We had bittersweet feelings in the Tuley’s Takes home office on Monday night as the NCAA tournament came to a close.
It was a very exciting three weekends of betting action, though it wasn’t as profitable as the conference tournaments the two weeks prior. Underdogs went 35-27 ATS (56.5 percent), with one game closing pick-’em (Duke vs. Texas Tech in the Sweet 16), so there were plenty of dogs barking, including 14 that covered in SU losses — a higher-than-normal 22.3 percent of the 63 games since the start of the first round. We should have done better under the circumstances, but we still came out ahead, capped with North Carolina being our Best Best last Saturday in the Final Four and then again plus the points to cover in Monday’s title game.
And I’m downplaying how well we did as our top plays in “Tuley’s Takes Today,” the daily version of the column at VSiN.com, continue to roll along at 35-15-1 ATS (70 percent) since Super Bowl Sunday.
Now, as I’ve written many times, the calendar usually dictates what I write about in this column, and that’s as true as ever with the MLB regular season and the Masters both starting Thursday. So I’ll give my takes on both of those, as well as update how we’re going to continue approaching our winning plays in the NBA and NHL.
Tuley’s Takes on MLB
For our MLB season preview, we’re going to run through the divisions and give our top value play. On a day-to-day basis, I’ll also be looking to back these teams when they’re in an underdog role, though I’d also like to make the point that I’m going to be focusing more on First Five Inning moneyline bets to rely more on starting pitching and not needing to trust the bullpens as much. There’s a good chance that I’ll also be backing these teams in-game when they’re behind and facing overtaxed bullpens.
In addition, once we get a week or so into the season, we’ll be looking to bet on teams on winning streaks and fade those on losing streaks. And then looking for swagger and anti-swagger plays when those streaks end. We’ll cross those bridges when we get to them.
NL East — Phillies (+ 280): This is a tough division with the defending World Series champion Braves and the pitching-rich Mets, but the Phillies could have the best offense, and this is a fair price to steal the division. Bryce Harper is obviously the straw that stirs the drink with J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hopkins and Didi Gregorious in supporting roles, but they also added Nick Castellanos, plus Kyle Schwarber finally gets his dream of being a DH on the National League.
NL Central — Cardinals (+ 275): The Brewers are the odds-on favorites to win the division, and I agree they’re the most likely winner, but if we’re talking about betting value it’s on the Cardinals. I might be a little biased because we rode the Cards during their long winning streak last September, but the overriding fact is this organization keeps them competitive year after year and we expect them to be in the race the whole season.
NL West — Padres (+ 425): I gave out this pick a few weeks ago in this space. Actually, I didn’t like the division odds as much as the NL and World Series futures (still available at 9-1 and 18-1, respectively) because the Padres could trail the Dodgers or Giants early until Fernando Tatis Jr. returns. But we believe the Padres have enough hitting — and just added left-hander Sean Manaea to an already strong staff — to rack up wins even without Tatis.
AL East — Blue Jays (+ 140): I’ve been high on the Blue Jays the past couple of years with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, sons of former major leaguers, coming up and waiting for the organization to build a winning team around them. I’ve made decent money on them as underdogs, but now they’re actually the preseason favorites to win the AL East. I’ll pass on that short number, but I do believe they’re worth a shot at + 450 to win the AL and 10-1 to win the World Series.
AL Central — Tigers (+ 650): The White Sox are the AL Central chalk and will probably run away with the division (and it’s hard to admit that as a die-hard Cubs fan), but the Tigers might be worth a flier in case the White Sox slip. Doing the betting recaps, I notice when underdogs keep popping up on a regular basis. The Tigers won only 77 games last season to finish below .500, but as we all know, you don’t have to hit 50 percent to make money with MLB dogs. It’s also interesting to note that the Tigers were 95-67 on the run line last year, third only to the Giants and Rays in all of baseball. Now, it helps that they were getting + 1.5 runs in most of their games, but it shows they were consistently more competitive than people think. The addition of my favorite player, Javier Baez, should improve the defense and be a great example for the other young players. We’ll be looking for spots for them again to be live dogs.
AL West — Angels (+ 425): The Astros are still the best team in the division. However, I’ve long believed that baseball is an individual sport (pitcher vs. batter) disguised as a team sport and can’t stop thinking that if three-time MVP Mike Trout and reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani can both stay healthy, the sky’s the limit. And, again, even if the Angels can’t catch the Astros for the division title, we feel there will be plenty of times to make a profit on them this season. Playing Over 84 wins should be a good start, so we can just cheer them to build toward that season-win total when they’re chalk.
Tuley’s Takes on the Masters
I’ve had some success over the years in golf’s majors, usually just playing odds to win on a foursome of golfers that I feel I have at an overlay. This year is a little different as I’m taking a vested interest in cheering for friend/Wall Street expert/“A Numbers Game” guest/proxy client Joe Peta. Let’s just say I’m taking a tip from Peta and backing his two top investments, Masters favorite Jon Rahm at + 1325 and Rory McIlroy at + 1900.
I also like to check in on my VSiN colleagues Wes Reynolds, Matt Youmans and Brady Kannon when it comes to my golf bets and have picked out two more price plays.
Will Zalatoris (35-1): He’s last alphabetically on the tour but first in our long-shot-loving heart this week. He nearly won last year in his Masters debut, so we know he can handle the course over 72 holes. His stats also support that fact. At just 25, he’s not accomplished enough to be on the “best to have never won a major list,” which is where we usually look for our live long shots, but he certainly fits the mold.
Tiger Woods (60-1): You better believe it. He says he’s only playing because he believes he can win, and who are we to doubt him? Clearly, we could have received better odds if we had bet earlier. We also acknowledge that with the books offering odds this high, it means the true odds are still much higher. But I just don’t want to be one of those people kicking themselves on Sunday if he’s in contention. Even if it’s just worth $5 or $10 of your Masters portfolio, you have to have a ticket on Tiger.
Tuley’s Takes on the NBA
We continue to roll on with our swagger and anti-swagger plays in the NBA in the daily version of this column at VSiN.com. Sadly, they pretty much come to an end when we get to the playoffs, and also keep in mind they might not be automatic plays past this week because there could be cases of teams resting for the playoffs, etc.
Regardless, the teams currently on losing streaks, thus, eligible for a “swagger” play in the next game after they snap the streak, entering Tuesday’s action were the Pacers at seven straight losses and the Blazers and Thunder at six.
Teams on winning streaks entering Tuesday, thus, “anti-swagger” plays after their win streaks are snapped, are the Grizzlies at seven straight wins and the Raptors at five.
Tuley’s Takes on the NHL
We’ve been very pleased with how our NHL First-Period Over plays have continued to fare. We haven’t kept it a secret that our main criteria are to go Over 1.5 in the first period when the game total is 6.5, though maybe we should keep it quieter as more books have been going to Over 2 in these games and even Over 2.5! The teams we have been focusing on are the Panthers (tied for No. 1 on 1P Overs at 48-21, 69.6%), Blue Jackets (also 69.6%), Wild (67.6%), Devils (66.7%), Oilers (64.3%) and Maple Leafs (61.8%). All betting stats are from @PSUOtto on Twitter.