Sports Picks For Sale - Al McMordie

Hot Streaks and Achievements

  • 613-514 Last 1127 FB; 188-136 NHL; 1020-797 L1817 Hoops; 252-207 L459 MLB
  • 166-97 NFL Prime Time; 279-224 Totals; 3179-2582 Last 5761 All Sports
  • 11 of 12 Winning NFL Seasons; Hoops: 503-407 in 2022-23; 465-398 in 2021-22; 319-247 in 2020-21


Al McMordie is the most honored technical sports handicapper in the country, with 53 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 31 years, Big Al has garnered 53 NUMBER ONE awards in football, basketball, baseball and hockey; 216 Top 5 finishes; and 416 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 2023-24, Al was #1 in the NCAA Bowls in Net Profit at, and had another winning NCAA Football season.

In 2023, Al was 503-407 in NBA/NCAA Hoops, and ranked #1 in NBA/NCAA Basketball Combined win percentage, return on risk, and net profit at (his 3rd straight year that he ranked #1 in NBA/NCAA return on risk).  Big Al also ranked #1 in NBA Playoffs win percentage, with a 37-18 record, and #3 in NCAA Basketball net profit.  And he won in the NFL for his 11th straight season.

In 2022, Big Al ranked #1 in NBA/NCAA Basketball Combined win percentage, return on risk, and net profit at, with a 469-392 record; and #2 in NBA Regular Season return on risk, with a 9.09% ROI.

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 2017, Al hit another NBA futures pick with Golden State (at -125) 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 23 of his 31 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 31 seasons (winning 23 of 31 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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MLB - Moneyline - Wed, Apr 24 @ 08:05 PM

Big Al's FREE MLB Winner!

Seattle Mariners vs Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers -116 (BetOnline)

At 8:05 pm, our complimentary selection is on the Texas Rangers over the Seattle Mariners. Veteran pitcher Jon Gray got a World Series ring when the Rangers beat the D-Backs last Fall. Although Gray didn't pitch in the first two post-season series against the Rays and Orioles, he had a relief a...

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NBA - Point Spread - Fri, Apr 26


Al McMordie's an awesome 452-351 in Hoops this season, and up $196,400 in Hoops the past 3+ seasons. Now, for Friday...


NBA - Point Spread - Thu, Apr 25


Al McMordie's an awesome 451-350 this hoops season, including 2-0 in the Playoffs (going into Tuesday) and has an NBA...


NBA - Point Spread - Thu, Apr 25


Al McMordie's 2-0 in the Playoffs (and 451-350 this hoops season) going into Tuesday. Here, pick up Big Al's NBA Hig...


NBA - Over / Under - Fri, Apr 26


Al McMordie's an awesome 12-2 his last 14 NBA Totals (and 26-12 his last 38), and is featuring his NBA Total of the M...


NHL - Moneyline - Wed, Apr 24


Al McMordie was 1-1 yesterday with a win on the Mavericks and a loss on the Suns. Big Al's an awesome 54-36 his last...


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NBA System of the Week: Play-In Tournament Edition

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024

The Play-In Tournament is ongoing.  Last night, the Los Angeles Lakers punched their ticket to the Playoffs with a 110-106 triumph over the New Orleans Pelicans, while the Sacramento Kings ousted the Golden State Warriors.  Tonight, the Eastern conference takes center stage, with the Philadelphia 76ers hosting the Miami Heat, and the Chicago Bulls welcoming the Atlanta Hawks to the Windy City.The Atlanta Hawks were annihilated, 157-115, by the Indiana Pacers in their final regular season game.  And that 42-point defeat was Atlanta's 6th straight loss, overall.  The good news for Quin Snyder's Hawks is that their blowout loss has triggered a nice NBA System, which has cashed 60.2% over the last 34 years.  What we want to do is play on any team away from home in the Playoffs or Play-In Tournament, if it was installed as an underdog (or PK) vs. a sub-.700 opponent, and lost its previous game by more than 20 points.  Since 1991, this system has gone 59-39 ATS.Of course, there's nothing wrong with 60.2%, but we can improve our win percentage to 83.3% (10-2 ATS) if our 'play-on' team (here, Atlanta) lost its previous game by more than 30 points, and was also off back-to-back defeats.Atlanta has been installed as a 3-point underdog vs. Chicago.  Look for the Hawks to upset the Bulls tonight.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NBA "Last Home Game" System of the Week

Sunday, Apr 14, 2024

Today is the final day of what has been an exciting NBA season.  Although we know which 20 teams are still left in contention, we don't yet know which teams will be in the Play-In games, nor which team will earn the #1 seed in the Western Conference.  I love handicapping the final days of the regular season because there are generally some very good situations that pop up.  And many of those involve taking teams in their final home game of the season.  For our NBA System of the Week, we're going to look at certain teams playing their final home game of the season.  What we want to do is play on any revenge-minded team, if it was favored by more than 5 points, and was playing its final home game.  Dating back to 1990, our trusty system has gone 95-58-6 (62.0% ATS), including 1-1 ATS earlier this week, with a win on the Denver Nuggets -7.5 over Minnesota, and a loss on the Phoenix Suns -9.5 over the LA Clippers.Today, we have three plays out of this angle (and possibly a fourth).  The three certain plays are all double-digit favorites:  Philadelphia over Brooklyn, Cleveland over Charlotte, and Sacramento over Portland.  And, then, one play is possible, depending on the closing number.  Orlando is currently favored by 4.5 points over Milwaukee.  So, if it moves a point higher, it would qualify.  Each of our home teams plays with revenge from a road defeat, so look for some 'home cooking' in their final home game of the season.[Editor's Note:  Orlando did close at -5.5, and qualified as a play.]Good luck, as always....Al McMordie

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MLB Futures Wager: Atlanta Braves to Win the 2024 World Series

Tuesday, Mar 19, 2024

With the Major League Baseball season starting tomorrow, in Seoul, South Korea, with a two-game series between the Dodgers and Padres, it's time for my annual MLB Futures prediction.  This season, I'm going to go with the Atlanta Braves.  In my opinion, the Braves were the most accomplished team in MLB last year.  Obviously, they didn't win the World Series but they had an amazing campaign in 2023 that included a League-best 104 wins, an MLB all-time team record (tied with the 2019 Twins) 307 home runs, the best overall player in the game (Ronald Acuna), a first baseman that led MLB with 54 of those HRs, and an ace that had 281 strikeouts at a time when it's hard to reach 200 in a season.  Not needing more than some tweaks in the off-season, the Braves added veteran LHP Chris Sale to their rotation and all indications are -- based on the Spring he's having -- that Sale is 100% and ready to contribute in a big way.     It's hard to believe that despite winning 104 games, the Braves will not be the team that most people will have their eyes on as we begin the 2024 season.  That distinction will belong to the Dodgers and it's not even close.  Although there will be pressure on the Braves to go deeper into the post-season come October, it pales in comparison to the microscope that Freddy Freeman, Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw and new arrivals Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto will be under in Tinseltown.  In the NL East division, the Phillies will once again keep the Braves honest over 162 regular season games.  But at the end of September, almost everyone expects that Atlanta will be Division Champs once again.  While the Dodgers and Padres should be formidable, there are so many questions to be answered with the changes both teams have undergone, it's hard to tell where they will end up.  But it's steady as she goes for the Braves -- as long as they can stay healthy.  Take Atlanta at +550 (at MGM Sportsbook) to win the 2024 MLB World Series.  As always, good luck...Al McMordie.

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NBA System of the Week

Sunday, Mar 17, 2024

When handicapping the NBA, I often will use revenge as a factor.  But I generally need a team to have done more than just lose to its opponent in the season's prior meeting.  Some of the other things I will look at would be the site of the previous meeting, the point spread in the previous meeting, the win percentage differential between the teams, the magnitude of the loss, and how many points our revenge-minded team gave up to its opponent.Certainly, scoring has been up in the NBA the last few years.  And one of my NBA regular season systems has been getting a lot of plays as a result.  That system goes against favorites (or PK'em teams) that scored 145 (or more) points in winning the season's previous meeting.  After giving up a lot of points to an opponent, the revenge-minded team no doubt will want to play harder defense the next time around.  And that's generally all we need to get the edge (and the cover) in the current game.  Since 1990, this system has clocked in with a 38-16 ATS record (70.3%), including 9-1 ATS if our revenge-minded team owned a winning record.  This system will have at least 3 more plays this season (including one tonight):March 17:  Atlanta Hawks + over Los Angeles ClippersMarch 25:  Indiana Pacers + over Los Angeles ClippersApril 4:  Atlanta Hawks + over Dallas MavericksThe Hawks +9.5 are a play, tonight, over the Clippers as a result of their 149-144 loss at home to the Clippers, on February 5.  And Indiana also gave up a lot of points to the Clippers in its prior meeting, as it lost 151-127 at home, on December 18.  And, finally, on April 4, the Hawks will look to avenge a 148-143 upset home loss to the Mavericks back on January 26.  Of note is the fact that the Pacers do own a winning record, so they will fall into the 9-1 ATS subset in their game on March 25 vs. the Clippers.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NCAA Tournament System of the Week

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2024

March Madness has officially arrived, and the power conferences have their tournaments this week.  Great situations always abound.  And one of the situations that I particularly like results from the schedule.  There are always rematches in the conference tournaments between teams that played at the end of the regular season, and then meet again in their very next game, at the start of the tourney.  I've always liked to focus on the teams that lost the meeting at season's end because their opponent might be a tad too overconfident after just winning a few days before.  But I don't just take any revenge-minded team.  Instead, I like to play on underdogs that were blown out by more than 10 points in that previous game.  Dating back 34 seasons, these teams have gone 55-38-2 ATS (59.1%).  Indeed, we had a play this afternoon (which I also released to my clients) on West Virginia +9.5 over Cincinnati.  Just three days ago, the Mountaineers were massacred by the Bearcats, 92-56, as an 11-point road underdog.  However, WVU almost turned the tables on Cincy when it mattered, and narrowly lost the tournament game (after leading by 16 in the second half), 90-85, as a huge underdog.There will be three more games from this system on Wednesday:  California +1.5 over Stanford, Fresno St. +5.5 over Wyoming, and Middle Tennessee St. +11 over Louisiana Tech.The Bears lost by 22 at Stanford, 80-58, last Thursday; the Bulldogs were wiped out by 39 points, 86-47, at home vs. Wyoming, this past Saturday; and the Blue Raiders were also routed on Saturday, 84-70, at Louisiana Tech.Look for these underdogs to bark loudly tomorrow.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NBA System of the Week

Monday, Feb 26, 2024

The NBA held its All-Star festivities last weekend, and the 30 teams returned from their extended break last Thursday.  I generally prefer to sit on the sidelines as a bettor in the first game after the All-Star Break since I like to give the teams an opportunity to shake off whatever rust might have developed in their week of rest.  But after that I'm ready to go.  And the All-Star Break can often provide us with some nice betting angles.  I'm going to use one of them here, as our NBA System of the Week.One of the things I like to do is play on teams that get off to bad starts after the All-Star Break.  After a week of rest, all the teams are generally refreshed and energized.  And they don't want to get off on an extended losing streak.  I like playing on NBA teams in the 3rd game after the All-Star Break when they're off back-to-back SU/ATS losses, and especially if our team is not favored by 4+ points.  Over the last 34 seasons, this angle has gone 63-41-1 ATS (60.5%).  This season, we have two plays.  On Monday, February 26, the Brooklyn Nets are a play at Memphis.  And on Tuesday, February 27, the Portland Trail Blazers will be a play at home vs. Miami.  And, though there's nothing wrong with a 63-41 record, we can improve our numbers substantially by focusing on the teams that also lost their last game going into the All-Star Break, SU/ATS.  Those teams riding 3-game (or worse) SU/ATS losing streaks have trotted out to a 28-11 ATS record in their third game after the All-Star Break.  And Both Brooklyn and Portland fall into that 28-11 ATS tightener.Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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NCAA Basketball System of the Week

Wednesday, Feb 14, 2024

The College Basketball season is in full swing right now.  And it will take center stage this week, as the NBA goes on hiatus with its All-Star Break.  A lot of bettors like to play on the top-level teams.  And there's certainly nothing wrong with that.  But I often like to mine the bottom-tier teams for gold.  And this week's featured NCAA system does just that.Here, we're going to take a look at one of the worst teams in College Basketball this season.  And that's DePaul.  The Blue Demons are 3-20 straight-up, and 8-15 ATS.  And they've been outscored by 15.60 ppg, while failing to cover the spread, on average, by 6.34 ppg.  Out of the universe of 360 Division 1 schools, ranks DePaul #299.Tonight, on Valentine's Day, the Blue Demons will host the #1 team in the country (and defending champions), Connecticut.  DePaul comes into this game on an 11-game losing streak, and have lost their last 3 games, ATS.  Those 3 losses were to Seton Hall (72-39), Xavier (93-68) and St. John's (85-57).  After losing 3 games, SU/ATS by large margins of 33, 25 and 28 points, very few bettors will have the stomach to go to the window to plunk down money on the Blue Demons.  But not me.  Indeed, I like DePaul tonight +24.5 points, as NCAA Basketball teams off 3 SU/ATS losses by more than 20 points have covered the spread 59.2% since 1990 (93-64-2 ATS).  One of this system's plays was last month on this same DePaul team.  It had lost its 3 prior games SU/ATS by 38, 25 and 26 points, yet got inside the 16-point spread that night vs. Butler in a 74-60 loss.  So, this system bodes well for DePaul tonight.  As does the fact that it is 38-15-2 ATS in conference games as an underdog of more than 5 points, if it scored less than 60 its last time out.  Take DePaul + the points.Join today for our Valentine's Day Special and get 9 Days Free.  I'm 268-210 this basketball season, and 1555-1262-34 (+ $168,380, based on $1,000 a play) the last 3+ years in Hoops.Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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NBA System of the Week

Sunday, Jan 28, 2024

Scoring is way up in the NBA compared to past seasons.  Indiana leads the league with a 124.9 scoring average, with MIlwaukee close behind at 124.5. Likewise, there are more blowouts than usual, as the NBA is on pace to set a record for games with 30-point (or greater) margins of victory (the current record is 79).One of the things I like to do as a handicapper is fade certain teams off high-scoring wins.  Let's take a look at an NBA system which does just that.What we want to do is play against any NBA road team which is coming off a blowout win by more than 15 points, if it scored at least 135 in that victory, and was not getting 10+ points in its current game.These teams have combined to go 91-125-3 ATS since 1990 (42.1%).Tomorrow night, we have a play from this angle, as the Milwaukee Bucks will be in Denver to play the Nuggets.  And the Bucks won their previous game at home, 141-117, vs. the New Orleans Pelicans, on Saturday.And although there's nothing wrong with a 58% ATS system, we will have even more ammunition to play on the Nuggets on Monday.  Consider that the Bucks are a brutal 1-22 ATS their last 23 as underdogs of more than 1 points, when they've owned a W/L percentage of .650 (or higher).  Look for Nikola Jokic & Co. to take care of business on Monday.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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NFL System of the Week

Sunday, Jan 07, 2024

It's the final week of the 2024 NFL regular season, and there are a lot of things still to be decided with regard to the Playoffs, so the games will certainly be entertaining.  As a sports handicapper, I try to approach the final week much as I do any other week, though there are exceptions, of course.  One of the things I look for when handicapping the NFL is to find good situations to take teams off losses, or go against teams off wins.  Obviously, it's not quite that simple, as I look for well-defined situations.  But many of my best systems involve -- at their core -- playing on teams after a bad game, or going against a team after a good game.  For our NFL System of the Week, we're going to look at one such situation.Last week, the Arizona Cardinals played their best game of the season.  They were an 11-point underdog at Philadelphia, and upset the Eagles, 35-31.  Most impressive was the fact that Arizona outyarded Philly, 449-275.  That was the most yards that Arizona's offense gained all season, as well as its biggest yardage differential (+174).In the NFL, teams that pull huge upsets like this tend to underperform the following week.  And that leads us to our NFL System of the Week.  What we want to do is:  Play against any team that won outright as a 10.5-point (or greater) underdog the previous week.  Indeed, dating back to 1991, NFL teams in this adverse situation have gone 36-69-4, 34.2% ATS!And, although there's nothing wrong with 69-36-4, we can improve our numbers by focusing on home underdogs (or PK) off upset road wins.  These powerless pups have gone just 6-24 ATS, including a woeful 0-8 ATS in division games.This Sunday afternoon, the Arizona Cardinals have been installed as a home underdog vs. division rival, Seattle, so all of the criteria for our main system, and these subsets, are met.Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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Big Al's NBA System of the Week

Sunday, Dec 31, 2023

As we close out the 2023 calendar year, the attention of many sports bettors will start to shift from football to basketball.  Of course, I've been focused on hoops since October (I'm 142-99-3 this basketball season), but a lot of bettors will wait for the football schedule to thin out before playing basketball.The NBA is about 40% through its regular season, and it's been an entertaining season.  There are many upstart teams in the Western Conference looking to dethrone the Denver Nuggets, including the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves.  The Eastern Conference, though, is being dominated by the usual suspects -- Boston, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.This season, scoring is way up, with the Indiana Pacers averaging 126 ppg, and Memphis at the bottom with "only" 107.2 ppg.  Overall, there are six teams averaging north of 120 ppg (Indiana, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Boston).  With higher scoring comes greater variance with regard to the point spread.  This season, the average final score has been 10.0 points away from the point spread, which is in line with the last several years.  Another by-product of higher scores is a greater number of blowouts.  And there have been 25 games so far decided by 30+ points, which is also similar to recent seasons.Here are the point spread differential data for the last 7 NBA seasons (with the number of 30-point blowouts in parentheses).2023-24:  10.0 point differential (25)2022-23:  9.76 point differential (46)2021-22:  10.64 point differential (79)2020-21:  10.69 point differential (59)2019-20:  9.87 point differential (40)2018-19:  9.92 point differential (56)2017-18:  9.44 point differential (40)And, to put this data into context, here are the numbers for 10, 20 and 30 seasons ago.2013-14:  9.18 point differential (39)2003-04:  8.80 point differential (23)1993-94 8.95 point differential (47)All of this background leads us to our NBA System of the Week.  What we want to do is:Play on any favorite with revenge from a loss by 30+ points earlier in the season.  Since 1990, this revenge angle has gone 113-91-2 ATS (55.3%).  Today, there is one play:  New Orleans -5.5 over the Los Angeles Lakers.  Earlier this month, the Pelicans and Lakers matched-up in Las Vegas, in the In-Season Tournament semi-finals.  Los Angeles blew out New Orleans, 133-89.  With revenge from that 44-point pasting on their minds, look for New Orleans to exact some revenge this evening.Good luck, as always,Al McMordie.   

