Alabama as a -1 point road favorite with the total set at 164.5. The ESPN2 broadcasts start at 9 PM ET.

Read more

Ness Notes: Tuesday, Jan 19

by Larry Ness

Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."CBB: Let's start with the latest AP poll, released Monday afternoon. Gonzaga and Baylor opened No. 1 and No. 2 in the preseason poll and remained 1 and 2 for the NINTH straight poll. The same teams appeared in the top-five, as 8-1 Villanova remained No. 3, despite not playing since Dec 23. 12-2 Iowa leapfrogged 11-2 Texas, as the Hawkeyes are now No. 4 and the Longhorns are No. 5.  10-1 Tennessee is up to No. 6 (from 10th), while 11-1 Michigan held on to the No. 7 spot despite getting crushed 75-57 at Minnesota. Rounding out the top-10 are 11-1 Houston at No. 8, 10-3 Kansas at No. 9 and 11-3 Wisconsin at No. 10. 9-2 UVa jumped five sports to No. 13 and 11-3 Alabama went from unranked to No. 18 on the strength of a seven-game winning streak. Illinois opened 8th in the preseason and is lucky to still be ranked (No. 22) with its 9-5 record. Duke has played just EIGHT games and at 5-3, fell out of the top-25, ending the second-longest active streak of consecutive rankings at 91. Gonzaga is now second at 87, while Kansas was ranked for the 229th straight week. UCLA opened No. 23 in the preseason poll but lost its opener at SD State. However, at 11-2 overall (7-0 in the Pac 12), the Bruins are back at No. 23. Speaking of teams NOT meeting expectations (like Duke, currently unranked), we have preseason No. 10 Kentucky at 4-8, preseason No. 13 Michigan at 8-4, preseason No. 16 North Carolina at 8-5 and preseason No. 18 Arizona St at 4-6.Monday saw No. 2 Baylor move to 13-0 with an 77-69 home win over No. 9 Kansas, which fell to 10-4 (bye-bye top-10 ranking next Monday Jayhawks). However, Baylor didn't cover as an 8 1/2-point favorite, as Kansas threw in a "meaningless," bank-shot 3-pointer at the buzzer. In games between ranked opponents, the higher ranked team is 27-15 (.643) SU but just 21-21 (50.0%) ATS. The lone ranked team in action against an unranked foe on Monday was No. 23 UConn, which lost 74-40 at home to a St John's team that entered just 7-7. Tuesday's schedule has no scheduled games between ranked opponents but does have SEVEN games between ranked and unranked opponents, including three from the AP's top-10. No. 3 Villanova is hopeful of taking the court tonight at home vs 9-5 Seton Hall, for the first time since Dec 23. The Wildcats are favored by nine points. No. 6 Tennessee is 10-1 and will travel to Florida to play the 6-4 Gators (Vols are favored by seven points) and No. 7 Michigan, off its first loss of the season, is home against 8-6 Maryland (Wolverines are favored by 10 points).NBA: Monday was MLK Day and the league featured a busy NINE-game schedule, including a TNT tripleheader. I doubt there was much interest in Memphis beating Phoenix 108-104 (except to bettors of that game) but the Bucks/Nets and Warriors/Lakers game got most people's attention. The East's two-best teams (my opinion) went toe-to toe with Kevin Durant making the go-ahead three-pointer with 36 seconds left in a 125-123 Brooklyn win. Harden had 34 points and 12 assists, while Durant finished with 30 points, nine rebounds and six assists to give the Nets their FOURTH straight victory. Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for Milwaukee, which had its four-game winning streak stopped. Middleton added 25 points (but missed a potential game-winning three at the buzzer) and Jrue Holiday had 22. The defending champion Lakers welcomed the Warriors to Staples Center with the league's best record (11-3) and on a five-game winning streak but Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors rallied from a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Lakers 115-113. LeBron James' three-pointer gave the Lakers a 97-83 advantage early in the fourth before the Warriors battled back. They trailed 106-97 with 5:52 remaining before going on a 15-2 run that gave Golden State its first lead. LBJ had a chance to win it at the end but missed a three-pointer at the buzzer as the Lakers had their five-game winning streak snapped. According to Stats LLC, it is the first time in 284 home games that James and his team took a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter and lost in regulation. Just another night in the NBA.Four weeks in, the Lakers still own the NBA's best record at 11-4 but the Clippers are hot on their trail at 10-4, after four straight wins. The Jazz have won five straight and are now 9-4. Utah's five-game winning streak is now the longest active in the NBA, tied with, of all teams, the Memphis Grizzlies (just 7-6 on the season). Boston's 8-4 record tops the East, although the 9-5 Bucks own the league's second-best point differential at plus-9.8 PPG (Lakers are No. 1 at plus-10.2), while Boston's is only plus-1.3. The Nets have now won FOUR in a row and at 9-6, own the 4th-best point differential at 5.6 PPG (Clippers are 3rd-best at 6.3 PPG). Charlotte opened 6-2 but has now lost SIX straight (longest-active streak), although 3-9 Minnesota and 3-10 Detroit have the league's two-worst records. The T-wolves have a minus-10.1 PPG differential, the ONLY team losing by an average of double digits. Interestingly enough, Minnesota is 5-7 ATS (not bad), while Detroit actually owns a winning ATS record of 7-5-1. Following that, it should surprise no one that the league's best ATS record (10-4) belongs to the 6-8 Chicago Bulls. And so it goes...Wednesday's Notes will feature a first-look at the NFL's Championship Sunday, the first week of the NHL and more.Good luck...Larry

