Sports Picks For Sale - Oskeim Sports

Hot Streaks and Achievements

  • 101-60 (63%) MLB RUN; NET PROFIT OF +2,738 UNITS!
  • 52-31 (62.7%) Overall Run last 60 Days!
  • 34 FOOTBALL (NFL & NCAA) AWARDS SINCE 2007!

Biography

Oskeim Sports is an award-winning sports handicapping service which has consistently outperformed the stock market since 2007.

Active since:  2007

Location:  Boston, MA

Oskeim Sports Consulting, LLC (OSC) is an internationally-recognized sports handicapping service which provides sports bettors with an unparalleled return on investment.  Its lead handicapper and the firm’s CEO, Jeffrey Keim, graduated magna cum laude from Elon College and earned his J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law.  Jeff developed a successful law practice at a private law firm in Connecticut, where he practiced for seven years before founding Oskeim Sports in 2007. 

Jeff’s tireless work ethic and analytical skills, which allowed him to develop a successful law practice, remain key to the success of OSC.  Jeff’s proprietary research utilizes advanced analytics, computer algorithms, math models and one of the most extensive technical databases in the handicapping industry.  Oskeim Sports has been widely recognized as one of the most successful and transparent handicapping services in the industry, and it publishes its selections contemporaneously in a Pick Archive.

Jeff and his team provide unmatched profitability and return on investment on behalf of their clients, and have consistently outperformed the investment industry since 2007.  Since establishing Oskeim Sports Consulting, LLC in 2007, Jeff has received 32 distinguished awards from The Sports Monitor of Oklahoma, including five #1 titles.

Some highlights:

2019 Top 5 College Basketball Regular Season at Handicappers Watchdog (Win Percentage, Units Won & Return on Investment)
2019 #1-ranked NFL service at Handicappers Watchdog (Win Percentage & Return on Investment)
2019 #1-ranked MLB service at Handicappers Watchdog (Win Percentage)
2019 Top 5 College Football Regular Season at Handicappers Watchdog
2017 Top 10 NFL Regular Season at Handicappers Watchdog
2017 Top 5 College Bowl Games at The Sports Monitor of Oklahoma
2017 Top 5 College Bowl Games at Sports Watch Monitor
2017 Top 5 College Bowl Games at Handicappers Watchdog
2017 Top 5 College Football at Handicappers Watchdog (Win %, Units Won & ROI)
2017 Top 5 NFL Preseason at The Sports Monitor of Oklahoma
2016 #1-ranked service at Handicappers Watchdog for Return on Investment (all sports)
2016 #1-ranked service at Handicappers Watchdog for Net Profit (all sports)
2016 #1 All Sports Handicapper for Return on Investment at Handicappers Watchdog (all of 2016)
2016 #1 for Most Units Won All Sports Handicapper at Handicappers Watchdog (all of 2016)
2016 Top 10 NFL Regular Season at The Sports Monitor of Oklahoma
2016 Top 10 NFL Regular Season at Handicappers Watchdog
2016 Top 5 College Bowl Games at Handicappers Watchdog
2016 Top 5 College Football Regular Season at Handicappers Watchdog
2015 Top 5 Major League Baseball at Handicappers Watchdog
2015 Top 15 MLB Handicapper at The Sports Monitor of Oklahoma
2015 Top 5 NFL at Handicappers Watchdog (60-40, 60%)
2015 Top 5 NCAA Football at Handicappers Watchdog (77-51, 60.2%)
2015 Top 10 March Madness

Where Will Shohei Ohtani Land Next Season?

Tuesday, Dec 05, 2023

If you had to piece together the perfect baseball player, how would you do it? Maybe take the speed of Elly De La Cruz, combine it with Pete Alonso’s strength, a little of Mookie Betts’ intangibles, and a dose of Ronald Acuna Jr.'s hitting ability. That just might be the perfect MLB player. Or, you could just clone Shohei Ohtani. There hasn’t been a talent like Ohtani in well, maybe, never. He has elevated his game to one where he is continually in the running for the AL Triple Crown. He can hit for power. He can hit for average. Then, there is his pitching ability, which will take a break in 2024 as Ohtani recovers from surgery on a torn UCL.  This baseball offseason, Ohtani will be the most sought-after free agent in all sports. It will be similar to the summer of 2010 when LeBron James was a free agent and wound up in Miami with a giant contract. It’ll be the same for Ohtani.  Believe it or not, there are odds on the size of Ohtani’s next contract. You can bet the Over at $500.5 million at -125 odds. Or, you can bet Under $500.5 million at -105 odds.  The Angels star is one of the finalists for the AL MVP. The elbow injury was thought to be a detriment to Ohtani commanding $500 million, but he is a once-in-a-lifetime player. He has said he will pitch in 2024, which is why the Angels will do their best to keep their star. Staying in LA  Ohtani is likely to stay in Los Angeles…just not with the Angels. The Dodgers are the current betting favorites to land Ohtani’s services. The Dodgers cleared enough payroll space to add a superstar like Ohtani. They may have done so just to get him. Ohtani has expressed his desire to play for a team that can get to the World Series. The Dodgers certainly meet that criteria. The only problem is that they could use a pitcher right now more than a hitter. As it stands, the Dodgers are still the overall favorite to land Ohtani at +115.  Up the Coast If not LA, Ohtani could end up in San Francisco. The Giants are on the betting board at +1100 to snag Ohtani. The Giants were in the thick of the NL playoff race until late in the second half of the season when it all fell apart. They could use a power hitter like Ohtani and have enough quality pitching to get them through 2024.  Other Contenders The Chicago Cubs hold the second-best odds to land Ohtani at +350.  The Texas Rangers have the third-best odds to sign Ohtani (+650) after holding the sixth-best odds (+900). The Toronto Blue Jays have the fourth-best odds (+700) after previously being tied for 11th (+2000).The Yankees (+1200) and Mets (+900) missed the postseason last year. The Mets did it after going wild in last year’s offseason but their spending didn’t pay off.  Will they be more cautious this time around? The Yankees already have some of the top sluggers in baseball. It’s well-known that the Yanks don’t care about spending. They routinely have one of MLB’s highest payrolls. Imagine a lineup with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Ohtani. Longshot It would be a big surprise if Ohtani remains with the Angels. Still, the Halos are given +2000 odds to keep him. He’d return with Mike Trout, but the Angels are still searching for a new manager to replace Phil Nevin. 

Read more

How to Navigate the NBA’s In-Season Tournament

Wednesday, Nov 08, 2023

All 30 teams will participate in the first NBA In-Season Tournament. Teams will compete for the NBA Cup, and individual players will have the opportunity to win prizes such as MVP and All-Tournament Team money. The league wanted to generate more excitement and interest in the early part of the regular season. Thus, the in-season tournament was born. NBA Tournament Format  Group Play and Knockout Rounds are the two stages of the NBA In-Season Tournament. For group play, the 30 NBA teams have been divided into six groups of five teams, three from each conference. It’s very similar to how international soccer tournaments are played. During group play, each team will play every other team once. In each group, the squad with the best record advances to the Knockout Rounds. The three group winners plus a wild card team advance to the Knockout Rounds. The wild card team is the one with the best record that did not win its group. There are a series of tiebreakers to break any ties to determine either group winners or wild card teams. The tiebreakers are: ●     Group play head-to-head record●     Point differential in group play●     Total points scored in group play●     Last season’s regular season record●     Random draw In total eight teams—four from each conference—will proceed to the Knockout Rounds.  Quarterfinal Play Teams that make it to the knockout round will be seeded based on their group play performance. Group winners will be seeded No. 1, 2, and 3. The wild card team will always be the No. 4 seed.  In the quarterfinals, the No. 1 seed will play the No. 4 seed and No. 2 plays No. 3. The quarterfinals, or Knockout Rounds, is single-elimination play. Once you lose, you are knocked out of the tournament.  T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, a neutral court, will host the Semifinals and Championship. The two remaining teams from each conference will play one another in the Semifinals. The Western Conference and Eastern Conference champions will compete for the In-Season Tournament Championship. With the exception of the championship, all NBA In-Season Tournament games will be taken into account for regular season standings and statistics.  NBA Tournament Dates Futures markets for NBA Tournament wagering during the season have already opened. The tournament began last Tuesday, November 3, and ends on December 9, with the championship game.  Group plays is scheduled for November. Tournament games will be played on Tuesdays and Fridays during November with the exception of last night, which was Election Day. Group play resumes this Friday. Each team plays two home games and two away games in group play. Group play ends on November 28. The quarterfinals begin on December 4 with the semifinals on December 7. Again, the final is scheduled for December 9. Betting the In-Season Tourney There are a few key points to consider when betting on the in-season tournament. Motivation is a big one. The real prize in the NBA is winning the NBA Finals next June. Top teams may be more focused on future games than the in-season tournament. Star players on teams not likely to make the playoffs will probably be extremely motivated because they can add several hundred thousand dollars to their bank accounts depending upon their performances in the tournament.  It would be wise to review how teams have played at the beginning of the season. Many NBA teams made significant changes in the offseason. It’s worth taking some time to see how certain teams are playing at this point in the season.  The other thing to look at is head-to-head records. The group play schedule has been known for some time. It’s worth checking how teams have fared against each other in recent history. They may have even played each other this season already. Take the 76ers as an example. They are off to a 6-1 start through seven games this season. Philly had a winning record against all four teams in their group last year and, collectively, went 12-2 against them last year.

Read more

Your Best College Basketball Futures Right Now

Monday, Nov 06, 2023

It’s almost hard to believe, but the 2023-24 college basketball season tips off on Wednesday, November 8. That means it’s time to take a look at the college basketball futures market. There are a number of great values right now. Here, we take a look at four. Aggies Win March MadnessKey veteran returnees give Texas A&M a ton of experience. They have a standout point guard, play great defense, and rebound well. Those are keys to winning a national championship.  The Aggies, who finished 15-3 in the SEC last year and have returned every member of their starting lineup save for Dexter Dennis. Texas A&M would have received one of the top four seeds in the NCAA tournament last year if not for a poor non-conference strength of schedule and a few disappointing early losses. Wade Taylor IV is one of the top point guards in the nation and runs the offense. With Julius Marble, Henry Coleman III, and Andersson Garcia as their big men, A&M should be well-positioned to be a top rebounding team once again.  The Aggies also have a coach who has been there before. Buzz Williams, who led Marquette and Virginia Tech to the second round of the NCAA tournament and came perilously close to making it to the Final Four, will lead the Aggies again this season. You can get Texas A&M at a value at +5500 to win a national title this season. Is This Creighton’s Year?The stage has been set for a deep run this March by Creighton with two Sweet 16 appearances in the last three seasons. With their starting five, the Bluejays should be able to break into the top 10 early this season. They finished 12th in the KenPom rankings last season. Normally, a team that has historically built its roster through player development and continuity would find it impossible to overcome the losses of Arthur Kaluma and Ryan Nembhard. However, this offseason, head coach Greg McDermott hit the portal successfully. At point guard, Steven Ashworth is a fantastic addition because he combines deadly long-range shooting with effective playmaking. During his final season at Utah State, he averaged 16.2 points per game and made 43% of his three-point attempts. With Trey Alexander and Ryan Kalkbrenner back, teams will have to play a pick-your-poison game every night because of their ability to shoot the basketball. Their final member of the big four, Baylor Scheierman, is a stat-sheet stuffer with a ton of March Madness experience. Creighton plays in a tough Big East conference which prepares them for the rigors of March Madness. McDermott has been there before and this could be the team that finally breaks into the Final Four. Creighton is a top-3 Big East team and at least a No. 5 seed in the tourney this year. You can bet the Bluejays to win it all at +3300. What Happened to Kentucky? There isn't a definite favorite to win the SEC this season, but Kentucky is still a strong contender at +600 to win the conference for the first time since 2020. In four of the previous five SEC seasons, the Wildcats have finished 12-6, 14-4, 15-3, and 15-3, but they have only won one conference title. Each year, head coach John Calipari adds to the Kentucky roster. This year, the Wildcats will still start a mix of freshmen alongside fifth-year guard Antonio Reeves and West Virginia transfer Tre Mitchell. Calipari is feeling the heat in Lexington after early exits from the NCAA tourney the last few years.  They will host Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas, all favorites to win the conference. An upset here or there and the Wildcats may be worth a small stake to win the SEC at +600. Speaking of the SEC Given how loaded the SEC is, Arkansas has a good chance of winning the 2024 NCAA title. For some reason, no one is paying much attention to the Hogs in the conference battle.  Davonte Davis is back for Arkansas, and Trevon Brazile returns after a season-ending injury early in 2022. If Brazile hadn't been hurt, he was probably a lottery pick in the 2023 NBA draft. Head coach Eric Musselman added a number of key additions via the transfer portal.  The starting lineup includes El Ellis from Louisville, Chandler Lawson from Memphis, Keyon Menifield Jr. from Washington, Jeremiah Davenport from Cincinnati, Tramon Mark from Houston and Khalif Battle from Temple. And, Musselman landed two top-60 recruits in Baye Fall and Layden Blocker. The Razorbacks were ranked in the top 20 by KenPom in terms of both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. This is a team that can get it done on both ends of the floor. It’s why you should consider Arkansas to win the SEC Championship at +850.

Read more

Michigan's Sign-Stealing Scandal Under Jim Harbaugh

Saturday, Nov 04, 2023

Many well-known members of the national sports media have advocated for Michigan to be punished prior to the conclusion of an NCAA investigation. That is not the answer and if Michigan were a Group of 5 school that hadn’t won a ton of games over the past few seasons, this issue wouldn’t even be on everyone’s radar. One FOX Sports analyst used social media on Thursday to provide the Big Ten conference with a much-needed voice of reason regarding the NCAA investigation into the Michigan football program. Reports suggest that a Michigan staffer attended games of Wolverines' opponents and recorded them. That is not permitted according to NCAA rules. The FOX analyst said that the level of resentment for the Wolverines is directly related to the amount of success they have had recently. Every NCAA or Big Ten infraction should be handled the exact same way. There should be no decisions made until the investigation is finished. A number of well-known ESPN personalities and others are urging the Big Ten to take immediate action. A majority of Big Ten coaches have urged the conference’s commissioner, Tony Petitti to levy punishment on Michigan right away.  In any other case involving the breaking of NCAA or conference rules, there is an investigation. All relevant facts are collected, sorted out, and a decision is made. Why would that be different in this case? According to this FOX analyst and many others, it’s because Michigan has enjoyed tremendous success over the past two seasons. The Wolverines have made each of the last two College Football Playoffs.  Connor Stalions, a Michigan off-field staff member, reportedly attended - or paid for someone else to attend - games of Michigan opponents. The games were filmed along with the coaches on the sideline in an effort to break down opponents’ signals. There are no rules against breaking down and “stealing” an opponent’s signals. What is prohibited is scouting an FBS opponent in person. Proving that is going to be difficult for the NCAA and/or the Big Ten. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has stated that he and his staff had no knowledge of what Stalions was doing. Stalions is an interesting character who wrote a whole 600-page “manifesto” on how he was going to take over the Michigan football program. He is in his first year as a paid member of the Michigan football staff, though Stalions serves in an off-the-field role. He’s a Naval Academy graduate and a retired Marine Corps captain. Whatever happens, it might be time for the NCAA or the FBS conferences to start looking into helmet audio technology. The NFL has been using it for years. There is even new technology, developed by AT&T, that allows players to actually see a play call on a small screen inside the facemask of the helmet. The technology was developed for Gaulladet University, which is a school for non-hearing, i.e. deaf, students. Of course, the argument against technology is that not all 133 FBS programs could afford it. The NCAA, however, could surely front the bill. The organization had revenues of nearly $1 billion in 2022 on TV and marketing rights alone.

Read more

Breaking Down the James Harden Trade

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2023

The NBA's extended nightmare has come to an end. James Harden has finally arrived in Los Angeles and is no longer with the Philadelphia 76ers. After months of posturing and animosity, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Sixers reached a deal late on Monday night that sends former league MVP James Harden to his desired location in Los Angeles. According to the trade details, Harden, PJ Tucker, and rookie Filip Petrusev are headed to Los Angeles in exchange for the following: ●     Robert Covington●     Nic Batum●     Marcus Morris●     KJ Martin●     An unprotected first-round pick in 2028●     Two second-round picks●     A 2029 pick swap and●     Another 2026 first-round pick (courtesy of the Clippers via the Thunder). Along with his current (and previous) teammates Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, Harden joins Russell Westbrook, his former teammate on two different teams. Both George and Leonard reportedly pushed the Clippers to make this deal happen. Was it worth it? What Happens to the Sixers Next? What happens to Joel Embiid now is the biggest question front offices will be asking today. This summer, Embiid hinted that he might be willing to move away from Philadelphia in order to complete his NBA championship dream. It's believed that several franchises are watching closely in case Embiid chooses to pursue a trade request. According to league sources, the Miami Heat and New York Knicks would compete to be first in line for Embiid. That's why the Harden trade is so intriguing. With a healthy Embiid and a rapidly developing Tyrese Maxey, Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey has brought in veterans who can help the team contend for a spot in the conference finals. Marcus Morris and Robert Covington replace PJ Tucker's defensive adaptability and spot-up three-point shooting. Batum adds adaptability by playing several forward positions. Additionally, the Sixers' increased draft capital will allow Morey to use it to pursue future star trades. Although he didn’t acquire a star player in the Harden trade, he was able to acquire enough assets from the Clippers to use in the future. Who Would Philly Pursue? With two additional first-round picks, the Sixers can go after a high-level guard to fit into the lineup alongside Embiid and Maxey. Who is that guard? It’s possible that Chicago’s Zach Lavine is one possible option. Another is Toronto’s Pascal Siakam.  It’s no secret that the Bulls have been shopping LaVine for a while now, but they haven't been tempted to pull the trigger. Seemingly trapped in a no-man's land with Toronto, Siakam wants to continue on a new extension with a team that doesn't seem to be as excited about a long-term partnership. Either player could help Philadelphia get to the conference finals if Embiid can stay healthy for once.  Interestingly, the four contracts that the Sixers acquired through trade—Martin, Covington, Morris, and Batum—all have expiration dates. Therefore, the Sixers would be an easy partner for any team looking to clear their cap sheet and trade for a star during a rebuild. Are the Clippers Better Off? Other than Westbrook, the only play-making guard on the Clippers roster is Bones Hyland, a career 11-points-a-game scorer. Harden adds another strong playmaker who doesn’t have to score as much with Westbrook, George, and Leonard on the floor. But, is LA really better off? Consider that this makes Harden’s fourth team in the last three years. He initially wanted to be in Houston, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia but left all three on bad terms. Is LA next? Harden is a free agent at the end of this season. What would stop him from leaving after this season? The Clippers are also notorious for flaming out late in the postseason. The franchise has played in one Western Conference final (2021) and has never made the NBA Finals. Harden has played 14 seasons in the NBA. He has been to exactly one NBA Finals. His Oklahoma City Thunder got dumped by the Miami Heat in just five games. Is he really the answer for the Clippers? Time will tell.