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NFL System of the Week - Dec 23, 2023

Saturday, Dec 23, 2023

When it's holiday time, I like to turn to my late season NFL systems.  And there's one I have been using for years to put some gifts under the Christmas tree.  It combines several of my favorite elements into one very dependable system.  Let's take a look.Faithful followers know that one of the things I love to do when betting on NFL games is to take teams off a loss.  The NFL is an up-and-down league, and when you can get a team off a loss rather than a win, you'll give yourself a slight edge (and even better if your team is off a loss, and its opponent is off a win).Another thing I love is playing on home underdogs (or even PK'em teams).  The edge is a slight one -- since 1980, they've cashed 51.7% of the time -- but I'd rather be on the 51.7% side than the 48.3% side!When it comes to betting on the NFL around holiday time, I love the following system:Play on any home underdog (or PK) in the final five weeks of the regular season if it is off a straight-up loss, and it owns a W/L percentage of .450 (or better).Since 1980, our merry little system has rolled to a 112-69-5 ATS record.Of course, there are certain subsets that do better than others.  Some of the ones that stand out include: Underdogs of +4.5 (or more) points have gone 27-12 ATS.Fading opponents off an ATS loss is 55-25-1 ATS.Monday Night Football home teams have gone 11-2 ATS. Last week, we did have the Monday Night Football home underdog in play, as Seattle (+4) upset Philadelphia, 20-17.This week, we don't have any plays from my favored subsets, but we do have two plays from the general 112-69-5 ATS system.One game is Saturday, while the other is Sunday.Play on:  Pittsburgh +3 over Cincinnati, and Minnesota +3 over Detroit.Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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NBA In-Season Tournament: An ATS Review

Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

The NBA's inaugural In-Season Tournament has concluded its Group Play round, wherein each team played four games.  The Knockout round commences next week, with eight teams qualifying.  The games will be played on the higher seed's home court.Let's look at the quarterfinal match-ups for the Knockout round (odds courtesy of DraftKings):Monday, December 4Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers (Celtics -4.5, 236)New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings (Kings -4.5, 232)Tuesday, December 5New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks (Bucks -6.5, 222.5)Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers (Lakers -2, 223.5)Although all eight qualifiers own winning records, they are not the top four teams from each conference.  In the Eastern conference, four of its top six teams made the Knockout round, with the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers failing to advance.  And in the West, the qualifiers were the conferences #5, #6, #7 and #8 teams, with its top four (Timberwolves, Nuggets, Mavericks, Thunder) failing to reach the quarterfinals.  All eight teams, though, do currently have a winning record.In the Group Play round, a total of 60 games were played.  They broke down, as follows:Home teams:  30-27-3 ATSRoad teams:  27-30-3 ATSFavorites:  26-31-3 ATSUnderdogs:  31-26-3 ATSOvers:  30-30Unders:  30-30Home favorites:  18-19-1 ATSHome underdogs: 12-8-2 ATSRoad favorites: 8-12-2 ATSRoad underdogs:  19-18-1 ATSHome teams off a win:  18-8-1 ATSHome teams off a loss:  12-19-2 ATSRoad teams off a win:  12-16-2 ATSRoad teams off a loss:  15-14-1 ATSOff ATS loss (vs. foes that were not):  17-17-3 ATSOff ATS win (vs. foes that were not):  17-17-3 ATSWinning teams (vs. non-winning teams):  20-10-1 ATSLosing teams (vs. non-losing teams):  11-21-1 ATSRevenge-minded teams:  8-10-1 ATS, including 0-2 ATS with double-revengeTeams playing 3 games in 4 days (vs. foes that were not):  7-1-2 ATSTeams off upset loss (vs. foes that were not):  12-3-1 ATSTeams off upset win (vs. foes that were not): 16-9-1 ATSTeams playing back-to-back home games:  18-10-1 ATSTeams playing back-to-back road games:  12-14-2 ATSFavorites priced from -1 to -3 points:  7-6-2 ATSFavorites priced from -3.5 to -6.5 points:  7-16-1 ATSFavorites priced from -7 to -9.5 points:  7-7 ATSFavorites priced at -10 and higher:  5-2 ATSUnderdogs priced from +1 to +3 points:  6-7-2 ATSUnderdogs priced from +3.5 to +6.5 points:  16-7-1 ATSUnderdogs priced from +7 to +9.5 points:  7-7 ATSUnderdogs priced at +10 and higher:  2-5 ATSO/U Line priced less than 220:  5-7 OverO/U Line priced from 220 to 229.5:  10-16 OverO/U Line priced at 230 and higher:  15-7 OverGood luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NCAA Basketball Futures Wager: Purdue to Win the 2024 Championship

Saturday, Nov 04, 2023

Back in 2018, the Virginia Cavaliers were seeded #1 in the Men's NCAA basketball tournament, but became the first #1 seeded-team to lose to a #16 seed.  Maryland-Baltimore County was a whopping 20.5-point underdog, but upset the Cavaliers by a staggering 20 points.  That following season, I had Virginia as my futures play at 22-1 odds, as I thought the ignominy of losing to a #16 seed would fuel Tony Bennett's men throughout the season, and catapult them to a National Championship.  Indeed, it was my favorite futures play of any I have made in my 45 years of sports handicapping.  Sure enough, the Cavaliers played great that season, finished with a 29-3 record in the regular season, and were ranked as the #1 team for much of the season.  Not bad value for a 22-1 ticket.  They then finished off the job by winning their six games in the Tourney (and I pressed them every game along the way by playing them on the moneyline).I thought I would never have another opportunity to take a team on a futures bet that was coming off a loss to a #16 seed.  And that was for two reasons.  First, I didn't think I would see such an upset again in my lifetime (I'm old).  And, second, one not only has to get a #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed, but that team has to also have a reasonable chance to win the following season.  But, lo and behold, the Purdue Boilermakers have given us this opportunity.  They were seeded #1 last year, and got smacked, 63-58, by the 23-point underdog, Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (who almost pulled the trick 38 years earlier when they narrowly lost to #1-seeded Michigan, 59-55).  There was a chance that center Zach Edey would depart for the NBA.  But he elected to return to West Lafayette, and that cemented Purdue as a National Title contender.Matt Painter's team returns nine of its 10 rotation players from last season.  Only Brandon Newman (6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.1 apg) has departed.  The Boilers will also welcome two new players in Myles Colvin and Lance Jones.  Colvin is a 6'6" freshman guard with NBA potential, while Jones transferred from Southern Illinois, where he poured in 13.8 ppg and pulled down 3.1 boards last season.I like Painter as a coach (notwithstanding his post-season failures), and believe that Purdue will earn a #1 seed (they're ranked #3 in the preseason poll).  Currently, Purdue is 15-1 at BetMGM.  Take the Boilermakers to win the National Championship.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NBA Futures Wager: Boston Celtics to Win 2024 NBA Championship

Saturday, Oct 21, 2023

The NBA season tips off on Tuesday, October 24, and I'm excited for several reasons.  From a sports gambling standpoint, I've ranked #1 at in NBA/College Basketball combined for each of the last 3 years.  Number 1 in 2023, Number 1 in 2022, and Number 1 in 2021.  I love handicapping basketball, and this season promises to be another great one.I'm also excited because my favorite team -- the San Antonio Spurs -- will have Victor Wembanyama in Black and Silver.  With Wemby in the fold, the Spurs have an opportunity to build something special in the coming years (though they'll be at the bottom of the pack this season).The top of the pack looks cut-and-dried.  In the West, Denver and Phoenix are the Top 2, while the Celtics and Bucks should reach the Eastern Conference Finals.  Memphis, of course, will be hurt by Ja Morant's lengthy suspension.  But I do think the Grizzlies and Timberwolves will have very good seasons, and could round out the Top 4 in the West.  Out East, Cleveland and Miami should also reach the NBA Quarterfinals.  With apologies to Phoenix, Denver and Milwaukee, I think the Celtics are the league's best team, and will win it all this year.  Boston's currently +400 at DraftKings, BetMGM and BetRivers.  I love what Milwaukee did to acquire Damian Lillard.  And Bucks pick-and-rolls with Lillard and Antetokounmpo will be a nightmare for opponents to defend.  But I didn't like the preseason drama with Terry Stotts and Adrian Griffin, which led to Stotts resigning as an Assistant Coach on the eve of the season.  I thought his prior head coaching experience (and superb offensive mind) was going to greatly help Milwaukee, especially with defense-oriented Griffin being a rookie head coach.  But now Stotts is gone, and there's a hole on the staff.  That was enough to tip the scales to Boston for me.The Celtics were an unintended beneficiary of the Jrue Holiday/Damian Lillard transaction.  Holiday was re-routed to Boston, and the Celtics now have the perfect defensive anti-dote to Lillard.  I never loved Kristaps Porzingis as a Top 2 option, but now he's #3.  And he's going to get wide open looks in the Celtics offense.  The Celtics, who often saw their offense bog down in the Playoffs, are much more versatile now, and shouldn't have that problem anymore, with big man Porzingis being able to step out and shoot from long distance, and Holiday being able to post-up defenders down low.  Take Boston at +400 to win the 2024 NBA Championship.Good luck as always,Al McMordie

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NHL Futures Wager: Edmonton Oilers to Win the 2024 Stanley Cup

Sunday, Oct 08, 2023

For the 2023-2024 NHL season, our pre-season futures selection to win the Stanley Cup is the Edmonton Oilers, currently at 11-1 odds at FanDuel.  Everyone knows that the Oilers sported one of the greatest offenses in NHL history last season.  And chances are, that historic, high-scoring group -- Edmonton set an NHL record by converting on 32.4 % of its power plays in the regular season -- will be back and scoring at the same rate this season.  Having the best offensive player on the planet -- Connor McDavid with an incredible 153 points last season -- can mean that other players can almost go unnoticed, even if they would lead almost every other team in the league.  Such was the case with linemate Leon Draisaitl and his 128 points and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and his 104.  But the offensive firepower couldn't offset issues the Oilers had in the post-season as they fell to the eventual champion Golden Knights in the second round of the playoffs.   Part of the good news for the upcoming season -- and the reason we're betting on Edmonton to go much farther next spring -- is because young goaltender Stuart Skinner, who performed so brilliantly in the regular season while splitting time with veteran Jack Campbell (but faltered in the playoffs), should open this season as the #1 net-minder.  The 24-year-old simply wasn't ready for the post-season but last season's experience should serve him well as he gets ready to assume the #1 job in goal behind the most prolific offense in the league.  It will be up to Head Coach Jay Woodcroft -- beginning his third season in Edmonton -- to manage the two goalies effectively to insure that Skinner doesn't get over-worked before the playoffs, in which the Oilers are almost certain to appear.      The final piece of the puzzle for the Oilers will be for them to get full seasons out of the key injured players they had on the roster in 2022-2023.  If Evander Kane (28 points in 41 games), Ryan McLeod (just 57 games), and Warren Foegele (67 games) can avoid those injuries that befell them last season, then Edmonton should be able to take that next step and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.  Take the Edmonton Oilers to win the 2023-2024 Stanley Cup at 11-1 odds.  As always, good luck...Al McMordie. 

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NFL System of the Week

Thursday, Sep 21, 2023

The NFL Schedule-Maker tends to give each team 1 home and 1 road game to start the season.  But that's not always the case.  Sometimes, a team begins the season with 2 home games, while others start with 2 road games.  And, in very rare instances, the NFL has scheduled a team to play its first 3 games at home, or on the road.  But that hasn't happened since the 1991 season, when the Cardinals opened with 3 road games.  And, of course, there are other situations -- usually caused by hurricanes -- where the NFL schedule had to be changed because a team was forced to evacuate its local area.  That happened in 2005 with the Saints and Hurricane Katrina, and in 2008 with the Texans and Hurricane Ike.This Sunday, there will be four teams playing their home opener in Week 3:San Francisco 49ers (vs. New York Giants)Miami Dolphins (vs. Denver Broncos)Green Bay Packers (vs. New Orleans Saints)Las Vegas Raiders (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)And there will also be four teams playing their road opener:Atlanta Falcons (vs. Detroit Lions)Denver Broncos (vs. Miami Dolphins)New England Patriots (vs. New York Jets)Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Las Vegas Raiders)Of note, there are two games (Miami/Denver; Las Vegas/Pittsburgh) where a team is playing its home opener vs. an opponent playing its road opener.The knee-jerk reaction might be to play on home teams in Week 3 playing their home opener because they "will be excited to be at home."  Or play against a road team in Week 3 in its road opener because it "will be unaccustomed to a hostile environment."But does the data bear out either of these two hypotheses?It does not.  Indeed, since 1980, our home teams playing their home opener in Week 3 have gone 54-80-3 ATS, including 38-60-3 ATS as a favorite.  And our road teams playing their road opener in Week 3 have gone 76-60-4 ATS, including 61-43-2 ATS as an underdog.But what about our two games above, where a team, in Week 3, was playing its first road game against a team playing its first home game?  In this situation, the home teams have gone 6-18 ATS since 1980, including 2-11 ATS as a single-digit favorite (which fits both Miami and Las Vegas).Consider the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NFL Futures Wager: Los Angeles Chargers to Win the 2023 Super Bowl

Sunday, Sep 03, 2023

The 2023 NFL Season kicks off this Thursday, and there will be a lot of contenders for the Super Bowl trophy this season.  In the AFC, the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Ravens, Jets, Chargers, Jaguars and Dolphins all have an excellent shot to make the playoffs, and contend for the title.  The list is shorter in the NFC, but the Eagles, 49ers, Cowboys and even the Lions merit serious consideration.  All 12 of these teams have odds shorter than 30-1, with the Chiefs (+600), Eagles (+750) and Bills (+900) rating as the clubs with the best percentage chance.This season, I'm going to take a team with considerably longer odds.  And that's the Los Angeles Chargers, at 25-1 odds (currently available at DraftKings, PointsBet and BetRivers).  When we last saw Brandon Staley's men, they collapsed in the Wild Card round against Trevor Lawrence & the Jaguars.  The Chargers were staked to a 27-0 lead, then improbably lost, 31-30, when they managed just 3 points after intermission, and gave up 11 points in the final 5:25, including a 36-yard game-deciding field goal as time expired.  Many called for coach Staley's head after that defeat, but Dean Spanos retained his coach.  In the Draft, the Chargers addressed a major need when they selected WR Quentin Johnson from TCU.  The 6'4" rookie (with an 82" wingspan) has impressed in camp with his ability to make explosive plays downfield.  Last season, the Chargers were injury-ravaged, to say the least.  WR Keenan Allen missed 7 games with a lingering hamstring issue; LB Joey Bosa was injured in Week 3, and suited up just five times.  Mike Williams played 11 full games, but missed the Playoff game vs. Jacksonville.  Even QB Justin Herbert suffered fractured rib cartilege in Week 2, and also tore his labrum in his left shoulder (which was surgically repaired after the season).  He did play through his injuries, though, and finished 2nd in yardage (4739) and 3rd in completion percentage (68.2%).  Notwithstanding a lot of bad injury luck, the Chargers still had a good season, and made the Playoffs.  I expect them to take major strides this season, in Herbert's 4th season as a pro.A primary reason I like the Chargers this season is that they brought in Kellen Moore to be offensive coordinator.  In his 4-year tenure (2019-2022) as the OC for the Dallas Cowboys, his offense ranked among the Top 4 in the NFL in productivity.  With Austin Ekeler in the backfield, Herbert under center, and a trio of wide receivers, Moore has all the talent he needs to make this offense hum.  The Chargers defense is also solid, and will get a boost if ex-Pro Bowler JC Jackson returns to his 2021 form.  Jackson was another of the injured Chargers last season, and definitely underwhelmed in his limited action on the field.  He's targeting a September return, and hopes are high he plays like he did in New England.As I stated above, this season is as wide-open as I can remember.  And because it's so wide-open, I prefer to take a longer shot, rather than a team like, say, Buffalo with shorter odds.  It's not that I think Los Angeles is a better team than Buffalo.  But at 25-1 odds, I like its value more.  And in the past, I've hit some big futures tickets (Virginia at 22-1 odds to win the NCAA Basketball title; the Washington Nationals at 18-1 odds to win the World Series).  Take the Chargers to win the 2023 Super Bowl.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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NFL Preseason Totals System of the Week

Friday, Aug 18, 2023

It's the second week of the NFL Preseason and, as always, some teams are looking to make amends for poor showings in Week 1, while others are looking to build on their momentum after a great game.One of the things I like to do in the Preseason is look for certain teams to bounce back off bad offensive games.  And, with respect to Over/Unders, I really like playing games where BOTH teams have struggled offensively.  Not surprisingly, my mindset is to look for a counter-intuitive result, and for such games to go OVER the total.I've run the numbers through my trusty database, and use the following Preseason angle:Play on the OVER in NFL Preseason games where one team averages less than 10 points on offense, while its opponent averages less than 19.  Since 1996, these Preseason games have clocked in at a 58.8 percent rate.This week, there are 2 Preseason plays:  Carolina/NY Giants Over 38 and San Francisco/Denver Over 40.  And there's one tightener we can use to improve our win percentage further.  When the Over/Under line is less than 40, then our angle zooms to 45-25 OVER (64.2%).Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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NFL Preseason System of the Week

Sunday, Aug 13, 2023

Over the last 40+ years, the NFL's preseason schedule was -- for most teams -- four games, though some teams would play five games.  However, in 2021, the NFL reduced the preseason schedule, so now teams typically play three games (while those who play in the Hall of Fame Game will play four).One of the things I've liked to do over the years in preseason football is play against teams in Game 1 that went 4-0 (or 5-0) in the previous preseason when they were matched up against opponents who didn't go undefeated the prior season.Since 1983, such teams have been a soft 26-38-3 ATS, including 5-12-1 ATS as an underdog.Of course, going forward, it will be exceptionally rare for a team to go 4-0 since it would have to play in the Hall of Fame Game.  But, as good fortune would have it, last season, the Las Vegas Raiders played in the Hall of Fame Game (which they won), and finished with a 4-0 record.This season the Raiders will match up in Game 1 vs. the San Francisco 49ers, on Sunday, August 13.  And they've been installed as a 3.5-point underdog.We will play against Las Vegas, and lay the points with San Francisco for our NFL System of the Week.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NFL Preseason Hall of Fame Game 1983-2022

Monday, Jul 31, 2023

The 2023 NFL Preseason will kick off again in Canton, Ohio this season when the New York Jets take on the Cleveland Browns.The Browns are currently a 2-point favorite, with the over/under set at 33 points (at Circa Sportsbook).Let's take a look at the point spread history of the Hall of Fame Game since 1983.There have been 37 games played, with one of the 37 (Green Bay vs. Kansas City, in 2003) shortened by weather, so all wagers on that game were nullified.  In three seasons, the Hall of Fame Game wasn't played.  In 2011, the game was canceled due to an NFL lockout.  In 2016, the field was in poor condition due to weather.  And, of course, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the game to not be played.Thus, there have been 36 NFL Hall of Fame Games since 1983 with point spread results attached to them.  And we find that the favorites have gone 19-13-3 ATS.  The smaller favorites have tended to do much better than the bigger favorites.  When the line was -1 to -2.5, the favorite went 13-6-1 ATS.  But when the line was -3 (or more), the favorite has gone 6-7-2 ATS.Not all games had over/under lines.  The oddsmakers started posting O/U lines for the 1996 game.  Twelve of the 23 games have gone under the total while 11 have gone over the total.  Interestingly, when the O/U line has been less than 33 points, the Overs have gone 5-1, while the Unders have gone 6-1 when the posted total was greater than 35 points.One other thing to note:  teams that were undefeated the previous preseason have gone 2-3 ATS in the Hall of Fame Game.  And teams that had a winning record the previous preseason (as well as a better preseason record than their opponent) have gone 6-12-1 ATS.  And teams that had a losing record the previous preseason (as well as a worse preseason record than their opponent) have gone 11-8 ATS.  Finally, teams with a worse preseason record the previous preseason than their opponent have gone 15-9-1 ATS.  (Last season, the Jets were 3-0 SU, while the Browns were 1-2 SU.)I have won each of the last 11 NFL seasons, so don't miss a single winner.  Join today.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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USFL Point Spread Data 2022-23

Friday, Jul 28, 2023

The USFL has played two seasons since its founding, and the Birmingham Stallions have won the championship each year.  The two seasons, though, were very different in another respect.  In the first season, all the regular season games were played in Birmingham, Alabama, while the playoff games were played in Canton, Ohio.  However, in Season 2, the league moved its games to a pod format, such that two teams played their home games in Birmingham, two played in Canton, two played in Detroit, Michigan, and two played in Memphis, Tennessee.  The playoff semi-finals were played at the home fields of the higher seeds, while the title game was played in Canton.Because of these schedules, the league has had 34 home-sited games, and 52 neutral-sited games.Let's take a look at how the USFL's games for its first two seasons have gone, from a point spread perspective.Home teams:  12-21-1 ATSAway teams:  21-12-1 ATSFavorites:  36-46-3 ATSUnderdogs:  46-36-3 ATSFavorites priced from -7.5 to -13.5:  3-14 ATSFavorites priced from -3.5 to -7:  21-18-2 ATSFavorites priced from -1 to -3:  12-14-1 ATSOvers:  43-41-2Unders:  41-43-2O/U Line 30 to 39.5:  17-4-1 OverO/U Line 40 to 49.5:  26-37-1 OverTeams off a win (vs foes off a loss):  15-14-1 ATSTeams off back-to-back wins (vs. foes not off back-to-back wins):  16-11 ATSTeams off a SU/ATS win (vs. foes not off a SU/ATS win):  15-13-1 ATSTeams off back-to-back SU/ATS wins (vs. foes not off back-to-back SU/ATS wins):  11-9 ATSTeams off an ATS win vs. foes off an ATS loss:  15-14-1 ATSTeams off a double-digit win (vs. foes not off a double-digit win):  12-14-1 ATSTeams off a double-digit cover (vs. foes not off a double-digit cover):  13-8 ATSTeams off a double-digit loss (vs. foes not off a double-digit loss):  15-12 ATSTeams that failed to cover by double-digits (vs. foes that didn't fail to cover by double-digits):  11-14-1 ATSTeams off a double-digit loss vs. foes off a double-digit win:  4-2 ATSTeams that failed to cover by double-digits vs. foes off a double-digit cover:  2-6 ATSTeams playing with revenge:  28-27-3 ATSWinning teams vs. losing teams:  11-16 ATSBoth teams off Overs:  10-8-1 OverBoth teams off Unders:  8-10 OverGood luck, as always....Al McMordie

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Big Al's 2023 NBA Mock Draft and Best Bets

