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Tuley-s Takes: MLB, the Sweet 16, NHL and AAF

By Dave Tuley  (VSiN.com senior reporter) 

To everything (turn, turn, turn) There is a season (turn, turn, turn)

We’ve been in a musical mood since meeting Jason Dauman, a music executive from L.A., on Monday for our appearances on Brent Musburger’s “My Guys in the Desert” show on VSiN. Dauman won $11,800 in last year’s inaugural MLB Over/Under Season Wins contest at the Westgate. This year’s contest ($250 entry fee, maximum three per person) closes at 10 p.m. PT Wednesday if you are in town.

So, though we’ve been enjoying our success with NHL 1st Period Totals, Alliance of American Football and NCAA basketball, we’ve been turning our attention to the baseball season, which has its earliest Opening Day ever on Thursday (though the Mariners swept the A’s in two regular-season games last week in Japan).

If this early start has you caught off-guard, hopefully you’ll be better prepared after this betting preview (with an emphasis on “betting” as we try to find some value on some seasonlong bets).

There’s not much value on the World Series futures list. The top teams (Yankees, Astros, Red Sox and Dodgers) are between 5-1 and 7-1 and not worth tying up our money for seven months. However, I do have two potential longshots: the Rays and the Twins, both at 25-1 at the Westgate as of Tuesday. I’ll discuss more below as I’m also considering them to win their respective divisions and Over their win totals.

Last year, the best MLB future bets I made were at the All-Star Break (in these very pages, Point Spread Weekly #27, July 18-24, 2018) with the Brewers 450 to win the NL Central and A’s 60-1 to win the AL West. The Brewers cashed as they caught the Cubs and won a one-game playoff, but I actually did better with the A’s as they made up 9 games on the Astros and I was able to sell my $100 ticket for $2,500 on PropSwap (21.5-1 after the 10% commission).

I’m not mentioning that to brag (well, maybe that’s part of the reason), but as a lesson to monitor division odds as well as other future odds during the season to keep an eye out for teams whose odds drift up even though they’re still within striking distance. Anyway, let’s look at the pre-season division odds:

AL East: This might be the better wager on the Rays at 10-1. Granted, they have to overcome the Yankees and Red Sox, but at least we don’t have to do it in a playoff series. The Rays have Cy Young winner Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow at the top of a solid staff.

AL Central: The Twins (3-1) are a shorter price than the Rays, but they basically just have to outbattle the Indians for the division title.

AL West: The A’s made that great run for us last year, but I don’t see any of these teams competing with the Astros (and the A’s 0-2 start doesn’t help).

NL East: The Phillies and Nationals are 2-1 cofavorites at the Westgate with the Mets at 3-1 and Braves at 4-1. The Marlins are 30-1. No thanks (all those odds are too short, including the Marlins).

NL Central: The Brewers might be the play again at 5-2 (the Westgate has the Cardinals and Cubs ahead of them at 175). They have the core of their lineup back plus added catcher Yasmani Grandal.

NL West: The Dodgers should run away with the division despite losing Manny Machado to the Padres (though he doesn’t make them any more of a value at 20-1 to win the division). The Rockies might have a shot at 7-2, but I’ll pass to see if the starting rotation does as well as last year and if they find bullpen help.

Having said all that, the best pre-season wagers are usually the over/under season win totals. Most of the betting value has been sucked out of these on the betting boards, but here are two Overs and two Under that I still like as of this writing on Tuesday:

Rays Over 85: As stated above, they have the starting rotation to contend. With this bet, you don’t even need them to catch the Yankees/ Red Sox as long as they beat up on the rest of their competition and get to 86 wins (money management note: if you like my picks and are looking to risk, say $150: I would bet $110 to win $100 on the Over 85 wins so you lock up a tidy profit even if they come up short in the division and World Series; then about $30 to win the division and $10 on the World Series; adjust for your own bankroll, but hopefully you see what I mean about structuring the bet so you have more money on the best/most achievable wager).

