Sports Picks For Sale - Al McMordie

Hot Streaks and Achievements

  • 216-162 Last 378; 471-376 last 847; 823-639 L1462
  • 315-246-4 NBA/NCAA Basketball combined last season!
  • 9 straight winning NFL seasons (2012-2020)!

Biography

Al McMordie is the most honored technical sports handicapper in the country, with 45 handicapping championships since 1992.

Active since:  1992

Location:  Los Angeles, CA

Al McMordie is the most honored technical sports handicapper in the country.  Overall, in the last 29 years, Big Al has garnered 45 NUMBER ONE awards in football, basketball, baseball and hockey; 201 Top 5 finishes; and 380 Top 10 finishes.  Al is a featured handicapper at the most prestigious gambling web sites, and was a panelist on The Winning Edge and Proline Television shows from 2001 through 2010.  Additionally, in 2002, Big Al was featured in FHM Magazine, and he was featured in ESPN Magazine in 2010.

Some highlights:  

In 2021, Big Al ranked #1 in NBA/NCAA Basketball combined win percentage, with a 315-246 record; #2 in NCAA Basketball with a 157-115 record, and correctly forecast in the preseason that the Milwaukee Bucks (at 13-2 odds) and Baylor (at 12-1 odds) would win the NBA and NCAA championships, respectively.  

In 2020, Al predicted before the season that the Tampa Bay Lightning (at 7-1 odds) and Los Angeles Dodgers (at 4-1 odds ) would win their respective championships.  

In 2019, Al forecast that the Washington Nationals (at 18-1 odds) and Virginia Cavaliers (at 22-1 odds) would win championships.  

In 2018, Big Al ranked #1 in NFL Net Wins, with a 72-48 record, as documented by The Sports Monitor.  Al also correctly predicted the Golden State Warriors would win the NBA title.

And from 2012, when he also ranked #1 in the NFL with a 76.7% record on his Late Phone Service (as documented by The Sports Monitor), through 2020, Big Al’s won 9 straight NFL seasons.  

In 2017, Al finished #1 in the NHL, and also ranked #1 in the NHL in 2014.

In 2017, Al correctly predicted the Houston Astros (at 10-1 odds) would win the World Series.

In 2016, Al hit another NBA futures pick with Golden State (at 5-1 odds) to win the championship.

In 2015, Al also finished #1 (of 1727 entrants) in the Westgate Casino NFL Mini-Contest, and #2 in NCAA Football in 2016 (at both The Sports Monitor and Handicappers Watchdog).

In 2014, Al forecast the San Antonio Spurs (at 14-1 odds) would win the NBA title.

In 2012, Al won his futures prediction on the Kentucky Wildcats (at 11-2 odds) to win the NCAA basketball championship.

In 2011, Al correctly predicted the Green Bay Packers (at 10-1 odds) would win the Super Bowl.

In 2009, Al predicted the New York Yankees (at 5-2 odds) to win the World Series.

In 2007, Big Al won the $100,000 World Series of Sports Handicapping, and also finished #1 in NCAA Basketball March Madness.

In 2004, Al won the most prestigious handicapping contest in Las Vegas -- The Stardust Invitational.

In 2000, Al was 157-114 in football, including 10-0 (100%) in the NFL Playoffs.  Al has won 21 of his 29 football seasons.  Another highlight of Al's career came in 1997, when Big Al was ranked #1 by SPORTS WATCH in NCAA Football/NFL Win Percentage, and #1 in NCAA Football Regular Season/Bowls by THE SPORTS MONITOR.  Al has one of the best basketball records over the past 29 seasons (winning 21 of 29 seasons), and was ranked #1 in baseball for the 1996 and 2001 seasons.  For consistency across all four sports, you can count on Al McMordie.

Indeed, the Las Vegas Sporting News recognized Al in its December 17, 1996 issue, and wrote that: "[Al's] honesty, integrity, [and] skills...are obvious....We have been impressed by [his] uncanny ability to pick big underdogs that win the game straight-up....We've seen handicappers come and go, and get hot and cold, but no one has been as consistent over time as McMordie, and we strongly urge you to consider him as your handicapper."

Besides being a champion handicapper, Al McMordie is a corporate attorney, and earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan.  Al resides in Los Angeles, California.

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BIG AL's SLAPSHOT CLUB: 23-4 NHL WINNER!

Al McMordie CASHED AGAIN yesterday, as he won with Oregon in College Basketball (now 10-2 his last 12 NCAA Hoops). T...

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NBA 2021-22: Top 10 In-season Trends

Monday, Nov 29, 2021

We're more than 20 games into the NBA season, so it's a great time to take stock of the trends that have developed over the first six weeks.  Here are our Top 10 most interesting ones.First, unrested teams that had to travel between games (i.e., they didn't play at home on back to back nights) have gone 22-31-1 ATS vs. rested opponents, including a woeful 7-18 ATS vs. opponents off a straight-up loss.  Second, NBA teams off games where they failed to cover the point spread by nine (or more) points have gone 32-14 ATS, including 8-0 ATS if installed as an underdog of more than seven points, and 11-1 ATS vs. unrested foes.Third, teams off an upset loss have gone 15-6 ATS vs. opponents off an upset win, including a perfect 7-0 ATS when laying seven (or more) points, as well as 11-1 ATS at home.Fourth, revengers have gone 38-30 ATS, including 14-6-1 ATS as a home favorite, as well as a perfect 5-0 ATS if they lost the first meeting by 29 (or more) points.Fifth, favorites off back-to-back losses have gone 30-19 ATS, including 19-8 ATS if they owned a win percentage greater than .380.Sixth, road underdogs off back to back home wins have gone 2-10 ATS, including 0-8 ATS if our road team owned a winning record, as well as 0-10 ATS if its opponent owned a W/L percentage of .400 (or better).Seventh, the Unders have gone 168-132, including 15-5 Under if the O/U line was greater than 227.Eighth, NBA teams off a game where they scored 90 (or less) points have gone 26-17 ATS vs. foes that didn't score 90 (or less) in their previous game, including a perfect 10-0 ATS when priced from -1.5 to -6.5 points.Ninth, rested favorites have gone 26-16 ATS in division contests, including 10-1 ATS if their opponent was off a win by more than five points.And, tenth, home favorites, off a home game, have gone 29-7-1 ATS vs. opponents off a win, including 4-0-1 ATS when playing with revenge, and also 13-1 ATS if our home team was off a home loss.Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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NCAA Basketball Futures Wager: Gonzaga Bulldogs to Win 2022 Championship

Sunday, Nov 07, 2021

This season, the Final Four tournament will be back to normal.  Fans will be in the stands, and the games will be played across the country, rather than confined within the state of Indiana, like in 2021.  The city of New Orleans, Louisiana will host the Final Four, on April 2 and April 4, while the regionals will be played in San Antonio, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia.Last season, I achieved the quite rare Basketball "Daily Double."  I predicted the winners of each of the NBA (Milwaukee Bucks @ 13-2 odds) and the NCAA (Baylor @ 12-1 odds) Basketball championships prior to the start of the season.  Faithful followers know that my futures predictions are among the best (if not THE BEST) in the business.  Let's review some highlights just in the past few years.  As I mentioned, in 2021, both my NBA (Milwaukee Bucks @ 13-2 odds) and College Basketball (Baylor @ 12-1 odds) futures bets came home with the $$$$.  And, since we had no winner in College Basketball in 2020, that was the 2nd straight NCAA Basketball season I hit my futures ticket, as I had Virginia (at 22-1 odds) in the 2018-19 preseason (Virginia was my favorite Futures Wager of All-Time)!  Also in 2019, I hit cashed a major longshot in Baseball on the Washington Nationals (at 18-1 odds), and followed that World Series winner up in 2020 with the Los Angeles Dodgers (at 4-1 odds).  Among my other recent preseason winners were the Houston Astros in 2017 (at 10-1 odds), Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 (at 7-1 odds), San Antonio Spurs (2014, 14-1 odds; 1999, 11-2 odds), Golden State Warriors (2016, 5-1 odds; 2018, -160 odds), and Green Bay Packers (2011, 10-1 odds).So, will we do it again?  For 2022, I'm going to look back to the Title game played last April between Baylor and Gonzaga.  The Bears defeated the then-undefeated (31-0) Bulldogs, 86-70.  And the game wasn't even that close, as Baylor streaked out to a 29-10 lead (on 5-for-5 shooting from long distance), and coasted the rest of the way.  Immediately after the game, I was chatting with my friend Chris, and our attention (of course) turned to next season.  I told Chris right then that I was actually going to take Gonzaga to win the 2022 Title.  They were expected to snag Chet Holmgren, who was the #1-ranked high school recruit (and they did).  So, I really liked the combination of what they had returning, with the new players who would be brought into the mix.  And, of course, I loved that they almost (but not quite) won the title last season, as that pain will no doubt serve them well this upcoming season.  After I hung up with my friend Chris, I bet on Gonzaga at 7-1 odds (and those odds still exist today at Bet365.com).It's true that the Bulldogs lost Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert from last year's finalist team.  But the cupboard is far from bare.  Indeed, the Zags will be ranked #1 to start the season.  They return one of the best big men in the nation, in Drew Timme, who will be favored to win the John Wooden Award, as well as Andrew Nembhard and Anton Watson.  They'll also feature Rasir Bolton, who transferred from Iowa State, Nolan Hickman, Hunter Sallis, and the aforementioned Holmgren, who likely -- despite his string-beaned appearance -- will be the No. 1 pick in next year's NBA draft.  I watched Holmgren play in Gonzaga's "Blue and White" intrasquad scrimmage game a few weeks ago and, even though he struggled with turnovers, the 7-footer impressed me with his ball-handling skills, and his rim protection.  Gonzaga will improve as the season goes along, especially as Holmgren gets experience, and coach Mark Few's team better learns how to play together, and to each individual's strengths.  Finally, Gonzaga will do what previous incarnations failed to do, and that is to cut down the nets.  Gonzaga is currently listed at 7-1 odds at Bet365.  Take the Bulldogs.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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NBA Futures Wager: Brooklyn Nets to Win the 2022 NBA Championship

Monday, Oct 18, 2021

The 2021-22 NBA season starts tomorrow.  So, without further ado, it's time for my annual preseason prediction of the eventual NBA champion.  Last season, I nailed both my NBA (Milwaukee Bucks @ 13-2 odds) and College Basketball (Baylor @ 12-1 odds) futures bets to carry on what has been an unparalleled successful run on futures predictions.  That was the 2nd straight NCAA Basketball season I hit my preseason ticket, as I forecast Virginia (at 22-1 odds) in the 2018-19 preseason!  Also in 2019, I hit another huge longshot on the Washington Nationals (at 18-1 odds), and followed that up in 2020 with the Los Angeles Dodgers (at 4-1 odds).  Among my other recent winners were the Houston Astros in 2017 (at 10-1 odds), Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 (at 7-1 odds), San Antonio Spurs (2014, 14-1 odds; 1999, 11-2 odds), Golden State Warriors (2016, 5-1 odds; 2018, -160 odds), and Green Bay Packers (2011, 10-1 odds).For this season, I'm going to turn to the team which Milwaukee ousted by two inches (the distance Kevin Durant was inside the 3-point arc) in the NBA quarterfinals:  the Brooklyn Nets.  The current odds on Brooklyn are +260 (at BetOnline), and they've remained largely unchanged throughout the current Kyrie Irving turmoil.  It's undeniable that the Nets are a better team with Irving at point guard.  His ability to break down a defense through dribble penetration allows both Kevin Durant and James Harden to operate more freely on the offensive end.  But it's also undeniable that the Nets will be hugely competitive without him (as they were last season in his absence).  I firmly believe the situation will eventually resolve itself one way or the other.  Either Irving will get vaccinated, which will allow him to fully participate with Brooklyn, or he will remain intransigent.  In that instance, no matter what Irving says today about being traded (he says he would retire), I believe cooler heads would prevail and GM Sean Marks would work out a trade to bring back pieces to Brooklyn.  So, I'm more than comfortable taking the Brooklyn Nets, as currently constituted, to win the NBA Championship at +260.Last season, even though an injury-riddled Brooklyn team lost the series to the eventual NBA champion Bucks, it outscored them in the 7-game playoff series by 2.86 ppg.  And it also throttled Boston in the first round series by 11.2 ppg.  I don't see anything -- not even Irving's principles -- getting in the way of Durant, Harden, and the rest of the Nets hoisting the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy in June.  Take Brooklyn.Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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NHL Hockey Futures Bet: Toronto Maple Leafs to Win 2022 Stanley Cup

Friday, Oct 08, 2021

The 2021-22 NHL season starts next week.  So, it's time for my preseason forecast of the eventual Stanley Cup champion.  This has become one of my popular columns, in large part due to the spectacular success I've enjoyed on my futures predictions over the years.  Last year, we hit the basketball "daily-double" with Baylor (at 12-1 odds) and the Milwaukee Bucks (at 13-2 odds) winning their respective championships.  And that was the 2nd straight NCAA Basketball season we cashed our preseason ticket, as we had Virginia (at 22-1 odds) in the 2019 season!  Also in 2019, I predicted the Washington Nationals (at 18-1 odds), and followed that up in 2020 with the Los Angeles Dodgers (at 4-1 odds).  But, to show I can be dead wrong on occasion, I fell way short with my 2021 MLB prediction on the Minnesota Twins (at 22-1 odds).  Still, I've hit three of the last five MLB futures, as I also had the Houston Astros in 2017 (at 10-1 odds).  And other winners have been the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 (at 7-1 odds), the San Antonio Spurs (2014, 14-1 odds; 1999, 11-2 odds), Golden State Warriors (2016, 5-1 odds; 2018, -160 odds), and Green Bay Packers (2011, 10-1 odds).For this upcoming hockey season, I'm going to turn to a team which has had nothing but heartbreak over the last 54 seasons:  the Toronto Maple Leafs.  But the current odds are quite attractive, as I just took them yesterday at 15-1 odds at William Hill Sportsbook in Las Vegas.  And they're also 14-1 currently at BetAnySports.eu.  The Maple Leafs may have finally found their man in goal.  After a variety of goaltenders led to some pretty mediocre net-minding numbers over the past several years -- annual team GAA of 2.77, 2.84, and 3.04 leading up to last season -- the Leafs turned to veteran Jack Campbell in the latter part of last season with very good results.  Campbell was brought on at the end of the short 2020 season, but he became the Leafs full-time goalie in the final quarter of last season and posted a 17-3-2 record with a sparkling 2.15 GAA and .921 saves pct.  The Leafs are comfortable enough with Campbell being their guy going forward that they let Frederik Andersen go to the Hurricanes by way of free agency in July.  The Leafs and Canes basically swapped net-minders as Petr Mrazek comes to Toronto from Carolina and will serve primarily as Campbell's back-up.     The Leafs' offense didn't see very many changes in the off-season and that's a good thing for a team that finished sixth in Scoring last season with 184 goals in 55 games.  There will be Salary Cap challenges going forward NEXT season, but this is not a team that is trying to build for later.  This is a team which believes it has the talent to win it all this season.  Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares all return to lead the offense that should be better than it was a year ago.  Young Defenseman Rasmus Sandin (Toronto's first round pick in 2018) should be ready to break out on the blue line with substantially more ice time.  If he does, then the Leafs' defense could be much improved.  The window of opportunity is open for the Leafs to win their first Cup since 1967, but it could close quickly after this season given their Cap situation.  Take Toronto at 15-1 odds to win the 2022 Stanley Cup.  As always, good luck...Al McMordie.