Read more

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

by Big Al Staff

Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021

The Tuesday sports card features college basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the English Premier League. The college basketball card tips off at 1 PM ET with UNC-Wilmington playing at Towson. The nationally-televised games begin at 7 PM ET. Tennessee ranks sixth in the country in the current AP poll with a 10-1 record after defeating Vanderbilt on Saturday as a 21.5-point favorite. The Volunteers visit Florida at 7 PM ET on ESPN. The Gators are 6-4 after losing their third game in their last four in a 72-69 loss at Mississippi State on Saturday as a 1-point underdog. Tennessee is a 6.5-point road favorite with the total set at 137 (all odds from BetOnline).Michigan hosts Maryland on FS1 at 7 PM ET. The Wolverines lost their first game of the season on Saturday in a 75-57 upset loss at Minnesota as a 5-point favorite. They rank seventh by the AP with an 11-1 record. The Terrapins are 8-6 after their 100-58 win against Wingate on Friday. Michigan is a 10-point favorite with an over/under of 141.USC travels to Oregon State at 7 PM ET on ESPN2. The Trojans are 11-2 with six straight wins after they defeated Washington State on Saturday by an 85-77 score as a 12-point favorite. The Beavers snapped a two-game losing streak to improve their record to 6-5 with an 80-79 upset win at Arizona State as a 6-point underdog. USC is a 10.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 139.DePaul plays at home against Butler at 7 PM ET on the CBS Sports Network. The Blue Demons are 2-4 after ending their four-game losing streak with a 77-58 win against Valparaiso as an 8-point favorite on Saturday. The Bulldogs are 4-7 after upsetting Creighton on Saturday by a 70-66 score as a 2-point underdog. DePaul is a 1-point favorite with a total at 135.5.Winthrop travels to Presbyterian at 7 PM ET on ESPNU. The Eagles remained undefeated this season in 13 games with their 70-50 victory against Longwood on Friday as a 16.5-point favorite. The Blues Hose are 3-5 on the year after their 73-51 loss at Campbell as a 7.5-point underdog on Friday. Winthrop is a -16-point road favorite with an over/under of 145.Villanova hosts Seton Hall at 9 PM ET on FS1. The Wildcats rank third by the AP despite not having played since December 23rd due to COVID issues. The Wildcats are 8-1 after defeating Marquette on the road by an 85-68 score as a 5-point favorite almost a month ago. The Pirates are 9-5 after winning their fourth game in five cones on January 9th in a 76-68 triumph at DePaul as a 4-point favorite. Villanova is a 9.5-point favorite with a total of 140.5.LSU plays at home against Alabama on ESPN2 at 9 PM ET. The Tigers are 10-2 with four wins in a row after their 85-80 victory on Saturday as a 5.5-point favorite against South Carolina. The Crimson Tide ranks 18th by the AP with seven straight wins for an 11-3 record after defeating Arkansas by a 90-59 score as a 3.5-point favorite on Saturday. LSU is a 1-point favorite with an over/under of 163.5. Duke plays at Pittsburgh on ESPN at 9 PM ET. The Blue Devils are 5-3 after losing at Virginia Tech last Tuesday by a 74-67 score as a 3.5-point underdog. The Panthers are 7-2 after upsetting Syracuse on Saturday by a 96-76 score as a 3.5-point underdog. Duke is a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 141.Utah State hosts Colorado State at 9 PM ET on the CBS Sports Network. The Aggies are 11-3 with ten straight victories after they defeated San Diego State, 64-59, on Saturday as a 3.5-point favorite. The Rams are 10-2 with four straight wins after their 88-61 win at San Jose State on Saturday laying 19.5-points. Utah State is a 7.5-point favorite with an over/under of 137.5.The NBA has a light schedule with two games on tap, both starting at 9 PM ET. Utah hosts New Orleans as a 6.5-point favorite, with the total at 218. Denver is at home against Oklahoma City as a 9.5-point favorite with an over/under of 218. Neither game is on national television.The NHL has seven games on their Tuesday card. Pittsburgh hosts Washington at 7 PM on the NBC Sports Network. The Penguins are 1-2-0 after winning the opening game of their back-to-back with the Capitals on Sunday in a 4-3 victory in overtime. Washington lost their first game of the season with that setback. Pittsburgh is a -125 money line favorite with a total of 6.5.Two matches take place in the English Premier League. West Ham United plays at home against West Bromwich Albion at 1 PM ET as a -1 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.5 on the NBC Peacock app. Chelsea and Leicester City play at 3:15 PM ET on the NBC Sports Network in a pick ‘em matchup with the total set at 2.5.

