Sunday Best Bets, Saturday Recaps
Saturday was spent tooling around Arizona with my nephew Craig as we took in some spring training baseball and watched the NCAA Elite 8 games at some local bars.
No, I didn’t bet on the Cubs-Angels spring training game that we went to at Tempe Diablo Stadium (after kicking myself most of the game for not betting at least something on my Cubbies as +115 underdogs, I was actually happy to see the Angels rally in the bottom of the 9th for an 8-7 victory as -125 favorites!).
Two more thoughts while sitting in that stadium:
The last time I was at Tempe Diablo Stadium was Oct. 6, 1994, for Michael Jordan’s debut in the Arizona Fall League after he retired from the NBA (for the first time) after his father was murdered to pursue his dream of being a professional baseball player. I was one of a reported 6,116 in attendance that night for what I remember was a ticket price of just $4 (as my nephew, who deals in sports memorabilia in addition to being a chef, said: I need to find that ticket stub!). What I remember most from that night was that Jordan received a standing ovation during the introduction of the starting lineups (all other players received a smattering of polite applause) and the first pitch of Jordan’s first at-bat.
After another standing ovation, Jordan dug in against the Tempe pitcher. Remember that this was before the widespread use of cellphones. Instead, you had probably 5,000 people trying to capture the moment with their cameras and old-fashioned flash bulbs. As the pitch headed to the plate, there was a white flash unlike anything I’ve seen before. Jordan took the pitch (I’m sure he couldn’t see a thing) and shook his head as if to shake off cobwebs. Everyone, including the umpire, laughed at the absurdity of the situation.
My other major thought during Saturday’s game was that – even though you’d think we’d be used to seeing sportsbook ads during U.S. sporting events by now – I was still surprised to see an ad on the scoreboard proclaiming “Watch the Game. Bet the Game.” What? Keep in mind that this was an MLB game, the sport of the Black Sox and Pete Rose scandals.
Of course, this was also the very same day that my adopted home of Las Vegas was hosting an NCAA Regional Championship Game, another thing I never thought I'd live to see.
Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of that game with my supposed Best Bet of the day on Gonzaga +2 vs. UConn (more on that below as UConn won in a blowout). At least I won my NHL First-Period Over parlay at +174 to cut my losses on the day from Gonzaga and the official death of all my brackets. The Flames needed just over 7 minutes to take a 2-0 lead on the Sharks to put it Over the 1P 1.5 total and then the Stars and Canucks traded goals for a 1-1 tie after the first 20 minutes to complete the juicy parlay.
Let’s recap the rest of Saturday’s (full-game) action and then look for more Best Bets on Sunday with the rest of the NCAA Tournament's Elite 8 plus my XFL play of the week.
NCAA Tournament: No. 4 seed UConn (-2.5) routed No. 3 Gonzaga 82-54 and easily covered on Saturday night to win the West Regional at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (stayed Under betting total of 153.5 points). Earlier, East No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic (+1.5) upset No. 3 Kansas State 79-76 (went Over 144).
More NCAA Tournament: Faves/dogs split 1-1 SU and ATS in Saturday's Elite 8 games. Faves still lead 39-18 SU and 29-27-1 ATS with 1 game closing pick-'em (Gonzaga-UCLA in Sweet 16). Over/Unders also split 1-1. Unders still lead 35-23 (60.3%), 38-24 (61.3%) if including the First Four.
NBA: Faves went 4-2 SU Saturday but just 3-3 ATS as the Jazz (+9.5) covered in 121-113 loss at the Kings. The upsets were by the Nets (+6 in 129-100 rout at the Heat) and Pelicans (+4.5 in 131-110 rout at Clippers). The Nuggets (-3.5) routed the Bucks 129-106. Home teams also went 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS. Overs led 4-1-1 with the push in Jazz-Kings (234).
More NBA: On the season, favorites improved to 724-372 SU with 16 games closing pick-'em, but faves/dogs remain at .500 at 536-536-24 ATS. Home teams improved to 651-461 SU and 564-526-22 ATS (51.7%). In totals wagering, Overs improved slim lead to 558-537-17 (51%).
NHL: Faves dominated at 11-4 on Saturday (after dogs actually led 19-11 the previous four days) with upsets by the Golden Knights (+167 in 4-3 OT win at the Oilers), Canucks (+152 in 3-1 win at the Stars), Sabres (+150 in 2-0 win at the Islanders) and Rangers (+120 in 4-3 win at the Panthers). Home teams went 9-6. Overs led 8-6-1 with the push in the VGK-EDM game with a betting total of 7 goals.
XFL: Seattle Sea Dragons beat the Orlando Guardians 26-19 to kick off Week 6, but didn’t cover as 8-point road favorites (game went Over the betting total of 43 points). In the later game, the St. Louis Battlehawks routed the Vegas Vipers 29-6 and easily covered as 2-point road faves (stayed Under total of 46).
More XFL: On the season, faves improved to 17-4 SU and 13-7-1 ATS (65%) with 1 game closing pick-’em. Home teams still lead 12-10 SU and 11-10-1 ATS. Over/Unders remain at .500 at 11-11.
Sunday NCAA Elite 8 Best Bet
San Diego State +2 vs. Creighton: I actually like both underdogs in Sunday’s Elite 8 games, but I’m more confident in San Diego State pulling the outright upset over Creighton than I am about Miami-Fla. over Texas. The old saying is defense wins championships and the Aztecs have the best defense among the remaining teams (No. 4 in defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com). Creighton also plays D (rated No. 14), so I’m also looking to the Under, though oddsmakers have it set low at 133.5. It still might not be low enough. With all the contested shots and feeling each other out (plus not having to worry about a late-game foul-fest), the better play looks like first-half Under 62.5. In the end, I like San Diego State’s accomplishment of taking down No. 1 overall seed Alabama to carry over to this game and deliver the minor upset.
Tuley’s Takes: San Diego State +2 and 1H Under 62.5.
Sunday XFL Best Bet
San Antonio Brahmas +3 -115 at Arlington Renegades: When these teams met last weekend, I resisted taking the Brahmas as short 1.5-point home underdogs as the “dog-or-pass philosophy” paid off by saving me money in Renegades’ 12-10 win. The teams now have a rematch in back-to-back weeks with the line up to the Renegades being 3-point faves at home, so I now feel we’re getting enough points as this should again come down to a close one-score game. These teams are dead-even in my power ratings as San Antonio is better than its 1-4 record while Arlington isn’t as good as its 3-2 record (and only beat Orlando, the worst team in the league, 10-9 back in Week 3).