Read more

The MLB Playoff Race Is Going Down to the Wire

Wednesday, Sep 27, 2023

A lot can happen between now and Sunday, Oct. 1, when the 2023 MLB season comes to an end. If the season ended today, the Braves and Dodgers would have byes in the first round of the NL playoffs and the Orioles and Rangers would own the AL byes. The big questions that need to be answered are the wild card entrants in both leagues. It’s possible that the races in the AL and NL come down to tiebreakers.  Toronto (87-69), Houston (86-71), and Seattle (84-72) are currently vying for the two remaining AL wild card spots. It’s possible that all three or two of the three end the season with identical records. What happens then? That’s where the tiebreaker could come into effect. How Tiebreakers Work in MLB Since 2022, any ties for a division title or for a wild card spot in the postseason have been determined by math. Prior to the MLB playoffs expanding from 10 to 12 teams, any ties were broken by playing a tiebreaker game. Now, ties are broken through a series of tiebreaker rules. The top three elements of breaking a tie are head-to-head record, intra-division record, and record against teams in the same league but in a different division. The head-to-head record comes first. If that doesn’t break the tie, then it’s team records against the other division opponents. Finally, teams would compare records against teams from their league but not in their division. Examples of Tiebreakers in 2023 The most heated wild card race is in the AL where Toronto, Houston, and Seattle have their sights set on the final two playoff spots. Seattle has already clinched the season series against Houston. If they end up tied, the Mariners hold the advantage. Interestingly, Seattle and Toronto each won three games against each other this season. That means the tiebreaker goes to the intra-division record. Seattle’s was 29-17. Toronto went 19-27. That gives the Mariners the advantage over the Blue Jays too. The Orioles hold the advantage over Tampa Bay if the Rays were able to tie Baltimore for the top spot in the AL East. The O’s won the season series 8-5. The Rangers have a 2.5-game lead over Houston and a 4-game lead over Seattle in the AL West. Texas and Seattle play four games to end the season. If they end up tied, Texas holds the advantage due to head-to-head record. The Cubs, unfortunately, are on the losing end of tiebreakers with all the other teams still vying for the NL wild cards. Arizona and Chicago have identical records right now, but the D-Backs hold the tiebreaker advantage. Miami is one game behind the Cubs. The Reds are 2.5 games back. Both teams hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Cubs

Read more

The Three NFL Coach of the Year Bets to Make Now

Friday, Sep 01, 2023

With Week 1 of the NFL just seven days away, it’s time to take a look at the NFL Coach of the Year bets to make right now. The current NFL COTY is New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll. He took a 4-13 Giants team, led them to a 9-7-1 record, and earned a berth in the NFC playoffs as a wild card. Which NFL coach is poised to do the same in 2023? There are a few, but in betting the NFL COTY, there is a certain profile that fits the bill. Understanding that profile leads us to three candidates to bet on before Week 1 of the 2023 season starts.  Wins Are KeyIf you look at the past ten NFL COTYs, all but one - that was Daboll last year - had double-digit wins. The NFL Coach of the Year is going to have a high winning percentage. Over the past decade, the COTY has won an average of 12.1 games. It’s actually closer to 13 if we base it on the 17-game schedule that the league now plays. Daboll had nine wins last year, but the nine guys before him all won at least 11.  Seven of the ten also won a division title. Five even received a first-round playoff bye. The bottom line is that winning is king when it comes to the NFL COTY. Making ProgressIt’s the reason why they were hired in the first place. They need to make improvements and each of the last 10 COTYs outperformed their team’s previous season. Most of them did so significantly. The average COTY team improved from 6.9 wins to 12.1 wins the following season, winning 5.2 games more on average. Most of the COTY teams had preseason win totals between 7.5 and 9.5. Most of these teams, who were thought to be .500 teams at best, went on to exceed expectations.  Exceeding ExpectationsSpeaking of exceeding expectations, our most recent COTYs didn’t just make progress, they performed well beyond what any of the so-called experts had anticipated. These surprise teams tend to garner more votes when it comes time for the COTY voting. Six of the last ten COTYs won at least 4.5 games more than predicted according to Vegas win total lines. The projected win total for the last 10 COTY winners was 8.8. All 10 won at least two more games than their projected win total. Ideal NFL COTY CandidateBreaking it down then, the perfect NFL COTY candidate is one who wins a ton of games. Preferably, the coach wins more than the previous season. Typically, the COTY is going to come from a team that had a losing record the previous season. He’ll likely need 10-plus wins and preferably a playoff spot.  Keep in mind that the award typically does not go to the favorite. The last eight NFL COTYs all started the season at +1800 or higher. Six of the previous 12 winners were first-year head coaches and five of the last seven were offensive guys. Your 2023 NFL COTY Candidates to Bet Now  Mike McDaniel (Dolphins) +2000: McDaniel enters his second season off a pretty strong debut. The Dolphins won nine games. He’s an offensive guy who will have a healthy Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback and plenty of weapons on offense. He also hired veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to shore up the defense.  Miami has a win total of 9.5. McDaniel will need double-digit wins and a playoff berth. Both are doable with the Dolphins schedule. And, McDaniel is nowhere near the favorite here.  Arthur Smith (Falcons) +1400: Smith will play in what is likely the weakest division in football. He’s another offensive-minded guy who has developed quarterbacks like Ryan Tannehill and Desmond Ridder last season. Carolina is young and inexperienced. Tampa Bay doesn’t have Tom Brady and the Saints are in the midst of a rebuild. The Falcons are talented - Kyle Pitts and Drake London - on offense and they made some moves in the offseason on defense. He’s not a first-year candidate, but he fits the other criteria and he’s priced at +1400.  DeMeco Ryans (Texans) +2500: Here’s the guy who is worth at least a small bet. Ryans is a first-year head coach. He’ll have the benefit of playing six games in the weakest division in the AFC (the South). The Colts have a new head coach too and the Titans will struggle with a weak offensive line. Jacksonville is solid on offense but weak defensively. Houston will surprise some people with a fairly well-rounded and deep roster. They benefit from having the schedule of one of the weakest teams in the league last year. The Texans won just three games last year. If Ryans can do what Daboll did a year ago, this bet makes for a nice payout.

Read more

Early Season College Football Betting Trends

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2023

College football has a unique Week 0 where only a select few teams make their debuts, unlike the NFL where every team plays on the opening weekend. Fourteen FBS teams started their seasons last weekend, with the majority (13 of 14) playing again in Week 1 against a team playing in its first game of the year. That raises a question of which is more crucial: Is it better to have game film of an opponent with a rest and preparation edge or is it better to have played a live game already?  Teams that haven’t played can view their opponent's performance from the first game if they played in Week 0. That can be a huge benefit. Teams that haven't played yet may also have an advantage in preparation. Teams who didn't play in the first week of the season don’t have film. That means their opponent has yet to see them play.  For teams that don’t play in Week 0, the extra rest is beneficial as is not having to travel or deal with injuries suffered in a game. Look at Hawaii, which played Saturday night after a lightning delay in the humid climate of Nashville. Their athletes had multiple cramping issues and then had to travel over 4,000 miles back home.  They will play against Stanford on Friday night, making it an even shorter week for the Warriors. Stanford was off last week and will make the trip to Hawaii with extra rest.  How does it all play out? Historical Trends The answer is obvious in terms of historical against-the-spread (ATS) odds. The team making its debut has an advantage. Historically, teams playing their season opener against an opponent who has already played, including FCS teams, have covered at a rate of just under 55%. The lower limits are a result of the FCS market's significantly lower efficiency. As a result, if we only consider FBS teams, they have performed slightly better, going 56-33 ATS (62.9%), since 2005. Only games played in August and September are included here. This eliminates eight season openers for Mountain West and Pac-12 teams in 2020 that started the season late because of pandemic-related issues. Due to their upcoming games against FCS opponents, Ohio, San Diego State, New Mexico State, FIU, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, UTEP, and Jacksonville State did not make the cut. Navy, which has a bye this week, didn’t either. 2023 Games To Consider There are five games that fall into this category. Nevada plays at No. 6 USC a week after the Trojans won their first game against San Jose State. Nevada is a 38-point underdog. The Spartans, after suffering a 28-point loss to the Trojans in Week 1, will take on No. 18 Oregon State on Sunday afternoon.  The three other games are as follows: ●     UMass at Auburn (-38) - UMass beat New Mexico State last week.●     Louisiana Tech @ SMU (-20) - La. Tech beat FIU last week.●     Stanford (-4) @ Hawaii  - Hawaii lost to Vanderbilt last week. Future Considerations There are no conference matchups that fit this scenario this year. It’s a small sample size, but there is a big trend to watch when a team makes its season debut against a conference opponent that has played in Week 0.  There have been 17 such games since 2005. The team making its season debut is 14-3 ATS - that’s an 82.3 percent cover rate - and the winners are covered by an average of right around a touchdown per game.  You could argue that teams in that situation have an even greater film advantage and may unleash an even greater frequency of new looks. Just something to remember for future seasons.

Read more

How Joe Burrow’s Injury Has Impacted the Bengals & Betting Markets

Monday, Jul 31, 2023

Cincinnati starting quarterback Joe Burrow suffered what’s being called a calf strain during Bengals training camp last week. Nothing more has really been said about the injury other than Cincy’s starter will miss several weeks. Cincinnati’s first game of the season isn’t until Sept. 10 when they play AFC North and in-state rival Cleveland.  So, how does Burrow’s injury impact Cincinnati and associated betting markets? Understanding the Injury The so-called “calf strain” is a soft tissue injury. Soft tissue injuries are typically graded as mild, moderate, or severe. A mild strain is a Grade 1 injury. Moderate strains are Grade 2 and severe strains are classified as Grade 3. Neither the Bengals' athletic training staff nor the team’s coaching staff have classified Burrow’s injury. Therefore, we have to infer from what Bengals head coach Zac Taylor has said about his starting quarterback. Taylor said that it will be several weeks before Burrow returns.  He said he will return, but it will take some time. That indicates that it is probably a Grade 2, or moderate strain. Cincy WR Ja’Marr Chase said that Burrow has been using a scooter to get around. That also indicates that it’s more than a mild strain. Using the scooter means that Burrow is not supposed to put weight on the injured calf. Walking and engaging the calf could make the injury worse.  Nothing New Now, anyone wondering about how Burrow’s injury affects the Bengals or his preparation in training camp can simply point to the past. Missing the preseason and not playing in a preseason game is nothing new for Burrow.  Remember, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the entire preseason during Burrow’s rookie year in 2020. The following year, 2021, Burrow was recovering from a knee injury suffered late in his rookie season. In the 2021 preseason, Burrow took three snaps in a game. That’s it. Last year, the Bengals quarterback was recovering from an emergency appendectomy. He ended up throwing just one pass in a preseason game last year. It was dropped by Chase, by the way. Regardless, missing any part of the preseason is nothing new for Burrow and the Bengals. Betting Impact When Burrow was carted off the field last week, sportsbooks immediately took down everything related to the Bengals in the futures markets. There was uncertainty surrounding the injury and sportsbooks were not taking any chances. With the quarterback having the single greatest impact on the outcome of a team’s season, sportsbooks decided to play it safe until they had more information. Once it was announced as a calf strain, sportsbooks began reposting the Bengals' futures odds. Burrow was listed at +750 to win the NFL MVP before the injury and remains right in that ballpark at most sportsbooks after the injury. The same is true of the Bengals' Super Bowl odds. Defending champion Kansas City is still the overall favorite at +600. The Eagles (+650) and Bills (+900) are the only other teams given better than +1000 odds. San Francisco (+1000) is next on the board and right behind them is the Cincinnati Bengals (+1100) whose odds remain unaffected by Burrow’s injury. As long as Burrow can come back healthy, the Bengals should be among the teams battling for this year’s Lombardi Trophy.

Read more

Baseball’s New Pitch Clock - How It’s Working So Far

Sunday, Jul 30, 2023

After several years of enduring baseball games that lasted longer than three hours, MLB finally implemented a pitch clock. It was tried out in a number of minor leagues before arriving in MLB in 2023. How has it worked so far? The Pitch Clock If you're unaware, the MLB pitch clock regulates how long a pitcher may wait between pitches. A pitcher has 15 seconds to throw his next pitch if there are no runners on base. He is given 20 seconds when there is at least one runner on base. Prior to the pitch clock running out, the pitcher must be in his windup. A ball is automatically awarded for any pitch clock infraction. There must be at least eight seconds left on the pitch clock when batters enter the batter's box. A hitter commits a violation and gets called for a strike automatically if he is not in the box at that time. There are some additional nuances, but those are the fundamentals of the new rule. Of course, the pitch clock has generated a lot of discussion among fans and within the league. The Purists of Baseball Purists of traditional baseball despise the pitch clock. They assert that the game was intended to be played at its own pace. A clock has never been used in baseball. It was never intended to, and purists think it takes away from the original game. The pitch clock does eliminate some of the psychological tricks that pitchers could employ against hitters. The most ardent baseball purists will find that to be an important aspect of the game.  Many people also claim that games today move too quickly. While 2:03 may be a little too short for an MLB game, three and a half hours is definitely too long.  Scoring Is Up Compared to last season, MLB games now average 9.1 runs per game. It's interesting to note that MLB games in 2021 also featured an average run total of 9.1. The numbers are back up this season after declining last year. But is the increase in scoring connected to the new pitch clock? Los Angeles Dodgers were the MLB team with the most runs scored in 2022. Last year, they scored 5.17 runs per game on average. The Texas Rangers have held the top spot for the majority of the season. They currently score 5.83 runs per game on average. Six teams average at least 5.00 runs per game currently. Last season, only the Dodgers were over the 5-run mark.  Change in Pitching A look at pitching statistics also provides some useful information. Starting pitchers have almost certainly been the group that has been most impacted by the pitch clock.  The Dodgers also held the majors record for team ERA in 2022. LA's pitchers had an overall ERA of 2.82. With 2.84, Houston's staff came in second. The Dodgers were No. 1 once more in 2021 with a team ERA of 3.02. The league-leading Dodgers posted a 3.11 ERA even during the abbreviated 2020 MLB season. The key takeaway is that the best baseball pitching staff have had team ERAs that have tended to be around 3.00. Tampa Bay has the top pitching staff in MLB in 2023 based on ERA with the new pitch clock. The Rays' ERA as a whole is 3.70.  Injuries Pitcher injuries were one of the arguments raised against the use of the pitch clock. The numbers show that there is no connection between the two. A spike in pitcher injuries occurred in 2021, and through the first 75 days of the season, 195 pitchers had been placed on the injured list. In 2022, it decreased to 157. It's interesting to note that there were fewer this year (146). It's interesting to note that this year's average fastball and breaking ball velocities are higher than they were in 2022. Through the first 75 days of the season last year, the average fastball clocked in at 93.8 mph. It was 94.0 this year. Breaking ball speed increased from 82.6 to 83.0 miles per hour. Actually, those figures are more suggestive of an increase in injuries. The torque on the elbow increases with the speed at which these pitchers throw. Compared to the time between pitches, that can unquestionably result in more injuries. Games are being sped up by the pitch clock, which eliminates about 30 minutes from each game. It won't disappear any time soon. To determine its actual impact on the game, if any, we'll need a larger sample size.

Read more

The Most Memorable Moments in Sports on the Fourth of July

Tuesday, Jul 04, 2023

It’s a memorable day on the calendar each year. First and foremost, it is the celebration of the independence of the United States of America. It also marks a sort of mid-point to the summer. July 4th lands just about halfway through the Major League Baseball season as well. However, it’s not just baseball that has provided some of the more memorable sports moments on the Fourth of July.  Richard Petty Wins 200th It was two days after his 47th birthday. Petty would win for the final time in his storied career at the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Petty had appeared in over 1,200 races in his career and had seven NASCAR Cup Series championships. On July 4, 1984, Petty won his record-setting 200th race that day. He would go on to race for another eight years but never won another NASCAR Cup Series event.  John McEnroe Beats Bjorn Borg Wimbledon begins near the end of June and often some of the Grand Slam tournament’s events occur on July 4. In 1981, John McEnroe faced Bjorn Borg for the men’s singles title. McEnroe was just 22 years old and Borg had won five straight Wimbledon titles. At the time, Borg had won 41 straight matches at Wimbledon. McEnroe would upset Borg for his first Wimbledon title. He would win twice more in his career.  Kevin Durant Signs with Golden State It wasn’t an on-field performance, but in 2016 the free agent Durant announced he would be leaving Oklahoma City to head to Golden State. The Warriors had just set an NBA record with 73 wins in the previous season. Durant would go on to win consecutive NBA Finals MVPs the next two seasons. Phil Niekro, Nolan Ryan Get to 3,000 Ks In 1980, Ryan went up against the Cincinnati Reds and their loaded lineup. He struck out Ken Griffey Sr. in the first inning and then got Cesar Geronimo in the second for his 3,000th strikeout. Ironically, Geronimo was also the 3,000th victim of Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. Four years later, Phil Niekro would add his name to the list of MLB pitchers with 3,000 strikeouts. The knuckleball pitcher would finish his career with 3,324 strikeouts. Righetti’s No-No In 1983, Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti pitched a complete game no-hitter against his team’s biggest rival – the Boston Red Sox. Righetti would strike out Red Sox star Wade Boggs to complete the feat. Boggs would strike out only 36 times all season and end up winning the AL batting crown.  Righetti’s teammate, SS Bert Campaneris, would add to his MLB record. Campaneris played in 11 no-hitters during his career. Righetti would go on to win three World Series championships as a coach of the San Francisco Giants from 2000 to 2017. The Luckiest Man Alive It was about a month after one of the greatest players in New York Yankees’ and MLB history was forced to retire. Lou Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive games, won six World Series titles, was a seven-time All-Star, and won the American League MVP twice. On July 4, 1939, he gave a speech that still brings chills to those that listen to it. Gehrig had been diagnosed with the disease that now bears his name. He returned to Yankee Stadium where he made his final public appearance that day.  Gehrig’s speech was just 275 words, but the most famous of those was this, “…today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” The Yankees would split a doubleheader with the Washington Senators that day. Gehrig would pass away less than two years later.