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NFL Week 3 System: Schedule Surprises

Friday, Sep 24, 2021

The NFL schedule maker generally gives each of the teams one home game and one road game to start the season.  But, every so often, a team will start out with multiple road games, or multiple home games.We are currently in Week 3 of the 2021 NFL schedule, and there are four teams playing their first game at home:Denver Broncos (home) vs. New York JetsMinnesota Vikings (home) vs. Seattle SeahawksSan Francisco 49ers (home) vs. Green Bay PackersDallas Cowboys (home) vs. Philadelphia EaglesAnd there are three teams playing their first game on the road:Indianapolis Colts (road) vs. Tennessee TitansWashington Football Team (road) vs. Buffalo BillsTampa Bay Buccaneers (road) vs. Los Angeles RamsThe knee-jerk reaction by many gamblers is to play on these home teams playing a "later" home opener, as they assume they'll be psyched to finally be at home.  And gamblers also tend to go against the road teams playing a later "road" opener, as they assume they'll not be ready for a hostile environment after opening with multiple home games.But do the data bear out these assumptions?Not surprisingly, they absolutely do not.First, let's look at how home teams do at Game 3 forward in their home opener.  Since 1980, our home teams are a dreadful 54-82-4 (39.7%), including 7-18 ATS vs. opponents playing their first road game, and 26-51-2 ATS vs. non-division opponents.  That's some serious pain inflicted by these teams in front of their home faithful.  This upcoming week, each of Denver, MInnesota and San Francisco fall into our negative 26-51-2 ATS subset, as they're matched up against non-division foes.Now, let's flip it around, and review how our road teams have fared in their first road game, at Game 3 forward.  Since 1980, our virgin roadies are 76-60-4 ATS (55.8%), including 58-34 ATS as underdogs of +11 or less points, and 34-20-2 ATS vs. division rivals.  Indianapolis and Washington fall into our 58-34 ATS subset, as they've been installed as underdogs vs. their respective opponents.  And the Colts additionally fall into the 34-20-2 ATS subset, as they're playing a division opponent.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NFL Football Futures Bet: Baltimore Ravens to Win 2022 Super Bowl

Tuesday, Sep 07, 2021

With apologies to The Amazing Kreskin, I don't think anyone could have had the success I have had over the last several years with Futures predictions.  So, let's go to work again, and pull out our crystal ball to select a team to win this year's Super Bowl.  As I mentioned, my success the last several years with Futures wagers is likely unparalleled.  Here's a quick review for newcomers.  In Basketball this past season, we cashed both the Milwaukee Bucks (at 13-2 odds) and the Baylor Bears (at 12-1 odds).  And that was the 2nd straight NCAA season we picked the winner in the preseason, as we cashed Virginia as our Futures wager (at 22-1 odds) to win the 2019 Title.  Also in 2019, we cashed our Futures wager on the Washington Nationals in Baseball, at 18-1 odds, and followed up the Nationals with our Preseason Futures pick on the Dodgers in 2020, at 4-1 odds.  And that made it three winning MLB Futures in four seasons, as we had Houston, at 10-1 odds, in 2017.  In hockey, we delivered with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020, at 7-1 odds.  And we cashed the Spurs (14-1, 2014), Warriors (5-1, 2016), and Warriors again (-160, 2018) in the NBA.  Unfortunately, our current 2021 World Series pick on the Minnesota Twins (at 22-1 odds) never had a shot.  Let's move into our discussion of this season's football Futures wager.  I generally don't release college football, and only release an NFL selection.  This year, I will go out a little bit on a limb and select the Baltimore Ravens, who are currently listed at 16-1 odds at BetOnline.  The reason I say "out on a limb" isn't a reflection of Baltimore's overall talent, which is great, but is more a nod to its backfield's current injury-riddled state.  The Ravens have lost two of their top four running backs, as J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill have each been lost for the season.  Thus, Gus Edwards and Ty'Son Williams are the only healthy running backs, which has necessitated a search for depth at the position.  Currently, the Ravens are working out such fallen stars as Le'Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman.  But clearly, there's little room for error (i.e., further injury) at this position the rest of the season.So, why Baltimore?  Certainly, the Ravens have underachieved in the post-season.  Last year, they carried a six-game win streak into Buffalo, but were held to just three points by the Bills, in a 17-3 defeat.  The previous season, John Harbaugh's troops had won their final 12 regular season games (and were 14-2, overall) before being stunned by Tennessee, 28-12.  The Ravens were a 10-point favorite in that game, and had the NFL's #1 record.  And, then, in 2018, the Ravens won the AFC North, but were upset in their first playoff game by the Los Angeles Chargers, 23-17.  But it is exactly because Baltimore has had this string of playoff disappointment that I like it this season.  Indeed, the Ravens' situation is not unlike that of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, who I took (at 13-2 odds) this past NBA season.  Milwaukee had owned the NBA's #1 record each of the previous two seasons, only to flame out badly in the post-season (including an ignominious bounce out of the second round of the Playoffs by the Miami Heat in 2020).  Yet, Mike Budenholzer's men used that as fuel this past season, and wound up hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy.The key in the post-season will be the play of the Ravens' defense.  And of all the AFC contenders, none in my opinion has a better defense than does Baltimore.  Last season, the Ravens ranked 9th in DVOA and 2nd in points allowed.  They boast Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams up front, Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison up the middle, and have Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young in the secondary.And, for all the negatives thrown the way of Lamar Jackson, let's not forget that just two seasons ago, in 2019, he passed for 3,127 yards, and ran for 1,206, and had 36 touchdown passes, and seven rushing TDs.  Most incredibly, he threw for a touchdown on 9% of his pass attempts, the highest rate in the NFL that season, and 2nd only to Peyton Manning's 9.9% rate in 2004.  It was to be expected that his numbers would decline somewhat last season, and they did.  But that doesn't mean that Jackson -- at just age 24 -- won't continue to take major steps forward in his career, which is still in its very early stage.Take the Ravens at 16-1 odds to win Super Bowl 56.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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2021 NFL Preseason: A Point Spread Review

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

The 2021 NFL Preseason is in the rear view mirror.  And it was the first season of a new 3-game format adopted by the league.  This new format significantly changed how many teams approached the preseason games.  And, as a result, many handicappers had to adjust, as the old "Week 3 Dress Rehearsal Game" went out the window.  Instead, many teams just shelved their key starters for much, if not all of the preseason.Let's take a look at the final data.Home teams:  13-32-2 ATSRoad teams:  32-13-2 ATSFavorites:  24-22-2 ATSUnderdogs:  22-24-2 ATSOvers:  27-20-1 Unders:  20-27-1Teams off a win vs. an opponent not off a win:  14-9-1 ATS, including 12-3 ATS on the roadTeams off a loss vs. an opponent not off a loss:  9-14-1 ATS, including 3-11 ATS at homeTeams off back-to-back losses vs. an opponent not off back-to-back losses:  7-4 ATS, including 4-1 ATS on the roadTeams off back-to-back wins vs. an opponent not off back-to-back wins:  4-8-1 ATS, including 1-5-1 ATS at homeTeams that covered their previous game by 10+ points:  8-4-1 ATS, including 7-2 ATS on the roadTeams that failed to cover their previous game by 10+ points:  5-7-1 ATS, including 2-5 ATS at homeTeams that won their previous game by 10+ points:  7-4-1 ATS, including 6-2 ATS on the roadTeams that lost their previoius game by 10+ points:  5-6-1 ATS, including 2-4 ATS at homeClearly, the one thing which jumps out is the extremely poor play of the home teams.  In seasons past, the NFL coaches perhaps tried to be more competitive in front of their home faithful.  This Preseason, many of the coaches simply couldn't be bothered to reward their fans in attendance.But even though things changed, one thing remained the same:  the Preseason dominance of the Baltimore Ravens.  John Harbaugh's men stretched their Preseason win streak to 20 games.  And they covered all three contests.  They're now 17-2-1 ATS in the Preseason since 2016.  And, perhaps most impressively, their only two ATS losses were by 1 points each!  It did, however, come with a cost this year, as #1 RB, JK Dobbins, sustained a season-ending injury in a meaningless Week 3 game.  So, it will be quite interesting to see whether Harbaugh changes his approach to these exhibition games in 2022.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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MLB Baseball: Cincinnati Reds vs Milwaukee Brewers Prediction, Odds and Preview - 08/24/2021