Wednesday, Jun 21, 2023

The 2023 NBA Draft is Thursday, at Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York.  The league's Draft Lottery was held last month, and the San Antonio Spurs walked away as the big winner, with the rights to draft French phenom, Victor Wembanyama, number 1.  But there's still much doubt about how the rest of the picks will go for the other 13 lottery slots.  Certainly, there will be many trades on Draft Day, which will wreak havoc with many Mock Draft predictions.  But I will still give it a go with my forecast of how the first 14 picks will turn out, and what I believe are the "Best Bets" for those who want to entertain themselves with some action on Thursday night.1. San Antonio Spurs - Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92, FranceThere's not much left to be said about Wemby, who ranks as (possibly) the best prospect ever in any professional sport.  Yes, he's that good.  For the uninitiated, just watch this highlights video ... He's a 7'5" center with an 8' wingspan, and can play both inside, and on the perimeter.  Because of his size, he can shoot over anyone, and has the ability to hit fade-away 3-point shots.  What is immediately apparent is how great his coordination is for a 7-footer.  He has the mobility and ball-handling skills of players a foot shorter.  And the bonus is that he has the demeanor of Tim Duncan or Kobe Bryant.  He takes the game ultra-seriously, and is competitive.  His mother, Elodie de Fautereau, was a former basketball player who competed in several French basketball leagues, and is currently a basketball coach.  No doubt she was a major influence.  His frame does need to be filled out (think, Kevin Durant), and injuries will always be a concern.  But if he can stay healthy, he should become an all-time great.2. Charlotte Hornets - Scoot Henderson, Ignite, G-LeagueThe first huge decision belongs to the Charlotte Hornets, who will need to choose between the "Best Available Player" (Henderson), or their "Best Positional Need" (Brandon Miller).  I've always been a guy who believes you draft the best player, and figure the rest out later, so I'll lean to Scoot Henderson, here.  The conflict, of course, for Charlotte, is that it already has a ball-dominant player in LaMelo Ball.  So, it might be reluctant to draft a point guard prospect in Henderson -- even though he might be the best lead guard prospect in years.  Henderson is an explosive athlete, with size, quickness and strength.  He's 6'2", 190 and has a wingspan of 6'9".  He's an aggressive attacker, and can absorb contact and will be deadly in the transition game, or in pick-and-roll offenses.  He is a willing and effective passer, and had a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.  Think Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook as what his ceiling could be.  His weakness -- if there is one -- is that he only hit 27% from 3-point range, so he'll need to work on his long-range shot.  But he's just 19 years old, so he will surely improve.  Watch Scoot finish with a reverse lay-up against Victor Wembanyama at the 6-second mark of this highlights video ... And then, in that same highlights reel, also look at his move against Wemby at the 2 minute, 35 second mark.  Henderson is too good to pass up at #2 in my opinion.  Look for Charlotte to take him, or to trade the pick to another team if it doesn't want to draft a point guard.3. Portland Trail Blazers - Brandon Miller, AlabamaBrandon Miller is the best wing player available in the draft.  He's 6'9", and led all freshmen with 18.8 ppg (which was #50 among all classes, combined).  Miller shot 45% from the field, including 44% from long-distance.  And he's also very good in transition, and can rebound (8.2 rpg).  Importantly, he's an unselfish player, and competes hard on the defensive end, and makes hustle plays.  And even though he's mostly viewed as a pull-up shooter, he's not afraid to take it hard to the rim.  Look at his drive at the 11:50 mark of this video ... Still, he needs to improve on finishing through contact.  And he will need to add some muscle to his frame.  But the NBA always loves scorers, and he can do that in spades.  Portland may very well trade this draft pick for a veteran star to pair with Damian Lillard.  Regardless of which team owns this pick, Miller will not slip past #3.4. Houston Rockets - Amen Thompson, City Reapers, Overtime EliteThe Houston Rockets were the biggest loser on Draft Lottery night.  Yes, it's true that the Detroit Pistons (who, along with Houston and San Antonio, had the best odds) fell one spot further, to #5.  But I would submit that there's scant difference between Picks 4-6 in this draft.  The reason Houston had a worse Lottery was that its Texas rival (with which Houston competes for fans) won the right to draft Victor Wembanyama.  To understand just how much this hurt Houston, watch this video of Rockets fans as the top four picks were revealed.  Houston now is confronted with looking up to the Spurs and Wemby for the next 20 years.  With respect to this pick, Houston could go in a number of directions.  It could pick the hometown hero, Jarace Walker, or go with Cam Whitmore.  But I'll go with Amen Thompson.  For the last few weeks, it was rumored that former Rocket, James Harden, would return to Houston.  But the winds have shifted, and Harden is now expected to stay with Philadelphia.  Given that development, Thompson makes the most sense at #4.  He's a 6'7", 210 pound point guard (but could play any of the 1-3 positions), with exceptional speed, quickness and explosive ability.  However, there are flaws in his game.  He shot just 25% from long distance, and needs to improve his decision-making, as he had a 1.74 assist to turnover ratio.  He also played against relatively-weak competition in the Overtime Elite league.  But there's no denying his athleticism.  Watch 80 seconds of this video from the 11:40 to the 13:00 mark to see his talents.  The cross-court pass at the 13 minute mark was pretty special. 5. Detroit Pistons - Jarace Walker, HoustonThe Detroit Pistons had the league's worst record last season, primarily because their best player, Cade Cunningham, was lost to injury early in the season.  Detroit recently hired Monty Williams as its head coach, and signed Williams to $12 million annual contract (2nd highest, behind Gregg Popovich).  Williams and GM Troy Weaver will get a great player here to play alongside Cunningham and Jaden Ivey.  I think Jarace Walker would be a great fit.  Walker is a 6'8", 235 pound, power forward, with a 7'2" wing span.  He has a great mid-range game, and can guard multiple positions, given his lateral quickness and size.  He's also an adept passer.  He'll need to improve his ball-handling, and his shooting from both the free throw and 3-point lines.   Look at his highlights in this video (check out the 12:43 through 14-minute mark).6. Orlando Magic - Cam Whitmore, VillanovaThe Orlando Magic landed last year's top rookie in Paolo Banchero (drafted #1), and own Picks #6 and #11 this season.  Besides Banchero, the Magic have a lot of young talent on their roster, like Franz Wagner, Caleb Houstan, Markelle Fultz, etc.  Orlando's biggest need is shooting, and better guard play, so Anthony Black might be a better fit.  But Whitmore may be too talented to pass up.  The Magic could go with Whitmore, and then address their shooting/playmaking needs with Pick #11, and/or choose to trade this pick, if the right offer comes along.  Whitmore is a 6'6", 234-pound wing, who plays above-the-rim (watch a collection of dunks in the first 60 seconds of this video).  He is a powerful, high-energy player who has blow-by speed, as well as a solid mid-range game.  He also shot 34% from 3-point territory and averaged 5.3 rebounds per game.  His primary weaknesses are his ball-handling ability and his willingness to pass (he averaged 0.7 assists per game).  7. Indiana Pacers - Taylor Hendricks, UCFTaylor Hendricks is a 6'9", 215-pound power forward from Central Florida.  He averaged 15 ppg, on 48% FG shooting (and 39% from 3-point territory).  He runs the floor well, so he will thrive in a transition offense, and he's also a very good defender, with strong lateral movement.  Watch his highlights at this video from the 3:43 mark to 4:50.  He does lack shot-creation skills, and will need to put on some muscle.  Indiana could use a power forward to pair with Myles Turner, so it will be happy to grab whoever remains among Walker, Whitmore and Hendricks.8. Washington Wizards - Anthony Black, ArkansasThe Washington Wizards hit the reset button with their trade of Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns, and enter this draft with the #8, #42 and #57 picks.  Needless to say, it would behoove GM Will Dawkins to swing for the fences with this first-round pick.  One option would be to take a shot with fast-risers Kobe Bufkin or Bilal Coulibaly.  But Anthony Black has been linked with Washington for a while, and I think he's the player headed to DC.  Black had a great freshman season at Arkansas.  He's a 6'7", 210 pound PG/SG, who has great playmaking skills (he averaged 4 assists per game).  He shot 50.3% inside the arc (though he struggled with his 3-point shooting, at 30%).   Ideally, he would be on a team with better outside shooters, so he can do what he's best at, and just run the offense.  The first 90 seconds of this highlights video will give you a great sense of what Black can do.9. Utah Jazz - Kobe Bufkin, MichiganAlong with Bilal Coulibaly, Kobe Bufkin has been the fastest riser up the draft board.  I believe at least one of those two will crack the Top 10 (and go as high as #8).  I prefer Bufkin over Coulibaly, so I'll slot the Michigan guard here at #9.  Bufkin is likely to be the highest collegiate non-freshman to be drafted (though he's 8.5 months younger than the Thompson brothers, who bypassed college to play in the Overtime Elite league).  He did not play much as a freshman (3 ppg in 10 minutes per game), but blossomed in his second season, teaming with coach Juwan Howard's freshman son, Jett (also considered to be a first-round pick).  Bufkin is a 6'4", 190 pound, southpaw shooting guard.  He averaged almost 14 ppg on 48% FG shooting, and increased his 3-point FG percentage from 22% to 35%.  He can get downhill, and convert at the rim, and has a solid handle and burst.  He's also a good defender, though he sometimes gambles too much for steals, and also fouls a little unnecessarily.  But those weaknesses will be improved with good coaching at the NBA level.  Bufkin declined to participate for teams in workouts this month, which has led many to speculate that he's been made a promise by an NBA franchise, which asked him to "shut it down" so another team wouldn't acquire interest.  If true, perhaps Orlando is targeting Bufkin at #11.  Unfortunately, I think the league has realized just how good he is, and I don't think he'll survive that long.  Check out Bufkin's highlights in the first 70 seconds of this video.10. Dallas Mavericks - Ausar Thompson, City Reapers, Overtime EliteIf someone like Kobe Bufkin (or even Bilal Coulibaly) is going to rise up the draft rankings, then that means another has to fall.  Many are looking at Cam Whitmore to be that player to drop.  And he may.  But I think Ausar Thompson is another candidate to fall.  But this #10 pick would be Thompson's floor.  And Dallas -- which tanked over its last couple of games to try to lock in a Top 10 pick -- could very well be the beneficiary if a player plummeted out of the Top 5 to #10.  Thompson played against soft competition in the Overtime Elite league, which is one reason why some teams might discount his statistics (16.3 ppg; 7.1 rpg; 6.1 apg).  And he's also (along with his twin brother, Amen) the oldest player among those considered to be lottery (top 14) picks.  Still, there's much to like about his skill-set.  He's a 6'7", 215 pound wing, with dynamic speed.  He can jump out of the gym, makes an impact on defense, and is a solid rebounder.  But he also needs to improve his jump shot and turnover rate (3.3 TO per game).  Watch this video to see why Thompson will be a Top 10 pick. 11. Orlando Magic - Bilal Coulibaly, Metropolitans 92, FranceJust a month ago, Bilal Coulibaly was projected to go late in the first round.  But he's risen sharply up the charts, and now could go as high as #8, while likely not falling below #13.  I believe Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti is targeting Coulibaly at #12.  Presti flew to France to watch him play earlier this month, and Coulibaly is the typical high upside player Presti is known to favor.  But it's very possible Coulibaly doesn't get to #12.  Orlando needs better guard play, so it could address that need with its #6 pick, and take Anthony Black, or it could grab a guy like Cason Wallace, here, at #11.  Or, it could just take a guy like Coulibaly, with monstrous upside, and figure out its guard situation later.  I'm a big believer in always taking players with great upside at this stage in the draft, so I'll tab the Frenchman with this #11 pick.  Coulibaly played alongside Victor Wembanyama for Mets 92 this season, and blossomed late in the year.  He's 6'7", 200 pounds, with a wingspan measured at 7'3".  He's unbelievably athletic, and plays above the rim.  Admittedly, he's still a bit raw, and will need to improve his shot creation, decision-making (his assist-to-turnover ratio is 1:1), and will have to put on weight.  But the tools are there for Coulibaly to be a special player.  Here's his highlight video.12. Oklahoma City Thunder - Dereck Lively, DukeIf Bilal Coulibaly is available, I would expect Oklahoma City to snag him.  But if Coulibaly is off the board, then look for GM Sam Presti to go with Duke's 7'1", 230 pound center, Dereck Lively.  A weakness for the Thunder last season was its defense against opposing centers.  Last year's (injured) #1 pick, Chet Holmgren, will hopefully return healthy this next season, and offer rim protection.  But Holmgren is a toothpick, so OKC could definitely use some additional size in the paint.  Lively would be a solid interior presence with his size, length and athleticism.  Lively has a 7'4" wingspan, and is a game-changer on the defensive end with his ability to alter and block shots.  He had 82 blocks last season, which led all freshmen in that category.  This video shows off his defensive skills (and dunking ability).  Not surprisingly, his highlight video doesn't show much beyond blocks and dunks, since he's a limited offensive player.  He will need to improve upon his 60% FT shooting and his tendency to foul (2.7 fouls in 20 mins per game).  He also will need to add strength, as he can get displaced under the basket, and only averaged 5.2 rebounds per game.13. Toronto Raptors - Cason Wallace, KentuckyCason Wallace had a tremendous freshman season for John Calipari's Wildcats.  Wallace is one of the best point guard prospects in the draft, and could go as high as #8 to Washington.  If he's still on the board at #13, don't be surprised if Toronto GM Bobby Webster pulls the trigger on Wallace.  Other possibilities include Indiana's Jalen Hood-Schifino or Baylor's Keyonte George.  Wallace averaged 11.7 ppg, 4.3 apg, and 2.0 steals.  He's 6'4", 195 pounds, and is an extremely physical defender and exceptional in transition defense.  He only shot 34.6% from 3-point territory at Kentucky, but was better in high school, so he should be able to improve his numbers at the NBA level.  He could develop into an elite defensive player like Marcus Smart.  Watch his impressive blocks at the 16:38 and 17:32 marks of this video. 14. New Orleans Pelicans - Jalen Hood-Schifino, IndianaThe New Orleans Pelicans own the final "Lottery" pick, at #14, but have been in active trade negotiations, and may use this pick in an effort to trade up in the draft.  There will be many talented players still on the board here, and one I love is Indiana's freshman combo guard, Jalen Hood-Schifino.  He's 6'5", 215 pounds, with a 6'10" wingspan. This past season, he averaged 13.5 ppg, 3.7 apg, and shot 41.7% from the floor for the Hoosiers.  It's true that he's not overly-athletic.  But he is very physical on offense and defense, excels in the pick and roll game, and has excellent court vision (watch this video for 45 seconds, starting at the 10 minute mark).  He'll be a guy who will excel in a half-court offense, but won't be as strong in transition.  He will also need to improve his long-range shooting, as he shot just 33% from 3-point territory.Best Bets:Kobe Bufkin Draft Position Under 13.5, -260 (Bet365)Ausar Thompson Draft Position Over 5.5, -400 (Bovada)Jarace Walker Draft Position Under 6.5, -105 (Bovada)Anthony Black Draft Position Under 8.5, -225 (Bovada)Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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Big Al's Belmont Stakes Preview

Saturday, Jun 03, 2023

The 155th running of the Belmont Stakes will take place next weekend at Belmont Park on the famously spacious 1 1/2 mile oval dirt track.  Last year we saw the winner of the Kentucky Derby show up here (Rich Strike) and the winner of the Preakness stay away (Early Voting).  This year will be the opposite as the popular Mage -- an emphatic winner on the first Saturday in May -- will set his sights on other summer races while Bob Baffert's National Treasure will try for the Baltimore-New York double.  But there will be as many as eight other runners in Saturday's third jewel including the horse that was just about everyone's top 3-year-old going into the Derby.  So with what should be a full and competitive field on Saturday, here is a preview:    Contenders:     National Treasure.  The Preakness is Bob Baffert's race it seems almost every year.  He won his record 8th second jewel almost three weeks ago at Pimlico with this son of Quality Road.  But Baffert also has three Belmont Stakes wins on his resume, the last two of which were Triple Crown Champions.  And while much of the "smart" money says that the Belmont's 12 furlongs is too long for National Treasure, you can bet that Baffert wouldn't be here with his horse if he didn't think he had a solid chance.  Having veteran jockey John Velazquez -- a fixture on the New York racing circuit for years -- back on board sure doesn't hurt.  And Johnny V has two Belmont wins to his credit as well     Tapit Trice.  If Bob Baffert owns the Preakness, the Belmont is Todd Pletcher's baby.  He's won this race four times, most recently a year ago with Mo Donegal.  Tapit Trice had a slow start in the Kentucky Derby and his late running strategy never fully materialized in that race.  His stalking style should however be perfect for the Belmont as there is plenty of early speed in here for him to run at.  I wouldn't over-emphasize Tapit Trice's Derby effort -- he won his last four races in a row before that.  Luis Saez will be back on board for the son of Tapit, who has sired four previous Belmont Stakes winners.  Most of the Pletcher attention in the Belmont will be on the return of Forte (see below) which should help Tapit Trice's odds, currently slated at around 3-1     Angel of Empire.  If ever there was a horse that seemed destined for this race, it's Brad Cox's son of Classic Empire.  The Derby unfolded almost exactly as you would expect for this horse as he was pretty far back throughout most of the 10 furlongs and then came running down the stretch chasing the leaders Mage and Two Phil's.  He didn't catch them but one can only imagine what the outcome would have been had they run another 1/4 mile.  We will find out today and Angel of Empire will have considerably less traffic to navigate than he did on the first Saturday in May so there are people who are salivating to bet him today at what should be decent odds (around 4-1 most likely)     Pretenders/Over-bet Horses:     Forte.  Yes, we're going to start our discussion of Belmont Pretenders with the likely favorite in the race.  Prior to the Derby, Forte was just about everyone's top 3YO in training.  But there were rumors about his health in the week leading up to the big race and his workouts were not good.  Then on the morning of the Derby, in consult with the track veterinarian, trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole decided to scratch the son of Violence.  Can you think of a worse scenario for a favorite than not having a race in over two months and having known health issues on top of that?  Yet Forte will likely have plenty of supporters along with probably the lowest odds at 2-1 or less.  Proceed with caution.     Arcangelo.  The Peter Pan Stakes is viewed as the major non-Triple Crown prep race for the Belmont.  It's run two weeks prior and on the same dirt track, albeit it at a lesser distance (nine furlongs).  But ironically few horses in history have completed the Peter Pan/Belmont double.  In fact, that feat has only been done once in the last 30 years (Tonalist 2014).  But there will still be plenty of attention paid to this son of Arrogate who won the Peter Pan in impressive fashion, digging in down the stretch for Florida-based trainer Jena Antonucci.  But it was a very weak field of runners that day and the speed figure of 97 would appear to be on the low side for competing in this race.  Derby winning jockey Javier Castellano will get back on board Arcangelo which will only serve to hype him up more but he is likely in over his head here     Live Longshots:     Tapit Shoes.  There are three horses entered for the Belmont that didn't run in either the Derby or Preakness (we already talked about Arcangelo).  Of these, the most intriguing is the son of Tapit trained by Brad Cox named Tapit Shoes.  Like Arcangelo, a first glance would suggest that his speed numbers don't match up to this field, however Tapit Shoes has been improving with every race and could turn in his biggest performance next Saturday at a big price.  Top New York jockey Jose Ortiz will climb aboard Tapit Shoes for the ride.  Along with Angel of Empire, and fifth-place Derby finisher Hit Show, Tapit Shoes offers a compelling one-two-three punch for leading trainer Cox who won this race two years ago with Essential Quality.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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Don't Follow the Money in XFL and USFL Games!

Saturday, May 13, 2023

The XFL Championship game was played Saturday night.  I released the Arlington Renegades +6 as my XFL Football Game of the Year 12 days ago, on May 1, following the conclusion of the semi-final games.  At kickoff, the Renegades were a 9.5-point underdog at Circa Sportsbook on the closing line.  Three hours before the game, I received an email from a client.  He wrote, "all the money is on DC.  Doesn't make me feel confident in (your Game of the Year) pick now."  Even though the steam was on the other side, I wasn't concerned.  I've been handicapping sports since 1978, and tracking point spread movement along the way.  One of the many things I've learned in my 45 years of handicapping is that you cannot simply "follow the money" if you want to be a successful bettor.  I don't even pay attention to the money moves when I analyze the games.  Indeed, most of the time (like here, with my XFL play), I'm releasing my picks at the start of the football week, or early in the morning with basketball, before the money has even come in on a side.Anyway, as I mentioned, I do track point spread movement -- even though it never even comes into play when I make my selections.  And one of the things I have been aware of is that the money has been HORRIBLE in these XFL and USFL football leagues.  On podcasts, I have often called these minor football leagues the "Overreaction Leagues."  What I mean by that is bettors and oddsmakers -- most likely due to the short histories of these leagues -- completely overreact to small samples of data.  I've hit 64% in the XFL/USFL the last two years by often taking advantage of what I've considered to be overreactions.So, when the line on Arlington moved from +6 to +9.5, my confidence wasn't daunted, given how bad the money has been this year in the USFL and XFL games.  Of course, I would have rather had +9.5 than +6.  But it didn't matter, as Arlington blew out DC from the get-go, and won outright, 35-26, for an easy XFL Game of the Year Winner.  Let's take a look at this year's XFL and USFL games to see just how bad the money has been (games that didn't move at least a half-point at Circa Sportsbook aren't listed).  All results are based on the closing line at Circa.XFL Football LeagueWeek 1Renegades (Open -2, Close -3.5), LoseRoughnecks (Open PK, Close -3), WinSea Dragons (Open +1, Close -3), LoseWeek 2Sea Dragons (Open +2, Close -4.5), LoseVipers (Open +1, Close -4), LoseBrahmas (Open -1, Close-4), WinRoughnecks (Open -3, Close -4.5), WinWeek 3Sea Dragons (Open PK, Close -4), TieRenegades (Open -6, Close -8), LoseRoughnecks (Open -4, Close -5), WinWeek 4Sea Dragons (Open -3, Close -5.5), WinRoughnecks (Open -9, Close -9.5), WinVipers (Open +7, Close +5.5), LoseBattlehawks (Open -2, Close -4), WinWeek 5Roughnecks (Open -3, Close -6.5), LoseBattlehawks (Open +3, Close +2), LoseGuardians (Open +9, Close +7), WinBrahmas (Open +2, Close +1), LoseWeek 6Sea Dragons (Open -6, Close -8.5), LoseVipers (Open +4, Close +2), LoseBrahmas (Open +5, Close +4), WinRoughnecks (Open +3, Close +2), LoseWeek 7Sea Dragons (Open -4, Close -5), WinGuardians (Open +12, Close +9), WinRoughnecks (Open -3, Close -4), LoseWeek 8Battlehawks (Open -4, Close -5), LoseGuardians (Open +2, Close -2), LoseRoughnecks (Open -4, Close -6.5), LoseSea Dragons (Open +2, Close -1.5), LoseWeek 9Roughnecks (Open -6, Close -6.5), LoseBrahmas (Open -1, Close -2), TieDefenders (Open -8, Close -10), LoseBattlehawks (Open -2, Close -3.5), LoseWeek 10Battlehawks (Open -7, Close -9), WinDefenders (Open -3, Close -4.5), LoseRoughnecks (Open +3, Close PK), WinSea Dragons (Open -6, Close -11.5), WinPlayoffs - SemifinalsRoughnecks (Open -6, Close -8), LoseSea Dragons (Open +6, Close PK), LosePlayoffs - ChampionshipDefenders (Open -6, Close -9.5), LoseThis season, in the XFL Football league, the sides that drew the money went 14-24-2 ATS.USFL Football LeagueWeek 1Stars (Open -2, Close -3.5), WinBreakers (Open -3, Close -7), TieWeek 2Breakers (Open -4, Close -7.5), LoseShowboats (Open +9, Close +5.5), LoseGenerals (Open -2, Close -7), WinStars (Open -3, Close -4), LoseWeek 3Stallions (Open -5, Close -8), LoseGamblers (Open +2, Close -8), LoseStars (Open -4, Close -7), LosePanthers (Open -3, Close -6), LoseWeek 4Gamblers (Open +3, Close +2), WinGenerals (Open +4, Close +2), LoseStallions (Open -6, Close -10), LoseWeek 5Maulers (Open +4, Close +3), WinGamblers (Open +6, Close +5.5), WinGenerals (Open -5, Close -7), LoseBreakers (Open -7, Close -7.5), LoseWeek 6Maulers (Open PK, Close -3), LoseStallions (Open -3, Close -5), WinBreakers (Open -6, Close -8), LoseGenerals (Open +3, Close -5.5), LoseWeek 7Stallions (Open -1, Close -4), TieMaulers (Open +4, Close -3), LoseGamblers (Open -3, Close -4), LoseGenerals (Open -4, Close -7.5), LoseWeek 8Maulers (Open +3, Close +1.5), WinStallions (Open -6, Close -7.5), LoseGenerals (Open +2, Close -3), Lose Breakers (Open -2, Close -3), WinWeek 9Maulers (Open +4, Close -2), WinShowboats (Open -1, Close -2), LoseGamblers (Open +5, Close +4.5), LoseGenerals (Open +4, Close -2.5), WinWeek 10Maulers (Open +4, Close +3.5), WinShowboats (Open +5, Close +4), LoseStars (Open +3.5, Close -1), LosePlayoffs - SemifinalsMaulers (Open +1, Close -3.5), WinBreakers (Open +4, Close +3.5), LosePlayoffs - ChampionshipStallions (Open -7, Close -9.5), Win[Editor's Note:  This article was originally written May 13, but has been updated throughout the USFL season following the initial publication.]In the USFL Football league, the sides that drew the money went 13-24-2 ATS.What we can see from this is that if you followed the money, you would have gone 27-48-4 ATS combined in XFL and USFL Football games this season.The bottom line is that if one wants to succeed at sports handicapping, it's best to have a sound methodology, and to stay true to it, while ignoring things like what others are betting on.  I couldn't care less where the money has gone, or what the public is betting on.  I don't go with or against either of those things; I just march to the beat of my own drum.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie 

