The spring sports season keeps rolling along here in the Tuley’s Takes home office.
I know it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that pro and college football keep making headlines at this time of year, but there’s still money to be won on the other sports before we get to football season (less than three months away!).
So, let’s clean out my reporter’s notebook with tidbits I’ve picked up while doing my daily “Tuley’s Takes Today” column at VSiN.com. There’s a link every morning in the VSiN newsletter.
Tuley’s Takes on the Belmont
The post-position draw was held Tuesday morning for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. Of course, there’s no Triple Crown on the line this year as the connections of 81-1 long-shot Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike decided to skip the Preakness to run in this race. We don’t even get a rematch of Derby-Preakness winners as Early Voting is skipping this race and being pointed for the midsummer classic, the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
We the People drew the No. 1 rail post and is the 2-1 morning-line favorite off his front-running win in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont. No. 6 Mo Donegal is the second choice at 5-2 after rallying to finish fifth in the Derby and skipping the Preakness for the longest distance at the Belmont (1 1/2 miles). No. 4 Rich Strike is the third choice at 7-2.
I haven’t had time to dig into the past performances to make my final decisions on my top picks and how I’m going to play them, but just based on watching these horses’ races, I’m going to be taking a longer look at No. 3 Nest, a filly, at 8-1, and No. 8 Barber Road, who ran sixth in the Derby and skipped the Preakness, at 10-1. Heck, with all this “skipping” going on this Triple Crown season, maybe the hunch play is No. 2 Skippylongstocking at 20-1.
But seriously, I’ll post my final takes in “Team Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes” on Friday at VSiN.com/horses.
Tuley’s Takes on NBA
I hate these three-day gaps between games in the NBA Finals, but at least it works out well with our Wednesday publishing schedule for Point Spread Weekly.
As we wrote in this column last week, we went ahead and took the Celtics to win the series and also took them in Game 1 on Thursday night in San Francisco. That worked out great as they won 120-108 to steal a road game and home-court advantage. In our “Tuley’s Takes Today” column, I still liked them in Game 2 but recommended a smaller play (mostly relying on our series bet to be our “sweat” for the game) as the Warriors were in the zig-zag role and likely to bounce back with a win to even the series. The Warriors only led by two points at halftime and then put in their patented third-quarter run to pull away and cover in a 107-88 rout.
But that’s OK as we still feel good about our series bet with the series moving to Boston for games on Wednesday and Friday. Now, this is where my “dog-or-pass” mantra interferes with how I expect the series to progress as it could zig-zag all the way to a decisive Game 7. The Celtics are in the zig-zag role (which is 38-30 ATS, 55.9%, in this year’s playoffs), so I believe they’re the right side but I’m not willing to lay the points. As of this writing, I’m still planning on just relying on my series bet.
For those interested, favorites (obviously 1-1 SU and ATS so far in the Finals) are 55-28 SU and 48-35 ATS (57.8%) in the playoffs. You’ll note that only seven games have had the point spread come into play as faves have usually covered easily or dogs have won outright.
Home teams are 50-33 SU but only 43-40 ATS (51.8%) as home-court advantage ain’t what it used to be.
In totals wagering, despite Game 1 going Over (and that was only because the Celtics overachieved with their 3-point shooting in the fourth quarter, including seven straight at one point), Unders have been the way to go at 49-34 (59%) in the playoffs.
Tuley’s Takes on NHL
The Avalanche swept the Oilers to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, but we still have the Eastern Conference to entertain us. Game 4 was being played Tuesday night after the deadline for this issue with the Rangers leading 2 games to 1. We cashed on the Rangers in Games 1 and 2 at home as they extended their home playoff winning streak to eight. We had the Rangers + 150 in Game 3 and they had the two-time defending champion Lightning on the ropes, but the Lightning rallied for a 3-2 victory.
Regardless of what happened Tuesday night, we’re planning to back the Rangers again at home in Game 5 (especially as they’re riding that home streak) as they either close out the series or take a 3-2 lead.
As for totals wagering, the Under was 2-1 in this series heading into Tuesday night and 4-3 in the conference finals round (Over/Unders split 2-2 in the higher-scoring Western Conference finals), but Overs still lead 43-35-2 (55.1%) in the playoffs.
Tuley’s Takes on MLB
We’ve been mostly trading money lately with our MLB underdog plays, which isn’t too bad when you bet two or four dogs and split but show a profit with the plus-money. We’re just waiting for one of those days where we sweep our plays and come out like bandits.
We’ve had more success this season with our swagger and anti-swagger plays. We’ve been waiting for a while to bet the Angels as a swagger play if they could break their losing streak as it was up to 12 games entering Tuesday’s game against the Red Sox. I know it’s hard to back these teams when they’ve been looking so bad, but we’ll do it when they finally get their swagger back. Note: The A’s had a six-game losing streak heading into Tuesday.
On the anti-swagger side, the Yankees had MLB’s longest streak heading into Tuesday’s action at six games in a row. The Braves and Red Sox had five-game winning streaks heading into Tuesday, so we’ll see if they get to our six-game threshold and then fade them after their streaks are snapped.
Overall, favorites are still winning at a higher than normal pace (usually around 59%) at 483-314 (60.6%) with 17 games closing pick’em heading into Tuesday. Home-field percentage is also lower than normal (usually around 54%) at 416-398 (51.1%).
We’ve also written a lot about how Unders were the way to go early in the season (a combination of the deadened ball, cold weather, lack of spring training, etc.), but now they lead only 402-371-39 (52%) heading into Tuesday’s games. As of April 25, Unders were still hitting at 60%, but Overs have gone 279-264-25 since then to pretty much remove all those profits.
Tuley’s Takes on USFL
The USFL is in the home stretch of the regular season with eight of the 10 weeks completed. The Birmingham Stallions (I’m not a fan of even using the city names for these teams as they’re all based in Birmingham) have clinched the top seed in the playoffs (which will be held in Canton, Ohio) with an 8-0 record, though it’s interesting to note that after starting 6-0 ATS they’ve failed to cover the past two weeks.
Unlike the NBA playoffs where we’ve seen the spread not come into play that often, USFL favorites are 24-8 SU (75%) but just 17-14-1 ATS, only profitable after going 3-1 ATS in Week 8.
Over/Under wagering has also leveled off by going 2-2 each of the past two weeks after Unders started the season 8-4 in the first three weeks, followed by Overs dominating at 11-1 in Weeks 4-7. Overs still lead 19-13 (59.4%) overall, but we’re not seeing any significant edge at this point.
That being said, my early leans this week are on the Generals-Panthers Under 48 on Saturday and Bandits-Breakers Under 43 on Sunday.
As always, we’ll finalize our plays in our “Tuley’s Takes Today” columns at VSiN.com as we get closer to the weekend.