Monday, Aug 23, 2021

MLB Baseball:  Cincinnati Reds vs Milwaukee Brewers Prediction, Odds and Preview - 08/24/2021 Game Time:  8:10 pm ET, Tuesday, August 24, 2021Venue:  American Family Field, Milwaukee, WIWhere to Watch:  Bally Sports Wisconsin; Bally Sports Ohio Opening MLB Odds at USA Sportsbooks DraftKings:  Moneyline odds:  Brewers -175, Reds +155; Over/Under:  9 runsBetMGM:  Moneyline odds:  Brewers -170, Reds +150; Over/Under:  9 runsPointsBet:  Moneyline odds:  Brewers -175, Reds +155; Over/Under:  9 runs Season Record Brewers:  76-49, 1st NL CentralReds:  69-57, 2nd NL CentralWill Rogers is 8-3 his last 11 releases, and is featuring his College Football Game of the Month in Saturday NCAA action.  It's available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers. Cincinnati Reds vs Milwaukee Brewers Preview and Analysis Recent FormBrewers:  7-3 last 10Reds:  7-3 last 10With just six weeks left in the Major League Baseball regular season, there's not much time left for Cincinnati to make up its 7.5-game deficit to the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.  So, this 3-game series is critical for the Reds' hope of winning the National League Central division.  Both of these division rivals enter Tuesday's game on win streaks.  Milwaukee won the last two games of its series vs. Washington, and has won each of its last four series overall (10-3 last 13 games).  Meanwhile, the Reds just completed a 4-game sweep of the cellar-dwelling Miami Marlins, with a 3-1 victory on Sunday.  For the Brewers, former NL MVP Christian Yelich is starting to finally come alive.  He led Milwaukee to a 9-6 comeback win on Saturday, as he launched two home runs, including a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning.  Then, on Sunday, he went 2-for-5 with an RBI to raise his batting average to .247.  The Reds' Tyler Naquin continued his hot hitting on Sunday with two solo homers in Cincy's 3-1 win, and Naquin's hit streak has reached 12 games.  But more importantly, with San Diego's 7-4 loss on Sunday to Philadelphia, the Reds are now 1 game up on the Padres for the second NL wild card.  In this series opener, the Brewers will hand the ball to RHP Corbin Burnes (a leading Cy Young Award candidate), while the Reds will start lefty Tyler Mahle.  Burnes last saw game action a full week ago, when he took a no-hitter into the 6th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals last Tuesday.  Milwaukee won that game, 2-0, and Burnes allowed just 2 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings, and raised his record to 8-4, while lowering his ERA to 2.13.   In Mahle's last start -- a 7-1 home loss to the Chicago Cubs last Wednesday -- the Reds mustered just six hits, while Mahle surrendered five runs and eight hits in five innings.  Still, Mahle has had a nice season, with a 10-4 record, and a 3.78 ERA, in 25 starts.One of the big keys to this matchup will be the fact that Burnes has had six days off between starts.  And Burnes' teams are 13-6 in his career (+5 games on the moneyline) when he's worked with an extra day or two of rest.  Additionally, in his last start vs. Cincinnati -- on July 18 at Great American Ball Park -- Burnes threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings in an 8-0 blanking of the Reds.  He had 12 strikeouts while allowing just 5 hits and 1 walk, but came up two outs short in his bid for his first complete game (but the Brewers’ bullpen finished off the job).  Offensive Analysis The Cincinnati Reds have a strong offense, and rank 2nd in the National League (and 4th in Major League Baseball) in runs scored, with 637.  They also rank 4th in the Majors in both home runs (176) and RBI (613), and 5th in both batting avg. (.252) and slugging pct. (.435).  In contrast, Milwaukee’s offensive lineup is middle-of-the pack, as it is 11th in the Majors in both runs scored (584) and home runs (156), but is near the bottom (#26) in batting average, as it's hitting just .234.  And its roster ranks 18th in slugging pct. (.401). Defensive Analysis The Brewers' strength is its pitching rotation, as it is #3 in MLB with a 3.37 ERA, #2 in batting avg. against (.217), and #5 in WHIP (1.19).  Milwaukee's also allowed just 120 homers this season, which is tied for 2nd in baseball.  Cincinnati's pitching staff ranks 18th in ERA (4.40), 16th in batting avg. against (.242), and 22nd in WHIP (1.37).  It also has given up 160 home runs, which ranks 22nd in MLB. Reds vs Brewers Prediction With Milwaukee a dominant 274-145 its last 419 as a home favorite of -150 (or more), we'll take the Brewers behind Burnes on Tuesday.  Milwaukee 6 Cincinnati 2. Don't miss our champion handicappers' Free MLB Picks and Premium Selections every day here at Bigal.com.  Just click on Shop Picks for our Best Bets, or click on Shop Subscriptions to join for a week or a month.  And if you enjoyed this Brewers/Reds preview, be sure to bookmark Bigal.com for our daily Game Previews and Predictions. MLB Betting Trends Milwaukee Brewers are 48-26 (+12.1 games on the moneyline) off a winMilwaukee Brewers are 274-145 (+24.2 games on the moneyline) as a home favorite of -150 (or more)Cincinnati Reds are 53-44 (+18.1 games on the moneyline) vs. NL starters with a WHIP of 1.25 (or better)Cincinnati Reds are 20-15 (+11.9 games on the moneyline) on the road vs. winning teams Key Injuries Milwaukee Brewers:  Tyrone Taylor (CF), 10-day IL (oblique); Freddy Peralta (P), 10-day IL (shoulder)Cincinnati Reds:  Jesse Winker (LF), 10-day IL (ribs)Players to Watch Milwaukee Brewers:  Christian Yelich broke out of a power slump when he homered twice on Saturday in Milwaukee's 9-6 win over Washington.  It was the first time Yelich circled the bases in 69 plate appearances, and it was also his first multi-homer game since August 17, 2019.  The former NL MVP had 6 RBI, and added a stolen base in his best offensive game of the season.  He followed up Saturday's breakthrough performance with a 2-for-5 game on Sunday, so he is definitely Milwaukee's player to watch.Cincinnati Reds:  Vladimir Gutierrez continued his torrid pitching run with a 7-inning, 1-run outing vs. Miami, on Sunday.  He struck out 8 Marlins, and has allowed just 8 earned runs over his last six games, covering 38 2/3 IP (1.86 ERA).  He's struck out 36, and walked just 10 in this span.Notable Quotes Cincinnati Reds catcher, Tyler Stephenson:  "If we can go up there and sweep them, it's going to make things real interesting."Milwaukee Brewers pitcher, Adrian Houser on Yelich:  "It's a really good sight to see.  Hopefully, it keeps trending up and we get some 2018, 2019 Yellie here down the stretch." Starting Lineups Milwaukee BrewersK. Wong, 2BW. Adames, SSC. Yelich, LFA. Garcia, RFE. Escobar, 1BL. Urias, 3BL. Cain, CFM. Pina, CC. Burnes, PCincinnati RedsT. Naquin, LFT. Stephenson, CN. Castellanos, RFJ. Votto, 1BK. Farmer, SSM. Moustakas, 3BJ. Barrero, 2BS. Akiyama, CFT. Mahle, P Statistical Leaders Milwaukee BrewersBatting Average:  Willy Adames (.293)Hits:  Avisail Garcia (105)Home Runs:  Avisail Garcia (24)RBI:  Avisail Garcia (73)Stolen Bases:  Kolten Wong (9)Wins:  Brent Suter (12)Saves:  Josh Hader (26)ERA:  Corbin Burnes (2.13)Cincinnati RedsBatting Average:  Nick Castellanos (.319)Hits:  Jesse Winker (129)Home Runs:  Joey Votto (28)RBI:  Joey Votto (81)Stolen Bases:  Jonathan India (8)Wins:  Tyler Mahle (10)Saves:  Heath Hembree (8)ERA:  Wade Miley (2.88)Managers:Milwaukee Brewers:  Craig Counsell (7th season)Cincinnati Reds:  David Bell (3rd season) Weather ForecastMostly cloudy, warm and humid with a chance of rain and thunderstorms.  Wind SSE 5 mph, with gusts up to 10 mph.

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MLB Baseball: Boston Red Sox vs Toronto Blue Jays Prediction, Odds and Preview - 07/20/2021

Tuesday, Jul 20, 2021

Boston Red Sox vs Toronto Blue Jays Prediction, Odds and Preview - 07/20/2021Game Time: 7:07 pm ET, Tuesday, July 20, 2021Venue:  Sahlen Field, Buffalo, New YorkWhere to Watch:  SportsnetSeason-to-Date Record:Boston Red Sox:  56-38 (1st, American League East)Toronto Blue Jays:  48-42 (3rd, American League East)Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks:DraftKings:  Moneyline odds:  Blue Jays -155; Over/Under:  10.5 runsBet365:  Moneyline odds:  Blue Jays -145; Over/Under 10.5 runsBetRivers:  Moneyline odds:  Blue Jays -150; Over/Under 10.5 runsKey Injuries:Boston:  Danny Santana (quad) Probable; Marwin Gonzalez (hamstring) Out; Christian Arroyo (hamstring) OutToronto:  Corey Dickerson (foot) OutRecent Lineups:Boston Red Sox:Hernandez (2B)Verdugo (LF)Martinez (DH)Bogaerts (SS)Devers (3B)Renfroe (RF)Duran (CF)Vazquez (C)Arroyo (1B)Toronto Blue Jays:Semien (2B)Bichette (SS)Guerrero, Jr. (1B)Springer (CF)Hernandez (LF)Grichuk (RF)Biggio (3B)Gurriel, Jr. (DH)McGuire (C)Statistical Leaders:Boston Red Sox:Batting Average:  Bogaerts (.321)Hits:  Bogaerts (105)Home Runs:  Devers (22)RBI:  Devers (74)Stolen Bases:  Vazquez (8)Wins:  Eovaldi (9)Saves:  Barnes (19)ERA:  Whitlock (1.38)Toronto Blue Jays:Batting Average:  Guerrero, Jr. (.332)Hits:  Guerrero, Jr. (108)Home Runs:  Guerrero, Jr. (31)RBI:  Guerrero, Jr. (78)Stolen Bases:  Bichette (12)Wins:  Ryu (9)Saves:  Romano (7)ERA:  Romano (1.93)Managers:Boston Red Sox:  Alex Cora (3rd season)Toronto Blue Jays:  Charlie Montoyo (3rd season)Recent Form:The Boston Red Sox lost two of three games last weekend at the New York Yankees, and have dropped six of eight, overall.  Still, Boston is 56-38 (+12.7 games on the moneyline) on the MLB season, and sits in first place in the AL East standings, with a half-game lead over the defending AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays.  If you've been betting on Boston this season, you've made a lot of money, especially given that the Red Sox odds to win the AL East coming into the season were long!  The Red Sox have a balanced home and away record this season, as they are 28-19 at Fenway Park, and also 28-19 on the road.  In the Red Sox’s 9-1 loss to the Yankees on Sunday, starter Martin Perez lasted just 4 innings, as he gave up 3 runs and 5 hits, including a home run to Gleyber Torres.  The Yankees’ starter, Jameson Taillon, went 5 1/3 innings to earn the win, and gave up just 4 hits.  For the game, Boston managed just five hits, and left 9 men on base.The Toronto Blue Jays swept the 3-game series vs. the Texas Rangers over the weekend, and extended their win streak to 4 games with a 10-0 shutout win on Sunday.  Steven Matz threw 5 scoreless innings, while the Blue Jays belted out 8 hits, including Lourdes Gurriel, Jr.’s 11th home run in the 1st inning, and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.’s 31st round tripper in the 2nd.  The Blue Jays have won 15 of their last 22 games, and are 48-42 (+0.1 games on the moneyline) on the season.  Toronto is currently in 3rd place in the AL East, ahead of the Yankees by 1 game, and the Baltimore Orioles by 19 games.The Red Sox have played 6 unders and 3 overs (with 1 push) over their last 10 games.  And the Red Sox’s Over/Under record is 43-48-3 this season.The Blue Jays have played 4 of their last 6 games under the total, and their Over/Under record this season is 43-46-1. The two teams opened the series last night in a clash which pitted Boston's Nick Pivetta vs. Toronto's Ross Stripling.  The Blue Jays odds were -124 in that game, with a total of 10.5, and Boston won that affair in a blowout to snap their losing streak, and Toronto's winning streak.  After tonight's game, the AL East rivals will meet on Wednesday night to conclude this 3-game series.Series History:The Red Sox and Blue Jays have met 9 times since April, with Boston winning 5 of the 9 games (and 5 of the 9 going under the total).  Over the last 3 seasons, Boston is 21-17 vs the Blue Jays (including 10-6 at Toronto), and the Over/Under record is 20-17-1 (including 9-6-1 at Toronto).  Statistical Comparison:The Red Sox’s strength is on the offensive side, as they rank 5th in Major League Baseball with 5.0 runs per game; 4th in Batting Average (.257) -- with Xander Bogaerts leading the way at .321 -- and 11th in On Base Percentage (.321).  Boston’s pitching ranks 14th with an ERA of 4.11.  Similarly, the Blue Jays have one of the best slugging offenses in MLB.  Toronto is scoring 5.21 runs per game (3rd), while hitting .265 (2nd) and having an On Base Percentage of .328 (7th).  Like Boston, Toronto’s pitching is middle-of-the-pack, with a 3.89 ERA (12th).Red Sox vs Blue Jays Game Preview:The Red Sox will hand the ball to veteran RHP Garrett Richards on Tuesday.  Richards is 5-5 on the season, and comes into Tuesday's game off a win on July 9 vs. the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Red Sox won that game, 11-5, behind a 5-inning, 7-hit outing from Richards.  Richards has done his best work on the road this season, where he has a 3-2 record, with a 1.48 WHIP, which compares favorably to his overall marks of 4.91 and 1.68.  This will be the fourth time Richards has faced the Blue Jays in 2021, as he's 1-1 in those three prior games, and has given up 10 earned runs, 22 hits and 12 walks in 16 2/3 innings.  For his career, Richards' ERA vs. Toronto is 5.23, while his WHIP is a poor 1.76.Toronto will start rookie RHP Alek Manoah on Tuesday night here at Sahlen Field, in Buffalo (the Blue Jays' home games have been split between Buffalo and Dunedin thus far).  Manoah will be making his second career start vs. Boston.  In his first appearance vs the Red Sox, on June 14, he pitched very well, and gave up just one run, four hits and one walk over six innings.  The Red Sox won the game the last time he pitched against them, 2-1, so Manoah would like to avenge that defeat tonight.  After the Blue Jays won his first three career starts, they've alternated wins and losses since, including a 7-1 defeat at Tampa Bay on July 9.  Still, his numbers are impressive for a rookie, as he has a 2.90 ERA over eight starts, with a terrific 1.06 WHIP.  And he's also done his best work at home (2.20 ERA; 1.04 WHIP).Notable quotes:Alex Cora (after Sunday's 9-1 loss to the Yankees):  We haven't hit.  We've been chasing pitches.Charlie Montoya (after Sunday's 10-0 victory vs. Texas):  The only way you can get winning streaks is if your starters give you a chance....It's all about pitching and the starters were outstanding.Trends:Boston:The Red Sox are 21-11 (+15.3 games on the moneyline) as an underdog this season.The Red Sox are 14-5 in Garrett Richards' nighttime starts the past two years.The Red Sox are 22-12 (+9 games on the moneyline) vs. AL East division rivals this year.Toronto:The Blue Jays are 88-109 (minus 16.6 games on the moneyline) at night.The Blue Jays are 66-51 (minus 7.1 games on the moneyline) as a favorite.The Blue Jays are 37-27 (+8 games on the moneyline) vs. right-handed starters.Blue Jays Red Sox Prediction:  Our MLB Pick for Tuesday's game is Tor 6 Bos 3 Don't miss our champion handicappers free picks and expert baseball picks today.  Get off to a hot start this week, and get all of the daily expert picks on tonight's slate of MLB games.  And if you enjoyed this Boston Red Sox vs Toronto Blue Jays prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily MLB projections and previews.