Read more

NCAA Monday Night Basketball: Baylor/Kansas Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Jan 18, 2021

The nightcap for ESPN’s Big Monday college basketball double-header is a heavyweight showdown between two Big 12 teams ranked in the top-six nationally. Baylor ranks second in the Associated Press poll with a 12-0 record. The Bears last played on Saturday when they pulled away from Texas Tech to earn a 68-60 win in Lubbock as a 4.5-point favorite. Jared Butler took over late by nailing two 3-pointers that helped Baylor pull away from the Red Raiders. The junior leads the team with a 15.6 points-per-game scoring average. He also adds 5.2 assists-per-game.Butler is amongst six players that score at least 8.8 points-per-game for the Bears. Head coach Scott Drew has a deep rotation with nine players averaging at least 14 minutes per game. Drew had six players return from last year's rotation that finished 26-4.Baylor has high-profile victories against Illinois and Oklahoma, in addition to the win against Texas Tech over the weekend. That 8-point victory against the Red Raiders was the closest game they have played all season. Yet it was also the second-straight game where they did not score at least 76 points. The Bears had averaged 91.2 points-per-game in their first ten games. Baylor has the fourth-best offense in adjusted offensive efficiency according to the numbers at kenpom. They are also fourth in the country with a 42.3% shooting percentage from 3-point land. The Bears rank eighth by rebounding 38.2% of their missed shots. Drew’s team is the top-ranked team in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They force turnovers in 26.9% of their opponent’s possessions, which is third best. If there was a weakness to this team, it might start with their defensive rebounding. Baylor allows their opponents to rebound 28.9% of their missed shots, 211th in the nation. The Bears do not get as many freebies on the charity stripe given a free throw rate that is 206th.Kansas last played on Tuesday when they were upset at Oklahoma State, 75-70, as a 3.5-point favorite. Head coach Bill Self was not happy with his team’s effort on defense, describing his players as “slow” and that they “did not guard.” The Jayhawks allowed 37 fast break opportunities for the Cowboys. Kansas also struggled to shoot the basketball as they missed 16 of their 21 shots from 3-point land. They turned the ball over 15 times while assisting on just nine baskets.David McCormack was a bright spot for the Jayhawks with his 24 points and 12 rebounds. The junior forward has scored 20.3 points-per-game in his last three games with 7.0 rebounds-per-game and 2.5 blocks per game. Kansas is led in scoring by Ochai Agbaji with his 14.7 points-per-game average. The junior has made 22 shots from 3-point land in his last seven games. His 42.7% shooting mark from downtown is tops in the Big 12.Despite Agbaji’s efforts, the Jayhawks make only 31.7% of their 3-pointers in conference play, the eighth lowest in the Big 12. Kansas can struggle to score baskets. Their 48.7% shooting percentage inside the arc this season is 211th. The kenpom adjusted offensive efficiency numbers do rank the Jayhawks 23rd in the nation. They pull down 35.1% of their misses, 23rd best in the country. They rank 10th in adjusted defensive efficiency.Kansas ranks sixth in the nation in the AP poll with a 10-3 record. Their three losses were against number-one ranked Gonzaga as well as Texas and their setback to Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks have quality victories against Creighton, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma. The COVID postponements Kansas experienced since their game with the Cowboys has presented Self with more practice time to prepare for Baylor. Five-star freshman Bryce Thompson remains out with his finger injury. BookMaker lists Baylor as an 8.5-point favorite with the total set at 148. The ESPN broadcast starts at 9 PM ET.