Read more

Why Georgia Will Not Win a Third Straight CFP National Championship

Friday, Jun 30, 2023

Since the wire service era began in 1936, no college football team has ever won three consecutive national championships. Fourteen teams, including last year’s Georgia Bulldogs, have won back-to-back titles, but none have claimed the elusive three-peat. Some schools have been close, but you can add Georgia to the list of 14 that have failed at winning three consecutive national titles. Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart is 81-15 in his seven seasons at Georgia. His team will fare well again in 2023, but history is not on the Bulldogs’ side. Go Army, Let’s TieThere were several great Army teams of the 1940s. Legendary head coach Red Blaik won back-to-back national championships in 1944 and 1945. Blaik and the Black Knights won 25 straight games before facing off with national power Notre Dame. The two teams played to a scoreless tie in what is considered one of the best college football games of all-time. The result would leave Army 9-0-1 that season and give the national title to the Fighting Irish. It was the start of something special in South Bend. Golden DomersAfter winning the 1946 title, Notre Dame and its Hall of Fame coach Frank Leahy won the 1947 crown too. They were led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Lujack. The Fighting Irish were on their way to a third straight championship but were passed in the polls by Michigan.  Eventually, Notre Dame would tie USC and end up No. 2 in the final poll in 1948. In what would have been an unprecedented run, Leahy and the Irish won the national title again in 1949.  Close But No CigarNebraska was one of the most successful college football programs of the 1970s through the 2000s. Bob Devaney won consecutive national titles in 1970 and ‘71 before going 9-2-1 in 1972. The Cornhuskers finished No. 4 in the country that season. Devaney’s protege, Tom Osborne, put together one of the most dominant runs in modern college football history. First, Osborne and the Huskers won 25 straight games in winning consecutive titles in 1994 and ‘95. That came after Osborne and Nebraska lost to Florida State 18-16 in the 1993 title game. The Cornhuskers missed a field goal on the game’s last play. Then, in 1996, Nebraska was on its way to another BCS national championship. All they had to do was beat Texas in the Big 12 title game. The Huskers were a double-digit favorite over the Longhorns but fell victim to the upset, 37-27, and wound up No. 6 in the final polls. USC FailsPete Carroll had a great run at USC in the 2000s. They won the 2003 and 2004 national titles and were looking for the three-peat in 2005. The Trojans won 34 straight games before they faced Texas and its dynamic quarterback, Vince Young.  Young scored the game-winning touchdown with nine seconds remaining in the 2005 Rose Bowl to prevent USC from claiming the first three-peat in CFB history. The Trojans wound up No. 2. History vs. GeorgiaThe Bulldogs are a +250 favorite to win a third straight national championship. That number is likely to decrease as Georgia begins its season. Smart’s team will have two easy ones to start the season - UT-Martin and Ball State. They’ll get UAB in Week 4 sandwiched in between South Carolina at home and Auburn on the road. That could be the Bulldogs' first real test. Georgia likely won’t get much resistance until Ole Miss shows up between the hedges of Sanford Stadium on Nov. 11. Then, the big one…at Tennessee.  The Bulldogs will get everyone’s best shot. If they do manage to win the SEC East, they will likely need to win the SEC championship to get into the College Football Playoff. Then, they’ll need another semifinal win and a title game win…all with a new quarterback.  Sure, Smart returns 18 starters from last year’s team, but without a proven quarterback to start the season the Bulldogs are going to have some questions early. Maintaining that kind of dominance is difficult, especially when one of the teams - Alabama - that is a contender, plays in your conference.  While Georgia has a great chance to become the first three-peat champion, history is not on the Bulldogs’ side. 

Read more

5 College Football Coaches on the Hot Seat Entering the 2023 Season

Thursday, Jun 29, 2023

Each year, a number of college football coaches end up losing their jobs, while others barely escape the same fate. These coaches need a winning season, a win over a rival, a bowl berth, or must somehow show some vast improvement in the next season. Interestingly, college football coaches with winning records will often be “on the hot seat” since they might not be viewed as doing enough for their program. That said, here is a look at five coaches who are squarely on the hot seat heading into the 2023 campaign. Danny Gonzalez, New Mexico Lobos fans probably miss Bob Davie's 2015 and 2016 winning seasons. Gonzalez is 7-24 in three years with the Lobos. New Mexico is 3-20 in Mountain West Conference play. That includes a dismal 0-8 last season. The Lobos' offense totaled 228.1 yards per game, the absolute worst in the nation. They ranked 129th in scoring, averaging 13.1 points per game. Gonzalez will return four offensive starters, three on the offensive line. The season starts at Texas A&M and there are late season back-to-back trips to Boise State and Fresno State. Dino Babers, Syracuse How long will Syracuse fans tolerate Babers? Babers went 10-3 after two 4-8 seasons in Years 1 and 2. Since that 2018 campaign, Babers has had just one winning season. That came last year. The Orange went 7-6, but they started the season 6-0 and were ranked in the AP Top 25. Replicating that this season will be difficult. Syracuse plays at Purdue on Sept. 16, Clemson at home on September 30, North Carolina, Florida State, and Virginia Tech are all on the road. Steve Sarkisian, Texas Sarkisian is 13-12 in Austin. That kind of record doesn’t really make Longhorns fans all warm and fuzzy. The Longhorns' offense hasn't taken off after Sarkisian's success at Alabama. Last season, the Horns improved to 8-5 and beat eventual Big 12 champion Kansas State. Texas also beat rival Oklahoma 49-0. Nine offensive starters, including QB Quinn Ewers, return for Texas. Many expect Sarkisian's team to win the new-look Big 12. Six defensive starters return. Sark is likely safe, but if the Longhorns falter, Texas may be looking elsewhere for a head coach to lead them into the SEC in 2024. Neal Brown, West Virginia West Virginia fans are not too happy with Brown. He has one winning season in four years. That was because COVID-19 cut the 2020 season short.  Brown is 22-25 at WVU. That comes to 5.5 wins per season. The last time West Virginia was that bad was between 1977-80 when they went 18-27. Penn State is up first on the schedule and Pitt renews the Backyard Brawl in 2023. The Mountaineers play Texas Tech and TCU in Big 12 play. Late last season, Brown was +200 to be the next college coach fired. That may carry over into 2023. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M Ole Jimbo has been under fire since losing four games in his first season in College Station. Fisher's predecessor, Kevin Sumlin, went 44-21 and was fired after Year 5. Fisher is 39-21 (23-18 SEC) in five seasons in College Station and hasn’t been let go yet. Last year's 5-7 Aggies lost six straight SEC games. Fisher "saved" the season by beating UMass and LSU in the season finale. Fisher, like Brown, was given +200 odds to be the next CFB coach fired late last season. It’s highly possible that Fisher and the Aggies could go 5-7 again and Jimbo keeps his job. There are 76,800,000 reasons why he might remain. If fired before the end of 2023, Texas A&M would owe Fisher $76.8 million.

Read more

How to Bet the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

If you’re betting on the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, you’d better have a strategy. Otherwise, betting on a whim is a waste of your money. The top offensive rookie in the league plays one of three positions and possesses specific qualities. Here, we show you how to maximize your bets in this category. Where to Start Make sure the player is a wide receiver, a running back, or a quarterback when putting a wager on the NFL Offensive ROTY. Tight ends and linemen don’t win this award. When you look at rookie QBs, RBs, and WRs, they need to play. Guys that win this award typically play 15 games or more in their first year. Additionally, it is advantageous if the player plays in around 15 to 16 games each season. That player will be able to compile the kinds of stats that garner season-ending honors if they participate in the majority of games. Defining ROTY According to its definition, the best offensive first-year player in the National Football League receives the Associated Press NFL Rookie of the Year Award each year. Now, it helps to understand who votes for the winner. Voting is open to the 50 Associated Press journalists who cover the NFL. They vote right after the last game of the regular season. Typically, two to five players receive votes and there is usually no dispute over the winner. Voters normally vote for the players with the best statistical seasons. If they don’t have strong numbers; they aren’t winning the ROTY. The Numbers Speaking of numbers, actual passing yards matter more than metrics like air yards or yards per attempt. Running backs and wide receivers usually need about 1,300 yards or more to be a ROTY winner. To accumulate those kinds of numbers, a rookie has to play. Since 2010, nine ROTY winners have played at least 15 games and 28 of the 39 players that received votes since 2010 played in every single game. Playing in every game – or at least most games – is what allows rookies to produce big numbers. Past Winners Up until the early 2000s, the ROTY was a running back-heavy award. With rookie quarterbacks often playing early now, QBs have now taken nine of the past 20 trophies. Running backs and wide receivers won the other 11. Each of the last two ROTYs – Ja’Marr Chase and Garrett Wilson – were receivers. More receivers are being taken early in the draft and, as a result, are playing earlier. Timing Timing is everything for ROTY bettors. Many might not have touched Justin Herbert at 30-1 as a rookie QB with the Chargers. But, when starter Tyrod Taylor went down, Herbert stepped in and had an outstanding season to earn the award. In 2014, Odell Beckham Jr. missed the first four games of the season. That caused his value to drop, but he eventually ended up winning the ROTY. The point is that bettors might have to wager on a guy that isn’t a starter or isn’t playing a lot at the beginning of the season in order to get longer odds. Recent victories have gone to many players. Since 2009, six winners have earned odds of at least +1200. The timing is critical for gamblers. Team Matters The ROTY winner has played on a team that has averaged 7.9 victories since 2010. Some (Saquon Barkley, 3-13) were on truly bad teams, while others (Dak Prescott, 13-3) were on really good ones. Only four of the winning quarterbacks in the prior six seasons had a winning percentage over .500. Given that the worst teams frequently select toward the top of the draft, this should make sense. Because the quarterback is so important, teams choose to draft them first. When you draft a QB so high, it is expected that he will play early. The Draft & More Twelve of the past 20 ROTY winners were chosen in the first 10 picks in their draft. Players who are chosen highly usually have more opportunities to play right away. That, of course, leads to the numbers we discussed earlier. Running back is the only position where non-first-round picks have won. Although they have earned a few votes, offensive linemen have never taken home the prize. There have been six votes cast since 2010 on an offensive lineman. Victories for the quarterback matter when the vote is close. Despite Ezekiel Elliott having the second-best rookie running back season of all time in 2016, Dak Prescott won the ROTY. He threw just four interceptions and led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record.

Read more

How to Maximize MLB First Five Innings Bets

Saturday, May 20, 2023

One of the best methods to uncover value in baseball betting is wagering on the First Five innings.  It’s the equivalent of betting on the NFL’s or NBA’s first half. Bettors can more accurately forecast potential outcomes because it lowers the number of variables that can impact the game’s conclusion. Simply put, first five innings bets allow you to disregard any game developments that take place after the fifth inning. How can you maximize those bets?Types of First Five BetsMost bookmakers allow you to wager on the first five innings in the same ways that you may on the entire game. These include straight-up moneyline wagers, run line wagers (point spread), and totals wagers on the combined run totals for both teams.When computing odds for the First Five, also known as F5, there are fewer factors to consider. It makes sense that betting on the F5 will typically offer less favorable odds than betting on the full game. When there are concerns about a team’s bullpen, betting on the First Five is frequently the wiser course of action. More on that in a moment.Examples of First Five BetsFirst Five Innings wagers are rather simple when compared to full game wagers. Let’s look at an example. Here’s a look at a Phillies-Marlins game. The odds for an entire game are listed first. The First Five Odds are listed next.Phillies             -125     -1.5 (+145)      O 7.5 (-105)Marlins +105    +1.5 (-170)      U 7.5 (-115)Phillies             -120     -1.5 (+120)      O 4.5 (-105)Marlins +100    +1.5 (-140)      U 4.5 (-115)The final innings of a game are frequently when a team’s advantages start to matter more. That should be reflected for bettors in correctly constructed odds. Favorites will have a bigger advantage in whole game wagers than in first five inning wagers. While placing a complete game wager will normally yield a higher return on investment, it is not always the optimum bet.The First Five Is All About PitchingEven though baseball is a team sport, the pitcher is the one who has the most impact on the game. It’s like the goalie in hockey. A starting pitcher in MLB is good enough to go five innings. The best MLB pitchers frequently go six or more innings.Because you just need to consider the relative strength of the starting pitchers and not the bullpen, the first five innings of a game are often simpler to handicap than the entire game. The effect of relief pitchers in a game is far less predictable. Betting the First Five takes the bullpen out of the equation. Strong pitching ultimately has a big effect on F5 betting.Because of schedule variance, there are times when a team’s No. 1 starter will go up against an opponent’s No. 5 starter. Think of Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, or Sandy Alcantara going up against a lesser-known fifth starter. How about those pitchers against a team that pitches a bullpen game?When you have high confidence in the starting pitcher’s relative strength, it makes sense to consider the First Five wager.Top Heavy LineupsA head-to-head analysis of the relative strengths of each team’s starting pitcher is definitely the most important factor in handicapping for the First Five innings bet. However, bettors shouldn’t stop there.A comparison of the batting lineups for each club would be part of a more thorough analysis. Bettors should focus on where the power hitters are in a lineup. Typically, you’ll find those hitters in the No. 3, 4, and 5 slots in the batting order. If a team has three solid hitters batting at the top of the order, that helps the First Five bet. Those hitters will usually get an extra at-bat by the fifth inning.

Read more

Betting Trends in the NBA Playoffs

Friday, Apr 21, 2023

There have been a few early surprises in the playoffs. Giannis Antetokounmpo played just 11 minutes before leaving Game 1 of the Bucks playoff series against Miami, and the Heat won the series opener against Milwaukee. While some other series, including Boston-Atlanta and Philly-Brooklyn, are proceeding as expected, the Lakers looked strong in defeating Memphis in Game 1. The Grizzlies gave it right back in Game 2. If you plan on betting on the NBA playoffs this season, it might be beneficial to be aware of some intriguing trends. Let’s start with the favorites to win it all. Favorite in the Futures Market  The NBA championship is currently expected to be won by the Boston Celtics. Boston currently is given +275 odds. The Bucks are next on the board at +335.  Over the previous 47 NBA seasons, 24 teams entered the postseason as favorites and won the NBA title. Golden State was the most recent NBA favorite to enter the postseason and go on to win the championship. In fact, the Warriors did it three times in 2015, 2017, and 2018. Nine more favorites participated in the championship game out of those 47 NBA seasons. That means 33 of 47 favorites to win the NBA title at least played in the NBA Finals. It's interesting to note that the team picked to win it all in each of the previous three seasons (2020 Clippers, 2021 Nets, 2022 Suns) has not made the NBA Finals. Be Wary of Underdogs The Sacramento Kings had their best season in a long time. The result was the team's first appearance in the playoffs since the 2005–06 campaign. With a 48-34 record, the Kings secured the third seed. The odds for Sacramento to win the NBA championship are currently +2200. Sacramento will become the 30th team seeded in the top-3 given odds of +2000 or higher since the NBA increased the playoff field to 16 teams in 1984. None of the previous 29 teams  reached the NBA Finals. Before bowing out of the playoffs, 10 of those 29 teams advanced to the conference finals. The 2020 Denver Nuggets were the most recent team to do this.  In 2018, Portland was a top-3 seed and was given +5800 odds to win the NBA championship. The Trail Blazers were eliminated in the first round. Speaking of Underdogs Bettors should avoid supporting the trendy underdog too. Underdogs that have at least 66 percent of the tickets since 2005 are only 29-43-1 ATS. These dogs are 6–12 ATS as of 2015. There is a way you might be able to take advantage of NBA playoff underdogs. When there is a short home underdog, you should take a look at the total. Oddsmakers are expecting a close game and, usually, these games live up to the expectations. In 247 such NBA playoff games, the Under is 145-101-1, which represents a winning percentage of 59 percent.  Speaking of Unders In the playoffs, Unders appear to be a more common wager. The pace of play is typically slower than during the regular season as teams value every possession. Unders finished 58-35 last postseason. That’s a 62.4 winning percentage. Unders have exceeded .500 in four of the last five playoff seasons. Smart bettors can go a little further and advance their Under betting. Since 2005, the Under is 548-525-20 (51.1%). The Under is 235-192-2 with a winning percentage of 55% in Games 5 through 7 of a playoff series. Games 6 and 7 are where the real value can be found.  Since 2005, the Under is 121-86 (58.5%). The Under has prevailed in those games by an average of 2.7 points. Defense Only three NBA teams have won the championship in the previous 40 years without having a top-10 defense (in terms of points allowed). The Golden State Warriors from 2018 were the most recent. The Lakers in 2001 and the Houston Rockets in 1995 were the other two. Of the top 10 defensive teams in the league this season,  seven are playing in the postseason.

Read more

Betting NBA First Basket Prop This Postseason

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2023

With the NBA playoffs in full swing, it’s time to take a long look at how to benefit from the First Basket prop. It’s an interesting prop that requires an in-depth look at some of the trends. Let’s start at the top. This NBA season, Joel Embiid was unstoppable when it came to first possessions of a game. This season, Embiid made the most first team field goals in the NBA. In 48% of the games he started, the Philadelphia 76ers scored first. The MVP candidate earned 20 first-basket wins throughout the season, tying Jonas Valanciunas for the most first baskets. In 31% of games that he started, Embiid made the first basket of the game, compared to 25% for Valanciunas. Add in Embiid’s early possession usage rate (1.21) and it’s easy to see why he is a strong bet in the First Basket prop. Interestingly, Boston’s Jaylen Brown had the second-highest early possession usage (1.01), but he was not among the top players in the First Basket prop. Nikola Jokic and Nikola Vucevic tied with 16 first baskets and Toronto’s Pascal Siakam had 15. What’s even more interesting is that of the top-10 players in this category, most of them are centers. In fact, centers made the opening basket in 26 percent of all NBA games this season. Several of them are still playing in the playoffs. With a full season worth of data, it becomes a bit easier to predict which player will score first in a playoff game. For example, look at the Sixers. We know Embiid led the NBA in first baskets, but the trio of Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris combined to score 80 percent of Philadelphia’s first field goals. Take Game 2 of the Sixers series with the Brooklyn Nets. Embiid was the favorite to score first at +270. Maxey was listed at +700 and Harris at +950. Twenty-four seconds into Game 2, Embiid’s 28-foot jumper missed. Roughly a minute later, the Nets missed an easy shot, Embiid grabbed the rebound and he dished to Harris who made a layup. If you had put down $10 on Harris, you made $95. In betting the First Basket prop this playoff season, the 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, and Phoenix Suns have the highest concentration of first basket scorers among the most predictable teams. Brooklyn, Golden State, and Minnesota are among the least predictable. Be careful with some players like Miami’s Bam Adebayo. He has taken Miami’s first shot 24 times this season. Vucevic took the first shot 28 times this season. That was the most by any player. Embiid took the initial shot 27 times. Last year, Adebayo made the Heat’s first basket 34 percent of the time in the regular season. When Miami went to the playoffs last year, he made the first basket just 10 percent of the time. That’s a noticeable drop off. Also be on the lookout for a noticeable rise in first baskets. For example, Memphis’ Desmond Bane only hit 16 percent of the Grizzlies first baskets in 2021-22. In the playoffs last year, Bane hit 46 percent of the team’s initial scores. The key, of course, is finding value in the First Basket prop. In Game 2 of the Minnesota-Denver series, Jokic was the favorite to score first at +410. During the regular season, the two-time MVP scored Denver’s first basket 24 times. Of those 24, Jokic scored the first basket of the game 16 times. Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. scored the first basket in Game 1.