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NBA Finals 1991 Thru 2020 -- A Point Spread Review

Monday, Jul 05, 2021

The 2021 NBA Finals are upon us, and will feature an intriguing match-up between the Eastern conference's Milwaukee Bucks and the Western conference's Phoenix Suns.After compiling the league's #1 record in each of 2019 and 2020, the Bucks took a step backwards this season and "only" went 46-26 to earn the East's #3 seed.  The Suns were five games better, at 51-21, and garnered the #2 seed in the West.Phoenix has been installed as a 5.5-point favorite for Game 1, and are -190 to win the series at William Hill (Milwaukee is +170).  The key story line is the health of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sustained an injury in Game 4 of Milwaukee's semifinal series vs. Atlanta.  He won't be fully healthy in this Finals, and is listed as "day-to-day" on the injury report.Let's take a look at the previous 30 years of NBA Finals games to see what history can teach us.Please note that six of the 169 previous games were played on a neutral court (2020).Home teams:  72-88-3 ATS (10-16-1 ATS as dog; 61-70-2 ATS as fave; 1-2 ATS as pk'em)Away teams:  88-72-3 ATS (70-61-2 ATS as dog; 16-10-1 ATS as fave; 2-1 ATS as pk'em)Underdogs:  84-79-3 ATS (36-41-2 ATS off win; 48-38-1 ATS off loss)Favorites:  79-84-3 ATS (58-58-1 ATS off win; 21-26-2 ATS off loss)Off back-to-back losses:  20-23-1 ATS (10-18-1 ATS at home; 9-5 ATS on road; 1-0 ATS on neutral court)Off double-digit loss:  31-30-2 ATS (9-14-2 ATS at home; 20-15 ATS on road; 2-1 ATS on neutral court; 24-19-1 ATS as dog; 7-11-1 ATS as fave)Game 1:  Home teams 19-10 ATS; Favorites 20-10 ATSGame 2:  Home teams 12-16-1 ATS; Favorites 11-18-1 ATS; Teams off losses 16-13-1 ATSGame 3: Home teams 10-18-1 ATS; Favorites 12-15-1 ATS; Teams off losses 17-12-1 ATS; Teams off back-to-back losses 8-7-1 ATSGame 4: Home teams 12-16-1 ATS; Favorites 15-14-1 ATS; Teams off losses 14-15-1 ATS; Teams off back-to-back losses 5-6 ATSGame 5: Home teams 11-14 ATS; Favorites 11-14 ATS; Teams off losses 13-13 ATS; Teams off back-to-back losses 5-5 ATSGame 6: Home teams 5-12 ATS; Favorites 7-11 ATS; Teams off losses 10-8 ATS; Teams off back-to-back losses 2-4 ATSGame 7: Home teams 3-2 ATS; Favorites 3-2 ATS; Teams off losses 2-3 ATS; Teams off back-to-back losses 1-0 ATSOver/Unders:Game 1:  11 overs, 18 unders, 1 pushGame 2: 13 overs, 15 unders, 2 pushesGame 3: 15 overs, 15 undersGame 4: 10 overs, 20 undersGame 5: 14 overs, 11 unders, 1 pushGame 6: 8 overs, 10 undersGame 7: 0 overs, 5 underscombined:  71 overs, 94 unders, 4 pushesGood luck, as always...Al McMordie

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2021 NBA Playoffs - An ATS Recap

Saturday, Jun 26, 2021

The 2021 NBA Playoffs have been unlike any other.  And not just because it featured a 'play-in' round at the start.  We've also had several key injuries along the way that have derailed (or may derail) the hopes of many of the top contenders.  Teams like the Los Angeles Lakers (Anthony Davis), Denver Nuggets (Jamal Murray), Utah Jazz (Mike Conley), Brooklyn Nets (Kyrie Irving; James Harden), and Los Angeles Clippers (Kawhi Leonard) all were greatly impacted.  The upshot is that it is the first time both #1 seeds didn't make the semi-finals since 1994 when the Atlanta Hawks and Seattle SuperSonics were knocked out early.Let's take a look at how the NBA Playoffs have gone -- from a point spread perspective.Our data goes through games of June 25, and does not include the 'play-in' games.Home teams:  37-35 ATS (Faves 29-22 ATS; Dogs 8-13 ATS)Away teams: 35-37 ATS (Faves 13-8 ATS; Dogs 22-29 ATS)Favorites:  42-30 ATS (Home 29-22 ATS; Away 13-8 ATS)Underdogs:  30-42 ATS (Home 8-13 ATS; Away 22-29 ATS)Overs:  36-35-1Unders: 35-36-1Series off Under in previous game:  15 Overs, 14 Unders, 1 PushSeries off Over in previous game:  14 Overs, 13 UndersTeams off playoff loss:  25-33 ATS (Faves 16-13 ATS; Dogs 9-20 ATS)Teams off back-to-back playoff losses:  12-13 ATS (Faves 5-7 ATS; Dogs 7-6 ATS)Teams off double-digit playoff losses:  8-21 ATS (Home 6-16 ATS; Away 2-5 ATS; Faves 2-8 ATS; Dogs 6-13 ATS)Teams off point spread failures by 10+ points:  14-15 ATS (Home 9-11 ATS; Away 5-4 ATS; Faves 9-8 ATS; Dogs 5-7 ATS)#1 Seeds:  12-11 ATS (Home 7-6 ATS; Away 5-5 ATS; Faves 12-9 ATS; Dogs 0-2 ATS)#2 Seeds: 17-8 ATS (Home 11-3 ATS; Away 6-5 ATS; Faves 11-5 ATS; Dogs 6-3 ATS)#3 Seeds: 11-12 ATS (Home 6-6 ATS; Away 5-6 ATS; Faves 7-7 ATS; Dogs 4-5 ATS)#4 Seeds: 11-10 ATS (Home 6-5 ATS; Away 5-5 ATS; Faves 7-5 ATS; Dogs 4-5 ATS)#5 Seeds: 12-9 ATS (Home 3-5 ATS; Away 9-4 ATS; Faves 2-0 ATS; Dogs 10-9 ATS)#6 Seeds: 3-7 ATS (Home 1-4 ATS; Away 2-3 ATS; Faves 1-2 ATS; Dogs 2-5 ATS)#7 Seeds: 3-8 ATS (Home 2-3 ATS; Away 1-5 ATS; Faves 2-2 ATS; Dogs 1-6 ATS)#8 Seeds:  3-7 ATS (Home 1-3 ATS; Away 2-4 ATS; Faves 0-0 ATS; Dogs 3-7 ATS)Interestingly, teams off blowout SU/ATS playoff losses have NOT done well this season.  Consider that NBA teams off SU/ATS losses by seven or more points have gone 11-28 ATS.  Meanwhile, teams off narrow SU/ATS playoff losses by six or less points have gone 13-2 ATS.Another trend to watch is how teams do off back-to-back upset playoff wins.  In this year's playoffs, teams that pulled off consecutive upsets have gone 0-5 ATS.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NBA Basketball: Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks Game 7 Preview, Odds and Prediction - 06/19/2021

Saturday, Jun 19, 2021

Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks Game 7 Preview, Odds and Prediction - 06/19/2021  Game Time:  8:35 pm, Saturday, June 19, 2021  Venue:  Barclays Center  Where to Watch:  TNT Network; NBA League Pass Regular Season record: Brooklyn: 48-24 (2nd, Eastern Conference) Milwaukee:  46-26 (3rd, Eastern Conference)  Opening Odds: DraftKings:  Brooklyn -1.5, 215; Moneyline:  Brooklyn -122; Milwaukee +100 Bet365:  Milwaukee -1, 216; Moneyline:  Milwaukee -115; Brooklyn -105 BetRivers:  Brooklyn -1.5, 215; Moneyline:  Brooklyn -122; Milwaukee +100  Key Injuries: Brooklyn:  Kyrie Irving (ankle) Out; Spencer Dinwiddie (ACL) Out Milwaukee:  Donte DiVincenzo (ankle) Out; Jordan Nwora (thigh) Out  Starting Lineups:  Brooklyn: G James Harden G Joe Harris F Kevin Durant F Jeff Green C Blake Griffin  Milwaukee: G Jrue Holiday G Khris Middleton F Giannis Antetokounmpo F PJ Tucker C Brook Lopez  Statistical Leaders:  Brooklyn: Points:  Kevin Durant (26.9) Rebounds:  James Harden (8.5) Assists:  James Harden (10.9)  Milwaukee: Points:  Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.1) Rebounds:  Giannis Antetokounmpo (11.0) Assists:  Jrue Holiday (6.1)  Coaches:  Brooklyn:  Steve Nash (1st season) Milwaukee:  Mike Budenholzer (3rd season)  Recent Form:  These two teams met on Thursday night for Game 6 in Milwaukee. Milwaukee was favored by 4.5 points, and the total was 220.  The Brooklyn Nets entered that game with a 3-2 series lead, so it was an elimination game for the Bucks.  But Milwaukee sprinted out to an 18-5 lead in the first quarter, and finished the quarter with a 26-19 lead.  In the 2nd quarter, the Nets’ James Harden (who is battling a hamstring injury) came alive, but Milwaukee closed the half strong — helped by a pair of 3-point buckets by Khris Middleton — to take a 59-48 lead into the half.  The teams traded punches in 3rd quarter.  Kevin Durant was big for Brooklyn, while Middleton continued to play well for Milwaukee, and the Bucks finished the 3rd quarter with a 78-67 edge.  Brooklyn could never mount a comeback, and when the final gun sounded, the Bucks earned a 104-89 victory. The Bucks covered the 4.5-point number, and it went under the total.  Middleton had a playoff career-high 38 points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo added 30.  For Brooklyn, Kevin Durant had 32 points, while James Harden contributed 16 points, on 5-for-9 shooting.  Milwaukee has won 7 of its last 10 games, straight-up, and is 5-5 against the spread.  The Bucks are 7-2-1 under the total over their last 10 games.  Brooklyn is 6-4 straight up over its last 10 games, and is 7-3 ATS. The Nets are 6-3-1 under the total over their last 10 games.  Neither team has shot a high percentage in this 2nd round playoff series.  Outside of the Nets shooting 52.1 percent in Game 2, each team has shot below 50 percent in each game.  Game 3 was the lowest for each team, as the Nets shot just 36.2 percent, while the Bucks weren’t much better, at 37.8 percent.  In Game 6, the Nets made 36-of-81, for 44.4 percent, while Milwaukee was 37-of-82, for 45.1 percent.  Series History:  Brooklyn and Milwaukee have met nine times this season, including six in this second round of the playoffs, and three in the regular season. Milwaukee has a 5-4 record this season, but is 4-5 ATS.  Seven of the nine meetings this season have gone under the total.  One key trend to note:  the home team has won all nine contests this year. Going back further finds Milwaukee is 21-9 straight-up, and 17-12-1 ATS since 2014.  Sixteen of the last 30 games have gone under the total.  Statistical Comparison:  Brooklyn's strength of its team is its offense.  It ranks #1 in offensive efficiency, and has a 119.00 adjusted offensive rating. Milwaukee's offense is also efficient, but ranks lower, at #7, with a 117.67 adjusted offensive rating.  On defense, Milwaukee has the advantage.  It ranked #10 in the NBA this season, with a 112.34 adjusted defensive ranking.  Brooklyn was one of the league's worst defensive teams in 2020-21, as it ranked #24, with an adjusted defensive ranking of 114.76.  Only the Portland Trail Blazers had a worse defense among the 16 NBA Playoff teams this season.  Of the remaining Playoff teams, the Philadelphia 76ers rank highest (#2) on defense, with an adjusted defensive rating of 108.66.  Margin of victory is, perhaps, the most important predictor of success, and Milwaukee has the edge here, with a 5.89 scoring margin (#3 in the NBA), while Brooklyn is 7th in the NBA, at 4.50.  Game 7 Preview:  This game on Saturday night is a winner-take-all Game 7.  It will be broadcast on the TNT Network, and can also be seen on NBA League Pass.  Brooklyn opened as a 1.5-point home favorite at DraftKings, with a total of 215.  Brooklyn opened as a moneyline favorite of -122, with Milwaukee at +100.  Currently, at DraftKings, the point spread has Brooklyn as a 1-point favorite, while the over/under line is 215.  And Brooklyn is -114 on the moneyline, while Milwaukee's moneyline odds are -106.  Historically, the higher seeds have done quite well in Game 7s in NBA history, as they’re 109-31 (77.9%) over the previous 140 games. And, since 1991, the higher-seeded teams have gone 54-18 straight-up, and 40-31-1 ATS.  With respect to the over/under, Game 7s have generally been lower-scoring affairs, and the under is 42-29-1 since 1991.  Brooklyn has played three previous Game 7s in its franchise’s NBA history, and has a 1-2 record.  Most recently, Brooklyn was involved in a Game 7 vs. Toronto in the 2014 playoffs.  That was one of the rare times a road team was victorious, as Brooklyn won, 104-103, as a 3-point road underdog.  Kevin Durant has played in four Game 7s, and has a 3-1 record.  Meanwhile, James Harden also has a 3-1 record in his career Game 7s.  Milwaukee has been in the league much longer than Brooklyn, and has played in 10 previous Game 7s.  Unfortunately for Bucks fans, their team has not had great success in these games, as the Bucks have gone 2-8.  Indeed, the last time Milwaukee reached the NBA Finals was in 1971, when Kareem Abdul Jabbar led it to the NBA title (Brooklyn has never won an NBA title, but did get to the NBA Finals in 2003, when it lost (as the New Jersey Nets) to the San Antonio Spurs).  Milwaukee’s last Game 7 occurred in 2018, when it played Boston.  The Celtics were a 5-point home favorite, and blew out Milwaukee, 112-96.  That was the only Game 7 in the careers of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.  Coach Mike Budenholzer has never coached a Game 7 as a Bucks coach, but he did when he manned the sideline for the Atlanta Hawks.  In 2014, Budenholzer’s eighth-seeded Hawks lost, 92-80, as a 6-point road underdog, to the top-seeded Indiana Pacers.  The oddsmakers have opened the betting odds for this Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 7 near Pk’em, so most anticipate a closely-contested matchup.  After falling behind 2-games-to-none earlier in this series, the Bucks have taken three of the last four games.  And they blew a 17-point, 3rd quarter lead in the one game they lost, so the Bucks clearly have momentum, and are brimming with confidence.  Still, that blown Game 5 should serve as a reminder of just how much talent remains on the Brooklyn side, even without an injured Kyrie Irving.  Kevin Durant poured in 49 points in that Game 5, had 17 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, and two blocks!  Even more impressive was the fact that Durant played all 48 minutes. And a hobbled James Harden also gave everything he had, as he played 46 minutes (but only had five points, eight assists, and three rebounds, on 1-of-10 shooting).   Milwaukee was able to right itself in Game 6.  But that game was at Fiserv Forum.  As noted earlier, the higher-seeded teams have dominated Game 7s in NBA history, so it’s hard to bet against the Brooklyn Nets, given they will have home court advantage.  I expect both coaches to lean heavily on their starters, and de-emphasize their bench players.  Durant, Harden, Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Holiday should all play north of 40 minutes.  But if you're looking for possible X factors, Milwaukee's Bryn Forbes (11 points in Game 6) or Brooklyn's Bruce Brown (16 points and 11 rebounds in Game 3) could come up big.  Notable quotes:  Kevin Durant (after Game 6):  We were down four a couple of times and they pushed it, I mean they responded after every run we made and we got to give them credit for that….[We] just couldn’t get over the hump.  Steve Nash (after Game 6):  We weren’t well tonight offensively….Just not a great game from us….[But] we’ve got a Game 7 on our home floor.  Trends:  Milwaukee: 16-25 ATS on the road 17-33 ATS when not favored by more than 8 points, including 1-5 ATS as an underdog 4-8 ATS on the road off a home win  Brooklyn: 25-17 ATS at home 12-15 ATS off a loss 22-13 ATS vs. winning teams  Prediction:  Brooklyn Nets win by 10 Good luck, as always....Al McMordie.  I cashed 2 of 3 in the NBA last night (I'm now 306-240 his Basketball season), with winners on the Philadelphia 76ers and the 76ers/Hawks under.  Don't miss my Over/Under Winner in tonight's game at the Shop Picks page.  Or, better yet, go to the Subscriptions page to join for a week or month to get all of my award-winning selections.