Read more

Ness Notes: Monday, Jan 18

by Larry Ness

Monday, Jan 18, 2021

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."The NFL's Super Wild Card weekend saw home teams go 2-4 SU and 2-4 ATS and until that 'explosion' in which the Browns beat the Steelers 48-37, the first five wild card games averaged a very modest 43.6 PPG. Three of the first five went over (counting Ind/Buf as an over, with that total closing 50 1/2 and ending 51). Obviously, Cle/Pit went over, making four overs and two unders for the weekend, as games averaged 50.5 points.The Division Round saw home teams bounce back to go 2-0 SU & ATS, as the Packers beat the Rams 32-18 and the Bills beat the Ravens 17-3. However, it was the road teams that went 2-0 ATS on Sunday, as the Browns lost 22-17 at the Chiefs (but covered) and the Bucs avenged two regular season losses to the Saints by winning 30-20 in New Orleans. Doing the math, home teams were 3-1 SU but 2-2 ATS and the four games averaged a modest 40.3 PPG, as ONLY the Rams/Packers game went over the total. The playoff numbers so far show home teams 5-5 SU and 4-6 ATS, while there have been five overs and five unders.The AFC and NFC championship games are set for Sunday, with Tampa Bay at Green Bay kicking off at 3:05 ET on FOX and Buffalo at Kansas City at 6:40 ET on CBS. The early lines show Green Bay favored by 3 1/2-points (over/under is 51) and Kansas City favored by three points (over/under is 54). Thursday's Notes will feature the NFC (how the teams got here and a preview) and Friday's Notes will cover the AFC.CBB: (Fri-Sun recap): Friday saw just one ranked team in action, as No. 9 Wisconsin bounced back from an embarrassing 77-54 loss at Michigan on Tuesday, to win 60-54 at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have now lost FIVE of six games since opening 6-0 and climbing as high as No. 11 in the AP poll back on Dec 21. Saturday featured FOUR games between ranked opponents and the higher ranked teams lost THREE of them. The exception was No. 2 Baylor upping its record to 12-0 with a 68-60 win at No. 15 Texas Tech. Losing for the FIRST time this season was No. 7 Michigan, which saw its 10-0 start to the season end with a THUD, falling 75-57 at No. 23 Minnesota (note: Gophers are 11-0 at home!). No. 12 Clemson was routed at home 85-50 by No. 18 Virginia but maybe that shouldn't have been a surprise. After all, UVa has now beaten the Tigers 11 straight! Finally, it was No. 14 Illinois losing 87-81 at home to No. 21 Ohio St, as the Illini fell to 9-5. Will they still be ranked in Monday's newest AP poll? Not only did three of the higher ranked teams lose to the lower ranked ones on Saturday (1-3 SU & ATS), we also saw the six ranked teams in action vs unranked ones go 1-5 ATS! No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 4 Texas and No. 10 Tennessee won but failed to cover, while No. 17 Missouri broke that trend with a win and cover at Texas A&M. No. 8 Creighton and No. 16 Louisville both lost OUTRIGHT.Sunday saw all three ranked teams win (No. 5 Iowa, No. 11 Houston and No. 20 Va Tech), with only the Hokies failing to cover. Doing the math, ranked teams vs unranked opponents went 8-2 SU but just 4-6 ATS. Games between ranked opponents now stand at 26-15 (.634) SU but just 21-20 (51.2%) ATS in favor of the higher ranked team. There is just one game between ranked opponents on Monday, as No. 2 Baylor (12-0) will host No. 6 Kansas (10-3), Baylor is a money-making 10-2 ATS (compared to Gonzaga's 6-7-1 ATS mark), including 5-0 SU & ATS in the Big 12 with a MOV of 18.6 PPG. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks are just 2-2 (1-3 ATS) after a 9-1 start to the season. Pending the AP's latest poll (announced this afternoon), there are two ranked teams in action on Monday facing unranked opponents. Louisville is currently No. 16 and will host 7-2 Florida St, but the Seminoles very likely will be ranked come tip-off (not sure Louisville will be). The other game is No. 25 UConn (7-1), which will surely remain ranked before hosting 7-7 St John's. Baylor is favored by 8 1/2-points, Louisville by 2 1/2-points and UConn by seven points.NBA: It's MLK Day and the league features a busy NINE-game schedule, including a TNT tripleheader. It starts with 7-4 Phoenix (-5) at Memphis (5:05 ET), followed by 9-4 Milwaukee (-2.5) at 8-6 Brooklyn (7:35 ET) and wraps up with Golden St visiting the 11-3 LA Lakers (-8.5) at 10:05 ET. Not sure there is much interest in the Suns/Grizzlies game but the Bucks at the Nets will have everyone's attention. Milwaukee has won SEVEN of eight (averaging 119 PPG) and owns the East's best point-differential at plus 10.7 PPG. James Harden's Brooklyn debut (on Friday) saw him score 32 points, add 14 assists and 12 rebounds in 40 minutes (it was his 47th career triple-double). Kevin Durant sure didn't seem to mind 'sharing the stage' with Harden, as he scored a season-high 42 points. The Lakers have won FIVE in a row and continue to own the NBA's best record (11-3) and just recently passed the Bucks for the NBA's top point-differential (plus-11.0). Tuesday will begin the NBA's fifth week and Ness Notes will take a look back at the first month.Good luck...Larry