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Big Al's 2023 Kentucky Derby Preview

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

After 2022 when an 80-1 horse -- who wasn't even in the field until a couple of days before the race -- crossed the finish line first, the question for the 149th Kentucky Derby is simply what will it do for an encore?  With a pretty wide-open field of runners only one thing appears certain: there won't be an 80-1 winner this Saturday.  And that's not to say that the longest shot in the starting gate doesn't have a chance, but rather that the "Rich Strike Effect" as it's been known to be called now, will ensure that every horse in the field gets bet to some extent.  So with that, here is a preview of some of the field for the most exciting two minutes in sports -- including the contenders, pretenders, and live longshots. Contenders: #15 - Forte.  The most accomplished horse in the race will deserve to the be the favorite come post time.  The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Violence has done little wrong in his career and an exciting Florida Derby win cemented his status as the one to beat.  But that doesn't mean there aren't reasons to take a stand against Forte.  For one thing, his running style -- while fine for a race like the the one at Gulfstream Park with 11 horses -- is not generally conducive to the Kentucky Derby.  Forte might be near the back of the pack early on, and that means having to navigate his way through a much larger field than any he's faced before.  He could win, but at a likely price of around 5-2, it might not be worth jumping on board to find out. #5 - Tapit Trice.  Another Pletcher trainee, this grey son of Tapit is likely to get you twice the odds of his stable mate.  But he took an easier road to the Derby than Forte, winning the Tampa Bay Derby and Toyota Blue Grass in his prior two races and winners of those generally don't come back to win the Derby.  Plus Tapit Trice is even slower early on in his races than Forte is, so you will have the same concerns with him regarding traffic and his ability to navigate his way home.  Add to that his post position being on the inside and he could have a lot more horses crowding him around the first turn.  But you can't deny his talent and he has seemingly gotten better with every race.  No one would blame you if you said Tapit Trice was your horse at a likely 5-1 closing odds.#14 - Angel of Empire.  The only trainer with more bullets in his holster this weekend than Pletcher is Brad Cox, who will send four horses to post on Saturday.  Of these, the standout is this son of Classic Empire.  Like Forte and Tapit Trice, he's done almost nothing wrong in getting here and you could argue that he's faced tougher competition in better races than those two.  It's hard to separate his performances from those of Forte but you'll be getting better odds on Angel of Empire, so that may make the decision easier.  There's been buzz on the track in the mornings due to Angel of Empire's impressive workouts and he likely will be bet below his 8-1 odds.  If there was concern that he's a cheap ($70K) PA-bred he's put those to rest by now.  And besides, we remember a PA-bred who did pretty well here a while ago (Smarty Jones). Pretenders (likely over-bet horses): #17 - Derma Sotogake.  The Japanese invader has garnered a ton of interest since winning the UAE Derby in dominating style back in March.  Many are saying he may be the horse that finally breaks the curse of winners coming over from that Dubai race and in fact he may get bet like it as well.  The problem is that there IS such a drought and the numbers are quite staggering.  Winners of the UAE Derby are 0 for 18 in the Run for the Roses and in two previous tries by Japanese runners, the best finish was Master Fencer who came in sixth after the Maximum Security DQ in 2019.  Some are saying this horse could be different.  Let's see it first before we commit our dollars at the windows.#6 - Kingsbarns.  He's an undefeated Pletcher runner with a 12-1 morning line.  Think he'll get bet?  Of course he will and his final odds will probably be below 10-1.  That may sound like a bargain, but the problem is two-fold.  The first is that he's too lightly raced with only three starts to his credit and none as a two-year old last year.  The second -- and probably bigger -- problem is that he just looks too slow.  He won the Louisiana Derby in his last race in gate-to-wire fashion but he faced a field of slow horses and the split times that he ran would put him well back in this field.  Like many Pletcher runners who aren't fully developed this time of year, Kingsbarns may have a bright future, but it will likely be later this year and beyond -- not on Saturday.#10 - Practical Move.  Not that long ago, horses from California were coming to Kentucky and owning the Derby.  But most of those were the result of one trainer -- Bob Baffert.  And Baffert showed he could take his horses away from the West Coast and win with them in Derby preps in Arkansas, Illinois, and other places.  Practical Move has run all his preps in California, and that's by design.  His trainer Tim Yakteen is based there and runs almost exclusively in the Golden State.  His record when he ships to other places is much worse than it is in his home base.  But this son of Practical Joke will get plenty of interest on Saturday as he won the premier event in California, the Santa Anita Derby and because he has the proper running style for the race.  He won't be a favorite for the win money but will be heavily used in the exotics.Live Longshots: #2 - Verifying.  The likely second-most bet Brad Cox runner battled like a champ with Tapit Trice all the way down the stretch in the Blue Grass only to lose by a nose.  But that loss may have unveiled a bona-fide star in the making.  This sun of Justify has gotten better with every race and if he does his Blue Grass performance one better, he should be right there on Saturday.  He also gets Churchill's leading rider of late, Tyler Gaffalione, and that's another plus in his column.  And he's been turning heads big time in his morning workouts.  So what's the problem?  His post position draw of #2 in a 20 horse field is horrible.  He may be fast enough to be near the lead but not on it and that could put him in a very difficult position.  But Verifying is 15-1 and with that #2 post, his odds could go up from there making him a very tempting proposition.#11 - Disarm.  In years past we've heard about the exploits of Steve Asmussen and the fact that despite being North America's winningest trainer, he's 0-for-twenty something in the Derby.  Last year turning for home it appeared Epicenter would give him his first blanket of roses but it was not to be.  So this year with only one horse in the race -- and a 30-1 outsider at that -- hardly anyone is talking about him.  And Asmussen just might prefer it this way.  But this son of Gun Runner who needed a third place finish in the recent Lexington Stakes just to get enough points to be here should not be dismissed.  He just might have the longest stride of any horse in the field and that could serve him very well on Saturday.  Leave him out of your exactas and trifectas at your own risk.#4 - Confidence Game.  More people familiar with racing have no doubt heard of jockey Kent Desormeaux than his brother the trainer.  But it's Keith and not Kent who will have a hand in this year's Derby with this son of Candy Ride.  He only cost $25,000 at auction and he went on to win the Grade II Rebel Stakes. So Confidence Game's owners -- how can you not root for a group called "Don't Tell My Wife Stables" -- are playing with house money at this point.  You'll get every bit of his 20-1 odds come post time and jockey James Graham has been known to ride a longshot or two to victory in Kentucky before.  If the track comes up muddy or sloppy on Saturday, elevate this one in your wagering.

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Home Dogs Don't Bark Loudly In NBA Post-Season!

Thursday, Apr 20, 2023

Generally speaking, I tend to stay away from home dogs in the NBA post-season.  This might surprise many of my long-term clients, as I love playing on certain NBA home dogs in the regular season.  And I love playing on certain home dogs in the post-seasons of other sports, like NCAAF, NFL, and NCAAB.  But, the facts don't lie:  home dogs have NOT done well over the long-term in the NBA post-season (but have been profitable in the post-seasons of the NFL, NCAAF and NCAAB).Let's take a look at the NBA numbers.Since 1990, NBA home dogs have gone 217-237-11 ATS (47.7%) in the NBA post-season.  In contrast, NBA home favorites have gone 1023-956-36 ATS (51.6%).And the home dogs have been poor across the board, in most technical situations:Off a win:  77-85-4 ATSOff a loss:  140-152-7 ATSOff back-to-back wins:  16-17-2 ATSOff back-to-back losses:  98-97-6 ATSOff an ATS win:  99-115-5 ATSOff an ATS loss:  97-111-4 ATSOff back-to-back ATS wins:  45-49-1 ATSOff back-to-back ATS losses:  56-55-3 ATSOff back-to-back SU/ATS wins:  15-15-1 ATSOff back-to-back SU/ATS losses:  53-51-3 ATSOff a double-digit win:  27-28-1 ATSOff a double-digit loss:  93-102-6 ATSCovered by 10+ last game:  42-54-2 ATSFailed by 10+ last game:  46-55-3 ATSLead in series:  24-28-2 ATSTrail in series:  158-161-7 ATSTied in series:  35-48-2 ATSIn elimination games:  74-84-5Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NBA 1st Round Match-Ups and Series Predictions

Saturday, Apr 15, 2023

The NBA's 1st Round of the Playoffs tips off today, so let's take a look at the match-ups and the pertinent stats.#3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. #6 Brooklyn NetsGame 1:  Saturday, April 15, 1:00 pmLine:  Philadelphia -8.5, O/U 213.5Series Odds:  76ers -1120; Nets +715Season Series:  Philadelphia 4-0Season Over/Under Results:  Over 3-1#2 Boston Celtics vs. #7 Atlanta HawksGame 1:  Saturday, April 15, 3:30 pmLine:  Boston -10, O/U 231.5Series Odds:  Celtics -1250; Hawks +820Season Series:  Boston 3-0Season Over/Under Results:  Over 2-1#4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #5 New York KnicksGame 1:  Saturday, April 15, 6:00 pmLine:  Cleveland -5.5, O/U 216.5Series Odds:  Cavaliers -195; Knicks +180Season Series:  New York 3-1Season Over/Under Results:  O/U split, 2-2#3 Sacramento Kings vs. #6 Golden State WarriorsGame 1:  Saturday, April 15, 8:30 pmLine:  Sacramento -1, O/U 237.5Series Odds:  Warriors -265; Kings +225Season Series:  Golden State 3-1Season Over/Under Results:  O/U split, 2-2#2 Memphis Grizzlies vs. #7 Los Angeles LakersGame 1:  Sunday, April 16, 3:00 pmLine:  Memphis -3.5, O/U 227Series Odds:  Grizzlies -145; Lakers +125Season Series:  Los Angeles 2-1Season Over/Under Results:  Under 3-0#1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. #8 Miami HeatGame 1:  Sunday, April 16, 5:30 pmLine:  Milwaukee -9, O/U 218.5Series Odds:  Bucks -905; Heat +645Season Series:  Teams split, 2-2Season Over/Under Results:  O/U split, 2-2#4 Phoenix Suns vs. #5 Los Angeles ClippersGame 1:  Sunday, April 16, 8:00 pmLine:  Phoenix -7, O/U 225.5Series Odds:  Suns -510; Clippers +405Season Series:  Teams split, 2-2Season Over/Under Results:  O/U split, 2-2#1 Denver Nuggets vs. #8 Minnesota TimberwolvesGame 1:  Sunday, April 16, 10:30 pmLine:  Denver -7.5, O/U 224.5Series Odds:  Nuggets -540; Timberwolves +425Season Series:  Teams split, 2-2Season Over/Under Results:  Over 3-1Based on my research, an important predictor of NBA Playoff series success is (not surprisingly) regular season series results.  As you can see above, there were two series sweeps this season:  Boston defeated Atlanta in all three games (including two in Atlanta), while Philadelphia was 4-0 vs. Brooklyn.  I would favor taking the Celtics and 76ers to win their respective series.  Admittedly, one has to lay a huge price on each of those series, but sometimes, one should go after the low-hanging fruit.  An alternate strategy might be to lay 1.5 (or 2.5) games with a series prop bet.  That way, one could get a better return on the wager, but one would lose if his team won the series 4 games to 3 (or 4 games to 2 if laying 2.5 games).Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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MLB Futures Wager: San Diego Padres to Win the 2023 World Series

Thursday, Mar 23, 2023

The 2023 Major League Baseball season will start in seven days, so it's time for me to pull out my crystal ball to forecast the World Series Champion seven-and-a-half months from now.  After cashing the Houston Astros at 10-1 odds in 2017, the Washington Nationals at 18-1 odds in 2019, and the Los Angeles Dodgers at 4-1 odds in 2020, I misfired the last two seasons with the Twins at 22-1 odds in 2021, and the Blue Jays at 9-1 odds last year.  This season, I'm going to go with a franchise which has never hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy - the San Diego Padres.  The current, best odds are 10-1, at both FanDuel and Caesars.After years of dominating the NL West, it appears the Dodgers may be taking a breather.  For the first time in a while, Los Angeles saved its free agent money and let the likes of Trea Turner, Justin Turner, and Cody Bellinger go elsewhere (not to mention Max Scherzer, who it let walk a year ago).  The respite may be no longer than one season however, as rumors have surfaced that the Dodgers are saving up to make a play for Shohei Ohtani, who will be a free agent after this season (and could sign the largest contract in sports history as a result).  Enter the Padres, who appear to be perfectly positioned to take advantage of this "Dodger dip."  San Diego has assembled a killer lineup which consists of multiple All-Stars, including Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts and Manny Machado (who just signed a new contract which will keep him in mustard and brown for the next 11 years).  And superstar infielder Fernando Tatis, Jr. is eligible to return from his suspension on April 20.  There may be teams in the league with better pitching (Mets, Braves, etc.).  But what the Padres lack with their top three of Darvish, Musgrove and Snell will be more than made up by an offensive line-up which could easily produce a franchise-record number of runs.  There appears to be no threat in their division outside of the down-graded Dodgers, so the Padres could have a big lead in the NL West heading into September which could allow them to ration their pitching resources down the stretch.  Take the San Diego Padres at 10-1 odds to win the 2023 World Series.  As always, good luck,Al McMordie.

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Why Fairleigh-Dickinson's Upset of Purdue Was The Biggest Ever!

Saturday, Mar 18, 2023

The morning after the Fairleigh-Dickinson Knights upset the Purdue Boilermakers as a 23-point underdog, it was commonly reported that the Knights had just a 1.6 percent chance (going into the game) of pulling the upset.  And while that number wasn't wrong, per se (if one just looked at the universe of results for 23-point underdogs since 1990), it also severely over-estimated the odds, if one dug deeper into the numbers.  And digging deeper is what we will do here.First, let's take a look at the overall results since 1990.Going into the Purdue/FDU game, there were 272 games with point spreads at exactly 23, of which four resulted in an upset.  Simple math says that four divided by 272 equals 1.47 percent.  So, in the big picture, one would be comfortable assigning the Knights roughly a 1.5 percent chance of knocking off #1-seeded Purdue.But this "big picture" ignores a very important fact.  This game occurred late in the season, and in a post-season tournament, to boot.  And, from my research, it's significantly harder to pull off a massive upset later in the season.  Let's dive into the numbers.Since 1990, there have been 1,577 games with point spreads between 21.5 and 24 points.  Of those, the underdog won outright in 28 of 1,577, or 1.77 percent.However, 26 of the 28 upsets occurred earlier in the season, at Game 16 or less, while just two upsets occurred at Game 17 forward.  So, if one breaks the College Basketball season into two parts, it becomes clear that pulling off a monstrous upset is easier earlier in the season.Since 1990, there were 1148 games played where a team favored between 21.5 and 24 points was playing its 16th (or less) game of the season.  And our favored teams lost 26 of those 1148 games, straight-up (2.26 percent).  In contrast, when our favored team was playing its 17th (or greater) game, then there were 429 games.  And the favorite (including Purdue vs. FDU) has gone 427-2 straight-up.  Indeed, going into the Purdue/FDU game, only ONCE in 428 games (one-fifth of one percent) had a team, favored between 21.5 and 24 points, lost at Game 17 forward.  And that occurred on February 19, 2003 when the Portland Pilots went into Gonzaga, and upset the Bulldogs, 72-68, as a 22-point underdog.For this study, I chose to circumscribe the data set to a point spread range of 21.5 to 24 points, so as to not contaminate the data with the results of (even higher) point spreads that result in much less upsets.  But we see the same early/late season dichotomy in games with point spreads north of 24 points.  Since 1990, there have been 1,803 games with point spreads at 24.5 (or higher).  Of those 1,803 games, there were eight upsets (two-fifths of one percent).  And all eight upsets occurred up until Game 16.  From Game 1 through Game 16, the record was 8-1492 (one-half of one percent), while at Game 17 forward, it was 0-303 (zero percent).I believe the primary reason this happens is that the numbers for the oddsmakers/bettors are less sharp earlier in the season, due to the paucity of data.  So, teams could be over-valued, or under-valued, as the case may be.  And there's a much greater chance for a big underdog to pull off a shocking upset (say, if a 22-point dog should have been a 19.5-point dog).  But later in the year, when teams have 15, 25, or (in the case of Purdue and FDU) 35 games under their belt, the teams are pretty much who we think they are.  So, you won't have the types of mis-priced games that might happen earlier in the season.When viewed in this context, Fairleigh-Dickinson's upset of Purdue was the BIGGEST upset in College Basketball history (or at least since 1990, the year my database starts).  No other team had ever won as an underdog of more than 22 points, at Game 17 forward!Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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NCAA Basketball System of the Week

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2023

The 2022-23 season is in its home stretch.  There's just six days left in the regular season, and several conferences have already commenced their Tournament schedule.  Throughout this week, schools will be honoring their Seniors in ceremonies before their final home game of the season.  In college basketball, the "Last Home Game" is often an emotional game, and it can be used as a handicapping tool to find an edge in a game.I have several Last Home Game systems that I use.  And I wanted to highlight one of them, here.When I consider how much importance to place on a team's final home game, one of my criteria is, "What's the team's home W/L record?"  After all, if a team is NOT a good home team, then does it really matter if it is playing its final home game of the season?  On the other hand, what if a team is undefeated at home?  Now, in that situation we may, indeed, be able to find some teams we DO want to bet on.So, using home win percentage as a starting point, let's first take a look at how NCAA teams do in their final home game if they're unbeaten at home.  And let's also establish a minimum number of home games played.  After all, if a team (for whatever reason) only played 4 home games during the season, we probably don't want to use that team in our data.  For our purposes, we're only going to consider teams that are playing at least their 10th home game of the season, and are undefeated at home up to that point.Since 1991, our teams playing their final home game that were unbeaten at home have gone 191-166-8 ATS.As a starting point, there's nothing horrible with 53.5%.  But we can improve our record by simply filtering the opponents, and only going against those with .500 (or better) SU/ATS records.  One of the reasons I like to go against good teams is that we want our undefeated at home team to be properly motivated.  With that additional criterion in place, our 191-166-8 ATS angle improves to 98-69-4 ATS, 58.6%.  Now, there's another criterion we can add to the mix which also will insure our home team will be motivated, and that's revenge.  When that factor is added, then our angle goes from 98-69-4 to 57-36-2 ATS!SYSTEM OF THE WEEK:  Play on any team in its final home game of the regular season, if it has an undefeated home record of 9-0 (or better), and is playing with revenge against an opponent with a .500 (or better) SU/ATS record.This upcoming week, our angle has one play.  It goes Saturday, March 4, and is on Nevada minus the points over UNLV.  Nevada is 14-0 at home this season, while UNLV has a W/L percentage of .607, and an ATS W/L percentage of .518.  And Nevada plays with revenge from a 68-62 defeat in Las Vegas, on January 28.There's also one additional motivational factor which makes this angle zoom from 57-36-2 to 9-1, 90% ATS.  And that's if our home team is off an upset loss.  And, as good fortune would have it, Nevada is also off an upset loss in its previous game, as it lost to Wyoming, 80-71, on Feb. 27.  There's no doubt the Wolfpack will be highly motivated in this Last Home Game.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie 

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Super Bowl Betting Trends - 1981 to 2022