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2021 NBA Playoffs: 1st Round Previews, Odds and Predictions

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The NBA Playoffs tip off this weekend, and the match-ups have been set.  Let's take a look at the eight First Round series from a point spread perspective.In the Eastern Conference, the match-ups are:(1) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (8) Washington Wizards(2) Brooklyn Nets vs. (7) Boston Celtics(3) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (6) Miami Heat(4) New York Knicks vs. (5) Atlanta HawksIn the Western Conference, the match-ups are:(1) Utah Jazz vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies(2) Phoenix Suns vs. (7) Los Angeles Lakers(3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers(4) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (5) Dallas MavericksThe odds (courtesy of BookMaker) on each team to win its First Round series are:Philadelphia 76ers (-973)/Washington Wizards (+723)Brooklyn Nets (-1164)/Boston Celtics (+838)Milwaukee Bucks (-299)/Miami Heat (+258)New York Knicks (+112)/Atlanta Hawks (-127)Utah Jazz (-1164)/Memphis Grizzlies (+832)Phoenix Suns (+138)/Los Angeles Lakers (-153)Denver Nuggets (+118)/Portland Trail Blazers (-133)Los Angeles Clippers (-368)/Dallas Mavericks (+313)The regular season series records for each of the First Round match-ups are as follows:Philadelphia defeated Washington 3 games to 0Brooklyn defeated Boston 3 games to 0Milwaukee defeated Miami 2 games to 1New York defeated Atlanta 3 games to 0Utah defeated Memphis 3 games to 0Phoenix defeated Los Angeles 2 games to 1Denver defeated Portland 2 games to 1Dallas defeated Los Angeles 2 games to 1The ATS and O/U records for each team are:Atlanta Hawks:  39-32-1 ATS (54.9%); 35 overs, 36 unders, 1 tieBoston Celtics:  34-38-1 ATS (47.2%); 37 overs, 36 undersBrooklyn Nets:  38-34 ATS (52.7%); 40 overs, 32 undersDallas Mavericks:  35-37 ATS (48.6%); 34 overs, 38 undersDenver Nuggets:  34-38 ATS (47.2%); 39 overs, 32 unders, 1 tieLos Angeles Clippers:  39-32-1 ATS (54.9%); 35 overs, 35 unders, 2 tiesLos Angeles Lakers:  32-40-1 ATS (44.4%); 28 overs, 43 unders, 2 tiesMemphis Grizzlies:  43-31 ATS (58.1%); 35 overs, 37 unders, 2 tiesMiami Heat:  34-36-2 ATS (48.5%); 38 overs, 34 undersMilwaukee Bucks:  32-40 ATS (44.4%); 41 overs, 30 unders, 1 tieNew York Knicks:  45-26-1 ATS (63.3%); 32 overs, 40 undersPhiladelphia 76ers:  38-31-3 ATS (55.0%); 34 overs, 37 unders, 1 tiePhoenix Suns:  42-28-2 ATS (60.0%); 42 overs, 30 undersPortland Trail Blazers:  38-34 ATS (52.7%); 36 overs, 34 unders, 2 tiesUtah Jazz:  41-31 ATS (56.9%); 33 overs, 38 unders, 1 tieWashington Wizards:  42-31-1 ATS (57.5%); 37 overs, 37 undersFirst Round trends since 1990:Home:  547-537-24 ATSAway:  537-574-24 ATSUnderdog:  541-604-26 ATSFavorite:  604-541-26 ATSOff Win:  578-597-28 ATSOff Loss:  573-554-24 ATSOff SU/ATS Win:  458-471-24 ATSOff SU/ATS Loss:  462-460-21 ATSOff Back-to-Back SU/ATS Wins:  184-183-12 ATSOff Back-to-Back SU/ATS Losses:  174-159-13 ATSOff 20-point Playoff Win:  65-79-1 ATSOff 10-point Cover in Previous Playoff Game:  171-185-6 ATSOff Upset Playoff Win:  124-151-9 ATSOff Over in Previous Playoff Game:  416 overs, 448 unders, 18 tiesOff Under in Previous Playoff Game:  442 overs, 494 unders, 16 ties#1 seeds:  143-138-4 ATS#2 seeds:  170-109-10 ATS#3 seeds: 149-144-7 ATS#4 seeds: 134-168-5 ATS#5 seeds:  168-134-5 ATS#6 seeds:  144-149-7 ATS#7 seeds: 109-170-10 ATS#8 seeds:  138-143-4 ATSPredictions:Eastern Conference:Philadelphia 76ers win 4 games to 0Brooklyn Nets win 4 games to 0Milwaukee Bucks win 4 games to 1New York Knicks win 4 games to 3Western Conference:Utah Jazz win 4 games to 0Phoenix Suns win 4 games to 3Portland Trail Blazers win 4 games to 2Dallas Mavericks win 4 games to 2Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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2021 Kentucky Derby Preview, Part 4: The Bombs to Use in Exotics

Saturday, May 01, 2021

The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby will take place later this evening.  We've been previewing it throughout the week, as we covered the top contenders on Wednesday, the value plays on Thursday, and the over-bet pretenders yesterday.  Today, we'll conclude our four-part series with a look at the bombs to use in exotic wagers.In many ways the 2021 Kentucky Derby could be subtitled "back to normal".  After going way off course in 2020, the Derby will look like the Derby again this coming weekend.  It will be run on the first Saturday in May; it will likely top the headlines for the weekend; and there will be real fans in the stands.  But one thing will yet again be different.  For the first time in a long time, Bob Baffert will not have a strong favorite in the race (and he will only have one horse entered as well).  In fact, the California-based trainer's Medina Spirit will likely be no better than the fourth-favorite when the gates open at about 6:55 pm ET this Saturday.    So does this mean that the 2021 version is a wide open Derby that could yield a winner such as Mine that Bird or Giacomo?  Not likely, but you could still get a decent price (as was the case last year when Baffert's Authentic won at odds of 8-1).  So who are the most likely winners?  Where will the value lie?  Who will be over-bet?  And what longshots are the ones to include in your exotics (exactas, trifectas, etc).  We now present Part 4 of our preview of the 2021 Run for the Roses: Bombs to Use in Exotics:O Besos (Greg Foley, Marcelino Pedroza)    Here is a son of Orb, who won this race eight years ago, who looks like he’s going to relish the 10-furlong distance.  In the Louisiana Derby, O Besos was charging hard at the end of the race at odds of almost 30-1.  When you look at his speed figures, you have to like the fact that he’s improved with every race.  And with anther improvement on Saturday, he could be right there.  His #6 post position is perfect for his stalking style of running.  Just be careful and watch his odds as there has been quite a bit of buzz about O Besos being a live longshot.  You will need 20-1 or higher to have value here.     Helium/Soup and Sandwich (Mark Casse, Julien Leparoux/Tyler Gaffalione)    There are two lightly-raced Casse runners in the Derby, and both offer intriguing longshot possibilities for the exotics.  Soup and Sandwich is by the hottest sire in the country, Into Mischief, out of a Tapit mare named Souper Scoop, so the breeding for the classic distance is not in question.  He put in a strong run to finish second to Known Agenda in the Florida Derby, at odds of 12-1.  Meanwhile, Helium is a son of up-and-coming sire Ironicus and he switched from the artificial to the dirt in winning the March 21 Tampa Bay Derby.  Like his stable mate, Helium has only raced three times but has improved his figures in each race, which indicates he might be peaking now.  A victory for either one of these is unlikely but if you’re looking for horses to fill out a juicy exacta or trifecta this is a pair to consider.Super Stock (Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana)   When was the last time you saw the Arkansas Derby winner priced at 30-1 on the first Saturday in May?  The prestigious race held at Oaklawn Park every April has been one of the most successful stepping stones for the Triple Crown races the last couple of decades.  American Pharoah used the Arkansas Derby as a springboard to his Derby, Preakness, and Belmont wins in 2015 (all as the favorite).  And yet the Asmussen-trained son of Dialed In named Super Stock is sitting at 30-1 on the morning line after a convincing score less than a month ago in that popular prep race.  Asmussen will have his go-to rider aboard Super Stock in Ricardo Santana.  The outside position (Super Stock breaks from #18 which is the same Program Number that Authentic had last year when he won) should help Super Stock stay out of trouble as he makes his run to the first turn.  He is a "horse for the course" having finished second and third in his only two previous races here at Churchill.  Finally, Super Stock is the only horse in the field with as many as eight previous starts coming in, and experience never hurts when you're about to run in the biggest race there is.Good luck, as always...Al McMordieAnd don't miss my Kentucky Derby Longshot Winner, as I've cashed 9 of the last 20 Triple Crown races, including Tiz The Law in the first leg of the Triple Crown last season.

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2021 Kentucky Derby Preview, Part 3: The Over-bet Pretenders

Friday, Apr 30, 2021

The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow, and we've been previewing the race over the past few days.  On Wednesday and Thursday, we covered the top contenders and the value plays.  And tomorrow, we'll take a look at the bombs to use in exotic wagers.  For today's article, we'll be zeroing in on the over-bet pretenders.In many ways the 2021 Kentucky Derby could be subtitled "back to normal".  After going way off course in 2020, the Derby will look like the Derby again this coming weekend.  It will be run on the first Saturday in May; it will likely top the headlines for the weekend; and there will be real fans in the stands.  But one thing will yet again be different.  For the first time in a long time, Bob Baffert will not have a strong favorite in the race (and he will only have one horse entered as well).  In fact, the California-based trainer's Medina Spirit will likely be no better than the fourth-favorite when the gates open at about 6:55 pm ET this Saturday.    So does this mean that the 2021 version is a wide open Derby that could yield a winner such as Mine that Bird or Giacomo?  Not likely, but you could still get a decent price (as was the case last year when Baffert's Authentic won at odds of 8-1).  So who are the most likely winners?  Where will the value lie?  Who will be over-bet?  And what longshots are the ones to include in your exotics (exactas, trifectas, etc).  We now present Part 3 of our preview of the 2021 Run for the Roses: Over-bet Pretenders: Hot Rod Charlie (Doug O’Neill, Flavien Prat)    What does it tell you that leading jockey Rosario jumped off of the son of Preakness winner Oxbow to ride Rock Your World this Saturday?  On the surface, a horse that has the second-most qualifying points, ran second to Essential Quality in last Fall’s BC Juvenile and that won the Louisiana Derby in his latest tune-up might seem like a serious contender.  But Hot Rod Charlie was 94-1 in the Juvenile race and he beat a weak field of only seven others at the Fair Grounds while recording a luke-warm speed figure.  He’s opened up as the fourth choice at 8-1, but fair odds would be closer to 20-1 or even higher.     Bourbonic (Todd Pletcher, Kendrick Carmouche)    It’s rare for a horse to go off at lower odds in the Derby than he did winning a big prep race like the Wood Memorial.  But that’s almost certain to happen with Bourbonic.  The son of Bernardini took the Wood in dramatic fashion on April 3 at odds of 72-1.  There are at least a couple of reasons to think that his odds in the Derby could be less than half that.  He has to be considered the top horse from the New York circuit competing, and that means NY bettors and fans of Pletcher could be backing him with plenty of money.  And who doesn’t love a stone-cold closer who comes from out of the clouds?  Those who think there will be a pace meltdown will likely turn in this direction.  But he won’t have to negotiate his way through just eight horses to do it this time, but rather 19 and that's a much taller order.    Medina Spirit (Bob Baffert, John Velasquez)    Here is the lone Baffert entry this year and there are several red flags that go along with this one.  First, Medina Spirit was a $35K purchase at auction and is by a relatively unknown sire named Protonico.  Next is the fact that, despite going off as the odds-on favorite in the Santa Anita Derby he was soundly beaten by Rock Your World and there’s little to suggest that he could turn the tables on that one, let alone the 18 others in here.  Third, although fast, Medina Spirit’s races suggest that he is much more suited to be a miler or even a sprinter.  It’s rare to see a Baffert horse in the Derby at odds of 10-1 or higher, but you should demand 30-1 on this one before diving in and that likely won’t happen.Our 2021 Kentucky Derby Preview, Part 4:  The Bombs to Use in Exotics will be published tomorrow, on Saturday.