Read more

The 2023 NCAA Tournament by the Numbers

Thursday, Mar 16, 2023

It’s one of the great days of every sports year - the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament. Games begin around noon and work productivity around the U.S. takes a huge dip as fans tune into games all afternoon and night long.  Like every NCAA tourney, the 2023 edition will feature some very interesting numbers. Keep this one in mind - 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That represents the number of potential bracket outcomes. You have a 1-in-9.2 quintillion chance of picking the perfect bracket.  It’s a big number, but there are others associated with this year’s tournament. Maybe they can help you win a few more bets this time around. Big Numbers This year’s tournament is the 84th NCAA tournament in history. The tournament began in 1939 with just eight teams. The tournament was played every year up until the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 tourney.  It has been 53 years since Notre Dame’s Austin Carr put himself in the NCAA record books. Carr shot 25-of-44 and scored 61 points in a win over Ohio in the 1970 tournament. Carr actually has four of top ten individual scoring performances in the NCAA tournament. Carr would go on to be the first pick in the 1970 NBA draft. The number 33 is important because it represents the number of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances by the University of Kansas. Next on the list is Michigan State with 25. Gonzaga has appeared in 24 straight. No other team has been in more than eight straight. The 20s Since 1993, there have been 29 national champions. Each of those teams made it to the semifinals of their conference tournament. Many of those teams were seeded high in the NCAA tournament. Since seeding began in 1979, 26 No. 1 seeds have won national championships. That is the most of any seed. Over the last 23 NCAA tournaments, 22 of the eventual national champions were either a No. 1, No. 2, or No. 3 seed. The only national champion that was not a top-3 seed was UConn in 2014. The Huskies were seeded No. 7. Only one team in college basketball history has appeared in 21 Final Fours. It’s not Duke, which has been to the Final Four 17 times. It’s the Blue Devils’ biggest rival - North Carolina. The Tar Heels have been to the Final Four a record 21 times. National Titles If you are a true college basketball fan, you’ll know that UCLA has the most NCAA championships with 11. The Bruins won seven straight from 1967 to 1973. Legendary head coach John Wooden won 10 of those titles in a 12-year span. Kentucky is next on the list with eight national championships. Duke and Indiana each have five and Kansas and UConn have four. The only other schools with multiple national championships are Michigan State and NC State.  Planting Seeds In the past 11 NCAA tournaments, a team seeded No. 7 or lower has reached the Elite Eight 10 times. Last year, it was North Carolina. The Tar Heels became the ninth straight No. 5 seed or lower to reach the Final Four. In 2021, UCLA made the Final Four as a No. 11 seed. The lowest seed to ever win a national championship was Villanova in 1985. The Wildcats were a No. 8 seed in the first tournament to feature 64 teams.  The No. 1 and No. 2 AP-ranked teams have met in the national championship game seven times. The last such instance was back in 2005. No. 2-ranked North Carolina beat top-ranked Illinois. In five of the past nine tournaments, a No. 14 seed has won its first round game beating the No. 3 seed. Since the expansion to 64 teams, there have only been two years - 1995 and 2007 - in which a double-digit seeded team failed to make the Sweet Sixteen. Of course, one is the loneliest number and only once in the history of March Madness has a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1. That was exactly five years ago, March 16, 2018, when UMBC upset Virginia, 74-54.

Read more

Winning Your NCAA Tournament Bracket Contest

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2023

It all starts tonight. The first of four play-in games is set for tonight in Dayton, Ohio. That will kick off the action in the 2022-23 NCAA tournament. The 68-team field was announced on Sunday and, like any sports fan, you rushed to fill out your March Madness bracket. Whether it’s an office pool, an online pool, or some other form of bracket challenge, picking enough correct games to win can be difficult. To help in your quest to wind up in the money, here are a few tips. You may want to go back and make some changes before all the action starts. Work Backwards Take your bracket, go to the Final Four, and start working backwards. Here’s why. You will be tempted to pick a number of potential upsets in Round 1. There will most likely be several upsets on Thursday and Friday. Since the NCAA expanded the tournament field back in 1985, there has been an average of a dozen upsets throughout the entire tournament. It’s important to clarify that an upset is a game that is won by a team seeded at least two spots below its opponent. A No. 9 beating a No. 8 is not an upset. However, a No. 7 beating a No. 10 is. Over the course of the past 36 tournaments, there have only been 15 instances where a seed lower than No. 6 has made the Final Four. North Carolina made it last year as a No. 8 seed. The lowest seed to ever win a national championship was No. 8. That was Villanova back in 1985. Connecticut won as a No. 7 seed in 2014. In the past seven tournaments since UConn’s win, six No. 1 seeds and one No. 2 seed have won national titles. The point here is that more often than not the top four seeds in a region are more likely to make it to the Final Four than the other twelve. So, start with the Final Four and work backwards. Picking Upsets One of the best parts of the NCAA tournament is all of the upsets. The problem is that we don’t know which ones are going to happen. That means you must pick wisely in your bracket. Only once has a No. 1 seed lost in the first round. There have only been ten No. 2 seeds to ever lose in Round 1. A No. 2 seed has lost in each of the past two tournaments – Ohio State in 2021 and Kentucky last year. Most upsets occur in the first round. If an average of 12 upsets happens every tournament, approximately six of those will come in Round 1. The highest number of upsets comes from the No. 7-No. 10 first-round game. Since 1985, there have been 58 No. 10 seeds that have won their first-round game. Last year, Miami beat USC 68-66. Florida, Iowa, and Minnesota all won their first-round games in the 2019 tournament as No. 10 seeds. Typically, No. 10 seeds are either Power conference teams that are good but got beaten up in a tough league or they are one of the best teams in a mid-major conference. VCU (2016), Wichita State (2017), and Butler (2018) are all great examples of mid-major No. 10 seeds that won a first-round tournament game. Going Deeper in the Tourney As you move deeper into the tournament, the number of upsets will decrease by round. You should figure on half of the number of upsets from the previous round. If you pick six in the first round, you will pick no more than three in Round 2. As you move on to the second round, it is worth remembering that the No. 6 seed has beaten the No. 3 seed 29 times since 1985. The No. 7 seed has 26 wins over the No. 2 seed in Round 2. History says that at least one No. 2 and one No. 3 will lose in the second round. Your job is to do the research and pick the right one to get bounced. In the 2019 tournament, all the second and third seeds won their second-round games.

Read more

Understanding How Load Management Impacts NBA Betting

Tuesday, Feb 21, 2023

If you watched the NBA in the 1980s and into the ‘90s, you might remember “Showtime” in Los Angeles or the Boston Celtics’ “Big Three” frontcourt with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. The Lakers and Celtics alone had some of the more memorable battles in NBA history during this time. What’s interesting about those times in the NBA is something you don’t see very much anymore.On any given night in L.A. for example, fans would show up to the arena and Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Byron Scott, and Michael Cooper would take the floor. In all 82 games of the season, the same starting five – barring injuries – would take the floor.In the 1987-88 season, just one year prior to his eventual retirement, Abdul-Jabbar played in 80 of 82 regular season games. Five times in his 20-year career, he played every game in a season. Players don’t do that today. In today’s NBA, load management is a big deal. Teams want to get the most out of their players. To do so, periodic rest is best. This rest impacts NBA betting.Resting PlayersTeams will often have players skip an entire game. Sometimes, players will sit the entire fourth quarter of a game that is out of reach. Other times, teams will limit the number of minutes a player is on the floor in a game. These are all forms of load management and they can all have an impact on NBA betting.Why Rest PlayersResting athletes toward the end of a season is a typical occurrence in sports. Teams that have already qualified for the playoffs, for example, have the luxury of choosing when to rest players. At the other end of the spectrum, there are teams that have been eliminated from the postseason. They can do the same and rest players in preparation for the following season. Those teams can also give some of their younger players more playing time.Certain players also require some time off. It has been typical for NBA teams to rest star players in the event they play games on back-to-back nights. LeBron James and Joel Embiid are two good examples. Both players usually do not play on back-to-back nights. The same is often true of players coming back from a serious injury.  Understanding load management needs to be part of any NBA-winning basketball strategy.NBA Betting & Rest TodayThe modern idea of load management may have taken its form back in 2012. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich rested his Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli. The Spurs were most likely going to be the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The NBA fined San Antonio for sitting the players, but the Spurs did eventually make it to the conference finals. The move paved the way for the league to change its rules regarding resting players.While the fans may feel slighted when a star player is rested, the biggest impact of the NBA’s load management is on the sports bettor. NBA betting becomes that much more difficult when players, particularly key players, sit out. A large portion of these load management decisions are made just before a game.NBA betting strategies have to be adjusted because of the potential of a key player sitting out. NBA betting often turns into a crap shoot. Putting together an NBA parlay is even worse. Unless all the games on your ticket start at the same time, you are taking an even bigger risk than just the parlay. Keep in mind that NBA teams don’t have to announce who’s out until roughly 30 minutes before tip-off.With the amount of information available today, NBA bettors can usually figure out if a player is going to sit out or not. If there is even the slightest question about resting a player on a given night, that might be your cue to lay off placing a wager on that game.

Read more

The Race to March Madness 2023

Friday, Jan 27, 2023

Before you know it, teams will begin their conference tournaments and Selection Sunday will be upon us. That means March Madness is on the horizon. As teams battle through their conference schedules, the best are beginning to separate themselves from the rest. It’s been an interesting season as only three teams have held the No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25. Two of them are still among the favorites to win this year’s national title. Like any year, what many college basketball fans are excited about are the Cinderellas. Fans and bettors alike love underdogs come tournament time. Are there a few out there that could eventually claim a national championship? Anything is possible in March. We’re No. 1 The preseason No. 1 was March Madness runner-up North Carolina. The Tar Heels stumbled a bit early in the season and are now 15-6 overall. UNC is 7-3 in ACC play, but the Tar Heels are unranked and find themselves a +4000 longshot to win a seventh national championship. The only other teams that have been ranked in the top spot this season are Houston (18-2) and current No. 1 Purdue (19-1). The Cougars, who played in the Final Four two years ago and made the Elite Eight last year, are the overall favorite on the futures betting board at +650. Houston, now ranked No.3, has the second-ranked defense in the country. The Cougars allow just 54.2 points per game. The Boilermakers took over the top spot once again after Houston lost to Temple last week. Purdue is listed at +1000 to win it all. Head coach Matt Painter’s team has a lone one-point loss to Rutgers this season. Not Just a Football School Anymore The No. 2 team in the country is Alabama. Yes, the Crimson Tide can play basketball too. Head coach Nate Oats has turned the program into a perennial championship contender. The Tide is 18-2 with losses to ranked UConn and Gonzaga. Alabama can fill it up with talented Brandon Miller (19.5 ppg) leading the way. The Tide rank 12th in the nation in scoring averaging 83.2 points a game and are winning games by an average margin of 14.5 points. Alabama is second on the board behind Houston listed at +950 to win the NCAA tournament.Blueblood Favorites Defending national champion Kansas is 16-4 and currently ranked ninth in the nation. The Jayhawks have lost three straight in Big 12 play dropping games to Kansas State, TCU, and Baylor. All three programs are ranked in the AP Top 25. Despite the losses, the Jayhawks are fourth on the betting board given +1200 odds to repeat as national champs. Right behind Kansas is Arizona, which is ranked No. 6 and is 18-3 so far this season. The Wildcats are listed at +1400, which happens to be the same odds given to Pac-12 rival UCLA. Arizona just recently beat the No. 8 Bruins 58-52. UCLA, with consecutive losses to the Wildcats and USC, is now 17-4 this season. Not Gonzaga’s Year? Gonzaga, which saw its 76-game home winning streak end this season, is now actually a longshot to win it all. Gonzaga is listed at +3500. The Bulldogs have dropped to No. 14 in the AP poll after the 68-67 home loss to Loyola-Marymount last week. Regardless, head coach Mark Few still has another roster full of talent with national Player of the Year candidate Drew Timme (21.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg), Julian Strawther, and Rasir Bolton. The Bulldogs might be able to fly under the radar heading into March Madness. Underdogs? It’s almost hard to believe, but perennial powers North Carolina, Duke, and Kentucky are all unranked at this point of the season. We’ve already mentioned the Tar Heels. The Blue Devils are in their first season without Mike Krzysewski as their head coach. Duke is 14-6 overall and is a longshot to win it all at +6000. Kentucky is also 14-6, but the Wildcats have won four SEC games in a row, including an upset of No. 4 Tennessee. The Wildcats are given +3500 odds to win March Madness. Defense You always have a shot when you play good defense. Tennessee (+1400) has the best defense in the nation. The Vols allow just 53.7 points per game. Tennessee has also proven itself worthy this season. The Vols beat Kansas 64-50 earlier in the year. Virginia (15-3, ranked No. 9) is always among the best defensive teams in the nation. Currently, the Cavaliers are ninth in the nation allowing 60.3 points per game. That’s why they are given +2500 odds to win it all. Just ahead of Virginia on the board is Texas (16-3), which allows 66.8 points per game (90th). The Longhorns lost head coach Chris Beard but have rallied to win five of their last six games to pull into a tie for the Big 12 lead. Texas is listed at +2000. TCU (16-4) is a game behind Texas in the Big 12 standings. The Horned Frogs are also given +2000 odds and are another defensive-minded team. TCU ranks 37th in the country allowing 64.3 points per game. The Frogs just recently beat Kansas 83-60. Don’t Sleep on the Sleepers The Big 12 is full of talent. The highest ranked Big 12 team is Kansas State at No. 5. The Wildcats are no joke. At 18-3, KSU has wins over ranked West Virginia, Texas, Baylor, and Kansas. The Wildcats are serious longshots at +4000, but their Big 12 schedule will surely prepare them for the rigors of March Madness.

Read more

NHL Betting - The GIFT That Keeps on Giving

Thursday, Dec 29, 2022

Wouldn’t it be great if you could make a hockey wager and enjoy the gift of success each and every time? NHL betting does offer a GIFT but, like any other bet, it does not guarantee a victory every time. You might want to look into the GIFT as a part of a comprehensive hockey betting strategy. The GIFT, or Goals in First Ten, is a popular wagering option at many reputable sportsbooks. Bettors place bets on whether a goal will be scored in the first ten minutes of play. The goal can be scored by either team. Some sportsbooks also provide the NGFT, or No Goal First Ten, which is the opposite side of the GIFT wager. An NGFT wager is simply a bet that neither team will score in the opening ten minutes of a game. It’s a bet that is similar to MLB’s NRFI (No Runs First Inning) wager. Price of GIFT In roughly 58 percent of all games last NHL season, a goal was scored in the opening ten minutes. For the GIFT wager, that would translate to a price of -138. Of course, you need to add the juice and make adjustments for the combined offensive and defensive abilities of the two teams. Typically, the game total and GIFT odds are calculated together. It makes sense that the likelihood of a goal being scored in the first ten minutes of a game would rise if more goals are anticipated to be scored. Here are two examples from last season. Edmonton Oilers vs. Florida Panthers Total: 7 GIFT: -210 Both Edmonton and Florida were highly skilled offensive teams. The Panthers led the NHL in goals per game and the Oilers had the top two players in points for the season. The total in this game was set a little higher at 7. As a result, the odds on a goal in the first ten minutes are higher at -210. Again, more goals are anticipated making it more likely for one to be scored in the game’s first ten minutes. Vegas Golden Knights vs. New York Islanders Total: 5.5 GIFT: -130 The Islanders and Knights were two of the better defensive teams in the NHL last season. In terms of goals against per game, both teams were among the top-5 in the league. The total being set at 5.5 is a result of that. A goal within the first ten minutes is less likely because fewer goals are anticipated. The GIFT odds correspond at -130. The GIFT Rules The GIFT is typically counted from 0:00 to 9:59 of the first period at most sportsbooks. A bet is considered a loss if a goal is scored at precisely the 10:00 mark of the first period. The GIFT bet can be found in various places at different sportsbooks. Some will list the GIFT in the “Periods” section. Other sportsbooks will list the GIFT wager under a different heading, such as Popular Bets. In some books, you can even place a wager on a goal within the first five minutes (GIFF).Betting the GIFT The average number of goals scored by a team in an NHL game is 3.16. The average for the entire previous season was 3.14. Thus, an NHL game will typically feature 6.3 goals. Scores haven’t been this high in a very long time. The last time teams averaged 3.14 goals per game was in 1995–96. In just 17% of NHL games from last season, the first period featured no goals. The league average for the last 15 NHL seasons is 19%. Thus, first-period goals were scored in 81% of NHL games. GIFT odds have been adjusted in response to the increased scoring over the previous two seasons. The top teams in terms of GIFT bets so far in 2022–23 are Vancouver (23–8), Calgary (24–9), Buffalo (23–9), and Ottawa (23–9). At least 71% of the time, a goal was scored by each team in the opening ten minutes of a game. It’s interesting to note that in every Vancouver away game, the GIFT bet was a winner.