Twins Over 84.5: The same thing holds with this wager as we think the Twins can give the Indians a run for their money, but they should be able to beat up on the rest of their schedule, especially in the AL Central and get Over this number.

Marlins Under 63: Except for the Orioles (57.5), this is the lowest total in the majors. But sometimes oddsmakers can’t make a total low enough. It would be a miracle if all their young talent blossomed at the same time, but it’s more likely they get overrun in a loaded NL East by the Phillies, Nationals, Mets and Braves. I don’t see them avoiding 100 losses.

Rangers Under 71: The Rangers have more talent than the Marlins, but are in an equally tough division with the Astros, A’s, Angels and Mariners (they are 2-0). Still, we have a little more wiggle room with staying Under 71.

TULEY’S TAKE ON NCAA SWEET 16

After going 14-6 ATS (70%) in last year’s NCAA Tournament, I expressed concern in last week’s Point Spread Weekly about the depressed lines we’re seeing as oddsmakers continue to shade the lines lower and lower. I passed on several underdogs I liked last Thursday and Friday because I felt the lines were too short. Some came in anyway (like Murray State), but I saved money by passing on Northeastern. By being selective, I went 5-1 ATS in the Thursday and Friday games. We improved to 6-1 ATS with Maryland 2.5 in the second-round opener, but then it was a chalk-fest the rest of Saturday and Sunday as favorites went 16-0 SU & 11-5 ATS. Fortunately, I went 2-3 ATS in navigating the second-round minefield and stand at 7-4 ATS (63.6%) in the tourney. 

I’m going to continue being selective, especially with no Cinderellas remaining, and won’t approach 20 best bets like last year. In fact, I just like two games out of the eight “Sweet 16” games on Thursday and Friday, but I’ll also give my leans in the other matchups (these did well last weekend, especially my stronger leans). All lines are from the South Point as of Tuesday: 

THURSDAY, MARCH 28

(657) Tech Tech 1.5 vs. Michigan

9:39 p.m. ET/6:39 p.m. PT 

Tuley’s Take: When I filled out my brackets on Selection Sunday, I handicapped this meeting and (with no regard for the potential point spread) picked Texas Tech to advance, so I have to like the Red Raiders getting 1.5 to 2 points. Both teams won and covered both their games last week, so I didn’t see anything to change my mind. I’ve heard a lot of people saying Texas Tech has the better offense and Michigan the better defense, but I have Texas Tech better on both ends of the court (the Red Raiders rank No. 1 in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom.com) and I trust Texas Tech’s sharp shooters – Jarrett Culver and Davide Moretti – to overcome the opposing defense more. Best Bet: Texas Tech 1.5. 

FRIDAY, MARCH 29 

(673) Auburn 5 vs. North Carolina 

7:29 p.m. ET/4:29 p.m. PT 

Tuley’s Take: I didn’t pick Auburn to beat North Carolina in my brackets when I looked at this potential matchup 10 days ago, but I’ll take Auburn plus the points. North Carolina plays at the fastest pace of any team left in the tournament, but if any team can run with the Tar Heel it’s the Tigers. They’re great at forcing turnovers and will be firing 3-pointers from the opening tip. Obviously, Auburn’s success from long range will determine if it can keep up with North Carolina, but even though the Tigers had a scare against New Mexico State in the first round, I was encouraged by the comfortable victory over Villanova. Best Bet: Auburn 5. 

TULEY’S OTHER SWEET 16 LEANS 

Thursday, March 28 

(656) Gonzaga -7.5 vs. Florida St. (many people picking FSU, especially ACC fans, but I still have Gonzaga as the class of the field) 

(652) Tennessee -1 vs. Purdue (picks Vols in my brackets; Purdue has closed the gap in my mind, but still lean to Tennessee) 

(654) Virginia -8.5 vs. Oregon (the Ducks are becoming public underdogs, which scares me off, plus I made this line Virginia -10.5) 

FRIDAY, MARCH 29 

(668) Michigan State -6 vs. LSU (on talent along, LSU could hang with MSU, but it’s a coaching mismatch with Tom Izzo vs. Tony Bedford and Izzo having extra time to prepare. 