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2021 Kentucky Derby Preview, Part 2: The Value Plays

Thursday, Apr 29, 2021

Over the four days leading up the Kentucky Derby, we'll be previewing this first leg of the Triple Crown.  Yesterday, we took a look at the top contenders.  Later this week, we'll focus on the over-bet pretenders (Friday) and the bombs to use in exotic wagers (Saturday).  Today, we discuss the value plays.In many ways the 2021 Kentucky Derby could be subtitled "back to normal".  After going way off course in 2020, the Derby will look like the Derby again this coming weekend.  It will be run on the first Saturday in May; it will likely top the headlines for the weekend; and there will be real fans in the stands.  But one thing will yet again be different.  For the first time in a long time, Bob Baffert will not have a strong favorite in the race (and he will only have one horse entered as well).  In fact, the California-based trainer's Medina Spirit will likely be no better than the fourth-favorite when the gates open at about 6:55 pm ET this Saturday.    So does this mean that the 2021 version is a wide open Derby that could yield a winner such as Mine that Bird or Giacomo?  Not likely, but you could still get a decent price (as was the case last year when Baffert's Authentic won at odds of 8-1).  So who are the most likely winners?  Where will the value lie?  Who will be over-bet?  And what longshots are the ones to include in your exotics (exactas, trifectas, etc).  We now present Part 2 of our preview of the 2021 Run for the Roses: Value Plays:    Highly Motivated (Chad Brown, Javier Castellano)    Any time you have a Chad Brown runner in a big race, he’s almost certainly worth a long look.  The problem is that nine times out of ten, you’re probably going to get 2-1 at best as Brown has become the pre-eminent trainer for many of the big stables in the east.  Here’s your chance to get at least 10-1 on a Brown entrant with very few, if any, knocks against.  This well-bred son of leading sire Into Mischief only lost to Essential Quality by a neck in the Toyota Blue Grass last time out and he was well clear of the rest of the field.  A slight improvement since that last race could put Brown in the Derby Winners Circle for the first time.     Mandaloun (Brad Cox, Florent Geroux)    This year’s “forgotten horse” will likely be this son of Into Mischief owned by the prestigious Juddmonte Farms.  Mandaloun has gone off as the odds-on favorite in virtually all five of his races.  And after winning the Risen Star impressively, it seemed the Louisiana Derby was his to lose.  And lose he did, finishing an uninspired 6th.  Trainer Cox has called that one a real head-scratcher and since then Mandaloun is reportedly doing great and his workouts seem to back that up.  Last year’s Derby winner Authentic was also by Into Mischief, and with a Dam by Empire Maker, this boy is bred to run all day so the 1 ¼ mile distance should not be a problem.  After going off no higher than 2-1 in any of his previous races, you’ll likely be looking at 15-1 on Saturday.   King Fury (Kenny McPeek, Brian Hernandez)    Another Curlin runner, Kenny McPeek’s colt doesn’t have to worry about what to do from the #1 post like Known Agenda does.  He drew post #16 which would seem to fit his running style perfectly.  Coming off a 4 ½ month break, King Fury ran by far his best race in winning the Lexington at Keeneland with regular rider Brian Hernandez aboard.  Hernandez may not be one of the household names when it comes to jockeys, but he’s proven time and time again that he can hold his own in the big races.  He won the Lexington at 18-1 and you’re likely to get at least that on Derby Day making King Fury a very usable horse for a saver win bet.Our 2021 Kentucky Derby Preview, Part 3:  The Over-bet Pretenders will be published tomorrow, on Friday.

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2021 Kentucky Derby Preview, Part 1: The Contenders

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2021

Over the next four days, we'll be previewing the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby.  Today, we will take a look at the top contenders.  Later this week, we'll focus on the value plays (Thursday), over-bet pretenders (Friday) and the bombs to use in exotic wagers (Saturday).In many ways the 2021 Kentucky Derby could be subtitled "back to normal".  After going way off course in 2020, the Derby will look like the Derby again this coming weekend.  It will be run on the first Saturday in May; it will likely top the headlines for the weekend; and there will be real fans in the stands.  But one thing will yet again be different.  For the first time in a long time, Bob Baffert will not have a strong favorite in the race (and he will only have one horse entered as well).  In fact, the California-based trainer's Medina Spirit will likely be no better than the fourth-favorite when the gates open at about 6:55 pm ET this Saturday.    So does this mean that the 2021 version is a wide open Derby that could yield a winner such as Mine that Bird or Giacomo?  Not likely, but you could still get a decent price (as was the case last year when Baffert's Authentic won at odds of 8-1).  So who are the most likely winners?  Where will the value lie?  Who will be over-bet?  And what longshots are the ones to include in your exotics (exactas, trifectas, etc).  We now present Part 1 of our preview of the 2021 Run for the Roses:    Top Contenders:    Essential Quality (trainer Brad Cox, jockey Luis Saez)    You would have to look long and hard to find anything wrong that the undefeated son of Tapit has done in getting this far.  And even then you would come up empty.  Simply put, Essential Quality has been like Nolan Ryan in any of his seven no-hitters.  So why bet against him?  Well for starters, we had an almost identical case last year when Tiz The Law not only ran perfect in the spring, but also in the summer leading up to the belated October Derby.  And he could do no better than second.  So go ahead and put your eggs in this basket and nobody will blame you.  Just not all of your eggs.    Rock Your World (John Sadler, Joel Rosario)      Baffert may not have one of the top horses, but that doesn't mean that California isn't well-represented.  This son of Candy Ride won the Santa Anita Derby in impressive fashion and if there isn't much pace in the Derby (and there doesn't appear to be), then Rock Your World may just play a game of 'catch me if you can.'  Rosario picks up the mount from California turf specialist Umberto Rispoli (Rispoli has since picked up the mount on Brooklyn Strong, who just drew into the race on Monday) and that certainly makes Sadler's 3YO an even more attractive choice.  From a speed figure perspective, Rock Your World's Santa Anita Derby is right there with Essential Quality's best races, but he figures to go off at significantly longer odds (6-1 vs. 3-1).    Known Agenda (Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz)    Like Baffert, it's rare for Pletcher not to have at least one horse who is in the top three or four favorites in the Derby.  He doesn't win as often as Baffert, but his top horses have to be taken seriously.  And this son of Classic winner Curlin is a serious contender based on his last two efforts.  There isn't a better jockey in the country right now than Ortiz, who comes to Churchill Downs off successful meets at Keeneland and Aqueduct.  And before those two, he set the single-season Championship Meet win record at Gulfstream Park over the Winter.  Part of that Meet record for Ortiz was a dominant win aboard Known Agenda in the March 27 Florida Derby.  Can Known Agenda win outside of Florida?  And can he win from the dreaded #1 post position?  Those questions will be answered on Saturday.  And you're likely to get a nice price (maybe 10-1) to find out.Our 2021 Kentucky Derby Preview, Part 2:  The Value Plays will be published tomorrow, on Thursday.

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2020-21 NBA Season: An ATS Review of the First Four Months

Saturday, Apr 17, 2021

We're almost four months into this COVID-impacted NBA season.  So, let's take a look at how the season has shaped up thus far, from a point spread perspective.The first thing which jumps out is the fact that the road teams have outperformed the home teams so far this season.  Through April 16, the home teams are 396-433-7 ATS, while the road teams are (obviously) 433-396-7 ATS.  The split between favorites and underdogs is tighter.  NBA favorites are above .500 at 423-406-7 ATS, which would mean the underdogs are the reverse, at 406-423-7 ATS.Away favorites are 189-162-4 ATS, while home favorites are under .500, at 234-244-3 ATS.  Of course, that would mean home dogs are 162-189-4 ATS, with road underdogs at 244-234-3 ATS.Unrested NBA teams are 125-112-3 ATS vs. rested opponents.Teams off wins are 227-228-4 ATS vs. opponents off a loss.In match-ups between two teams that are each off a win, the road team has gone 101-77-3 ATS, while home teams have had the edge in match-ups between two teams that were each off a loss, as they've gone 92-88 ATS.One of the most interesting datapoints involves match-ups between winning clubs.  In these games, the favorites have rolled to a 93-65 ATS record, including 38-16 ATS if the underdog was off a straight-up loss.  However, match-ups between two losing teams have not produced any interesting data, as the home teams have gone 88-89-3 ATS, while the favorites have gone 91-86-3 ATS.  Finally, match-ups between a winning club, and a losing opponent have seen underdogs with a winning record go 35-18 ATS vs. favorites with a losing record, including 28-12 ATS on the road!  But underdogs with a losing record are much closer to .500, at 151-142-2 ATS vs. favorites with a winning record.  And road teams have also held the edge, generally, in match-ups between winning and losing clubs, as the road teams have gone 190-156-2 ATS.Finally, division match-ups have favored the road teams, as they've gone 78-59-3 ATS, including 45-34-1 with revenge (and 8-3-1 ATS with double revenge).  And, speaking of revenge, this season has been good to revenge-minded clubs, as they've gone 222-190-4 ATS, including 24-16-2 ATS with double-revenge.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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

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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NCAA Basketball Tournament: Elite Eight Round (1991-2021)

Monday, Mar 29, 2021

We're 15 games away from crowning the champion of this 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournament, and I would say it's gone as well as could have been expected, given the extenuating circumstances.  Only one game (VCU/Oregon) was cancelled/forfeited due to COVID-19, and there have been upsets galore.  The Elite Eight round starts today with a Monday/Tuesday schedule for the first time.  The match-ups are as follows:Monday:1 Baylor vs 3 Arkansas2 Houston vs 12 Oregon StateTuesday:1 Gonzaga vs 6 USC1 Michigan vs 11 UCLALet's take a look at how the seeds have done, historically, against the spread in the Elite Eight round.  This data is from 1991 through 2019 (there was no Tournament played in 2020).1 seeds:  34-44-2 ATS2 seeds: 23-29-2 ATS3 seeds: 13-18-1 ATS4 seeds: 11-5-1 ATS5 seeds: 8-0 ATS6 seeds: 3-6 ATS7 seeds: 5-3-1 ATS8 seeds: 5-1 ATS9 seeds: 1-2-1 ATS10 seeds: 4-2 ATS11 seeds: 4-1-1 ATS12 seeds: 0-0-1 ATS13 seeds: none14 seeds: none15 seeds: none16 seeds: noneIn Elite Eight match-ups, the better-seeded team has gone 43-68-5 ATS, including 7-12 ATS as an underdog, 4-7 ATS off an upset win, 2-4-1 ATS with revenge, and 12-19 ATS off a point spread loss.  The worse-seeded team has gone 68-43-5 ATS, including 34-16-3 ATS off an upset win (UCLA and Oregon State), and 19-5-1 ATS with revenge, but just 8-9 ATS off a point spread loss (Arkansas).  Overall, favorites are 48-63-5 ATS in the Elite Eight round.Now, let's review how various point spread ranges have done:Underdogs of +3.5 or less:  30-19-1 ATSUnderdogs +4 to +7.5: 19-19-3 ATSUnderdogs +8 to +11.5: 13-8-1 ATSUnderdogs of +12 or more: 1-2 ATSFinally, some other ATS situations to note:Off double-digit wins (and foe not):  22-26-2 ATS (Houston, Baylor)Off double-digit cover (and foe not): 23-19-3 ATS (Oregon State, USC)Off back-to-back covers (and foe not): 33-25-1 ATS (Oregon State and Baylor)Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NCAA Basketball Tournament: Sweet 16 Round (1991-2021)

Friday, Mar 26, 2021

The first 32 games of this tournament are in the books (36 games, if you include the "First Four" round), and the Sweet 16 starts this weekend with a Saturday/Sunday schedule for the first time.  The match-ups are as follows:Saturday:1 Baylor vs 5 Villanova3 Arkansas vs 15 Oral Roberts8 Loyola-Chi vs 12 Oregon State2 Houston vs 11 SyracuseSunday:1 Gonzaga vs 5 Creighton6 USC vs 7 Oregon1 Michigan vs 4 Florida State2 Alabama vs 11 UCLALet's take a look at how the seeds have done, historically, against the spread in the Sweet 16 round.  This data is from 1991 through 2019 (there was no Tournament played in 2020).1 seeds:  53-43-4 ATS2 seeds: 38-32-2 ATS3 seeds: 28-36-1 ATS4 seeds: 24-33-3 ATS5 seeds: 15-18-2 ATS6 seeds: 16-16-1 ATS7 seeds: 10-10-1 ATS8 seeds: 5-4-1 ATS9 seeds: 5-2 ATS10 seeds: 9-12 ATS11 seeds: 9-6-1 ATS12 seeds: 7-10 ATS13 seeds: 3-2 ATS14 seeds: 1-0 ATS15 seeds: 1-0 ATS16 seeds: noneIn Sweet 16 match-ups, the better-seeded team has gone 113-111-8 ATS, including 10-6 ATS as an underdog, but just 7-14 ATS off an upset win (Arkansas and Loyola-Chi are off upset wins).  The worse-seeded team has gone 51-48-4 ATS off an upset win (Oregon, Oregon State, Oral Roberts, and Syracuse), but 8-13 ATS off a point spread loss.  Overall, favorites are 108-112-8 ATS in the Sweet 16 round.Now, let's review how various point spread ranges have done:Underdogs of +3.5 or less:  37-34-4 ATSUnderdogs +4 to +7.5: 45-40-2 ATSUnderdogs +8 to +11.5: 22-26 ATSUnderdogs of +12 or more: 8-8-2 ATSFinally, some other ATS situations to note:Same-season revenge:  11-9-1 ATS (Oral Roberts, Oregon)Off double-digit wins (and foe not):  58-42-4 ATS (Florida State)Off double-digit cover (and foe not): 55-51-2 ATS (Villanova, Oral Roberts, Florida State)Off back-to-back covers (and foe not): 57-54-2 ATS (Villanova, Syracuse, Gonzaga, UCLA, USC (but Oregon only played 1 NCAA Tournament game))Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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MLB Baseball Futures Bet: MInnesota Twins to Win 2021 World Series