Read more

A Case for Ohio State to Win the National Championship

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2022

As a result of Utah's resounding 47-24 victory over the then-No. 4-ranked USC Trojans in the Pac-12 championship game, Ohio State took the fourth and final spot in the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes could win it all. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day wasted little time in letting the college football world know what to expect from his team. There are those that will scrutinize Day and the Buckeyes for backing into the playoff. Remember, the Buckeyes were demoralized by rival Michigan in the final regular-season game.  Still, the Buckeyes can win it all. Here are five reasons why. C.J. Stroud The Buckeyes quarterback was a Heisman Trophy finalist for the second consecutive season. He was the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year as well as the Quarterback of the Year. Stroud could declare for the NFL draft after the CFP, which would give him even more reason to lead one of the nation’s best offenses. Ohio State totaled 492.7 yards of offense per game, which was eighth in the nation. The Buckeyes scored 44.5 points per game, which was good for second behind Tennessee. Stroud threw for 3,340 yards and 37 touchdowns. He took the Michigan loss personally and would love to make up for not getting his team a Big Ten championship. Improved RB Health Ohio State's running game suffered as a result of nagging injuries to both Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson. Henderson did not play in the Michigan game. Williams attempted to play but was clearly limited. With the extended break leading up to the semifinal on December 31, both players will have had ample time to recover and be as close to 100% as possible. Their presence would add yet another element to this already effective offense because both ball carriers have demonstrated their ability to make a difference. Forgotten Special Teams The Buckeyes have two excellent specialists in kicker Noah Ruggles and punter Jesse Mirco, two positions that are frequently overlooked by teams. Ruggles has made 69-of-70 extra point attempts and 15-of-17 field goal attempts, with a long of 47 yards. Micro has made 44 punts in all, averaging nearly 45 yards each, with a long of 77 yards. In a high-profile game where field position could be crucial, Day has two players who will perform admirably if needed in a playoff game. Run Defense Many might laugh after the Buckeyes got torched for 252 rushing yards by Michigan, but the Buckeyes are actually one of the better run defenses in the nation. Ohio State has a top-25 run defense that allows 120 yards per game and has allowed a total of 10 rushing touchdowns in 12 games. In spite of having some personnel issues, the Buckeyes are only allowing 3.4 yards per carry. LB Tommy Eichenberg has persevered despite having two broken hands leading the team with 112 tackles. Similar to the running backs, the defense should have time to recover and work out any kinks in their assignments and communication during the break before the semifinal. The Motivation Factor No playoff team lacks motivation, but it's unlikely that the other teams are subject to the same level of scorn and mockery as the Buckeyes. They are viewed as being unworthy of the invitation to the CFP. Both Day and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles have something to prove. Ohio State’s players will take advantage of the hostility being directed at them by the doubters. What’s interesting is the Buckeyes are a 7-point underdog in their semifinal against No. 1 seed Georgia. Ohio State is listed at +350 to win it all. TCU has the longest odds at +1600.

Read more

How To Find Value in NHL Betting Odds

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2022

Betting on NHL games may not be as popular as betting on the NFL or NBA, but bettors can find plenty of great opportunities if they simply know where to look. Finding value in NHL betting odds requires some prior knowledge. Hockey betting may seem difficult or even boring at times. There are many one-goal games in the NHL every year. Because of scoring, betting on NHL games is primarily a moneyline thing. Still, betting on hockey can provide the smarter bettor with numerous value bets all season long. How can the average bettor start finding value in NHL betting odds? There are many different types of hockey bets. The search for value begins with knowing where to look.Analyze the Schedule NHL teams play a long, grueling 82-game schedule. There are a number of times throughout a given season when a team will play on back-to-back nights. There are stretches where teams play three games in four nights. These instances have an impact on games. Oftentimes, NHL coaches go deeper into their lineups and play a fourth line much more than usual when playing on the second night of a back-to-back. That helps star players get more rest, but it also keeps those talented scorers off the ice. Another factor is motivation. It pays for hockey bettors to find instances where a team might be looking ahead. They may play a weak team one night and a powerhouse the next. Teams may often overlook the weaker opponent and focus on the powerhouse. That can lead to great betting opportunities. Rest is a huge factor in the NHL. A team coming off no rest is at a disadvantage when playing a team that is rested. Looking for these opportunities in the schedule can help bettors find value in NHL betting odds. Strong Road Teams Home teams have some advantages in NHL games. The biggest is “last change” which allows a home coach to make substitutions last following all whistles to stop play. Home coaches can always get the matchup they want. That doesn’t always translate into wins, but it helps. Playing at home is already factored into a game’s odds. One of the things NHL bettors can do is look at how well a home team plays in its own arena against a team that has a strong road record. Veteran teams often navigate the pressures of playing on the road better than younger teams. This is something smart NHL bettors will look at before placing a bet. The Goalies & NHL Betting Odds Like pitchers in baseball, there might be no more important matchup in an NHL game than the two opposing goalies. Always check to see who is starting at goalie before placing an NHL bet. Starting goalies will be rested every once in a while and bettors may find value in betting against a backup. There are also occasions when betting on a backup makes sense. Some backups do have outstanding records. Whatever the situation, it pays to know who is in goal and who is not. Watch for Streaks Look for NHL teams with big winning and losing streaks. They always seem to happen. The New Jersey Devils are in the midst of a 13-game winning streak right now. The Mario Lemieux-era Pittsburgh Penguins are the only NHL team with two 15-game-plus winning streaks. Backing teams that are hot can pay off. It can also pay off on the other end to find teams that can’t find ways to win. Take the 2016-17 Philadelphia Flyers as an example. Early in the season, the Flyers enjoyed a 10-game winning streak. They outscored their opponents by 14 goals. Riding the streak paid off for some bettors. Right after that streak, the Flyers then went on a run of 16 games in which they recorded just one win. Streaks work both ways. Smart NHL bettors would be wise to consider them before placing wagers.

Read more

Hooker Takes Over Top Spot on Heisman Trophy Betting Board

Tuesday, Nov 01, 2022

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker has taken over as the betting favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. On Saturday, Hooker completed 19-of-25 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns as his No. 2 Volunteers beat No. 19 Kentucky 44-6. Hooker also ran for a touchdown giving him 25 total – 21 passing and four rushing – for the season.Hooker is now a +100 favorite to capture college football’s top individual award. He takes over the favorite role from Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud, who had been the favorite since the opening of the market. Stroud led his No. 3 Buckeyes to a 44-31 win over No. 13 Penn State last week. The OSU quarterback completed 26-of-33 passes for 354 yards and a touchdown. For the season, Stroud is completing 71 percent of his passes and his 29 touchdowns are tied for the national lead. Stroud is given +175 odds to win the Heisman this year.No one else is even close. Next on the board is USC quarterback Caleb Williams and Michigan running back Blake Corum. Both are listed at +1400. Williams has thrown for 2,382 yards and has accounted for a total of 27 touchdowns. His Trojans are 7-1 and in the running to reach the Pac-12 championship game.Corum is fourth in the nation in rushing with 1,078 yards. He has scored 14 touchdowns and averages six yards per carry for the Wolverines who are now 8-0 after a win over in-state rival Michigan State last week. Corum would seem to be more of a longshot since five of the last six Heisman winners were quarterbacks. Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (2020) is the only non-quarterback winner in the past six seasons.The last running back to win the award was Derrick Henry, who also played at Alabama. Since Reggie Bush’s Heisman was vacated in 2005, only two running backs have won the award. Ironically, both were from Alabama. In addition to Henry in 2015, Mark Ingram won the award in 2009.Oregon QB Bo Nix and North Carolina QB Drake Maye are both listed at +2500. Neither seems to have a realistic shot at the award, but both of their respective teams still have a shot at the College Football Playoff.North Carolina is 7-1 overall and leads the Coastal Division of the ACC with a 4-0 record. The Tar Heels are ranked No. 17 and Maye is fourth in the nation with 2,671 passing yards. He is tied with Williams with 29 touchdowns. Nix’s Ducks are 7-1 and 5-0 in the Pac-12. Since a season-opening loss to Georgia, Nix has been terrific. He’s completing 72.3 percent of his passes for 2,221 yards and 20 touchdowns. Nix also averages 7.3 yards per carry, has 441 rushing yards and has a team-best 11 rushing touchdowns.The most interesting longshot has to be reigning Heisman winner Bryce Young of Alabama. The Crimson Tide, who are ranked sixth in the country, still have a shot at winning the SEC West, and are still very much alive in the CFP race. In their only loss to No. 2 Tennessee, Young was outstanding with 455 yards passing and two touchdowns. At +3300, there is still time for Young to sneak in and become just the second repeat winner in Heisman history.

Read more

The Worst 2-0 Football Team in the NFL

Sunday, Sep 25, 2022

It’s the 2022 feel-good story, right? The New York Giants have struggled through three straight head coaches that didn’t last past Year 2. Brian Daboll, former Buffalo offensive coordinator, was hired in the offseason to try and get the Giants headed in the right direction. After two weeks of the 2022 NFL season, Daboll and the Giants are 2-0. The turnaround is happening!Or is it?The Giants WinsNew York has two wins so far this season. They beat Tennessee 21-20 in Week 1 after a gutsy two-point conversion call by Daboll. Last week, the Giants won when K Graham Gano hit a 56-yard field goal with just over three minutes to play against Carolina. Then, Daboll gambled and picked up a key first down late in the game to run the clock out.The combined record of the Titans and the Panthers at this point in the season is 0-4. Carolina hasn’t won more than five games in a few years and the Titans appear to be on a downward slide. It’s not like the Giants beat the Bills or Chiefs. The question then is – Are the Giants one of the worst 2-0 teams in NFL history?The HistorySince the NFL merger in 1970, there have been 11 teams that have started an NFL season 2-0 with a four-point or less point differential. The 2012 Philadelphia Eagles won their first two games that season by one point each. After the 2-0 start, the Eagles won just two more games and finished 4-12.History says that the Giants probably aren’t as good as their 2-0 record suggests. The teams in this category – 2-0 with a point differential of +4 or less – have gone on to finish their respective seasons with a .455 winning percentage. That is the equivalent of 7.7 wins and 9.3 losses in a 17-game season.Three of the 11 teams went on to 11-win season. The Giants happened to be one of them. In 2016, the Giants started 2-0 with a 20-19 win over Dallas and a 16-13 victory over the Saints. New York ended up 11-5 and earned an NFC wild card. The Giants got beat by Green Bay in the playoffs that year.Seattle in 2019 and Carolina in 2003 were the other two teams to start a season 2-0 with a +4 or less point differential and go on to win 11 games. That is not the norm. In looking at 2-0 teams regardless of their point differential, it is interesting to find that those teams finish the rest of the season with a .567 winning percentage.In 2022 so far, there are five other teams in addition to the Giants that are 2-0. Miami (+17), Buffalo (+55), Kansas City (+26), Philadelphia (+20), and Tampa Bay (+26) are all unbeaten after two games. When you don’t account for point differential, all 2-0 teams since the merger go on to win 9.6 games and lost 7.4 games per season.Are the Giants the Worst 2-0 in NFL History?The answer to that question will come when the 2022 season concludes, but precedent is not on the side of the Giants. Only five of the 11 teams on this list finished their season with a winning record.The Giants currently rank 18th in DVOA which, if you don’t know what that is, it’s a measure of the Giants taking into account the quality of their opponents. Even more telling is ESPN’s Power Index. The Giants are currently 27th out of 32 teams. They rank right behind No. 26 Atlanta. The Falcons are 0-2.

Read more

Five Things to Watch in the 2022 NFL Season

Friday, Aug 19, 2022

In less than a month, the 2022 NFL season will have kicked off and fans and bettors alike will be back in business. The Buffalo Bills are favored to win Super Bowl LVII. The Bills quarterback, Josh Allen, is the favorite to win the league’s MVP. How will it all play out? That’s the beauty of a new NFL season. We can attempt to predict outcomes, but the ball has a funny way of bouncing sometimes. Here are X things to watch this season. Each will have an effect on the 2022 NFL season as a whole. 3-Peat? Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has won the last two straight NFL MVP awards. Winning a third in a row would tie him with the guy he replaced in Green Bay – Brett Favre – as the only players in NFL history to win three straight MVPs. This wasn’t the plan. The Packers drafted Jordan Love with the expectation he would eventually replace Rodgers. That isn’t happening anytime soon. Rodgers just signed a $150 million contract extension for the next three seasons. The problem Rodgers will have this season is at receiver. Davante Adams is gone and so is Marquez Valdez-Scantling. The type of season Rodgers has will not only determine his MVP hopes but also if the Packers are a Super Bowl team. The Cowboys Hot Seat Mike McCarthy won a Super Bowl and a number of division titles in Green Bay. A couple of mediocre seasons led to his demise there. Now in Dallas, McCarthy went 12-5 and won an NFC East title in Dallas. For doing that, he is now on the proverbial coach’s hot seat. The Cowboys were knocked out of the playoffs in the wild card round by the 49ers last season. Owner Jerry Jones is getting impatient. Dallas hasn’t even been to a conference championship since the Super Bowl-winning season of 1995. McCarthy is going to have to go deeper in the postseason in 2022. He’ll have to do so without the likes of Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory, Cedrick Wilson Jr., and a few others. Dallas is still talented enough to get back to where they were a year ago. Will that be enough? Tua or Not Tua? The Miami Dolphins could have had Justin Herbert but instead chose Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft. Herbert and the Chargers are among this year’s Super Bowl favorites. Tua’s Dolphins are not. Tua has had his moments. He just hasn’t had enough of them. In his third season, the Dolphins quarterback will have everything he needs. He has a solid offensive line and a number of receiving threats – Tyreek Hill, Cedrick Wilson Jr., and Jaylen Waddle. Miami upgraded at running back too with Sony Michel, Chase Edmonds, and Raheem Mostert. In new head coach Mike McDaniel’s first season, it’s time for Tua to step up or step out of Miami. The Browns Cleveland looked like it might be turning the corner on one of professional sports’ longest periods of ineptitude. The Browns made the playoffs in 2020 but blew it last year. Then came the fiasco. The Browns traded for beleaguered Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson. Great move, right? It was until his whole massage-gone-bad ordeal turned into what is now an 11-game suspension. Watson could return in Week 13. Can Jacoby Brissett keep the Browns within striking distance of a playoff berth? Who knows, but how it all plays out will determine the Browns' immediate future.Balance of Power The NFC has won each of the past two Super Bowls, but the balance of power is shifting to the AFC. Two of the top three Super Bowl favorites at most sportsbooks – Buffalo and Kansas City – are from the AFC. Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, and Khalil Mack, among a number of others, are all now playing for AFC teams. The AFC West, which now features Wilson (Broncos) and Mack (Chargers), is regarded as the toughest division in the NFL. Could this be the year an AFC team wins another Super Bowl? 

Read more

Why Bettors Should Take Advantage of Betting First-Half NFL Lines

Saturday, Aug 13, 2022

NFL bettors looking for new ways to slay the betting dragon should look at the advantages offered by betting first-half NFL lines. Instead of betting the entire game, the second half is eliminated. There are advantages to betting just the first half and a few strategies bettors can use to exploit these advantages.It starts with a clear understanding of exactly what you are doing.The First Half NFL MarketFirst-half NFL bets are offered prior to a game starting and include the more common bet types – moneyline, point spread, and totals. When you wager on a first-half line, only the first half of the game matters. All bets are scored based on the halftime score.These bets are popular among bettors who are able to recognize certain first-half trends. These trends offer bettors an edge. Bettors can find first-half lines at most sportsbooks.What is the “Dead Heat Rule?”There is the possibility that an NFL game can be tied at halftime. That creates a great question for bettors. What happens when you bet the first half and the score is tied? Most sportsbooks use something called the Dead Heat rule.With the tie not offered as a betting choice, sportsbooks offer half of the original odds to the bettor. It works like this.The bettor places a $100 bet on a moneyline underdog of +220 to win the first half. If the underdog was to win the first half, the bettor would receive a payout of $220. If the score is tied at the half, according to the Dead Heat rule the bettor would receive $110 instead.Some sportsbooks will create a three-way market for the first half. Bettors can choose the tie as an option and the Dead Heat rule would not apply.First Half Bet TypesAs mentioned, bettors can find similar bets in the first half that are similar to those for a full game. The first half point spread bet is effectively the same as betting the full game point spread. The difference is that just the first half counts.It’s the same for first-half totals. The NFL's first-half totals market mirrors the full-game totals market, but only the first-half scoring counts. Bettors are faced with determining which half will have more scoring.First Half Betting StrategiesWhen betting the NFL first half, one strategy is to look for heavy favorites that are playoff-caliber teams. Teams that lay a bunch of points do so for a reason. The favorite often jumps out to a big lead so they can rest their starters in the second half.The heavy favorite covering the first half spread is more likely than covering the game spread. The junk time at the end of the game is too unpredictable.Bettors can also look for favorites that tend to start games slowly. There are a number of reasons why a team may do that. One of the biggest reasons is the NFL schedule. The league’s schedule is a tough one. Games are physical and players need time to recover.Oftentimes in an NFL season, a team will play a game with limited rest. Teams can play a late afternoon game on a Sunday and then play on a Thursday night. Add in that the team may have had to travel and you may have a situation where you would consider betting the Under.

Read more

Betting Odds of First NFL Head Coach to be Fired in 2022

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2022

NFL teams are just starting to report to training, but it’s never too early to speculate on which head coach will be let go first. It’s not every year that an NFL head coach fails to make it through a season, but Urban Meyer did just that last year when he got the axe after a disastrous start in Jacksonville. The Jags and seven other franchises – Bears, Dolphins, Giants, Raiders, Texans, Saints, and Vikings – will have new coaches this season.One would think that the first-year guys are safe, but in today’s ‘win now or else’ era anything is possible. If you are looking for job stability, don’t become an NFL head coach. It’s pretty much a given that at least one of 32 will be fired in 2022. Which one will be first?MATT RHULE – CAROLINA (+300)Rhule’s first two teams in Carolina have yet to win more than five games – 5-11 in 2020 and 5-12 last season. If star RB Christian McCaffrey could stay healthy, Rhule might not even be in this discussion. The Panthers went out and acquired QB Baker Mayfield to compete with Sam Darnold for the starting job. That should help the offense.McCaffrey needs to stay healthy though. His absence killed the Panthers’ offense. Last year, Carolina averaged 17.9 points a game which was 29th in the NFL. Carolina’s defense is one of the better units in the NFL. If Rhule is going to stick around, the offense has to improve.MIKE MCCARTHY – DALLAS (+500)Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones hasn’t enjoyed the taste of a Super Bowl in quite a while. He was hopeful that former Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy could get Dallas back to the big game. After struggling through a 6-10 first season, McCarthy’s team went 12-5 and won the NFC East.The problem is the Cowboys lost to San Francisco in the NFC wild-card game. McCarthy, who went 125-77-2 with the Packers and won Super Bowl XLV, might need to go deeper in the postseason this year. Dallas lost some key contributors like WR Amari Cooper. If McCarthy can’t get it done in 2022, Jones is likely to make a change.PETE CARROLL – SEATTLE (+600)It’s hard to believe, but Carroll makes the list as the Seahawks appear to be fading. There is no doubt Carroll has been one of the all-time great NFL head coaches. His records of 119-73-1 in Seattle and 152-104-1 overall speak for themselves.But, what has Carroll done lately? The Seahawks went 7-10 last season and failed to make the postseason for just the second time in a decade. Then, Seattle traded away its best player, QB Russell Wilson. Seattle was a mediocre offense with Wilson averaging 23.2 points a game last season. It’s doubtful Drew Lock or Geno Smith can do much better.In his NFL career thus far, Carroll has never had consecutive seasons in which his teams missed the playoffs. How Seattle has success without Wilson at quarterback is hard to fathom. A second straight losing season might be the writing on the wall for Carroll and his career.FRANK REICH – INDIANAPOLIS (+700)Reich has gone 37-28 as the Colts head man, but his teams have only made the playoffs twice and they have never won a division title. Last year, Reich brought in his former Philadelphia quarterback, Carson Wentz. It was a disaster.The Colts ended up 9-8 and out of the playoffs again. Wentz was shipped to Washington and now Reich will work with former Atlanta star Matt Ryan. Reich did sign a contract extension that runs through the 2026 season, but he is going to need to produce in 2022 or he could be out the door.