Read more

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

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Jan 18, 2021

The Monday card features a full day of action starting in the afternoon of this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The NBA, NHL, college basketball and the English Premier League feature day games. The nationally-televised college basketball schedule tips off at 2:30 PM ET on Fox with UConn hosting St. John’s as an 8.5-point favorite with the total set at 143 (all odds from BetOnline). The Huskies are ranked 25th in the nation in the latest Associated Press poll. LaSalle plays at home at 4 PM ET against Saint Joseph’s as a 1.5-point favorite with the over/under at 145.5. At 7 PM ET on ESPN, Florida State plays at Louisville. The Cardinals are ranked 16th by the AP. Baylor plays at home against Kansas at 9 PM ET on ESPN in a battle of ranked Big 12 rivals. The Jayhawks rank sixth in the AP poll while the Bears are second. The Bears are a 9-point favorite with the total at 141. UNLV plays at home at 9:30 PM ET on FS1 against New Mexico as a 12-point favorite with an over/under of 139.Eight games are on tap in the NHL with the NBC Sports Network broadcasting four of the games. The puck drops at noon ET with Columbus visiting Detroit as a -160 money line road favorite with the total at 5.5. At 5 PM ET, Boston travels to New York to play the Islanders as a -130 money line road favorite with an over/under of  5.5. Philadelphia hosts Buffalo at 7:30 PM ET as a -157 money line favorite with the total set at 6. The card concludes at 10 PM ET with Vegas playing at home against Arizona as a -190 money line favorite with an over/under of 6.The NBA has nine games on its MLK Day schedule. The card tips off at noon ET with Orlando playing in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks as a -1.5 road favorite with the total at 206.5.A TNT triple header begins at 5:05 PM ET with Phoenix playing at Memphis. The Suns hope to take the court again for the first time since last Monday when they were upset at Washington by a 128-107 score as a 6-point underdog. Phoenix went into quarantine after the Wizards experienced a COVID outbreak which led them to postpone three games last week. The Suns have yet to have a player test positive. Memphis has won four games in a row after their 106-104 win against Philadelphia on Saturday as a 2-point favorite. Milwaukee travels to Brooklyn to play the new-look Nets on TNT at 7:30 PM ET. The Bucks have won four straight games after their 112-109 win against Dallas on Friday as a 7.5-point favorite. The Nets have won their last three games with their 122-115 win against Orlando as a 9.5-point favorite. James Harden scored 42 points in his debut with Brooklyn after the blockbuster trade that sent him over from Houston. Milwaukee is a 2-point road favorite with an over/under of 237.5.The TNT triple-header concludes at 10 PM ET with the Los Angeles Lakers playing at home against Golden State. The reigning NBA champions have won five in a row after they defeated New Orleans on Friday by a 112-95 score as an 8.5-point favorite. The Warriors have lost their last two games after their 114-104 loss in Denver on Thursday as a 4.5-point underdog. The Lakers are 9-point favorites with the total at 225.The English Premier League continues at 3 PM ET with Arsenal hosting Newcastle United. The Gunners are -1.25 goal line favorites with an over/under at 2.5. The NBC Sports Network has the broadcast.

