Saturday Best Bets, Friday Recaps
Friday was another action-packed day with a full slate of college basketball conference tournament games, but I also went back to school as I made my annual Career Day presentation at a local elementary school.
Yes, I was talking with four classes of fifth graders about the sports betting industry (hey, they live in Las Vegas so they gotta learn it sometime, especially with the Super Bowl coming here next February!), but actually the major emphasis of my talk and Q&A session was on sports writing, journalism and the evolving media world in general. Don’t worry, I didn’t corrupt their young minds too much as they were much more interested in famous athletes I’ve interviewed (Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, etc.) and who I thought was better (Jordan vs. LeBron or Messi vs. Ronaldo).
Of course, I was also following my bets. I split my NCAA plays during the day with Rutgers +6.5 covering in its 70-65 loss vs. Purdue but Mississippi State +7.5 getting blown out 72-49 by Alabama; and then lost later with Arizona State +8 vs. Arizona as the Sun Devils were hanging around until the Wildcats pulled away late to win 78-59.
At least I won my lone NBA play on the Spurs +12.5 vs. the Nuggets (I doubt you saw that play anywhere else) as San Antonio pulled off the 128-120 outright upset and +600 on the money line (cha-ching!).
Let’s recap the rest of Friday’s action in the major team sports and then look for plays on Friday.
NBA: Faves/dogs split 3-3 SU on Friday but dogs led 4-2 ATS as the Blazers (+9) covered in 120-119 loss at 76ers. The upsets were by the Spurs (+12.5 in 128-120 win vs. Nuggets), Nets (+4.5 in 124-123 win at Timberwolves) and Lakers (+3 in 122-112 win vs. Raptors). Home teams went 4-2 SU but only 3-3 ATS. Overs led 5-1.
More NBA: On the season, favorites lead 647-341 SU with 15 games closing pick-'em, but underdogs improved to 492-473-23 ATS (51%). Home teams lead 592-411 SU and 511-471-21 ATS (52%). In totals wagering, Overs improved slim lead to 501-487-15 (50.7%).
CBB: Faves went 26-9 SU on Friday in conference tournaments and 22-13 ATS. No. 6 Marquette beat No. 11 UConn 70-68 in the Big East semifinals, but it was an upset as Marquette closed as a 4-point underdog. No. 21 Duke beat No. 14 Miami-Fla. 85-78 in SEC semifinals, but it wasn’t an upset as Duke was a 2.5-point favorite. Vanderbilt (+8.5) upset Kentucky 80-73 in SEC quarterfinals.
NHL: Favorites/underdogs split 1-1 on Friday's short card as the Panthers (-460 home favorites) beat the Blackhawks 4-3 in OT but didn't cover -1.5 puck line while the Ducks (+315 road underdogs) upset the Flames 3-1. Home/road teams also split 1-1. Over/Unders also split 1-1.
Saturday college basketball Best Bet
Vanderbilt +6 vs. Texas A&M: There aren’t many NCAA bid-stealers left, but the Commodores are on a 10-1 run and into the SEC semifinals after beating Kentucky on Friday as 8.5-point underdogs. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi still has them on his “First Four Out” list, so they still have work to do. I like that they only lost to A&M by 6 in their long regular-season meeting and that was on the road and now they get the Aggies in Nashville. Note: I’m planning to play Ohio State on Sunday if the Buckeyes make it to the Big Ten title game as they try to steal a bid.
Saturday NHL Best Bets
Red Wings +1.5 +125/+300 ML at Bruins: Boston is in a major anti-swagger spot after having its 10-game winning streak snapped on Thursday while Detroit is playing its best hockey of the season with a 6-game winning streak of its own. My preferred play is the Red Wings on the puck line at +1.5 +125 in case they lose a close game, but also playing the straight money line at +300 (I got +310 overnight at Circa) in case they do pull the outright upset.
Jets-Panthers 1P Under 1.5 +125: This is my favorite NHL 1P Over/Under play on Saturday’s card. Both teams are in the Top 6 1P Under teams (hockey betting stats from @PSUOtto on Twitter) and combine for 71-58 (55%). That puts it at around a -122 favorite but we’re getting a very generous +125.
Saturday XFL Best Bet
San Antonio Brahmas +3 at Seattle Sea Dragons: San Antonio let us down last 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 and I actually thought the wrong team was 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, which still looks to be San Antonio +4.5 as of early Saturday morning.