(670) Duke -7.5 vs. Virginia Tech (lot of people on this dog, but I made it Duke -8 and I’m passing as I fear the Blue Devils might have gotten a wakeup call in their narrow win over Central Florida. 

(672) Kentucky -2.5 vs. Houston (this is a dog I would normally consider, but this line comes up a little too short for me to get involved). 

TULEY’S TAKE ON NHL 1ST PERIOD WAGERING

We continued to play the #FollowtheMoney6 Over teams as well as the Stars Under during the opening weekend of March Madness. I was down 1 unit for the week to drop to just over 40 units ahead since starting my parlay strategy back in early January. I was considering backing off, but loved the Monday card – as discussed with Brent Musburger and his Guys in the Desert on Monday’s show – and keyed the Stars 1st Period Under (ended in a scoreless tie) to Lightning Over, Penguins Over and Sharks Over with only the Sharks losing. I also hit an early parlay with the Devils & Lightning to profit 4 units on the day and get back to 44 overall before dropping 1 unit on the Blue Jackets Over to the Blackhawks Over on Tuesday, so we’ll continue for now. 

Here’s how I plan to attack the NHL schedule: 

Wednesday: Light schedule with only Stars in action at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT. The vig has been light on these lately so I’ll probably play the Stars-Flames Under 1.5 straight. 

Thursday: We get the Stars again plus the last game with FTM6 Over teams facing each other in Blackhawks-Sharks at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT. My biggest bet (maybe 2 units) will be on Stars Under to the Blackhawks-Sharks Over, plus smaller parlays from the earlier Blue Jackets game at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT to both those games. 

Friday: Pretty cut-and-dried with Penguins Over at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT and Devils Over half an hour later. 

Saturday: Tons of options here with four of the FTM6 Over teams in action plus the Stars Under. I’ll await final decision until overnight Thursday (and wouldn’t be surprised if others drop the Devils, Lightning or Blue Jackets if they’re not hitting Overs this week), but I’m at least sure I’ll have a parlay from the Stars Under at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT to the Blackhawks Over half an hour later. 

Sunday: Penguins play early at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. ET and followed an hour later by the Blue Jackets plus the Sharks at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. 

Monday: Another limited card with Lightning Over at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT to the Blackhawks Over one hour later. 

Tuesday: Assuming form holds during the past week, I’ll probably be keying Stars Under (like I did this Monday) with the Over teams in action: Blue Jackets, Lightning, Penguins and Sharks and mix and match between the other teams depending on their current form. 

Good luck with whatever you decide to do with these. 

TULEY’S TAKE ON THE AAF 

We hope no one has been avoiding the Alliance of American Football as I hit my sixth straight weekly best bet for VSiN all-access subscribers (fifth straight in the New York Post) with Salt Lake 5.5 in a 19-15 loss to San Antonio last Sunday. 

It continues to be a balanced betting market with favorites/underdogs at 14-14 ATS through seven weeks of the 10-week regular season (after faves started 4-0 ATS in Week 1). Home/roads teams were also 2-2 ATS in Week 7 but we continue to see home-field advantage not meaning too much as road teams lead 15-13 ATS, especially if you consider home teams also started 4-0 ATS in Week 1 yet road teams are 15-9 ATS since then. Unders lead 15-12-1, but also remember that Unders went 3-1 in each of the first four weeks to stand at 12-4, so dogs are 8-3-1 the last three weeks after going 2-1-1 in Week 7. 

We’ll continue our practice of skipping our breakdown of the weekly lines in Point Spread Weekly since the lines don’t even come out until after we publish and instead post our “Takes” on the weekend card either on Friday or Saturday (usually Saturday morning). Be sure to look for that piece at VSiN.com and also linked from the daily VSiN City newsletter.

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