Read more

NFL Sunday Night Football: Saints/Buccaneers Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Jan 17, 2021

The NFL divisional playoffs conclude Sunday night at 6:40 PM ET, with New Orleans hosting Tampa Bay in the final game of their NFC South trilogy this season.Tampa Bay Bay lost two games in a row at home by identical 27-24 scores to the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City at the end of November to place their playoff aspirations in jeopardy. The Buccaneers have since won all five of their games and advanced to the NFC divisional round of the playoffs last week with their 31-23 victory at Washington. Tom Brady completed 22 of 40 passes for 381 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions against the Football Team’s defense. The 43-year old veteran completed 65.7% of his passes in the regular season for 4633 yards with 40 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in his first season in Tampa Bay.The Buccaneers have scored 40.7 points-per-game in their last three games while averaging 526.7 yards-per-game in those contests. The Tampa Bay defense has held their last three opponents to 20.8 points-per-game and 315.3 yards-per-game. The Bucs’ defense ranks eighth in the NFL by allowing 22.2 points-per-game and limiting their opponents to 329.9 yards-per-game. Their defense gets linebacker Devin White back from the COVID list for this game. New Orleans has won their last three games after defeating Chicago last Sunday by a 21-9 score as an 11-point favorite. Drew Brees completed 28 of 39 passes for 265 yards with two touchdown passes. Brees completed 70.5% of his passes in his 12 games in the regular season for 2942 yards with 24 touchdown passes and six interceptions. In his last four games since returning from his rib injury in December, Brees has completed 84 of 131 passes for a 64.1% completion percentage with 1011 yards with eight touchdown passes and three interceptions. The Saints are fifth in the NFL with a 29.6 points-per-game scoring average. The New Orleans defense was third in the league by allowing 20.4 points-per-game, and they ranked second by holding their opponents to 306.4 yards-per-game. This unit gets a boost with defensive end Troy Hendrickson expected to return to action tonight.Head coach Sean Payton is not likely to have quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Latavius Murray with the reports this afternoon that is it “not looking good” that they will be able to take the field. Hill is dealing with a knee injury while Murray has a quad. Cornerback Patrick Robinson is out with a hamstring. Center William Clapp is unavailable on the COVID list. Guard Nick Easton became the sixth player this season to go on their Injured List. Running back Ronald Jones is questionable with a quad after taking part in limited practice for Tampa Bay. Safety Jordan Whitehead is questionable with a knee, and he also took part in limited practice this week. Safety Andrew Adams did not practice this week and is questionable. Defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter is out with his calf injury. Guard Alex Cappa was the seventh player to either be declared out the season or put on Injured Reserve. New Orleans won the first meeting between these two teams on September 13th in a 34-20 victory as a 4-point favorite. The Saints then upset the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on November 8th by a 38-3 score as a 3-point underdog. BookMaker lists New Orleans as a 2.5-point favorite, with the total set at 53. Kickoff is at 6:40 PM ET on Fox.

Read more

NFL Sunday Afternoon Football: Chiefs/Browns Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Jan 17, 2021