Monday, Feb 06, 2023

Super Bowl LVII is a fascinating match-up between coach Andy Reid's current team (Kansas City Chiefs) and his former team (Philadelphia Eagles).  The Eagles have been installed as a 1.5-point favorite, with a total of 50.5 (all odds from BetMGM).Let's take a look at some historical trends.Dating back to 1981, there have been 42 Super Bowls.The underdogs have gone 23-17-2 ATS, including 2-3 at less than 3 points.And there have been 23 Overs against 19 Unders, including 3-2 Over in games with totals in the 49 to 52-point range.There have been 27 meetings between teams that played earlier in the current season, or in the previous season.The revenge-minded team (here, Philadelphia) has gone 15-12 SU and 16-10-1 ATS.  When the revenger did not cover the spread in the previous meeting, it has gone 8-11 SU and 9-9-1 ATS in the Super Bowl.  But if it covered the spread in the previous meeting, it's gone 7-1 SU/ATS in the Super Bowl (Philly did not cover the point spread in last season's loss to Kansas City).With regard to rematches from the current or former season, the Super Bowls have gone Under six of 12 times when the previous meeting went Over the total.  When the previous match-up went Under the total, the Super Bowl has gone Over the total in eight of 15.There have been 19 games that involved two teams that earned a Bye to start the Playoffs.  Eleven of those 19 games have gone Over the total.  The favorite covered the spread 50% of the time in those games (9-9-1 ATS), including 5-2 ATS when favored by 3 points or less.The team which averaged more points on offense has gone 19-23 SU and 15-25-2 ATS, while the team which gave up less points on defense has gone 28-14 SU and 22-18-2 ATS.  With respect to Super Bowl 57, the Eagles have given up less points on defense than have the Chiefs, while the two teams have scored exactly the same number of points on the season.The team with the better win percentage has gone 18-18 SU and 13-21-2 ATS, including 1-4 SU/0-5 ATS when it was off an ATS loss.The team with the better ATS win percentage (here, Philadelphia) has gone 24-14 SU and 23-13-2 ATS, including 10-3 SU/ATS when the Super Bowl was competitively-priced with a point spread of 3 points or less.I am wrapping up my 11th straight winning NFL season, and have released a Totals play in this game, as I look to stay red-hot (currently 21-1-2 my last 24 selections, as of this writing).  Don't miss my NFL Total of the Year!  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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NFL Conference Championship Games - 1980 to 2022

Friday, Jan 27, 2023

The 2023 NFL Conference Championship Round is this weekend.  And it's an intriguing set of games, as all four teams have a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl.  Let's take a look at how this round of the NFL playoffs has gone -- from a point spread perspective -- since 1980.Home teams:  46-38 ATSAway teams:  38-46 ATSFavorites:  45-38 ATSUnderdogs:  38-45 ATSHome underdogs:  7-6 ATSHome favorites:  39-31 ATSRoad favorites:  6-7 ATSRoad underdogs:  31-39 ATSDouble-digit underdogs 8-3 ATSDouble-digit favorites 3-8 ATSTeams off an ATS loss (vs. teams off an ATS win):  16-12 ATSTeams off back-to-back wins (vs. foes not off back-to-back wins):  18-10 ATSTeams off upset wins (vs. foes not off an upset win):  18-20 ATSTeams off back-to-back SU/ATS wins (vs. foes not off back-to-back SU/ATS wins):  18-20 ATSTeams off back-to-back ATS losses (vs. foes not off back-to-back ATS losses): 6-6 ATSRevenge-minded teams that lost to their opponent earlier in the season:  24-34 ATSTeams that made playoffs the previous season (vs. foes that did not):  21-21 ATSTeams with a better W/L record:  41-33 ATSTeams that scored 35 (or more) points in their previous game (vs. foes that did not):  13-21 ATSOvers:  44-37-3Unders:  37-44-3Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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NFL Wild Card Round, 1980-2022

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023

The 2023 NFL Wild Card Round is this weekend, so let's take a look at how this round of the NFL playoffs has shaped up from 1980 through 2022.Home teams:  81-71-6 ATSAway teams:  71-81-6 ATSFavorites:  73-79-6 ATSUnderdogs:  79-73-6 ATSHome underdogs:  16-8-2 ATSHome favorites:  65-63-4 ATSHome underdogs:  16-8-2 ATSRoad favorites:  8-16-2 ATSRoad underdogs:  63-65-4 ATSTeams off a loss (vs. teams off a win):  34-38-3 ATSTeams off an ATS loss (vs. teams off an ATS win):  44-46-5 ATSTeams off back-to-back losses:  18-15-1 ATSTeams off back-to-back wins (vs. foes not off back-to-back wins):  42-50-4 ATSTeams off upset losses (vs. foes not off an upset loss):  22-13-2 ATSTeams off upset wins (vs. foes not off an upset win):  15-29-3 ATSTeams off back-to-back SU/ATS wins (vs. foes not off back-to-back SU/ATS wins):  28-36-1 ATSTeams off back-to-back SU/ATS losses (vs. foes not off back-to-back SU/ATS losses):  14-9-1 ATSRevenge-minded teams that lost to their opponent earlier in the season:  49-37-5 ATSTeams that made playoffs the previous season (vs. foes that did not):  44-38-1 ATSTeams with a better W/L record:  61-57-4 ATSOvers:  68-87-3Unders:  87-68-3Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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Handicapping the NFL's Penultimate Week

Monday, Dec 26, 2022

There are two weeks to go in this NFL regular season.  But handicapping each of these weeks is fraught with challenges.  Some teams have already clinched a playoff berth; others are still fighting to get in; and yet others have already been eliminated.  But unlike the final week of the regular season, the penultimate (i.e., "next-to-last") week sees much less sitting of players to avoid injury (which is why Fantasy leagues play their championship in the penultimate week).Let's take a look at the point spread data from 1980 thru 2021 for the penultimate week.  There have been 633 games played.First, let's take a look at the Over/Unders.  The edge goes to the Unders.  They've gone 326-289-18 (53.0%).Now, let's review the data for the Sides.Underdogs have the decisive edge.  In the next-to-last week, the pups have barked loudly, with a 338-270-17 ATS record (55.5%).  Broken down, home underdogs have gone 120-87-7 ATS (57.9%), while road dogs have gone 218-183-10 ATS (54.3%).In matchups between winning teams, the home team has gone 68-57-2 ATS (54.4%).In matchups between losing teams, the home team has gone 57-53-4 ATS (51.8%).In matchups between a winning and non-winning team, the winning teams have gone 143-157-10 ATS (47.6%), including 68-73-4 ATS at home.In Monday Night games, the underdog has gone 28-13 ATS (68.2%), including 15-6 ATS home and 13-7 ATS on the road.The revenge-minded teams have gone 144-131-9 ATS (52.3%).Teams playing their final home game of the season have gone 227-225-10 ATS (50.2%), while teams playing their final road game of the season have gone 217-234-11 ATS (48.1%).And beware of the really bad teams that still playing with heart.  For example, NFL teams with a .250 (or worse) win percentage have gone 20-5 ATS (80.0%) in the next-to-last week of the season if they won their previous game.  That would apply to the Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville this week.  Conversely, really good teams, with a win percentage of .750 (or better), have gone just 13-16 ATS (44.8%) in the penultimate week off a straight-up loss.  An example of that for this week would be the Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans.Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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NBA In-Season Trends, 2022-23

Sunday, Dec 25, 2022

We're more than 30 games into the NBA season, so it's a great time to take stock of the betting trends that have developed over the first two months.  Here are our Top 12 most interesting ones (stats thru games of December 24, 2022).First,  NBA games with Over/Under lines greater than 234 points have gone 36-20 Under the total.Second, NBA games with Over/Under lines of 217 or less have gone 37-23 Over the total.Third, NBA double-digit underdogs have gone 34-23-6 ATS.Fourth, underdogs off an upset win have gone 63-42-2 ATS.Fifth, unrested teams have gone 60-44-3 ATS vs. rested opponents.Sixth, revenge-minded road favorites have gone 6-13 ATS.Seventh, home teams off a win have gone 75-51-4 ATS vs. foes off a loss.Eighth, home teams have gone 118-75-4 ATS vs. winning foes in non-division games.Ninth, home favorites off back to back SU/ATS losses have gone 13-28-1 ATS.Tenth, in match-ups of losing teams, road underdogs have gone 28-9-1 ATS.Eleventh, rested road teams, playing their 3rd game in four nights, are 16-32 ATS vs. foes not playing their 3rd game in four nights.And, twelfth, in match-ups of winning teams, the home team has gone 68-47-2 ATS.Good luck, as always,Al McMordie 

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2023 NCAA Basketball Futures Wager: Gonzaga to Win Championship

Sunday, Nov 06, 2022

After correctly predicting (in the preseason) two consecutive NCAA Basketball Championships with Virginia (22-1) and Baylor (12-1), I misfired last year with Gonzaga.   But if you don't succeed at first, try, try again!  So, with apologies to very good teams like Houston (currently 10-1 odds), Baylor (16-1) and Texas (30-1), I'm going to pull the trigger again on Gonzaga, which has odds at Caesars Sportsbook at 10-1 to win the title.Last season, Gonzaga featured Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren, who was drafted #2 by the Oklahoma City Thunder.  This year, Timme returns, and will lead an offense currently ranked #1 by  He'll be joined by UT-Chattanooga transfer, Malachi Smith (2022 Southern Conference Player of the Year), Julian Strawther, Rasir Bolton and Nolan Hickman.  One advantage that teams like Gonzaga and, say, Houston have this season is that they play in conferences that have little competition.  This allows them to generate a lot of wins and, by season's end, a relatively-high seed in the NCAA Tournament.  In contrast, Big 12 teams like Baylor, Texas, Kansas, Texas Tech and TCU will beat each other up and could be under-seeded in the Tournament.It's probably "now or never" for coach Mark Few's men.  This is Timme's final collegiate season.  And Gonzaga may be moving on to a Power conference like the Big 12, Pac 12, or Big East, as its Athletic Director, Chris Standiford, has discussed the possibility with the commissioners of those leagues.  Should Gonzaga leave the West Coast Conference, it will no longer be able to play a cupcake schedule, and its chances of attaining a #1 Tournament seed would be greatly impacted (Gonzaga has earned a #1 seed in four of five seasons).  But for now, Gonzaga has a built-in advantage by playing in the WCC.  I'll take Gonzaga at 10-1 odds to win the 2023 title.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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2022 Breeders' Cup Classic Preview

Wednesday, Nov 02, 2022

This Saturday the Breeders Cup World Thoroughbred Championships will be coming to Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, KY for the third time.  In 2015 when the event was here, we saw a rare feat when American Pharoah added the Breeders Cup Classic to the Triple Crown he had won earlier in the year, thus being the first horse to pull off horse racing's unofficial "Grand Slam" (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont, and Classic all in the same year).  He was quite a horse.  But this year, we may be witnessing a horse for the ages.  Flightline is an undefeated four-year-old colt by Tapit who has won all four of his races by an average of 12 lengths.  His speed figures are the highest since they started keeping these figures some 50 years ago and he is being compared to the great Secretariat.  His swan song will be the BC Classic on Saturday (approx. 5:40 pm post) as he will be retired to stud by his connections after the race, so it will be a coronation and an event not to be missed as he is the likely winner of the biggest race of the year.  But how do you make money on a horse that is likely to off at 1-5?  Let's focus on some potential longshots that could complete the exacta or trifecta in the Classic underneath Flightline.  First, there is the horse immediately to his outside (#5).  Hot Rod Charlie is another four-year-old by Oxbow who unlike Flightline -- who has been handled very carefully -- has danced every dance as they say.  He has 18 races to his credit and has rarely thrown in a clunker.  He competed in two of the three triple crown races last year, finishing third in the Derby and second in the Belmont.  He went on to win both the Haskel and Pennsylvania derby last summer and hasn't slowed down since, even running twice in Dubai this past winter, finishing first and second in those.  His only previous race here at Keeneland was a second place finish in the 2020 BC Juvenile.  He will likely be overlooked in the betting as his morning line odds are 15-1 but he could easily go off at 20-1 or higher.  He is a logical play underneath Flightline.Another older horse that no one is taking about is the four-year-old colt Olympiad (#7).  By top sire Speightstown, Olympiad was a late bloomer who didn't compete in last year's triple crown races but who has really come into his own since the latter half of 2021.  Since finishing fourth in last year's Cigar Mile, Olympiad has six of seven races, with five of those being Graded Stakes.  His last win -- which qualified him for the Classic -- was a two length score in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, run at the same 10 furlong distance as the Classic.  Like Hot Rod Charlie, Olympiad will be forgotten in the wagering, and could offer extreme value for a horse that has won eight of 12 lifetime starts.  His morning line is 10-1 and you're like to get better than that come post time. Regular rider Junior Alvarado will be aboard for Hall-of-Fame trainer Bill Mott.If you're looking for an even bigger longshot with a chance to hit underneath Flightline, then consider #3, Happy Saver.  A veteran in his group, the Todd Pletcher trained horse is a five-year-old son of Super Saver who was a well-beaten fourth by Hot Rod Charlie in the Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs on October 1.  But prior to that, Happy Saver reeled off five straight second-place finishes -- all in Graded Stakes races with two of those being Grade 1 affairs.  Among those second place finishes was June 11 at Belmont Park when Happy Saver was second to none other than Flightline in the Met Mile.  That is particularly interesting when you consider that the six lengths that he lost by in that race was the closest any horse has come to Flightline at the finish line (and the only time a horse finished within 10 lengths of him).  He has a chance to be the biggest price in the race -- 30-1 or higher -- which means he offers incredible value in the runner-up spot.The final horse to consider underneath Flightline is #1, Taiba.  Most of the attention for the three-year-olds in this race will be on Travers winner Epicenter.  But Taiba is trained by Bob Baffert, and it wouldn't be a BC Classic without Baffert.  Here is an interesting statistic:  Three-year-old horses have won four of the last eight BC Classics (Bayern, American Pharoah, Arrogate, and Authentic).  What one thing did those four 3YOs have in common?  They were all trained by Bob Baffert.  Taiba, the son of red hot sire Gun Runner, is a bit of a now horse with a lot of buzz, so whether or not he goes off at his morning line odds of 8-1 remains to be seen, but he could offer value underneath Flightline in the Exacta and Trifecta.  Regular rider Mike Smith comes in from California for the ride.So the bottom line in this year's Breeders Cup Classic is not to try to beat Flightline.  Sit back and enjoy history in the making and make some money in the exotics by pairing him with one or more of the aforementioned runners.  As always, good luck...Al McMordie.

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NBA Futures Wager: Phoenix Suns to Win the 2022-23 NBA Championship

Thursday, Oct 13, 2022

The Phoenix Suns won 64 games last season (eight games more than the #2-seeded Memphis Grizzlies), and were 51-21 in the regular season in 2020-21.  So, Phoenix has proved it can be a great regular season team.  The goal now is to make the transition to be a great team in the Playoffs.  Two years ago, the Suns came close when they lost 4-games-to-2 in the NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks.  But Phoenix flamed out badly last season when they lost the final two games of their 7-game series to Dallas by scores of 113-86 and 123-90.  Those last two blowout losses certainly left a mark, as nobody is giving the Suns credit for all they accomplished until that point.  To wit:  Phoenix currently is tied (with the Los Angeles Clippers) for the highest season win total (52.5 games) among the Western conference teams, but is well behind the Clippers and Golden State Warriors when it comes to NBA Championship odds.  And that is due to playoff pedigree.  So, Golden State has odds as low as +575 (Caesars).  The Clippers -- who have yet to win a title, but who have 2-time Champ Kawhi Leonard -- are even lower (+550) at DraftKings.  But the Suns' odds are as high as +1300 at Caesars!With futures wagers, I like playing on teams that suffered collapses in the playoffs the previous year.  I've always believed that serves as supreme motivation.  A classic example in the NBA is the San Antonio Spurs who did everything BUT win the title in 2013.  They were up by five points late in Game 6 in Miami, so the NBA was rolling the Larry O'Brien Trophy toward the court to get ready for the post-game celebration.  Of course, Ray Allen and the Miami Heat had other ideas, and the Spurs title hopes were dashed by a miraculous comeback win by the Heat.  But that series loss spurred the Spurs throughout the next season, and they steamrolled their opponents en route to a 5th NBA championship.  Admittedly, the Suns have NEVER won any championship, so they have less of a Playoffs well to draw from.  But I think this could be their season.  And the odds are a relative overlay.  Take the Suns at 13-1 odds (Caesars) to win the 2023 NBA championship.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NHL Hockey Futures Bet: Toronto Maple Leafs to Win the 2023 Stanley Cup

Thursday, Oct 06, 2022

The Predators and Sharks will kick off the NHL season (in Prague) this week, so it's time to unveil my pick to win this year's NHL Stanley Cup.  It will be a familiar selection since my futures pick is the same team I went with last year:  the Toronto Maple Leafs (at 10-1 odds (FanDuel)).  The Leafs have the best pure goal scorer in the NHL (which probably means in the World).  Connor McDavid might still be the best overall player in the game, but nobody can put the puck in the net as frequently and in as many different ways as Toronto's superstar Center, Auston Matthews.  The 25-year-old finished last season as the only 60-goal scorer in the league, and he did it in just 73 games.  Nobody would be surprised if Matthews led the league again this season and improved on the 60-goal bar.  But what about the rest of the team?  The Leafs need to take a serious step forward this season.  For six straight years, the Leafs have made the playoffs.  And for six straight seasons, they've gone packing after the first round.  Another season like that, and they need to seriously consider blowing it up (with the exception of Matthews).  One area where the Leafs have already blown it up is in goal.  Both of last season's net-minders -- Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek -- are out, and that's not necessarily a bad thing when you consider who they brought in.  Toronto got aggressive in the off-season and went after two potentially #1 goalies in Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov.  While Murray is the more experienced (but still only 28), it's the 25-year-old Russian who is potentially the long-term number one in net -- and don't be surprised if Samsonov is a Vezina Trophy winner one day.   The Leafs also addressed a defense that faltered badly at times last season, bringing in veterans Mark Giordano (trade from Seattle) and Jordie Benn (signed as a free agent).  Those two may not be the entire answer this team needs, but they're certainly a start.  Head Coach Sheldon Keefe will be back after a 54-win season -- by far his best result as an NHL skipper.  If Keefe can get this team to gel and play together like they're capable of -- beyond the regular season -- then they just might be hoisting the Cup at the end.  Take the Toronto Maple Leafs at 10-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.  As always, good luck...Al McMordie.

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Larry "Legend" Ness (1953-2022)

Wednesday, Sep 07, 2022

I am saddened by the sudden passing of my close friend, and colleague, Larry Ness.  Larry got his start in the handicapping profession when he was hand-picked by Jim Feist to be a panelist on the Proline TV show, and the host of Sports Desk, another handicapping show.  I recall watching those shows when I was a teenager, and always liked Larry the best -- not necessarily because he had the best win percentage, but because of his personality, his humor, and his overall manner.  Larry's skill-set went beyond handicapping.  He had the best memory of sports trivia of anyone I knew.  And he was so knowledgeable that he hosted a syndicated radio call-in show at Bally's in the early-to-mid 1990s.  I even called him one night to chat about the NBA in 1993.  Fast forward to 2000 and another friend of mine, Wayne Root, asked me to join The Winning Edge TV show.  Larry was part of the handicapping team, so I finally met Larry in person.  We quickly became great friends, and I think I probably talked to Larry 6 or 7 days a week for the last 22 years (and usually multiple times a day).  In our handicapping business, we often give our strongest plays a "signature" title.  Larry's signature release was his "Legend" play because -- whether or not Larry would want to admit it -- he was a handicapping Legend.  Larry didn't have many Legend plays -- maybe just one or two a month -- but his final selection that he released this past Sunday was, indeed, a Legend play.  It was on the Minnesota Twins +115 over the Chicago White Sox. Appropriately, it won.  And Larry "Legend" Ness went out a Winner.  Rest in peace, Larry.  You will be greatly missed.  Al McMordie 

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NFL Football Futures Bet: Buffalo Bills to Win 2023 Super Bowl

Saturday, Sep 03, 2022

The NFL season will kick off in five days, so I'm back with my crystal ball to forecast which team will hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.  Last year was not a good one for me in this Super Bowl futures department, as I had the Baltimore Ravens to win the 2022 championship.  Unfortunately, the Ravens would suffer injury-after-injury, including losses to their entire backfield.  Although they got off to an 8-3 record -- good enough for the top spot in the AFC -- they lost their last six games of the season, primarily due to QB Lamar Jackson's late-season injury which caused him to miss the final four games.  The experience of the Ravens last season should serve as a reminder that futures bets are awfully hard.  Yes, it's true that I've had spectacular success on my futures bets over the years.  But the fact remains that long-term bets are often spoiled by injuries.  Still, that won't deter me from pulling the trigger on a team this season, and I'm going with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.  Currently, the Bills are +650 at PointsBet, and I think all the pieces are in place for Buffalo to finally break through to win its first championship.  Indeed, Buffalo was (in my opinion) the best team in the NFL last year.  Unfortunately, it left 13 seconds too many on the clock after it seemingly scored the game-winning TD against Kansas City.  Patrick Mahomes took advantage, and pulled a rabbit out of his hat for the Chiefs to tie the game.  And then KC proceeded to win in overtime, with Allen never touching the ball again.  One good thing did come out of that defeat, and that was the NFL changing its overtime rule for Playoff games.  Now, both teams will get at least one possession.However, the playoff format introduced last season will continue, and that is a key reason why I like Buffalo.  Now, only two teams in the league get an all-important bye into the quarterfinals.  So, it's critical to earn the #1 seed in the AFC and NFC conferences to reduce the number of games needed to win from four to just three.Buffalo has the decided advantage going into the season because it will enjoy an easier schedule than its biggest rival, Kansas City.  The Chiefs play in perhaps the most difficult division in football, and have to play the Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders twice each.  In contrast, Buffalo's division rivals are the New York Jets, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.  And that's a key reason why Buffalo's Season Wins total has been posted at 11.5 wins, while Kansas City's is lower, at 10.5 wins.  If the Bills can snag the #1 seed, they'll surely be difficult to defeat at Highmark Stadium in the Playoffs, as they're 16-4 SU at home, and 12-6-2 ATS the past two seasons.  And they're 12-1 straight-up, and 8-4-1 ATS at home in the playoffs since 1981.  With last year's hard lesson always fresh in their mind, this post-season, the Bills won't snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  Instead, I expect them to not leave any room for error (not even 13 seconds), and believe they'll absolutely steamroll their opponents.  Take the Bills at +650 to win the 2023 Super Bowl. Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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Pacific Classic Stakes Preview

