Thursday Best Bets, Wednesday Recaps
Thursday was again mostly spent following all the college basketball conference tournaments in the Tuley’s Takes home office.
For years I’ve written how there are actually more and better opportunities this week compared to the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. As I mention in the recaps below, there were 57 games on Thursday (after 56 the prior two days) while there will be just 32 NCAA first-round games next Thursday and Friday (16 each day) and 48 total through the weekend.
As for my Best Bets on Thursday, I went a disappointing 1-2 ATS as Penn State pulled the minor upset of Illinois in the Big Ten but my plays on North Carolina and Oklahoma State came up short. Loyal VSiN reader David Allison (@DavidAI61763893 on Twitter) questioned me about my choices by Tweeting: “Surprised your [sic] on these teams that ‘need’ a win to get into NCAA tourney. If they were any good, they wouldn’t be in this position.”
I replied that I usually agree with his point (and have written similar things over the years in almost the exact same words), but I usually use it as advice to not lay points with favorites in the role since the oddsmakers will often make bettors pay a tax on teams in “must-win situations.” I still like underdogs in the role as the points can come into play if they come up just short, especially when playing a team that is already a lock for the NCAA Tournament (note to self: I should have passed on Wisconsin vs. Ohio State on Tuesday since the Buckeyes didn’t fit the role of a less-than-motivated fave).
However, I’m still 7-5 ATS with college b-ball plays the past two weeks, so I feel validated that my approach is sound.
In another housekeeping matter: I mentioned four plays that I was passing on Wednesday due to my “dog-or-pass philosophy” and that I would track how they fared in case followers aren’t as dogmatic as yours truly: they went 2-2 with a full-unit loss for those who laid Kraken -140 vs. the Senators and Lightning -160 vs. the Golden Knights. The winners we passed on were the Senators-Kraken First-Period Over 1.5 -140 as 4 goals were scored in the opening 20 minutes and the Kings -4 vs. the Knicks as they won by 5.
Let’s recap the rest of Thursday’s action in the major team sports and then look for plays on Friday. I'm passing on a short two-game NHL card as the only play I like is the Ducks-Flames 1P Over 1.5, but it's between -145 and -155 if playing it straight (Blackhawks and Panthers are both around .500 with 1P Over/Unders).
NBA: Faves went 4-2 SU but dogs led 4-2 ATS as the Nets (+9.5 in 118-113 loss at Bucks) and the Rockets (+9.5 in 134-125 loss at Pacers) covered in losses. The upsets were by the Jazz (+4.5 in 131-124 win at Magic) and Grizzlies (+3 in 131-110 win vs. Warriors). Home teams went 4-2 SU but road teams led 4-2 ATS. Over/Unders split 3-3.
More NBA: On the season, favorites lead 644-338 SU with 15 games closing pick-'em, but underdogs improved to 488-471-23 ATS (50.9%). Home teams lead 588-409 SU and 508-468-21 ATS (52%). In totals wagering, Overs still hold slim at 496-486-15 (50.5%).
CBB: Faves dominated at 43-14 SU in conference tournaments on Wednesday and 33-24 ATS after dogs led 29-28-2 ATS the last 2 days. Iowa State (+4.5) upset No. 10 Baylor 78-72. No. 6 Marquette (-8) beat St. John's 72-70 in OT but didn't cover. No. 14 Miami-Fla. (-7) beat Wake Forest 74-72 but also didn't cover.
NHL: Dogs went 6-5 with upsets by the Golden Knights (+155 in 4-3 OT win at Lightning), Coyotes (+152 in 4-1 win vs. Predators), Oilers (+140 in 3-2 win at Bruins to snap their 10-game win streak), Kings (+140 in 5-2 win at Avalanche), Islanders (+126 in 4-3 OT win at Penguins) and Senators (+113 in 5-4 win at Kraken). Road teams went 8-3. Overs led 6-5.
Friday college basketball Best Bets
Arizona State +8 vs. Arizona: ASU knocked off USC late last night in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament here in Las Vegas, but the Sun Devils are still only on the “Last Four In/First Four Out” cutline by ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi while Arizona is solidly in the NCAA field. In addition, Arizona State upset its in-state rival 89-88 as a 12.5-point road underdog in the only meeting between these teams in the regular season. We’re still getting enough points here.
Mississippi State +7.5 vs. Alabama: The Crimson Tide is clinging to a No. 1 seed but is a mediocre 16-14-1 ATS on the season and struggling to win by big margins since the whole Brandon Miller controversy with non-covers in the last four games and 4-8 ATS in the last 12 games. In addition, the Bulldogs only lost 66-63 in the last meeting between these two teams on Jan. 25.
Rutgers +6.5 vs. Purdue: Rutgers won a key “bubble elimination” game vs. Michigan on Wednesday, but the Scarlet Knights are still only listed as a “Last Four In” team by Lunardi. They also beat Purdue 65-64 as 8.5-point road underdogs for the Boilermakers’ first loss of the season back on Jan. 2. The Boilermakers, who are sub-par at 12-17-2 ATS on the season as they tend to let teams stick around especially away from home, do have the incentive of trying to get back to a No. 1 seed or at least hold onto a No. 2 seed, but they can still accomplish that without covering this number.
Friday NBA Best Bet
Spurs +12 vs. Nuggets: This is a mini-anti-swagger play against the Nuggets as their 4-game winning streak was snapped in a 117-96 loss vs. the Bulls on Wednesday. The Nuggets are 7-8-1 ATS as double-digit faves this season, including a non-cover in a 115-109 win the last time these two met in San Antonio back in November. And that doesn’t include being 9-point chalk against the Bulls on Wednesday, which technically wasn't “double digits” but just another example of the Nuggets not always covering big spreads. The Spurs are below .500 as double-digit dogs, but did cover at +9.5 at the Jazz in 102-94 loss on Feb. 28.
XFL Week 4 Best Bet
San Antonio Brahmas +3 at Seattle Sea Dragons: San Antonio let us down on Sunday night, but that was against the league’s top team in Houston and now the Brahmas get a step down in class against Seattle, which picked up its first victory against a winless Vegas team (and needed a spectacular play from Josh Gordon or they’d be 0-3). Circa opened this line Sunday night and I actually think the wrong team is favored as the market is overrating Seattle and underrating San Antonio. Despite a 1-2 record, San Antonio is tied for No. 2 in scoring defense at 17.3 points a game while Seattle allows the third-worst at 22.7. We jumped the gun too soon on this as the line went up to Seattle -4.5 by Tuesday, but that’s OK as we love being contrarian and will bet it again at the best number we can get.