The NFL divisional playoffs continue on Sunday at 3:05 PM ET with Kansas City hosting Cleveland. Cleveland has won two straight games as well as seven of their last nine contests after they upset Pittsburgh on the road last Sunday night by a 48-37 score as a 5-point underdog. The Steelers’ first play from scrimmage was a toss over Ben Roethlisberger’s head in shotgun formation that the Browns recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. After the first quarter ended, Cleveland had a 28-0 lead. Roethlisberger threw four interceptions in giving the Browns a +5 net turnover margin. Cleveland returned home to reunite with a handful of players and staff that did not make the trip due to quarantine requirements from the COVID outbreak that impacted the team earlier in the week. First-year head coach Kevin Stefanski was one of the individuals that did not experience first-hand the Browns’ first playoff game in 17 years. Stefanski rejoined his team on Thursday and he will be on the sidelines for this game. It appears that all the players on Cleveland’s COVID list last week will be available to play this week. The Browns have four players on their injury list as questionable. Tackle Jack Conklin is questionable with a knee and hamstring injuries. Cornerback B.J. Goodson is dealing with a shoulder. Tight end David Njoku has a hamstring. All three players participated in limited practice sessions this week. Tight end Stephen Carlson was added to the injury list on Friday after practicing all week with a groin injury. Cornerback Robert Jackson was played on Injured Reserve earlier in the week. The Browns also lost their second-leading tackler in defensive end Olivier Vernon to a season-ending Achilles’ injury before the playoffs started. Baker Mayfield completed 21 of 34 passes for 263 yards with three touchdown passes against the Steelers last week to lead his team to victory. He completed 62.8% of his passes in the regular season for 3563 yards with 26 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined to run the ball 26 times for 124 yards with two touchdowns in helping Cleveland end their playoff drought with the victory. Chubb ran for 1067 yards in the regular season with a 5.6 yards-per-carry average and 12 rushing touchdowns. Hunt added 841 yards with another six rushing touchdowns. Kansas City takes the field again after their bye week after ending their regular season with a 38-21 loss at home to the Los Angeles Chargers two weeks ago. The Chiefs rested starters including quarterback Patrick Mahomes in that game since they had already locked-up the top seed in the AFC playoffs. Mahomes enters this game rested after completing 66.3% of his passes of 4740 yards with 38 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He added 388 yards on the ground. This game will be head coach Andy Reid’s 30th with the benefit of the bye week. In his coaching career going back to his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, Reid has gone 25-4 with an extra week of rest and preparation once the season has started. His teams have covered the point spread 19 times in those 29 games playing after a bye week. However, those numbers tighten since he became the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs (and his success off byes became commonplace fodder on ESPN). While the Chiefs have won eight of their eleven games coming off a bye week under Reid, they have only covered the point spread in six of those games.The Chiefs will be tested by the Browns’ rushing attack. Kansas City ranks 19th in the NFL by allowing 122.1 rushing yards-per-game. They also allow opposing rushers to average 4.5 yards-per-carry which is 18th in the league. However, because the Chiefs are often playing with the lead, perhaps those numbers are misleading since their opponents abandon the run. The DVOA metrics at Football Outsiders rank Kansas City a 31st in the NFL in rush defense. BetAnySports lists the Chiefs as a 9.5-point favorite with the total set at 57.

Read more

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

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Jan 17, 2021

The Sunday card features a busy day of sports headlined by the final two NFL divisional playoff games. A slate of college basketball complements action in the NBA, NHL, and the English Premier League.The NFL card kicks off at 3:05 PM ET, with Cleveland playing at Kansas City. The Browns come off a 48-37 upset win at Pittsburgh last Sunday as a 5-point underdog. The Chiefs come off their bye week after losing at home to the Los Angeles Chargers by a 38-21 score on January 3rd as a 7-point underdog in a game where Patrick Mahomes and other key starters did not play because they already had the top seed in the AFC playoffs locked up. Kansas City is a 10-point favorite with the total set at 57 (all odds from BetOnline). CBS has the broadcast.The final game in the NFL divisional playoffs kicks off at 6:40 PM ET, with Tampa Bay traveling to New Orleans in the third game between these NFC South rivals. The Buccaneers won five in a row after their 31-23 victory at Washington last Saturday as a 10-point favorite. The Saints have won three games in a row after they beat Chicago by a 21-9 score last Sunday as an 11-point favorite. New Orleans is a 3-point favorite today with an over/under of 52. The game is on Fox.The NHL has two games on its docket. At 12:05 PM ET, Pittsburgh hosts Washington on NBC. The Penguins are looking for their first victory of the season after losing their first two games with their 5-2 loss at Philadelphia on Friday. The Capitals are 2-0 after winning at Buffalo on Friday by a 2-1 margin. Pittsburgh is a -119 money line favorite with the total at 6. The nightcap has Florida hosting Chicago at 7:05 PM ET as a -153 money line favorite with an over/under of 6.5.The NBA schedule features six games. Boston hosts New York at 1:05 PM ET as an 8-point favorite with an over/under of 212.5 to tip off the card. The card concludes at 10:05 PM ET with the Los Angeles Clippers playing at home against Indiana as a 5.5-point favorite with the total at 221.5.The college basketball card begins at Noon PM ET with Iowa playing on the road at Northwestern on CBS. The Hawkeyes are a 10-point road favorite with an over/under of 156. At 2 PM ET, Houston plays at home against Central Florida on ESPNU as a 13.5-point favorite with a total of 130. UMass visits Fordham at 2:30 PM ET as an 8-point road favorite with an over/under of 135.5.Nevada hosts Fresno State at 4 PM ET on the CBS Sports Network as a 7.5-point favorite with a total of 135.5. At 4:30 PM ET, Dayton travels to George Washington as an 8-point road favorite with an over/under of 139.5. Loyola-Chicago plays at home against Northern Iowa at 5 PM ET as a 10.5-point favorite with an over/under of 138. At 6 PM ET, Lafayette plays at Loyola (MD) on the CBS Sports Network as a 1-point road favorite with the total set at 151.Three plays are on tap in the English Premier League as Matchweek 19 continues. Tottenham visits Sheffield United at 9 AM ET on the NBC Sports Network as a -0.75 goal line road favorite with an over/under of 2.5. Liverpool hosts Manchester United at 11:30 AM ET on Peacock as a -0.5 goal line favorite with a total of 2.75. At 2:15 PM ET, Manchester City plays at home against Crystal Palace on Peacock as a -2 goal line favorite with the over/under at 3