Thursday, Sep 01, 2022

Ninety five percent of people who watch at least one horse race during the year are the casual sports fans who turn it on for the first Saturday in May (the Kentucky Derby).  It's a real shame that this weekend those same folks won't be tuned in to see the Pacific Classic Stakes, race # 9 at Del Mar Race track, because they would potentially be witnessing one of the greatest athletes in the country today -- equine or otherwise.  Race fans have longed for another Secretariat, Forego, John Henry, Zenyatta, etc. and we may finally have one in the four-year-son of Tapit named Flightline.  Below, we'll dig deeper into this freak of nature as well as some of the others in Saturday evening's big race -- which is basically the West Coast version of the Travers Stakes.  Contenders:  #5 Flightline.  This John Sadler-trained superstar is undefeated in four career starts.  He was not part of the Triple Crown series last year when he was a 3 YO because Flightline was a little slower to develop, but once he went to the track, he could not be stopped.  Nobody has really come close to beating him and it seems as though every subsequent race is more impressive than the last.  But Flightline is not without his doubters.  The main argument that he's not a sure thing today is the fact that all of his races have been at a distance of 8 furlongs (one mile) or shorter and he has never been around two turns in a race.  Against this group, it may not matter.  Regular rider Flavien Prat will be aboard for Sadler who won the Breeders Cup Classic a few years ago with Accelerate.  If he's successful today, that same Breeders Cup Classic (at the same distance as today) in November is likely next for this star. #2 Country Grammar.  The only other horse in the field who appears to be even a slight threat to Flightline is this Bob Baffert-trained son of Tonalist.  While Flightline is a 4 YO with four races, Country Grammar is a year older and has raced 11 times and earned over $10 Million.  An afterthought after finishing 5th in the Travers as a 3 YO, Country Grammar came around in his four-year-old season, finishing first in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita and second in the Californian (also at Santa Anita).  He has been even better this year with second place finishes in the San Diego Handicap and $20 Million Saudi Cup and a victory in the Dubai World Cup.  Where Flightline has some question marks on being able to get the 1 1/4 mile distance today, there are no such concerns with Country Grammar who has done it multiple times already.  Johnny Velasquez comes in from New York to take the ride.  Clearly the second choice and if Flightline fades, this one is your logical winner. Live Longshot:   #4 Express Train.  While there is likely no other winner of this race besides the two already mentioned, this son of Union Rags offers an intriguing choice underneath in the exactas.  John Sherrifs of Zenyatta fame trains Express Train who has been on quite a roll lately.  Since finishing 6th in this race last year, Express Train has three firsts, one second, and one third in his five races, all at Santa Anita.  He has a very nice record at this track however, with three wins and one second-place finish in five starts at Del Mar.  Express Train is 12-1 on the morning line and with two losses to #6 Stilleto Boy (20-1) on his resume, don't be surprised if he goes up from there before post time.  Regular rider Victor Espinoza climbs back aboard.  Use him underneath Flightline and Country Grammar.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie 

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NFL Preseason Totals System

Sunday, Aug 28, 2022

The NFL preseason was shortened to 3 games in 2021.  From a handicapping standpoint, that reduced the number of opportunities.  But there are still some good situations, if you let them come to you.  Indeed, there's a nice over/under situation on today's card.The game we are going to look at involves the New York Giants and New York Jets.  Both of these teams come into the game off back-to-back wins.  The Giants defeated New England, 23-21, in Week 1.  And then they bested the Bengals, 25-22, last week.  The Jets pulled off two upsets in their games.  They went into Philly, and won, 24-21, to open the preseason.  And then they upset Atlanta, 24-16, here at the Meadowlands, this past Monday.The Jets are currently favored in this game by 4.5 points, while the over/under is 38.The knee-jerk reaction might be to look for a high-scoring game this afternoon.  After all, each team has played back-to-back games that totaled 40+ points.But as is often the case in sports betting, the obvious play isn't always the profitable play.  Consider that, over the past 27 preseasons, NFL games have gone 'under' the total 67% of the time when the two teams each were off back-to-back games that totaled 40+ points!In fact, we saw an example of this last night when the Cincinnati Bengals hosted the Los Angeles Rams.  Cincinnati's first two games this preseason were a 36-23 loss to Arizona, and a 25-22 defeat at the NY Giants.  Similarly, the Rams opened their preseason with a high-scoring game -- a 29-22 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.  And then they fell last week, 24-20, to the Houston Texans.  The over/under in the Rams/Bengals game yesterday was installed at 37 points.  And the game easily sailed under the posted number when Cincinnati prevailed, 16-7.I look for another low-scoring game this afternoon in the Meadowlands.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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2022 Travers Stakes Preview

Thursday, Aug 25, 2022

The Runhappy Travers Stakes, a Grade 1 race for 3YOs to be contested on the Saratoga dirt track at 10 furlongs this Saturday is also known as the mid-summer Derby (even though it's late summer by the time this race is run).  Its intent is to feature the best 3YO dirt horses in the country as they prep for bigger and better things in the fall, including perhaps running against elders in the Breeders Cup.  This year's field has some familiar names if you followed the Triple Crown this year.  In fact two of the winners of those three races -- Rich Strike from the Kentucky Derby and Early Voting from the Preakness -- are entered here.  But you may be surprised where those two horses are on our list below.  Contenders:#6 - Epicenter.  There are two familiar names in this category and one "new shooter."  Epicenter has been the model of consistency in every race of his career except his debut.  With six races this year already, he's danced almost every dance (he skipped the Belmont) and his dominant victory in the Jim Dandy Stakes in his last race over this same Saratoga course will make him a deserving favorite this afternoon.  The Steve Asmussen-trained son of Not This Time may still be getting better as he approaches the end of his 3-year-old campaign.  Joel Rosario gets back aboard for the ride.  Lots to like here, but you won't get much better than even money (if that) so if you're not a chalk player, you will have to look elsewhere.#1 - Cyberknife.  We talked this horse up before the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park and while that race was supposed to be a big coming out party for Taiba and Jack Christopher, it was instead this Brad Cox-trained son of Gun Runner who stole the show at odds of almost 8-1.  The Haskell was by far Cyberknife's best race of his young career but the truth of the matter is that when you look at his nine races only the Kentucky Derby and the Lecomte down in New Orleans were poor efforts.  His other races were stellar, with the Haskell being a real eye-opening performance.  Florent Geroux hasn't been riding much at this Saratoga meet, but he does have a win here in four mounts and he's been on Cyberknife in all nine of his races.  You just might get 7-2 on him and for some reason should Epicenter throw in a clunker today, Cyberknife should be right there.#5 - Artorius.  New shooters (horses who didn't run in the Triple Crown or Haskell or Jim Dandy) are nothing new to the Travers.  These are typically horses who weren't ready for the Triple Crown trail in the Spring but then developed later in the year.  Bob Baffert had a pair who won this race in back to back years in Arrogate (2016) and West Coast (2017). Chad Brown has three horses in here, but Artorius is the one who is getting most of the buzz.  He didn't run a race until this past April and only has three on his ledger.  His last one was an impressive victory in the restricted Curlin Stakes run on this track in late July.  He ran a big enough number in winning by four lengths that Brown and owners Juddmonte felt like it was worth taking a shot today.  The problem is you would want something like 8-1 on a horse like this in a field of accomplished Graded Stakes runners, and you're not going to get it.  Sill with leading rider Irad Ortiz aboard, Artorius is a compelling choice.  Pretenders:#2 - Rich Strike.  If you want to know what racing people think of the 80-1 Derby winner these days, you needn't look any further than Rich Strike's morning line here.  He is listed at 10-1 and that's probably being generous.  There are people who will bet the son of Keen Ice today for nostalgia purposes but the fact of the matter is that Rich Strike's story is much more compelling than his racing lines.  The incredible Derby run aside, Rich Strike just simply isn't fast enough to keep up with these horses today.  There would have to be a monumental pace melt down for him to even have a shot at third, and given how this track has been playing, that's not going to happen.  Enjoy Rich Strike's remarkable story and watch replays of his Derby as much as you want, but stay away from him at the betting windows.#8 - Zandon.  It's hard to remember a horse generating this much buzz whose only career victories were in his maiden race and in a weak Blue Grass Stakes field.  Chad Brown's son of Upstart has had a great campaign by just about any measure, but he's simply been the bridesmaid too many times, to too many of the horses in this field, to be taken seriously today as a win candidate.  Of course, once again people are buzzing about how great he looks on the track in the mornings, but they've been saying that before all of his races.  His losses in the Jim Dandy, Kentucky Derby, and Risen Star were really not that close when you look at them.  So, barring about three scratches in here, we will have to take a pass until we see him back in the winners circle.  He likely will go off once again around 3-1 and that's not worth it.Live Longshot:#7 - Early Voting.  The third Chad Brown-trained horse in this race won the Preakness at very nice odds of better than 5-1.  In that race, the son of Gun Runner sat off the early pace and then made one big move as they turned for home down the Pimlico stretch.  But Early Voting abandoned that successful strategy in the Jim Dandy and decided to go straight to the front on this track and that turned out to be suicide as he faded late to finish last that day.  If Early Voting can go back to his stalking strategy this afternoon, he just might be able to turn the tables on Epicenter, but you're going to want to demand value in order to find out.  Regular rider Jose Ortiz is back on board and it will be interesting to see if he decides to take a different approach today.  His morning line is 8-1 and you will want those odds or higher but if you get it, Early Voting offers an intriguing opportunity as a value play. 

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2022 Jim Dandy Stakes Preview

Thursday, Jul 28, 2022

As the three-year-old thoroughbred season kicks into high gear this summer, we have the most compelling and confusing situation we've had in quite some time.  If you add the Ohio Derby and Haskell into the mix along with of course the three Triple Crown Races, we have five different winners of these important 3YO Stakes.  The longshot Derby winner Rich Strike looks like a non-factor at this point, but the other four winners are serious contenders going forward with plenty of racing still to come.  Two of those four -- Early Voting (winner of the Preakness) and Tawny Port (winner of the Ohio Derby) -- are featured today in the Jim Dandy Stakes, a Grade 2 affair being contested as the ninth race on the card at Saratoga with an estimated post time of 5:37 pm. Yes, it's disappointing that only five horses are showing up for the Dandy today, and at first blush it seems like only one of the horses, #1 Western River, doesn't doesn't belong here.  So with that in mind, let's take a more detailed look at the four contenders:#2, Epicenter: The Steve Asmussen trained son of Not This Time had the Kentucky Derby seemingly in hand turning for home before 80-1 longshot Rich Strike shocked everyone and overtook him.  Epicenter then came back in the Preakness, which Rich Strike skipped, and ran second to Early Voting.  And therein lies the rub with Epicenter.  He seems to have a bad case of second-itis at this point and this is an awfully tough spot to try to break through, especially given that he hasn't been out since the Preakness.  His best chance is to stay close to the lead and try to launch a bid turning for home, but at what should be pretty short odds it's probably best to take a wait-and-see approach with him.#3, Tawny Port:  There's no trainer hotter than Brad Cox right now as he showed again when Cyberknife won the Haskell last weekend at odds of 7-1.  Cox has taken a different route with Tawny Port, a son of Pioneer of the Nile, that included the Lexington at Keeneland (which he won) only three weeks before the Ky Derby.  Tawny Port's Derby effort was much better than his 7th place finish would suggest and he then came back in late June and took the Ohio Derby over White Abarrio and Classic Causeway, who romped in his next race gate to wire.  Cox seems to know exactly what he's doing with Tawny Port, and Irad Ortiz -- who rode him to victory in the Ohio Derby -- will be back aboard today.  The odds on Tawny Port should be decent as he may be a bit overlooked.  He's a great win bet at anything 3-1 or higher.#4, Early Voting:  The Chad Brown-trained son of Gun Runner was ultra impressive in the Preakness after skipping the Derby, beating Epicenter by over a length.  He may be the controlling speed here, and so if Early Voting gets loose on the lead, he could wire this field.  You would prefer to see another race between the May 21 Preakness and this one, so if there's a knock on Early Voting, it's that he may not be in top condition here.  But you still have to like his chances today at a price, with regular rider Jose Ortiz aboard (Irad's brother, who's been having a very good Saratoga meet).  Like Tawny Port, Early Voting could offer some solid value.#5, Zandon:  He was the 'now' horse going into the first Saturday in May and he ran a huge race there, finishing third to Rich Strike and Epicenter.  But the Chad Brown-trained son of Upstart hasn't been out since that race, and that's almost three months ago, so he may very well need this race to get back to top form.  His last two workouts have been across the Saratoga dirt track that they're running on today, but the problem is that those workouts -- along with the ones he had at Belmont -- seem a little slow.  The other problem is that Zandon figures to be far back in this race -- probably last on the backstretch -- and he may not have much pace to run into.  Top jock Flavien Prat is back aboard for the ride, but at what figures to be a very short price, unless you're a big fan of this one, it's probably best to take a wait-and-see approach like Epicenter.

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2022 Haskell Stakes Preview

Saturday, Jul 23, 2022

With the three Triple Crown Races now in our rear-view mirror, the 3 year-old thoroughbred competition turns to the summer Derbys -- most notably the Travers, Haskell, and Pennsylvania Derby.  The Haskell is the first one on the slate this Saturday and it will once again be the spotlight race of the summer for New Jersey's Monmouth Park.  It's a bit disappointing that only eight runners are showing up for Saturday's nine furlong affair, but that could be due to the presence of a couple of big runners.  With that being said, as in most cases, there is an opportunity to make some money in the Haskell and so we present our contenders and pretenders for this weekend's big race. Contenders:  #7 - Jack Christopher.  If all you do every thoroughbred season is follow the Triple Crown races, then you likely have not heard of this Chad Brown-trained son of Munnings.  Jack Christopher was one of the hottest stars on the Triple Crown Trail at the end of last year, but had to skip the Breeders Cup in November and then wasn't ready for the Derby, Preakness or Belmont while recovering from his minor injury.  But that's not to say he didn't run on the same day as two of the Triple Crown races.  On Derby day, Jack Christopher made a successful return in the Pat Day Mile, winning easily despite a seven month layoff.  Then on Belmont Day, he was even more impressive in the Woody Stephens, crushing his competition by 10 lengths (he could've won by more).  This will be his first test around two turns and the nine furlongs of the Haskell represents the longest distance he's ever been asked to go, but there's nothing in his record to indicate that he can't do it.  Simply put -- despite not running in the Triple Crown races, Jack Christopher is the consensus choice right now as best 3YO in the country.  Due to the presence of the Baffert runner Taiba in here (see Pretenders section below), Jack Christopher is only the second choice in the field today at 3-2.  If for some reason he goes off at even money or higher, he would offer great value. #1 - Cyberknife.  With most people thinking this is a two-horse affair between Jack Christopher and Taiba, you might just get a very nice price on this Brad Cox-trained son of Gun Runner.  There are few trainers as hot as Cox right now and if you throw out his brutal trip in the Ky Derby, Cyberknife has done little wrong in his campaign.  He came back after the Derby defeat to take the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 12 and looks to be in the best form of his career.  That doesn't mean he can keep up with Jack Christopher, but with regular rider Florent Giroux aboard, Cyberknife makes an intriguing choice in the bottom of the exacta with Jack Christopher, or as a Place bet.  Pretenders:  #2 - Taiba. There's no denying that Bob Baffert owns this race.  The California trainer has won the Haskell a record nine times.  People east of the Mississippi haven't seen much of Baffert lately as he's been effectively banned from running in New York and Kentucky due to suspicions of using banned substances but New Jersey is welcoming him this weekend.  Having said that, you can bet that Baffert and his horses will be under the microscope so whatever questionable medications Baffert is using -- or was thinking of using on his horse today -- will be left behind in California.  The other reason to toss Taiba today is the fact that he hasn't been out since his 12th place finish in the Ky Derby and the horse only has three lifetime starts so it's hard to imagine he'll be in top form to compete with the likes of Jack Christopher and Cyberknife.  He will be overbet and offers no value today.  #6 - White Abarrio.  You have to admire Saffie Joseph's son of Race Day who seems like he could run a race on the moon if Joseph wanted to ship him there.  He's been to Florida, Kentucky, and Ohio in his last three races but the problem is that his speed figures -- especially in his last race when he finished second to Tawny Port in the Ohio Derby -- appear to be on the decline.  Unless he can dramatically improve that number today, he stands to be a distant fourth at best.  People will probably bet the popular runner and at anything close to his morning line of 5-1, White Abarrio is a horse you want to take a strong stand against -- even in the exotic wagers (i.e., exacta and trifecta)  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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2022 Belmont Stakes Preview

Thursday, Jun 09, 2022

The 154th running of the Belmont Stakes will take place this weekend at Belmont Park on the famously spacious 1 1/2 mile, oval dirt track. It will go as Race #11 at approximately 6:44 pm.  Although there is no chance of a Triple Crown this year and a relatively short field of just eight runners, there are some intriguing angles to pursue.  Here is a look at Contenders, Pretenders, and a Live Longshot.  And don't miss my Belmont Stakes Winner, as I look to cash each leg of the Triple Crown this season (after winning on Epicenter to place in the Kentucky Derby (paid $7.40), and Early Voting to win in the Preakness (paid $13.40)).Contenders: #6 - Mo Donegal.  Simply put, Todd Pletcher loves Belmont Park and loves the Belmont Stakes.  He has won this race three times, each with a very different type of horse.  His first win was with a filly (Rags to Riches) and Pletcher is trying that angle again today with Nest.  But the most talented and accomplished runner in the race is his 3YO colt by Uncle Mo, Mo Donegal.  Mo Donegal ran all but one of his Kentucky Derby tune-ups in New York, including two races here at Belmont.  His final tune-up for Kentucky was a victory at Aqueduct Park in the Wood Memorial.  But Mo Donegal lost all chance at being adorned with the blanket of roses when he drew the rail position (#1) for the Derby.  Still, despite that and a hellish trip in the race, Mo Donegal rallied to finish a very strong 5th out of 20 runners.  Another run like that could easily win this race.  Being a closer, the only question is whether he will have enough pace to run into.  But the 12-furlong distance should play right into his hands if the front runners are tiring turning for home.  His class alone could easily get Pletcher his fourth Belmont Stakes on Saturday. #1 - We the People.  Not a name familiar to those who have been following the Triple Crown series, We the People skipped both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (he didn't have enough qualifying points to run in Kentucky).  But the son of Constitution has been impressive in most of his races and his 10-length victory right here at Belmont Park in the Peter Pan Stakes a week before the Preakness indicated that he was ready to take this logical next step.  And We the People has one thing that almost none of the other runners have:  Controlling Speed.  We the People could find himself alone on the front end on Saturday and if that happens, he could be very hard to run down.  The fact that he drew the #1 post position is icing on the cake for that type of running style.  Rudolphe Brisset is not a household name like Todd Pletcher or Bob Baffert, but he is a talented trainer whose time finally might have come. Pretenders: #4 - Rich Strike.  Just about everyone other than the connections of the horses he beat loves the rags-to-riches story of Rich Strike in the Kentucky Derby.  Like Mine That Bird, they will probably make a movie about his accomplishment on the first Saturday in May one day.  In a rare and calculated move, the owners and trainer Eric Reed decided to skip the Preakness and instead point to this race.  You would think that the way he closed at 10 furlongs at Churchill Downs, Rich Strike is going to LOVE the 12 furlongs here today.  But there were 19 other horses beating each other's brains out in the Derby and that's not going to be the case today.  Plus, we're still talking about a former $30,000 claimer which, if he came in here not having won the Derby, would be at least 20-1 in this spot.  So at 7-2, 4-1, or 5-1 even, Rich Strike is a horrible bet in the Belmont.  We wouldn't even bet him to hit the board or in the bottom of a trifecta against this group. # 3 - Nest.  As we said earlier, Todd Pletcher has won this race before with a filly.  That was 2007 with the brilliant Rags to Riches, and no filly has won the Belmont Stakes since.  Nest is a very nice horse, but she is no Rags to Riches or Rachel Alexandra.  She probably doesn't belong here, but you can't blame the connections for trying.  The daughter of Curlin was soundly beaten by Secret Oath in the Kentucky Oaks and that filly could finish no better than fourth in the Preakness.  She might be playable in the back end of the Trifecta, but that's about it Live Longshot: #7 - Golden Glider.  This Mark Casse-trained son of Ghostzapper offers bettors an intriguing alternative for their exactas and trifectas.  Golden Glider's last race was here at Belmont Park in the Peter Pan.  Nobody was going to catch We the People that day, but Golden Glider finished second and was the only horse making up ground at the end of the nine furlongs.  Another 3/8 mile might just be enough to narrow that gap to the point where Golden Glider is giving We the People all he can handle.  Golden Glider is 20-1 on the morning line and he just might go off at that price as nobody is talking about this horse or giving him any chance on Saturday.  Dylan Davis gets the mount on Golden Glider and there's no track in the country where having a local rider who's familiar with the oval is more critical than Belmont Park.  Keep an eye on his odds to see if any late money is coming in and wager accordingly.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NBA Playoffs 1991-2022: ATS Win Percentage of SU Winner; Average Line Differential