Monday, Feb 22, 2021

It's that time of the year again when I pull out my crystal ball to select a team to win this year's World Series.  And my success the last several years with Futures wagers is likely unparalleled.  Here's a quick review for newcomers.  In College Basketball, we cashed Virginia as our Preseason Futures wager (at 22-1 odds) to win the 2019 Title.  Also in 2019, we cashed our Futures wager on the Washington Nationals in Baseball, at 18-1 odds.  This past season we followed up the Nationals with our Preseason Futures pick on the Dodgers, at 4-1 odds.  And that made it three winning MLB Futures in four seasons, as we had Houston, at 10-1 odds, in 2017.  In hockey, we delivered with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season, at 7-1 odds.  And we cashed the Spurs (14-1, 2014), Warriors (5-1, 2016), and Warriors again (-160, 2018) in the NBA.  Our preseason pick on the Baylor Bears (12-1 odds) in College Basketball will also have a decent shot to cash in the upcoming March Madness tournament.  Let's take a look at the upcoming 2021 baseball season.  It's my belief that the two best teams (Los Angeles Dodgers; San Diego Padres) reside in the National League West division.  But having the best team is not the same thing as winning the Championship.  In 2019, for example, we went with the Nationals who weren't the best team, but (at 18-1 odds) I believed they would always have a puncher's chance (or, more specifically, a "Pitcher's chance") with the 1-2 combination of Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer.  For this 2021 season, I don't believe there's enough value for me to take either the Dodgers (+370 at BetAnySports) or the Padres (8-1 odds at BetAnySports).  So, instead, I will look at backing an American League team.  And the Minnesota Twins stand out to me as having the best value.  Currently, the odds on the Twins to win the World Series are 22-1 (at each of Bovada, BetAnySports and BetOnline).  And the odds on the Twins to win the American League pennant are 9-1 (at each of BetAnySports and BetOnline).  In contrast, the World Series odds at BetAnySports have the New York Yankees at +625 and the Chicago White Sox at +1000.  By my numbers, neither the Yankees nor White Sox rate better than Minnesota, so it's an easy decision for me to go with the Twins as the best value play.There's no doubt that the White Sox are everyone's darlings in the AL Central division.  Last season, the division title went to the Twins, who went 24-7 at home, which was the best home record in baseball.  But they faltered at home in the playoffs against the Houston Astros.  So, perhaps due to last season's flame-out, a lot of pundits are looking past Minnesota.  But not me, as I believe this will be the year that the Twins finally back up a strong regular season with some success in October.   Chicago does have a lot of talent, but it might be a year away from being post-season contenders.  And if Chicago stumbles, the division is clearly Minnesota's to lose.  But regardless of whether the Twins win the division, it should make the post-season.  The Twins' line-up is a solid collection of mostly veterans (Kepler, Cruz, Buxton, Donaldson, Polanco, Sano) with a very talented rookie outfielder in Alex Kirilloff ready to step up.  But it's the pitching that will tell the story for this team.  The top three starters of Maeta, Berrios, and Pineda are sneaky good.  And the Twins addressed their bullpen issues with a huge Free Agent signing which not only should help them immensely, but also hurt their main competitor.  Somehow, the White Sox let veteran closer Alex Colome get away, only to sign with their division rivals after arguably his best season (2-0 with a 0.81 ERA and 12 saves).  Even if Colome isn't the Twins' go-to man in the 9th inning, he will still be a big boost to their bullpen.  Don't be surprised when the Twins finally come together this October.  Take Minnesota at 22-1 odds to win the World Series and 9-1 odds to win the American League pennant.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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NCAA Basketball Revenge System

Saturday, Feb 20, 2021

We're in the midst of the College Basketball season.  Normally, this would be the time of year when the teams would be playing a conference opponent for the 2nd time.  However, this season, the teams in many (but not all) conferences have been playing back-to-back games against the same opponent all season.  Regardless, let's talk about how we can approach these regular season second meetings.One thing I like to do is consider revenge.  And if I can play on a good basketball team at home, which was blown out in the first regular season meeting, then even better.  So, let's put all of these factors together for our College Basketball system.  What we want to do is:Play on any winning College Basketball team at home in the regular season, if it was blown out by 27 or more points earlier in the season by its opponent.Since 1990, our revenge-minded teams have gone 155-110-11 ATS (58.4%), including 6-1 ATS this season, and 7-3-1 ATS last season.And, although there's nothing wrong with 58.4%, we like to try to improve things a bit by adding another tightener, or two.   For example, if we play on underdogs of more than 2 points that lost their game right before this revenge match, then our 155-110-11 system zooms to 50-22-3 ATS (69.4%) since 1990.Today, on Saturday, one college basketball team fits this 50-22-3 ATS subset of our general system.  And that's to play on the Minnesota Golden Gophers +6 over Illinois.  The Illini blew out the Gophers by 27 points, 92-65, in December,  in Champaign, and we actually had a big play on Illinois in that game.  For the season, Minnesota is 13-9, including a powerful 13-1 at home (where it covers the spread by an average of 5.35 ppg).  And they're the only team to defeat the #3-ranked Michigan Wolverines, who they blew out by 18 points here, in Minneapolis.  Don't be surprised if the Gophers get their revenge on Sunday. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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Super Bowl Betting Trends

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2021

Super Bowl LV will feature a terrific match-up between the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks from the previous two seasons, with Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs taking on Tom Brady's Buccaneers.  The Chiefs have been installed as an early 3-point favorite, with a total of 56.5 (all odds from BetAnySports).Let's take a look at some historical trends.Dating back to 1981, there have been 41 Super Bowls.The underdogs have gone 21-17-2 ATS, including 6-4 at +3 or +3.5.And there have been 46 Overs against 34 Unders, but with games in the 55 to 57-point range, the Under is 2-1.There have been 12 meetings between teams that played earlier in the season.The revenge-minded team (here, Tampa Bay) has gone 7-5 SU and 6-5-1 ATS, including a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS when installed as an underdog of +7 points or less.  And the team which covered the point spread in the previous meeting (here, also, Tampa Bay), has gone 7-3 SU and 7-2-1 ATS.With regard to rematches from earlier in the season, the Super Bowls have gone Under eight of 12 times.  When the previous match-up went Over the total, the Super Bowl was 3-1 Under; and if the first meeting went Under the total, the Super Bowl was 5-3 Under.  There have been eight games that involved a defending Super Bowl champion.  Those eight teams have gone 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS, including 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS when not favored by more than 7 points.The team which averaged more points on offense (here, Tampa Bay), has gone 17-23 SU and 14-24-2 ATS, while the team which gave up less points on defense (here, also Tampa Bay) has gone 26-14 SU and 21-17-2 ATS.The team with the better win percentage (here, Kansas City) has gone 17-17 SU and 13-19-2 ATS, including 3-4 SU/ATS when favored by 3 or 3.5 points.The team with the better ATS win percentage (here, Tampa Bay) has gone 23-13 SU and 21-13-2 ATS, including 2-1 SU/ATS when installed as an underdog of +3 or 3.5 points.I am wrapping up my 9th straight winning NFL season, and have released a play in this game, as I look to stay red-hot (currently 82-37 my last 119 selections, as of this writing).  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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NHL Hockey Futures Bet: Colorado Avalanche to Win 2021 Stanley Cup

Thursday, Jan 07, 2021

The NHL season will start next week, so it's time for our Stanley Cup futures wager.  Last season, we cashed the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7-1 odds, which continued our jaw-dropping success on our futures selections.  Over the last few years, we have cashed:  2020 - Lightning (7-1), Dodgers (4-1); 2019 - Nationals (18-1), Virginia (22-1); 2018 - Warriors (-160); 2017 - Astros (10-1); 2016 - Warriors (5-1); 2014 - Spurs (14-1).  We also have three futures selections ongoing:  Baylor (12-1) in NCAA Basketball, Milwaukee Bucks (+650) in NBA Basketball, and the New Orleans Saints (10-0) in NFL Football.Let's now turn our attention to this upcoming NHL season.  Our futures selection to win the 2021 Stanley Cup is the Colorado Avalanche, currently at +700 odds at BetAnySports.  The season that the NHL is about embark on will look quite a bit different than those in the past.  There will be a shortened schedule of 56 games and the teams have been realigned into four new divisions, including an all-Canada group (the North Division).  The Avalanche are an improving team, having gone from 90 points (in a regular 82-game schedule) in 2018-2019, to 92 points in just 70 games last year, which projects to about 108 points in a full season.  The Avs finished second in the Central Division to the Blues, but they had by far the largest point differential in the Western Conference at +46.  This, despite a shortened season that included several stretches where the Avs were shorthanded due to injuries to key players.  Already the most potent offense in the West, the Avs acquired winger Brandon Saad from Chicago over the off-season and the 27-year-old will likely debut on the Avs' second line, making this team even scarier to defenses than it already is.  Perhaps most important to their chances at a high seed and a deep playoff run is the fact that teams will only play within their division this season and the Avs were a combined 4-2 against the Blues and Golden Knights last season.  Those two clubs figure to be Colorado's main competition in the months ahead.  The Avs won't have to worry about the Stars -- who knocked them out last Fall -- as Dallas has moved to a new division.  If they were a little soft on the blue line last season the Avs could very well have plugged that hole with the acquisition of young D-man Devon Toews from the New York Islanders.  They will also likely be debuting #1 pick (2019) Bowen Byram, considered to be one of the best young defensive prospects in the game.  If the goalie tandem of Francouz and Grubauer can stay healthy and get hot in the post-season, the Avs could very well hoist the Cup for the third time in their history.  Take Colorado at +700 odds.  As always, good luck...Al McMordie.

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NBA Basketball Futures Bet: Milwaukee Bucks to Win 2021 Championship

Monday, Dec 21, 2020

It's the eve of the 2020-21 season, so it's once again time for our NBA Futures Wager.  Faithful followers love our selections, as we've cashed an unbelievable number of futures over the years.  Here are some recent highlights:  2020 - Lightning (7-1), Dodgers (4-1); 2019 - Nationals (18-1), Virginia (22-1); 2018 - Warriors (-160); 2017 - Astros (10-1); 2016 - Warriors (5-1); 2014 - Spurs (14-1).  The NBA season tips off Tuesday, December 22 with two games:  the Los Angeles Lakers against the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Golden State Warriors against the Brooklyn Nets.  Certainly, when the league created its schedule, it must have believed that those four teams would comprise four of the top five title contenders.  But then Warriors SG Klay Thompson sustained a season-ending injury, which has knocked out Golden State from any championship discussion.  The one title contender which will not be featured on opening night is, of course, the Milwaukee Bucks.  (No, I do not consider the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks or Denver Nuggets true title contenders.)Milwaukee has rolled to the best record in the league over the last two regular seasons, but has flamed out in the playoffs.  Last season was especially humbling, as they only managed to win one game in their series vs. the Miami Heat.  That prompted GM Jon Horst to "go back to the drawing board" to try to re-shape his team.  He make one great trade by acquiring Jrue Holiday, but fell short on what would have been a second great trade when then-Sacramento Kings G Bogdan Bogdanovic refused to agree to a sign-and-trade offer.  Bogdanovic later signed with Atlanta in free agency, while the Bucks were slapped by the league for tampering, and forfeited a 2022 2nd round draft choice.  The upshot is that there's still one major hole for Horst to fill, as the Bucks could really use one more deep threat with whom to surround Giannis Antetokounmpo.  But the pieces are still present to win the Eastern Conference.  And Milwaukee is one of the very, very few teams that can match up with the very good (and very big) Los Angeles Lakers.There's no doubt in my mind that the Lakers are the league's best team, as currently constructed.  But with current championship odds at +250, I'm going to look in another direction.  And when I say "look in another direction," I mean, look only at another team which can match up with the Lakers on the interior.  It's an exceptionally short list, topped by the Bucks.  So, we will play on Milwaukee at +650 (the current odds at BetOnline).  And, of course, it goes without saying that the Bucks team which exists on opening night may not be the team which takes the court at the start of the playoffs.  The trade deadline is still 3 months away, and one can rest assured that Horst will have ample opportunity to add another shooter -- whether by trade, or by free agency (after players get bought out by their teams).Still, the addition of Holiday to this Bucks lineup will be enough to get them over the hump in the Eastern Conference.  Holiday is the best defensive guard in the league, and he has stepped up in the playoffs -- something erstwhile floor general Eric Bledsoe was unable to do.  It's true the Nets will be a threat with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, etc.  But Steve Nash will be a rookie head coach, so I'm lukewarm on how far it will go in the post-season with an inexperienced head coach and a roster which has yet to play meaningful playoff minutes together.Take Milwaukee at +650 to win the NBA Championship in 2021.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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2020 NCAA Basketball: An Early Look at Winning Trends

Friday, Dec 18, 2020

The 2020 College Basketball season is almost a month old, so it's a great time to take a look at the season's developing trends.There have been 735 games played with point spreads.  And unlike, say, the NFL, where the underdogs have shined, there has not been a difference in performance between the underdogs and the favorites.  Nor has there been a significant difference between home teams and road teams.Let's take a look at the early numbers.Favorites:  353-363-19 ATSUnderdogs:  363-353-19 ATSHome Teams:  301-286-14 ATSAway Teams:  286-301-14 ATSHome Favorites:  230-227-12 ATSAway Favorites: 59-71-2 ATSNeutral Court Favorites: 64-65-5 ATSHome Underdogs:  71-59-2 ATSAway Underdogs: 227-230-12 ATSNeutral Court Underdogs:  65-64-5 ATSOf course, the best handicappers go beneath the surface to analyze the best situations.  Here are some of the better situations that have delivered the $$$ so far in 2020.Teams off back-to-back losses vs. foes off a win:  64-43-3 ATS, including 35-19-1 ATS off 3+ lossesTeams off 3+ wins vs. foes off a loss:  26-36-2 ATSUnderdogs off back-to-back ATS wins:  22-44-1 ATS, including 10-31-1 ATS vs. foes not off a SU/ATS winUnderdogs off back-to-back ATS losses:  58-40-5 ATS, including 50-29-4 ATS vs. foes not off a SU/ATS lossRoad teams off upset wins:  27-11-1 ATS, including 16-2-1 ATS off a double-digit winTeams off back-to-back upset wins:  7-1 ATSTeams off back-to-back upset defeats:  6-4 ATSSame-season revenge:  17-9 ATSUnrested vs. rested:  26-14-3 ATSGood luck, as always....Al McMordie

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NCAA Basketball Futures Bet: Baylor Bears to Win 2021 Championship