Read more

NFL Saturday Night Football: Bills/Ravens Preview

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, Jan 16, 2021

The Saturday night contest in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs involves two of the hottest teams in the league.Baltimore has won six straight games with an average scoring margin of +17.3 points-per-game during that span. Yet Buffalo bests those numbers with their seven-game winning streak where they have outscored their opponents by +17.4 points-per-game.The Ravens advanced to this showdown last Sunday with their 20-13 victory at Tennessee as a 3.5-point favorite. Lamar Jackson completed 17 of 24 passes for 179 yards with an interception in the win. The Baltimore quarterback added 136 rushing yards with a touchdown from his 16 carries. Jackson is completing 64.4% of his passes this season for 2757 yards with 26 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He has rushed for 1005 yards with another seven touchdowns. Baltimore is scoring 28.7 points-per-game this season behind a ground attack that averages 35 rushing attempts per game that produces 194 rushing yards-per-game. Running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards have rushed for 805 and 723 yards, respectively. The Ravens possess the league’s best scoring defense that holds their opponents to 18.6 points-per-game. They held Derrick Henry to just 40 rushing yards last week from his 18 carries.Buffalo is the second-highest scoring team in the NFL by averaging 31.1 points-per-game. Josh Allen leads a Bills’ attack that is third in the league by averaging 289.5 passing yards-per-game. Allen completed 26 of 35 passes for 324 yards with two touchdown passes in their 27-24 victory against the Colts last Saturday as a 7-point favorite. Allen also rushed for 54 yards on 11 carries. Allen is completing 69.2% of his passes this season for 4544 yards with 37 touchdown passes and ten interceptions. He has added 421 rushing yards with another eight touchdowns. The Bills are allowing 23.5 points-per-game on defense, with opposing teams averaging 359.5 yards-per-game. Buffalo hosts this game with an 8-1 record at home.Buffalo has only one player on their injury list, with defensive end Darryl Johnson questionable with a knee injury after not practicing all week. The Bills have lost four players to injury this season after running back Zack Moss is out for the rest of the year with his knee injury. Baltimore has four players on their final injury report. Cornerback Marcus Peters is questionable with a back injury, but he did take part in limited practices. Tackle D.J. Fluker is also questionable with a knee, yet he was also a limited participant in practice this week. Linebacker Matthew Judon got upgraded to probable after dealing with an illness. He took part in full practice by the end of the week. Defensive end Derek Wolfe did not practice this week but was not listed on the final injury report. These two teams last played in December of 2019 when Baltimore defeated the Bills on the road by a 24-17 score as a 6.5-point favorite. BetAnySports lists Buffalo as a 2.5-point favorite with the total set at 49.5. NBC has the broadcast at 8:15 PM ET.

Read more

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2022 Al McMordie's BigAl.com. All Rights Reserved.