Summer fun in Vegas: NBA Draft, boxing and baseball betting
By Brent Musburger
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LAS VEGAS — As summer heats us up here in Las Vegas, let me buy you a cup of iced coffee. You will have to invest $20 of your own money, but stick with me on this.
For the first time in Nevada, you will be able to wager on next Thursday’s NBA Draft. Just like the NFL Draft in April, you will be able to bet on propositions that are focused on the schools and conferences that produce the new pros.
One prop centers on Kentucky. The over-under on Wildcats chosen in the first round is 2½. At Westgate, the over is minus-350. That caught the ear of my friend Seth Greenberg, the outstanding ESPN basketball analyst who was on my VSiN show Thursday. Seth says De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and, yes, Bam Adebayo are going to be chosen in the first round – and that the over is a lock. So if you invest $20, and you can find a $5.71 cup of iced coffee, the Wildcats are buying.
For the record Seth also likes under 3½ Duke players to be drafted in the first round. He is convinced that big man Harry Giles does not belong in the top 30, but I really don’t know about that one.
If these props are even a fraction as popular as they were for the NFL, there is no question that draft betting will get even bigger next year. And why not? It’s just one more way to have some fun here in Vegas.
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It is clear that the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fight has captivated – and I do mean captivated – the world. Look at the Oddschecker website, which monitors British and Irish bookmakers much the same way Covers.com tracks Vegas prices. Two days after the Aug. 26 date was set, it is still the headline item.
As we dig deeper into the site we find that at Dublin-based Paddy Power, Mayweather is a minus-588 favorite with McGregor at plus-400. Vegas take note: here come the Irish and their money backing McGregor.
No matter where they are coming from, folks are taking the underdog. But those of us who don’t think there is a chance that Mayweather loses are just waiting for his price to reach minus-500. There are places offshore in the Caribbean where it is already down to minus0650. Remember, Mayweather started this week at minus-1,100. If you like Mayweather as I do, this might be a fight to bet the day before it happens.
There is only one number that causes me to pause on backing the champ, and that is 40. As in 40 years of age, which Mayweather reached in February. But every other conceivable angle of this fight screams that McGregor does not have a chance. In a UFC fight, Mayweather would not have a chance.
As he goes from the four-ounce gloves of the Octagon to the 10-ounce gloves of the squared circle, Conor is walking into Mayweather’s lair, so the advantage goes to the most dominant boxer of this generation.
The hype coming for the next two months will keep us entertained until fight night arrives. It will get outrageous. To me this is the biggest entertainment sporting event since Bobby Riggs took on Billie Jean King at the old Houston Astrodome in 1973.
I had broadcast the tune-up match four months earlier, when a 55-year-old Riggs crushed 30-year-old Margaret Court on Mother’s Day near San Diego. But then Howard Cosell took over “Battle of the Sexes II” and entertained a worldwide TV audience of 90 million as Billie Jean decimated the aging Riggs — something to remember if you hope McGregor wins.
Unfortunately, this new spectacle will completely overshadow an otherwise inviting fight coming three weeks later in September between Gennady Golovkin and Saúl “Canelo” Alvarez. Those of us who still respect boxing know how a good a matchup this one figures to be.
At first it would appear that the Mayweather-McGregor show will put such a drain on money that it will make GGG-Canelo a total afterthought. But let’s not forget that Canelo remains the most popular fighter that México has produced in recent memory. His audience is loyal, and since the fight happens on Mexican Independence Day, Canelo should enjoy a huge crowd advantage on Sept. 16 at the T-Mobile Arena.
Oh, yes. GGG is from Kazakhstan, but I am still betting more jets will be coming in here to Vegas from Dublin than from Astana.
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My tip for passing the time this summer is to nail some ‘overs’ this baseball season. With an average of nearly 2.5 home runs per game, it is clear that somebody or something is juiced. It is either the players or the baseball. At the very least my money is on the ball.
Gill Alexander delved into this on his VSiN show “A Numbers Game” this week, examining The Ringer’s laboratory study of baseballs bought on eBay that were used in big-league games over the last three years. The conclusion is that balls used since the 2015 All-Star Game have flatter seams, making them more likely to fly out of ballparks.
Bookmakers are trying to adjust, but the ‘overs’ are still cashing in 53 percent of the time this year — something to remember if you bet on the daily run total of all games in the Grand Salami.
While we keep an eye on that trend, we should also be careful betting on streaking teams when they travel to California. It was a rude awakening last month for the Cubs, who had won seven of nine before they were swept on their visits to Dodger Stadium and Petco Park. Now the Yankees are finding out how tough the trip can be. They ran their winning streak to six before hitting the walls in Anaheim and Oakland.
All these trends will thankfully keep us busy, even as we can’t wait for Mayweather-McGregor, GGG-Canelo and, yes, the return of King Football.