Read more

NBA Finals Betting Trends & Angles: Boston vs. Golden State

Thursday, Jun 02, 2022

The NBA Finals are here and each year it presents bettors with numerous opportunities for betting success. With a potential seven games on tap, bettors can make or break an NBA betting season. When thinking about betting the NBA Finals, there are a number of things to consider. Here are a few. Fade the Game 7 Winner So, Boston had to go seven games with Miami to get to the NBA Finals. Teams that win a Game 7 do not do so well in Game 1 of their following series. The last 81 times this has happened in the NBA playoffs, the Game 7 winners have lost 49 times (61 percent). Those teams also only win their next series 41 percent of the time. With Steve Kerr as their coach, Golden State is 21-2 SU in playoff Game 1s. The Warriors are also 9-2 ATS when playing as a single-digit home favorite in Game 1 of a playoff series. Golden State hasn’t played since May 26 and that rest advantage may work in their favor. Game 1 Winners Speaking of Game 1, there is an NBA playoff trend worth noting. In NBA playoff history, teams that win Game 1 of a series go on to win that series 73.3 percent of the time. The trend holds up in the NBA Finals too. The winner of Game 1 in the NBA Finals goes on to win the title 70.7 percent of the time. Last year, the Phoenix Suns won Game 1 and 2 before losing four straight to Milwaukee. From 2017 to 2020, the team that won Game 1 went on to win the NBA championship.NBA Finals Totals It’s no secret that the Under is a trend during the NBA playoffs. The pace of games slows down tremendously as teams understand that they face elimination. Usually, teams average about 2.5 fewer possessions per game during the postseason. That means fewer opportunities to score which translates into fewer points. Prior to this postseason, the previous seven NBA playoffs combined saw the Under cash nearly 55 percent of the time. Should the NBA Finals go to a final Game 7, the Under is even more profitable. In Game 7s, the Under hits over 61 percent of the time. There have only been two NBA Finals in the last decade that have gone a full seven games. Series Prices Since 1990, only four NBA Finals have been priced anywhere close to this year’s series – Warriors -160, Celtics +140. Ironically, the Game 1 winner – 1995 Magic and 2014 Spurs – went on to win just two of the four series. Based on the results of Games 1 and 2, series prices will adjust. With a Boston loss in Game 1, their new series odds may move closer to +200. With another loss in Game 3, those odds could approach +300. Bettors considering backing a team that is down in a series should only do so because that team is playing far below expectations. The bottom line is that bettors can often find better series pricing after a few games have been played.The Zig Zag Zig Zag theory in betting is essentially just betting the opposite of what happened in the previous game. The thought is that teams will bounce back quicker in the playoffs knowing if they don’t they may be eliminated. Blindly following this strategy in the NBA Finals doesn’t really work, but there is one situation where there is a trend. NBA playoff teams seeded in the top-3 – which both Boston and Golden State are – do very well against the spread when coming off a Game 1 loss. Since 2005, the Game 1 loser has come back to cover the spread in Game 2 64 percent of the time (30-17 ATS). 

Read more

A Look at the 2022 MLB National League Pennant Odds

Thursday, Mar 31, 2022

 Once again, it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers who stand out in the National League. It’s really no secret since the Boys in Blue have been favored to win not only the National League but also the World Series for the last several seasons.   Last year, the Dodgers were the favorite all the way up until Atlanta beat them 4-2 in the National League Championship series. The roster has changed slightly, but Los Angeles will still field a lineup full of All-Stars and a pitching staff full of Cy Young-caliber pitchers.  There are a number of teams that made some offseason moves to put themselves in position to challenge L.A. Can any of them overtake the Dodgers? Here’s a look at the 2022 MLB National League pennant race.  Favored Again  It’s like déjà vu all over again as Yogi Berra used to say. The Dodgers are the overall betting favorite to win the NL pennant at +240. L.A. is an overwhelming favorite despite losing a former NL Rookie of the Year and former World Series MVP. SS Corey Seager is now a Texas Ranger, but the Dodgers still have a lineup full of All-Star talent.   Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Gavin Lux, Will Smith, and Trae Turner are all All-Star worthy. Then, the Dodgers went out and inked another former NL MVP and World Series champion Freddie Freeman. From top to bottom in the batting order, the Dodgers don’t have a weakness.  Then, there is the pitching. Even if Trevor Bauer and Clayton Kershaw (two Cy Young winners) do not return, the Dodgers still have Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, and Dustin May. It’s easy to see why the Dodgers are favored to win the NL pennant again.  Mets on the Move  The way oddsmakers see it, the New York Mets' offseason was enough to propel them into the role of top challenger to the Dodgers' NL supremacy. The Mets are given +500 odds to win the NL pennant after they acquired such players as P Max Scherzer and OF Starling Marte.   Scherzer wound up 15-4 last season with a WHIP of 0.86. Opposing hitters hit just .186 against Scherzer last season. He will pair with a healthy Jacob deGrom to form the best No. 1-No. 2 pitching combination in the majors. The Mets also have Taijuan Walker, Chris Bassitt, and Carlos Carrasco in their rotation.   The offense still has former NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso who hit 37 homers last season as well as Marte, SS Francisco Lindor, and DH Robinson Cano.  Contenders  You can’t count the defending champion Braves (+500) out of the mix. Despite losing Freeman, the Braves did sign slugger Matt Olson to replace him. Their lineup is pretty deep with Marcell Ozuna, Dansby Swanson, and Austin Riley. Plus, the Braves get a healthy Ronald Acuna Jr. back and the pitching rotation features Max Fried and Charlie Morton and Atlanta added closer Kenley Jansen.  The Padres were a contender last season until injuries ruined their chances. A healthy Fernando Tatis along with Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado gives the Padres plenty of power. The pitching rotation includes former Cy Young winner Blake Snell plus Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove. If San Diego (+850) can stay healthy, they should contend for the NL pennant.  Watch Out  At +700, it’s hard to call Milwaukee a sleeper, but the Brewers get left out of the discussion when it comes time to talk NL pennant. The Brewers have exactly what it takes to win championships – pitching. Both Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes finished in the top five in the NL Cy Young race. Burnes won the award after finishing with an NL-best 2.43 ERA. Woodruff’s was 2.56. With a former NL MVP in Christian Yelich as well as Kolten Wong and Hunter Renfroe, the Brewers are another strong candidate to battle for the NL pennant. 

Read more

A Look at the 2022 MLB American League Pennant Odds 

Monday, Mar 28, 2022

 The MLB’s offseason featured a lockout over a new collective bargaining agreement giving fans a scare. The players and the league did finally agree to a new CBA meaning the 2022 MLB season is a go. Opening Day is set for April 7 and all 162 games will be played this season. The regular season will end on October 5.  The new CBA did include some changes, one of which involves the postseason. Each league will add one more wild card to the postseason mix for a total of 12 teams in the MLB playoffs. Which of those teams has the best shot at capturing the American League pennant? Here’s a look at how the AL pennant race may play out.   Houston, We Have No Problem The Astros have played for the last five straight AL pennants. With relatively few roster changes, Houston is the overall favorite to repeat as AL champion and represent the league in the World Series again. Remember, a year ago the Astros beat Boston in six games to win the American League but fell to Atlanta 4-2 in the World Series.  Houston has both the pitching and the hitting of a championship team. That is why they are the AL favorite at +450 to win it again. Last year, the Astros led the majors in runs per game and they could easily do that again in 2022. They have a former AL MVP in Jose Altuve who hit .277 with 31 homers and 83 RBIs last season. They have a favorite in this year’s MVP race in Yordan Alvarez. All Alvarez did last season with hit .277 with 33 home runs and 104 RBIs. Alex Bregman is back and healthy and Kyle Tucker is back after hitting .294 with 30 homers. Even after losing Carlos Correa to the Twins in free agency, there is not a weak spot in the Astros batting order.  Houston has three excellent young pitchers in Framber Valdez (11-6), Jose Urquidy (8-3), and Christian Javier who went 4-1 in nine starts last year. The Astros will also get two-time Cy Young winner Justin Verlander back after he missed all of last season with an injury.   The Contender There is a reason why Toronto is given the exact same odds - +450 – as the Astros to win the AL pennant. The Blue Jays went 91-71 last season but didn’t make the postseason. They wound up fourth in a very competitive AL East. With one of the best young lineups in baseball, the Blue Jays have what it takes to win the AL this year.  Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led the majors with 48 home runs last season. He also hit .311 and had 111 RBIs. Bo Bichette hit .298 with 29 dingers and 102 RBIs. Four more Blue Jays – Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., George Springer, and Randal Grichuk – each hit at least 22 home runs. Grichuk was recently traded, but the other three return. Hernandez hit .296 and had 116 RBIs.  The Blue Jays upgraded the pitching staff too. They signed Kevin Gausman away from San Diego in the offseason and recently acquired Yusei Kikuchi. They will join Jose Berrios, Alek Manoah, and Hyun Jin Ryu to form a competent starting lineup.   Others in the Mix The White Sox won the AL Central and are given +500 odds to win the AL pennant this year. The Yankees still have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton along with P Gerrit Cole. They are listed at +475. The more interesting candidates are Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Angels. Remember, it was the Rays that won 100 games and the AL East last year. They return AL Rookie of the Year Randy Arozarena and SS prospect Wander Franco. The Rays are given +750 odds to win the AL pennant.  The Angels are an interesting longshot pick. They return AL MVP Shohei Ohtani and a healthy Mike Trout, who owns three AL MVPs of his own. The Angels did upgrade the pitching staff with the addition of Noah Syndergaard. L.A. is currently listed at +1600 to win the AL. 

Read more

NFL Draft Futures: Who Will Be The First Pick in the 2022 Draft?

Monday, Feb 28, 2022

 The 2022 NFL draft gets underway on Thursday, April 28, in Paradise, Nevada. The Las Vegas suburb was supposed to host the 2020 selection show, but the coronavirus pandemic forced that year’s draft to be held virtually.   This year, it all begins with the first pick held by the Jacksonville Jaguars who finished a league-worst 3-14. The Jags have a new head coach, former Super Bowl champion Doug Pederson, and will pick ahead of Detroit which finished 3-13-1. Houston, the New York Jets, and the New York Giants round out the top five overall picks.   In the past two seasons, quarterbacks were the focus of the draft. Last year, the top three picks were all signal-callers. This year, only one quarterback is among the top five favorites to go No. 1. The Jags actually got their quarterback last year drafting Trevor Lawrence with the top pick.  The Jags have plenty of needs, including one very vital position. Barring a trade then, who will the Jaguars select with the first pick?  Edge Rusher  It’s arguably the most important position in football after the quarterback. Teams with outstanding edge rushers are teams that make postseasons. Look at Super Bowl LVI for proof. The Rams sacked Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow nine times.  In this year’s draft, there are two outstanding edge rushers – Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux. Either could go first and both fit an immediate need for Jacksonville. Both players are at or near the top of almost everyone’s draft board and they are among the top five betting favorites to go No. 1.  Hutchinson is a 6-foot-6-inch, 270-pound ball of relentless energy. His father played defensive line at Michigan and the younger Hutchinson is even better than his old man. He has a great burst and can line up anywhere on the defensive line. He also has experience as a standup linebacker. That is why he is the overall favorite at +160 to be drafted first this year.  Thibodeaux is just as big at 6-5 and 280 pounds. He is a fluid athlete that can wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. He had to fight through some injury issues last season, but Thibodeaux is an amazing talent. Several NFL teams, including Jacksonville, are interested which is why he could be the first overall pick. Thibodeaux is listed at +250 to go first.  Protectors  After quarterback and stud pass rusher, the next position franchises look for is either cornerback or offensive tackle. There are two of the latter worthy of the first pick this year. Eric Fisher was the last OT to go first overall to Kansas City and now Alabama’s Evan Neal has the chance to do the same.  Neal is huge at 6-7 and 350 pounds. As a run blocker, there is no question he is outstanding. He will need to hone his pass blocking skills at the next level, but several teams are sold on Neal’s ability. The Jags could use a solid left tackle to protect Lawrence’s back side. Neal is given +185 odds to be selected first.  The other offensive tackle high on everyone’s board is NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu. He is 6-4, which is a bit on the short side for an offensive tackle, but he is an amazing athlete. He comes from a family full of college athletes and it shows in his play on the field. He has great feet and excels in zone blocking schemes. At +550, he’s a bit of a longshot to go first overall.  The Lone QB  There is one quarterback among the top favorites, but he is listed at +3300. That would be Pitt’s Kenny Pickett. He led the Panthers to an ACC title while throwing for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns. He is extremely confident and possesses the skills to be an NFL starter at some point.   The bigger question is who would draft him first. Jacksonville already has their franchise quarterback. It would take a major trade and a team sold on Pickett for him to go first overall. 

Read more

NFL Super Bowl LVI Futures Update 

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022

   With the Rams' victory over the Cardinals on Monday night, the NFL’s Divisional Round of the playoffs is all set. Six teams have been eliminated and eight remain to battle for the Super Bowl LVI title. One team remains the overall favorite on the betting board. Is there a team in the field that could sneak in and pull off the upset? Here’s an update of the Super Bowl LVI futures market.   Packers Remain Favorite Green Bay opened the season at +900 to win this season’s Super Bowl. They were the favorite entering the playoffs at +350 and remain atop the list heading into the divisional round. QB Aaron Rodgers is having another MVP-worthy season guiding Green Bay to six wins in their final eight games.  The Packers will have the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage all the way to the NFC championship game. Home field advantage matters as at least one top seed has made it all the way to the Super Bowl in seven of the past eight seasons.    Top Contenders The Buffalo Bills are on the board at +500 and for good reason. Buffalo completely manhandled the New England Patriots in their wild-card game last week. The Bills scored touchdowns on their first seven drives of the game. That was a first in NFL playoff history.  The Bills' defense contained the Patriots and rookie QB Mac Jones and didn’t allow a touchdown until the second half with Buffalo in command. The Bills defense is the best in the NFL and QB Josh Allen threw five touchdowns in the 47-17 win over the Patriots.  Buffalo will have its hands full with Kansas City in this week’s divisional playoff game. The two teams met last year in the AFC championship. They also played earlier this season at Arrowhead Stadium, site of this week’s game. Buffalo won 38-20 back when the Chiefs were struggling.  Kansas City turned its season around and won 10 of its last 11 games. Since Week 8, the Chiefs' defense has been one of the best in the league. Patrick Mahomes threw five touchdown passes in roughly 12 minutes in the Chiefs win over Pittsburgh in last week’s wild-card game. That’s why the Chiefs are listed at +400 ahead of Buffalo.    The Surprise With Green Bay, Kansas City, Buffalo, and defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay (+500) all at the top of the board, one team is getting overlooked. The Tennessee Titans are the No. 1 seed in the AFC. They are generating absolutely zero buzz, but they should be.  The Titans are listed at +900 behind even San Francisco (+850) which upset Dallas last week to advance. Tennessee gets All-Pro RB Derrick Henry back in the lineup after he missed a good portion of the regular season with a foot injury. Henry was leading the NFL in rushing – which he did in the previous two seasons – at the time of his injury.  Tennessee was still able to finish fifth in the NFL in rushing averaging 141.1 yards per game. The Titans also had the second-best run defense allowing just 84.6 yards per game on the ground. They finished sixth in scoring defense holding teams to 20.8 points per game.   The Titans went 7-2 at home this year and will have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Tennessee opened the season given +2500 odds to win this year’s Super Bowl. 

Read more

Can Anyone Overtake Aaron Rodgers for the NFL MVP?

Wednesday, Jan 05, 2022

 He won his third NFL MVP last season and is on his way to a fourth this season. Aaron Rodgers is the clear favorite to win a second consecutive MVP. He is listed -400 odds to win and appears to have a pretty safe lead in the race for the award.  There are a few contenders in the race. The question is with one week left in the regular season and the playoffs ahead, is there anyone that could surpass Rodgers and take the award away from him? The answer to that is a big “maybe.”   MVP No. 4 There are plenty of reasons why Aaron Rodgers wins his fourth NFL MVP this year. First off, he led the Packers to another 13-win season (with potential for 14), another NFC North Division title, and clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.   The Green Bay offense is among the best in the league. Rodgers has the highest touchdown-to-interception ratio of all NFL quarterbacks with at least 750 passing yards. He has 3,977 yards passing and 35 touchdowns and don’t forget, he missed a game due to COVID.  Rodgers has said he is planning on playing in the season finale against Detroit. Whether he does or not, he will lead Green Bay in the postseason and still has time to cement his hold on the award.    Challenger No. 1 If there is anyone that could pull off the upset, it has to be Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady. At 44 years of age, Brady has 4,990 yards passing and 40 touchdowns. He is the reason why the Bucs are 12-4 and NFC South champions.   Brady is given +500 odds to win the MVP, which makes it appear as though Rodgers has a firm grip on his fourth award. The Bucs play Carolina this Sunday. They just played the Panthers two weeks ago. Tampa Bay won 32-6 and Brady really didn’t need to do much. He finished 18-of-30 for 232 yards and a touchdown.   He probably won’t need to do much on Sunday either, but if he were to go off and have a career day he might pull himself closer to Rodgers. Then, of course, there is the playoffs make a final run at the MVP.   Challenger No. 2 The only other realistic challenger to Rodgers in the MVP race is Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, who just happens to be peaking at the right time. Prior to last week’s game against Kansas City, Burrow was seventh on the betting board at +3500.   After leading the Bengals to a dramatic 34-31 win over the Chiefs, Burrow now sits at No. 3 given +1000 odds to win. In his past two games, Burrow has put up video game-like numbers. Against the Chiefs, he completed 30-of-39 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns. And that’s against the Chiefs who had won eight in a row prior to Sunday.  The previous week, Burrow lit it up against division rival Baltimore. Burrow set a franchise record with 525 yards passing. He also had another four touchdown passes. If he keeps this up, he could threaten Rodgers, especially if Cincy wins in the postseason. 

Read more

Will Baylor Repeat as College Basketball National Champions?

