Hoop it up while awaiting Super Bowl

January 25, 2019 11:59 PM

The Super Bowl is still more than a week away, and I’m not falling in love with taking a chance on Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Orlando. So let’s put aside our football withdrawal and turn our attention to hoops, both pro and college.

As far as the NBA goes, there’s no need to buy a future ticket on who’s going to win the championship. That’s because I’ve seen nothing that indicates any team can beat the Golden State Warriors. Not in the long term. But if we take ’em one game at a time, that’s a different matter.

The Warriors play a featured ABC game Saturday night at Boston. Even though the Celtics have been a disappointment so far, they are 12 games over .500 and well within striking distance of moving into the top four in the East. Brad Stevens was everybody’s coaching darling a year ago, but something seems to be a little amiss with the locker-room camaraderie this season.

In spite of that, the Celtics come into this showdown riding a five-game winning streak. Both Kyrie Irving (flu-like symptoms) and Al Horford (rest) sat out Wednesday’s 20-point win over the Cavaliers, so they both should be ready to go.

As the Celtics move into prime time under the bright lights, this is a good time to take a chance against this Warriors team. Even though they have won nine in a row, Golden State is only 5-3-1 against the spread during the streak. The Warriors were favored by 9½ at Washington on Thursday night, and they won by only eight.

This will be the fourth straight game on the road for the Warriors, the best team in the league. But like they always say, you can’t win ’em all. This is a good time to back an NBA underdog in front of its home crowd.

Switching to the colleges, this is the week of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. On Saturday, Kentucky is hosting Kansas. Both are ranked in the top 10, but it is the Wildcats that are on the move. They have won five in a row, including Tuesday’s 21-point blowout of Mississippi State. That game came after their biggest win of the year last Saturday at Auburn.

Meanwhile, there are huge question marks about the Jayhawks right now after they lost last weekend to West Virginia 65-64 at Morgantown. Then they returned to the Allen Fieldhouse and beat Iowa State 80-76, but they failed to cover the five-point spread.

Everything changed for the Jayhawks when the calendar turned, because they lost Udoka Azubuike to a season-ending hand injury. Bill Self has been experimenting with a smaller lineup, but that won’t work down low against Kentucky in this matchup.

Even though we all remember them losing big to Duke in the season opener, the Wildcats have dropped only two games since, both away from Lexington by a combined three points. Kentucky on the money-line is the way to play this marquee matchup.

If you’re still experiencing football withdrawal Sunday, you can always look at the more than 1,000 Super Bowl props that are out around town.

No matter which way you go with colleges, pros or props, cashin’ tickets is still what it’s all about.

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