Monday, Jun 06, 2022

In Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors blew out the Boston Celtics, 107-88.  The key was to the victory was the Warriors’ 35-14 advantage in the third quarter.  And that was the 91st different quarter in these 2022 Playoffs where one team had a double-digit margin over the other.  That’s the all-time record for such blowout quarters, exceeding the previous high of 90 quarters in the 2017 playoffs.  The upshot of this is that we've seen a whole host of blowout games, and this NBA Playoffs is likely to set the record for the largest average point spread differential for its games (dating back to 1991).  Not surprisingly, we've had very few hotly-contested games.  And the straight-up winner has covered the spread in a relatively-high percentage of games.  The past two seasons have two of the four-highest ATS win percentages (for the SU winner) in the last 32 Playoff seasons (the 2021 season saw the SU winner go 81-4 ATS, for a 95.2% ATS record - the all-time high).To put this current season in an historical perspective, let's review the data from 1991 to 2022 (the 2022 data goes through June 5). -- Editor's note:  this data has now been updated to go through the end of the 2021-22 season, on June 16.NBA Playoffs, Year by Year ATS record of the team which won straight-up.And the average point spread differential of each playoff game.1991:  54-12-2, 81.8%, avg LD 9.251992: 57-14-2, 80.2%, avg LD 8.561993:  61-14-1, 81.3%, avg LD 7.891994:  63-14-0, 81.8%, avg LD 7.591995:  59-12-2, 83.0%, avg LD 10.281996:  52-16-0, 76.4%, avg LD, 9.971997: 52-18-2, 74.2%, avg LD, 8.021998: 57-13-1, 81.4%, avg LD, 9.141999: 54-12-0, 81.8%, avg LD, 9.502000:  57-15-3, 79.1%, avg LD, 8.772001:  59-10-2, 85.5%, avg LD, 9.692002:  50-19-2, 72.4%, avg LD, 8.132003: 75-11-2, 87.2%, avg LD, 9.022004:  62-17-3, 78.4%, avg LD, 8.092005: 75-8-1, 90.3%, avg LD, 9.622006:  70-16-3, 81.3%, avg LD, 9.282007:  61-14-4, 81.3%, avg LD 8.292008:  71-13-2, 84.5%, avg LD, 10.272009:  67-16-2, 80.7%, avg LD 10.422010:  74-7-1, 91.3%, avg LD 10.062011:  64-13-4, 83.1%, avg LD 8.462012:  66-15-3, 81.4%, avg LD 7.582013: 72-13, 84.7%, avg LD, 9.932014:  73-14-2, 83.9%, avg LD, 9.762015:  66-14-1, 82.5%, avg LD, 9.792016:  75-11, 87.2%, avg LD, 11.522017:  62-16-1, 79.4%, avg LD, 10.742018:  70-12, 85.3%, avg LD, 10.572019:  71-10-1, 87.6%, avg LD, 10.052020:  70-10-3, 87.5%, avg LD, 9.932021:  81-4, 95.2%, avg LD, 11.212022:  78-9, 89.6%, avg LD 11.89The average LD in Playoffs, 1991-2022, is 9.51The SU winner in a Playoff game has gone 2078-412-50, 83.4% ATSThis past regular season (2021-22), the average line differential was 10.62.In the 2020-21 regular season, the average line differential was 10.70.Indeed, the past two regular seasons have seen a big jump in this metric.  Historically, in the regular season, from 1990-91 to 2021-22 the average line differential was just 9.19.  And the past two post-seasons rank among the top 3 Playoffs (along with 2016) with the greatest line differentials.What immediately jumps out is how the points of an NBA point spread are becoming less "valuable."  And, of course, this has implications for teaser bets.  Say, for example, a sportsbook offers odds of -120 on a 2-team, 5-point NBA teaser.  That would have a much different value in 2022, when the average game in the regular season fell 10.62 points away from the point spread than even just a few years ago.Of course, based on this data, one should also consider the (negative) implications of buying half-points.  And given the relatively few times (13 of 168 the past two post-seasons) a Playoff game has resulted in an underdog losing SU, but covering the point spread, one may want to consider -- if one likes the underdog -- taking it on the moneyline rather than the point spread.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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2022 Preakness Stakes Preview

Friday, May 20, 2022

This weekend, they will run the 147th edition of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.  The biggest stories around Saturday's second jewel of the Triple Crown don't have as much to do with who is here as who isn't here.  Racing fans can usually rely on the Kentucky Derby winner making an appearance at Pimlico on the third Saturday in May.  But Rich Strike -- the 80-1 longshot who stunned the Derby two weeks ago -- is instead pointing toward the Belmont Stakes in three weeks.  There has been much written, and quite a bit of consternation, over the connections' decision not to bring Rich Strike to Baltimore.  But the simple fact of the matter is this:  Pimlico is an extremely speed-favoring dirt race track and Rich Strike's chances of repeating his amazing -- and unlikely -- stretch run from Louisville here in Maryland were slim to none.  In other words, they made the right decision whether people like it or not.  With that said, here are the contenders, pretenders, and live longshots for Saturday's race: Contenders: #8 - Epicenter.  Steve Asmussen's brilliant colt looked like he was a winner turning for home in the Derby, with only Zandon close to him as they came down the stretch.  But Rich Strike had other plans and Epicenter had to settle for second (there are worse fates than that).  Pimlico should be a completely different story.  Not only is there no Rich Strike here, but this race is shorter and the Pimlico track is a different animal altogether.  The only question for Epicenter is how he will come back in two weeks after such a grueling race at Churchill.  Those who don't like betting odds-on favorites will be forced to look elsewhere as Epicenter will likely be even money or 4-5 come post time #5 - Early Voting.  Trainer Chad Brown was obviously disappointed when Zandon made what looked like a winning run in the Derby only to finish third to Rich Strike and Epicenter.  He decided not to bring Zandon to Baltimore but has another talented runner in Early Voting.  Brown and owners Klavarich Stables are the same connections that won this race in 2017 with Cloud Computing.  Early Voting has plenty of early speed and one thing the son of Gun Runner doesn't want to do on Saturday is get into a speed duel, with Epicenter sitting off the pace ready to pounce down the stretch.  If Early Voting can harness his speed and Epicenter doesn't bring his "A" game, this race could be his for the taking.  The Preakness could be a two-horse race, and for those who don't want to settle for even money, Early Voting offers an attractive alternative. Pretenders:  #1 - Simplification.  The talented Antonio Sano-trained colt will likely find the winners circle a few more times in his career.  And with a fourth-place finish in the Derby, there will be more than a few people who will find his 5-1 or 6-1 Preakness odds too juicy to ignore.  But the fact is that Simplification is a notch below horses like Early Voting, Epicenter, and even the filly Secret Oath.  And the Florida prep races he came out of also appear to be sub-standard.  It's also interesting to note that regular rider Jose Ortiz jumped off of Simplification to get aboard Chad Brown's Early Voting.  Sano is one of the best trainers down in Gulfstream Park but when shipping outside of the Sunshine State, his numbers are not very good.  Sano's numbers are even worse when it comes to Graded Stakes races.  Yes, this is a very talented race horse.  But at likely odds of 6-1 in the win pool, other options should be more attractive. # 4- Secret Oath.  D. Wayne Lukas' daughter of Arrogate is arguably the most talented filly in training in the U.S.  She won the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Derby and no one can blame "The Coach" for running her today in the second jewel.  After all, six fillies have won this race and there is some recent precedence.  The great Rachel Alexandria won the Preakness in 2009 and Swiss Skydiver repeated that feat just two years ago.  But Secret Oath has already had a chance against the boys in the Arkansas Derby and she was a well-beaten third to winner Cyberknife (who finished 18th in the Derby).  There will be plenty of casual players who will be rooting for the only filly in the race and that will likely drive her odds down to 4-1 or lower.  Given that likelihood it is best to root for her from your couch and not your wallet. Live Longshots:  #7 - Armagnac.  No trainer has won more Preakness Stakes than Bob Baffert (he has seven).  And unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Baffert isn't welcome in the Triple Crown Races these days.  But that doesn't mean horses he started out training aren't going to make an appearance.  Armagnac is a 3YO son of Quality Road who was originally in Baffert's barn but is now being trained by Tim Yakteen.  All five of his races have been at Santa Anita and in his only two Stakes races he has fared poorly.  But Armagnac has the type of running style that might suit him to Pimlico this Saturday evening.  He gets one of the best jockeys in the country in Irad Ortiz and although he's probably not a win candidate, at 12-1 or more, Armagnac makes a compelling case for use in the bottom of an exacta.#9 - Skippylongstocking.  If there is a pace meltdown this Saturday, then it's not out of the question that a total bomb could get up and finish second in this race or even cross the wire first.  Just two weeks ago we saw an 80-1 shot come out of nowhere to win the Kentucky Derby.  And by almost any measure, this Saffie Joseph-trained colt is more accomplished coming into this race than Rich Strike was going into the Derby.  Skippy's sire is Exaggerator, who won this race back in 2016.  Skippy last ran in the Wood Memorial and was closing fast at the end of that race.  Underrated jockey Junior Alvarado, who's been aboard this colt in his last three races, gets the call again for the Preakness.  And at likely odds of 25-1, he offers a compelling alternative to the favorites.  One thing is for certain:  if a horse like Skippylongstocking can win the Preakness, then the connections of Rich Strike will be kicking themselves for their lack of confidence. Don't miss my Preakness Stakes winning info at the Shop Picks page.  I cashed the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, and have now cashed a fantastic 11 of the last 24 Triple Crown races, including many longshots!Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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2022 Kentucky Derby Preview

Friday, May 06, 2022

This year's Kentucky Derby would seem to have something for everyone.  Everyone, that is, unless you like betting on Bob Baffert horses.  But even though the superstar trainer -- whose horse crossed the finish line first last year but was later disqualified for a banned substance -- isn't allowed to be running horses at Churchill Downs, two of his horses are still represented in the big race.  So even for Baffert fans, there are opportunities in this latest edition of the Run for the Roses.  But there are also so many other angles to pursue.  So here is a preview of the some of the field for the most exciting two minutes in sports -- including the contenders, pretenders, likely over-bet favorites, and live longshots  Contenders:#3 - Epicenter.  Steve Asmussen's brilliant runner has done little wrong in his career winning four of his six races.  Yet the son of Not This Time is not likely to be the favorite, and may even go off at odds of 4-1 or higher (especially if Mattress Mack puts down several million dollars on Zandon, and doesn't bet on Epicenter).  Asmussen was something like 0 for his last 72 starts in the State of Kentucky but with a couple of wins on Oaks Saturday, he has removed that monkey from his back.  Some people are saying the #3 post position is a bad one, but with Epicenter's forward running style, it really shouldn't matter.  Top Jockey Joel Rosario will ride as he did in Epicenter's dominant victory in the Louisiana Derby.#10 - Zandon.  The Chad Brown trainee is likely to go off as a strong favorite - perhaps even as low as 2-1.  Like Epicenter, the son of Upstart has done little wrong in his career and there are few reasons to knock him.  The 10 post position is thought to be ideal for a horse with his running style.  Look for Flavien Pratt to sit chilly and look for that opportunity at the top of the stretch to unleash Zandon's deadly kick down the lane.  The only potential hiccup will be if he has nowhere to go behind a wall of horses.  He won't be facing 10 other runners like he was in the Blue Grass Stakes, but 19 others and most of them will be in front of him for most of the race. Pretenders:#15 - White Abarrio.  Saffie Joseph has come out of nowhere in less than 10 years to become the king of trainers in South Florida.  White Abarrio is just his second Derby runner.  And while he comes in with an impressive resume that includes wins in the Florida Derby and Holy Bull, there are giant question marks as to how his form will translate outside of the Sunshine State.  Indeed, in his only previous start shipping from Florida, White Abarrio was a well-beaten third right here at Churchill Downs in last year's Kentucky Jockey Club.  You will want at least 20-1 on this runner and you're not likely to get it.   #1 - Mo Donegal.  Like White Abarrio, Todd Pletcher's Mo Donegal is a homeboy trying to win the biggest race outside of his home state.  But instead of Florida, the son of Uncle Mo has been calling New York home.  Yes, Mo Donegal was impressive in winning the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct race track, but he only beat seven other runners, and won just barely (by a neck).  He drew the dreaded #1 post position for the Derby and although folks are saying it doesn't matter because he's just going to drop back anyway (he's not a front-running horse) one could easily see a scenario where he is hopelessly boxed in around the first turn getting dirt and mud kicked in his face before the race is even half over.  His late charge was barely enough against a weak field in New York -- it's unlikely it will get him to the winners circle here.  Like White Abarrio you will need 20 or 30-1 to make it worth your while and you won't get it.  Over-bet Favorites:  #6 Messier and #12 Taiba - Yes, we're going to put both of the former Bob Baffert horses -- now both trained by Tim Yakteen -- in this category.  Though neither will be the favorite in the Derby, both Messier and Taiba will likely be bet below their morning line odds of 8-1 and 12-1, respectively.  The recent success of California horses in the Derby will guarantee that you won't get fair odds on either of these horses.  They are the 1-2 finishers in the Santa Anita Derby, but what did they beat?  There were six horses in the field and the heavy favorite, Forbidden Kingdom, threw in a complete clunker and finished off the board.  Taiba especially should be avoided with just two lifetime starts to his credit.  He may end up being a superstar and future Breeders Cup winner, but this is just too tall of a mountain for a horse with so little experience.     Live Longshots:  #16 Cyberknife, #18 Tawny Port, #19 Zozos - Brad Cox has been arguably the best trainer in the country the last couple of years.  He trained Breeders Cup Classic winner Knicks Go and won the Eclipse Award for best trainer in 2021.  Oh, yeah, Cox also won last year's Derby after Medina Spirit was disqualified and his Mandaloun was declared the Champion (Mandaloun was my Kentucky Derby pick last year, and we cashed our across-the-board wager).  And unlike Bob Baffert (CA) and Chad Brown (NY) Cox is from right here in Louisville.  And yet he will have three runners in the Derby who are all likely to be 20-1 and higher.  The most obvious of the three -- from a betting perspective -- is Cyberknife.  The son of red-hot sire Gun Runner won the Arkansas Derby and will be piloted by Florent Giroux and is still being completely overlooked in the big race.  If Cyberknife is flying under the radar, then Cox's other two runners, Tawny Port and Zozos are in an underground bunker.  You will likely get 40-1 or higher on those runners.  #8 Charge It - No discussion of Derby longshots would be complete without a mention of Todd Pletcher.  The Hall of Fame trainer sends out three runners today.  And while one of them will be overbet from a poor post-position (Mo Donegal) and the other one (Pioneer of Medina) just looks too slow, Charge It offers some intriguing value.  The son of super sire Tapit hit the gate at the start of the Florida Derby and then came running late to finish second to White Abarrio.  He's been all the rage on the race track in the mornings with many saying that no horse looks better coming up to the big race.  Top Jockey Luis Saez won the Kentucky Oaks aboard Secret Oath so he knows how to win big races here.Good luck, as always,Al McMordie

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MLB Futures Wager: Toronto Blue Jays to Win the 2022 World Series

Sunday, Apr 03, 2022

The baseball gods must have been looking down from above, as management and labor settled their dispute surprisingly fast, and the season only suffered a minor delay.  So, Opening Day is this week, and it's time for our annual MLB Futures prediction (which can't be any worse than last season's 22-1 pick on the Minnesota Twins).Notwithstanding last year's stumble, 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.  In 2021, both my NBA (Milwaukee Bucks @ 13-2 odds) and College Basketball (Baylor @ 12-1 odds) futures bets paid off handsomely.  And, since we had no tournament in College Basketball in 2020, that was the 2nd straight NCAA Basketball season I hit my futures ticket, as I also had Virginia (at 22-1 odds) in the 2018-19 preseason (Virginia was my favorite Futures Wager of All-Time)!  Also in 2019, I 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 (2017, -125 odds; 2018, -160 odds), and Green Bay Packers (2011, 10-1 odds).This MLB season, we'll head north-of-the-border for our selection on Toronto at 9-1 odds.  Last season, the Blue Jays had one of the most talented rosters in their history.  It was a roster that included a Cy Young Award Winner and a young slugger who almost won the Triple Crown.  And yet, the 2021 Blue Jays failed to make the post-season despite winning 91 games.  They return this season with a team that is arguably even better -- one which is capable of the first 100-win season in franchise history.  That Cy Young starter -- Robbie Ray -- has moved on to Seattle, but an equally talented arm has come in to replace him, in Kevin Gausman.  The youngsters who drive much of the offense, namely Vlad Guerrero Jr, and Bo Bichette, are about to enter their prime.  And the Jays upgraded the hot corner with the acquisition of Matt Chapman.  Finally, their bullpen -- provided key pitchers don't suffer injuries -- shouldn't be an Achilles' heel this season.  It's true that the AL East division is loaded.  But the Yankees did not significantly improve an aging roster and are looking at a rotation which consists of Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, and then some combination of Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, and Nestor Cortes.  And the Red Sox didn't add any significant arms either.  Indeed, that team just received bad news regarding ace Chris Sale and his ailing ribs.  Of course, the Rays are always a threat, but it's hard to say exactly what their lineup or rotation will look like this spring -- let alone who will be left come August.  So that leaves the Jays as strong favorites in the East and a likely club to go deep into the post-season in October.  Take Toronto to win the 2022 World Series.  They're currently +900 at DraftKings.  As always, good luck...Al McMordie.

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2022 NCAA Basketball Tournament: A Point Spread Review

Saturday, Apr 02, 2022

The 2022 NCAA Basketball Tournament has certainly had a lot of surprises along the way.  But it wasn't as crazy as the 2021 Tourney, when there were a record-setting 16 wins by teams seeded 10 or worse (not including the "First Four" play-in round).  This tournament "only" had 13 wins by teams seeded 10 or worse.  But it did also have the historic journey of #15-seed Saint Peter's, which became the first team seeded 13 (or higher) to reach the Elite Eight round.  The 2021 event also had the most upsets (14) by a team seeded at least 5 spots worse than its opponent, but this tournament fell just shy of that mark with 12 such upsets.  But, like last year, when the final matched-up #1 seeds Baylor and Gonzaga, the cream eventually rose to the top this season, and we have three teams in the Final Four seeded #1 or #2.  Only #8 North Carolina is truly a dark horse.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.The most striking fact is that underdogs have done very well, as they've gone 33-26 ATS (with one game a PK).  Here is a breakdown by seeds:#1 seeds:  9-3 SU, 3-9 ATS#2 seeds: 9-2 SU, 8-3 ATS#3 seeds: 6-4 SU, 4-6 ATS#4 seeds: 8-4 SU, 5-7 ATS#5 seeds: 4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS#6 seeds: 1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS#7 seeds: 3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS#8 seeds: 4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS#9 seeds: 3-4 SU, 6-1 ATS#10 seeds: 3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS#11 seeds: 5-4 SU, 6-3 ATS#12 seeds: 2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS#13 seeds: 0-4 SU, 3-1 ATS#14 seeds: 0-4 SU, 1-3 ATS#15 seeds: 3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS#16 seeds: 0-4 SU, 2-2 ATSAnd here is a breakdown of point spread ranges:Underdogs of +3.5 or less:  9-11 ATSUnderdogs +4 to +7.5:  10-6 ATSUnderdogs +8 to +11.5:  7-2 ATSUnderdogs of +12 or more:  7-7 ATSLike last season, the games have tended to go under the total, as the unders are 34-26 through the first four rounds (35-29 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):  15-16 ATSTeams off a straight-up loss (against foes not off a loss):  8-9 ATSTeams off back-to-back losses (against foes not off back-to-back losses):  3-2 ATSTeams off ATS loss (against foes not off an ATS loss):  13-17 ATSTeams off back-to-back-ATS losses (against foes not off back-to-back ATS losses):  12-12 ATSTeams off back-to-back ATS wins (against foes not off back-to-back ATS wins):  19-13 ATSTeams off 3 SU/ATS wins (against foes not off 3 SU/ATS wins):  13-9 ATSTeams off an upset win (against foes not off an upset win):  11-10 ATSTeams off an upset loss (against foes not off an upset loss):  6-8 ATSTeams off a double-digit win (against foes not off a double-digit win):  13-10 ATSTeams playing with revenge:  3-1 ATSGood luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NIT Tournament Championship Games 1991-2021

Wednesday, Mar 30, 2022

The #1-seeded Texas A&M Aggies and #2-seeded Xavier Musketeers have reached the NIT Tournament Championship game, in Madison Square Garden.Let's take a look at how the NIT Tournament's title games have gone since 1991 -- from a point spread perspective.Favorites:  15-15 ATSUnderdogs:  15-15 ATSTeams priced from -1 to -2.5 points (8-9 ATS)Teams priced from -3 to -4.5 points (6-6 ATS)Teams priced from -5 to -6.5 points (1-0 ATS)Teams off ATS win (vs. foes not off ATS win):  4-3 ATSTeams off double-digit win (vs. foes not off double-digit win):  9-8 ATSTeams that covered the spread in their previous game by 10+ points (vs. foes that did not):  10-3 ATSTeams off an upset win (vs. foes not off an upset win):  9-7 ATSTeams playing with revenge:  1-4 ATS (1-3 Underdog; 0-1 Favorite; 0-2 Conference; 1-2 Non-Conference)Teams with a better W/L percentage:  16-14 ATSTeams seeded better than their opponent:  8-4 ATS#1 seeds (vs. teams not seeded #1):  2-3 ATS#2 seeds (vs. teams not seeded #2): 3-2 ATS#3 seeds (vs. teams not seeded #3): 3-2 ATS#4 seeds (vs. teams not seeded #4): 4-2 ATS#5 seeds (vs. teams not seeded #5): 0-1 ATS#6 seeds (vs. teams not seeded #6): 0-2 ATS(The NIT tournaments from 1991 through 2005 were not seeded.)Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NCAA Tournament Round 2 Data (1991 to 2021)