Thursday, Dec 30, 2021

Scott Drew and his Baylor Bears won their first NCAA men’s college basketball national championship a year ago with a win over favorite and previously unbeaten Gonzaga. Can the Bears do it again?  Early on, the prevailing thought was no. The Bears had simply lost too much from last year’s championship team. However, as the new season heads into conference play after Jan. 1, the No. 1-ranked team in the country is…you guessed it…Baylor. There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, but can Baylor repeat as national champions? YES If you truly believe the Bears are capable of winning back-to-back national championships, now is the time to get in on the action. Despite being 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country, the Bears are not among the betting favorites to win this year’s March Madness. Bettors can get Baylor at +1200 to win it all right now. And, it very well could happen. Drew lost four of his top five scorers from a year ago. That’s okay. He simply reloaded. Sophomore guard LJ Cryer has stepped up and is the Bears leading scorer averaging 13.6 points per game. Kendall Brown scores 13.0 per game and Arizona transfer James Akinjo averages 12.8 points and leads the team with 6.3 assists. Adam Flagler (10.7 ppg) gives Baylor four players that average in double figures.  Two more Bears average 9.0 or more points. Matthew Mayer scores 9.2 and 6-8 F Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua averages 9.0 and a team-high 8.4 rebounds. Eight players play at least 17 minutes per game and Drew gets the most out of each and every one. The defense is once again outstanding. Baylor ranks eighth in the nation in points allowed per game giving up just 56.8. In one of their more dominant wins of the 2021-22 season, the Bears held No. 9 Villanova to 36 points in a 57-36 victory. That kind of defense can win a championship. NO One of the biggest things working against the Bears and their efforts to repeat as national champions is simply history. There has been no back-to-back champion in college basketball since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Prior to the Gators, you have to go back to 1991 and 1992 when Duke won consecutive national championships. Back-to-back championships are just something that doesn’t happen often in college basketball. An issue the Bears might have is matching up with bigger teams. Drew prefers to play small-ball with four and five guards on the floor. Matthew Mayer, listed as a guard is 6-foot-9. Tchamwa Tchatchoua is the Bears' biggest inside presence both on the offensive and defensive ends. Jeremy Sochan (6-9) plays 22 minutes a game, but collectively the Bears are not a big team. That could give them trouble at times this season.  Baylor will once again play through a tough Big 12 schedule. Five teams, including the Bears, are ranked this season. Kansas is No. 6. Iowa State is currently eighth. No. 17 Texas is the best defensive team in the country holding opponents under 52 points per game. The Big 12 schedule could take its toll on Baylor. Let’s not forget UNLV. In 1990, Jerry Tarkanian led the Runnin’ Rebels to a national title with a 30-point win over Duke. The following year, Tarkanian’s squad started the season 11-0. Baylor has done the same this season winning their first 11 games all by at least eight points. In 1991, UNLV did make it back to the Final Four but lost to eventual champion Duke, which ironically went on to win the next two national titles. 

Read more

A Look at the Current NBA Playoff Picture

Wednesday, Dec 29, 2021

It’s almost the midpoint of the 2021-22 NBA season and already some things are beginning to become clear. Golden State and Phoenix are the two best teams in the league. Brooklyn appears to be the best in the East and there’s little doubt that the Detroit Pistons are headed for another lottery spot.There have been a few surprises – Cleveland is a big one – and there is still a lot of basketball left to be played. The average NBA team has roughly 47 to 48 games remaining this season. Still, it’s never too early to start looking at the postseason. Here’s a look at the current NBA playoff picture. The Top Contenders As mentioned, the two best teams in the NBA right now are both in the Western Conference – Phoenix and Golden State. With the Suns suffering consecutive home losses recently, the Warriors now own the league’s best record at 27-7. Stephen Curry is the NBA’s second-leading scorer and recently broke the career three-pointer record. Golden State has the best defense in the league and is among the top 5 on offense as well. The Warriors are listed at +375 to win this year’s championship. Phoenix, which played for the NBA title last year, is 26-7 so far this season. The Suns are deep and talented which is why they are listed at +800 to win it all in 2022. The big question for Phoenix will be health. Leading scorer Devin Booker just returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a hamstring injury. Then, there is the whole COVID-19 fiasco that has forced the postponement of games around the league.  While Golden State and Phoenix dominate the West, Brooklyn sits atop the Eastern Conference at 23-9 with a 1.5-game lead over Chicago (21-10). The Nets are dealing with their own health issues, but they have won seven of their last ten games. Kevin Durant is the NBA’s leading scorer averaging 29.7 points per game. When healthy, the Nets have one of the best lineups in basketball which is why they are actually the overall favorite to win this year’s NBA title at +325. The Next Tier Reigning NBA champion Milwaukee is also among the betting favorites at +800. The Bucks are 23-13 and third in the East behind Chicago. The Bulls, who have won eight of their last ten games, are a longshot to win a title at +2200. Miami has also won eight of ten and is given +1200 odds to win it all. In the West, two teams to watch are the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies. Utah is 8-2 in its last ten games and 24-9 overall. They are listed at +1200. The Grizzlies just got leading scorer Ja Morant back in the lineup and have won seven of their last ten to move into fourth in the West at 21-14. Memphis is a longshot worth a look at +5000.The Surprises With three 7-foot starters, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the fifth-place team in the East at 20-14. The Cavs have the best ATS record in the league at 25-7-2 and they are a longshot to win an NBA title at +6600. Cleveland hasn’t been to the playoffs since making the NBA Finals in 2017-18. The Los Angeles Lakers are given +1200 odds to win this year’s title, but L.A. is just 16-17 so far this season. The Lakers have had numerous injury issues and they will be missing Anthony Davis for quite a while with an injury. L.A. may have to take part in the play-in tournament once again. 

Read more

What If? College Football Playoff Scenarios Ahead of Championship Weekend

Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021

On Sunday, the College Football Playoff Committee will announce its final Top 25 poll which will include the top four and the programs that will play for this season’s national championship. The current top four – Georgia, Michigan, Cincinnati, and Alabama – looks solid, but nothing is set in stone as all of the FBS conferences will tee up their championship games this weekend. And anything can happen. Best Case Scenario There are a few best-case scenarios for the CFP committee. If Georgia, Michigan, and Cincinnati all win their respective conference championship, all three will make the playoff. The only issue would be the fourth spot. If current No. 5 Oklahoma State wins the Big 12 championship game, the Cowboys would likely move up into the spot vacated by Alabama. Remember, the Crimson Tide plays Georgia in the SEC title game. If the Cowboys lost to Baylor, then No. 6 Notre Dame (11-1) could move into that fourth spot. Regardless, the committee’s job would be much easier if the top three win this weekend. The Chaos Factor If the top three winning is the best-case scenario for the committee, all three of those teams losing is probably the worst-case scenario. Add in an Oklahoma State loss and you have essentially created complete chaos.Imagine, Alabama beats Georgia in the SEC. Michigan loses to Iowa to become a two-loss team. Cincinnati loses to Houston in the AAC championship and Oklahoma State falls to Baylor preventing the Cowboys from moving up. Now what?That whole scenario is probably the committee’s worst nightmare. What if Oregon stomps Utah in the Pac-12 title game? What if Baylor puts on a show against Oklahoma State to become the Big 12 champ? What if the SEC championship game comes down to the final minutes? Could both Alabama and Georgia make the top four? Somewhere in Between This college football season, we have seen plenty of chaos. There have been some monumental upsets and it would be safe to assume that we see at least one this weekend. That means the likely outcome for the CFP committee probably lies somewhere in between the best-case and worst-case scenarios. Oklahoma State will make the top four if it wins the Big 12 and one of Alabama, Michigan, or Cincinnati loses their conference championship. If Georgia loses to Alabama, there is still the possibility of a two-loss Alabama in the playoff. Remember, the committee leans SEC.  Notre Dame only makes the playoff if Alabama, Michigan, Cincinnati, and Oklahoma State lose. The Fighting Irish do have nine wins over Power 5 programs but wins over teams like Duke and Georgia Tech just don’t carry the same weight as Oklahoma State’s four wins over Top 25 programs, for example.  The interesting thing heading into this weekend is that Cincinnati already has a win over their AAC title game opponent – Houston. The same is true in the Big 12 where Oklahoma State beat Baylor 24-14 earlier this season. It’s hard to beat a team twice in one season.  Imagine a scenario where the Bearcats and Cowboys both lose. The SEC championship game ends up close. That would probably result in both Georgia and Alabama making the cut. If Michigan won the Big Ten, it would be in and the committee would have to once again decide on the fourth spot.  

Read more

The Worst College Football Teams in the Country

Friday, Oct 29, 2021

Each week, college football fans, players, coaches, and more sift through an endless supply of information about the sport with most of it geared toward the best. The best coach. The best quarterback. The best player. The best team.  What about the worst team? Not that you want to be in that category, but if there is a best there has to be a worst, right? So, which team or teams would fit into the category of worst?   The U’s If your college team is identified with a “U” at the beginning of its name, you might have one of the worst college football teams in the country. UNLV, emphasis on the “L,” is 0-7. The Rebels looked like they might grab their first win last week but allowed San Jose State to block a field goal and then drive the length of the field for the game-winning touchdown in the game’s final minutes.  UConn (1-8) and UMass (1-6) actually played each other in this year. UMass picked up its only win of the 2021 season, a 27-13 defeat of the Huskies whose only win came against FCS Yale and even that wasn’t easy. UConn held off a late Yale rally after leading 21-0 to win 21-15.   19 Straight It’s hard to lose 19 straight games as an FBS program. Arizona has done it pretty easily though the Wildcats did put up a fight against a two-win Washington last week. Arizona, which is 0-6 thus far this season, led 16-7 in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats allowed two fourth-quarter Washington touchdowns and lost 21-16. The Wildcats will go after their first win in 20 games this weekend when they play at USC.   This Is Kansas, Dorothy Ahh…Kansas. Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk. When is it basketball season? The Jayhawks are currently 1-6 with new head coach Lance Leipold attempting to build something. After a season-opening win over that juggernaut known as FCS South Dakota, the Jayhawks have lost games by scores like 49-22, 45-7, and 59-7.   The Jayhawks can’t score – 17.7 points per game ranks 117th in the nation – and they can’t stop anybody. Kansas gives up 46.8 points a game. That ranks 129th. Only Arkansas State (47.8 ppg) is worse.   Florida International There’s an FBS program named Florida International? Wow! Who knew. Apparently, no one really cares since Florida International University, aka FIU, is 1-6 this season. They are one of the worst defensive teams in the country giving up 40.8 points per game. That ranks 125th out of 130 FBS programs. Not good.  The Panthers' only win this season came against FCS LIU, aka Long Island University, a program that is in its second year of play at the FCS level. Yikes!   Green Wave Tulane is one of the few FBS programs whose nickname does not end with the letter “s.” The Green Wave are also one of the worst college football programs in the country. Tulane is currently 1-7 and soon to be 1-8 as the Green Wave face No. 2 Cincinnati this weekend.   In their last three games, the Green Wave defense has waved bye-bye to numerous touchdown scorers. Tulane has given up 147 points in those three games. The Wave is right in there with UMass and Kansas ranking 128th in scoring defense allowing opponents 46 points per game. That won’t win many games.    Blue Mexico State Coaches and players are sad at New Mexico State since they are just 1-6 this season. That’s nothing new. The only win this season came against FCS South Carolina State. The Aggies lost to Hawaii 48-34 last week and that was their second loss of the season to the Rainbow Warriors this season. New Mexico State is so bad they have to fill their schedule with teams they have already lost to.  

Read more

Should the College Football Playoff Expand?

Friday, Aug 27, 2021

As the 2021 college football season is set to get underway on the final weekend in August, one question continues to be on the mind of fans, players, coaches, and anyone with a connection to the sport. Should the College Football Playoff expand?  A better question may be how many teams should a newly expanded playoff include? Or even better, how exactly should the CFP expand? These are all great questions, but it appears the one thing that appears to be a certainty is that the CFP committee is going to expand. So, should they? For Expansion The biggest reason for expanding the current CFP model comes down to one thing – money. There are millions of dollars to be made by increasing the number of teams, and therefore the number of games, in the playoff. The revenue generated eventually feeds back to the conferences and, ultimately, every FBS program. That’s a good thing. With the money issue out of the way, there are other reasons for CFP expansion. One is more conference representation. The CFP is only seven years old. That equates to 28 bids to play for a national title. Only 11 teams have been involved thus far and of those 11 Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma own 20 of those 28 bids. An expansion of the playoff to say eight teams would likely mean that each Power 5 conference champion would earn a spot. Two more teams, not conference champions, but worthy of a shot would be selected by the CFP committee and the final team would be the best of the Group of 5. Using 2020 as an example, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Oregon would have represented the Power 5 conferences. The highest-ranked Group of 5 team was Cincinnati, which was definitely deserving of an opportunity to play for a national title after going 9-0. The committee would then have had to choose from among a handful of teams – Notre Dame, Iowa State, Texas A&M, and a few others – for the other two spots. Any expansion of the CFP would also mean home playoff games. The current four-team format puts the national semifinals as part of the six major bowl games. That means they are played at neutral sites. Any expansion would change the current schedule and likely mean that first-round games would be played at the home of the higher-seeded team.  In a sports culture that loves playoffs, home playoff games would feed the college football frenzy. If the NFL, NBA, and other college sports have playoffs, why not college football? It’s what sports fans are used to and it allows for more competition. Fans could eventually tire of watching Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma playing each other every year for a national title. Against Expansion One of the biggest arguments against any expansion of college football’s playoff system is the number of games played and the length of the season. Teams that play for championships typically play 14 and 15 games in a season. They play in conference championship games before playing in the CFP. A season begins with training camp in early August. Some teams will play into January. That’s a long time for amateur athletes.  Expanding the playoff may also make mediocrity acceptable. Expanding to just eight teams will put teams with at least two losses into the CFP. Expanding to 16 teams could mean a four-loss entrant into a playoff to win a national championship. Is a two-, three-, or four-loss team deserving of a bid to play for the national championship?  In reality, in any given season there are only two or three teams that are capable of winning a national championship. Right now, it just so happens that those two to three teams are usually Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State or Oklahoma. And guess what? Oklahoma’s record in the CFP is 0-4. In fact, No. 4 seeds are just 2-5 overall and the five losses have been by a margin of 20 points.  Expanding the playoff field would only decrease the importance of the regular season too. With three or four losses being acceptable to make the playoff, games like Alabama-Miami or Georgia-Clemson in the regular season don’t really mean as much. One of the things that make college football so great is the importance of each individual game. Playoff expansion kills that. A four-team playoff may not be perfect. A six-, eight-, or even sixteen-team version will not be perfect either.  

Read more

Five NFL Sleepers That Could Win Super Bowl LVI

Friday, Jul 23, 2021

If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers repeat as Super Bowl champions, it wouldn’t surprise many NFL fans. Should Kansas City find its way back to the big game and win a second Super Bowl in three seasons, that would not surprise many fans either. If Indianapolis won this coming season’s Lombardi Trophy, you can bet that would shock the NFL world.  The Colts are among five teams that could surprise everyone by winning this year’s Super Bowl. Here’s a look at the candidates.   INDIANAPOLIS COLTS  They have the best offensive line in the NFL. The Colts have a running game that punishes opponents and that will make it much easier for new quarterback Carson Wentz to have success in the passing game. Remember, Colts head coach Frank Reich was the Eagles offensive coordinator when Wentz enjoyed his best seasons in Philadelphia.  Indy also has one of the better defenses in the league. The Colts were second against the run (90.5 yards per game) last season and allowed 22.6 points per game (10th overall). With a strong defense, an outstanding running game, and an improved Wentz at quarterback; the Colts have all the makings of a Super Bowl contender.   ARIZONA CARDINALS  It’s make-or-break time for Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona. The former Texas Tech head coach who made an unprecedented leap to the NFL needs to make it happen in Year 3. Last season, Kingsbury and the Cardinals were 6-3 after nine games and right in the thick of the NFC playoff race. Then, they finished 2-5.  The talent is there. QB Kyler Murray is outstanding and now he’ll have even more weapons on offense. The Cardinals signed A.J. Green in the offseason and added former Purdue star Rondale Moore in the draft. J.J. Watt comes in to add to a defense that drafted Zaven Collins out of Tulsa. The biggest problem for Arizona is simply their division. The Rams, Seahawks, and 49ers are all potential playoff teams. So are the Cardinals.   LOS ANGELES CHARGERS  The Chiefs continue to dominate the AFC West, but this is the year the Chargers begin to fight back. The biggest reasons for the Chargers' ability to get to a Super Bowl are the play of QB Justin Herbert and the hiring of new head coach Brandon Staley.  Herbert was the Chargers' first pick in last year’s draft. He won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after throwing for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2020. The young Chargers QB has all the makings of a bona fide NFL stud at the position. Without an elite quarterback, teams do not have a chance at winning it all. The Chargers have one, but it’s not just about the quarterback.  Staley brings with him the defense that led the NFL last season in almost every category. Staley was the Rams' former defensive coordinator who has some serious talent in L.A. if he can keep them all healthy. DE Joey Bosa is an All-Pro as is safety Derwin James. The Chargers need to improve on the 27 sacks they recorded in 2020, but Staley will take care of that. If he does, don’t be surprised if the Chargers find their way to the Super Bowl.   DALLAS COWBOYS  Yes, the Cowboys went a disappointing 6-10 in 2020, but remember, they lost starting QB Dak Prescott in Week 5. With Prescott back in the lineup – and with his new four-year, $160 million contract – the Cowboys' offense should once again be among the best in the NFL. Before going down with his injury last season, Prescott had thrown for 450 yards-plus in three consecutive games. In 2019, he finished second in the NFL in passing with 4,902 yards.  Dallas will have to improve on defense, but that is highly likely in 2021. The Cowboys hired new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and brought in players like No. 1 draft pick Micah Parsons, Keanu Neal, Kelvin Joseph, and more. The defense shouldn’t finish 31st against the run in 2021 or 23rd overall and that difference is what can propel the Cowboys to Super Bowl LVI.   CLEVELAND BROWNS  The Browns and the Super Bowl are two things that just don’t go together. Cleveland is one of just four franchises – Detroit, Jacksonville, and Houston are the others – that has never even played in a Super Bowl. This year could be different.  Cleveland went 11-5 last season and won a playoff game in 2020. The Browns have an outstanding running game led by RB Nick Chubb and a roster that is built for the postseason. The club added Jadeveon Clowney in the offseason and will return WR Odell Beckham Jr. who tore an ACL in Week 7 last season. Head coach Kevin Stefanski has all the tools needed to take the Browns a couple of steps further in 2021.  

Read more

Who is the NBA Coach of the Year for 2020-21?