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2020

The 2021 Men's Basketball Championship will likely be played within the state of Indiana, rather than across the nation, in an effort to reduce travel.  And it is also likely that there will be (at best) sparse attendance at the arenas.  So, what we've come to love about March Madness -- the enthusiasm of the fans, the music of the bands, the cheerleaders -- will be absent.  But that doesn't mean we can't have another futures prediction.Faithful followers have come to learn that our Futures predictions are the best in the business.  Let's review some highlights just in the past few years.  In College Basketball, we cashed Virginia as our Preseason Futures wager (at 22-1 odds) to win the 2019 Title.  Also in 2019, we cashed our Futures wager on the Washington Nationals in Baseball, at 18-1 odds.  This past season we followed up the Nationals with our Preseason Futures pick on the Dodgers, at 4-1 odds.  And that made it three winning MLB Futures in four seasons, as we had Houston, at 10-1 odds, in 2017.  In hockey, we delivered with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season, at 7-1 odds.  And we cashed the Spurs (14-1, 2014), Warriors (5-1, 2016), and Warriors again (-160, 2018) in the NBA.  This Football season, we didn't have a pick in College Football, but we currently have the New Orleans Saints (at 10-1 odds) to win the Super Bowl.So, who is our pick to win the 2021 Men's NCAA Basketball Championship?  We're going to go with a university which has never won a basketball championship (at least by its men, as the Lady Bears have won three titles):  Baylor.   The Bears' odds to win the 2021 Men's Championship are currently 12-1 at both MyBookie and BetUS.The Bears last made the Final Four over 70 years ago (1950), and have reached the Title game just once (1948).  But this should be their breakthrough season under veteran coach Scott Drew, who has already won over 350 games at just 50 years of age.The Bears finished last season at 26-4, and spent five weeks ranked #1 in the country.  They lost a couple of key players from last season, in center Freddie Gillespie and guard Devonte Bandoo, and Tristan Clark decided to retire after sustaining a knee injury in his sophomore season.  But there's a wealth of talent in Waco.  In the backcourt, the Bears will be led by Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Donavan Mitchell.   Transfer Adam Flager will come off the bench, as the sixth man.  In the frontcourt, Baylor will have Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and Mark Vital.Take Baylor to win the 2021 Men's NCAA Basketball Championship at 12-1 odds.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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Happy 100th Birthday, Wayne Thiebaud

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020

Today is the 100th birthday of Wayne Thiebaud, one of the world's best artists.  We routinely discuss sports and gambling on these pages.  Of course, life is much more than sports.  And one of my favorite passions is art.  I enjoy many kinds of art, but my favorite artist is easily Wayne Thiebaud.Most people know Thiebaud for his renditions of various foodstuffs like cakes, candy apples, gumball machines, and pies.  And his chosen subject matter has led to him being lumped into the pop art classification, alongside such artists as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and Robert Rauschenberg.  But Thiebaud really belongs more to a classical tradition of painting.I recall seeing a retrospective of Thiebaud's work in 2001, in Washington, D.C., at The Phillips Collection.  Among my favorites at that show were his 1962 painting, Around the Cake, and his iconic 1963 painting, Cakes.  Fast forward 12 years to 2013 when my wife and I were planning our wedding.  We were researching wedding cake possibilities when we came across a Martha Stewart article.  Lo and behold, Caitlin Williams Freeman, then the pastry chef at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, had created a wedding cake (actually, 13 cakes) to precisely mimic Thiebaud's Cakes painting.  So, I gave Ms. Williams Freeman a call, and her team made us our wedding cakes!A few months after our wedding, we had the good fortune to be invited to a gala at the Laguna Art Museum, which honored the artist.  We were able to chat with Thiebaud and, of course, told him of our wedding cakes, which he truly enjoyed.Besides his well-known still-life paintings of confections, delicatessen counters, and the like, Thiebaud also paints figure studies (like his Football Player (1963) accompanying this blog post), abstract landscapes, San Francisco cityscapes, and Sacramento deltas.  And he even created California's famous Arts license plate (with its palm trees, ocean and setting sun), so 137,000 Californians drive around with a "Thiebaud" every day.Even though he's reached the century mark, he's still painting (and playing tennis) every day.  And, for those interested, there is a major retrospective of his work ongoing through January 3, 2021 at the Crocker Museum, in Sacramento, CA.  Next year, the exhibit will travel to the Toledo Museum of Art, in Toledo, OH; the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, in Memphis, TN; the McNay Art Museum, in San Antonio, TX; and the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, PA.  Among the paintings on display are the Crocker's own holdings, Pies, Pies, Pies (1961) and, one of my all-time faves, Boston Cremes (1962).Happy Birthday, Wayne!

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2020 NFL Trends Thru Week 9

Tuesday, Nov 10, 2020

We're roughly at the halfway point of the 2020 NFL season, so this is a good time to review how the season has gone, from a point spread perspective.The one thing which jumps out when you look at the numbers is that it's been a "dog" season.  No, I'm not referring to the quality of play, but rather the fact that the underdogs have barked loudly.Over the first nine weeks, underdogs have gone 77-56, 57.8%.And they've made money whether at home (27-27, 56.2%) or on the road (50-35, 58.8%).  And whether they were off a win (25-20, 55.5%) or off a loss (44-27, 61.9%).  And also whether their opponent was off a win (40-31, 56.3%) or a loss (30-15, 66.6%).They've been especially good in the weekday (non-Sunday) games, as they've cashed 14 of 21 (66.6%), including a perfect 9-0 ATS when priced as an underdog of +4.5 or less points.The worst category for underdogs has been if they were off an upset win.  In that instance, they've burned money with a 10-13 (43.4%) record.With respect to over/unders, the games have largely been high-scoring, with the Overs going 71-59-3.  In this set, the division games have largely been responsible for the Overs, as they've gone 27-17-1 Over, while non-division games have gone 44-42-2 Over.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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2020 NCAA Football Trends Through Week 7

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2020

The NCAA Football season has completed seven weeks.  Meanwhile, the Big 10 Conference will play its first games this week.  So, it's a good time to take stock of what we've seen so far in this 2020 season.The most noticeable trend has been that underdogs have done very well against the point spread.  Overall, underdogs are 80-60-2 ATS.  And dogs have done well both at home (33-22-1 ATS) and on the road (47-38-1 ATS).  If we go further within the numbers, we find that the biggest underdogs have done the best.  NCAA dogs getting more than 13 points have gone 36-19 ATS, including 28-10 ATS in conference games.  But underdogs of 13 or less points have only gone 44-41 ATS (21-16-1 ATS at home; 23-25-1 ATS on the road).Perhaps the most noteworthy trend has been to play on underdogs that did not own a winning record (which would include underdogs playing their first game of the season).  These puppies have barked the loudest, with a 65-35 ATS record.  In contrast, winning teams have gone just 15-25 ATS when installed as an underdog!Teams off an upset loss have not shown a tendency to bounce back this season, as they've gone 8-13 ATS vs. foes not off an upset loss.  And teams off an upset win have gone 12-13 ATS vs. foes not off an upset win.Interestingly, rested teams have gone 13-20 ATS vs. unrested opponents (5-10 ATS as a favorite; 8-10 ATS as an underdog).Finally, revenge-minded teams have gone 45-41-1 ATS, with the underdogs going 34-28-1 ATS, but the favorites lagging behind at 11-13 ATS.

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2020 NBA Playoffs: A Point Spread Recap

Monday, Oct 12, 2020

At the start of the NBA Playoffs, there were a lot of theories about which teams would do well in the Orlando bubble environment.  Would it be wise to take the points with the underdogs, or lay the points with the favorites?  Would the better-coached teams have an advantage, and so forth.  I was one of the handicappers who averred that the better NBA coaches would do very well, and speculated that the Miami Heat (Erik Spoelstra), Boston Celtics (Brad Stevens), and San Antonio Spurs (Gregg Popovich) would be the ones to watch.  Unfortunately, the Spurs' NBA-record streak of 22 consecutive Playoff appearances ended, so we never had the opportunity to see how Pop's troops would have performed in the Playoffs, but his team did go 5-3 ATS in the regular season bubble games.  And Boston (10-7 ATS) and Miami (16-5 ATS) certainly acquitted themselves well throughout the Playoffs.With respect to categories like favorites and underdogs, etc., what was most surprising was how evenly divided things turned out.  Let's review the numbers.There were 83 Playoff games played across the 15 series.  And exactly half the games were covered by the favorite (40-40-3 ATS).  Similarly, teams off a straight-up win also covered exactly 50% (43-43-3), as did teams off a straight-up loss (37-37-3 ATS).If one goes further into the numbers, one finds that the shorter-priced favorites did the worst.  Teams favored by less than four points were an awful 7-16-1 ATS, including 2-9-1 ATS off a win.  Meanwhile, teams favored from -4 to -6 points did the best, with a 16-6-1 ATS record, including 8-3 ATS off a win.The unders were profitable at 45-36-2.  And teams off a blowout loss by 15+ points went 11-9-1 ATS in the Playoffs (and 23-12-1 ATS if one includes the regular season bubble games).Finally, teams off back to back losses went 19-14-2 ATS, including 12-4-1 ATS if they weren't getting 5+ points.  Though teams down 2-games-to-none underperformed at 4-5 ATS.Good luck, as always....Al McMordie  

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2020 MLB Futures Bet: Los Angeles Dodgers to Win World Series

Thursday, Jul 16, 2020

Last season, we continued our great run with our futures wagers, as we hit the Washington Nationals (at 18-1 odds) to win the World Series.  And that followed closely on the heels of our 2019 College Basketball futures wager on Virginia (at 22-1 odds) to win the NCAA Basketball Championship.  And, of course, we also cashed the Houston Astros (at 10-1 odds) to win the 2017 World Series.  So, which team is our pick for 2020?  We're going to go with my hometown club, the Los Angeles Dodgers (currently at +400 at BetOnline Sportsbook).   Nothing has gone according to plan for the Dodgers over the last few seasons.  Indeed, last year, they entered the Playoffs as the prohibitive National League favorite, but succumbed in seven games to the Nationals in the NLCS.  Los Angeles hasn't won Baseball's top prize since 1988 but the shortened (60 game) season could be just what the doctor ordered for the Boys in Blue.  The Dodgers usually look like world beaters through most of the 162 games of a normal regular season, only to fade in the Autumn months.  They've won the NL West division the last seven seasons and made the World Series in two of the last three only to come home empty-handed.So, why do I believe this year will be different?  First, the Dodgers pulled off the biggest trade of the off-season when they acquired OF Mookie Betts and LHP David Price from the Red Sox in exchange for some prospects.  It's true that Price has opted out of the season due to the risk from COVID.  But that will do very little to hurt the Dodgers' chances.  That's because this pitching squad is deep -- with uber-prospect Dustin May ready to step in for Price, and others (like Josiah Gray and Tony Gonsolin) waiting in the wings if needed.  And if the pitching staff is deep, then the offense is the Grand Canyon.  No team is loaded with more young hitting and fielding talent than the Dodgers, which is why they could afford to part ways with Jeter Downs and Alex Verdugo in the swap with Boston.The experienced players on this club -- guys like Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, AJ Pollock, and Corey Seager -- will appreciate the short season.  Sixty games won't take its toll on this talented -- but often brittle -- cast of veterans which should should set them up for a deep run in the post-season and a third trip to the World Series in the last four years.  Look for the Dodgers to seal the deal this time.  Take L.A. at +400 to win the World Series.  As always, good luck...Al McMordie.

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Big Al's NFL Overtime Solution

Monday, Jan 06, 2020

There have been nine NFL playoff games since the new rule which allows a team to walk-off the field with a touchdown on the opening possession.2011  Broncos vs. Steelers  Result:  Broncos win on TD on 1st possession2011 Giants vs. 49ers         Result: Giants win on FG on 4th possession2012 Ravens vs. Broncos    Result: Ravens win on FG on 5th possession2014 Seahawks vs. Packers Result: Seahawks win on TD on 1st possession2015 Cardinals vs. Packers Result: Cardinals win on TD on 1st possession2016 Patriots vs. Falcons    Result: Patriots win on TD on 1st possession2018 Rams vs. Saints        Result:  Rams win on FG on 2nd possession2018 Patriots vs. Chiefs    Result: Patriots win on TD on 1st possession2019 Vikings vs. Saints    Result: Vikings win on TD on 1st possessionSix of the nine games have ended on the 1st possession.The longest was the Ravens/Broncos game, which lasted 16 minutes and 42 seconds (five possessions).The quarterbacks who never got to touch the ball in Overtime:Ben RoethlisbergerAaron Rodgers (twice)Matt RyanPatrick MahomesDrew BreesIf I was king of the world, I would have a 5th quarter, followed by sudden death, if still tied after 15 minutes.The NFL must have already considered (and discarded) that idea.Therefore, my next favorite idea is just a tweak on the current rule.  And maybe it's something that would be considered.I believe that a team should have to score not just a touchdown, but also a 2-point conversion if it wants to walk off the field after the first possession.  That would have changed the above outcomes from six of nine ending with one overtime possession to, maybe, just three of nine.That's a hugely more satisfying outcome.Further, a coach would have a myriad of things to consider when he was confronted with the choice of whether to go for a 2-point conversion following a score on an overtime's opening possession.One choice might be to just kick the extra point and let the overtime continue for at least one more possession (where you could only be BEAT) if the other team scored a touchdown and went for 2.Certainly, the team which plays defense on the opening possession would almost always go for 2 on a second possession, if down seven points, lest it kick a game-tying extra point only to give the ball back to its opponent with the possibility of then losing on a field goal on the overtime's 3rd possession.But, who knows?  So much would depend on the teams and their personnel.The strategic decisions would be fascinating.But, more importantly, it would greatly decrease the current unfairness of the existing format, and level out the vagaries of a coin flip.Just my thoughts...Al McMordie

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