Friday, Mar 18, 2022

With the 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament upon us, let's take a look at how the previous tournaments have gone -- from a point spread perspective.There have been 30 NCAA Tournaments since 1991 (the 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID-19).  Here are how the individual seeds have fared:#1 seeds:  102-17 SU, 60-59 ATS#2 seeds:  75-36 SU, 55-54-2 ATS#3 seeds:  67-37 SU, 55-47-2 ATS#4 seeds:  60-34 SU, 48-46 ATS#5 seeds:  37-38 SU, 35-39-1 ATS#6 seeds:  34-42 SU, 38-36-2 ATS#7 seeds:  22-47 SU, 30-38-1 ATS#8 seeds:  11-49 SU, 34-26 ATS#9 seeds:  7-53 SU, 25-35 ATS#10 seeds:  21-30 SU, 30-20-1 ATS#11 seeds:  18-26 SU, 22-22 ATS#12 seeds:  18-27 SU, 29-16 ATS#13 seeds:  5-21 SU, 7-18-1 ATS#14 seeds:  1-15 SU, 3-13 ATS#15 seeds:  2-7 SU, 3-6 ATS#16 seeds:  0-1 SU, 1-0 ATSFour of the 480 games were Pk'em.  Of the remaining 476 games, favorites have had the historical edge, with a 252-219-5 ATS record.  As a point of comparison, the 1st round has largely been split down the middle, with the favorites owning a 478-474-17 ATS record.Some other point spread categories to note:Teams off an ATS loss (vs. foes not off an ATS loss):  108-79-1 ATSTeams off back to back SU/ATS wins (vs. foes not off back to back SU/ATS wins):  56-89-3 ATSTeams off back to back ATS losses (vs. foes not off back to back ATS losses):  76-51-1 ATSTeams off back to back ATS wins (vs. foes not off back to back ATS wins):  68-95-3 ATSTeams off three SU/ATS wins (vs. foes not off three SU/ATS wins:  41-70-3 ATSTeams off three ATS wins (vs. foes not off three ATS wins):  55-79-3 ATSTeams off three ATS losses (vs. foes not off three ATS losses):  28-18-1 ATSTeams playing with revenge:  26-23-1 ATSTeams off double-digit wins (vs. foes not off double-digit wins):  135-136-4 ATSTeams that covered their previous game by 10+ points (vs. foes that didn't cover by 10+ points):  88-114-2 ATSFavorites priced from -1 to -3.5 points:  65-58-3 ATSFavorites priced from -4 to -6.5 points:  84-68-1 ATSFavorites priced from -7 to -9.5 points:  58-53-1 ATSFavorites priced from -10 to -12.5 points:  27-25 ATSFavorites of -13 (or more) points:  18-14 ATSGood luck, as always...Al McMordie

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Undefeated Home Teams on Senior Day

Monday, Feb 28, 2022

Many were surprised when Saint Mary's knocked off #1 Gonzaga this past Saturday.  But I had a play on the Gaels, as a 10.5-point underdog.  Part of the rationale for my selection was that Saint Mary's was undefeated at home this season.  The Gaels were 15-0 SU, yet were getting double-digits.  Even better:  it was the final home game of the season for Saint Mary's.  And this "Last Home Game" is traditionally when schools celebrate their Senior class, so it's always an emotional game for the home team.As a sports handicapper, we can take advantage of this emotion.  Of course, I don't play all the teams in a haphazard manner.  Instead, I will focus on the "best of the best."Let's take a look now at how teams -- like Saint Mary's -- that are undefeated at home perform on Senior Day.Since 1990, our unbeaten home teams have gone 174-141-8 ATS, for a solid 55%.  And, most interestingly, until Saint Mary's played #1-ranked Gonzaga, no team with an unbeaten home record had been an underdog of more than 5 points on Senior Day (yet the Gaels were catching 10.5 points)!Now, even though there's nothing wrong with 55%, we always look to improve our numbers by zeroing in on the stronger subsets.One clear strategy is to filter out the games with big point spreads above -11 points.  Home teams can play with much emotion, but still not cover a huge point spread.  To wit:  those high-priced home favorites have burned money on Senior Day, with a 67-77-3 ATS record.  So, with this parameter in place, our Last Home Game system moves to 107-64-5, 62.5% ATS.This season, we've had three plays already, and the angle has gone a perfect 3-0 ATS.The winners were Murray St. -3.5 over Belmont; Middle Tennessee St. -1.5 over W. Kentucky; and Saint Mary's +10.5 over Gonzaga.Looking ahead to the month of March, the following teams currently have unbeaten home records (but most will be favored by more than 11 on their Senior Day).  ArizonaAuburnIonaKentuckySMUTennesseeWyomingTwo teams that surely will not be favored by double-digits will be Tennessee, when it hosts Arkansas, and Wyoming, when it welcomes Fresno State -- both on March 5.  Likewise, SMU may be favorably priced when it plays Tulane, on March 6.Keep an eye out this week for these games. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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Super Bowl 56: What Went Wrong For The Bengals

Monday, Feb 14, 2022

The 56th edition of the Super Bowl continued the recent trend of an ultra-competitive game.  For those as old as me, it will be remembered that Super Bowls were -- more often than not -- blowouts, and less-than-enjoyable games.  Indeed, in the 21 games played between 1981 and 2001, there were 16 games decided by 10 points or more.  But since 2002, when the Patriots upset the 14-point-favored-Rams, we've been treated to largely entertaining games.  And in only 1 of the last 21 seasons has the favorite in the Super Bowl won by more than 11 points.  And that was when the Colts defeated the Bears by 12, as a 6.5-point favorite.The Bengals played a mistake-free game, which was just the 22nd time (out of 112 teams) that a team played a perfect game from a turnover perspective.  Now, for certain of those 22 teams, their opponent also committed 0 turnovers.  That happened in Super Bowls 25 (Giants 20, Bills 19), and 34 (Rams 23, Titans 16).  So, that leaves us with 18 teams that didn't commit a single turnover in the Super Bowl, while their opponent committed at least one turnover.  Coming into this Super Bowl 56, those mistake-free teams had gone 17-0 straight-up!Even worse for Cincinnati:  it held the Rams' to just 43 yards on 23 rushing attempts, for 1.86 yards per rush.  And never before had a Super Bowl champion garnered less than 2 yards per rush.So, what went wrong for Cincinnati to not allow it to win the game?The most glaring statistic was the Bengals' 1-for-3 number on 4th-down conversions, while the Rams were 1-for-1 in that same situation.  And both Bengals' misfires came at critical junctures in the game.  With five minutes gone in a scoreless first quarter, the Bengals faced 4th and 1 at the Rams' 49-yard line.  Coach Zac Taylor elected to go for it, rather than attempt to pin the Rams deep.  QB Joe Burrow's short, right pass to WR Ja'Marr Chase, though, fell incomplete.  And the Rams took full advantage by marching down a short field for a 7-0 lead.  Cincinnati did convert a key 4th down in the 3rd quarter when Burrow scrambled for four yards on a 4th-and-1, and that drive ended with a field goal to extend Cincy's lead to 20-13.  But the 4th down opportunities for each team on its final drive were difference-makers.  Los Angeles faced a 4th-and-1 with five minutes remaining, down 20-16, and converted on an end-around to WR Cooper Kupp for seven yards.  A little more than three minutes later, Kupp's TD reception provided the go-ahead score.  Cincinnati still was in prime position to tie the game with a field goal, but couldn't convert a 4th-and-1 at the Los Angeles 49-yard line with 43 seconds remaining.  The Rams' Aaron Donald was the key defender on that play, as he hit Burrow to cause an errant pass.  The defensive play by Donald was emblematic, as the Rams' pass rush was generally unstoppable.  Not only did Los Angeles sack Burrow seven times (including six in the second half), but its pass-rush win rate of 82% was the highest pass-rush win rate of any team in a single game this past season.  That pass-rush statistic is why the Rams were eventually able to overcome a -2 turnover differential, and a 1.86 ypr to win Super Bowl 56.

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NFL Conference Championship Games Since 1980: A Point Spread Review

Sunday, Jan 30, 2022

There have been 82 NFL Conference Championship games played since the 1980-81 season.  Let's take a look at the data, from a "Vegas" perspective.Home Teams:  46-36 ATS, including 39-29 ATS as Favorites, 7-6 ATS as Underdogs, 0-1 ATS as PKRoad Teams:  36-46 ATS, including 6-7 ATS as Favorites, 29-39 ATS as Underdogs, 1-0 ATS as PKUnderdogs:  36-45 ATSFavorites:  45-36 ATSDouble Digit Favorites:  3-8 ATSDouble Digit Underdogs:  8-3 ATSRevengers:  30-40 ATS, including 5-8 ATS in Division games.  Favored Revengers 12-10 ATS; Underdog Revengers 17-30 ATS; PK'em Revengers 1-0 ATSOff ATS Loss (vs. Foe Not Off ATS Loss):  16-12 ATS, including 9-7 ATS as Favorite; 7-5 ATS as Underdog; 9-9 ATS at Home; 7-3 ATS on RoadOff Double Digit Win (vs. Foe Not Off Double-Digit Win):  20-20 ATS, including 15-15 ATS Home; 5-5 ATS Away; 16-15 ATS as Favorite; 3-5 ATS as Underdog; 1-0 ATS as PKOff Upset Win (vs. Foe Not Off Upset Win):  17-20 ATS, including 1-0 ATS at Home; 16-20 ATS Away; 3-1 ATS as Favorite; 14-19 ATS as UnderdogOvers:  44-35-3 Unders: 35-44-3Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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Big Al's NFL Overtime Solution: A Redux

Sunday, Jan 23, 2022

I wrote on this subject matter over two years ago, and wanted to re-visit it after watching Kansas City eliminate Buffalo, 42-36, in what may go down in NFL lore as "The Greatest Game of All Time."  There have been 11 NFL playoff games since the new rule which allows a team to walk-off the field with a touchdown on the opening possession.2011-12  Broncos vs. Steelers  (Result:  Broncos won on TD on 1st possession)2011-12 Giants vs. 49ers  (Result: Giants won on FG on 5th possession)2012-13 Ravens vs. Broncos  (Result: Ravens won on FG on 5th possession)2014-15 Seahawks vs. Packers  (Result: Seahawks won on TD on 1st possession)2015-16 Cardinals vs. Packers  (Result: Cardinals won on TD on 1st possession)2016-17 Patriots vs. Falcons  (Result: Patriots won on TD on 1st possession)2018-19 Rams vs. Saints  (Result:  Rams won on FG on 2nd possession)2018-19 Patriots vs. Chiefs  (Result: Patriots won on TD on 1st possession)2019-20 Vikings vs. Saints  (Result: Vikings won on TD on 1st possession)2019-20 Texans vs. Bills  (Result:  Texans won on FG on 3rd possession)2021-22 Chiefs vs. Bills  (Result:  Chiefs won on TD on 1st possession)Seven of the 11 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 is a Hall-of-Fame-list:Ben RoethlisbergerAaron Rodgers (twice)Matt RyanPatrick MahomesDrew BreesJosh AllenThere will no doubt be a maelstrom after this Chiefs/Bills game, and people will call for an overhaul of the overtime rule.  People will claim it is an injustice that Josh Allen and the Bills never got to touch the ball in overtime.  I'm not sure that statement is true.  But what is surely an injustice is just how much a random coin toss determines the outcome of these playoff games.  As I pointed out, in seven of the 11 games, the team drove down the field to win on the Playoff game's first possession in overtime.  And in an additional three games, the team which won the coin toss won on a later possession.  So, in 10 of the 11 Playoff games, the team which won the coin toss won the game.  Is this what the NFL Competition Committee really wants?  (This is a rhetorical question.)The good news is that the NFL doesn't need a complete overhaul of the rule.  It doesn't need to go to a fifth quarter of 15 minutes, or even make it mandatory that each team has a possession in overtime as, ironically, the Kansas City Chiefs proposed to the Competition Committee in 2019.  Instead, it just needs to tweak its current rule to greatly level the playing field, and eliminate the randomness of what should be a meaningless (not a determinative) coin toss.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.  And it would not be incumbent for any team to go for two points; a team could elect to kick an extra point.  This past season, NFL teams succeeded on 2-point conversions 49.6 percent of the time.  This simple fact would have changed the above outcomes from seven of 11 ending with one overtime possession to, maybe, just three or four of 11.  And if Patrick Mahomes would have driven the Chiefs down the field for a touchdown AND a 2-point conversion vs. the Bills' defense, it's without a doubt a well-earned victory -- and not overwhelmingly determined by a coin toss.That's a hugely more satisfying outcome.The beauty of this tweak is that it actually would bring into question for some teams whether or not to even choose to receive the ball first, especially if weather elements are involved, or if either (or both) teams aren't offensively dominant.  And that's because you would have a greater than 50% chance (I'll let smarter minds than mine determine exactly how much greater) of getting an offensive possession after kicking off to start overtime.  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 successfully went for two.Certainly, the team which plays defense on the opening possession would almost always go for two 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 randomness of a coin flip.Just my thoughts...Al McMordieEditor's Note:  Since publishing this article, I've received many emails, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Two questions/comments stand out.  The first is, 'well, I'm sure the NFL has considered this.'  Interestingly, it's never been mentioned in news reports.  Indeed, The Sporting News just published a history of the NFL's overtime rules proposals here: and my solution to the NFL's overtime problem has never been proposed.The second comment involves the math behind this solution.  I was loathe to go through the math because, well, to put it bluntly, math bores people.  But, here's the general math to illustrate why this is an ideal solution.  Two assumptions.  First, we will assume a 50 percent success rate on 2-point conversions because the rate of this previous regular season was 49.6 percent.  Second, we're just going to take the Playoff numbers at face value, and use 64 percent for the success rate of a touchdown on an opening possession.  I'm certainly aware it's a small sample size, but I don't want to include regular season data because the caliber of the quarterbacks is much higher in the Playoffs (Indeed, I think the NFL may have made a mistake initially by trying to extrapolate too much from regular season data).  And I'm also aware that the trend is moving towards a higher percentage (e.g., 75 percent since 2014-15) but we will still stick with 64 percent.With these numbers, a team would score a touchdown on the overtime's opening possession AND convert a 2-point attempt 32 percent of the time (.50 x .64).  Please bear in mind that a team would also have the option of kicking an extra point if it scored a touchdown, and some coaches would very well indeed choose that option.  So, there would be a 68 percent chance that the team which lost the coin toss would possess the ball in overtime, with a chance to win or extend the game by either kicking a field goal, or scoring a touchdown with an extra point, or scoring a touchdown with a 2-point conversion.   For argument's sake, let's just assign a 70 percent success rate for the team to end the game on the second possession in overtime.  If you multiply .70 x .68 (representing the 68 percent chance the team would have a possession), you'll get 48 percent.  So, 80 percent of games would be decided after two possessions (.32 + .48).  Should a game move to a third possession, that would mean a field goal would win the game.  If you assign a 75 percent chance of a successful field goal conversion, that would mean 95 percent of games would end by the third overtime possession (.32 + .48 + .15), with the team which won the coin toss being victorious in 47 percent (.32 + .15), and the team which lost the coin toss being victorious in 48 percent -- essentially a 50/50 proposition.  Five percent of games would move to a fourth possession.  And that's why this NFL overtime solution is ideal.  It greatly lessens the impact of a coin toss, and creates a much more level playing field for the two teams.  But even better:  it actually would enrich the game by making the overtime session more fascinating from a strategy standpoint.

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Cleveland Cavaliers: History in the Making?

Monday, Dec 27, 2021

On December 10, the Cleveland Cavaliers were a 2-point road favorite against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and were seeking their 10th straight point spread victory.  They got it, with a 123-106 win, and moved their season record (at that time) to 15-12 SU, and 21-6 ATS.  Immediately after the game, I received an email from a client, who wondered, 'Did I know that Cleveland was the hottest team in the league?'....with the implication that we shouldn't be going against such a team.  The answer to that question was (of course) "yes," as I was more aware than he ever could know about just how historically-well Cleveland was playing.Cleveland's game vs. the T-Wolves was its 27th game of the season.  And going into that game, it had covered the point spread by an average of 7.59 ppg. To put that extreme success into perspective, consider that never in the past 32 seasons (which is as far back as my database goes) had a team covered the spread by at least 6.76 ppg at Game 27 forward!  The second-best was the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, who were 23-3 SU and 19-7 ATS, and covered the spread by 6.75 ppg through their first 26 games of that season.The Celtics were a special team, and went on to win that season's NBA championship.  But they also leveled out (somewhat), with respect to the point spread, as they went 43-13 SU and 34-21-1 ATS, and covered the spread by "just" 2.09 ppg over their last 56 regular season games.  For the season, Boston finished 53-28-1 ATS, with a season point spread differential of +3.57.With that history as a backdrop, I wrote on December 10 that, "[I]t's safe to say that the Cavs will come back down to Earth. If, for no other reason than that the oddsmakers will (and already have) made adjustments to their number."  But that was seven games ago.  And all Cleveland has done since then is go into overdrive, with a 6-1 SU/ATS record, and a +13.62 point spread differential!  The Cavaliers just blew out Toronto, 144-99, as a 9-point home favorite, for not only their highest-scoring, and biggest win of the season, but also their largest (36) point spread differential.  Prior to that game, Cleveland's biggest cover was by 29 points, when it upset Miami, 111-85, on December 1, as a 3-point road underdog.So, the Cavaliers are clearly "history in the making."  Through 33 games, they are 20-13 SU, 26-7 ATS (.787), and have covered the point spread by an average of 9.28 ppg.  That 2007-08 Celtics team, which went 53-28-1 ATS (.654), holds the record for the best point spread performance for an 82-game regular season, while the 2009-10 Milwaukee Bucks rank second, at 52-28-2 ATS (.650).  Boston's +3.57 point spread differential also ranks first for an 82-game season, with the 2004-05 Chicago Bulls coming in second, at +3.25.  Will J.B. Bickerstaff's young Cavaliers keep it up?  And can they do what the 2007-08 Celtics did, and go on to win an NBA Championship?  Certainly, they're an odds-on favorite to end the season with the best point spread differential on record in the NBA since 1990.  After all, if they have a +0.00 spread differential over their final 49 games, they will still finish with a season mark of +3.73, and top Boston's +3.57.  But they're unlikely to better the Celtics' 53-28-1 ATS record or win the NBA title.  But, after that 45-point shellacking of the Raptors, I sure wouldn't put it past them.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NCAA Football Championship and Semi-Final Games: A Point Spread Review

Monday, Dec 20, 2021

Dating back to the first BCS Championship Game -- Florida State vs. Tennessee, on January 4, 1999 -- there have been 37 College Football games in the semi-final or championship round.  Let's take a look at how these games have shaken out from a point spread perspective.First, it's worth noting that all but one of the games was played at a completely neutral site.  The lone exception was the BCS Championship Game played at the Rose Bowl, on January 4, 2006 between USC and Texas.  The Trojans had the advantage of playing in their home city of Los Angeles (though the game was played at the home field of UCLA).  Unfortunately for Angelenos who attended the game, the Longhorns upset USC, 41-38, as a 7-point underdog.The majority (23 of 37) of games had point spreads of 7 points or less, while a minority (14 of 37) were above a touchdown, with 10 involving spreads of 10 or more points.The games have been roughly split evenly between favorites and underdogs.  The underdogs do have a slight edge, at 19-18 ATS.In 32 of the 37 games, the straight-up winner has covered the point spread.  The five exceptions were:Florida St. (-12, 34-31) vs. Auburn, BCS Championship, Jan. 6, 2014Alabama (-6, 45-40) vs. Clemson, NCAA Championship, Jan. 11, 2016Alabama (-3.5, 26-23) vs. Georgia, NCAA Championship, Jan. 8, 2018Alabama (-14.5, 45-34) vs. Oklahoma, NCAA Semi-Final, Dec. 29, 2018Alabama (-18.5, 31-14) vs. Notre Dame, NCAA Semi-Final, Jan. 1, 2021The point spread ranges have had the following results:Pk to -3 (Favorites 4-2 ATS; Underdogs 2-4 ATS)-3 to -6.5 (Favorites 6-8 ATS; Underdogs 8-6 ATS)-7 to -9.5 (Favorites 3-4 ATS; Underdogs 4-3 ATS)-10 to -12.5 (Favorites 5-3 ATS; Underdogs 3-5 ATS)-13 or more (Favorites 0-2 ATS; Underdogs 2-0 ATS)Here are some other situations of note:Teams playing with revenge from a loss in the current season have gone 1-0 ATSTeams playing with revenge from a loss in the prior season have gone 4-1 ATSTeams off an upset win in its previous game have gone 6-1 ATSTeams off a loss in its previous game have gone 2-2 ATSTeams that played in their Conference Championship game have gone 10-3 ATS against opponents that did not play in their Conference Championship game.Teams off a double-digit win have gone 9-9 ATS vs. opponents not off a double-digit winTeams off a double-digit cover have gone 10-9 ATS vs. opponents that did not cover the spread by 10+ points in their previous gameTeams off an ATS win have gone 11-7 ATS vs. opponents not off an ATS winTeams with the greater scoring margin have gone 14-23 ATSTeams that gave up less points on defense have gone 21-16 ATSTeams that scored more points on offense have gone 17-20 ATSGood luck, as always,Al McMordie

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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'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  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 (-125, 2017), 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  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 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 23 Overs against 17 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 5th 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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