Sunday, Apr 25, 2021

With the NBA regular season beginning to reach its final sprint, teams are looking to solidify positions. Those who are guaranteed a top-four spot in their conference might start to experiment a little. Others might look to push forward with one final run at the season to see if they can land a higher seeding.  However, the NBA Coach of the Year awards will be coming out soon – who are the current favorites with the betting markets to come out the other side with a victorious experience?  Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz (-133) The Jazz have been the major surprise of the season and look pretty set to land the top spot in the West. Given the talent in Los Angeles and Denver, pre-season odds had the Jazz wrestling for a position at the top four to five seeds. At the moment, though, some see them as a lock to go all the way to the NBA Finals. A huge part of that stems from the work of Snyder and co. – he would be a widely deserved winner.  Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns (-105) The Suns came into the season hoping rather than expecting progress. With the current team never having played playoff basketball, the hope was the arrival of legendary veteran Chris Paul might push Devin Booker and co. to the playoffs.  Now, they are more or less guaranteed a play-off spot and should actually have some hope of hitting the top spot or at least solidifying on second. Williams is finally seeing the rewards for a career of hard work and progression.  Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks (+1100) For some, Tom is the definite COTY. When you look at the work he has done at New York, turning a joke franchise into a genuine play-off contender – even home advantage spots are still possible. This has been an incredible body of work, turning the team into a defensive juggernaut whilst ensuring he gets the best out of stars like Julius Randle.  An interesting candidate for COTY for sure.  Doc Rivers, Philadelphia 76ers (+1100)  While turning a team with talent like Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid around might not sound like a major achievement, others would beg to differ. The body of work carried out by Doc Rivers in Philly has been incredible. His pair-up with Daryl Morey could be a long-term thing and has Philly looking as likely as the Brooklyn Nets to finish top of the Eastern Conference.  Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets (+1400)  As a rookie coach, Nash has had to use his diplomatic streak to help mold a dressing room full of star talent. With five or six of the best players in the entire East, including the best ‘big three’ in modern NBA history, Nash deserves credit for building consistency from a team of high-ego stars. Given Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant have barely shared the court together, too, Nash has had to navigate an injury-hit campaign without his clutch trio; that alone deserves some respect. 

Read more

Top 5 Betting Odds for NBA MVP

Sunday, Mar 28, 2021

The NBA season is reaching its final leg and the race for the playoffs is heating up with several teams in the mix to snag playoff spots. While the playoffs are on everyone’s eyes and minds, the NBA Most Valuable Player race is the other battle that everyone seems to be keeping their eyes on.  Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo won the league MVP award last season, beating out the Lakers’ LeBron James and Houston’s James Harden. Looking at the 2020-2021 season, there are a lot of players that could possibly beat out Antetokounmpo for the award. Starting the year, LeBron and Antetokounmpo were considered to be the betting favorites to win the award.  Here are the top five players with the best odds to win the MVP award for the 2021 season.  5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers +1200  One of the most clutch players in the league, Portland’s Damian Lillard is finally getting recognition in the form of the MVP conversation. Last year, in the Orlando Bubble, Lillard won the Bubble MVP Award for his performances. While the Blazers were unable to get far in the playoffs, Lillard’s efforts were noticeable.  This season, Lillard has kept up his high level of play.  Currently, Lillard is averaging 30 points per game and shooting 37.6% from beyond the three-point line.  4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks +900  The reigning MVP currently has the fourth-best odds to win the MVP award in 2021. If Giannis were to win the award again in 2021, he would be the first player to win it back to back since Steph Curry did in 2015-16.  This season, Antetokounmpo is maintaining his MVP-level performance from last season. He is currently averaging just over 28 points per game, as well as 11.5 rebounds per game and 6.4 assists per game.  His team currently sits in the third-place spot in the Eastern Conference and is looking to make a deeper run in the playoffs than they did in Orlando last year.  3. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers +600  If there’s any player in the NBA that has MVP-caliber talents but has rarely been in the conversation, it’s Philadelphia’s center, Joel Embiid.  This season, Embiid is averaging a career-high 29.9 points per game and has helped the Sixers maintain the top spot in the Eastern Conference.  Thanks to his career-high 52.5% field goal percentage, and career-high 42.2% from beyond the arc, Embiid is finally playing like the dominant big man that he was touted to be out of Kansas and then some. He could be a sleeper selection for the MVP award at the end of the season.  2. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers +450  While a high-ankle sprain has somewhat derailed a true MVP season, don’t count LeBron James out of the MVP race for the 2021 season.  He still currently sits with the second-best odds to win the award, and for good reason.  The 36-year old James was averaging just over 25 points per game before his ankle injury and had the Lakers rolling towards a powerful finish of the regular season.  If James comes back from his injury and continues to play at the high level that he was, there’s no doubt he’ll be a top finalist for the MVP award at the end of the season.  He should still be considered a heavy betting favorite, as it is likely unwise to bet against the superstar.  1.  Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets +110  If you asked Denver Nuggets fans who the league MVP would be at the beginning of the NBA season, they would have vehemently told you that center Nikola Jokic would be the MVP.  At this point, Jokic is the current betting favorite to win the MVP award after LeBron’s ankle injury. Even without James’ injury, though, Jokic is playing like the league MVP. Jokic currently leads the Nuggets in every metric including minutes played, points per game, and field goal percentage.  The 25-year old Serbian is currently averaging a career-high 27 points per game and is nearly averaging a triple-double with 11 rebounds per game and over eight assists a game.  If you’re looking for a sure bet for MVP, Jokic is almost a lock to win the award. 

Read more

2021 NFL Draft Intel: Date, Time, Location & Mock Draft

Sunday, Feb 28, 2021

 The 2021 NFL Draft is set to take place whether the COVID-19 pandemic is still a factor or not. This year’s class is shaping up to be a controversial one. Yes, the 2020 NFL Draft in Roger Goodell’s basement was a little taboo. I’m referring more to the talent themselves. Most college athletes either got a shortened season with several postponements or their season was canceled altogether. The top-tier players such as Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields played in shortened seasons, but it barely affected their draft stock. The same can’t be said about most of the eligible players. Some needed that extra year to improve their skill set for a higher stock or avoid going undrafted. Others need this year to rehab from an injury and get to full strength and peak form.  The draft is always going to have “busts” and “steals” but the 2021 draft will likely see an uptick in both categories. With the NFL postseason officially over and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the reigning champs, it is time to turn your full attention to the NFL Draft.  When is the 2021 NFL Draft?  The 2021 NFL Draft will be conducted over a three-day period, starting Thursday and concluding Saturday. This year, it will be held on April 29th, 30th, and May 1st. The league spends three days on the draft due to the massive amount of coverage. It would be hard for most people to sit and view over 12 straight hours of feed. Spreading over multiple days maximizes viewership and ratings while adding some suspense to the event.  As for the start times of the draft each day, nothing is confirmed yet. The pandemic is still a lingering issue that needs to be accounted for and times won’t be solidified until closer to April. We can look at the times in recent years though to get a good estimate of when we should tune in.  Round 1 will be held on Thursday, April 29th. It should begin around 8 pm eastern standard time. Friday, April 30th, will be Rounds 2 and 3 starting around 7 pm eastern standard time. Round 4-7 are held through most of the day on Saturday, May 1st. The usual start time is noon eastern standard time since 4 rounds are selected on the final day.  The runtime each day is based on the maximum amount of time each team must select their player in each round. Teams are given 10 minutes in the first round. There are 7 minutes allowed in Rounds 2 and 3. Round 4 through 6 have 5-minute limits and there are just 4 minutes per pick on the final round.  Where is the 2021 NFL Draft being held?  This is quite the conundrum for the NFL at this moment. Last year, the draft was virtual, and the main feed was at Commissioner Roger Goodell’s own home. There was no attendance by players nor fans. Las Vegas was the initial home for the 2020 NFL Draft, but they will be compensated with hosting in 2022. For now, Cleveland, Ohio is set to host this year’s event, their first time doing so. After an impressive season in 2020, Cleveland could have a very successful stint as host. It still depends on the pandemic though. We may not know until closer to early April where exactly the draft will occur and what the attendance situation will be.  As the season progressed last year, some teams and stadiums were slowly allowing fans in the stands. It was still at a rather small capacity limit but still a start. During Super Bowl 55, there were 25,000 people in the stands with an additional 30,000 cutouts. If the draft remains in Cleveland, there will most likely be a restriction on how many can attend. A good bet would be just players and families allowed inside. Expect restrictions on fans outside the draft venue as well for safety measures. If by chance the pandemic spikes again, the draft could be aired at Goodell’s home once more or in a secondary location that players could still attend.  The NFL Draft was held in New York, in some capacity, from 1965 to 2014. It moved to Chicago for two years, but the league now takes bids for it like the Super Bowl.  Where can you watch the 2021 NFL Draft?  No matter where the draft will be held, there will be several ways to watch or stream it. ESPN, ABC, NFL Network, and ESPN Deportes will all be airing coverage live on television. You can listen to the live feed on ESPN Radio. There is also a streaming option on the NFL App, NFL.com, ESPN.com, and the NFL Network website.  2021 NFL Draft QB Preview  We all know who Trevor Lawrence is and where he is going in the draft: Jacksonville barring a ground-breaking trade. We don’t truly know exactly where any of the remaining QB prospects will land in the draft, but this scout has a decent take on the first 10 to be selected.  Zach Wilson- BYU- NY Jets- 1st Round  Sam Darnold is bound to be traded, it is just a matter of when and who. Zach Wilson has climbed the rankings over the last few months and has a similar skillset to Darnold. The real difference is that he’s a better pocket-passer with a better arm.  Justin Fields- Ohio State- Atlanta Falcons- 1st Round  This is a similar situation to where Matt Ryan could be gone, or at least he should be if I was in charge. Fields is borderline the second-best prospect in the class and helps Atlanta as they go younger and faster on offense.  Trey Lance- North Dakota State- Detroit Lions- 1st Round  Lance could easily fall down the board due to only having one game last season. Due to team need, the Lions are going to take a chance on him and help groom him into a quality starting QB. The Lions are able to be in a rebuild mode while Lance fits the mold of the NFL.  Mac Jones- Alabama- Washington Football Team- 1st Round  I can see the Patriots and Washington trading here as WFT may think New England could snag Jones. Alex Smith says he doesn’t want to retire but he’s on the last leg of his career. While Smith won Comeback Player of the Year, Jones would be an upgrade. He’s got a strong arm and athleticism.  Kyle Trask- Florida- Pittsburgh Steelers- 2nd Round  Pittsburgh will trade up, likely anywhere before Carolina or New England picks. Trask is like Roethlisberger as a true pocket passer who can run when needed. With the speed on the surrounding offense, Trask could be successful in this system.  Jamie Newman- Wake Forest- New England- 2nd Round  After a disappointing Senior Bowl, Newman will slide to New England without a fight. He looks and plays like a pro and can be a productive dual-threat. Returning for his senior year as a transfer to Georgia would have helped him but he opted out. At the very least, Newman can help push Jarrett Stidham to the next level or take the job for himself.  Kellen Mond- Texas A&M- Indianapolis Colts- 3rd Round  Mond possesses a nice arm on a solid frame. His accuracy is a sizable issue but a team in need of a QB could take a chance on him. Carolina can’t rely on Jacoby Brissett as they hoped.  Peyton Ramsey- Northwestern- Carolina Panthers- 5th Round  Ramsey can be a flashy passer at times but is more of a field general. He was limited in college with the offense around him. Carolina has a nice young offense that gives Ramsey a decent shot at the starting job against a struggling Teddy Bridgewater. It’s a long shot though.  Ian Book- Notre Dame- Denver Broncos- 6th Round  Drew Lock just doesn’t look feel like a starting QB in Denver. The team still seems high on him though but are going to need better backups for him when he does fail. Ian is a bit under the radar as well. He can be an efficient passer and a solid overall QB. Book isn’t the best NFL prospect but he’s an interesting one who could have a Ryan Fitzpatrick-like career. Now that’s a hot take.  Sam Ehlinger- Texas- New Orleans Saints- 6th Round  The Saints are all-in on Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston has their QBs. There is a chance one or both don’t pan out and the Saints don’t have a decent QB3. Ehlinger is talented but limited to be a career backup likely. He can still provide depth and maybe fight for the number two spot. 

Read more

NBA Betting Tips: Everything You Need to Know

Sunday, Dec 06, 2020

Believe it or not, the 2020-21 NBA season is already right around the corner. It's scheduled to start on December 22 with a handful of great games.If you're planning to bet on any of those games or any of the other games that will take place during the upcoming season, you should make sure you know how to do it first. It's important for NBA bettors to develop a winning NBA betting strategy if they want to make money over the long haul.It's also important for NBA bettors to keep certain NBA betting tips in the back of their minds while wagering on basketball. Check out some of the top NBA betting tips that you should commit to memory below.Begin by Getting a Better Understanding of NBA OddsBefore you start putting down bets on NBA games, you need to have NBA odds explained to you. Otherwise, you're going to struggle to put your NBA bets in, much less win them.When you're betting on NBA games, you're very rarely going to just be betting on one team to win a game against another team. Instead, you're usually going to be betting the point spread on NBA games.The point spread is a number that is used to illustrate how much better one NBA team is than another NBA team. You'll have to either bet on the team that is "giving" points (the favorite) to the other team or the team that is "getting" points (the underdog).If you bet on the favorite, you'll need that team to win by more than whatever the point spread is. So if they're a 3-point favorite, you'll need them to win by over 3 points to hit your bet.If you bet on the underdog, you'll need that team to either win outright or lose by less than whatever the point spread is. So if they're a 3-point underdog, you'll need them to lose by under 3 points to hit your bet.You can also bet the totals on NBA games. This calls for you to bet that a game will either go over or under a total number of points. These are some of the most popular NBA odds to bet.Learn How to Do NBA Betting Research ProperlyWhether you're going to bet on the point spread in an NBA game, the over/under, or something else, you should always do the necessary NBA betting research. You should know everything about a game prior to placing a bet on it.If a player or multiple players are injured, it could impact an NBA bet that you make. If a superstar player is sitting out a game for "load management" purposes, it could also impact an NBA bet that you put in.Many casual NBA bettors make the mistake of placing bets on games without doing the right amount of research on them. And it often comes back to bite them in the end.Turn to the Experts for Help Finding Guaranteed NBA PicksIf you don't have the time to sit around researching NBA games, why not rely on an expert to do it for you and provide you with guaranteed NBA picks? Of all the NBA betting tips listed here, this one might just be the most useful one to you.Look for an expert that you trust to set you up with the best NBA predictions in the business. It'll increase your chances of placing winning bets and make NBA betting more fun for you.Put These NBA Betting Tips to the Test During the Upcoming NBA SeasonNow that you know a lot more about betting on NBA games than you did a few minutes ago, you should start thinking about which bets you're going to make at the start of the season. Use the NBA betting tips found here to improve your odds as you place bets.If you need help making smart bets, take a look at the professional sports handicappers at BigAl.com.  

Read more

NBA Restart: Western Conference #8 Seed Prediction

Friday, Jun 26, 2020

When the NBA resumes its 2019-20 season in late July, there will be five Western Conference teams with a realistic shot at earning the eighth and final playoff spot. Memphis currently holds the No. 8 position and four others are within four games of the Grizzlies. In my opinion, one team has a greater chance of securing the No. 8 seed than all the rest.  Before deciding whether my conclusion is sound, one must understand the format for the remainder of the season.Return to Play PlanWhen NBA commissioner Adam Silver, team owners, and the NBA players association met to determine how to complete the 2019-20 season, there was no shortage of ideas. Ultimately, the powers-at-be decided to finish the regular season, include a play-in tournament, and incorporate a postseason.When the season restarts at the end of July, the 22 teams that were invited to Orlando will each play eight regular season games. Once those games are finished, the top eight seeds in each conference can be determined.The idea of a play-in tournament received an overwhelming amount of support If the No. 9 seed finishes within four games of the No. 8 seed at the conclusion of the regular-season, the two teams will meet in a two-game play-in tournament.The No. 8 seed has to win just one game while the No. 9 seed must win two in order to claim the eighth and final playoff spot. Once the top eight teams are set, the postseason will continue as normal with seven-game series in each round to determine the NBA champion.Understanding the Return to Play Plan, bettors can find the best value bets while also finding a longshot in the mix.Playing It SafeMathematically, the remainder of the season favors the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis (32-33) checks as a modest favorite to make the postseason. The Grizzlies will earn the No. 8 seed (-190 at BetOnline) as they are seven games behind seventh-place Dallas Mavericks.  It’s difficult to imagine a scenario under which Memphis makes up seven games on the Mavericks.The Grizzlies can go 0-8 (+550 for any team to go 0-8 after restart at BetOnline) and still finish with the eighth seed if the other teams involved – New Orleans, Portland, Sacramento, and San Antonio – go 3-5 or worse. The likelihood of four teams going 3-5 or worse does not seem all that probable until you consider the opponents. The final eight games for the 22 remaining teams will be against very good teams. There will be games against the Lakers, Clippers, and Rockets, for example. When you think of it that way, four teams at the bottom of the conference going 3-5 is possible. With rookie Ja Morant at the point, it’s hard to imagine the Grizzlies losing eight straight. Morant is shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor and averaging 17.6 points and 6.9 assists for the season. Morant and New Orleans star Zion Williamson are the top two candidates for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.Memphis is worth a consideration for grabbing the No. 8 seed in the West.The LongshotOf the five teams realistically in the mix – Phoenix trails Memphis by six games and should not be a factor – one stands out as the best of the underdog bets. Portland is given +450 odds at BetOnline to make the playoffs and if you’re willing to take the risk, is worth a wager. The big reason why is the return of two Trail Blazers that will make a difference up front – Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. The Trail Blazers backcourt is outstanding with perennial All-Star Damian Lillard (28.9 ppg, 7.8 apg) and C.J. McCollum (22.5 ppg) running the offense. Portland’s issue is on defense where both Nurkic (7-feet) and Collins (6-11) can shine. All Portland has to do is maintain its hold on ninth place. Currently, Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento are tied for ninth place. They are all 3.5 games behind No. 8 Memphis. Remember, the format … if the eighth-place team is within four games, there is a play-in tournament.But, what if all three teams remain tied? Who advances? That would be Portland. Yes, the Pelicans beat the Trail Blazers in all four matchups this season, but the Trail Blazers would still get the nod to advance. The tiebreaker, in this case, is winning percentage. Heading into the remainder of the season, Portland has a .439 winning percentage. New Orleans and Sacramento are tied at .438. With Portland in ninth place at the end of the regular season, they would then have to beat Memphis twice to advance to the playoffs. In the two teams’ only meeting this season, Memphis won 111-104. However, that game was played with Nurkic and Collins. That pair makes Portland a solid bet to advance to the postseason.

Read more

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

© 2024 Al McMordie's BigAl.com. All Rights Reserved.